It might be one of the best Android phones around but I don’t think anyone would claim the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is a paragon of exciting phone design. The Contour Cut camera module is sleek looking, but one look at the Oppo Find X2 Pro and you'll wonder why there's so much fuss over the new Galaxy.
Oppo is a huge brand in China but isn’t quite as prolific in the Western world. And it’s better known for making well-specced but affordable phones rather than killer flagships. But despite its long name, the Oppo Find X2 Pro is actually a surprisingly excellent phone and one that actually has some proper flair to its design.
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While many handsets go for shiny or matt glass backs, my Find X2 Pro came swaddled in a burnt orange-colored vegan leather; there are options that come without the leather, but you’d be missing out.
This might sound deeply tacky, like a knock-off version of the ridiculously overpriced and over-designed Vertu luxury phones.
But this Oppo is surprisingly classy, making a rather big phone with a curved 6.7-inch display feel easy to grip, thanks to tactile textured material. The faux leather also feels comfortable to the touch rather than cheap, and all without sending a cow to the great barn in the sky.
Extra not ostentatious
But the Find X2 Pro’s design flair goes beyond just a fancy back. Every bit of it appears to have had something extra added to it. The top and bottom edges are slightly indented, which makes gripping the phone in a claw-like fashion with one finger on the top edge surprisingly comfortable.
The power switch has a small burst of green paint, as a tiny pallet cleanser to the orange leather and copper rails. While the volume buttons sit in a small indent on the left-hand edge ... errr... just because.
In fact, there’s a lot in the Find X2 Pro’s design that looks like it’s just been done for the sheer joy of design. The chunky rear camera module has a copper-colored trim to it.
The SIM slot is a slightly more pointed oblong than those found on pretty much every other phone I’ve tried. This does nothing to make it easier to access; rather, it’s more of a design flourish — like an artist declaring “ta-da” with a final flick of a brush as they finish a painting.
While Oppo could have laser-etched its logo into the leather, it has stuck a reflective metallic badge on the phone’s back, much like something you’d find on a designer handbag. The whole phone is “extra AF'' as the youth like to say (I think). And I love it.
I’d say Oppo’s Find X2 Pro is the panacea to the idea that all phones look the same these days. And it’s a decent argument that not everything needs to be super minimalist. Granted, it won’t be the handset for everyone, but I'm more than happy to pop it in my pocket.
However, beauty is only skin deep and a smartphone needs far more than a bold look to impress me. It has to deliver a stellar experience to get my attention much like the Google Pixel 5 did despite its mid-tier specs.
An unexpected killer Android flagship
Launching with a starting price tag of £999 — it’s not available in the U.S. — the Oppo Find X2 Pro has the flagship specs to justify its flagship price.
It sports a Snapdragon 865, 12GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, and a 120Hz display with a 32MP selfie camera. One the back sits a triple camera array comprising a 48MP main lens, 48MP ultra wide-angle camera, and a 13MP periscope telephoto camera with a 5x optical zoom. Serious specs indeed.
But during my briefing with Oppo, I couldn't help think about who’s going to pay some £1,000 for a phone from a brand that doesn't have the pull of Samsung or Apple. After all, it lacks a major hook beyond the flashy design.
And with a specs sheet very similar to the OnePlus 8 Pro (Oppo and OnePlus share a parent company and manufacturing lines), but being £200 more expensive, I was skeptical about the Find X2 Pro. More so, when it was being positioned as Oppo’s first flagship phone to land on U.K. soil.
Given I was using the rather excellent if now superseded Galaxy Note 10 Plus at the time, I was prepared to be a little disappointed by the Find X2 Pro. I felt it was writing checks its phone experience wouldn’t be able to cash.
Reader, I was wrong.
I've been using the Oppo Find X2 Pro for some six months now and I adore it. Coronavirus pandemic lockdowns have meant the need for a big do-everything phone when out and about has become less of a priority for me.
As such, the Pixel 5’s compact and neat Android experience saw it become the phone I’d carry out and about. And that’s now been replaced by the overall more capable Galaxy S21. But my go-to phone for use at home or at my desk is the Find X2 Pro.
Its hefty storage plays host to all my apps, music and other digital gubbins. And its excellent high refresh rate display with rather balanced colors and heaps of brightness make it the handset I reach for when I want to watch something or do some web browsing away from my computer.
The Find X 2 Pro has also surprised me with its photography capabilities. Given it shares a heritage with the OnePlus phones, I was expecting some very good phone photography but results that fell short of the flagships.
I don’t know what Oppo’s software people are doing, but they nailed it with the Find X2 Pro.
The phone’s rear cameras deliver a bevy of excellent shots, from detailed and colorful standard images to expansive wide-angle photos and clear zoomed-in pics.
I feel it’s up there with some of 2020’s best camera phones; the Pixel 5 might beat it on more true-to-life colors, and the iPhone 12’s stellar photography results are hard to beat. But otherwise, the Find X2 Pro was and still is a flagship smartphone photography contender.
In general use, the Find X2 Pro is a joy, too. This was my first time with ColorOS, Oppo’s user interface slathered on top of Android.
I tend to be a fan of near-stock Android, the kind you get on the Pixel 5 or OnePlus 8T. ColorOS has a little more fluff than those phones. But compared to the likes of Samsung’s One UI, which is festooned with arguably too many options and features, ColorOS 7.1 is slick and easy to navigate, yet feature-rich too.
Finding the option you want is dead easy. And combined with the 120hz refresh rate and flagship performance, zipping through apps, menus and everything else feels wonderfully fast and responsive. I also love the flexibility you have to customize the look of the UI, without the faff of downloading extra themes; a refreshing change from One UI for sure.
And tools such as the ability to upscale video content to take advantage of the high refresh rate display and neat gesture controls have really sold me on ColorOS, to the extent that I think it’s up there with OnePlus’ Oxygen OS.
In short, what I ignorantly pre-judged to be a phone that was reaching for lofty highs beyond its station, turns out to be a serious contender for one of my favorite phones of all time and one of the best Android phones I've ever used.
With the Oppo Find X3 Pro tipped to be on its way, I’m now fully invested in seeing what Oppo can do next with a flagship Android handset.
Yes, the Galaxy S21 Ultra remains a dull yet stellar phone to beat. But if ever there was a new contender for the Android throne, then I’d place a good bet that it could come out of Oppo. It's just a shame the U.S. might not get it.