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This is the most underrated Android phone of 2021

a photo of the Oppo Find X3 Pro
(Image credit: Future)

The past 12 months have been very good for phones; we’ve had the excellent Samsung Galaxy S21, the class-leading iPhone 13 Pro Max, the smart Google Pixel 6 Pro, and the slick OnePlus 9 Pro as top-notch flagship phones and worthy entrants into our best phones list. But I feel one phone has been overlooked, despite its critical acclaim. 

In my Oppo Find X3 Pro review from early 2021, I waxed lyrical as to how it's one of the best Android phones you can buy right now and a worthy rival to the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. I wasn't the only one, as other tech sites, such as our sibling TechRadar, also praised the Find X3 Pro. 

But as the year pressed on, I didn’t see the Find X3 Pro featured in many best phones roundups, discounting our best phones in the UK list, or receive much chatter about it. By comparison, the aforementioned flagship phones generated a lot of post-launch interest. This is somewhat understandable given the Find X3 Pro didn't get a U.S. release. And it shares a lot of components with the OnePlus 9 Pro (the phone makers share a parent company), which is cheaper at £829 versus the Find X3 Pro’s hefty £1,099. 

Bang for your buck aside, I still feel the Oppo Find X3 Pro has been overlooked this year, which is sad because it’s a seriously good phone. 

All the best specs

Oppo Find X3 Pro review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

For starters, the Oppo Find X3 Pro has an enviable specs sheet. A Snapdragon 888 chip is matched with 12GB of RAM and a healthy 256GB of storage space. Combined with a 6.7-inch QHD+ AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate that can dynamically adapt to how the phone is being used thanks to an LTPO panel, and the Find X3 Pro feels lightning fast — at times almost too fast, with some swipes zipping through apps at quite a lick.

Build quality is fantastic too, with the display gently curving into a glass chassis that integrates the camera module — meaning the camera bump is kept to a minimum. Sure, the shiny silver-gray model I have sucks up fingerprints, but I think it looks good and feels very comfortable.

Speaking of cameras, they are fantastic, delivering images that are up there with the best camera phones. They can't quite beat the Google Pixel 6 or iPhone 13 Pro, but I feel they are worthy competitors in overall phone photography for the Galaxy S21 Ultra. And I’d pick the camera performance of the Find X3 Pro over the OnePlus 9 Pro, due the the latter’s color reproduction being not to my taste.

Oppo Find X3 Pro review

(Image credit: Future)

The Find X3 Pro isn’t perfect by any means — battery life could be better, there's an annoying section in the keyboard where a slip of the finger can put in Color OS’ custom stickers with embarrassing consequences, and the fingerprint scanner sits too low in the phone’s screen. 

Otherwise the Find X3 Pro is brilliant and I’ve found myself using it for far longer than I would normally as someone who tests a lot of phones.

A tech showcase

Oppo Find X3 Pro review

(Image credit: Future)

But the real kicker is how the Oppo Find X3 Pro pushes a lot more innovation than meets the eye. The aforementioned integrated camera module isn’t something I've seen on any other phones, and apparently it took a lot of research to get it just right. Some might not like the look or claim the camera layout is too iPhone-like. But I reckon it’s excellent, making the phone nicer to hold, as my fingers don’t catch on the edges of a module.

And then there’s the microscope camera. It facilitates actual microscopic photography, letting you see the fibers of a shirt or the layers of wood in a table’s surface. Yes it’s a gimmick and tricky to use right, but it’s something that actually feels different to a lackluster macro lens or a boosted telephoto camera. With some evolution, this type of camera could yield some very impressive shots that one could only dream of getting on a DSLR.

Then there’s the use of the same Sony sensor on the ultra-wide-angle lens and is on the main lens, something the OnePlus 9 Pro also does. As a result, there’s no real color shift when snapping ultra-wide photos compared to those of the main camera. That makes the ultra-wide camera a lot more usable than those on other phones; I've never liked the change in color and clarity you get when switching to an ultra-wide camera in other phones, often preferring to move back to fit things in the main camera's frame.

The cameras can also capture native 10-bit color photos, supposedly making for photos richer in colors that can then be viewed on the 10-bit display. I don’t notice a huge difference between standard photos and 10-bit ones, and the Oppo's screen is rather similar in quality to the OnePlus 9 Pro; both are excellent.

Oppo Find X3 Pro review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

But it still shows that Oppo is pushing tech innovation here offering a display that can do more than those on rival phones. It also doesn't hurt that the screen has a 240Hz touch sampling rate to make it feel super responsive.

And there are custom smart features that will adjust the sharpness of videos and up-mix standard dynamic range content into high dynamic range. There are also more options to tweak the always-on display, giving it the customization edge over the OnePlus 9 Pro in my opinion. None of these are must-have features but they do show how generous Oppo is on the tech options and exploring innovation and different approaches to design.

Oppo Find X3 Pro review

(Image credit: Future)

This isn’t a huge surprise to me as I saw hints of this in the phone's predecessor, the Oppo Find X2 Pro, with is lovely vegan leather back, bourgeoisie design, great display and excellent 5x telephoto camera that was sadly dropped in the Find X3 Pro. But this demonstrates that rather than build on previous successes Oppo is willing to experiment with its flagship phone features and deliver a smartphone that’s genuinely exciting rather than iterative; I’m genuinely looking forward to what the Oppo Find X 4 could bring to the table.

As such, the Oppo Find X3 Pro is both a great overall phone and a slick tech showcase that really shouldn't remain overlooked.

Yes it’s pricey, but if you find a good deal on it, then it’s still well worth your consideration. And Oppo as a whole remains one of the smartphone brands to watch in 2022, particularly when it has come up with a foldable phone in the form of the Oppo Find N.

Roland Moore-Colyer
Roland Moore-Colyer

Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.