OPPO has recently launched a new F-series smartphone called OPPO F21 Pro in India. It’s a mid-range phone that comes with an industry-first fiberglass-leather design, OPPO-exclusive Sony IMX709 sensor, and many camera-centric features for improved user experience. Let’s check out a quick overview and the top 10 features of OPPO F21 Pro below.
Industry-first fiberglass-leather design
The OPPO F21 Pro comes in two colors – Sunset Orange and Cosmic Black. Even though both variants come with the same set of specifications, there is a noticeable difference in the design part. The Sunset Orange variant comes with OPPO’s industry-first Fibreglass-Leather design on the rear side. It also acts as a ‘frameless’ battery cover to make the phone thin, light, and durable.
OPPO has used lychee-grain leather as the base material to provide a very premium and plush feel. The lychee grain material is waterproof and also wear-resistant. In my day-to-day usage, the rear panel didn’t catch any scratches or fingerprints. Even if it gets dirty, you can easily wipe the dirt with a slightly wet cloth. OPPO has bundled a transparent plastic case in the box to protect the back panel further.
According to OPPO, the finished lychee-grain leather is subjected to various extreme lab tests, including an alcohol-soaked pad, a rubber eraser, and a denim swatch over 5,000, 10,000, and 2,00,000 times respectively, to ensure its color fidelity and durability.
One of the coolest features of the OPPO F21 Pro is the Orbit light. It’s like a Notification LED indicator that you hardly find in modern smartphones. Usually, notification indicators are placed on the device’s front side, either on the frame or somewhere near the earpiece. But OPPO has implemented this differently and calls it Orbit Light.
A ring of LED light is placed around the rear micro camera that emits a soft breathing light to notify you about incoming messages and calls. It also glows up when you put the phone for a charge. The Orbit Light is also customizable. You can disable the light to save some battery, especially on the go. There are also a few other options you can enable/disable as per your requirements. You can modify the Orbit Light features by navigating to Settings -> Personalisations -> Breathing light.
The notification light is handy when the surrounding light is low or if your phone is in silent mode and placed upside down. At least I can say it’s one of the most underrated features of any latest smartphone currently available in the market. I hope OPPO implements this or similar features on its upcoming flagships too.
Full HD+ AMOLED display with 90Hz refresh rate
Like most of the flagship OPPO smartphones, the OPPO F21 Pro also comes with a 6.43-inch full HD+ Super AMOLED display that supports a screen refresh rate up to 90Hz. The display can emit 600nits of brightness which is more than enough to use the device under sunny conditions. I did test the device outdoors, and I am pretty happy with its readability under direct sunlight.
OPPO F21 Pro produces excellent colors, and even the viewing angles are great. Bezels are uniform on the Top, Left, and Right, but the bottom bezel (Chin) is bigger than the other three sides. The chin could have been reduced a bit or made uniform just like other sides for an improved user experience, but it will not make much difference in day-to-day usage.
The phone is WideVine L1 certified, and you can stream HD content on Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc. The device features an under-display fingerprint reader, which is ergonomically placed on the bottom and is easily reachable by the thumb. When the screen is off, lift the phone or tap anywhere on the screen, and the fingerprint icon will show; all you have to do is keep your finger on the sensor to get quick access to the device. The reader is fast and can accept up to 5 fingers.
5000mAh battery with 33W fast charging
The OPPO F21 Pro features a 4,500mAh battery and supports 33W SUPERVOOC fast charging. OPPO has supplied a 33W power brick in the box, and the device takes about 70 minutes to go from 0 to 100%. A quick 15-minute charging will charge the battery up to 30%. During my testing, I got around 8 hours of screen time with regular usage without playing any games.
OPPO has also provided multiple options to extend the battery life, such as Power Saving Mode, Super Power Saving Mode, etc. In addition, you can even look for battery optimization suggestions in Battery Settings to further extend the battery life. Overall, the battery performance is good, and the battery easily lasts an entire day on a single charge.
OPPO-exclusive 32MP Sony IMX709 RGBW selfie camera
One of the key highlights of the OPPO F21 Pro is the OPPO-exclusive Sony IMX709 selfie sensor. It is a collaboration between Sony and OPPO to provide an improved selfie experience for OPPO users. According to OPPO, it’s a customized RGBW (red, blue, green, white) front image sensor that can capture crisper and more evenly-exposed photos and videos. The sensor is also 60% more sensitive to light and reduces noise by 30% when compared to the traditional RGB sensors.
I am impressed with the way the IMX709 sensor is handling the lighting. Even with pitch dark lighting, the sensor captured good selfies with near-accurate beautification adjustments. Furthermore, if you turn on the front camera in the dark, the screen brightness automatically increases to provide more light to the sensor, which is enough to take a good selfie. Even the dedicated portrait mode works well during low-lighting conditions.
A dedicated Selfie Night mode further enhances the photos by increasing the brightness and other parameters. Overall, the selfie performance is impressive. The sensor is exclusive to OPPO phones, and OPPO’s imaging R&D team designed the IMX709 using the 22nm process to consume lesser power than any other flagship front camera image sensor. Key features of the front camera are:
- 720p/1080p video recording
- Auto HDR
- Aspect ratio: 1:1, 4:3, 16:9, Full
- Face retouch – Adjust eye size, cheeks, skin etc.
- 10 built-in selfie filters – Sweet, delight, crystal etc.
- Adjustable portrait mode with face retouch and filters
- Bokeh Flare Portrait
- Pro mode, Extra HD mode, Panorama
- Slow-motion and Time-lapse selfie video capture
- Microscope mode, Sticker mode, Text scanner
64MP triple rear camera
The F21 Pro features a triple-camera setup on the rear that includes a 64MP primary camera, a 2MP depth camera, and a 2MP micro camera. Like most OPPO flagships, the F21 Pro also supports AI Scene Enhancement, which works pretty well. The device will effortlessly detect most scenarios like beaches, flowers, green plants etc.
The photos captured in the daylight are bright and include a fair amount of details. The exposure is slightly on the lower side, but the photos have a good amount of Highlights and Shadows. The autofocus did work well most of the time under good lighting conditions but struggled under low lighting.
The biggest disappointment is the lack of a Wide-angle lens and the absence of 4k video recording support. The device also doesn’t support Dual-view video recording. Check out a few camera samples below.
OPPO F21 Pro 1080p video sample
Snapdragon 680 chipset and RAM expansion
The device gets power from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 680 chipset that handles almost every day-to-day operation very well. This is the same processor used in the Vivo T1 44W, realme 9i, Redmi Note 11, iQOO Z6, etc. During my review, I have not experienced any lag or other performance-related issues.
You may find a better processor on other phones with a similar price range, but Snapdragon 680 effortlessly handles almost every basic operation on the F21 Pro. Moreover, the ColorOS 12 syncs well with hardware to further improve performance. The device is available in only one configuration – 8GB RAM and 128GB storage. You can also extend the device storage up to 1TB using the dedicated microSD slot.
The device supports expandable virtual RAM up to 5GB, and it can be configured from the settings. There are three options to choose from – 2GB, 3GB, and 5GB. You can change the virtual RAM from Settings -> About -> RAM expansion. Set the RAM by dragging the slider and restart the phone to take advantage.
The device comes with a 3.5mm Audio jack and a single speaker at the bottom. The audio experience is average as the device misses out on the stereo speakers and also Dolby ATMOS. In terms of connectivity, the OPPO F21 Pro supports 5GHz WiFi, Bluetooth 5.1 and also houses a triple-slot SIM tray.
OPPO has provided a 2MP microlens on OPPO F21 Pro that supports up to 30x magnification and allows you to take microphotographs such as textures, colors, shapes, and sizes at a microscopic level. OPPO says the Microlens camera on the F21 Pro is first in the segment.
It’s pretty fun to play and also takes some cool shots. You’ll have to keep your hand stable while taking Micro shots. Even the slightest movement makes the picture blurry. Check out a few samples below.
Feature-rich ColorOS 12
The OPPO F21 Pro runs on ColorsOS 12.1 based on Android 12. OPPO has also made significant changes to ColorOS 12 compared to ColorOS 11. The user interface is snappy, the animations are smooth, and multitasking is a breeze. The device comes preloaded with a few OPPO apps and a few 3rd party apps. Most of the apps can be deleted or disabled to save some storage. A few key features are:
- Built-in live wallpapers
- Customizable always-on-display with Omoji
- Changeable fonts – Preloaded OPPOSans and Roboto fonts
- Double-tap to lock and unlock, Raise to wake
- Customizable dark mode, Face unlock, Split-screen
- Smart notification hiding, Notification history
- App cloner – Dual WhatsApp, Dual Facebook etc.
- App lock, Hide apps, Private safe
- Super power-saving mode, High-performance mode
- Flexible windows – Open a floating window from recent scree for multi-tasking
- Quick return, Quick launch, Smart sidebar, Kids space, Simple mode
- Air gestures with Air Scroll – YouTube supported
- Screen-off gestures, 3-fingers screenshot
- Screen recording with Audio
Fun with Omoji
You can create your customized avatar using the Omoji feature on the F21 Pro. Omoji automatically recognizes your facial expressions using the front camera and creates a customized Avatar. You can easily personalize the skin, head, hair, eyebrows, nose, mouth, ears, fashion accessories, etc.
Note: How to turn off or restart OPPO F21 Pro? – In most Android smartphones, to turn off or restart the phone, you need to press and hold the sleep/wake button for a few seconds. But this method doesn’t work in OPPO F21 Pro. To access the power menu, you’ll have to press and hold the Sleep/Wake button and Volume Up button at the same time for 5 seconds to get access to the power menu.
What I Like
- Premium light-weight design
- Orbit light
- Excellent AMOLED display
- Amazing selfie camera
- Snappy ColorOS 12.1
- Microlens camera
- Decent battery life
- Good 64MP rear camera
What I Don’t Like
- No 4K video recording
- No Dolby ATMOS
- No Ultra-wide lens
- No stereo speakers
- Average low-light performance
OPPO F21 Pro comes in two color options – Sunset Orange & Cosmic Black and is priced at ₹22,999. It will be available to purchase via Amazon.in and through OPPO partner stores across India.
Disclosure: OPPO India has loaned me the unit of OPPO F21 Pro for review. The review is based on my own usage & research and I have not received any benefits to publish this review. The review includes some affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission when you click on such links and purchase the OPPO F21 Pro.