OPPO F21 Pro Review

OPPO’s latest entry in the F-Series is the OPPO F21 Pro which was launched a while ago and it’s the successor to the OPPO F19 Pro. The OPPO F21 Pro is the 4G variant of its sibling OPPO F21 Pro 5G. Some highlights we can see are its 32 MP Sony IMX709 flagship selfie camera, 30x micro-lens, Orbit LED light, 90 Hz AMOLED display, and is powered by the midranger Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 SoC. Know more about this smartphone in our OPPO F21 Pro review.

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OPPO F21 Pro Specifications

  • Display: 6.4-inch AMOLED display, Full HD+ resolution, 90 Hz refresh rate, 180 Hz touch sampling rate
  • Software: ColorOS 12.1 interface, Android 12 operating system
  • CPU: 6nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 octa-core SoC clocked at 2.4 GHz
  • GPU: Adreno 610 Graphics
  • Memory: 8 GB (Up to 13 GB Extended RAM)
  • Storage: 128 GB UFS 2.2 internal storage, microSD slot
  • Main Camera: Triple cameras (64 MP primary camera + 2 MP depth + 2 MP microlens up to 30x), Bokeh Flare Portrait, Microscope Lens, LED flash, Orbit LED Light
  • Selfie Camera: 32 MP Sony IMX709, Selfie HDR
  • Others: In-display fingerprint scanner, Face Unlock
  • Cellular: 4G network, dual SIM, dual 4G standby support
  • Battery: 4,500 mAh battery
  • Charging: 33W SuperVOOC fast charging
  • Price: ₹22,999 (8 GB + 128 GB)
  • Availability: 15th April 2022

Design, Display, & Build

For the first time, OPPO has brought a microscope lens in its triple camera setup and it’s the only smartphone as of now to feature a micro-lens in this price segment. Another major highlight is the front selfie camera which uses a flagship sensor that you might see on many smartphones’ rear camera setup. The OPPO F21 Pro is yet the first smartphone in the world to offer a Sony IMX709 image sensor on the front side.

OPPO also boasts the Ultra-Slim Retro and Fiberglass-Leather design that gives the OPPO F21 Pro a stunning look and feel. The back has a Fiberglass-Leather finish textured back (Sunset Orange color variant) and it looks amazing, it definitely stands out in the crowd.

The OPPO F21 Pro offers an incredibly slim form factor (7.54 mm / 7.49 mm) and feels very light in weight about 175 grams. You can see its flattened sides, rounded corners, and slim form factor with a leather back. This is the Sunset Orange color while the other variant which is Cosmic Black has a 7.49 mm slim design.

Moving to its front side, the OPPO F21 Pro has a 6.4-inch AMOLED display 90 Hz refresh rate and comes with a Full HD+ resolution. The display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5 scratch-resistant glass. Due to its AMOLED screen, the fingerprint scanner is under the display instead of where you usually see mounted on the power button. There are still a few smartphones that offer a side-fingerprint scanner even with AMOLEDs.

You will find an Orbit LED light on the rear camera setup that breathes and glows when calls, SMS, and notifications arrive. It’s certainly one of the best and most useful things you see on this smartphone. The phone also offers an IPX4 water-resistant design means it can survive water spills and splashes (but not underwater).

The bottom side has a USB Type-C port, 3.5 mm audio jack, a microphone, and loudspeakers. The second microphone is on the top, but the secondary loudspeaker isn’t there, which means no stereo sound. We do see smartphones in this segment with stereo loudspeakers

On the right side, it has a power key while the left side has two separate volume keys as well as a triple-slot SIM tray that holds two 4G SIMs and a dedicated microSD slot. You don’t get 5G support on this model, a separate 5G variant is available.

Software & User Interface

As for its operating system, you will find Android 12 out-of-the-box with its home-grown UI. The OPPO F21 Pro runs on the OPPO’s latest version of ColorOS i.e. v12.1 based on the Android 12 operating system. The security patch on the phone is dated 5th March 2022. 

The ColorOS 12 was officially released last year back in October and it is built on the Android 12, the OPPO F21 Pro luckily receives the ColorOS 12.1 update which means it’s full of new features. The ColorOS 12 has been improved over its past versions bringing a new user interface and smoother animations, we initially saw the ColorOS 12 on the flagship OPPO Find X3 Pro.

About the new ColorOS 12, some features and highlights you will see are – a new UI with new 3D style icons, smoother animations, localized text, improved multitasking, Omoji, privacy controls, power-saving traits, wallpaper-based themes, and more. Here’s more about the ColorOS 12’s features and highlights.

You do get the bloatware with the UI, the interface is filled with extra apps which some users may not like, at least those who fancy the stock Android interface. But then, they are still removable, you simply uninstall these apps if you don’t want them.

The interface is smooth and feels light, the 90 Hz screen plays a role in the smoothness and responsiveness of the touch interactions. If you are familiar with OPPO’s ColorOS, you will feel home. You have plenty of added features on top of Android’s native.

Hardware, Performance & Gaming

Heading to its hardware and performance, the OPPO F21 Pro equips a 6nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 SoC which is also found on a handful of smartphones such as iQOO Z6 (4G), Redmi Note 11, realme 9, and Samsung Galaxy A23. You can expect a similar performance in all of them since they share the same SoC.

The SoC has a total of eight Kryo 265 cores clocked up to 2.4 GHz and is paired with Adreno 610 GPU for gaming and graphics-hungry apps. About the CPU, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 is a midrange SoC manufactured in a 6nm process consisting of 4+4 core configurations. It has four high-performance Kryo 265 Gold cores clocked at 2.4 GHz, and four power-efficient Kryo 265 Silver cores clocked at 1.9 GHz.

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The chip offers decent performance and is also good for gaming, however, the Snapdragon 695 is slightly ahead of it. The Snapdragon 695 is present in phones like OPPO F21 Pro 5G, vivo T1 5G, realme 9 Pro 5G, OnePlus CE 2 Lite 5G, and offers 5G capabilities which you don’t see on the Snapdragon 680.

The OPPO F21 Pro comes in a single variant of 8 GB RAM and 128 GB storage priced at ₹22,999. You will find two color options on the OPPO F21 Pro – Sunset Orange and Cosmic Black. The ColorOS 12.1 comes with RAM expansion technology extending the phone’s internal RAM up to 13 GB (an additional 5 GB RAM on top of 8 GB RAM).

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Cameras

For photography, OPPO has done upgrades in the F21 Pro’s camera system, the smartphone, even though, packs a triple camera setup on the rear side with a 64 MP as the main camera and 2x 2MP cameras. Sounds like it’s just one among the bunch of smartphones with the same old setup until you know it, but there’s a lot going on on the front side, i.e. in the selfie camera. OPPO has fitted a flagship camera sensor in F21 Pro’s selfie camera.

We have seen quite a lot of smartphones in this segment with better cameras at the rear end, but none of them came up with a great selfie camera, they largely focused on the rear side. As far as the current social media era goes, people use to snap more selfies compared to snapping from the rear cameras, and it turns out that, it would be a wise option to concentrate on selfie cameras as well. OPPO smartly plays a move by adding one such camera on the front side.

The OPPO F21 Pro equips a premium Sony IMX709 image sensor in its 32 MP selfie camera and it’s yet the world’s first smartphone that packs this flagship sensor on the front. The selfie camera comes with a few tricks up its sleeves like the selfie HDR, and Portrait Retouching, alongside the AI Color Portrait, and Bokeh Flare Portrait that you see as its main camera features.

Speaking about the rear setup, the triple setup includes a 64 MP main camera, a 2 MP micro-lens (30x), and a 2 MP portrait lens. You have the main 64 MP camera that takes impressive shots in the daylight, and a micro-lens that comes with an Orbit LED Light. What’s with the micro-lens? It’s a microscope lens that magnifies the object up to 30x, and yes it has now arrived on the smartphones, we initially saw it on the flagship realme GT2 Pro with a 40x micro-lens.

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The microscope camera in this segment is for the first time ever, this is the only smartphone (as of now) to feature a micro-lens in this price bracket. A microlens can explore very tiny details of the object, even particles you don’t see with your eyes, it’s far a better replacement for the inferior macro lens which people were hardly using.

The Orbit LED light on the lens helps fill the light for better details, it also breathes in different patterns to get you notified about the smartphone alerts. Anyways, we took some samples to show you the quality of the cameras including its microscope samples. Take a look at it below. Selfies turn out to be incredibly good, highly detailed, and colorful along with its HDR trait providing you a far better selfie shot than you can imagine.

OPPO F21 Pro Camera Samples

Battery Runtime & Charging

On the battery side, the OPPO F21 Pro holds a 4,500 mAh battery with support for 33W SuperVOOC fast charging. Due to its slim size, the battery shrink is legit, and it offers a fairly good battery runtime, you can expect it to run up to 2 days on a full charge as a daily driver (depending upon your usage). OPPO has its ColorOS optimized for better battery backup.

The OPPO F21 Pro includes a 33W SuperVOOC fast charger and it charges the battery up to 31% in about 15 minutes and fully charges 100% in an hour and a few minutes. The charging is, no wonder, good for the phone, but with the increase in the fast charging competition, the OPPO F21 Pro seems a little behind in terms of speed, OPPO F21 Pro’s 33W versus Xiaomi’s 67W TurboCharge and 120W HyperCharge are miles ahead in this segment. Though it’s still faster than Samsung’s 25W charging and 30W Dart charging seen on realme’s counterpart.

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Verdict

The OPPO F21 Pro is a great smartphone for its top-notch and brilliant features, it has among the slimmest and lightest designs we have seen so far (7.54 mm / 7.49 mm), and its Fiberglass leather design is a standout from the crowd, on top of it, an IPx4 waterproof design. It also flaunts its unique and beautiful Orbit LED Light that glows on notifications, calls, and SMS to remind you. It does fairly well with its cameras, the micro-lens is something you would want to play with, and the selfie camera takes mind-boggling shots.

For the rest, it has a 90 Hz AMOLED screen, a decent Snapdragon 680 CPU, the latest ColorOS 12 perks (Android 12), and comes in a big 8 GB RAM variant. The 33W fast charging is fast enough to charge the phone fully in an hour and a few minutes. If you are looking for a fabulous smartphone with a wonderful selfie camera, the OPPO F21 Pro is highly suggested, it is loaded with extraordinary features. The price for the 8 GB RAM + 128 GB storage variant is ₹22,999 which you can grab at ongoing bank discounts. The OPPO F21 Pro is also available in 5G, the price starts at ₹26,999.