Oppo F21 Pro Review: In the Era of Specs, This Stands Out With a Design and Camera

It has a class!

The sub Rs 25,000 smartphone segment is filled with a lot of phones that compete against each other by offering a mid-range SoC, high refresh rate display, fast charging, good cameras and more. But Oppo’s latest addition in the segment tries to stand out among others with a new back design and its camera prowess. 

The 4G variant of Oppo F21 Pro features a low-range Snapdragon 680 SoC, a fiberglass leather design, a Sony camera sensor at the front, 33W charging, and more at a price tag of Rs 22,999 in India. Just so you know, there is another variant of the Oppo F21 Pro which supports 5G connectivity. In such a competitive market, how does the Oppo F21 Pro 4G justify its price tag and should you buy it? 

Oppo F21 Pro 4G: Design & Build

Oppo has always tried something unique with its phone’s design and the Oppo F21 Pro is no different. It comes in two colours – Black and Orange. We received an orange unit from Oppo and the colour truly makes it stand out.  It has a fiberglass design on the back which is made of vegan leather while the black colour gives a glow effect. The phone feels comfortable to hold and the grip remains strong because of the texture print. It weighs 175 grams and is 7.54mm slim. The best part of the fiberglass design is that it doesn’t pick up any fingerprint or smudges which makes the device look even better.

While this is claimed to be the industry first by the company, there is no denying that more companies may adopt this in upcoming time. Infinix is also working on a colour-changing leather technology. So, expect more companies to come up with this design.

The plastic side frame and the rear camera module have a gold finish which blends nicely with the orange variant. The camera bump is huge and the microlens is bordered with an orbit light, also known as a blinking light. It glows when the phone receives a notification or a call. The light also glows when you are using the microlens to focus on the subject, more about this in the camera section. But, a customisation option for the orbit light would have made the feature more interesting.

On the bottom, you get a headphone jack, Type-C port, and a speaker. Volume rockers and SIM slot on the left while power button on the right. The Oppo F21 Pro aims to offer a premium hands-on experience to the user in a budget segment.

Oppo F21 Pro: Display and Sound

The Oppo F21 Pro flaunts a 6.43-inch AMOLED display that comes with a full HD+ resolution. The display of the Oppo F21 Pro is responsive and produces bright colours. With a peak brightness of 600 nits, the display is easily visible in direct sunlight. The 90Hz refresh rate of the device feels smooth however, the competition offers up to 120Hz refresh rate. There is a punch hole on the top left corner of the screen for the selfie camera. The bezel on the sides are thin while around the chin, it is thick. The Oppo F21 Pro comes with an in-display fingerprint scanner which is a hit or miss. It was able to recognise my fingerprint two out of five times. It also supports Always-on Display mode. The device has a Widevine L1 certification because of which it can run the Amazon Prime, Netflix, etc content in HD resolution. Surprisingly, we weren’t able to find the Netflix app on Play store and download it while all the other major streaming services were working fine. We have reached out to Oppo for the solution and will update this review accordingly.

The Oppo F21 Pro lacks stereo speakers but has a single speaker grille on the bottom. It is loud enough but lacks clarity.

Oppo F21 Pro: Performance and Software

The Oppo F21 Pro is powered by a Snapdragon 680 SoC that is paired with 8GB of RAM and 128GB internal storage. It comes with 5GB of virtual RAM technology. The Snapdragon 680 is a decent performing processor which we have already seen on phones available at Rs 10,999. There are plenty of phones in this price category that are powered by a Mediatek Dimensity 920 SoC, Dimensity 900 SoC, Snapdragon 695, etc. Oppo has chosen the Snapdragon 680 for the F21 Pro and hence the device priced at Rs 22,999 lacks the 5G support. There is another dedicated 5G variant of the Oppo F21 Pro which sells in the wild for Rs 26,999 and has a Snapdragon 695 at its core. 

That said, the Oppo F21 Pro can be used for daily tasks that include scrolling social media, browsing, clicking pictures, watching videos, etc. We didn’t notice any struggle on the Oppo F21 Pro in the beginning, however, after a month we noticed that the phone was freezing badly which ruined the user experience. That said, the Snapdragon 680 performs poorly when you start gaming on the Oppo F21 Pro. 

General games like Asphalt 9, Call of Duty: Mobile can be played at low or medium settings on the Oppo F21 Pro. But, when it comes to Battlegrounds Mobile India, the phone starts choking even on the low settings. The elements of BGMI fail to render properly before landing on the ground and the game remains choppy throughout the match. 

Getting down to the benchmarks, the Oppo F21 Pro scored 273153 on AnTuTu v9.3. On Geekbench, it scored a single-core score of 380 and 1629 on multi-core. These scores tell us that the F21 Pro is not meant for heavy performance.

The Oppo F21 Pro boots ColorOS 12.1 based on Android 12. It comes pre-installed with some bloatware that sends spam notifications on a regular basis; thankfully it can be uninstalled. The ColorOS 12 is a feature-rich software that comes with several features like Onomoji, Air gestures, smart sidebar, kid space, and more. All of these features easily compensate for the bloatware present on the device.

Further, the Android 12 ‘Material You’ feature is present on the Oppo F21 Pro with the name ‘Wallpaper colour picking’. It adjusts the colour of the interface to match the theme of the wallpaper. There are many personalisation options available in the Oppo F21 Pro such as Always-On Display, icons, themes, and more.  

I used the ColorOS 12 (Review) for the first time and I loved the experience. The air gesture is helpful especially when your hands are wet. The screen translation tool is basically the Google lens on your screen. I liked how Oppo has given users so many options to customize their device specifically.

That said, the performance of the Oppo F21 Pro remains mediocre while the software experience on the device feels beautiful.

Oppo F21 Pro: Cameras

The Oppo F21 Pro houses a 64MP triple camera setup on the back that is accompanied by two 2MP sensors of microscopic and mono. The device lacks an ultrawide lens and 4K video recording which is disappointing. One of the biggest highlights of the Oppo F21 Pro is its 32MP Sony IMX709 camera sensor on the front. 

About the camera app UI, it is like what we have seen on Oppo and OnePlus phones. There are multiple options such as the HDR mode, AI mode, 64MP mode, portrait mode, beauty mode, and night mode. Then, there is ‘More’ option on the camera app from which you can use features like Extra HD, timelapse, text scanner, microscopic, pro, slow, and more. I had a fun time using the microscopic mode and text scanner. The Extra HD mode tried to capture more details. 

Talking about the real-world performance of the Oppo F21 Pro rear camera, the 64MP main sensor captures natural photos in most of the lighting conditions and shows neat details. The colours come out to be accurate and it can autofocus quickly on the close-up shots. However, In indoor situations, the Oppo F21 Pro falls short on details.

On zooming up to maximum 10x, the picture loses the details and colours look like they are faded.

The low-light shots look fine, the night mode automatically minimizes the noise from the picture and preserves the details.

Portraits from the rear camera look fantastic, every important detail is preserved and the edge detection works perfectly. The skin tone is close to perfect. But, when you maximise the blur effect, the subject seems to be coming out of the frame and the picture seems to be edited.

The microscopic camera mode is fun but you will forget that this option exists after sometime as there is not much practical use of this lens. It takes a lot of time to stabilise the frame but once captured, it will show you some interesting results. Take a look below.

The selfies look good on the Oppo F21 Pro with proper details and natural colours. However, it brightens the face when you turn on the beauty mode. The Portrait selfies are also good and the edge detection is fine, thanks to the AI algorithm. There are some moments when the Oppo F21 Pro overexposes the pictures, for instance, check my blue t-shirt in third picture below.

Oppo Reno F21 Pro: Battery Performance

The Oppo F21 Pro packs a 4,500mAh battery unit which can last 1 or 1.5 days providing a total screen time of seven to eight hours. It is fine enough for daily usage. We got these results after turning on auto-brightness mode, always-on display, all day social media scrolling, an hour of playing Youtube videos, and browsing on the internet. If you start to play games or shoot videos consistently, then you’ll be able to finish it off much quicker.

 

There is a 33W charger out of the box that takes around an hour to charge the phone from 0 to 100%. Also, there’s an optimised night charging mode which controls the charging speed of your phone overnight. It’s disappointing that we cannot check the battery percentage from the notification panel.

Should You Buy the Oppo F21 Pro 4G?

The Oppo F21 Pro is a good device in a lot of verticals but not in performance. But it seems like it is not here to compete among its competitors with the specs but for the overall user experience. It is not the best device in this segment to pick but also not the worst. The design of the phone gives a premium feel in the budget segment while the display is smooth and produces vibrant colours. The camera has turned out to be one of the finest features on the Oppo F21 Pro and the battery doesn’t disappoint either. With improvements in design, camera, and software, it is pretty clear that the Oppo F21 Pro stands out with a class and not just specs.

If you are someone who is not a heavy gamer then this is a good looking device otherwise, you can pick the Realme 9 Pro, Redmi Note 11 Pro Plus, or the OnePlus Nord CE 2. The Realme 9 SE is also a good pick for performance users.

Oppo F21 Pro

Rs 22,999
7.4

Design and Build

9.0/10

Performance

6.0/10

Display

8.5/10

Camera

8.0/10

Software

7.5/10

Battery

7.5/10

Audio

6.0/10

Day-to-Day Usage

7.0/10

Value for Money

7.0/10

What Is Good?

  • Good selfies
  • Feature rich software
  • Smooth & Vibrant display
  • Good battery life
  • Impressive Fiberglass design

What Is Bad?

  • Lots of bloatware
  • Average performance
  • No ultrawide lens

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