Devices – May 2016

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This month we take a look at another Chinese manufacturer going after the western market with decent specs at an affordable price. We also explore a rumour circulating that Microsoft intends to develop a new range of devices for 2017. Take a look below!

Rumour Mill – Surface Phone

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 16.57.33Rumours have ‘surfaced’ on the web that Microsoft could be releasing a Surface Phone which could be due at some time in 2017. A Surface Phone could trade off the back of the success of the Surface Tablet/ hybrid range which has been selling well in the market. Reports have indicated that there could be three models in the making, the Surface Phone: a consumer model, a business model and an ‘enthusiast‘ version.

This seems to be consistent with comments made by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella last year when he laid out the company’s plans to target three different customer bases.

He said, “We plan to narrow our focus to three customer segments where we can make unique contributions and where we can differentiate through the combination of our hardware and software.”

“We’ll bring business customers the best management, security and productivity experiences they need; value phone buyers the communications services they want; and Windows fans the flagship devices they’ll love.”

Why the wait? Microsoft is squarely focussed on Windows 10 Mobile which it aims to significantly upgrade this year with two major updates. As for the Lumia range, it looks like it could be goodnight to the brand which has been the spearhead of Microsoft’s mobile push to date. The Lumia range currently accounts for about 97% of the Windows Phone market. Microsoft is looking to diversify that in an attempted to grow their ecosystem. Intel are releasing their next generation of processors called ‘Kaby Lake’ at the end of 2016 which Microsoft will want to take advantage of, after the problems they had with the Skylake processors it looks like they are taking a bit more time to get the right result.

Oppo F1 Plus

Oppo is another Chinese manufacturer currently trying to break into the western market. As with many other Chinese firms this one specialises in high specs for little money. The question is, can this handset deliver anything significantly different to the UK market?

banner-1920x700-f1_plusAt £299 the Oppo looks remarkably similar to an iPhone and unlike other iPhone “clones” it is actually well made and has a premium feel. It comes with a fingerprint scanner which is becoming increasingly standard these days and even has a 16MP front facing camera. Why should you care about a front facing camera? If you like making video calls from your mobile then this is actually a major selling point as it delivers a crisp image, unfortunately it can’t do anything about the person you are calling and the quality of their camera! If you are into stats and you want something to shout about then the front facing camera actually has more megapixels than the recently launched Samsung Galaxy S7!

On the main spec sheet we have a MediaTek MT6755 processor that’s clocked at 2GHz, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal memory. It also comes with a MicroSD slot which is capable of adding an extra 128GB.
Unfortunately Oppo has decided to go with Android Lollipop and not the newer Marshmellow OS. I’m not quite sure of the rationale behind this decision but Oppo has overlaid its own Color OS onto Lollipop which makes the OS look quite different if you normally use an Android OS.

On the battery front the F1 has a 2850mAh capacity which won’t turn any heads, however, Oppo has included its VOOC flash-charging technology which takes just thirty minutes to charge the device to 75%! If caught in a pinch this could be very useful.

The problem this phone has is that it doesn’t really stand out in the crowded market. The front facing camera is inevitably being pitched as a ‘selfie-camera’ which won’t appeal to the business market. It’s a solid phone for the price, I just fear the brand hasn’t got enough USP’s to succeed in the western market.