Oppo is finally ready to take on Apple, Samsung and OnePlus in the premium smartphone segment. The company backed by BBK Electronics has launched the Find X2 Series as its newest flagship lineup in India. Priced starting at Rs 64,990, the Find X2 Series showcases the technology prowess of the company. The technology leadership from Oppo is not just limited to itself. It often spills down to devices from brands like Realme and OnePlus as well. To understand this similarity, all you need to do is look at OnePlus 8 Series and Oppo Find X2 Series. Also Read - Oppo Find X2 and Find X2 Pro flagship 5G smartphones launched in India: Price, specifications, features
In other words, every time Oppo innovates, it is doing so for three companies – Oppo, OnePlus and Realme. Some of the areas where Oppo is really leapfrogging right now is charging. For the last two years, Oppo seems to have been on a mission to make sure that you can fill the battery on your smartphone as quickly as possible. It is the defacto leader with its 65W fast wired charging and there are rumors of the company bringing 100W or 120W wired fast charging to its smartphones this year. Also Read - Oppo Find X2 vs Oppo Find X2 Pro head-to-head comparison
While Oppo is a Chinese smartphone maker, it builds a lot of things locally in India. If we ignore smartphone manufacturing, the company is owning technology leadership through R&D center in Hyderabad. Last year, the company filed a total of 1,927 patents under the PCT system. It was fifth behind Huawei Technologies, Mitsubishi Electric, Samsung Electronics, Qualcomm in the top 10 PC applicants. Ahead of Find X2 launch in India, we spoke with Tasleem Arif, VP, India R&D Head of Oppo India, to understand the future of mobile photography, fast charging, ColorOS and impact of 5G on consumers. This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity. Also Read - Oppo SuperVOOC 3.0 80W fast charging can charge your phone in 20 mins
Fast charging has become a big talking point for both OEMs as well as consumers. Oppo has developed 65W fast charging as a top-tier wired charging experience. What’s next?
Smartphones are getting more powerful each day and have become the single most important device for people across age groups to connect digitally. At the epicenter of fulfilling all communication, entertainment and financial needs, smartphones are playing an increasingly critical role. For excessive usage, such as consumption of video content, gaming, video calling, smartphones require strong battery and charging capability. With VOOC flash charging, we don’t have to worry about constantly charging [the smartphone].
As we step on the road to adoption of 5G technology, which provides richer application services, battery life and charging speed will become more important than ever. With this thought, Oppo introduced its premium flagship Find X2 series globally a couple of months ago, which marks another leap in SuperVOOC charging speed. From launching the different versions of VOOC technology over the years, the brand has taken its charging feature to new heights by bringing SuperVOOC 2.0 on Find X2 series, which offers consumers 100 percent battery in just 38 minutes, giving them the ultimate smartphone experience.
Currently, the SuperVOOC 2.0 on Find X2 series is the fastest commercialized charging technology. SuperVOOC 2.0 is a technology based on the SuperVOOC platform. The last generation of SuperVOOC (50 W) uses this platform as well. At present, the power of the Super VOOC 2.0 adapter has reached 65W (10V and 6.5 A). As a consumer-centric brand, catering to the diverse needs of the consumers and bringing the best technology to the fore, innovation is embedded in our DNA. We will continue to innovate and bring more efficient power charging technologies.
While charging has gotten faster, the battery design and materials have not really kept pace. We are still using Li-ion batteries, which remain extremely volatile. I have two part questions around this – a) How do you ensure that the chemical composition of Li-ion does not react with the fast flowing ions during charging? b) Do you see any immediate alternative for Li-ion batteries?
As a leading smart device brand, we hold a key position in the industry with our battery and charging technology and work closely with leading suppliers to bring the most advanced technology to our consumers. Oppo VOOC charging system has been offering a seamless experience to the users. It includes custom-designed connectors, dongles and controlling ICs. The Lithium-ion batteries in Oppo smartphones hold at least 80% of their original capacity after 800 charge cycles. Our VOOC flash charge technology has become a trendsetter in the fast-changing industry, benefiting more than 157 million users globally. Compared with other batteries, lithium-ion batteries charge faster, last longer, and have a higher power density and a lighter package.
Oppo filed 1,927 patents under the PCT system last year. More than 6,100 have been image patents. Can you explain what areas of imaging do these patents cater to?
Recently, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) had announced the results of the international patent applications under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) System for the year 2019. Here, Oppo became one of the top 5 PCT filers in the rankings, with 1,927 applications. This ranking reaffirms our commitment to drive technological innovation in the smartphone industry.
To name a few patent areas which we are currently focusing on includes Image Quality and stabilization, Video Quality and stabilization, AI integration, Augmented Reality. In addition to this, our R&D Centre in Hyderabad has contributed significantly to Oppo’s innovation engine and the facility filed 50+ patents in areas like camera and image processing, battery, networks, system performance in 2019.
Mobile photography has evolved in a big way since the initial demo of Reno 10x Zoom at MWC last year. However, zoom remains a challenge. How do you see DSLR level photography coming to mobile devices in the next 3-5 years?
This is an exciting time in smartphone photography. The industry is witnessing camera innovations at a rapid rate. It is mainly driven by consumers’ requirement for a stellar camera. Many industry reports claim that a top-notch camera is one of the prerequisites for most consumers while making a decision to purchase a smartphone. Some of the trends that are revolutionizing the industry includes higher pixels, usage of Artificial Intelligence, multi-camera setups, hybrid zoom, image & video stabilization etc.
The current trends indicate that OEMs are moving towards hybrid zoom capabilities and AI/computation photography which can fill more detail of texture and color, the software capabilities add on to the performance of the hardware component and multi camera setup is already leapfrogging in camera capabilities. Looking at the current trends, with the ongoing progress in the hardware and software side, consumers can expect even better photography capabilities in their smartphones in near future.
While hardware remains the same for all of the OEMs, software is where companies can innovate and differentiate themselves. Can you tell me about Oppo’s specific focus areas from an Indian consumer’s perspective?
Software remains a differentiating factor even though OEMs have brought the latest hardware to their devices. At Oppo, we thrive to deliver the best of experience from the hardware by enhancing our software capabilities. Our focus around camera capability includes AI integration in imaging, delivering best results and optimizing the hardware capabilities, and bringing high-end hardware features in the budget segment through software optimization, such as Lossless blur, deblur, AI based blurring of diff levels, Anti-shake(stabilized) image capturing even with low end mobile chipset.
ColorOS has become a unique property for you now that Realme has its own UI. Can you tell us about India-centric features developed in-house by your team?
Since its launch back in 2013, ColorOS has become one of the most widely-used Android-based mobile OS in the world. The ColorOS currently has over 300 million users, supports 80 languages, and is available in over 140 regions around the globe. Oppo India’s R&D center has played a key role in the globalization of the ColorOS in the overseas market. To elevate consumer experience in smartphones, we launched ColorOS 7 last year with a revamped interface and enhanced features. The overall satisfaction levels for ColorOS 7 are significantly higher compared to previous versions, especially for photography and gaming.
Many features of the ColorOS 7 such as the dark mode, 3 finger screenshot, and various other localized features have been praised by our users. We are carefully evaluating the user feedback and incorporating the same in the next versions of ColorOS. We have also introduced some localized features in ColorOS 7 for the Indian users. We wanted to empower our Indian customers to experience the ease and convenience of paperless governance. In line with this endeavor, Oppo became the first smartphone brand to integrate Digilocker service into ColorOS 7 and has come up with a localized feature called ‘DocVault’.
The pandemic has shown resiliency of networks and need for stable connection at home as well on mobile devices. How do you see your 5G patents help build a connected and safer society?
Oppo initiated its participation of the 5G standard project back in 2015 and since then the brand has been steadily growing in the 5G research and development area. In the face of the new 5G era, we are heading towards Tech Innovation 2.0., which will be driven by ‘frontier technology’ and value for the user. Our aim is to build an integrated technology system to power immersive and personalized 5G experiences. We believe that our 5G technology will create an all-round consistent experience for a more connected and safe society.
A key milestone in our 5G journey was in December 2018, where we had successfully tested multi-party video calling on a 5G smartphone. During this test, engineers operating out of Oppo’s six R&D institutes worldwide had reported smooth connectivity and low latency during the video call. Oppo India R&D team is making great strides in the 5G domain. Earlier this year, we conducted the first 5G WhatsApp video call at our R&D center in Hyderabad to display 5G band and speed.
This further strengthened our vision to be future-ready for 5G rollout in the country and the success of these tests also validated Oppo’s adherence towards bringing technology to empower and simplify the lives of the consumers. As soon as the 5G ecosystem gets in place, we will be able to leverage these 5G capabilities. We continue to work towards exploring this feature and other numerous possibilities in the space.
Do you think India is falling behind the curve by not getting 5G or doing trials right now?
As we stepped into 2020, the ecosystem in the country was all set to witness the 5G capabilities. However, in the wake of the global health emergency due to COVID-19, the industry is relooking at some of the strategies. 5G is all about making the network more effective. At Oppo, we are committed to the Indian market and as soon as the 5G ecosystem is ready, we will ensure that consumers can enjoy 5G capabilities with Oppo devices like the Find X2 Series.
Folding smartphones are still very much in their early stages. How do you see that form factor impacting product design, software design and importantly, battery and charging design?
The concept of modern smartphones has been constantly evolving. In recent years, the focus has been on input and output capacities, which will be driven by consumer requirements. So, we can say that some evolutionary trends in smartphones may be clearly visible in the coming years. These would not just be restricted to specific features, but also to the overall form factor. These new form factors would be driven by clear and specific consumer requirements – ergonomics, light-weighted, durability, power-packed etc.
For these new form factors, new mechanisms need to be invented, new gesture technology and interaction experiences need to be developed. Additionally, battery structure also needs to be reconsidered to make the most of internal space. We have been exploring various form factors and strengthening our technological innovation of foldable screens. We also filed relevant patents and have come up with a prototype device that features a foldable screen. Oppo would consider launching a foldable phone when relevant application scenarios emerge.
Oppo Find X2 Pro comes in a new vegan leather back. We have already seen titanium, stainless steel and ceramic emerging as top choices in the market. What other materials do you see smartphone makers adopting to build better devices?
In our latest Find X2 series, we tried to give it a fresh visual and touch experience with its overall design. The Ceramic edition Find X2 Pro features a new grating texture design based on high-density ceramics. On the other hand, the vegan leather-edition Find X2 Pro adopts top-grade PU environmentally friendly material, with a delicate and soft touch as well as fashionable colors, which is visually appealing and a delight to hold. Our endeavor is to adopt material for designing the smartphone that meets the required standards and at the same time is also stronger and lighter.
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