Raising the bar: How OPPO is inching towards the high-end segment
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Raising the bar: How OPPO is inching towards the high-end segment

Raising the bar: How OPPO is inching towards the high-end segment

Driven by user demand and constantly surpassing industry standards, can OPPO become the next high-end brand?

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Within the high-end smartphone market, it is a fierce battle for dominance. But the last decade has seen a new frontrunner emerge: OPPO. The global giant, now the world’s fourth-largest smartphone maker operating in over 50 markets globally, has gained popularity for its innovative and high-performance computing features. This comes after an investment of $7bn in research and development (R&D) over the past three years, resulting in many developments.

Three developments worth highlighting are: an in-house neural processing unit (NPU) for perfecting night-time photography; added functionalities making foldable phones more of a necessity rather than a novelty device; and fast-charging technology which is not only double the industry standard but also environmentally friendly.

Overcoming the industry challenge of capturing videos in the dark
NPU Marisilicon X:

The key to attracting consumers lies in features that will differentiate one device from another. Built-in cameras, for example, which have rapidly evolved over the years to cater not only to selfies but also professional photography, are particularly crucial for winning the market.

OPPO independently developed MariSilicon X, an imaging-specific NPU, which is featured in the newly launched flagship Find X5 Pro. The NPU, boasting 18 trillion operations per second (TOPS), strong artificial intelligence (AI) computing power and fast data transfer speeds, facilitates real-time RAW processing of images, allowing users to shoot in an unprocessed format without compromising on quality and resolution.

OPPO’s investment in imaging technology and AI algorithms has also opened a new world of night and low-light photography. MariSilicon X ¾ responsible for better noise reduction capability, more colour accurate reproduction and a high dynamic range ¾ allows the Find X5 Pro the ability to decipher the brightest and darkest areas of scenes to produce images that are sharp, textured and true to reality.

Thanks to the NPU, users can now record 4K ultra night video with the Find X5 Pro, capturing subjects at night in all their natural glory without overexposing the entire scene. Software algorithms work behind the scenes to make each individual video frame look as defined and rich as a still photo. There’s no doubt that this technology is ushering in a new era of cinematic night imagery captured on a smartphone for professional or social media purposes.

Creating foldable phones for everyday use
The high-end smartphone market is expected to be flooded by foldable phones in 2022. While the concept is not new, fierce competition to showcase breakthrough innovation has relegated foldable phones to novelty status, one that is out of touch with daily life.

Wanting to differentiate itself and shift foldable devices from novelty to necessity, OPPO spent four years experimenting on six prototypes of foldable phones centred on style and functionality. The result is evident in the new Find N series: a virtually creaseless display screen and a hinge that leaves no gap when the phone is closed. Plus, an easy-to-hold and finger-friendly external screen which was a direct remedy to common consumer complaints that plagued other competing foldable phones, including an impractical size, visible creases, and unfriendly user interfaces.

The Find N also carries the split-screen multitasking utility of a tablet, making it ideal for simultaneously using two apps or reading e-books. But its user-centric design is most observable in its Flex Form mode, which turns the device into a mini-laptop that can stay open at any angle between 50-120 degrees, allowing it to even be used as a mini-notebook or tripod for taking photos, making video calls or watching videos.

Doubling the market standard of battery charging cycles
Thanks to growth in the mobile app market and the rapid expansion of 5G networks, people are spending roughly five hours daily on their smartphones. This means that battery health is becoming an increasingly significant feature for consumers. For this reason, innovations that reduce charging duration and maximise battery lifespan give smartphone manufacturers a competitive edge. However, while innovations on fast-charging technologies were common, no brand in the industry was able to drastically extend the battery lifespan ¾ until OPPO did it.

To do so, OPPO needed to strike a balance between the two contradictory objectives, resulting in a particularly interesting approach towards innovation. To innovate beyond just charging speed, the company created a Battery Health Engine (BHE) which features a smart battery health algorithm and battery-healing technology based on an improved electrolyte formula. This allows its product’s battery to handle 1600 charging cycles compared to a standard average of 800 cycles on a conventional battery before it begins to fall to 80 per cent capacity.

This also facilitates a durable and higher-charging voltage without overheating or degrading the battery. The company spent three years pioneering the 150W Supervooc flash charge technology which, when paired with the IC within OPPO smartphones, can charge a 4,500mAh battery from zero to 50 per cent in five minutes and 100 per cent in 15 minutes. OPPO also demonstrated a 240W Supervooc flash charge technology at MWC, which can charge a 4500mAh battery to 100 per cent within a mere nine minutes, further pushing the limits of high-power flash charge in the industry.

Creating technology for the people, for high-end future
OPPO has always adhered to the user-centric approach and deeply understood the real needs of users to solve the industry’s pain points; true customer demand has helped the company achieve phenomenal growth. In 2021, OPPO’s global shipment grew by 22 per cent, compared to an industry average of only 7 per cent. The brand’s high-end sales grew by 140 per cent in comparison with the year before.

According to Pete Lau, OPPO’s chief product officer, high-end phones are key to driving innovation forward. At this year’s Mobile World Congress, OPPO showcased three flagships: the Find X5 Pro, the Find N and the Oneplus 10. Equipped with the imaging NPU MariSilicon X and the BHE, the Find X5 Pro launched a few days ago has already been selected by all the major telco operators in the markets in which OPPO operates.

Fadi Abu Shamat is the director of Strategy and Development at OPPO Middle East and Africa

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