Oppo F21 Pro Review: Prioritises style and cameras, as always
Oppo F21 Pro succeeds the Oppo F series once again with a unique, stylish design along with great camera performance and decent battery life. Read the full review here.
With so many smartphones launching in the market, companies need to think out of the box to attract buyers. Design, features, performance -- everything is important. And when almost all the smartphone companies are opting for a glittery gradient finish at the back, especially in blue, Oppo has gone in a different direction and decided to go for a Fiberglass-Leather finish for its Oppo F21 Pro in a unique Sunset Orange shade. The phone not only promises excellent camera performance but also tends to offer good battery life along with a great overall user experience. And all that at a starting price of Rs. 22,999.
But that's all on paper! To figure out whether the Oppo F21 Pro stands out among its competitors in reality, we used the phone for over 10 days, and here is how it fares. Read out the review to decide if the Oppo F21 Pro is worthy of your money.
Oppo F21 Pro Design
Breaking the trend of the mundane glittery back panel that can change hues depending on the light, the Oppo F21 Pro looks astonishing in the textured leather design. The phone is available in two colour options- Sunset Orange and Cosmic Black and brings about a premium and youthful feel. It should be known here that the leather finish is available only on the Sunset Orange variant. The Cosmic Black comes with Oppo Glow effect. Similar to Samsung Galaxy S22 and Apple's iPhone design, the F21 Pro also comes with a boxy side frame. It holds a rectangular camera hump supporting three camera lenses and a flashlight.
The microlens is surrounded by an orbit light/breathing light that blinks when you get a call or notifications. It always glows while charging the phone and while using the lens for clicking pictures. Also, the back panel is smudge resistant and does not allow dust to rest on it, which is a blessing in a country like ours. The phone also has fairly slim bezels at the front, although we aren't a fan of that fat chin.
The Oppo F21 Pro is slim (7.54 mm for the sunset orange model and about 7.49 mm for cosmic black) and lightweight (175 gram), thereby making it comfortable to hold and carry. However, the build quality of the phone could have been better and I will tell you why. The F21 Pro slipped from my hands on a busy morning and the corners of the screen along with parts of the frame cracked -- Oppo should do something about this.
Oppo F21 Pro Display
The Oppo F21 Pro comes with a 6.4 inch AMOLED display along with a 90Hz refresh rate and up to 180Hz touch sampling rate. The display provides a good viewing experience by delivering commendable colours, contrast, and brightness. Though the phone offers only a 90Hz refresh rate, the screen is quick in response. But at this price range, Oppo could have given a higher 120Hz refresh rate panel.
Oppo F21 Pro Performance
The Oppo F21 Pro runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 4G mobile platform and boots ColorOS 12.1 based on Android 12. ColorOS 12.1 is easy and comfortable to use but there are lots of pre-installed apps on the phone, most of which qualify as bloatware. But they can be uninstalled. While the third-party apps can be removed entirely, Oppo's first-party apps love to bother with notifications. Similar to other Oppo phones, the F21 Pro also provides the Omoji feature, several special features like Air Gestures, Kid Space, Simple Mode, Flexible Windows, among others.
At the price range Oppo F21 Pro is being offered, the company could have gone for a more powerful chipset -- the Snapdragon 680 feels underpowered for the price this comes at; phones usually use the MediaTek Dimensity 920, Snapdragon 695, and even Snapdragon 778G chips. However, during the review period, the performance of the phone seemed satisfactory. From regular activities like watching videos on YouTube, OTT, scrolling social media apps like Instagram, Facebook, among others, making audio and video calls, to long hours of gaming sessions on the phone, everything was lag-free and offered a decent experience.
I even enjoyed listening to songs on the phone's speaker as it offered a decent audio quality with good enough loudness. When it comes to the connectivity, the phone does not offer the 5G -- this might upset a lot of folks but I do not feel it is a miss since it is yet to be available in India. With the 4G connectivity, the calling experience (both the audio and video calls) has been satisfactory.
Oppo F21 Pro Cameras
Oppo's F series are known for their camera performances. And with the F21 Pro, Oppo has tried to take it up a notch higher. The phone has a triple rear camera setup with a 64MP main camera along with a 2MP microlens and 2MP depth camera. The front camera supports a 32MP selfie camera (Sony IMX709 sensor).
The 64MP main camera takes great clicks in the daylight as it captures the images with good clarity, lively colours, and great details. Pictures clicked in the night mode also offer decent details, even if clicked with 5X zooming.
What I liked the most is the microlens camera -- I expected it to be a gimmick but it works wondefully. It did a great job of capturing the minute details of the most boring objects with absolute clarity. Though there was a struggle in making the phone stable to click the image, once done rightly, it gave a beautiful output. Coming to the selfies camera, it provided a great bokeh effect, bright colours, good exposure, and an overall posh look.
Even while shooting videos, the camera performed well with colour optimization, clarity, and stability, among others. However, the automatic beautification filter is on by default and you need to turn it off if you do not prefer clicking pictures to avoid beauty effects. Other than these, the phone provides options to click images in extra HD mode, panorama, pro, slow motion, and time-lapse, among others.
Oppo F21 Pro Battery
With a 4500mAH battery, the phone can survive for 1.5 days on a single charge. Note that this happened due to my use involving video binging, surfing the web, making calls, and playing games, among others. Even with excessive usage of the phone, you can get a battery life of around a day easily.
Oppo is offering a 33W SUPERVOOC charger along with the phone which can refill the battery in around 60-65 minutes from 0 to 100 percent. You can also use the super power-saving mode plus super nighttime standby mode to maximize the last bit of battery in case of emergency.
Oppo has been offering feature-rich smartphones at a decent price range and the F21 Pro is surely an addition to the list. The phone not only sports a trend-setting design but also offers great camera performance and battery life. Though the Snapdragon 680 chip manages the workloads decently, I feel a more powerful chipset could have justified the price better. The same goes for a higher refresh rate display, even though the gains are barely noticeable. The phone still manages to impress with its decent daily performance by handling everything thrown at it without showing any lag.
However, if cameras and design aren't your thing, you can check out the competition from Xiaomi, Realme, Motorola, and Vivo. The Xiaomi 11i for a bit more money gives you a bigger display, more powerful chipset, and a faster charging with even better battery life. The Redmi Note 11 Pro Plus is another option to consider. And gamers shouldn't forget the iQOO Z5.
The Oppo F21 Pro 4G is, however, for those who simply want a good looking phone with good cameras and decent everything else -- which is what the Oppo F series has always been about.
- Unique design
- Decent battery life
- Great camera performance
- Low refresh rate
- Slow charging
Display6.4-inch AMOLED display
ChipsetQualcomm Snapdragon 680
Rear Cameras64MP + 2MP + 2MP
Battery4500mAh with 33W SUPERVOOC charger
OSColorOS 12.1 based on Android 12
Storage8GB+128GB, RAM expansion