We have reviewed several clone or copied devices in the last few months, most notably with Samsung Galaxy S5 and iPhone 5S clones. Today we’re looking at the iNew V8, a clone of a device that has not seen much distribution outside of China, the Oppo N1. The N1 is a device which is most notable for its large 5.9 screen and rotatable rear camera that allows you take straight shots and selfies of equal quality. Mobile Geeks go in-depth with the iNew V8 and the Oppo N1, bringing you a full head to head review of a really popular, high-end Chinese branded smartphone, and its clone.
Of course in this review we will attempt to look both devices in some detail, shedding light on where the real differences lie in terms of hardware bang for buck. The Oppo N1 can cost north of $500 so we should be looking at a really good quality piece of kit. The iNew V8 however retails for around half of that price, so it is interesting to note where the differences really count.
The Oppo N1 is, like many of the devices sold on the Chinese market, a device that actually takes a fairly original concept as its flagship feature. Sure, in China we have seen plenty of gimmicky designs, but the Oppo N1 is actually quite unique as it adds a swivel mounted camera that rotates to allow you to take photos at any angle. Being able to rotate fully around 180 degrees means that Oppo were able to dispense with the front camera entirely and give users the same 13MP camera experience on the front and back of the device. 13MP selfies anyone? I’m sure there are thousands of young women in China who treasure the N1 as the Selfie beast that it is.
Fortunately we have acquired an Oppo N1 so we are in a good position to make direct comparisons of the two devices, and of course there are actually plenty of quite stark differences. Interestingly however, these differences don’t always play in favor of the original device, as there are several spots where the clone can outdo the phone that inspired it.
Don’t forget, you can watch a full and detailed video review comparing the Oppo N1 and the iNew V8:
iNew must be cutting corners to produce a similar looking smartphone that retails for around $250, our job is to find out where, and then assess the impact these changes have on the product. Likewise the Oppo N1 will have the job of trying to justify its lofty price tag.
The first and possibly most major difference between the iNew V8 and the Oppo N1 is the screen size. The Oppo N1 borders on Phablet country with a 5.9 inch screen while the iNew V8 comes in with a more moderate 5.5 inches. The screen resolutions are also a major talking points as the Oppo is fitted with a pretty solid Full HD 1080p display, while the iNew is forced to live with a inferior 720p screen.
Other areas of difference between the two devices are the processor platforms that drive them; the Oppo N1 is powered by a solid Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor. The iNew V8, like most more affordable devices in China, is powered by a MediaTek processor. This will have an obvious impact on the respective performance of the two devices.
In terms of battery life, the OS, the audio experience etc. there are also some significant differences. Check out the table below which highlights and compares key specifications:
iNew V8 vs Oppo N1: Comparison Table
|Oppo N1||iNew V8|
|Display||5.9" 1080p LCD|
|5.5" 720p LCD
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 |
|MediaTek MTK MT6591T
|Storage||16GB / 32GB||16GB|
|microSD||None||Up to 32GB|
|SIM Card Support||Micro SIM||Dual SIM
1 x Micro, 1 x SIM
|Cameras||13MP Swivel Cam|
Dual LED Flash
|13MP Swivel Cam
Dual LED Flash
|Weight||213 grams||166 grams|
|OS||Android 4.2 Jelly Bean||Android 4.4.2 Kit Kat|
|UI||ColorOS UI||Cloned ColorOS UI|
|Price||$550+ USD||$250 USD|
Design and Build Quality
As I mentioned above, the overall design of the iNew V8 is inspired by the Oppo N1, but it is not entirely loyal. At a glance the two devices look very, very similar but look closer and actually there are plenty of differences, not just in terms of specs a we see above, but there also subtle differences in terms of the design. One major point is that the battery of the N1 is non-removable. The back cover of the device does not come off. Access to the SIM card slot is via a small access slot on the right side of the device. This is not the case with the iNew V8 which has a removable back cover which reveals a removable battery, micro SIM, SIM and microSD slots. In my book that makes a score in favor of the iNew.
The iNew V8 keeps the dual chrome band around the edges of the device, although the headphone jack and micro USB ports are located on the bottom of the device, there are subtle differences here also. The speaker on the N1 is also placed on the bottom of the device next to the USB port and audio jack, while the speaker on the V8 is located in a more conventional position on the lower back of device.
Of course the feature that dominates both of these smartphones, is the rotating camera. If we set aside the advantages that it brings (super quality selfies being the main one…), how does this design feature affect the overall appeal of the device? On both phones the swivel camera is a somewhat domineering feature. Both the V8 and N1 are instantly recognizable due to this design feature. Occasionally I did pick up the devices in the wrong way as the camera does take a fair bit real estate at the top of the handset.
The finish on the back of the Oppo feels better than that of the V8, which frankly just feels plain like plastic. Oppo are using a much more sophisticated polycarbonate finish that feels much better quality than its clone. The Oppo N1 also feels significantly heavier than the V8, which should not surprise anyone as the difference of 39 grams is of course significant, both in the hand and the jeans pocket. I wouldn’t really say that the Opp N1 is a bulky device but a 5.9 inch screen plus substantial space for hardware buttons and a swivel camera, you are looking at one of the largest and certainly longest devices out there.
In fact this all means that for many people the iNew V8 will be a better choice, simply in terms of size. The Oppo N1 is a big smartphone that many people may find to be simply too large for their needs. I think iNew realized this and decided to make the clone a more acceptable size for a mainstream audience.
One other area where the iNew shines is terms of button placement. The Oppo N1 places both power and volume rocker on the right edge of the device, but for me the volume rocker is too low down, occupying the lower half of that edge. I would prefer it be a bit further up. Perhaps the placement is to aid with thumb usage but for me it just feels too low. The iNew V8 has a more conventional placement that appeals to me more.
Overall the Oppo certainly feels like a much more expensive and well built device, and perhaps that has been achieved by using a design that does not incorporate a removable back cover. The down side is of course that the Oppo N1 does not allow you access to the battery which is thusly non-removable, and there is also no microSD card. The iNew features a removable battery, two SIM card slots and a microSD card slot – removable back covers certainly have their advantages. Recently we have seen the LG G3 and OnePlus One prove that removable back smartphones can still feel classy.
The difference between the two displays should be very much apparent from one peek at the specifications sheet – 720p vs 1080p. This discrepancy is of course a direct result of the two price tags involved. Very few, if any $250 deals will give you a 1080p Full HD display. The fact that the Oppo N1 is also a larger 5.5 inch LCD display is also a factor in price. 5.9 inch 1080p panels cost significantly more than 5.5 inch 720p panels. But in terms of appearance and performance how do the two compare? Is the difference really so great?
In truth, once you get used to using a 1080p screen, anything less tends to be pretty obvious really. We have seen some really good quality 720p panels and the iNew V8 probably looks as good as anything we have seen. The colors are vivid and relatively crisp. In terms of brightness the V8 actually performs reasonably well, or at least at a similar brightness to the N1. However in very bright outdoor conditions, neither device can really deliver. Compared to the high-end screens on the Samsung Galaxy S5 for example, neither the Oppo N1 or the iNew are even close.
The Oppo N1 certainly benefits from being a Full HD screen, even though at the 5.9 inch scale of the device means the overall pixel density is actually quite average at 373 PPI. But still way ahead of the V8 at 261 PPI, which can tend to look slightly pixelated when placed under scrutiny.
Overall you would have to say that the Oppo N1holds sway in terms of the display. This is one area, where the extra cash really counts. The V8 is a solid LCD panel, and one that performs well for the price however. If you are used to using a Full HD device, you will feel that a lack of crispness. Viewing angles are pretty good, although you will notice blacks fade to greys at certain angles. It’s not perfect, but for this price, it is still very reasonable.
In conclusion, it’s probably fair to say you get what you pay for in terms of handset displays, and I think the Oppo N1 and the iNew V8 are both reasonably good within their respective price segments. Not exceptional, but solid enough.
In terms of the rotating camera head at the head of both devices, there is very little to differential the N1 from the V8. In hardware terms both feel equally well made and solid. You never get a feeling fragility or weakness with the rotating, module itself. There are very slight differences in terms of actual design -the N1 a is touch more curved -so clearly the hardware used on the V8 is not the same as on the N1. Both devices claim to use a 13MP camera, but if you compare both devices close up they are both clearly using different sensors. The results of our photo testing also bear this out with the Oppo N1 providing better chance of a good quality photo in most environments.
Oppo N1 Camera
In terms of software both camera apps are fairly simplistic, which is not always a bad thing. If we look first at the Oppo N1, we see the usual options are present and with a range of modes including HDR, Panorama, Beautify and Slow Shutter mode (a pretty cool way of created long exposure shots that don’t actually look too bad). There are other presets that are accessed by the top right icon and include auto, smart scene, portrait, landscape, sports and night while other settings are configurable by the top right icon and include resolution and video mode options.
In terms of video recording, the Oppo N1 will pump out 1080p video at 30fps, but offers no slow motion of re-focusing features. Image stabilization seems to work well enough but the camera can take its time to auto-focus at the beginning of each shot. All in all, the Oppo N1 is a pretty good, if reasonably simple 13MP camera that will not compete so well with a flagship Samsung, Sony or Nokia, but in fact typically performs well enough in most conditions. Night mode certainly seems to help with low lights, but compared to the laser auto-focus on the LG G3, the Oppo N1 seems to be some ways off.
iNew V8 Camera
The iNew, on paper at least, has the same 13MP sensor, but clearly different actual components have been used. In terms of software, the iNew is packing an increasingly familiar MediaTek – styled interface that lacks the more sophisticated feel of the N1. Very similar options are available and include white balance settings, color effects, exposure settings, face detection, smile shot and HDR – all navigable via one settings icon in the top left of the screen.
The tip right icon gives you fast access to a range of modes that include Face Beauty, Live Photo and more. The actual software implementation is somewhat reminiscent of the No.1 S7 Samsung Clone we looked at several weeks ago. For the most part, auto settings will provide a decent experience, with many of the available options proving to be mostly cosmetic to the overall experience.
On auto mode the V8 tended to lose its way in terms of color correction, with distinctly blue hues emerging. Although the N1 proved to be the master when it came down to detail, the iNew V8 was not far behind. In bright sunny outdoor conditions both phones are capable of solid, good looking with as much detail as you could expect from a 13MP shooter.
Of course the most important feature has to the rotating camera lens, which has been implemented pretty consistently on both of these devices. The 13MP cameras we have on these devices may not be world-class, but compared to every single other front facing camera you have ever encountered, it kicks ass. If you are a person who likes to take selfies, you are going to love the ability to just turn the camera around and aim at yourself. It really could be the deal closing feature for so many people – alas, not me.
The rotating camera adds extra length to an already substantial chassis outline, this is especially true of the larger Oppo N1, which is monster of a phone once you have it in your pocket. I simply do not take enough selfies to warrant having this design on my phone. I would rather have the length reduced and forgo the selfie supremacy.
As mentioned above the, actual implementation of the respective speakers is quite different on both of these devices. The Oppo has the speaker located on the bottom edge of the device next to the micro USB and headphone jack, whereas the iNew V8 has a more conventional back cover design with the speaker visible on the lower rear of the back cover.
The difference in terms of audio quality is apparent, with Oppo N1 clearly fitted with a better quality speaker than that used on the V8. Playback in terms of sheer volume is pretty much even. Neither device has a particularly loud output, especially compared to the Boomsound HTC design – the current industry benchmark.
The audio playback of the Oppo is however better quality with a more rounded sound that has bass, mids and treble frequencies sounding fairly balanced and even. In contrast the V8 tends to sound more tinny, with a lack of lower bass frequencies that make the overall sound too pronounced in the middle. A less than generous assessment would argue perhaps that the V8 simply sounds cheaper than the Oppo. We probably should not be too surprised by that. I have heard worse than the V8 of course, and in isolation the sound is totally decent for the price you are paying. Likewise the Oppo N1 is offering a clear, well balanced sound, but it is not the loudest.
In our day to day usage, both the Oppo N1 and the iNew V8 performed well in terms of battery life. In 2014 we kind of expect to have an all day battery experience from all devices, except in cases of extremely harsh usage. In this regard the two devices did very well. The larger Oppo N1 has a more substantial non-removable 3,610mAh battery that is suited to its larger screen, while the smaller iNew V8 is fitted a 2,400mAh battery that can in fact be replaced.
We ran our standard LaptopMagazine battery test and found that with medium brightness and WiFi turned on, the Oppo lasted for 8:58 (8 hours, 58 mins), while the iNew V8 expired after 7:12. Both of these scores are decent enough. You can compare that to the OnePlus one which lasted 9:38. You can find comparison scores here: http://blog.laptopmag.com/smartphones-best-battery-life
The Oppo N1 also features a handy power saving mode which is easily accessible from the drop down menu. It dims the screen brightness down to extreme levels but actually doesn’t seem to too much more. It is certainly nothing quite like the extreme power saving features that we have seen from Samsung. The V8 has an option to limit CPU maximum frequencies, but in reality I found it did very little.
The Oppo N1 sports Oppos’ in-house developed Android UI, branded ColorOS. In terms of sheer design and fashion sense, ColorOS is not the going to win any prizes any time soon. The icons in particular look overly detailed which makes them look a little dated. Compared to the new CyanogenMod OS, the Asus Zen UI, Samsung’s Touchwiz and HTC’s new Sense V5, ColorOS just looks like it belongs to a previous era. Where the fashion or trend today is towards minimalistic, flat icons, Oppo are using icons and widgets that really try and look like everyday objects.
Take the example of the Clock widget above; it has a 3D look with light reflections and depth around its chromed edges. The icons for the camera app is a camera lens which again has lots of detail, as with the phone icon which incorporates the dialing pad as well as a handset. With the current trend swinging towards extreme simplicity, the Oppo design feels a touch too detailed and complex.
The iNew V8 basically mimics the Oppo ColorOS wherever it can. You are getting pretty much the same wallpapers and icons, so the overall feel is very similar, but in terms of menu systems and basic organizational details, there are plenty of differences.
We will talk about performance later, but in general, the Oppo N1 feels slicker to use. The transitions are really smooth (and customizable with three kinds; default sliding, tilting and vivid – far fewer than on CyanogenMod or MIUI) and the whole OS just feels a touch more polished on the Oppo. This is no doubt aided by the Full HD screen and superior processor, but there is also a touch more classiness too. The fonts seem better chosen, the menus are well laid out. The quick assess pull down bar is well organized with more options nested inside if you pull down again.
The iNew V8 is much closer to a vanilla Android OS feel, or least the vanilla feel as implemented by MediaTek, who will have doubtless produced the base upon which the ColorOS cloning has been laid. The pull down bar gives you access to notifications and settings, which you can slide along to reveal more settings for standard options regarding Bluetooth, GPS, Wi-Fi and more. Many standard Android apps are included such as a torch app, audio recorder, calendar and more, all of which look familiar as they no doubt are standard MediaTek / Android bundles.
In theory however the iNew V8 does have one distinct advantage, in that it is running the new Kit Kat Android 4.4.2, where the Oppo N1 is still at Jelly Bean level at 4.2.2. However, I am sure many users could not care less which version of Android their phone is running, as long as the user experience is there.
In terms of processor, we have two very different platforms to look at and consider here. The more expensive Oppo N1 is running a Qualcomm processor that would have been considered flagship class a year or so ago. The Snapdragon 600 is a quad-core, clocked at 1.7Ghz, backed by the Adreno 320 integrated graphics chip. It’s the same processor that we saw in the HTC One and One Max, LG Optimus G Pro and certain models of the Samsung Galaxy S4. This is decidedly last year’s tech, then again the Oppo N1 has been around for quite a few months.
If you run CPU-Z the hardware ID app will tell you that you the iNew V8 runs on one MediaTek’s stronger contenders, the MT6591T. We know that the MT6591T is similar to other octa-core processors based on the ARM big.LITTLE architecture, however in other apps such as Quandrand and HWBOT Prime, we see that in fact the V8 is running on a hexa-core processor (i.e. six cores). Indeed the MT6591T is probably an imperfect octa-core processor, with two cores disabled. Common practice in improving silicon yields.
Check out our benchmark scores below comparing the Oppo N1 and its Snapdragon 600 processor, with the Sony Xperia Z2. It paints a picture that we kind of expected with the Snapdragon 801 dominating pretty much all tests except Vallamo, which seems to have a bug where the 801 is concerned (especially odd because Vallamo is a Qualcomm developed app). In terms of graphics we can see that the Mediatek SoC is behind both Qualcomm chips by a significant margin, but it actually scores higher in the GeekBench multi-core test thanks to the six cores.
Oppo N1 vs iNew V8: Benchmark Comparison Chart
|Oppo N1 (Snapdragon 600)||iNew V8|
|Sony Xperia Z2 (Snapdragon 801)|
|GeekBench 3.0 Single Core||571||394||765|
|3DMark - Ice Storm||13722||6302||18753|
|GFX Bench 720p||817||800||1610|
In terms of end user experience, the iNew V8 and the Oppo N1 both offer a smooth Android experience with very little in the way of lagginess or stuttering. I would say that the Oppo N1 appears to be a little slicker in terms of transitions, but where raw performance is concerned, the N1 is ahead. This will be felt mostly in 3D games where the extra grunt of the Adreno GPU will give the Oppo N1 the edge.
On the N1, Oppo have implemented a special feature that we had not encountered before – O-Touch. Presumably the O stands for Oppo, but O-Touch is way to navigate the phone using a square area of the back panel. If yo look closely at the back of the device you will notice that there is 1.5 inch square etched in the housing. When enabled you can use this square to slide from screen to screen or configure it to open an a pre-designated app with a double tap. There are several other functions which can be enabled including options to slide up/down, left and right, tap and hold for five seconds to take a photo, use a long press to engage audio recording and tap up down to control audio playback. The function works reasonably well, can be fun to play around with, but to be fair, it can also became a pest. At times, I managed to engage apps while the phone was in my pocket, with frequent misuse if you accidentally touch the back panel in normal usage scenarios.
I think its fair to say that Oppo have tried something different and we really like to see innovation. However, on balance I chose to turn off the O-Touch feature, as it simply made navigation too clumsy. The feature is arguably designed to make navigation easier on a larger handset, but in reality it adds a great deal of annoyance. The iNew also adds the O-Touch feature, but without the branding. In the iNew V8 you can configure the feature via the Touchpad settings. I kind of feel that iNew have made a big effort to implement a feature that few will really use.
The Oppo N1 is sold as a true flagship by Oppo, with flagship price north of $500USD to suit. The iNew V8 will cost you about half of that, available from E-Fox for 185 Euros, which is just under $250 USD. This is incredible value and certainly influences our final opinion of the device.
If we turn our attention first to the Oppo N1. This is a genuine attempt at creating a true flagship smartphone. The build quality and the screen and very convincing, the software has a touch of class and is well thought out and attractive enough – even if the icons used seem a little out-dated. The are issues however. The button placement is a little awkward with the power button and volume rocker placed a little low for my personal liking. Also, there is no microSD card slot, another annoyance for me personally. I am also not so keen on the white finish. I would love to try an N1 in black – I think that could be quite sexy. The price is also a little steep too. For $550 you can buy a $300 OnePlus One and a Xiaomi Mi3!
The iNew is a very capable 5.5 inch smartphone that has enough performance under the hood plus a slick UI that imitates the ColorOS from Oppo as best it can. The camera is decent enough for the price tag, the battery life is solid and the build quality is also really good. It also has a microSD, runs the latest Android Kit Kat, so for less than $250, it is actually great value for money. I think also that the slightly smaller form factor will also appeal to a lot of people too. The N1 is a beast of a phone and actually feels pretty weighty at 213 grams. The lighter V8 would be preferable to most people I would imagine. Of course both phones feature the rotating camera. Is it a feature that I would insist upon? Not really. I don’t take selfies enough to warrant its inclusion, but if you are a selfie queen, you will enjoy having that 13MP sensor.
Thanks to E-Fox for supplying the iNew V8 for the purpose of this review.