Oppo Find X5 Pro hands-on: Hasselblad help and a new AI chip

And it's a beautifully designed phone.

Oppo’s latest phone looks and sounds like an expensive, powerful flagship. With a 6.7-inch WQHD+ screen that can hit 1,300 nits of brightness, adaptive refresh rates, and a new AI chip, made in-house to amp up low light camera performance – even at 4K. There are also two 50-megapixel primary camera sensors, a new (but familiar-sounding) Hasselblad collaboration and, well, just look at this beautiful thing.

So far this year, Oppo already announced its MariSilicon X neural processing unit (NPU), its intriguing attempt at foldables, but not a new flagship phone. But that’s where MWC comes in, which so far is shaping up to be a relatively quiet mobile show. It’s good news for Oppo. Barring any leftfield surprises (Samsung and Huawei both have press events this week) it can take center stage. Fortunately, Oppo has provided a device ahead of the public reveal, so I’ve got some early impressions and thoughts to add to proceedings.

The Find X5 Pro borrows heavily from the Find X3 Pro’s shape and style from last year, but I think it looks even better. The camera unit now has a diagonal slope at the bottom, so it should fit in your hand better. There’s no space-age, hyper-reflective silver color option this time, just glossy black or ceramic white. It was a bit much.

Oppo Find X5 Pro at MWC 2022
Mat Smith/Engadget

This black one picks up fingerprints and smudges with a little too much ease, but I didn’t fear scratching it before I had to film this preview or grab photos for my story. Oppo says the ceramic body is actually nanometer microcrystalline ceramics. The material takes 168 hours to produce but Oppo says results in a phone that can resist scratches over 1200 HV – Vickers Pyramid number that registers hardness. For comparison, stainless steel scores 200 HV, while diamond reaches around 10,000 HV. In summary, you might not need the protective case that also comes in the box. There’s also Gorilla Glass Victus on the screen.

I think it looks great. And while it might not be quite as unique as the Pixel 6’s cyclops look, it at least looks different to the army of phones with their squarish camera arrays. There’s a little originality to the design here. There are also some (reliably?) familiar specs. It’s another phone arriving with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip – arguably the most powerful Android phone chip available in phones at this moment. There’s also a 5,000mAh battery – bigger than the one found in its predecessor. Bigger batteries are always better in my opinion.

Cameras seem to be Oppo’s focus with the Find X5 Pro. The company has made changes across camera hardware, processing, user interfaces and everything in between. Like its last Find X device, the X5 Pro has dual 50-megapixel primary sensors, but each has a few different specs, lens layouts and even materials.

The ultrawide camera, at the top of the Find 5X, includes a freeform lens. Oppo says this should reduce image distortion – that weird stretched effect at the edges of an image – when putting those wide angles to use. It has a f/2.2 aperture and can cover a 110-degree field of view. It’s a 50-megapixel sensor, which uses pixel binning techniques to offer what Oppo says is “2um binned pixel size”.

Just below it, the second 50MP camera taps into the same pixel binning techniques but has an f/1.7 aperture with a glass and resin combination lens. Using glass in just a part of the lens array should improve color accuracy up to 77 percent, according to Oppo. This camera also features five-axis optical image stabilization to boost your chances of a clear shot, and improve imaging performance across low-light settings. All of those axes of stabilization mean this sensor takes up a lot more space inside the Find X5 Pro, but there was still room for a 13-megapixel telephoto camera with f/2.4 aperture and a new 13-channel spectral sensor. Last year’s Oppo flagship had a mere 5-channel sensor, but this upgrade will improve color accuracy and the precision of white balance settings.

Oppo Find X5 Pro at MWC 2022
Mat Smith/Engadget

On the front, there’s a 32-megapixel selfie cam, with a new RGBW sensor that should offer, again, more accurate color capture and improved dynamic range. The selfie camera will also monitor whether you’re looking at your phone, keeping the screen lit if you’re still watching or reading.

That’s half the hardware story. Oppo is debuting its Marisilicon X NPU chip in its new phone. During my briefing, the company walked through how the chip enables a new “night-mode” video recording, even at 4K resolution with HDR enabled. There’s a barrage of specs and numbers to explain what Oppo’s homemade NPU is adding, but a lot of it distills down to better and faster signal processing and even improved power efficiency, which could be important if you’re capturing a lot of 4K content.

I briefly tested out 4K Ultra Night Video, Oppo’s take on low-light video recording. While it does certainly help to amplify detail in the dimmest situations, at least when I’ve used it so far, the NPU hasn’t translated to 4K video notably better than its competition.

I tried filming last night with the Find X5 Pro and Pixel 6 Pro, and Google’s footage seemed more natural and less harsh than what Oppo’s processing produced. Foliage detail was a little too excessively blown-out to the point of turning gray – it appeared to tune out the green.

There’s also the new collaboration with Hasselblad. Which isn’t quite so new. We’ve already written about it when OnePlus revealed its Hasselblad-infused camera software in the 10 Pro.

But for the sake of consistency, let’s go over what Hasselblad is adding, aside from cachet.

The phone’s Pro mode offers users some Hasselblad-seasoned fine-grain controls. That means a big orange shutter button and three Hasselblad approved filters for stills and videos. I can’t explain why, but I really liked what each of these ‘special’ filters did to my video and photos. You even get Xpan Mode, where you can shoot video in 65:24 ratio. If you don’t care to do the math, it’s just a very wide, cinematic aspect ratio. For reasons I can’t fully explain, I loved this too.

Oppo Find X5 Pro sample shots
Mat Smith/Engadget

Now OnePlus and Oppo are more tightly aligned, it’s not surprising to see software overlap like this. Yes, you also get Hasselblad’s natural color solution, where the company has tried to replicate the color accuracy of its very expensive cameras into these smartphone camera sensors.

Oppo saved a little bit of spectacle for its MWC show, namely prices and launch dates. In the UK and Europe, the device will land on March 24th, priced at £1,049 or €1,299, roughly $1,400. However, you’re unlikely to see the Find X5 Pro in the US – something you may hear several times during Europe’s big mobile show.

Catch up on all of the news from MWC 2022 right here!