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OPPO’s Industrial Designer shares details about their consumer-centric design language

We talked to Sophie Xie about OPPO’s design process

OPPO Reno 10x Zoom
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One of the most striking features of OPPO smartphones is their design. The company really put a lot of work on how their products look, which is beneficial for those who love to always carry a good-looking gadget in their hands.

To understand how these chic smartphones come about, we were given a chance to speak with Sophia Xie, OPPO’s industrial designer. One of her creations is the OPPO F11 Pro Waterfall Gray variant and she’s also behind in dressing some of the company’s newer smartphones like the brand new OPPO Reno 10x Zoom.

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OPPO’s Industrial Designer, Sophie Xie

With that, Sophia detailed some of the behind-the-scenes and what goes through in designing an OPPO smartphone.

Consumer-centric design language

From what it looks like, OPPO really wants to please their customers by listening to what they want. OPPO is always conducting market research to know what the market really wants to see on their smartphones.

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With that information, OPPO designers like Sophia would travel and explore to gain design inspirations from nature, architecture, and even fashion.

Cost is not a big factor

There are smartphones with real glass back panels, while there are some which uses plastic that looks like glass. You might think that the use of the second-rate material was done for cost-savings. But apparently, it’s not.

See also: OPPO A5s Review

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It’s said that the manufacturing cost between a glass-looking plastic and real glass are not too far from each other. So, it goes without saying that OPPO only uses what the consumer actually wants on their phone.

As we all know, glass does provide a more premium look. However, there’s no denying that plastic material still has its perks as it is lighter and easier to hold in the hands.

Designing a smartphone is a continuous process

When asked how long is the process of designing a smartphone, Sophia gave a pretty interesting answer.

Apparently, there’s no definitive time on how a smartphone is being developed. Brands like OPPO are always hard at work on improving their smartphones’ design. After a device gets out of the market, they immediately go back to the drawing board and see what they can improve or change from the previous one.

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Unique and clever designs

OPPO is known for their quirky designs, especially in their ways of hiding the camera. There’s the OPPO N1 and its flipping camera back in 2013 and the OPPO Find X and its slide-up cameras last year. Now, they have the OPPO Reno 10x Zoom with its shark’s fin pop-up camera.

In our full review of the Reno 10x Zoom, we praised how the unique design of the pop-up camera compliments the overall design. The mechanism occupies the entirety of the top section and rises in a fashionable way — making it standout than everyone else.

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According to Xie, their research suggests that users use the front camera (for selfies and face unlock) at a maximum of 100 times a day. The pop-up mechanism on the Reno 10x Zoom was tested by over 200,000 times, which means that it can last for up to 5 years of heavy usage.

You can also notice that the back panel of the Reno 10x Zoom has a shiny, reflective appearance, despite the matte finish. Sophia reveals that it’s due to the three layer of coating that this device has.

The first one is the actual pattern, which is responsible for the attractive shiny look. Second is the actual color, and lastly, the matte coating that protects the surface from fingerprint marks and smudges — keeping it clean all the time.

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Practical design choices

Other than being there for aesthetic purposes, OPPO also has design choices that have practical uses.

For one, there’s the “O-dot” on the OPPO Reno 10x Zoom. Sophia says that this tiny, ceramic-made node is not just there for show. It’s meant to inconspicuously raise the device when laying in a flat surface, to prevent the bulge-less rear cameras from getting scratched.

Related: OPPO F11 Pro Review

Future of smartphone designs with see-through displays

We’ve previously reported that OPPO has finally figured out an under-display camera technology, which ultimately achieves that all-screen look without the need for pop-up mechanisms and notches.

This could possibly be the next big thing in smartphone designs. It’s in line with Xie’s statement that consumers are always hungry for innovations and always demand change. Gone are the days that companies can settle for the same boring look for several years.

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Sophie Xie, OPPO Industrial Designer

Possible comeback of smaller smartphones

Despite having smaller bezels and thinner designs, there’s no denying that today’s smartphones are bigger than ever. There are still people who want a powerful device, but in a more pocketable form factor, which is why devices like the iPhone SE found its position in the market.

Other than Apple, OPPO is also open in reviving 4-inch smartphones. But then again, based on Sophia Xie’s statements, they will only do it if the market wants it.

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