By Len G. Amadora
In life, we often take for granted many awesome things that most deserve our gratitude and a trip to Shenzhen, made me realize just that. Truly, we should not take for granted the things we should be grateful for, like our ever reliable smartphones.
Did you know that behind the technology and all the glitz and glamour of a single OPPO device lies sheer hard work? A crucial ingredient to the recipe for success just like what Margaret Thatcher believed in when she said, “I do not know anyone who has got to the top without hard work. It will not always get you to the top, but should get you pretty near.”
So before I share with you my Shenzhen adventure, a little background on this amazing company.
OPPO is a China-based smartphone company keen on manufacturing camera phones. Although OPPO’s beginnings can be traced back with its first MP3 player in 2005, it was in 2008 when it first entered the mobile phone market. Its first smartphone was the “Find Me” unit released in 2011 and a year after, OPPO adopted the first built-in smartphone with beautify technology— Beautify 1.0, a hallmark of the OPPO U701. OPPO is proud of its many mobile photography breakthroughs that led to the era of selfie beautification. Remember the motorized rotating camera? Well, they were also the first brand to incorporate 5MP and 16MP front cameras in their smartphones and the Ultra HD Feature. Indeed, there were a lot of firsts when it comes to selfie and beauty.
Now, selfies -considered as the self-portrait of the digital age- has gone a long way and so is OPPO with its Beauty 4.0 highlighted in their F series. It features the ability to take self images that are blemish free and natural looking. But selfies are more fun when collaborated by many. That is why OPPO incorporated the wide-angle selfies where more people can fit in one memorable shot. Undoubtedly, the more the merrier! No wonder OPPO is the choice of most teens and millennials.
But apart from its beauty technology, hardware and design, OPPO believes that quality is their utmost feature. Providing a smartphone of premium quality has always been a priority for OPPO that is why before a single device goes out in to the real world, that device has to go through a lot and I mean a lot! Join me as I walk you through the Shenzhen OPPO Factory and see why their devices truly deserve the praise.
1 • Wearing non-static laboratory gowns, caps and shoe covers, we walked through the halls that led to the assembly line workshop for handsets. This is where the different parts of the handsets are assembled to finish products. It has a total of 26 assembly lines.
2 • Each production line is divided in to 2 segments: assembly segment and testing segment. The assembly stations consisted of battery assembly, assembly of front and rear cameras, main boards, etc. As like many assembly lines, all worked with a unified, accurate patterned movements; each meticulously constructing, testing and inspecting; making sure nothing is missed and everything is where it is supposed to be. At the end of testing, the device goes through a final visual inspection.
3 • The QE Lab was our next stop. This is where they do spot checks of the smartphones from beginning to mass production. Each handset has to undergo more than 150 tests divided into electrical performance test, structural tests and environmental aging tests. Handsets should be able to defy all tests to assure the best quality.
4 • To ensure the best quality, handsets undergo a series of strict stress tests. This includes: MICRO DROP TEST: At the height of 7 cm, the handset is thrown on its front, back and four sides 20,000 times. DROP TEST: At the height of 1.0 m and increments of 0.5 m thereafter, the handset falls from its 6 surfaces, 8 corners, 12 edges twice. If the first drop is successful, the same process will be repeated.
5 • BUTTON CLICK TEST: The power and volume keys are most often pressed. As such, in the laboratory, each side key is tapped 100,000 times with 1 kg. force. The fingerprint key, on the other hand is tapped 1 million times.
6 • PRESS TEST: A simulated scenario is done where in the handset is pressed against a small object.Even its tendency to flex when placed in pocket and twist is simulated.
7 • RAIN TEST: Simulated moderate rainfall at 60L/hour is done with the handset pitched at 75 degree angle in any side; after which the unit is wiped clean and set aside for 3 days to allow evaporation of water inside the unit. The unit then is dismantled to check if the main board BTB and display screen are not corroded.
8 • TUMBLE TEST: The handset is placed inside a drum roller that rotates 75 times at a speed of 3-5 times per minute. Although the handset may incur physical bruises, the shell shouldn’t crack or detach. There should be no failure of function as well. Dismantling of handset is done after to check for internal structural damage.
9 • ENVIRONMENTAL WORK: The handset is placed in an extremely high temperature environment (85 degrees Celsius) for 500 hours. Handset functions and RF parameters should still be normal and within specified range.
10 • SWEAT TEST: The handset is again stored for 48 hours in a hot, humid environment wrapped with a piece of cloth that was dipped in artificial sweat. Handset is then verified once again. SALT SPRAY TEST: Moisture with salt concentration of 5% is sprayed on the surface of the handset and is then stored in a hot (55 degrees Celsius) humid environment. Hours later, the handset is taken out and stored in normal temperature exposed to air. Complete inspection follows thereafter. Additional tests are done in various environment such as contact with drinks, coffee and even cosmetics.
11 • Last stop in the factory tour is the SMT Center consisting of 38 motherboard production lines and 25 small plate production lines. These lines produce 7.5 million motherboards and 25 million sub-boards a month. To ensure high quality, equipment used in the SMT Centers are from world-class manufacturers. In addition, all handsets have to go through 18 quality inspection processes to ensure all motherboards for assembly are of best quality. Needless to say, OPPO has set the highest quality standards in the mobile phone industry.
So what makes OPPO stand out?
Living up to its vision on mobile photography i.e. “Take great pictures anytime, anywhere”, OPPO focused on its algorithm and software, camera module and sensor customization, sensor and module co-development with Sony and ISP customization. OPPO prioritizes not only technology and design but also user experience that is why quality is of utmost importance.
Definitely, an OPPO smartphone is no one trick pony. The OPPO Factory Tour in Shenzhen taught me that great things are done by a series of small things brought together. Oftentimes, the small details are the most important ones.
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