Professional is a coveted quality for vendors. It moves products and services away from being frivolous and gives them a status of serious production tools.
You might wonder what's Pro about smartphones. Easy: it's their camera systems.
Like the one in Oppo's Android 11 powered Find X3 Pro that costs a princely $1899.
Under the lovely Corning Gorilla Glass encased camera bump, the X3 Pro has two 50 megapixel Sony sensors, 1/1.52-inch (could we stop that 50s nonsense and use millimetres already?) in size, for the ultra-wide and wide imagers.
That pair of cameras will do most of the photo and video work, and have advanced image stabilisation and phase-detection autofocus. Yes, that includes the UW camera that can get as close as four centimetres for macros.
The other two cameras, a 13 Mpixel zoom with 2.5 times magnification and a fun 3 Mpixel microscope are of limited use and much less pro than the wide/ultrawide units.
Part of China's giant BKK conglomerate, Oppo's stablemate brands OnePlus and Vivo have teamed up with German and Swedish photography legends Carl Zeiss and Hasselblad to look properly pro.
Oppo didn't do that, but the X3 Pro got Qualcomm's high-end 5nm Snapdragon 888 which is fast and supports 10-bit colour.
Now, the 10-bit colour support is the X3 Pro's best feature, in my opinion.
It's somewhat Barten's Threshold, but 10-bit support means 1024 shades of each primary colour, instead of 256 with 8-bit systems. You want this as a pro, as it lessens ugly banding between colour gradations. The flipside is that 10-bit colour isn't supported by every device out there.
The X3 Pro has a full 10-bit colour workflow, from the cameras to the great 6.7-inch screen which can do up to 120 Hertz adaptive refresh rate for smooth moves.
For stills, in Expert mode the X3 Pro can use the RAW and RAW+ formats, which creates a large (20 megabyte plus) "digital negative" file with as much information from the sensor as possible.
The idea is that you post-process RAW to your liking, instead of relying on Oppo's tastes.
You need a third-party app like Snapseed to edit RAW and RAW+ files on the X3 Pro; the latter format saves an HEIC copy of the image as well which can be tweaked on the phone.
Similarly, the Movie mode lets you shoot with LOG (logarithmic) colour gamut, which got my pro videographer mate excited. What looks to casual users a washed-out shot is "a very nice gradable image" to pros.
With so many features and modes, Oppo should tidy up its Camera app. For example, settings for different modes are accessed via the usual bolt button and screen taps. However, some modes have slide-down settings sheets too.
Inexplicably for a Pro device, the Expert and Movie modes are behind the More button that also gives access to special effects like time-lapse, panorama, slo-mo and the excellent dual-view video for vlogging fiends. Photographers might appreciate a way to make the pro modes the default for the camera.
Do you get Pro-level images out of the Find X3 Pro? In good light, absolutely. Leave the two main cameras at the default 12.5 Mpixel setting, don't use the full 50 Mpixels, and stills look great.
Video also looks pleasing at up to 4K, and the stabilisation works well. You're limited to two frame rates for all resolutions though, 30 and 60 fps, and not cinematic 24 or even 120 fps.
The X3 Pro nighttime shooting mode can produce great shots, but others weren't exposed right with the device handheld. Oppo recommends using a tripod and the Expert mode which provides greater control over shooting parameters, and it helps.
Night mode could do with fine-tuning though, for when you don't have a tripod which is much of the time.
Overall, the X3 Pro produces lovely still and moving images, and so it should for the money asked.
Which isn't that excessive actually.
For example, Sony released the Xperia Pro in January, which has specialised videographer features like HDMI output and a colour calibrated screen. It's not available in New Zealand however and costs a whopping US$2500 ($3546).
I wouldn't be surprised if we not too far from now will see a Pro phone with 12-bit colour, which is the 68 billion hue Nirvana photogs and movie makers want, costing enough to require the sale of at least one kidney.