If you blinked, you may have missed this year’s biggest phone innovation

Oppo Find X Super VOOC
Andy Boxall

Like moths to a flame, and magpies to anything slightly shiny, we’ve been gushing over the fun motorized camera atop of the new Oppo Find X smartphone. When you see it in action it’s easy to understand why: It’s unique, quirky, and mesmerizing. Except all the while we’ve been ohh-ing and ahh-ing over it, Oppo slid a far more exciting piece of actual technology in during the launch event.

It’s called Super VOOC, a new fast battery charging technology, and it’s exactly what we’ve been crying out for. How quick? Lamborghini quick. From zero to 100 percent in 35 minutes.

We want it, now. Except, it’s not going to be cheap to get, and Oppo hasn’t been exactly forthcoming with details on it either. Is this a cause for concern? We haven’t seen much advancement in battery and charging tech recently, so we know it’s tough. We really don’t want to, but should we prepare for disappointment?

What’s VOOC, and who is Oppo?

The Find X made a splash, but some of you may not have heard of Oppo before, let alone VOOC charge technology. Allow me to introduce you. Oppo is a Chinese smartphone brand that built its first phone in 2008, and has rocketed up to capture second place in the Chinese market, according to Counterpoint Research, and fourth in the world since then. It sells phones in 30 different countries and regions around the world, with a user base of more than 200 million. It’s known for its dedication to cameras — particularly selfie cams — and for often unusual design choices.

Super VOOC charging is not part of the regular Find X; right now it’s only in the $2000 Lamborghini edition.

VOOC is the name for its proprietary fast charging technology, and it’s found on several Oppo phones already. It charges a battery to 75 percent capacity in 30 minutes, according to the company. We’ve seen it in action, and can verify it’s very fast, with the actual charging times varying depending on the size of the cell. Alongside OnePlus’s Dash Charge, it’s one of the best fast charging systems available.

Super VOOC is stage two, a new battery charging technology that’s fitted to the Lamborghini special edition of the Find X. If there’s one thing that’s constantly repeated when a new phone comes out, it’s that people want longer-lasting batteries, but without the design drawbacks that come with larger cells. Faster charging technology solves this problem while the race continues to build a better battery cell, and Super VOOC is about the fastest we’ve heard of yet.

Oppo’s an established brand with the engineering ability to make Super VOOC a reality, so why are we feeling trepidatious?

Exciting, but slower?

There are four reasons our excitement over Super VOOC was initially dampened. First, Super VOOC charging is not part of the regular Find X and only in the Lamborghini edition, which will cost 1700 euros, or about $2,000. That’s issue one — it’s astonishingly expensive. Secondly the Lamborghini phone doesn’t have a release date, and the only one we’ve seen was hidden behind glass at the Find X launch event. Eek.

Issue three is related to this. We haven’t seen the Find X Lamborghini special edition being charged in super fast time, so it’s tough to verify it works as it should. Leading on from this, has Super VOOC got slower since we saw it at MWC 2016, when it could apparently recharge a 2,500mAh battery in 15 minutes? The Find X has a 3,730mAh battery inside, and will take 35 minutes to charge. Using some complex mathematical equations, we estimate that it should be able to recharge a 5,000mAh battery in 30 minutes. Super VOOC seems to be a little less super than it was two years ago.

Has Oppo struggled to perfect the technology that we welcome with open arms? No-one likes a tease that doesn’t follow through. After all, it was a working prototype shown in early 2016, and at the time Oppo hoped to have Super VOOC in a phone before the end of that year. Here we are more than two years later, yet still it remains tantalizingly out of reach.

Heating things up

Surely we’re not getting worked up over nothing? To make sure, we asked Oppo’s International Public Relations Manager, Alex MacGregor, about the technology behind Super VOOC.

“[Super VOOC] has many safety advantages in comparison to traditional VOOC …”

“Super VOOC technology has the Series Bi-cell batteries design and supports a 10V 5A fast charging mode,” MacGregor told Digital Trends. “The design doubles charging power compared to a single cell, and a cell phone battery can be fully charged in 35 minutes.”

Charging quickly means more heat, and potentially more room for problems, right?

“This technology has many safety advantages in comparison to traditional VOOC, with five protection features including low temperature and low voltage, ensuring a fast and safe charge,” he said.

Oppo Find X Super VOOC
Oppo

Okay, that sounds great. But what about the slower speed? MacGregor said, “The charging volume of the Find X’s battery is much bigger than the one shown at MWC,” meaning my math was to blame, rather than the technology. It’s all great news; but why are we waiting?

The trouble is, we’re used to disappointment with batteries and charging. Look at Apple’s AirPower wireless charging mat, which has been delayed for a year since its announcement. When Apple, a company with some disposable income in its pocket, can’t crack batteries and charging to its liking, you’ve got trouble.

Technical difficulties?

Here’s the kicker. When asked directly about the technical challenges of getting Super VOOC into the Find X Lamborghini edition, MacGregor replied, “I’ve been told there weren’t any significant ones, to the point where we actually switched focus to the camera.”

How’s that for confidence? Super VOOC was so problem-free that Oppo could turn its attention to the eye-catching motorized camera and its AI-enhanced capabilities ahead of time. It’s a relief to hear we’re highly unlikely to be denied Super VOOC because of last minute problems, or that it was a cruel joke played on those who eternally forget to charge their phones up.

Oppo Find X's pop-up camera. Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Yes, the Lamborghini phone is expensive; but like Porsche Design’s approach with Huawei, we imagine Lamborghini wanted to keep a headline speed-related feature all to itself. We’ve been promised a chance to try out Super VOOC for ourselves soon, to clear any remaining doubt away forever.

Super VOOC’s debut may be in an expensive special edition, but it’ll almost certainly be a part of other Oppo phones in the future, and the Find X is the company’s big push out into the world (though not the U.S. yet). The motorized camera is the Find X’s look-at-me feature, but it’s Super VOOC — unique and genuinely useful — that will become Oppo’s international calling card.

Home Theater

Beats Powerbeats Pro: Everything you need to know about the earphones

Apple will release a fully wireless pair of earphones in May from its Beats brand. The Powerbeats Pro earphones have impressive features to compete with the AirPods, along with a litany of other options. Here's everything we know.
Mobile

Breaking news: Samsung responds to reported Galaxy Fold display issues

The Samsung Galaxy Fold has arrived, and it goes on sale soon. Folding out from a 4.6-inch display to a tablet-sized 7.3-inch display, this unique device has six cameras, two batteries, and special software to help you use multiple apps.
Mobile

The black satin Razer Phone 2 is now available for $500

The Razer Phone 2 is finally here, and it's got upgraded specs, that super-smooth 120Hz display, and an updated design. Here's absolutely everything you need to know about the Razer Phone 2.
Gaming

Get the most life out of your Xbox One controller with these tips

The Xbox One controller has fantastic battery life, but eventually your batteries will still die. To make it even better and ensure you never have to stop gaming, follow these tips.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Samsung Galaxy Fold woes, zombie pigs, and more

Today's topics: Samsung Galaxy Fold, Facebook A.I. voice assistants, YouTube comes to Fire TV, facial recognition on airline flights, the SpaceX DART program, Yale's zombie pigs, and much more!
Mobile

Samsung Galaxy S10 update gives manual control of Bright Night mode

Samsung 2019 flagship smartphone lineup is here, and there aren't just two phones as usual — there are four. There's the Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, as well as a new entry called the S10e, as well as the Galaxy S10 5G.
Deals

Apple iPads and iPad Pros get price cuts up to $150 on Amazon

In the market for a new iPad? Now might be the time to buy -- Amazon has discounted a range of iPad models, including the 10.5-inch, 11-inch, and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, plus the standard iPad.
Deals

The excellent Moto G6 is just $99 from Google Fi for a limited time

Getting a cheap smartphone can be a great way to squeeze value out of your dollars. Motorola's Moto G-range has always been good value, but never better than this: Get the Moto G6 for just $99 from Google Fi.
Mobile

Keep your huge phone beautiful with the best iPhone XS Max cases

Apple's iPhone XS Max might be the best large phone the company has ever released. But a bigger OLED display and body means there's more glass to crack. Keep your massive phone safe with the best iPhone XS Max cases.
Deals

Ultra Wideband is here, and you can use it with the 5G Moto Mod (and save $150)

5G is rolling out in the U.S., and Motorola’s Moto Z3 is one of the few phones that can use it. Select people can take advantage of Verizon’s 5G service and enjoy a $150 discount with the purchase of a Moto Z3 and 5G Moto Mod bundle.
Deals

The best Amazon Prime Day 2019 deals: Everything you need to know

Amazon Prime Day 2019 is still a few months off, but it's never too early to start preparing. We've been taking a look at the best discounts from previous Prime Days to give you our predictions of what to expect this year.
Mobile

The 15 most stylish iPhone docks and charging stands for your device

The right iPhone dock does more than just hold your phone. If you’re looking for the perfect dock for your bedroom, or one to sit discretely on your office desk, there’s a good chance you’ll find it here.
Product Review

The Xperia 10 Plus feels great in your hand, but you'll still want to put it down

There has never been a better time to buy a smartphone with an unusual design, and one of the cheaper models out there vying for your attention is the Sony Xperia 10 Plus, with its 21:9 aspect ratio screen.
Trash

How to save yourself money by buying a refurbished iPhone

There’s a lot to consider when you’re looking for a new iPhone, and it can be very expensive. Save yourself some heartache and some money with our guide on how to buy a refurbished iPhone.