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Al-Li alloy will keep the Oppo N3 light, but strong

An aluminum-lithium alloy will give the upcoming N3 unprecedented structural strength, according to the company CEO.
September 25, 2014
oppo find 7 7a unboxing first impressions (1 of 27)

Aluminum is light and very versatile. But it has a problem, as a certain company just found out. It’s actually pretty malleable. That’s why aluminum is often alloyed with other metals that give it strength without making it much heavier.

In what’s either a well-timed move or a very lucky coincidence, Oppo teased this week a new material that will supposedly give the upcoming N3 (successor of the N1, Oppo doesn’t like even numbers for some reason) unprecedented structural strength.

This “aerospace grade” material has now been revealed to be an Aluminum-Lithium alloy. According to Oppo CEO Chenming Yong, this alloy is comparable in strength to stainless steel, but its density is just one third of that of steel. The use of this material on the N3 is supposedly an industry first.

Good old Wikipedia confirms that Al-Li alloys are typically used in aerospace engineering:

Al–Li alloys are primarily of interest to the aerospace industry due to the weight advantage they provide. They are currently used in a few commercial jetliner airframes, the fuel and oxidizer tanks in the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle, and the AgustaWestland EH101 helicopter.

While Oppo omitted to say what type of Al-Li alloy it will use, a chassis made of such a material could be lighter than chassis made of more conventional alloys, without sacrificing durability.

oppo n3

The image above, shared on Oppo’s Weibo account, also clues us in on the design of the upcoming N3. Earlier this month, alleged renders of the N3 showed a peculiar design, with a large cylindrical structure at the top.

Oppo N3 leaked press 2

Judging from the image shared by Oppo, those renders were probably fake. A second render that came up just days later seems more plausible.

oppo n3 leak

The Oppo N3 should launch in late October. Are you interested in this device?