If you want a great phone, you don't necessarily have to restrict yourself to Apple or Samsung, or any of the other marques that are popular in Australia at the moment. Chinese phone makers like Xiaomi, Oppo and OnePlus are making waves around the world for high-end devices without commensurate price tags. Oppo's Find 7 is a 5.5-inch smartphone with top-end specs, tied to a slightly more affordable price than the big brands.
What Is It?
- Processor: 2.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 (MSM8974AC)
- RAM: 3GB
- Screen: 5.5-inch IPS LCD, 2560x1440 pixels (538ppi)
- Storage: 32GB, microSD up to 128GB
- Camera: 13-megapixel (4:3 ratio), 4K video recording
- Connectivity: Category 4 4G/LTE, 802.11ac Wi-Fi
The Find 7 is the second flagship Oppo handset that has found a groundswell of support in Australia; the first was the Find 5, which was one of the first smartphones released with a 1080p 5-inch display using super-detailed IGZO screen tech. The Find 7 continues that tradition of high-end specifications, with the power of the phone centred around a super-bright 5.5-inch 2560x1440 pixel LCD. The Find 7's side bezels are super skinny, but the majority of the phone's bulk is in its relatively large top and bottom screen surrounds.
Powering that 5.5-inch display is a currently-top-of-the-line Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 (MSM8974AC) system-on-chip running at 2.5GHz, the same as the Sony Xperia Z3, Samsung Galaxy S5 and LG G3 superphones that are Aussie telcos' bread and butter. 3GB of RAM makes the Find 7 a Galaxy Note 3 competitor, as does the default 32GB of integrated storage. If you happen to require more, a microSDXC slot supports cards of up to 128GB capacity.
The design of the Find 7 is pretty basic, but it's nonetheless attractive. A back panel in either matte, line-textured white or faux-carbon fibre black is available — I tried the white version and found it to resist scuffs and scratches and unwanted dirt pretty well. A thin faux-metal strip runs around the phone's edge, and apart from a small matte black plastic lip the rest of the Find 7's front is a single sheet of Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The base of the phone has a single MicroUSB port, with the opposite orientation to the usual design, and a tiny microphone port, while the top has a 3.5mm headset-compatible headphone jack.
Buttons for the Find 7 are distributed across its two long sides. There's a small power button and an equally small volume rocker, which oddly has its up and down buttons reversed from what you'd usually expect — almost as if Oppo expects you to use the phone more often in landscape mode than portrait. These buttons are my biggest annoyance with the phone, actually, but more on that later.
What Is It Good At?
The Find 7's unique feature — and it's refreshing to find unique features on phones these days — is its VOOC fast charging support. Bundled with a 5 volt, 5 amp charger where most phones only support a maximum of 5 volt 2.1 amps, the Find 7 charges incredibly fast. You'll have to use that bundled charger and the — thick — bundled cable, but when you do you get a little green LED lit up on the charger and superb charging rates. Oppo claims 80 per cent battery charge from flat in 30 minutes, and in my two weeks' experience with the phone that's bang on.
Where the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact is a phone that you can leave off the charger overnight and use the next day thanks to its frugal power-sipping nature, the Find 7 takes a different approach. It consumes power relatively quickly, and you'll drain the battery fast thanks to that powerful processor and bright, super-high-res display, but you can charge it back to full capacity in a much shorter than usual time span. Both the phone and its battery warm up quickly when plugged in, with such a high amperage, so it's probably a good idea to leave your handset on a hard surface rather than on a pile of bedsheets or carpet.
The specs of the Find 7 are up there with the best of the best, and for the most part performance is exactly in line with what you'd expect from a 2014 superphone with a 2.5GHz quad-core chipset and 3GB of RAM. We've started using PCMark for Android to compare phone performance, and although it's early days still the Find 7 is at the top of the table for its outright processing power at 4367 points, although it falls back slightly in graphics performance at 17391 on 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited.
The Find 7's screen is great, by the way; at 538ppi it's almost the most detailed screen I've had the pleasure of seeing. Being an LED-lit LCD it doesn't have the greatest black levels, and its off-axis viewing angles could be a little better, but for colour and detail it's great and the overall experience of rendering beautifully detailed fonts and curved graphics means that it's just a nice display to actually use day-to-day.
The Find 7 distinguishes itself further with an excellent 13-megapixel, optically image stabilised camera, and shooting software to match — an HDR mode that captures three successive images and blends the exposures masterfully, excellent macro minimum focusing distance, and a useful set of manual shooting features. Whether you're using the default 4:3 ratio 13-megapixel capture or the 16:9 10-megapixel crop, the Find 7's photos are sharp, have excellent edge detail, are nicely saturated and just generally look good — in the same way that Apple's iPhone images do.
Another standout worth mentioning is the Find 7's internal speaker. This isn't nearly as important as a good camera or a good screen, but if you find yourself stuck without a Bluetooth speaker or external audio system, the Find 7's internal speaker is nearly the best I've heard on an Android phone, easily standing up to the HTC One M8 and equaling the iPhone 6 Plus's extra mass.
We'll have images from the Find 7 up soon, so stay tuned.
What Is It Not Good At?
Battery life is OK, although not great. Considering the number of pixels that the Find 7 is pushing, and the potential performance of its Snapdragon 801 chipset, it could be a lot worse, but as it stands you'll be able to wring around 6 hours of full-power usage with automatic brightness enabled. Fast charging makes the Find 7 much more convenient to recharge, but as it stands you will have to recharge in the course of a standard working day.
ColorOS is Oppo's default Android skin for the Find 7, and it's similarly OK, but it's not the most attractive skin out there — it doesn't hold a candle to Samsung or Motorola or especially LG's stock Android interfaces, for example.
The Find 7 actually runs Android 4.3 Jelly Bean out of the box, so it's not as up to date as most of the other superphones it competes with — since most of them are running 4.4 onwards. I don't know about Oppo's history of keeping its phones supplied with the most recent version of Android, but seeing as 5.0 Lollipop is literally just around the corner, the Find 7 will be further behind the curve. If the company is committed to keeping its flagship devices competitive for more than a couple of months after launch, 5.0 compatibility and a swift upgrade path — or even an announcement of intentions — is a must.
When you're actually using the Find 7, there is a little bit of lag to everyday activities that makes the phone feel a little more sluggish than it should be. Part of this is down to the Find 7's software and Android skin, which seem slightly unpolished, and part of it is down to the phone's odd button layout — long press the capacitive menu button to get to the currently running app list, for example, and the entire process takes longer than on other handsets. This is something that can be ironed out relatively easily, and I hope that Oppo does this along with an upgrade to 4.4 or 5.0 in the near future.
The buttons. Oh my god, the buttons. The slim-line metal buttons on either edge of the Find 7 are barely embossed from the rest of the phone's bezel, and in the majority of my time with the phone I found myself first running a finger down the edge of the phone to find the button, before swiping that finger back up to actually press it. It's a minor thing, but in my experience it's a minor annoyance that I'd prefer to avoid if at all possible. To Oppo's credit, the Find 7 does have pre-loaded the ability to double-tap the screen to unlock it from sleep, which is some consolation, but I just wish the power and volume clickers were a little more prominent and a little easier to push.
Should You Buy It?
The Oppo Find 7 is, bar a few niggling rough edges, a very well rounded, well designed and appropriately highly specced Android smartphone handset. It looks good in the hand despite its large footprint, both colour options look good, and it certainly doesn't disappoint for in-app performance. The ColorOS skin isn't perfect, and there's a bit of general purpose and usability lag, but this is a device that you can use daily without it getting in the way.
As a media phone, the Find 7 excels. As well as giving it a thorough workout as my primary handset, I also ran it as a second phone alongside my go-to LG G3, and for the purpose of watching YouTube and downloaded videos, listening to music and taking pictures, and it handled every task I threw at it with ease. This makes the Find 7 a great traveler's phone — load it up with a capacious SD card and plenty of music and movies, and you're set for a long-haul flight or car journey.
When you compare it directly against 2014's other phablets and 5-inch-plus superphone ilk, the Find 7 can hold its own. That's an impressive result from a new entrant to the Australian smartphone market, and if Oppo can continue this trend we'll be seeing some great devices from the company in the future. For now, though, the Find 7 is a perfectly good top-of-the-line smartphone and is well worth considering amongst the best of the best if you're in the middle of choosing a new handset.