Oppo Find 7 review: precision-machined supercar-smartphone from China
The Oppo Find 7 is the Find 7a‘s bigger brother, but they could very well be considered twins: if not only for the identical looks, then because of the fact that these two Chinese-made devices were announced at the same time. And as with any twins, the differences are on the inside: the Find 7 is Oppo’s current flagship, and brings a few crucial enhancements over the previous flagship, the Find 7a.
Walking around with this device during our week-long review period definitely turned heads. Oppo is not a brand that enjoys wide recognition in Europe, and the situation is the same in other markets as well. While those heads were turning, there was almost always a question at the end of a brief conversation about the device: “Oppo? Who’s that?”
It’s a rather normal reaction, if your logo doesn’t spell Samsung, HTC, Sony, or any other well-known brand. But those who touched the Oppo Find 7, and spent just a little time playing with it, will definitely remember it as “the new, cool, phone from China with a funky name.”
What does it take for people to recognize Oppo as a brand? Consistency, history, legacy. What does it take for Oppo phones to take on the competition? Build quality, specs, user experience, and support, which all should be at least on par with the current, well-recognized players. So, does the Oppo Find 7 have what it takes to take on renowned behemoths like the Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One M8, Sony Xperia Z2, and LG G3? That’s what we’ll try to answer in our full Oppo Find 7 review below.
Oppo Find 7 Review Video
Specs & Hardware
Oppo isn’t afraid of innovation; recall the interesting Oppo N1 with its swiveling camera and two different flavors, one of which was running CyanogenMod out of the box. The market these days doesn’t allow you to juggle too many options in order to catch future customers’ attention. Simply put: your product has to be good, and, if possible, it also has to be cheap.
The Find 7a managed to make a lot of waves due mainly to the great build quality, good specs, and innovative camera features. However, as we noted in our review, it was really a “flagship that was not a flagship.” Oppo made a mistake: it announced both the Find 7a and the Find 7 together, so many people were –understandably– holding back, waiting for even better specs (for the sake of specs) and higher resolution (for the sake of higher resolution).
However, the Find 7 is now (or to be shortly, depending on your region) out, and it’s the best phone Oppo has ever released. It takes all the good things from the Find 7a and builds upon them. It truly shows the amount of effort Oppo has put into the designing, execution, production, and presentation of its product.
As we said with the occasion of our unboxing, we have to treat the Find 7 like we’ve never seen or held the Find 7a before. Only then can we honestly convey our impressions, feelings, and findings. The Oppo Find 7 is a device that will pleasantly surprise you while in the box; the manufacturer’s presentation of its device is excellent, easily on par with that of other companies like Apple or HTC.
Once you get it out of the box, prepare to be surprised by the Find 7’s relatively large footprint. Just like the Find 7a, it measures 152.6mm tall, 75mm wide, and 9.2mm thick, while weighing 3 grams more than its sibling, at 173 grams. The squared design doesn’t really help with one-handed usability, and neither does the rounded back: this is one big phone, especially compared to other phones in its category, like the LG G3. Truth be told, the Oppo Find 7 could have been somewhat smaller, but the manufacturer opted for a capacitive key layout below the screen, as opposed to employing on-screen buttons. On the plus side, this ensures that you have the entire canvas all to yourself, which is nice.
A large slab of Gorilla Glass 3 takes up most of the phone’s face. Underneath that sits one of the best displays we’ve seen to date: a quad HD IPS panel with a resolution of 2560 by 1440 pixels, and a pixel density of 538. Sure, you can debate on the general need of such a high resolution on a smartphone, and you can definitely see both the advantages and disadvantages, but we have to accept the fact that technology is moving forward, and manufacturers are eager to show off their potential in both employing the latest tech, as well as pushing the envelope.
Only two things stand out from the large piece of glass: a small cutout on the top, where you’ll find your earpiece, and a small chin towards the bottom, where one of the distinctive features of the Find 7 resides: the skyline notification LED. It has to be the coolest notification LED on the market, pulsing whenever your phone needs to tell you something, with a light that spreads from center to the sides. (We’d have preferred multiple colors for different notifications, but you’re stuck with blue.)
To the right of the earpiece you’ll find a surprisingly good five-megapixel wide-angle front-facing camera, with f/2.0 aperture and 80 degree vision. Next to it we’ve got our usual proximity and light sensors. The capacitive buttons at the bottom light up discretely when the screen is on. You won’t always see them (especially in the bright outdoors), so learning the layout will definitely help you in using the phone to its full potential.
White and Astro Black are the two color options in which this phone is available, and they’re only visible on the removable backplate, as the front is black in both cases. Cutouts for the 13MP shooter, its dual LED flash, and the stereo speakers on the back are nicely complemented by the shiny chromed Oppo logo. Not too much action going on around the back, and that’s also valid for the sides of the device: power button on the left, volume rockers and the backplate eject hole on the right, 3.5mm headphone jack on the top, and the micro USB port on the bottom flanked by your main microphone.
However, there’s a lot of action behind the scenes, where the quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor resides. It runs at 2.5GHz, and ensures you don’t spend too much time waiting on the phone to catch up, or execute the tasks you throw at it. 3GB of RAM also help with that, and so does the Adreno 330 GPU, for all your graphic needs. You’ve got 32GB of ROM for storage, augmentable via microSD card of capacity up to 128GB.
Sadly, one of the minuses for the phone stands out here: the 3GB cap for installing applications. While some won’t use up the storage available in the partition, we wondered why it was there in the first place. We reached out to Oppo, and this is what it had to share:
“Our engineers have already realized this problem and came up with a solution, but unfortunately it would involve a thorough data backup on the users’ end, as the fix would wipe all data on the device. For the sake of the safety of their personal data we decided not to go with it, but our next device won’t be partitioned as the Find 7.”
We’re pretty sure those who resent this shortcoming would be totally fine with backing up their data. If this was something that would bother us on the personal level, we know we’d even put up with losing our data, in order for the problem to go away. Sadly, this is what we have to deal with.
A 13-megapixel Sony Exmor BSI sensor takes care of your primary shooting needs, and it does so with style. About the only complaint we have here is the lack of optical image stabilization, but more on that in our camera section below.
We’ve already mentioned the 5MP wide angle front-facer, so we’ll jump straight to the 3,000mAh battery, and the connectivity options which include USB OTG, Bluetooth 4.0, 5G WiFi 802.11 b/g/n (with WiFi Direct and WiFi Display capabilities), GPS, and NFC. The radio supports LTE, but frequencies depend on the market.
The Find 7’s software offers a greater chance for subjective interpretation: it will appeal to some of you, while others will prefer to install CyanogenMod as soon as it is available for the Find 7. The UI is definitely not ugly and cluttered, but it is … different. The phone runs Oppo’s own Color OS, based on Android 4.3, and, while the manufacturer is doing a great job releasing bugfix updates, we have to call out the fact that the device is still running an older version of Android, namely 4.3.
The user interface is packed with features, many of which you will probably never use. Gestures are a big deal for Oppo, apparently, and you can add your own custom gestures to the list, if you want to launch an app or instruct the phone to do specific tasks. Some of these are system-wide, and some are available while the screen is off. You can double-tap on the home button to both wake the device and put it to sleep. Some gestures are universally handy, while some will be useful for only a handful of users.
Nine home screens are available to you and your widgets, to which you can add two so-called spaces: one for pictures, and one for music. You can, of course, disable these, as we did on our review unit. If you don’t like the looks of the phone out of the box, you can opt for a standard, stock Android theme, which comes pre-installed, or download one of the many themes available online. In short: you can change everything about how the UI looks and feels. The app tray behaves like any other Android phone, but it doesn’t contain widgets (which are accessible by long pressing on the menu key, or long tapping on an empty home screen). In order to custom-sort your apps, you have to tap and hold on a shortcut, in order to either drag it to its new, desired location (in the app drawer or on the home screen), or press the Alphabetically Sort button for those who prefer it this way.
However, you’ll have to get used to the customized notification tray, with no easy way of tweaking it. It contains shortcuts for WiFi, mobile data, sound profile, orientation lock, one for killing tasks, as well as a brightness slider. You can further pull down on the notification tray to reveal even more (nine) settings toggles, whenever you have a notification in the shade; otherwise, you’re presented with the full list of options.
The Settings menu is divided into three categories, but that’s something other OEMs do, like Samsung and LG, to name a couple. Pulling down from the top left of the display brings up the gesture panel, but if you don’t use any gestures, you can disable them, and the standard notification tray will pop up, just like when swiping down from anywhere to the right of the carrier name.
Then there are the hidden quirks. There’s no easy way of linking contacts that are not identically named in the Contacts app, for instance, and there are a variety of other small annoyances you need to live with. If you like skeuomorphs and colored, candy-like icons, you’ll like the stock looks of the Find 7. The UI is definitely not among the worst one we’ve used, but we would have at least appreciated a more recent version of Android, if stock isn’t an out-of-the-box option.
Our experience with the Find 7 camera slightly differs from the one we had while testing the Find 7a. Either the usage scenario, or something Oppo did under the hood in the interim has improved on the 7a’s hit-or-miss performance. Yes, we do miss optical image stabilization and we wish it was included; since it’s not, you’ll have to keep the phone very steady to combat soft focus and blur in low light conditions without using the flash.
The camera user interface is pretty simple and straightforward. You access settings from the cog to choose options like resolution, storage, white balance, scenes, video modes, etc. There’s a dedicated shortcut for flash behavior control, one for switching to the front camera, a persistent shutter bottom, one for video recording, and another one for shooting modes (normal, HDR, Ultra-HD, beauty, panorama, slow shutter, audio photo, GIF, and RAW).
The camera produces great results outdoors, but nowadays, most smartphone cameras are capable of delivering good stills in optimal conditions. It’s in low light where it becomes tricky, and where you really wish the camera had OIS. Under these circumstances, if you don’t have a steady hand, you’ll often induce motion blur in your stills. Otherwise, you’ll have to deal with occasionally washed-out colors and some noise, but we’ve definitely seen worse cameras on other flagships.
Of particular significance is Oppo’s Ultra-HD mode for stills. This mode outputs 50-megapixel images while using a 13-megapixel sensor. These images are often sharper, with more detail, and overall better than your regular 13MP stills, and we found ourselves preferring this mode over the normal one. You also don’t necessarily have to hold your breath to shoot in this mode, which is a plus. It’s definitely not Lumia 1020-like post-shooting reframing, but it allows you an extra level of creativity which you will likely appreciate.
Videos captured on the Find 7 have good audio and overall image quality. Depending on your usage scenario and conditions, the camera will sometimes find it hard to adjust white balance, or exposure, on the fly. Sometimes you’ll also have to manually tap the screen to force focus when the camera is not getting your intentions; it takes some time to master its capabilities.
Back-firing speakers or not, the stereo ones on the Oppo Find 7 deliver. We can easily compare it with the HTC One M8, and, it is our conclusion that the only thing that makes the HTC One M8 win this battle (by a small margin, though), is the placement: if the Find 7 had front-firing speakers, it would sound better than HTC’s flagship. Listening to music or talking on the phone using speakerphone mode is a joy.
Hard as we tried, we didn’t manage to bog down the Find 7. That’s mostly due to the flagship specs it packs on the inside. Most of the time during our usage when we had to wait for the phone to execute a specific task, it was due to the internet speed. We think about the only bottleneck you’ll run into while using the Find 7 is your data connection. The phone launches and switches apps in a blink of an eye, and if you didn’t have to wait for information to load through your data channels, it would be pretty instant.
However, it does get warm every now and then, especially when running demanding games for longer periods of time. That’s normal, and a behavior we definitely observed on competing phones, like the LG G3, or Sony Xperia Z2.
Voice quality is good on both sides, and so is speakerphone performance. Network signal is on par with any other flagship out there, and data performance delivers, depending on your service provider. We’re using the European model on a WCDMA network, so your mileage could vary, depending on your region or carrier. We also can’t opine on LTE performance as of yet.
Expect a hiccup-free user experience while running daily tasks on the Find 7. Its internals make sure you won’t see any frame-drops, or stutters. However, battery life is something which we wished was just a tad better. We don’t necessarily refer to heavy use of the phone in gaming or imaging modes, but a 3,000 mAh battery should easily be enough for one and a half days. Instead, expect a full day under moderate usage, with definitely the need to top off your charge towards the end of the day (maybe half way through) if you’re playing games. Luckily, with Oppo’s VOOC quick charging, that only takes about 30 minutes for a 75% charge.
+ Gorgeous display
+ Fast charging thanks to Oppo’s VOOC charging
+ Exceptional performance
+ Great build quality
+ Attractive LED notification
– Large footprint will alienate some potential users
– 3GB app cap for installing applications to internal storage
– Currently running outdated version of Android
Pricing and Availability
Depending on your region, the Oppo Find 7 is available from the manufacturer’s dedicated website: oppostyle.com. If you’re in the US, this phone’s going to set you back
$499 ($599?)*, unlocked and SIM free, without selling your soul to any carrier. If you’re residing in Europe, it’s going to cost EUR 449 under the same circumstances. That’s the information Oppo has officially sent us, despite showing a somewhat higher price point if you check out the phone right now at the link above.
Update: * – We realize that many of you are seeing higher prices, and there very well may be some wires being crossed here, but our official word from Oppo places the US price at $499. That said, we’re getting the same $599 price in the US as the rest of you when we visit the site ourselves. We’ll update this review when and if an explanation arrives for this discrepancy.
We know you’ll be torn between buying a phone from an already established manufacturer on the market (Samsung, HTC, LG, Sony, etc.), and a flagship from Oppo, despite having great specs. A track record is a powerful thing, and with Oppo, there’s no real history to go by as of yet.
But taking all the aforementioned pros into consideration, as well as the attractive price and the fact that you can unlock the bootloader and tinker with the device without voiding your warranty (check the legalese for details), the Find 7 becomes somewhat easier to recommend.
So should you buy it? As usual, the answer isn’t that easy to paint in black-and-white terms, but we’ll say this: if we had to choose one Android phone, now, to use for the remainder of the year, the Oppo Find 7 would definitely be on our list of contenders.