Oppo’s Find 7 is a true spec warrior to worry even the mighty LG G3.
It has a 5.5in, 2K screen, Snapdragon 801 processor and 3GB of RAM. It also has a 13MP camera that shoots 4K video. So, on specs alone, it matches or beats the best smartphones money can buy - yet its £380 price is closer to that of a mid-range handset.
Why haven’t you heard of it until now? Because it’s one of the new breed of Chinese superphones going global, alongside the OnePlus One. And it has one major advantage over the OnePlus - namely that it’s actually possible to buy a Find 7 right now.
So is the Oppo as eye-poppingly awesome in real life as it seems on paper?
Welcome to the 2K Screen Club
The Find 7’s headline feature is its 5.5in, 2560 x 1440 screen. It’s only the second 2K display we’ve clapped eyes on, with the other being the LG G3, and unsurprisingly it dominates the front of the Oppo.
It’s incredibly detailed - 538ppi, in fact - and it shows. Get your pupils up close, lashes on the glass, and you’ll notice sharper text on pages with tiny fonts and an extra crispness to hi-res images. Enjoy these moments, because while it’s a gorgeous screen in many ways, it’s not flawless.
Blacks are nice and inky and colours are vivid and accurate; the G3’s palette is slightly cooler. But contrast isn’t the strongest (a drawback shared by the LG) and on low brightness or off-axis viewing in particular, it just doesn’t pop. The G3 also manages to pick up extra bits of detail when watching full HD movies. It’s fairly bright, on a par with the G3, though not as bright as a Galaxy S5, so in direct sunlight it can suffer.
We should also point out that neither this nor the G3 will make you gasp as soon as you fire it up. Useful though they are, the extra pixels don’t make as much of a difference as the jump from 720p to 1080p did. Still, we’re being picky.
While this isn’t quite as good as the best 2K screen on the planet, it’s a close call.
Pixels Need Power
The downside of the Oppo’s super-sharp screen is that battery life takes a hit. The Oppo can be wiped out in four hours when you’ve used it intensively (and constantly) to watch movies, play games and take photos. In our HD video rundown (Wi-Fi on, half brightness) it lasted a slightly more respectable 5hrs 20.
Remember everyone on the internet worrying that the LG G3’s battery doesn’t quite match that of the G2? The Oppo shows how well LG did with it. Streaming Netflix on our commute, the Find 7’s 3000mAh battery dropped 18% in half an hour - that’s versus the G3’s much less worrying 8%.
Oppo’s tried to help in two ways - use the VOOC fast-charging cable supplied in the box and the Oppo will rejuice by 75% in 30 minutes. In reality, you can get back up to full charge in not much longer. The battery unit is also swappable, so you can carry a spare if that’s practical.
Add in the lower price and although the battery life is a bit of a shame, it’s a flaw we can just about live with.
The Find 7 is every bit as powerful as the specs suggest.
Day-to-day we experienced no major hiccups and any slight lag was down to Oppo’s ColorOS - more on that later. Browsing over 4G is nice and nippy and it’s compatible with LTE on all UK networks, unlike its rival the OnePlus One. Games run super smooth and though it heats up a little when gaming, taking photos for a long time or running benchmarks, performance is always top-notch.
Those benchmarks are pretty insane, too. On AnTuTu, it beats the G3, S5 and HTC One (M8) with a blistering 38,178 and shoots up the Geekbench 3 charts too with a score of 3021. By comparison, the G3 manages 2649.
It’s also worth mentioning here that the Find 7 comes with 32GB of storage plus the option to expand by up to 128GB via microSD. That makes it even better value next to the 16GB flagships.
READ MORE: Samsung Galaxy S5 reviewed
Tall 'n' Titanium
At this price, the Oppo was never going to match the LG G3’s gorgeous, light and almost bezel-less design. But we don’t care, because this is a superbly built smartphone in its own right.
The combination of its titanium-aluminium frame and removable (if slightly slippy) carbon-fibre back cover with a diagonal pin-stripe pattern means it feels premium, albeit while looking a little safe. It’s fairly weighty at 173g and feels sturdy, with none of the flimsiness of a Galaxy S5. Plus it’s easy to hold in one palm despite its 5.5in size. A pulsing ‘Skyline’ notification light below the screen is a nice touch too, a stylish alternative to the blinking LED dot.
Sure, the bezels make it look both taller than most and a bit retro. The capacitive buttons are too dim, which is a pain. And overall the thinner, lighter OnePlus with its changeable covers does feel like the cooler, more characterful device.
But the Find 7 has a solid, understated design and it’s a lot easier to actually get one in your hands.
One more thing that might annoy: call quality is fine but the speaker volume is a little low, making it tricky to hear what the person on the other end is saying. How big of a problem that is depends on how much you use your phone as a… phone.
READ MORE: The Find 7a tested, Oppo's "other" flagship
A 13MP Sony sensor, 5MP front-facer and 4K video will be music to any phone photographer’s ears.
Essentially, there are better smartphone snappers out there - the LG G3 and the Sony Xperia Z2, for starters - but the Oppo’s definitely better than most sub-£400 phones.
Autofocus is fast enough without being the fastest we’ve used, in lower light it does an admirable job of capturing faces well thanks to its f2 lens and there’s a handy dual LED flash under the lens.
The shots it takes aren’t as detailed or clear as the very, very best, but noise is kept to a minimum and in daylight it really impresses - pics are crisp with accurate rather than fake-looking colours and the HDR mode is great if you prefer a little more oomph.
It’s also capable of taking 8160x6120 images (yep, that’s 50MP) by stitching together ten burst shots. We were wary of this at first but it’s easy to do - you just hold the shutter down - and can produce usable, hi-res shots. Do be prepared for mammoth file sizes though.
The front-facer is also a cut above the usual, so if you want sharper selfies, you’re in luck. Both full HD and 4K video are smooth and detailed too, with steady autofocus. And there are lots of scene modes, GIF modes and shooting options (including RAW) to play around with. It might not be quite as intuitive as the OnePlus One’s swipe-to-switch-modes feature, but the Oppo’s is an easy-to-navigate camera app that gets results.
Like the Find 7a, this Oppo is dressed in ColorOS - a highly customisable, gesture-friendly Android skin that skimps only on phablet-centric features.
ColorOS is based on Android 4.3, which is a bit of a shame, but it’s a dream for power users and tinkerers. You can customise your own gestures, with almost every basic action available via a swipe of your choosing or a shape drawn onscreen. You can also choose themes to customise homescreens, lockscreens, fonts and icons; one of them even gives it a relatively stock Android look and feel.
Some of the basics have international quirks that you’ll have to get used to - for instance, nav buttons such as ‘connect’ and ‘cancel’ are often switched round so the ‘back’ option is on the right. And the pre-installed keyboard might say ‘input contents’ in an empty message. But chances are you’ll swap the keyboard out anyway.
Now flagships have grown to G3-proportions, it’s tempting to forget that at this size this is a Galaxy Note 3 rival. ColorOS itself doesn’t push the big screen factor - there’s no split screen feature or floating windows as you’d get on a Samsung. There’s also no stylus or handwriting recognition, so if you want a screen this large purely for its mini-tablet capabilities, the Find 7 might not be for you.
READ MORE: Samsung's Galaxy Note 3, the true phablet
Buying an Oppo is a bit of a gamble, right? Not really.
Of course you have to find the cash upfront - no contract deals here. But there is at least a European site selling the Find 7, unlike the OnePlus One, which for now can only be purchased via a mysterious invite.
Updates are a bit of a concern: there’s no word on KitKat or Android L for the Find 7 yet and ColorOS is based on the slightly out-of-date Android 4.3. But on the other hand the Find 7 is Oppo’s flagship and with the Find 7a and N1 also on the market (the latter running the CyanogenMod OS), it seems the company is committed to catering for Android geeks.
Both companies offer warranties - one year for OnePlus, two for Oppo. We can’t vouch for support at this stage, but Oppo’s been in the game selling Blu-ray players and the like for years. Basically there’s no reason to be a gadget wimp.
Oppo Find 7 Verdict
Ultimately, the Find 7 more than outperforms its price tag and at times comes close to greatness. It might not be OnePlus One-cheap, but it’s a darn sight cheaper than most flagships.
That said, it’s not quite as perfectly packaged as the superphone set. The more expensive handsets offer more carefully crafted designs, more carefully refined Android skins and have more capable cameras. The Oppo’s battery life is a bit of a concern too, unless you’re happy to carry a spare.
If you’re looking to buy a smartphone outright though, the Oppo opens up your choice from the usual Android suspects. The 32GB model is a good £100 cheaper than any 16GB flagship from Sony, HTC, Samsung or LG, is better specced than most and comes with some really nice features that you won’t find elsewhere.
Pixel-packed and powerful, the Find 7 deserves a spot on any respectable smartphone shortlist.
READ MORE: Stuff's Top Ten Smartphones in the World