When it comes to Android devices, Oppo generally isn’t a household name, but that doesn’t mean you should look the other way either. The Chinese company’s previous offerings, the Find 5 and N1, were high quality devices that packed just the right amount of innovation. This time around, Oppo is releasing two variants of their next flagship phone: the Find 7 and Find 7a. The Find 7 is the premium version with a little more juice in the specs department and the Find 7a is the standard version. While many Android fans will opt for the Find 7 because it has bigger numbers (and a higher price) the Find 7a isn’t something you want to overlook and it’s the closest phone to the upcoming beast of a device that will be released in the future. Oppo’s latest flagship smartphone, the Find 7a – the younger brother of the upcoming Find 7, does follow Oppo’s previous track record, bringing impeccable hardware, incredible design, and just the right amount of innovation to make any smartphone fan salivate.
Hardware: Impeccable hardware and an amazing camera.
When you first look at the Find 7a you’ll notice the device has plenty of screen real estate at 5.5 inches. The IPS display with Gorilla Glass 3 sports 1080P full HD at 1920 x 1080 resolution with 403 pixels per inch. According to Oppo, the display on the Find 7a was designed to work flawlessly with small amounts of water droplets or with gloves. I tried various styles of knit gloves and was not successful, maybe leather gloves would produce better results. As for water droplets, the screen did function as intended with wet fingers. While using the Find 7a outside in the Spring sunlight I was able to see the screen in direct sunlight for the most part, after all, the Find 7a uses an IPS display with a high amount of brightness.
Below the screen you’ll see that Oppo opted to use hardware capacitive keys. While some Android users prefer hardware keys over software keys, sadly Oppo opted to use Android’s ancient Menu key instead of the more modern Recents navigation key. The Find 7a also takes an untraditional approach again by placing the Back button on the right side. While I may not be a fan of hardware keys, all isn’t doom and gloom though. The Find 7a allows users to tweak the key settings slightly by opting to turn them on for 6 seconds after the phone is touched, completely disable the key lights altogether, or to keep the keys lit the entire time the phone is in use.
Right below those hardware keys you’ll find the Skyline Notification system. This LED notification is by far one of the best implementations of a pulsing notification light I’ve seen to date. It’s quite aesthetically pleasing and very easy to be seen, ensuring you’ll never miss a notification. This LED also can be configured to turn on when charging with the screen off or when the battery is below 10%.
Oppo’s Find 7a ships with a 2800 mAh battery under the removable back cover, which can be easily accessed via a small access button on the lower right side. Under the rear hood you’ll be able to expand your storage up to 128GB, slap in your SIM card of choice, and swap batteries if the need would ever arise. Speaking of batteries, the Find 7a comes with VOOC Rapid Charge technology. This allows for 4x charging over conventional chargers. Oppo says that a 5 minute charge will allow you to make a 2 hour phone call. While I never talk on my mobile computer that long, I was able to back up their claims of a 75% charge in just 30 minutes.
As for battery life, I was able to get through most of the day with 2-3 hours of screen on time depending on my usage. I thought I would get a bit more usage out of my battery, however I’ve been using non-finalized software builds. Oppo has assured me that fixes are along the way and planned prior to launch. That said, if battery doesn’t last as long as you’d like, VOOC Rapid Charging does help. The Find 7a doesn’t have the best battery life when compared to other flagships, but it certainly doesn’t have the worst either.
Unlike the Oppo N1, the speaker on the Find 7a is situated on the back of the phone and raised slightly but a little nub or nipple. The Find 7a’s speaker is very loud, allowing me to fill a quiet room or car with just the speaker. This is in part thanks to MaxxAudio sound enhancement technology by Waves.
The Camera of the Find 7a is simply stunning.
The camera on the Find 7a is, in my opinion, the best damn camera I’ve used to date. The Find 7a has a 13-megapixel Sony Exmor IMX214 BSI sensor on the rear and the front shooter is a 5-megapixel camera with an 80 degree wide angle sensor. Both cameras have aperture of f/2.0 which allows for more light in low light conditions. The included Sony sensor allows for absolutely gorgeous photos whether that be at night in low light conditions, using a 32 second long exposure shot, creating vibrant HDR photos, using “Super Zoom” to create a 50 megapixel gargantuan image, shooting stunning 4K video, or creating a slow motion video.
“Super Zoom” or Ultra HD photos are captured at 50 megapixel as mentioned above. This is accomplished by taking 10 photos back to back all with the press of a button. The phones camera software then automatically combines them into a 50 megapixel photo with stunning quality, perfect for prints. The whole process takes about 2 seconds.
The only problem you’ll come across is deciding on which type of photo you want to take. If you like HDR and want very vibrant photos, an HDR image will run you an extra second to process, but it’s worth the wait. If you don’t like HDR and just want a high quality photo, then load up Ultra HD mode and have at it. If time is of the essence, then normal mode will still get the job done nicely. In many of the photos shown below I’ve included Ultra HD, HDR, and Normal modes of the same shot.
Besides being able to snap gorgeous photos, the Find 7a can shoot high quality 4K video and 720p slow motion video. If you have a 4K TV or monitor, you’ll have to let me know how the 4K test looks. As for the slow motion video, I assure you the train is moving along at a much faster speed than it looks.
The Oppo Find 7a looks great and feels great.
The Find 7a is a big phone. There’s not denying it. Coming from a Moto X, I thought it would be a bit hard to get used to the massive size. Oppo did a great job designing this phone as it feels much smaller than it is. The Find 7a clocks in at 152.6 × 75 × 9.2 mm and weighs just 170 grams.
The phone is extremely well balanced and surprising thin. The Find 7a feels very solid and screams quality, thanks to the devices metal frame and all glass front. Due to the size of the Find 7a, I thought it would be hard to use one handed. That’s not the case here with the Find 7a. This phone isn’t difficult to use and the power button and volume rocker are placed just right, lining up perfectly in my hand. The Find 7a doesn’t feel like a 5.5 inch phone.
The back of the Find 7a is very smooth and feels nice in your hand, no faux leather or slippery surface here. I was able to easily hold onto this phone while snapping photos, shooting video, and of course normal day to day use.
Storage 16 GB (expandable up to 128GB microSD card)
2800 mAh Li-Po battery with Rapid Charge
Resolution 1080p Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels), 403 PPI
Type IPS panel by JDI, 1000:1 contrast ratio
Main Sensor 13-megapixel Sony Exmor IMX214 BSI sensor
Front Sensor 5-megapixel front-facing 80 degree wide angle sensor
Flash f/2.0 for both cameras
4K video @ 30 fps, 1080p video @ 60 fps, 720p slow motion video @120 fps
5G Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
FDD-LTE: Bands B1/3/7/20
TD-LTE: Band B40
Mexico & US Connectivity:
WCDMA: 850/900/1700/1900/2100 MHz
FDD-LTE: Bands B1/4/17
Software: ColorOS is great for customization.
The Find 7a rocks a highly customized version of Android 4.3 Jelly Bean which Oppo calls ColorOS. We’ve seen ColorOS before on the Find 5 and during our review of the Oppo N1. Seeing as Android 4.4 KitKat has been out since last fall, it’s a little disappointing to see a flagship device of this caliber launch with last year’s Android version.
However, ColorOS is quite unique compared to other UI’s from other OEM’s. If Oppo’s custom UI doesn’t work for you or just doesn’t feel right, ColorOS comes with a built in theme application allowing you to customize your lock screen style, launcher, and icons. Plenty of free themes are included, allowing you to easily download one to your liking. Me, I eventually chose the Jelly Bean theme as I like a more simple approach to Android UI’s. It’s worth mentioning that themes won’t modify the settings application of ColorOS, won’t change the notification area, and themes won’t modify any ColorOS stock apps like Phone, Messaging, Calendar, Contacts, etc.
A lot of the nifty features of ColorOS revolve around included gestures or unique ways to interact with the Find 7a. For example, you can double tap the screen to turn on the phone or you can double tap the home button to put the device to sleep. No need for a power button here.
Swiping down from the top right or down from a vacant area of the home screen brings down the notification shade, which includes every type of quick setting or toggle that you could ever need. You can also swipe up on a vacant area of your home screen to customize your home screen with widgets, wallpapers, themes, etc.
Swiping down from the far left side brings down the custom gesture panel, where you can create and use your own gestures for opening various apps or performing minor tasks such as launching the camera, controlling the volume, taking a screenshot, you can launch the flashlight, and much more. If you’re not a fan of gestures or accidentally invoke the gesture panel, you can easily disable it with a toggle switch.
Coming from the Moto X, I was happy, and quite surprised to see the Oppo Find 7a support an always on listening microphone, allowing me to launch Google Now from anywhere, even if the screen is turned off. This should come as no surprise, seeing as the Find 7a’s 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 Quad Core (MSM8974AB) processor fully supports this functionality. It seems Oppo didn’t customize the default wake command though. To wake up your Find 7a, you’ll have to say “Hey, Snapdragon”. While it’s not trainable like the Moto X, only answering to your voice, I was able to launch Google Now every time by speaking the hotword / phrase.
ColorOS apps – Guest Mode, Holiday Mode, Data Saving, privacy and security.
As I mentioned about when talking about hardware, the camera is on of the most oustanding features of this Android phone. Seeing as the hardware is top of the line, the camera software doesn’t disappoint either. The Find 7a’s camera sports many features you’d like to find in a flaghship phone and a few surprises. You can shoot videos and photos in HDR, various scene modes, make animated gifs, capture slow motion video, and of course use Oppo’s famous beautify mode, which allows you to auto touch up your shots.
Guest Mode can be configured to hide private contacts, photos, videos, and even hide applications from other users. Unlike other guest modes or multi-user implementations, Guest Mode on the Oppo Find 7a is activated by simply unlocking the phone with the guest password or guest pattern. If the secondary guest method is used to unlock the phone, guest mode is immediately activated. To exit, you simply lock the phone and unlock with the owner method and you’re good to go. Those of you with little rugrats running around your house will find this very useful. How many times has your little loved one accidentally called, texted, or got into something they shouldn’t? It happens. Guest Mode makes those accidents a thing of the past.
As if Guest Mode wasn’t enough, application security can be taken a step further with the Application Encryption feature. This feature, while sounding extremely security conscious is a bit misleading. The feature does not encrypt selected applications, but instead allows you to setup per-application passwords and security patterns – which can be very helpful. Think of this app as more of a privacy app and not a security app.
And speaking of privacy, ColorOS sports a Permission Monitor app that allows you to view all of the application you have installed, grouping them by the permissions they need. For example: you can see which applications have access to NFC or can send SMS messages. ColorOS also comes with a call blocking application, Block, that does exactly what it sounds like.
Next up is Holiday Mode, which is simply an extended privacy mode. When enabled, calls and notifications from contacts that aren’t white-listed will be muted when the screen is off. However, you can still be reached in an emergency if the contact calls you 3 times within a 3 minute period.
The Find 7a also comes with a Data Saving application which is essentially a firewall and resource control tool, allowing you to pick and choose which apps can consume network data and CPU while running in the background. If you’re on a small, limited data plan, this could come in handy.
If you’re just not a fan of ColorOS, but love every other aspect of the device from camera to hardware keys to overall build quality and you’re okay with running a custom ROM, in the past Oppo devices have been very developer friendly. I’m sure in the coming week’s well see ROMs from Omni, CyanogenMod, and probably more for the Find 7a.
The latest from Oppo continues to show that this Chinese company needs more global recognition as one of Android’s top hardware manufactuers. Their devices are of utmost quality in both design and performance, providing a very pleasurable experience. I’m going to give the Oppo Find 7a a 4.5 out of 5 possible points. I’m deducting half a point for launching a flagship device with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean when KitKat has been available for over 6 months. Personaly, I’d deduct another half a point for using hardware keys and the menu button, but Oppo isn’t the only Android OEM that does this travesty, so I’ll let it slide. The Oppo Find 7a has a gorgeous screen and as you can see from the photos above, takes immaculate photos and video. I’ll overlook the Find 7a’s minor flaws and I’ll be putting my Moto X back on the nightstand for a bit longer while I continue to use the Find 7a. The hardware is worth it.
You can pre-order the Oppo Find 7a from OppoStyle.com for $499 today.
Have questions about my new favorite Android phone? Ask away in the comments.