Oppo Find 7a Review

Oppo-Find-7a-Front

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.

DSCN4805

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 Find 7a

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.

Oppo Find 7a

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.

Oppo Find 7a full hardware specs.

  • Color White, Midnight
  • Dimensions 152.6 × 75 × 9.2 mm
  • Weight 170 g
  • Operating system ColorOS, based on Android 4.3
  • Processor 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 Quad Core
  • GPU Adreno 330
  • RAM 2 GB
  • Storage 16 GB (expandable up to 128GB microSD card)
  • 2800 mAh Li-Po battery with Rapid Charge
  • Size 5.5-inch
  • 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
  • USB OTG
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 5G Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Wi-Fi Direct
  • Wi-Fi Display
  • GPS
  • NFC
  • International Connectivity:
  • GSM/GPRS/EDGE: 850/900/1800/1900MHz
  • WCDMA: 850/900/1900/2100MHz
  • FDD-LTE: Bands B1/3/7/20
  • TD-LTE: Band B40
  • Mexico & US Connectivity:
  • GSM/GPRS/EDGE: 850/900/1800/1900MHz
  • 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.

ColorOS1

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.

ColorOS7

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.

ColorOS4

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.

ColorOS3

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.

Conclusion: 4.5/5

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.

Oppo Find 7a

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.

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  • toomuchgame441

    Not better than my HTC Hero… not by a long shot

    • Durin123

      HTC Hero? Sounds like a pretty old device. Nbl that it’s even the HTC One M8 (not bloody likely).

      • Durin123

        *that even the HTC One M8 is better than the Find 7a*

        • http://google.com/+derekross Derek Ross

          I haven’t used an M8 but from what I’ve read, I would prefer the Find 7a over it.

          • Durin123

            My apologies for the confusion. I meant that I think the Oppo Find 7a is better than the HTC One M8 and whatever the HTC Hero might be.

          • toomuchgame441

            HTC Hero jhas bleeding edge hardware… a humongous 3.2 inch screen, WVGA display… sense 2.0 onboard…. 512 Mhz processor… its still relatively new as well. it only came out 5 years ago. My battery easily lasts me at least 5hrs without needing a charge. Beat that!

          • Durin123

            Not sure if comment above is idiotic or sign of a jackass.

          • mcl630

            Your sarcasm detector needs to be recalibrated.

          • toomuchgame441

            You win the internetz today sir.

  • Da Fuq

    Not bad.. Now make that waterproof and it will be perfect :D

  • scoter man1

    Dat notification light is sweet.

    I’ll buy it just because of that! (kidding)

    • http://google.com/+derekross Derek Ross

      It’s actually pretty damn awesome. I like it.

      • rS1

        Does the notification light use other colors besides blue? I typically assign different colors for different notifications (blue for email, green for text, etc.)

  • napes22

    This or the One Plus One. Quite the conundrum.

    • domatau

      chances are this phone will cost $500+ while the OPO will be < $400.

      • http://google.com/+derekross Derek Ross

        This phone is $499, more than the 1P1. Each has their advantages.

    • worldclassflame

      Nexus 6?

    • aranea100

      Customized OS updates are generally slow. But one+one requires an invitation. So I’d put HTC M8 into the mix too.

    • Durin123

      Also if you really like Cyanogenmod (which I do) the Oneplus would be better for you.

    • http://google.com/+derekross Derek Ross

      This phone is basically a OnePlus One with a few minor changes. Such as an SD card and a removable battery. Oh and no invite.

      • napes22

        I’ve been holding off the switch to T-Mobile, but one of these phones will definitely get me there. I’d prefer the 1P1 since I’m assuming the development community will be larger.

  • Roaduardo

    I’m seething with jealousy that you got to review this! Great work, detailed but you didn’t drone on. I agree Oppo does need more global recognition but those Leonardo DiCaprio adverts certainly helped, I’d love to see more of them.

    By the way, Sony optics? You can’t lose with that. Putting the back button on the right should be a familiar sight to previous Samsung users and I myself have also gotten used to having it in that position. I’m also pleased to see expandable storage on this as I was very disappointed with the beautiful Find 5 lacking it. Being able to adjust the key lights is rather par for the course but I’m happy to see they’ve kept such a standard ability intact here. It’s small, very small things like that that can make you enjoy the device further.

    One of the biggest specs that popped right out at me was the IPS display and it also being Gorilla Glass 3. Nice! The Find 5 had a PPI of 441 but this is a larger screen so that can be forgiven right? I can live without a removable battery as long as the storage is expandable so this device is ticking nearly every box for me as a consumer. One last thought, hardware keys aren’t a travesty! Haha! Good review sir! I enjoyed it!

    *Edit* Have they completely done away with Dolby 3D sound and Dirac HD? I may have missed it but are they not including that on their flagship devices any longer? ALSO! I keep forgetting to ask, HDR video? I didn’t see that listed or I may have also just missed that. If it does indeed shoot HDR Video can you post a sample? Thanks!

    • irishrally

      The Find 7 phones have MaxxAudio. Supposed to be really good.

    • http://google.com/+derekross Derek Ross

      It does do HDR video, I’ll shoot one of those too. As for audio they’re using MaxxAudio now. Thanks and glad you enjoyed it!

      • Roaduardo

        Oh great, good man. Looking forward to seeing it! I wish we’d have a way of comparing audio from the Dirac HD and MaxxAudio. I know I’ve heard of Dirac HD being in cars like BMW, Bentley, Rolls Royce and Datasat. I think the Find 5 was the first smartphone to have it. Wonder why they switched.

  • Marcus

    Will this work on Verizon? Along with that will the 1PO?

    • http://google.com/+derekross Derek Ross

      No it will not. It will only work on AT&T or T-Mobile.

      • Marcus

        What about the one plus one?

        • JamJamBoom

          No. Same thing. GSM only.

  • Mohammed Iqtedar Chowdhry

    Could you post some screenshots of battery stats on Google+ ?

    • http://google.com/+derekross Derek Ross

      I’ll post some later. Out of town now so I’m not under normal use.

  • beenyweenies

    Hey this is great, and really nice to see the camera samples.

    However – It seems that any time someone does a smartphone camera “test,” they simply step outside of their home/office and snap a few totally random shots of whatever crosses their path in the following 10 minutes. Sorry, but this is basically useless as a test.

    Every modern smartphone camera will capture relatively clean, noise free and sharp images outdoors in full afternoon sun. Where we get a sense for quality is in the real-world extremes – dim interiors, mixed lighting, portraits of humans (oddly there is never a single human in ANY smartphone camera review) and people moving around in dim lighting. Those are the shots that most people take on a daily basis, and its where great cameras stand out from average ones.

    • http://google.com/+derekross Derek Ross

      Actually, I took these photos over the course of many days at 4 different locations. Feel free to examine the EXIF data. Also, I’m not a professional photographer. Why no humans? In don’t want pictures of my wife or kids to be used. That said, check out my G+ profile. Humans have been posted.

      • http://google.com/+derekross Derek Ross

        Oh…that brick image is inside. I took that inside at about 9pm with the lights in inside my living room.

        • Husslord

          were you able to take any videos in areas with loud noise where distortion could be an issue?

      • Roaduardo

        I think these were fair examples. Also, what do you think of the idea of using the same locations and same objects for every camera test for future devices? Would that help maintain subjective results from test images? “So here’s a shot of this canon using the Nexus 4, and here’s a shot from the same spot using the Nexus 16″… etc. Am I making sense?

        • http://google.com/+derekross Derek Ross

          I think that’s a great idea. I’ll try to do that every time…or being another device if I still have access to it. Thanks!

          • beenyweenies

            That would be helpful. But before you do so, it would make sense to select subject matter specifically because it challenges the camera or matches the types of pictures people actually take. No one spends their days snapping pictures of flowers in their yard, right? The reason for my post above is that 80% of your images above are so close in lighting, subject matter, distance etc that they don’t add anything new to the analysis after the first image.

            Thanks!

  • irishrally

    Did it come with pre-installed screen protector?

    • Husslord

      I just watched an unboxing and yes it comes with a pre-installed screen protector! I am really tempting in getting this phone! Owned Oppo products before…not phones, but always high quality!

      • http://google.com/+derekross Derek Ross

        That’s just he protective plastic. You take that off.

  • Champ Thanatad

    would Oppo find 7a stay the whole day for heavy users? I am a business man who takes calls every 10-15 minutes, whatsApp messaging, watching a little bit of youtube videos but no playing games. Thank you :)

    • napes22

      Same question here. I’m spoiled by my Note II in terms of battery life. I’d hate to not make it through a full day.

      • http://google.com/+derekross Derek Ross

        3 hours of screen on time yesterday. A nice mixture of LTE and HSPA+ and WiFi. Bluetooth connected to Glass all day. I got 16 hours.

  • Red Beard

    So when is the regular 7 coming out? I’m curious which ends up being the better phone. The 7 has all the specs but the 7a looks to be a great value.

  • Pitchy

    I am curious how you did the 32 second long exposure. Is this built into the phone or is there a camera app on the Play Store that allows for this?

    • http://google.com/+derekross Derek Ross

      The camera app supports it.

  • rS1

    Any thoughts on overall usage? Smoothness of swiping, menu access, etc.?

  • jetscreamer01

    Nice in dept review Derek. This is a beast of a phone, but I am not a fan of Color OS. Do you know if this phone will have an easy to unlock bootloader? I would love to be able to install future custom roms on this thing.

  • Adam Berg

    I like that you mention exactly why you deduct points.
    For me it’s the complete opposite, I deduct a whole point for screen buttons, a half if they somewhat remedies it with something like knock-on.