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Device Review: Oppo Find 5

IMG_4965

All too often, major device manufacturers such as HTC, Samsung, and Motorola steal the thunder with their announcements and product releases, leaving little room for smaller OEMs to enter the market. Today we’re going to put aside the HTC One and Samsung’s Next Big Thing to talk about the Oppo Find 5, the Chinese company’s first foray into the global market.

You may be asking why we at XDA-Developers would want to review a relatively obscure device that is unfortunately difficult to procure in many regions. Well, availability was recently broadened, and we’ve already been inside the device and liked what we saw. (Giggity.) But most importantly, Oppo has been incredibly proactive in fostering the developer community for the device, making it the ideal phone to develop with or simply enjoy the development works created by others. In fact, their developer-friendly stance begs for comparison against the LG-made Google Nexus 4, so that’s exactly what we’ll do.

The Oppo Find 5 retails for $499 (16 GB) and $569 (32 GB), making it markedly more expensive than the Nexus 4. Does it have what it takes to stand apart from the crowd and earn its way into your pocket, despite competition from LG/Google, as well as HTC and Samsung? Read on to find out.

Hardware and Unboxing

The first thing you will notice about the Find 5 is that it has one of the snazziest boxes ever used on a mobile device. The dark-colored cardboard box features aluminum accents and a magnetic clasp. This exudes attention to detail, making for exceptional first impressions.

Cracking the box open, you’ll find the usual bundle of accessories such as a wall wart, USB cable, disposable headphones, and a SIM tool. As an added bonus, the Find 5 also comes with a couple of NFC tags to play with.

Design

Making our way to the device itself, let’s start by saying that the Oppo Find 5 is a handsome device. If you’re a fan of sharp, angular lines and masculine design, the Find 5 is poised to please. As its name alludes, the Find 5′s screen measures in a 5″ diagonally, making this a rather large device.  Luckily though, the Find 5 will still fit into most pants pockets with ease.

Unfortunately, those will small hands may have trouble reaching all four corners of the display without repositioning during one-handed use. Luckily for those in search of a smaller device with the same feel, the rumor mill has it that there will be a more diminutive version coming relatively soon. These are, however, only rumors at present. And if the alleged price point is accurate, this is likely more of a midrange model rather than the current high end Find 5.

Holding the Find 5 is a bit confusing at first. Upon seeing its plastic body, you immediately expect a less than ideal build quality and light body weight. Thanks to an internal steel frame, however, the device is both surprisingly hefty in-hand and feels more sturdy than you would expect from something encased in plastic. Since the plastic isn’t of the chintzy, glossy variety so often seen on some of the competition, the casing doesn’t give off the impression of being easy to scratch. And those who like to play a little rough with their devices will be happy to know that there is nary a flex nor a creak when applying pressure to the device.

In comparison to the Google Nexus 4, the Find 5 is noticeably larger. While the two devices share a similar thickness (the Find 5 being a hair slimmer), the Oppo manages to feel significantly thinner thanks to its curved edges.

Screen

The defining characteristic of any modern mobile device is unquestionably its screen. Luckily, Oppo is well aware. They’ve graced the Find 5 with a simply remarkable panel. While 1080p is quickly becoming commonplace among 2013′s high-end flagship phones, the JDI-sourced 5″ 1080p IPS screen in the Find 5 still manages to set itself apart.

Aside from being sharp, it is also vibrant, packs a good amount of contrast, and is extremely well calibrated. Using an X-Rite i1Display 2 and HCFR Colorimeter, we found that our Find 5 has a color temperature remarkably close to the ideal D6500K calibration point. At minimum brightness, it measures in at 6504K. At 50% brightness, it comes in ever-so-slightly cool at 6563K. At maximum brightness, it is noticeably more cool at 6632K. While not directly tested, contrast and gamma also seem appropriate. Even though you’re probably not going to use your phone to edit pictures destined for print, it’s nice to know that what you see on screen is quite close to what you’re supposed to be seeing.

Viewing angles are not the absolute best we’ve seen on modern devices, but they’re still as good as you would expect from a quality IPS panel, and far better than what’s seen on the Nexus 4. There is a small loss of brightness at extreme angles, but there is no color inversion at any angle.

This 441 ppi screen is on par with the slightly denser panel found on the HTC One, and its images are unquestionably more natural and lifelike than those seen on the Samsung Galaxy S 4′s oversaturated AMOLED panel. And unfortunately for Google’s latest flagship, there is simply no comparison between the two displays in any regard. Simply put, when viewing a high resolution image head-on, you may forget you’re looking at an LCD rather than an actual photograph.

Performance and Battery Life

If screen is the most important aspect of a modern mobile device’s hardware, the internal guts unquestionably follow. The Find 5 features the same quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro (APQ8064) system-on-chip as the Nexus 4. For the uninitiated, this iteration of the S4 Pro includes four 1.5 GHz Krait cores and an Adreno 320 GPU. The fast processor is backed by 2 GB of RAM and either 16 or 32 GB of storage.

While other SoCs now have claimed the ultimate performance throne from the S4 Pro, its speediness is still a force to be reckoned with. You’ll be hard pressed to spot any actual performance differences between this device and one running a faster chipset such as the Snapdragon 600 or Samsung’s latest Octca in CPU-intensive tasks. The Find 5 has more than enough CPU power to bring a speedy experience, regardless of what you throw at it.

However as is the case on the Droid DNA, which features not only the same resolution but also the same SoC, the GPU seems to be slightly underpowered for the job. This manifests itself in a few sporadic instances of choppy scrolling and zooming here and there. This can be seen somewhat in the GPU benchmarks below. It’s nothing of a deal-breaker, but a little more pixel power would have been nice. Thankfully, though, this problem is somewhat mitigated by loading more optimized aftermarket firmware.

If GPU performance is the Find 5′s achilles heel, battery life is its annoying and ever-present mother-in-law. One would correctly assume that an ultra high resolution, bright, and vibrant display mated to a fast processor incurs substantial battery demands. Luckily, the Find 5 packs in a 2500 mAh battery to compensate.

Despite the hefty battery, though, making it through a full day of moderate to heavy use is unfortunately but a dream. For those counting, it scored 306 on the AnTuTu battery tester, putting it slightly below the venerable HTC HD2. However as pointed out by one of our readers on Google+, the battery life can improve dramatically with an aftermarket kernel.

Cameras

The Find 5 comes with a rear-facing 13 MP camera, and a 1.9 MP front-facing camera. The rear shooter is a Sony Exymor RS camera modle and is capable of hardware HDR. It is also able to capture an insanely high 120 fps in video, albeit at a low 640×480 resolution. 1080p recording is done at a still impressive 30 fps. Having 13 megapixels doesn’t mean anything, however, if the lens is poor. Luckily, the Find 5 is equipped quite well for a camera phone. Its lens is relatively speedy at f/2.2, and it uses blue glass filters to increase image quality.

So what’s the end result with Oppo’s high end camera hardware? See for yourself in the images below taken from the rear-facing camera. In good lighting, images and videos are crisp and clear. And in more difficult conditions, such as those with high amounts of dynamic range, the Oppo further distances itself from competing devices.

Almost as impressive as the Find 5′s rear camera is its front camera. While the 1.9 MP camera in the front is certainly not going to win any awards on dynamic range, resolution, or contrast; it is more than capable of capturing self-portraits and remarkably sharp video chat. Images comparing the two cameras can be seen below.

Note on HDR: Performance using HDR was a mixed bag. In certain scenes, HDR contributed nicely, protecting both highlight and shadow detail. However, there were many instances where it caused photos to take on an over-saturated and almost neon look. Haloing was also quite visible in most HDR captures.

My recommendation to all who care about image quality would be to try and expose your shots properly without HDR first. Spot metering is tied to focus point selection, and is thus just a simple tap away. But when the captured scene makes it simply impossible, then perhaps give the HDR mode a shot. Don’t expect miracles, and brace yourself for possible disasters.

Hardware Buttons

The power button is found on the upper left of the device, and has a satisfyingly clicky feel. The volume rocker is found on the right, and is similarly crisp and rewarding. Both the volume rocker and power button share the same sleek angular lines as the device itself, making them fit right in.

Unfortunately, Oppo decided to go the hardware route for its Android navigation keys. These come in the form of three capacitive buttons: menu, home, and back—in that order. Sadly, using such a layout is unintuitive since the back button is not on the left. This differs from many other devices, as well as Nexus device softkeys. We can only assume that this was done because it is easier to reach the lower right corner in single handed operation with such a large device. Needless to say, we would have preferred onscreen UI keys for Android navigation because they enable a sleeker and more versatile front face, and can disappear when not needed such as while playing video.

Software

While hardware is what drives most to initially consider a device, it’s the software that you experience day-in and day-out. For this reason, all the Gigaflops and Petabytes in the world won’t save you from a poor or locked down user experience.

Stock Firmware

The Oppo Find 5 ships with a heavily-skinned version of Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean. In fact, it’s actually one of the most heavily skinned variants of Android that this author has ever seen. The skin resembles Xiaomi Tech‘s MIUI and builds upon the Android aesthetic with richer animations, interesting and unified icon themes, lighter colors, and some generally pleasing eye-candy.

There are a few issues with the skin’s visuals, which are best exemplified in the screenshot below. Have a hard time reading the subject line? Me too, and that’s a problem.

Update: This issue was actually resolved in an update released some time prior to this review. I am unsure why my device failed to find a more recent update through the system update wizard, but that was likely due to connectivity on my end.

Notification

Notification issue, which has now been corrected.

Aftermarket Development

At this point you may be thinking that the Find 5 is a nearly perfect device. It packs a relatively speedy processor, a class-leading screen, and great cameras. However, these aren’t the Find 5′s greatest assets. Instead, the Find 5′s biggest strength is the company itself.

Oppo has embraced the aftermarket development community by doing all that it can to aid third party developers in the process. This is even something touted on their official website, citing support for Paranoid Android, CyanogenMod, vanilla Android, and PAC rom. Want a Google Edition device? This comes pretty darn close!

Community

In fact, development is so mature on the device thanks to many of the hard working developers on XDA that the two main issues cited above (notification text color and occasionally choppy UI performance) can be bypassed. This obviously varies depending on your choice of ROM and kernel, but the option exists for those willing to put in the work.

Obtaining initial root couldn’t be simpler, thanks to XDA Elite Recognized Developer AdamOutler‘s CASUAL software. Once rooted, there is an abundance of choice at your fingertips. This is largely due to Oppo’s commitment to helping rather than harming the community. Some great places to start would be the device’s official CM nightlies, Paranoid Android, PAC ROMUnofficial TWRP, the 30 Mbit Camera Mod, and many more in the device’s Original Development section.

Closing Thoughts

The Oppo Find 5 is quite an interesting device. It comes from a manufacturer relatively unheard of outside of Asia, yet it manages to set itself apart due to the amazing screen, class-leading camera, great build quality, and Oppo’s developer friendly nature. It is different from the Samsung Galaxies and HTC Ones in the world because it allows and even encourages you to use the community to your advantage. The Find 5 isn’t perfect. In its next version, we’d like to see a substantially beefier GPU and onscreen UI navigation keys rather than hardware capacitive buttons. Better battery life wouldn’t hurt either. However, the company’s developer-friendly stance more than makes up for the Find 5′s faults.

Is the Find 5 right for you? Given that it isn’t available on-contract from a major carrier for a reduced fee, many will have a hard time forking over the dough, especially when the similarly unlocked Nexus 4 is available for a fraction of the cost. However, the Find 5 retains much of what makes the Nexus 4 great, adding a slimmer profile, a leagues better screen, substantially better cameras, and aesthetics that you may or may not find more pleasing. The Find 5 isn’t for everyone, but will undoubtedly be perfect for some. Those looking to purchase the device can do so through the official website.

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