Saturday, 12 July 2014

Quick Review: OPPO Find 7a

OPPO may not ring many bells for most of you, but this Chinese manufacturer has been making pretty big waves in the Android world. Normally known for mid- to high-end audio systems and blu-ray players. OPPO's latest offering, the Find 7, comes in two variants, the Find 7 and the Find 7a. The Find 7a has been available for a few months,and the Find 7 has come onto the market in the last month or so. The only differences between the two devices come in the specs, where the Find 7 outclasses the Find 7a pretty much everywhere. I got the Find 7a a while ago, and I've been playing around with it to get a better idea of what it's like to live with.

In Ireland, the Find 7a costs a total of €399 shipped, and they include a free UK plug adapter. In case you're interested, the Find 7 costs €479.

I have been switching between the stock ROM and the Paranoid Android (PA) custom ROM on this device. The good news is that it is relatively easy to get the custom ROM installed providing you know your way around ADB and Fastboot. Either way, you're getting a pretty solid ROM, although I've spent more time with PA than with the stock ColorOS ROM.

The camera is excellent, easily capable of Cover-Photo standard snaps with no particular settings enabled. In terms of modes, you get HDR and a 50MP mode, where the camera takes multiple pictures and uses technical witchcraft to make your picture either more vivid or sharper respectively. Selfie lovers will also be delighted with this phone's 5MP front facing camera.

Gestures are where this phone really comes through. Gestures can be used either through a pull-down from the status (by default on the left-hand side), or, most excitingly, with the screen turned off! You can configure these gestures to open any app you have installed, or to toggle a certain number of settings.

The performance is solid, with the only slowdowns or lags caused by OPPO's ColorOS. Even with that, it does not lag when taking pictures, or when listening to music. The battery, however, is not as reliable. In use, the battery is excellent, especially compared to the Nexus 5's less-than-stellar battery consumption. However, its standby time is atrocious. Many other reviewers have also complained about the poor standby time. I can vouch for their complaints, even on a custom ROM. With WiFi and phone signal turned on, the battery can drop anything up to 20% overnight. The drain is far more acceptable when you put the phone in aeroplane mode, ranging from 2% to 5%.

My problems with the phone begin with the capacitive hardware keys. The placing of the back button on the opposite side to Google's standards causes far too many headaches, especially for a leftie like me. The power key, on my device anyway, had a huge amount of play in it, literally being able to tilt fully on the underlying button. The software helped compensate for this by allowing me to double-tap the screen to wake the device, and double-tap the home capacitive key to lock the device again. However, this is a cure for a problem that shouldn't exist in the first place. The battery life, as I have mentioned above, is also quite a deal-breaker. OPPO's fast charger balances this however, by allowing you to charge the device to around 75% from empty in about 30 minutes. I didn't time the charger, but I can report that their claims are not unrealistic, as the battery can make significant gains in very little time.

So, in conclusion I give this phone a 3.5/5 score. The large vibrant screen and generally solid performance, occasional stumbles aside, coupled with the sensational camera make this phone a force to be reckoned with, even amongst the competition from the likes of Samsung, HTC and LG. However, its unreliable battery, weak power button and unconventional capacitive navigation keys let it down big time. However, OPPO has been able to lighten the impact of these flaws by compensating with the Double-Tap to Wake and Sleep, and the fast charger.

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