Was Oppo's Find 5 Actually A Viable Flagship Android Smartphone?
Although I won't go as far as to say the high-end Android market is mundane, it seems to have acquired a distinct aura of predictability due to increasing technical convergence in the current generation of smartphones and a small group of very well-established manufacturers competing for the top of the market.
With that in mind, it's really no surprise as to why the Oppo Find 5, with its premium features from a relatively unknown manufacturer, was so intriguing. Now that we've had the opportunity to comprehensively review and evaluate the device, it's time to address whether Oppo had a viable entry into the world of flagship smartphones with the Find 5.
The first consideration is naturally the device's processing power, where our suite of CPU and GPU benchmarks made it abundantly clear that the Find 5's S4 Pro SoC is not surprisingly outclassed by newer processors like the Apple A7 and Qualcomm Snapdragon 800. But even though it's obvious that the S4 Pro isn't cutting-edge anymore, we were unable to find any plausible real-world application or usage scenario beyond the handset’s capabilities. Plus, the Find 5's healthy 2 GB of LPDDR2 memory certainly provides sufficient headroom for smooth multitasking.
The continued viability of chips like the S4 Pro in high-end devices also reflects the fact that typical user requirements and expectations for tablets and smartphones remain relatively low, making increases in the raw computational power more difficult to perceive outside of quantitative benchmarks.
Alongside the ability to run demanding applications like games, the most significant performance consideration is the perceptual speed and fluidity of the operating system itself. It is in this discipline where Oppo's Find 5 truly stumbles with its heavily customized version of Android 4.1.1. Qualitative performance suffers as we're presented a disjointed, unresponsive user experience that comes close to compromising the smartphone entirely.
The handset's most compelling and attention-grabbing feature is ultimately its stellar construction that facilitates a vibrant and clear five-inch 1080p IPS display and an overall build quality on par with any other smartphone on the market, perhaps even the iPhone 5s’ and HTC One's lauded aluminum unibodies.
Pricing is another of the Find 5’s strengths. Being competitively priced at just $499/$569 significantly undercuts the Xperia Z1 by $180, and the iPhone 5s and Galaxy S4 by a considerable $250. This is of course more expensive than the newer more capable Nexus 5 and older Nexus 4, but those are ultimately not fair comparisons, since Google subsidizes the cost of its Nexus devices with the aim of earning revenue from Google Play.
All things considered, we like the Oppo Find 5 and have no problem recommending it folks looking for an attractively-priced and superbly-built Android-based platform. The single proviso is that you ditch the stock firmware for a functional aftermarket ROM in order to get the best performance and overall user experience. Fortunately, Oppo goes further than any other manufacturer, including Google, towards enabling user modification and embracing the enthusiast market.
Looking forward, it’s clear that Oppo has the ability to directly compete in the high-end Android market by offering great hardware at affordable off-contract prices. We have the much newer N1 in-house, and will follow up shortly on our experiences with that successor. We're particularly interested given the company's partnership with CyanogenMod, which promises to provide it with software that is commensurate to the quality of its hardware.