If top-of-the-line handsets from Samsung, HTC, or Apple don't thrill you, perhaps a walk on the smartphone wild side is in order. For a sky-high sticker price approaching $700, the unconventional Oppo Find 5 offers a quad-core processing punch, massive 5-inch 1080p display, Android Jelly Bean, plus a striking, modern design. The unlocked device also provides international GSM operability for all you globe-trekkers. While the Oppo Find 5's high cost of entry will scare away casual phone shoppers, this gadget's distinctive style and impressive capabilities are certainly a draw to Android aficionados and mobile technology addicts alike.
When I first laid eyes on the Oppo Find 5 I was struck by its clean lines, thin rectangular shape, and overall elegant appearance. Further accentuating the Find 5's trimness is how its large screen sits flush with its bezel, and also how little bezel there is. This edge-to-edge display design tactic is all the rage these days, cropping up in phones such as the Motorola Razr M, HTC Droid Razr, Droid Razr HD, and LG Nexus 4. Frankly, though, I think the Oppo design team took major cues from Sony; the Find 5 could be a close cousin to Xperia handsets.
Clad in a soothing shade of frosty white, the Oppo Find 5 feels well-built, too, especially the handset's back, which is smooth yet not slippery. In fact Oppo equates the surface to sand, which I feel is a misnomer since that back panel has more of the cool roughness I associate with ceramic. I also appreciate the attractive strip of silvery metal that houses the phone's camera and dual-LED flash array.
The Find 5 is hefty, however, tipping the scale at a full 5.8 ounces. Even though the phone measures a scant 0.35 inch thick, its other dimensions are downright unwieldy. At 5.6 inches tall by 2.7 inches wide, I often found reaching the top of the device all but impossible, particularly if my grip rested toward the bottom edge of the device.
Thankfully Oppo had the foresight to place the power button in the center of the left side within easy reach of index fingers (right-handed grip), not the top. The right side holds a thin sliver of a volume rocker, while a Micro-USB port occupies the bottom edge.
Mobile gear heads will drool over the Oppo Find 5's list of premium components and software. Powered by a 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor backed up by a healthy 2GB of RAM, the phone doesn't lack in terms of high-octane hardware.
The phone's Android 4.1 Jelly Bean software is pleasantly fresh as well, but there is one caveat. Like many mobile device makers, Oppo places its own UI skin over Android, which in the International version of the Find 5 (my test unit) was still a beta version. Oppo says it expects more stable retail firmware by late February. Additionally, the company claims it'll release two beta and one stable firmware versions every subsequent month.
The Find 5's interface shouldn't throw experienced Android users for a loop, besides the fact that it closely resembles an iOS or Samsung TouchWiz layout with large, chiclet-style app icons, vibrant home screens depicting nature scenes, and a side-scrolling application tray.
To snap pictures, the Find 5 sports a high-resolution 13-megapixel camera. The sensor is also back-side illuminated (BSI) and provides an HDR mode. You can also capture HD movies in 1080p quality. If you're into fancy extras like burst shooting, panorama, or special filters, though, you won't find them here -- at least in the software version I used.
The centerpiece of the Find 5 is its vast 5-inch 1080p display (1,920x1,080 pixels). Using IPS LCD technology, the screen created sharp details, had wide viewing angles, and got pretty bright as well. My only complaint is that at times the display was unresponsive, requiring me to repeat touches. Hopefully this is a simple software issue.
I have to say that for all the Oppo Find 5's raging hardware, its performance was a mixed bag. By and large, the handset seemed nimble and felt responsive in my hands, while in other instances, home screens or menus visibly jerk, lag, or stutter.
Running my usual battery of synthetic benchmarks confirmed the Find 5's processing muscle. The device notched a high 573.7 MFLOPs on Linpack (multithread). That's the best score I've seen personally and enough to best the mighty HTC Droid DNA. The Find F5's impressive Quadrant score of 7,233, however, couldn't match the DNA's outstanding showing of 8,165.
Unfortunately, the Find 5's swift performance comes at the expense of longevity, or perhaps its huge screen is the culprit. Whatever the cause, in anecdotal testing the phone could barely make it through a full work day before needing a recharge. Running the CNET Labs video playback battery drain test backed up my suspicions. The Find 5 lasted an unsatisfying 6 hours and 14 minutes during this ordeal.
I won't argue that the Oppo Find 5 is an alluring piece of mobile hardware. Lovely to look at, and fast as well, I'm sure many mobile hardware addicts won't be able to resist its exotic charms. I will reserve final judgment until I get my hands on final retail software, though. Still, $700 ($679 on Amazon) is a hefty chunk of change to drop on a phone -- even one with no contract, or unlocked or not. Hopefully a fresh firmware infusion will improve battery life and overall smoothness of operation.