If Oppo's N1 pushed the boundaries of sensible smartphone design, then the Find 7 is a celebration of the slabby status quo. With its squared-off corners, flat sides and plain black face, the whole thing is almost unapologetically monolithic. The only real concession to the notions of grippability and comfort is the gently curving (and removable!) backplate. Ours was dark gray with an ersatz carbon fiber finish that squeaks when you run your nails across it, though there's a white model, too. If you really dislike the finish (and want to save a little money), there's a slightly lesser version of the device called the Find 7a that has pure, smooth backs.
There's an Oppo logo etched under the 13-megapixel camera and dual LED flash. All that sits above the surprisingly solid speakers sitting low on the Find 7's rear cover. You're technically supposed to depress a tiny button embedded in the phone's edge to pop that cover off, but a little elbow grease (or, you know, some fingernails) will do in a pinch. Once you manage that little feat, you'll discover the 3,000mAh battery along with your bog-standard micro-SIM and microSD card slots. If you were to peer further still into the 7's chassis, you'd also spot the 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 CPU, 3GB of RAM and Adreno 330 GPU that keep things running so smoothly (more on that later). Then again, you'd need X-ray vision for all that, and I like to think that if that were the case, you'd be using it for the greater good instead of reading this review. To each their own, I guess.
Things aren't much more exciting when you flip the 7 over, but that doesn't mean it's totally lacking in visual flair. There's not much to get excited about when that big 5.5-inch display is off, but there's a 5-megapixel camera situated nearby and a blue notification light (they call it the "Skyline Notification") pulses lazily when you've got a new message to peek at. Now if the light shining through the navigation keys below the screen wasn't so wimpy, Oppo might be onto something; it's damned near impossible to see under the harsh, summer sun... or any sun, for that matter.
There's a fine line between subtle and boring, and the Find 7 skews toward the latter end of that spectrum. Before you accuse me of being too harsh, know that there are some things worthy of praise. Take the overall construction of the device, for instance. Despite being crafted out of plastic, there's no give, no creaking, not even the slightest suggestion of physical inadequacy. Oppo may not be a name you run across too often, but there's little question that the company brought its A game when it came time to putting the Find 7 together. Factor in some pleasant heft and you've got a phone that feels a damn sight better than it looks.
Display and sound
If there's one spec, one technical tidbit that makes the Find 7 such a desirable piece of kit, it would be that 5.5-inch Quad HD (2,560 x 1,440) IPS display. Oppo's design philosophy this time around seems to reflect that very fact -- the Find's face is so unassuming that there's nothing for your eyes to lock onto except for the screen. That's why it's a bummer to have to proffer this reality check: For all the commotion the Find 7's screen has caused in geekier corners of the web, it still has its share of flaws. Don't get me wrong: It's just as crisp as advertised, with individual pixels that are impossible to pick out with the naked eye, and viewing angles that'll make you popular with your airline seatmates. If all you care about is pure pixel density, the Find 7 won't leave you high and dry. But how about color reproduction? Erm, it's a little wonky: Whites tend to take on a cooler cast, which means every image is just a little bit off in terms of accuracy. Is it a dealbreaker? For a staggering majority of people out there, the answer's a definitive "no way." Most will just ooh and aah over the screen's crispness, and will never plop the Find 7 down next to another phone to see where those color differences lie.
What's a little more troubling is the Find 7's persistent trouble with brightness. You'd perhaps expect that a screen with so many pixels squeezed into it would fare well outdoors. You'd be wrong, mostly. Cranking brightness up to the maximum is almost always a necessity once you take the Find 7 out on the town, and even then it's not always enough to outshine the sun's harsh rays.
I don't expect much from most phone speakers. It's frustrating to see manufacturer after manufacturer cut corners and take shortcuts on a crucial part of the media experience, so you'll just have to imagine my surprise when the Find 7's rear speakers came to life in a big way. Yes, that's speakers, in the plural -- there's a single grille drilled into the 7's backplate, but it actually obscures a pair of speakers that renders audio with a clarity that's downright unusual for a smartphone.
That's not to say they're perfect. Mounting speakers on a device's back cover is an accepted practice, but it also means you'll occasionally shoot sound directly into your mitts. The other issue here, though, is one of depth... or the lack thereof. The Find 7's speakers get plenty loud for when you need to power all those mobile dance parties and what does come out is undeniably crisp. After a few moments of listening, however, you'll probably start to notice an absence of forcefulness in that sound, even in tracks that roll and thrum with energy. Par for the course for smartphone speakers? Sure, but it can still be a bummer.
The Find 7 is physically pretty vanilla, but the software is anything but. At its core, it's Android 4.3 painted over in broad strokes with what Oppo calls ColorOS, one of the most extensively customized interfaces I've seen in a long time. No, wait, don't groan just yet. I'm about as big an Android purist as you'll find, but Oppo's approach -- while peculiar and extensive -- does bring lots to the table. Our own Richard Lai did a deep dive on ColorOS when he reviewed the more curious N1, but read on for a quick recap and my own take.