If you're blessed with gigantic ape hands or are simply in the market for a large-screened phablet, this is the hardware comparison you've been waiting for. Samsung has long dominated the phablet space with its undeniably impressive Note series, but new kid on the block Oppo has been putting up some pretty serious competition of late. So who reigns supreme on a large screen: the crown prince Galaxy Note 3 or the unlikely usurper the Oppo Find 7a?
Design and manufacture
The Note 3 leads from the front in terms of what we expect from an executive-styled phablet. The Note 3 has Samsung's telltale physical home button up front, flanked by capacitive buttons. The Note 3 is bordered by aluminum-look, ribbed plastic edges that house a removable stylus in the bottom right corner. The Note 3 has a power button on the upper right, volume rocker on the left, micro USB on the bottom alongside the stylus and speaker and a headphone port on the upper edge next to the IR blaster. On the back, the Note 3 has a flat, textured plastic leatherette battery cover with molded stitching around the edges. A single LED flash and camera lens sit at the top.
The Find 7a is a sleek slab of uninterrupted glass with capacitive navigation buttons hidden in the bottom bezel like the Note 3, below which lies a tiny hard plastic strip that houses an LED notification light. The sides are a layer cake of two-tone polycarbonate, metal-look plastic and the rear of the device, which creeps around to the sides a little. Ports and buttons are in the usual places: headphone port up top, microUSB at the bottom, volume rocker on the right and power on the left. The reverse of the Find 7a features a nicely curved and subtly textured back, with a rear-mounted speaker at the bottom and dual-LED flash and camera up top. Everything is considered, tidy and symmetrical.
The build quality of both devices is fantastic and neither device feels cheap. The Note 3 looks a little chunky compared to the slick lines of the Find 7a, even if the Find 7a is actually thicker. Both are roughly the same dimensions, but the Note 3, which is a tiny bit wider and thinner, manages to squeeze in a slightly larger screen even if both devices lose about the same amount of display real estate to bezels. As mentioned above, stylistic preferences are a matter of personal taste, but in my opinion, the Oppo Find 7a scrubs up well enough to beat the Note 3 in the looks department.
The Oppo Find 7a is the Full HD version of the Find 7, which came with 2K display resolution. The Find 7a, comes with a 5.5-inch 1,920x1,080 pixel resolution IPS LCD screen, putting it on par with the Note 3's 5.7-inch 1,920x1,080 pixel Super AMOLED display. AMOLED displays are better at power conservation and LCDs perform better outside, so consider your personal needs when deciding between display technologies. As far as pixel density goes, it's pretty even, with the Find 7a just beating the Note 3, although the difference isn't noticeable to the naked eye.
The Note 3's display at full brightness is much brighter and vibrant, although it is a bit too contrasty and saturated for my liking. Reds come up scarlet on the Note 3 and a deeper crimson on the Find 7a, which tends to brown. If you punch back the brightness on the Note 3 (to about half), you get something more akin to the Find 7a in terms of intensity and color, although the Note 3 is still richer and over-saturated. On whites, the Note 3 is a little yellowish and warm, the Find 7a a bit cool but clear.
Watching the same YouTube clips, the Note tends to green a little and the Find 7a to purple. Blacks are, of course, deeper on the Note 3, although I feel the Find 7a tends to be a little more bleached and cool than the vivid warmth of the Note 3. If you're looking for punchy brightness and wow factor, go for the Note 3 but if you want something a little more subdued and lifelike the Find 7a is for you. For sheer dynamic range though, I think the Note 3 is better.
User interface and software
Android 4.4.2 with TouchWiz versus the Android 4.3-based Color OS v2.0. They couldn't really be any more different and neither have much in common with stock Android. Both have tabulated Settings menus, TouchWiz opting for an AMOLED-friendly black UI and the Find 7a's LCD going for white. Again, this is a matter for your personal taste, but I find ColorOS to be a little cleaner and uncluttered than the TouchWiz UI. I have to admit that there's also a degree of novelty to the Color OS compared to the very familiar TouchWiz.
The Find 7a has a truckload of launch gestures from both a screen-off state and from a drop-down gesture panel. There's also a range of in-app gestures and motion launch options (including always-listening Google Now from a screen-off state). The Note 3 on the other hand has the mighty S Pen stylus and Air Command window for quick access to note taking, screen drawing and more. Comparing these two is too difficult to decide a winner, but both are laden with lots of added extras when compared to your average smartphone or tablet, it's up to you which is more suitable for your needs. The Oppo may be running Android 4.3 but it certainly feels like it could be KitKat.
Performance and hardware
This is where it gets interesting. The Note 3 has last year's specs and the Find 7a has been lauded for its top of the line internals. Nevertheless the Note 3 puts up a solid fight on paper: both devices have a quad-core Snapdragon processor clocked at 2.3 GHz, the Find 7a a Snapdragon 801, the Note 3 the Snapdragon 800. However, the Note 3 throws down 3 GB of RAM compared to the Find 7a's 2 GB.
What this boils down to in practice though is clear: the Find 7a is much more responsive than the Note 3. The Oppo outperforms the Samsung on my AnTuTu benchmarking test and generally feels snappier all round. In common use cases it launches the camera app much faster than the Note 3 and switches between apps significantly faster than the Samsung, although some other minor things like accessing the Settings menu are fairly equal. Both speakers are fairly equivalent in terms of quality but the Oppo is a bit louder.
Both devices pack a 13 MP primary camera but the Oppo pips the Note 3 up front, with a 5 MP selfie cam compared to the Note 3's 2 MP. When you compare the main shooters though, the Find 7a launches faster, focuses faster and produces crisper, sharper images at 100% zoom, even if they are pretty similar at first glance. Both cameras have a wide range of settings and modes like Panorama, audio shots, Beauty and more. The Note 3 offers photospheres and Drama Mode (multiple shots in a single frame), while the Oppo has slow shutter and a GIF maker. Your photography habits will dictate a winner on the software front.
On the hardware front though, it's clear, up close the Note 3 performs marginally better and they're fairly equal in sunlight but in low light the Find 7a tears away. Its low-light efforts in normal mode are equivalent to the Note 3 in HDR and when you put the Oppo in HDR mode it destroys the Note 3 completely. The Oppo's HDR mode does take longer to process than the Note 3 though. While your everyday snapper isn't going to notice much of a difference outside in the sunshine, if photography is your thing, the Oppo Find 7a can't be beat (at least by the Note 3). Both devices are capable of 4K video recording.
|Oppo Find 7a||Samsung Galaxy Note 3|
|System||Android 4.3 (Color OS 2.0)||Android 4.4.2 (TouchWiz), S Pen stylus support|
|Display||5.5-inch IPS LCD, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, 401 ppi||5.7-inch Super AMOLED, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, 386 ppp|
|Processor||Quad-core Snapdragon 801, 2.3 GHz||Quad-core Snapdragon 800, 2.3 GHz|
|RAM||2 GB||3 GB|
|Internal Storage||16 GB + microSD (up to 128 GB)||32/64 GB + microSD (up to 64 GB)|
|Battery||2,800 mAh, removable||3,200 mAh, removable|
|Camera||13 MP (rear), 5 MP (front), 4K video||13 MP (rear), 2 MP (front), 4K video|
|Connectivity||GSM/HSDPA/LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, USB 2.0||GSM/CDMA/HSDPA/LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, USB 3.0, IR blaster|
|Dimensions||152.6 x 75 x 9.2 mm||151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm|
|Weight||171 g||168 g|
|Price||499 USD||549 USD|
Both devices have removable batteries, the Note 3 a 3,200 mAh cell and the Oppo with a 2,800 mAh juice box. I haven't tested these out at length, but it seems fair to say that the Note 3 would outlast the Oppo given equivalent usage, even with the marginally larger display. Assuming, of course, that you don't have the Note 3 screen brightness pumped up enough to reach the moon. If battery life is an essential purchase factor for you though, I encourage you to keep an eye out for the demanding battery tests carried out by the likes of GSM Arena before you make a decision.
I'm the first to say I was utterly surprised by what I found in this comparison. I fully expected the Oppo to go down when it went toe to toe with a beast like the Note 3, but the truth is, in almost all areas the Oppo was at least on par with the Samsung and sometimes better. I'm a big fan of the Note 3 and was amazed to see a relative newcomer perform as well as the Find 7a in this test. I'm sure there will be plenty of rebuttals to this conclusion, but I'm convinced anyone putting these two side by side will see the same thing I did: the Oppo Find 7a is a very worthy contender for the title of the best phablet around (if you're not hung up on a stylus). The Galaxy Note 3 hit the market at 549 USD - although it does have more internal storage - and the Find 7a is just 499 USD, and I think its safe to say the Note 3 is no longer the undisputed king.
What are your thoughts on the Oppo Find 7a? Did you expect this result?