When it comes to Android smartphone comparisons, this particular matchup is definitely one of the strangest you’ll encounter.
In one corner we have the best-selling Android smartphone of all time (particularly noteworthy given the impressive market share that the OS holds in the market): the Samsung Galaxy S3. Launched back in May in Europe and June in the U.S., the third incarnation of the Galaxy S series is the landmark Android smartphone for 2012.
An impossible but otherwise very interesting study would reveal by how much did the legal dispute between the South Korean manufacturer and U.S.-based Apple, a stage where the Galaxy S3 has avoided negative decisions thus far, improve Galaxy S3 sales. But that’s part of another story, one that’s contrastingly that much better known to our regular readers.
In the other corner, we have the Oppo Find 5, an Android smartphone that, when officially announced by the ambitious Chinese manufacturer has captured the tech blogosphere center of attention thanks to a set of very impressive technical specs.
Although the Oppo Find 5 is currently available only in China, the device might make it to Western markets as well. However, even if the Oppo Find 5 doesn’t hit other countries, readers from various parts of the world can use this vs piece as a tool for creating a better picture of the grand scheme of the mobile technology world. After all, China recently became the largest Android market of them all!
The Samsung Galaxy S3 features a 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display running at a 720p resolution. Unfortunately, the S3 cheats when it comes to its 306 PPI (Pixel Per Inch) density, as it does not use a regular RGB matrix, but a PenTile arrangement instead.
Just to make sure the elephant in this section is noticed, the Samsung Galaxy S3 doesn’t have a display that impresses when compared to more recent flagship smartphones, and the PenTile technology might just be the reason. For example, Samsung’s other best seller, the 5.5-inch display on the Galaxy Note 2 outshines the panel on the Galaxy S3 in picture quality.
On the other hand, the Oppo Find 5 is chronologically the second Android smartphone to offer an interesting generation of displays, the intensely debated 5-inch 1080p type. HTC was the first manufacturer to go down the 440 PPI path with the HTC J Butterfly / Droid DNA.
In fact, the Super LCD 3 displays featured by the HTC J Butterfly / Droid DNA and the Oppo Find 5 actually come from the same manufacturers, meaning that the picture quality is, for all accounts and purposes, equally impressive.
Verdict: the Oppo Find 5 has a better display than the Samsung Galaxy S3.
Design and Build Quality
The Samsung Galaxy S3 is not a bad looking piece of Android hardware, but it is reasonably safe to assume that it will not win the 2012 Design Awards. The Galaxy S3 measures 136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6 mm (5.38 x 2.78 x 0.34 in) and weighs 133 grams.
Darcy LaCouvee and his insanely popular drop tests have proven that Samsung’s best selling smartphone does not fare well on impact against rough surfaces.
In the Chinese corner, the Oppo Find 5 is noticeably wider and taller than the Galaxy S3 thanks to its larger display, and just a hair thicker. The overall design does not impress, and although no unit has been dropped (mercilessly might I add) on hard concrete yet, it is hard to believe that resistance to impact will be one if this smartphone’s stronger qualities.
Verdict: As there are no major differences in build quality, this section should be decided by your personal prefference
CPU, GPU & RAM
Although the Oppo Find 5 was the first smartphone announced to use the new Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro SoC, the exact same 1.5GHz quad-core Krait CPU – Adreno 320 GPU has since reached the market under the hood of the LG Optimus G, the LG Google Nexus 4 and the HTC J Butterfly / Droid DNA.
Thanks to the Snapdragon S4 Pro, Oppo Find 5 is very responsive, although some strain on the GPU should be expected when running graphically intensive games on its 1080p display. According to benchmarks, the Oppo Find 5 performs right on par with the Droid DNA.
Here is how the Oppo Find 5 performs in the AnTuTu benchmark:
The International version of the Samsung Galaxy S3 uses Samsung’s highly successful Exynos 4 Quad platform, one that joins together a 1.4GHz quad-core A9 CPU with a Mali 400 MP GPU, while the US, LTE-enabled version uses the now previous top of the line SoC from Qualcomm back from roughly six months ago, the Snapdragon S4.
Although the international version of the Samsung Galaxy S3 is still a very powerful smartphone, especially at the CPU level (and noticeably faster than the U.S. version), the Snapdragon S4 Pro SoC is the next best thing in the smartphone world.
The U.S. version of the Galaxy S3 features 2GB of RAM, while the international version carries half that amount, “just” 1 GB.
This is how the Oppo Find 5 fares against other top-end smartphones (the Galaxy S3 included) in the popular AnTuTu benchmark:
Just to put things in perspective, Samsung’s reaction to the S4 Pro is called the Exynos 5 Dual and has already reached the end-market under the hood of the Samsung Google Nexus 10 and the Samsung Google Chromebook. So far, benchmarks show that Samsung has another winner.
Internal and Expandable Storage
The Galaxy S3 comes in 16GB / 32GB / 64GB versions and can work with MicroSD cards up to 64GB of size. The Galaxy S3 has a serious advantage over the Oppo Find 5, which comes only in a 16GB version, with external card support.
The Samsung Galaxy S3 has an 8MP sensor in the front and a 1.9MP front facing camera. In the other corner, the Oppo Find 5 has a primary camera that takes pictures of 13MP in resolution, and a 2MP secondary camera.
Theory, as well as experience, tells us that we shouldn’t expect a major improvement in picture quality with the 13MP sensor on the Oppo Find 5. However, both take decent point-and-shoot-then-Instagram pictures.
Although the standard photo quality is not by too many degrees better than what you get with the Samsung Galaxy S3, the Oppo Find 5 camera can shoot video at 120 fps (frames per second), meaning that one can take blur-less ultra slow motion videos. In addition, the Oppo Find 5 primary camera can work in HDR (high dynamic range) mode, a first on smartphone cameras.
The Samsung Galaxy S3 comes equipped with a removable 2100mAh battery that provides decent battery life intervals at moderate usage, while the Oppo Find 5 has a non-removable 2500mAh battery. If Oppo has managed not to optimize the Find 5 worse than the HTC J Butterfly, we should be looking at decent battery life intervals with the Chinese-bound Android smartphone as well.
Verdict: The Oppo Find 5 comes with a faster SoC and roughly all around better specs
Android Version & Software Tweaks
First and foremost, Oppo can be congratulated on its decision to keep the custom UI as low profile as possible. Here a quick peek of the home screen:
However, despite the fact that both our contenders run an Android Jelly Bean version (the Samsung Galaxy S3 was launched with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich but has been since updated – in most markets – to Jelly Bean), this a place where the Samsung Galaxy S3 shines.
Although TouchWiz (Samsung’s custom UI) has received plenty of negative feedback, it looks like Samsung has satisfied its fan base via a unique set of software functions, called Smart Functions. We’ve discussed them into further detail in the previous article here, but some of the critically acclaimed tweaks include Smart Stay (a tweak that ensures the display stays on as long as you look at it) and S Beam (an NFC file sharing function between Galaxy S3 / Galaxy Note 2 smartphones).
Furthermore, with the release of the Samsung Premium Suite for the Galaxy S3, the reference smartphone for 2012 has gained a whole new range of useful functions such as enhanced Facebook integration, an S3 compatible version of the True Multitasking feature as it can be seen on the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, and others.
Here is a video showcasing the Premium Suite for Galaxy S3:
Verdict: Although both smartphones run Android 4.1.x Jelly Bean, the Samsung Galaxy S3 comes with a unique suite of software functions that enhance the entire Android experience!
As one can notice, the Oppo Find 5 completely dominates the Samsung Galaxy S3 in a vast majority of the sections we have approached. While this loss does not make the Galaxy S3 a poor smartphone, one thing it does point out is that the Android ecosystem is evolving at an ever increasing pace.
If a relatively unknown manufacturer (even on the Chinese market) such as Oppo can release a smartphone that clearly kicks the behind of the best selling Android smartphone ever, and all that in roughly 6 months since the latter was released, can you imagine what the big boys can do in 2013?
What are your thoughts on this interesting battle? Is Oppo to be congratulated for the Oppo Find 5? We think so, but feel free to disagree with us via the comment section below!