When you write about technology for a living, you tend to become jaded. It’s not that you get bored of the devices and products you muse about, but, as time goes, it becomes harder to be genuinely excited. And it’s a shame, because we really do live in a wonderful age, that treats us with developments that are downright amazing, like full HD 5-inch displays, or quad-core powerhouses that fit in your pocket.
The two phones that we are pitting against each other today are both amazing. The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and the Oppo Find 5 deliver the best specs around and a refined user experience. But the differences between the two devices are substantial.
We’ve compared the Galaxy Note 2 to the Find 5 to see which one comes on top in terms of display, design, hardware and software. If you’re in a hurry, you can jump straight to the Pros and Cons section, or just check out our hands-on video. Let’s kick it.
The defining feature of the Oppo Find 5 is its ultra-dense display. Manufactured by LG Display, the panel boasts a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, which, yes, is the resolution of the big screen TV in your living room. But, if your TV measures 50 inches or more, the display on the Oppo Find 5 is 5 inches across, giving it an incredible 441ppi density. That’s a 35 percent improvement over the pixel density of the gold standard when it comes to displays, the iPhone 5.
As you can see from the hands-on video, the AH-IPS (advanced high performance in-plane switching) panel of the Find 5 provides great viewing angles and excellent color reproduction. Needless to say, its crispness is second to none.
How about the Galaxy Note 2? With a display that is only 720p, can it stand against the Find 5? Well, if you look at the two phones side by side, you might notice that the Oppo is crisper, but you certainly won’t be bothered by any jarring pixels on the Note 2. Plus, Samsung’s phone has its advantages – it’s a bit larger than the Find 5, at 5.5-inch. This means more real estate for you to work and play on. Also, the Note 2’s display is a Super AMOLED one. You’ll be hard pressed to find deeper blacks and more vibrant colors. And, because Samsung used a regular RGB sub-pixel pattern, rather than the much vilified PenTile, the Note 2 doesn’t suffer from the shortcomings that are visible on, say, the Galaxy S3. With that said, the Note 2 offers great brightness and great viewing angles, but color calibration could be better.
If you want us to call a winner, the Find 5 holds the edge over the Note 2, thanks to its crispness. Still, the Note 2 offers a wonderful display, that won’t disappoint you.
Build and design
These are two big phones, no matter from what angle you look at them. And guess what, we love it, because their large footprints are necessary to accommodate those snazzy 5+ inch displays.
The Note 2 features Samsung’s now regular design language, with the rounded corners, smooth profile, and “glazed” finish. Some love it, some hate it, and you won’t know to which group you belong until you hold the phone in your hand. We are personally fond of the looks of the Note 2 and believe that the design makes the device seem smaller than it actually is. The plastic build is contentious, but, considering the flak that LG got for the glass back of the Optimus G and Nexus 4, perhaps we should be happy with the plastic back plate of the Note 2. And, as you can see in the video below, Samsung’s superphone is quite sturdy:
Oppo took to great lengths to emphasize the amount of work it put into the design of the Find 5. The front metal frame supposedly takes four hours to craft, and we have to say that the end product looks both refined and solid. We also liked the slim bezel, and the entire minimalist esthetic of the front of the Find 5. The back features the central camera and flash LED, the vertical Oppo logo, and the speakers grill at the bottom.
The Find 5 actually reminds us a lot of Sony’s Xperia phones. Overall, the Find 5 seems very sturdy, even industrial, but in a good way. Given the fact that the Find 5 is a bit narrower than the Note 2, it’s much easier to grasp with one hand. After you get used with the unwieldy Note 2, this comes as a relief.
Exynos 4412 Quad and Snapdragon S4 Pro. These are the processors that make the Note 2 and the Find 5 tick; and they rock. The two SoCs rule the benchmarks and can withstand anything you throw at them in terms of demanding apps and graphic intensive games.
While the usefulness of benchmarks for gauging hardware is controversial, we did compare the two SoCs, albeit on different devices – the Galaxy S3 and the Optimus G. As you can see in the video below, the Qualcomm chip comes on top. Still, that doesn’t mean that the Note 2 is underpowered. On the contrary, Samsung’s device is a powerhouse.
On to memory and storage, both devices feature 2GB of RAM – that’s the standard for flagship phones these days, so we’d have been disappointed if the Find 5 would’ve come with anything less. As for internal storage, Oppo’s phone only comes in a 16GB version, which is odd, but understandable from a cost perspective. In contrast, Samsung sells 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB versions of the Note 2.
The two phones go head to head when it comes to most of the other specs, with battery being a major exception. The Note 2 is fitted with a beefy 3,100 mAh removable unit, while the Find 5 comes with a built-in 2,500 mAh battery. The difference is notable, and keep in mind that the full HD LCD screen of the Find 5 packs more pixels. We didn’t get a chance to test the battery life of the Oppo, but we do believe that the smaller battery and power-hungry display translate into a much shorter battery life.
Another advantage that the Note 2 has over the Oppo Find 5 is the presence of a microSD card slot, that lets you expand the phone’s storage space with up to 64GB. Given the relatively small storage space on the Find 5, the absence of an expansion slot is questionable.
The Oppo Find 5 makes up some of the lost ground in the camera sector. The device features a 13MP Stacked CMOS sensor, as opposed to the 8MP one on the Note 2. Oppo boasts some impressive achievements – the Find 5 is the world’s first device able to shoot pics and video in HDR. Also, video can be shot at 120fps, which is five times the regular frame rate of a movie. This should allow for some mighty impressive slow motion shots. When we try out the Find 5’s shooter, we’ll come back with more info.
To wrap up, the two phones are roughly the same in terms of raw processing power, but the Note 2 shines thanks to more storage and a better battery. Oppo wins in the media department.
Software and ecosystem
The operating systems of both phones are based on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. The Note 2 just received the Android 4.1.2 update, which brings a bunch of improvements and some new features. No word on the update to Android 4.2 for either phone, but we do look forward to it in the first months of 2013.
The Galaxy Note 2 boasts a blend of unique features that arguably make it the most powerful smartphone in the world. Of course, many of its unique capabilities are owed to the S-Pen, the stylus that has become the marquee feature of the Note series. Features like Air View, which allows the S-Pen to act like a mouse, Pop Up Note (opens a note app from any part of the UI) or Quick Commands (graphic shortcuts) turn the Note 2 into a powerful machine for work and play.
The Multi Window feature lets you do exactly what the name says. You can have several apps run at the same time in their own windows, just like you would on your computer. And there are many others little neat functions baked in Nature UX, some of which you can see in the video below.
The operating system of the Oppo Find 5 is based on Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean. Oppo announced that the device will get an update to 4.2 sometimes in the close future, without providing any specifics.
The Chinese company has modified the Android build on the Find 5 heavily, so the end result bears little resemblance with the Halo theme of Android 4. As you can see from the screenshots below, the Oppo UX is very colorful and cheerful. The icons resemble those on iOS, and so does the UI spacing.
Oppo provides access to its NearMe suite of cloud services, including NearMe Cloud (cloud storage), NearMe Store (app store), NearMe Books, and NearMe music. We haven’t got enough time to put Oppo’s operating system and apps through their paces, but we’ll have the Find 5 for review soon, and we’ll be able to go deeper.
Pros and Cons
Galaxy Note 2 pros
- Big battery
- Nature UX apps
- Removable battery, microSD card slot
- Bigger display
Galaxy Note 2 cons
- Plastic build
- Rather slow updates
Oppo Find 5 pros
- Full HD screen
- Easier to handle
- Better camera with unique features
- More affordable
Oppo Find 5 cons
- No card slot, built-in battery
- Limited storage
- Shorter battery life
- Limited developer community
- No LTE
We have to congratulate Oppo for what is, by all means, a great smartphone. In terms of processing power, the Find 5 is hard to beat; the display is second to none, and the camera technology brings some unique, even ground-breaking features. While the Find 5 does lose some points for the lack of microSD card support, the limited storage, and the built-in battery, Oppo’s phone is in many situations as good or better than the Galaxy Note 2. And, if you find the Note 2 just a bit too large to use, you’ll be happy to hear that the Find 5 can be used with one hand without much effort.
The Note 2 powers ahead thanks to its S-Pen and better software. Nature UX is just more polished, more feature rich, and, arguably, better looking than Oppo’s Android implementation.
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