In the mobile industry the word “flagship” is banded around a lot, it refers to any manufacturers current top end device. With every company out there having one it’s often hard to decide which one you want for yourself. I’m lucky enough to have a few of them at the moment and I thought it only fair to compare them and let you hear my thoughts on them, maybe, just maybe you’ll discover something you didn’t know about one of them, you never know.
I’ve decided to compare the LG G3, the Sony Xperia Z2, the Oppo Find 7a and the OnePlus One, they all share one common theme and that’s the SnapDragon 801 processor. Most of the other specs are different, different amounts of RAM, different cameras, different internal storage and totally different software. I’m going to compare design, hardware, software, the cameras and extra bits, so hopefully you’ll be able to develop a wider picture of each device.
First up if you fancy reading the relevant reviews for each phone just click on the link on each phone name. LG G3 Review, Oppo Find 7a Review or the Sony Xperia Z2 Review. The OnePlus Review isn’t live yet sorry.
Let start with the design as you always judge a book by its cover.
All four phones all look slightly different and two of them to the untrained eye almost look identical bar a few bits here and there. Lets look at the Oppo find 7a and OnePlus One first as they are basically the same phone almost made by the same company.
The Oppo Find 7a I have is the white model and as such you get a white backplate, white strips along the edges and then a black front. The front also houses a unique notification bar which lights up beneath the screen. The Oppo also has capacitive buttons beneath the screen as well.
Other unique design features of the OPPO Find 7a are a backplate removal button, a textured backplate that is sort of available in three colours and a power button on the left hand side, which one could argue is on the wrong side. The Oppo is the joint largest phone here in this comparison with a 5.5” screen.
The OnePlus One that I have is the Sandstone model which is black with a metal strip around the screen and a slightly peculiar sandpaper texture backplate that you will soon be able to buy replacements for. It is the same size screen as the Oppo it’s just OnePlus have made the display sit proud of the phone casing itself, so at the top and the bottom you get a lip, it looks ok and doesn’t really add anything.
Unique design features of the OnePlus One are the dual speakers on the bottom edge and the sandpaper effect casing. The mains differences with this device are with the price and the spec.
The LG G3 that I have is white so it’s quite prominently white, unlike other white devices you actually get some white on the front of the device. According to the LG PR material LG spent a lot of time coming up with a perfectly ergonomic design for a phone to house such a huge screen and I actually think they have got the nail right on the head.
The LG G3 feels better in the hand than many phones I have had the pleasure of using EVER. The rear buttons make perfect sense now after using the LG G2 and now the LG G3 over the last year or so. They have even added the headphone socket to the bottom edge of the device, an audiophile favourite that one. If you inspect the G3 from various angles you’ll see where LG have decided to curve, bevel and taper the various parts of the device. To me it all just makes for a great phone that just wants to be held.
The Sony Xperia Z2 to some people is classed as a angular glass and metal slab. To me that sounds ideal. The Xperia Z2 is basically that, but in my opinion the Xperia Z range are possibly the nicest looking phones around. It has smaller screen than the others but this adds to the appeal in my eyes and it has other unique features such as the front facing speakers.
The flaps covering the Micro SD slot and the SIM card slot really annoy the hell out of me but I have a magnetic charging dock now so I’m not opening it up every day to charge the thing. I like the Sony design because it just feels solid and the fact it’s waterproof just adds to the appeal.
Overall I prefer the designs of the Sony Xperia Z2 and the LG G3, mainly due to them being slightly smaller and more manageable. But also they both seem like a design team actually thought about the design in respect of the humans actually using them, the Oppo and the OnePlus just feel TOO big, making two handed usage a necessity.
Hardware wise the phones here are all very similar, so I’ve made a nice little table that’ll show you key differences.
| ||LG G3||OnePlus One||Oppo Find 7a||Sony Xperia Z2|
|Processor||Snapdragon 801MSM8975AC 2.5 GHz||Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC 2.5 GHz||Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AB 2.3 GHz||Snapdragon 801MSM8974AB 2.3 GHz|
|Internal Memory||32GB||64GB||16GB (split up)||16GB|
|Display Info||2K QHD (1440×2560) 5.5”||1080p (1080×1920) 5.5”||1080p 5.5”||1080p 5.2”|
|Camera||13MP OIS+||13 MP with clear shot mode||13 MP with 50 MP mode||20.7 MP|
|Battery||Removable 3000 mAh||Sealed 3100 mAh||Removable 2800 mAh||Sealed 3200 mAh|
|Android Version||4.4.2 with skin||4.4.4 no skin||4.3 with skin||4.4.2 with skin|
|Price||£509.99 (32GB)||£269 (64GB)||£349||£449.99|
|Other Info||Laser assisted focus||Cyanogenmod||Partitioned Memory||Waterproof|
On paper I would say the most rounded devices are either the LG G3 or the OnePlus One, mainly down to storage options though. The Oppo has weird partitioned internal that basically prevents you from installing too many large apps or games, the Sony is limited to 16GB of apps so if you want to install loads of huge games you may have to limit yourself slightly.
Software can be almost as important these days as hardware, if a manufacturer makes the launcher a little bit too fancy it can ruin the whole user experience of a device. Samsung are a prime example with the Galaxy S3 where they just went a little bit mad and made it do a lot at once. The phones I’m comparing here are drastically different software wise ranging from the near stock experience of the OnePlus One running Cyanogenmod through to the colourful experience that is ColorOS on the Oppo Find 7a. So I’ll just run through some of the pros and cons of the software on each device.
The OnePlus One runs Cyanogenmod 11S which is a special version of the Cyanogenmod custom ROM designed specifically for the OnePlus One. It is based upon Android 4.4.4 and it’s basically stock Android with a load of tweaks. They’ve tweaked most things about the interface, such as the notification area, lockscreen, added themes and custom icons and also a load of options to tinker with things like the navigation buttons and the status bar. The whole experience makes the OnePlus One feel like a huge great Nexus phone. This is also reinforced by the fact the bootloader is supplied unlocked and rooting the thing is really easy too. It is a phone modders ideal device, if they can buy one that is. Future updates will probably be quickest on this device, what with the Cyanogenmod team onboard and the whole world watching and waiting for them to fail at something.
The Oppo Find 7a runs ColorOS, which is a colourful skin on top of Android 4.3 (JellyBean which is over a year old), Oppo basically have skinned the core UI and apps in a range of different colours, they have also added extra functionality to some apps and in some cases they have actually removed functionality. Just because it seems.
Because some people aren’t keen on ColorOS or Oppo’s ridiculously slow upgrade schedule the modding community surrounding the Oppo Find 7a is quite active. Again this phone is easily unlocked and rooted. Modders have even fixed the split memory issue as well, with quite a few stock Android based ROMs now supporting the unified memory mod. Most of these ROMs are Android 4.4.4 based which is nice to see as it will probably take Oppo several more months to get ColorOS onto KitKat in a stable form.
The LG G3 runs Optimus UI which is a Samsung esque skin on top of Android 4.4.2. As you’d expect they’ve skinned most of the core apps in much the same way Oppo have and also Samsung do. But in most cases LG seemed to have actually put some thought into functionality as most of the changes are useful. Things such as the floating Qslide widgets or the slightly over featured notification bar.
The slight annoyance with the software on the LG G3 is that double tap to wake and sleep thing is linked into the launcher and the lockscreen, so if you use an alternative app for your launcher the double tap just won’t work. You can tap to unlock but not to lock. Also after a while the range of pastel colours will start to annoy you and the icon pack LG have used as well. Looking to the future I do wonder how quick LG will update the G3 to Android L, in the past LG have been a little slow at updating their own devices.
The Sony Xperia Z2 runs the usual Xperia skin on top of Android 4.4.2. It initially seems as though the skin is quite bad, but you soon realise that only a few apps have special icons and things such as the Walkman app are really actually quite good. You can tell Sony really spend some time thinking about the user experience and functionality.
Once you’ve installed an alternative launcher and a few icon packs you really have a nice setup. Personally I prefer the whole Sony environment over the others, there are just enough tweaks and modifications to get by and not too much going on to hinder the experience. Sony have a decent track record of updating their flagship devices, so there is no reason to doubt whether or not the Xperia Z2 will get Android L or not, it will just be a matter of how long the delay will be.
Overall as I hinted at earlier I prefer the software on the Sony Xperia Z2 the most thanks to the uncluttered UI skin they have created, next I like the LG G3 software as some of the changes LG have made are really quite useful. The OnePlus One comes next thanks to the Cyanogenmod team and lastly the Oppo because in my opinion ColorOS is just a bloated mess that actually hinders Oppo being taken seriously, pushing a flagship device out in Q2 2014 running Android 4.3 JellyBean is just a joke.
Each of these flagship phones is capable of taking a decent picture, the best all round camera in my opinion would be either the LG G3 with its crazy fast focus time and OIS+ or the Sony with its 20MP over sampling and super intelligent auto mode which basically picks a mode like landscape, night or macro depending on what it thinks you’re doing. The Oppo and the OnePlus both take decent daytime shots but at night they both struggle. Neither have OIS either which inhibits their capabilities.
Examples of photos taken with all of the cameras can be found at the relevant review pages.
Bits and bobs
Each phone has a few niggles or killer features that don’t really fit into any of the other categories so I’m going to try and fit them in here.
The OnePlus One is rather hard to get hold of, I only managed to get an invite thanks to Aran one of our team here who had several invites to share and he passed one onto me. Until OnePlus actually open up the purchasing system to the public they are never going to really achieve financial success. Yes within the niche market of phone modders people are baying to get hold of one, but in the real world they’ll have to get a network or two to range it before it becomes a success. The other thing with the OnePlus One is the 64GB internal memory, it literally allows you install whatever apps or games you want with no concerns about space, it really has impressed me in that respect.
The Oppo Find 7a whilst on paper shares much the same specs as the rest it is a totally different creature, basically needing to be rooted and hacked to turn it into something usable and at more money than the OnePlus it is way down the pile in my estimations. If only Oppo hadn’t stuck with the archaic partitioned memory and had actually gone with unified storage as their forum members have been pleading for them to use for years.
The LG G3 is an absolute cracker of a device, a great screen, decent spec, decent camera, expandable memory and it looks and feels great. What is stopping it being the best phone this year? Well some people just don’t like it when they compare it to the all metal HTC One M8 or the glass and metal Sony Xperia Z2. The G3 does have a few extra tricks up its sleeves with things such as the IR Blaster on the top allowing you to control your TV or the high bit rate audio quality it supports (FLAC files) or even the built in Qi Wireless charging. It is just a cracking phone.
Lastly the Sony Xperia Z2 what else can I add about the Xperia, again it ticks all of the boxes. Actually it deosn’t as it doesn’t have a removable battery, Qi wireless charging and it doesn’t have an IR Blaster. Even after all of that the Xperia Z2 just feels right, it feels more premium in the hand, the software feels more refined than the others and you’ve got a sort of added security blanket with it knowing that if you drop it down the loo you’re going to be ok.
Overall for me personally it was a closely fought battle between the four phones. The LG and the Sony came out on top in design and software and only really lost out to the OnePlus One and the Oppo Find 7a when it came to cost. In the battle for specs they all pretty much drew as they all share the same chip and have a variety of similar specs after that.
Should a phone win a comparison battle just down to the specs and the price? The price of the OnePlus One really ruins it for the other manufacturers, luckily for them it’s really rather hard to get hold of one. Personally I think my placement of the four phones goes as follows:
First – LG G3 (32GB/3GB model)
Second – OnePlus One
Third – Sony Xperia Z2
Fourth – Oppo Find 7a
My reasons for this are as follows, the LG G3 just trounced the others on design, hardware, software and the camera, it’s just a great big slightly expensive all rounder. The OnePlus One came second mainly due to the specs and the price, for me saving a few quid but compromising various other elements of the device isn’t worth it. Third place was a difficult one for me, I love the Sony Xperia Z2, it is my main daily device. Even though is has a great design, decent software, a great camera, decent spec it overall just doesn’t leave me with the same feeling as the others do whilst using it. Last place predictably was handed to the Oppo Find 7a, which is mainly down to the slightly lower spec and annoying memory situation, it’s a shame though as the Oppo Find 7a had massive potential and once again Oppo screwed it up.
Hopefully now you’ll have a clearer picture of each device, unfortunately I don’t have a Samsung Galaxy S5, an HTC One M8 or a Huawei Ascend P7 to compare the others too, having used the Samsung and the HTC I’d say they’d probably be fairly high up in the list. Personally I’d recommend you do a lot of research before you buy a flagship, try one out if possible and certainly don’t impulse buy something like the Oppo, like I did or you’ll be left with a dud.