OPPO Find N solves the design dilemma of folding phones
Too bad the OPPO Find N is unavailable outside China. The biggest complain about folding phones at the moment is its form factor. Too narrow, too thick, too bulky… there are issues that hamper usage. What if the present gold standard in folding phones — the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 — is shrunk ever so slightly? At once you will get a phone which easily fits your palm and the unconventional aspect ratio gets taken care of. That is what OPPO has done with Find N, which we had for a short-term experience.
It is work in progress — much like the category itself — but the degree of maturity seen in Find N is impressive, especially around the hinge.
When a customer is paying top dollars for a phone, the screen is expected to shine. On the Samsung phone it does shine but there is a crease which is difficult to overlook. Of course, it will look better in future iterations but for the time being it’s there. OPPO has worked on the problem with a unique teardrop-shaped hinge, which is expensive to make but it comes with two benefits — the phone shuts without leaving a gap between the two halves of the display and second, the crease can barely be seen. If you touch the screen, you will be able to feel the hinge and there is still a gentle crease but not as much as on the Galaxy Fold3. It’s as if the screen has received botox shots and the crease has learnt to behave.
It’s a winning point for OPPO but sadly the phone is restricted to the Chinese market and by the time the company pumps out foldable phones to other markets, Samsung will surely have a new generation of foldable phone that matches the Find N screen experience.
There is another aspect to the phone size. The outside screen is only 5.49 inches diagonally with an aspect ratio of 2:1, which is just perfect for everyday usage. It’s not tall or too narrow. The rest of the phone is thicker but the shrinking process has made the phone feel normal. Folded, it is almost the size of the iPhone 13 Mini, except for the thickness.
On unfolding — which happens just like it does on the Galaxy Fold3 — you are greeted by a 7.1-inch 120Hz LTPO display (Galaxy Fold3 has a 7.6-inch inner screen) but the brownie point is won by the aspect ratio, which makes the screen appear almost squarish. It’s like having a notebook-size unfolded display.
During usage, the hinge rocks confidence and you prop it up and make the phone sit on a table, which is super useful if you are videoconferencing or taking a long-exposure shot. The same is also possible with the Fold3.
Continuity factor spot on
Complementing the hardware is excellent software. The device is meant for the Chinese market where Google is missing but imagine the phone being sold globally.
The high point of the software experience is continuity between opened and closed screens. Usually, we tend to finish most of our work on the outer screen, like sending a quick email, messaging, chat, maps and so on. Then there are times when the bigger screen needs to be accessed, especially when multiple tasks need to be done simultaneously. So, if you are using a map-related software on the outer screen, it should open flawless on unfolding the phone, which happens all the time on OPPO’s foldable device. And then there are moments when we move from the bigger screen to the smaller, like watching a YouTube video. Just shut the phone and swipe up to continue watching the show.
What we want to see is how OPPO implements applications other than its own on the Find N for the global market (if that happens). Samsung has a unique way of resizing almost all apps to fit the unconventional display size, something that happens seamlessly to the point that the Fold3 can offer competition to tablets. Whether this will happen in future iterations of Find N remains to be seen.
There is little to report about the five cameras on the Find N. Both the inside and front screens have 32MP hole-punch cameras for selfies and video chats, while the rear adds three additional sensors — a capable 50MP main camera, a 16MP ultra-wide lens and a 13MP telephoto. Pictures appear clear and bright while videos are as good as on any flagship Android phone. Powering the show is the powerful Snapdragon 888 and 12GB RAM.
Surprisingly, OPPO has managed to squeeze in 4,500mAh battery, which is a tad more than the 4,400mAh of the Fold but the former has a smaller chassis. And this makes one wonder why OPPO has gone with a 60Hz refresh rate on the outer display, which on the Samsung is 120Hz.
The question is, how far (and how quickly) OPPO is willing to go with iterations of Find N. As Samsung continues to take big steps with its foldable category globally, OPPO can’t keep its folding phone restricted to its home market. Chances of the foldable phone being everywhere — with your colleagues or your fellow passengers during office commutes — by next year is very high. Is OPPO gearing up for a ringside view?
Device: Oppo Find N
Market: Available in China
• OPPO Find N has a squarish folding display on the inside, which makes media consumption easy
• The hinge is placed in a way that the crease on the folding screen has been minimised
• Good software continuity
• There is no gap between the two halves of the display
• Folded, the phone is quite small (though thick)
• 60Hz refresh rate on the outer screen