We end the year on a high note, checking out Oppo’s new foldable phone — the Find N — which suddenly appeared as a rather nice surprise. Although the version of the phone I’m spending some time with isn’t meant for the Indian market, it may well come along when the time is right.
Oppo has been working on a foldable for four years now. The company says they have been busy with six generations of experimenting with a range of form factors, hinge designs, screen materials and aspect ratios, and now they feel they have a solution that offers the best of both worlds — a fully-functioning compact smartphone when folded, combined with an intuitive and immersive landscape display when unfolded. Oppo believes their take on the foldable will take it from being a novelty to a necessity.
Being quite accustomed to Samsung’s Fold 2, having bought it a year ago and using it on an everyday basis, I was more than curious to see how the experience would be with the Find N. The phone came in a large fancy textured box, which of course may not be the eventual retail box. There was a neatly wrapped 33w charger inside. The box contents customers will see isn’t known at this point and nor is the price of the phone.
Lifting the Find N out of the box, my immediate impression is that it’s definitely more compact than Samsung’s Fold. And this is very much by design. The 5.9 inch outer screen has carefully been made closest to the phones we’re already used to. It’s not too narrow to use, software doesn’t get squeezed and you have enough room to use the screen with full functionality. It’s a 60Hz display as you’re meant to do more work on the inner screen which has a higher refresh rate. The outer screen is protected by Gorilla Glass Victus and is, of course, a high quality AMOLED. It’s apparently supplied by Samsung.
Unfolding the phone, one sees that the inner screen is much more square. It’s a 7.1 inch LTPO display and has a 120Hz adaptive refresh rate. Oppo has designed this screen to use a landscape ratio as they believe it strikes a better balance for users to switch between the two. The 8.4:9 aspect ratio of the inner display is more suitable to watch videos, read a book or play games on.
Getting you to fold and unfold is a strong ‘Flexion’ hinge which leaves no gap when closed and shows much less of a crease when open. As you use the phone and the screen is turned on, you soon forget the hint of a crease. One side of the screen can be folded partway to ‘stand’ in a sort of laptop mode, called Flex Mode by Oppo. When you close it, it snaps shut firmly and seems quite robust.
The phone’s Flex Mode can also make it act like a tripod, making its 4K HD time-lapse imaging stable.
When the device is bent at an angle below 60 degrees, the screen automatically moves the image preview to the bottom display to make it easier to set up your shot. The selfie experience can also become completely hands-free with FlexForm Mode. You can now open the camera app, bend the device, set it up on a table and use hand gestures to take selfies with the 32MP selfie camera on the inner display. There are three inner screen rear cameras on the Find N and two selfie cameras. While these don’t outdo flagship camera phones such as the iPhone or Samsung S21 Ultra, they are rather good.
The Find N runs on Android 11 but the unit we got to see is using a Chinese skin and doesn’t even have the Google Play store. If brought into India, of course, this will change. There are two variants, one with 8GB of RAM and one with 12GB of RAM. The Snapdragon 888 runs the show and the device is entirely fluid and smooth to use. The battery is a 4,500mAh with good battery life and fast charging as well as wireless charging. It’s not waterproof.
The software has to necessarily gel with the fold factor and one can see that there’s some work on that front. There is a split screen mode which works with some apps that support the feature. Since the software is currently Chinese, one can’t tell how it will be with full-fledged Android apps but one imagines much fine-tuning would be done before this phone is actually released outside of China.
Reviewers are loving the Find N because it’s a compact take on foldables that makes it more usable on an everyday basis, specially when unfolded where it is optimised for content consumption. At the same time, the front screen is very usable. The apparent strength of the hinge inspires confidence. It’s easier to carry and fold and unfold easily.
Now, it remains to be seen if and when the Find N will find India.