The smartphone industry is going through a transition phase where form factors are evolving from regular candy-bar ones to foldables that promise different forms and designs. Samsung has been at the forefront of foldables, commanding nearly 84% market share in 2021. It is also driving the clamshell and book-type form factor, making them the industry standard for foldables. But the entry of Chinese smartphone brands should drive further adoption and healthy competition.
HONOR, Xiaomi, Huawei, and OPPO have all entered the foldable smartphone space. Even TCL being a vertically integrated player (display business) has showcased its foldable smartphone prototypes for years and is (finally) expected to launch some of them later this year. OPPO took its time to enter the space but ensured to address some concerns users had with other foldables. The Chinese smartphone maker first unveiled a prototype with a rollable display. However, getting the foldable hinge engineering, software optimization, and getting the form factor right has delayed most of the efforts from these upstart brands. Further, getting manufacturing scale and supply for the same is also challenging.
It has been a work in progress, for example, OPPO recently launched a book-type folding smartphone, the Find N, priced at around $1,400. Although it is currently only available in China, we got to test out the OPPO Find N for a few weeks, and here is our analysis of its potential from the form factor, hinge engineering, display, camera, and above all software perspective.
WATCH: OPPO Find N Review
Compact Design Winning Praises
Whenever I meet my friends, cousins, and even colleagues, the common question they ask me is “so which new gadget did you bring today?” Everyone was excited to see and try out the Galaxy Z Fold 3 in person. But their reaction after seeing the OPPO Find N was completely different. One of them said, “Wow, this is so compact and perfectly sized. When are they launching this in India?” He was a little disappointed when I said it is not coming to India, and his next question was, “Can I import it from some other country?”
These reactions clearly show that OPPO put a lot of thought into designing the Find N and is winning the mindshare. In my case, switching to the OPPO Find N, after using the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 for over five months, felt different and refreshing. I instantly appreciated its compact form factor which makes it easy to hold, and it is pocketable too.
The tall and narrow cover screen on the Galaxy Z Fold 3 isn’t the most intuitive to accurately type without errors unless you use the swipe-to-type feature. But that wasn’t the case with the Find N. The small, yet wider cover screen makes typing easier. Even single-handed use is quite easy.
OPPO found the right balance with a compact design while being powerful and functional.
Solid Hinge Mechanism with Gapless Design
For any foldable smartphone, the hinge design is a crucial element as it has a lot of moving parts, and most of the engineering efforts go there. Unlike Samsung’s wedge-shaped design, OPPO has gone for a teardrop-style hinge that folds the center of the foldable screen in a curved manner. This type of engineering offers two major benefits – to ensure there is no visible crease on the folding screen and ensure there is no gap left when in the folded state.
OPPO says that the hinge has over 136 components that ensure smooth functioning. Similar to Samsung, OPPO also employs the ultrathin glass (UTG) cover on the foldable display and is tested to bend over 200,000 times without causing any problems. During my usage, the hinge mechanism seemed quite robust.
Gapless hinge design with less visible crease marks is a solid engineering feat from OPPO.
Similar to Galaxy Z Fold 3’s Flex Mode, the OPPO Find N also comes with a hinge mode of its own. For instance, in the camera app, where shutter button and other options appear on the bottom half whereas the top half has the viewfinder. The mode can come in handy when the phone is placed on a table, thus mimicking a mini tripod. More apps are expected to get support as foldable smartphones become more popular.
Superb Displays for Content Consumption, But…
In terms of specifications, the OPPO Find N comes with:
- The cover screen has a 5.49-inches OLED panel with a 60Hz refresh rate and 18:9 aspect ratio.
- The folding screen is a 7.1-inch LTPO OLED with ultra-thin glass, a 120Hz refresh rate, and 1000 nits of peak brightness.
Let’s first talk about the cover screen. It’s got nice, rounded corners and a curved edge on the right. This design language adds to its looks and also offers an immersive viewing experience when watching videos on YouTube, Netflix, and other platforms.
Even the app experience on Find N’s cover screen is good – be it scrolling the Instagram timeline, Twitter, or even reading news on Feedly or Flipboard apps. Viewing experience under direct sunlight was no problem either, and the screen offers a punchy color reproduction too, making the content look more lively. Viewing angles on both the inner and cover screen are good too.
When unfolded, the inner screen transforms itself into a mini-tablet. The variable refresh rate of the LTPO folding panel is between 1Hz to 120Hz. So, depending on the on-screen content, it can dynamically adjust the refresh rate to conserve battery life. The bright display, punchy colors, and fast refresh rate add to the great experience for content consumption such as reading e-books, internet browsing, and app multitasking.
But the same cannot be said for video consumption. The 8.4:9 screen aspect ratio means you have thick black bars along the top and bottom. This is also prominent on the Z Fold 3, but the bars aren’t as thick as on the Find N.
Multitasking support means you can even have apps like Twitter on one side and a Gallery, Notes app, Video Player, or Calculator on the other side.
Capable Cameras, But Needs More Fine Tuning
Before we talk about the camera quality, let’s first look at the setup. There are a total of five cameras:
- A 32MP camera sensor each, one on the cover screen and one on the folding screen for clicking selfies and for video calling.
- There is a triple camera setup at the back having a 50MP primary camera with OIS, a 13MP camera sensor with a telephoto lens 2x optical zoom (52mm), and the third is a 16MP camera sensor with an ultrawide lens.
Talking about camera quality, the primary camera can click some good close-up and landscape shots with enough details and sharpness. Low-light photography is good as well, but it does not match the level of the flagship Find X-series. Here are some sample shots.
The ultrawide camera is also good enough to capture punchy colors and good details. For landscape shots, there is no visible distortion around the edges, but when clicking photos of buildings and structures, the fisheye effect is noticeable around the edges.
The 2x telephoto camera lets you zoom into the subject, and while it retains good details and structure, the color science is a little inconsistent when switching from main to tele camera.
OPPO camera algorithms need more fine-tuning to offer more consistent results between lenses.
The OPPO Find N also supports 1080p and 4K video recording capabilities at up to 60fps. The OIS works well and even at 4K 60fps, the footage I shot was quite stable.
Selfies shot from both the cover screen and folding screen camera look detailed and retain skin tones. Portrait mode offers a good separation of background and foreground, but the AI also overexposes the clothes, especially outdoors, if you are wearing bright ones. It also makes the skin a little brighter. But other than that, it does a pretty good job.
Useful Software Features, Swift Performance
- Boots Android 11 with ColorOS 12 UI.
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G SoC, 8GB/12GB of RAM, 256GB/512GB storage.
- 4,500mAh battery, 33W wired fast charging, 15W wireless fast charging.
The Find N comes with Android 11 OS and ColorOS 12 UI on top. OPPO has added some features and optimizations to take advantage of the folding screen form factor like app floating windows and multitasking. There are also screen-off gestures where you draw “V” or “O” to quickly start the Flashlight or Camera app. Swiping down the middle of the screen with two fingers activates split-screen mode. There is also a smart sidebar that gives you quick access to apps like Calculator, Browser, and your choice of apps too.
Now, as the OPPO Find N is only available in China, our review unit did not come with Google Play Store. Instead, it came with the OPPO app store, but most apps like WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook that we use were missing. I was able to download these apps from third-party app stores, but it seems like the OS is optimized for popular Chinese apps only. For instance, the Instagram app does not support floating windows or split-screen mode.
ColorOS 12 on Find N has some neat and super useful gesture control features.
Talking about performance, the flagship 5nm Snapdragon 888 SoC can handle the processing needs without a hitch. Whether it is multitasking, gaming, binge-watching and just spending time on social networking apps, the Find N can handle all the stress. Though I had come across app crashes at times, those were the APKs downloaded from third-party apps that were likely not optimized for the Find N.
Gaming experience when playing Asphalt 9: Legends was good both on the cover and main screen. The back did get a little warm after 20 minutes, but not to an uncomfortable level.
Lastly, the battery life on the Find N was good too. My usage included watching videos on YouTube or Netflix for an hour, some music listening on Spotify using the phone’s stereo speakers, browsing through Feedly, and some gaming. With all this, I would still be left with a 30% battery at the end of the day, with a screen time of four hours (both using the cover and folding screen). So normally, the battery should be good to last a workday, depending on your usage.
- OPPO has impressed us with the Find N’s compact form factor which finds the right balance between being too big and too small.
- The compact design also offers a comfortable in-hand feel.
- The hinge engineering and near-invisible crease promise a good future for foldables.
- Gestures on ColorOS for supported apps make using the Find N a breeze.
Wish-List for the Find N Successor:
- IPXX rating for the Find N successor will be a good add-on.
- ColorOS software needs more polishing and optimizations for apps to take full advantage of multitasking, floating window, and gesture support.
- The cover screen should also feature a refresh rate of 90Hz or above.
- Faster charging support for 66W or even 100W like other flagships would add more value.
- Better cameras with more optical zoom capabilities, like periscope-style zoom, will be welcome.