The Samsung Galaxy Fold series has gone unchallenged in India for the past few years, and we recently saw Samsung really stepping up its game with the Galaxy Z Fold 3 (Review). However, Oppo has just revealed one big surprise before we wrap up 2021, which gives us enough reason to rethink whether the Galaxy Z Fold indeed represents the best way to make a large-screen foldable. The Oppo Find N was unveiled a week ago as the company's first commercially available foldable smartphone, and even though it is on sale only in China, Oppo India sent us a unit to play with for a short while.
Having reviewed the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, there are plenty of differences about the Oppo Find N that immediately stand out to me, and in my opinion, make it a better tablet-style foldable. I haven't spent a lot of time with it, and a full review of this phone won't be too helpful at this point since it's not going to launch in India anytime soon, but I do want to point out a few things that I really like about it.
The design of the Oppo Find N is perhaps its biggest talking point since this is where most of Oppo's R&D efforts have been applied. The Find N is built from premium materials such as glass and aluminium, which you can tell from the moment you pick it up. It's quite chunky and heavy, but surprisingly, not much more so than the Galaxy Z Fold 3.
The first thing you'll come to appreciate is the familiar form factor. The outer OLED display goes nearly edge-to-edge with the frame and its 18:9 aspect ratio makes it relatively easy to handle and use with one hand. It's almost as if you're using any standard smartphone, which just happens to be unusually thick. The outer display only has a 60Hz refresh rate, but once you unfold this phone, you get a much larger 7.1-inch OLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate. Both displays are bright and vivid, support HDR playback, and deliver crisp visuals. Since the Find N is shorter and wider than the Galaxy Z Fold 3, videos automatically fill up more of the screen without you needing to switch the device's orientation in your hands.
The crease is barely visible on the interior display, making the Oppo Find N quite pleasant to use
Speaking of the folding screen, the Find N uses ultra-thin glass over the OLED panel, but the magic lies in the ‘Flexion' hinge. Oppo has developed a special mechanism that allows the two halves of the Find N to sit flush against each other, thereby eliminating gaps so dust and dirt can't easily get through. The hinge also allows for greater tolerance where the display actually folds, so there's barely any crease when it's open. You can still see mild undulations when viewing the screen off-axis, but you can't feel any bump in the centre when you run a finger over it. This is a significant achievement, and something that Samsung hasn't quite mastered even with the third iteration of the Galaxy Z Fold.
The Oppo Find N is also a proper flagship. It has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC plus up to 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. Oppo has even managed to fit in a pretty large 4,500mAh battery, and this phone supports 33W fast wired charging as well as 15W wireless charging. There's a fingerprint sensor in the power button, but you can also use face recognition to unlock this phone.
The Oppo Find N (right) seen with the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 (left)
One big feature missing from the spec sheet is an IP rating for dust and water resistance. This is one area in which Samsung still has the upper hand.
The cameras on the Oppo Find N seem very promising too. Both the selfie cameras have 32-megapixel sensors, while on the back you get a 50-megapixel primary, a 16-megapixel ultra-wide, and a 13-megapixel telephoto camera. I haven't tested the cameras extensively, but they seem to deliver pretty satisfying results.
Oppo Find N 2X telephoto camera sample (tap to see full size)
Oppo Find N main camera sample (tap to see full size)
Let's quickly go over the software too. Oppo has added custom gestures to ColorOS 12 in order to take advantage of the large folding display. You can quickly convert full-screen apps into floating windows or use them in split-screen mode depending on which gesture you use. This only worked on a handful of apps from Oppo, at least on the unit that I had. There's also a FlexForm Mode, similar to the Flex Mode on Samsung's foldables, which essentially rearranges the layout of an app when you fold the phone halfway in landscape orientation. Once again, this only worked for a handful of apps such as the camera, though that might change in the future.
The Oppo Find N feels like a regular (albeit chunky) smartphone when folded
The Oppo Find N has made me optimistic about foldables once more, and I really do hope we see more manufacturers adopt this design philosophy — a compact, standard aspect ratio display on the outside and a larger screen on the inside. This, along with the barely visible crease in the folding display makes the Find N the most polished foldable to launch this year. It's a real shame it's not launching anywhere else in the world right now, but I'm hoping that it will come to India soon. If Oppo can polish its software, I think it could mean stiff competition for Samsung's offerings.