Will the foldable be a keeper, or will foldable phones mainly remain a striking gimmick? We tried the Oppo Find N for a week.
“Samsung continues to believe in it: ‘Foldable smartphones are the future,” we headlined in August. Meanwhile, there is competition from Huawei – albeit without the full Android experience: read: no Google and no Play Store – and Xiaomi and Motorola also think they can break pots with new foldable. The Chinese manufacturer Oppo just placed itself in that list. We spent a week working with their Find N.
Only in China
But first this disclaimer; a full review, which you will not read here. After all, the foldable Oppo is only available on the Chinese market for the time being. Immediately also the reason why the device cannot be set in Dutch, but more importantly: why there is no Google services or Play Store app. That can be solved fairly quickly, by using an app from Oppo itself that transfers the software from your previous Android device to the Find N, including the Google stuff.
Open vs Closed
But the first thing you want to know about a foldable: how exactly does folding work, and what about the software? When folded, the Find N looks like two 6″ smartphones lying on top of each other. The screen on the outside is 5.49″ in size and can also be operated like a ‘normal’ smartphone. So you can use your well-known apps on it or ‘just’ make calls and shoot snapshots. Admittedly, with the not unimportant side note: the device is at least twice as thick as the smartphone you are using now, and therefore weighs a lot more: 275 grams to be precise. In comparison, a 6.1″ iPhone 13 weighs 173 grams. And it’s 7.65 mm thin, while the Find N is 15.9 mm thick.
A concession that you as a buyer of a foldable have to make anyway, but on the other hand there is a large screen as soon as you open the device. You do that like a book. When opened, the Find N offers an impressive 7.1″ AMOLED display with a 1792×1920 resolution and 370 PPI. That’s slightly less than the Galaxy Z Fold 3, which when opened offers a 7.6″ display with a resolution of 370 PPI. 2208 x 1786 and 374 PPI. Folded open, the Find N is only 7.8 mm thin: comparable to conventional smartphones.
During the week we walked around with it, we mainly opened and closed the device at the request of friends and family: in any case, a foldable is still an eye-catcher that gets admiring eyes. In that respect, the Find N seems to be just as much technical ingenuity as the Fold 3. The hinge is well concealed and gives an affirmative ‘click’ as soon as the Find N is fully unfolded. The screen, therefore, looks like one big screen, where the ‘fold’ is never really visible unless you explicitly look for it: under stray light, with a white background, for example. You can ‘feel’ that fold while swiping. Disturbing? As far as we’re concerned, not really, but something that takes getting used to.
Has folding technology matured in the meantime? No idea honestly. All we can say is that the hardware felt quite sturdy during the week of testing and that there is nothing to suggest that the hinge, for example, would fail prematurely. That hinge – Oppo calls it the Flexion Hinge – contains 136 components, some of which work to a precision of 0.01 mm. Once folded, you hear and feel that hinge click again and there is almost no margin left between the closed screens. For example, we were not able to get a simple piece of paper in between.
Will the screen itself remain reliable with extended use? We have guessed that for the time being, but Oppo itself says that the screen can be folded (open) more than 200,000 times at room temperature.
Innovation: what do you do with it?
Anyway, a nice piece of hardware innovation, that’s for sure. But what does the innovative folding concept bring to you in concrete terms? Of course, you are mainly dependent on the software and apps and that is where the shoe pinches. Not all existing apps support the deviating screen size and can effectively use the full open screen. Apps like Fitbit (manage your health data), Netatmo (control your smart thermostat) or Items (confirm your identity) – to give three random examples – are designed for “vertical” resolutions. They therefore appear in the middle on the open Find N, with the left and right parts of the screen remaining unused and therefore black. What you can do is move the view to the left or right split screen or multitasking. In split-screen view, a scroll bar appears between the two apps – at the height of the fold so that you can give the left or right app more screen space. Multitasking can therefore be done in this way, and that can sometimes be useful, but even there you still have software limitations. The Items app in our example does not appear to support split-screen.
As for the operation: you can also opt for the screen to omit the usual series of buttons. In that case, you control everything via finger movements. For example, moving two fingers down the centre of the screen activates split-screen mode.
With four fingers you can pinch and zoom again. Or to shrink an app to a floatable window. At least: if that app supports that. We already said it: the shoe pinches here.
You can also use the Find N ‘half’ folded. That is to say: you open the device to an angle of 50 to 120 degrees and then put the foldable down as if it were a mini-laptop. Flex Form fashion: that’s what it’s called at Oppo. Handy, for example, to use the camera for night photos, without a tripod. Or to photograph a group including yourself via the timer function.
You can also watch movies that way, take notes or take online meetings with you that way. But here too the following applies: if the apps in question support this, and that is not always the case yet. We think there is a good chance that this could become a new kind of chicken-and-egg problem. That developers will only build in the option as soon as there is sufficient demand for it: a demand that can only arise as soon as enough devices have been sold.
The most useful in the past few weeks turned out to be the camera app. For the examples, I gave a paragraph above, but also to make time-lapse videos, for example. Or to take a selfie: place the mobile phone half open on a table, with the camera pointed at you and then take the selfie with a hand gesture. Also fun: making a dual video, where both the selfie Camera (32 MP) and the camera on the other outside (50 MP) film simultaneously and produce a split-screen video. Speaking of cameras, there are two extra lenses on it too, a telephoto lens (13 MP) and a wide-angle lens (16 MP).
This is not a real review, so we don’t have a score ready for you: the device is literally still too Chinese for that and not at all adapted for our local market. No Belgian introduction is planned for the time being. But if it would come – and we assume that the app developers will jump on the foldable cart -, then you are in the right place technically with this Oppo Find N. In any case, the innovation is there. on a hardware level, but you do feel that software support is still lagging behind. The Find N proves to us the potential of the foldable category . Foldable are here to stay ? Perhaps. Maybe in this form factor, but perhaps also in another: Samsung just patented another foldable smartphone with three display parts: one folds upwards, the other downwards. Once unfolded, you really have a tablet in your hands. Otherwise, let’s leave it at this: flexible screens are definitely here to stay.
For More blogs click here