Fri. Jan 21st, 2022

After teasing its first foldable phone last week, Oppo is unveiling the Find N in full today. Oppo’s chief product officer Pete Lau told reporters in a briefing that the company has been working on this phone since 2018, with the eventual Find N the result of six generations of in-house development. I can believe it – I have been using it since last week and it is a surprisingly impressive and refined product.

The Find N has a similar design to Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold series, with a large, square foldable OLED panel on the inside and a smaller screen on the outside that can be used when the phone is closed. The 120Hz inner screen is 7.1 inches diagonal and has a slightly landscape 9:8.4 aspect ratio, unlike the Z Fold screen, which is larger when unfolded. This means you don’t have to turn the phone 90 degrees (with the fold horizontal) to watch videos at their largest size. There are also dual stereo speakers on the bottom of the phone, further enhancing the experience of opening the phone quickly to watch a video.

Thanks to the Find N’s hinge, the phone stays open between 50 and 120 degrees.

The screen looks great. Lau confirmed that it is a Samsung-made panel, but says Oppo has heavily modified it and has its own patents. The screen is protected by UTG (ultra-thin glass) and Oppo estimates it at 200,000 fold, the same as Samsung. The fold in the panel is wider but much less visible than in the Galaxy Z Fold 3 because it wraps around a unique teardrop-shaped hinge that is also heavily patented, according to Lau, and costs $100 to build alone. Another advantage of this design is that the phone snaps shut without leaving a gap between the two halves of the screen. You can feel the crease under your finger, but with regular use it’s hard to see from all viewing angles but the widest.

The outer screen looks much more like a regular smartphone than that of the Z Fold. At 5.49in with a 2:1 aspect ratio, it’s actually quite usable – if the folded device isn’t twice as thick as a regular phone, it would feel like the compact Android flagship no one else is making. The hinge, of course, creates a larger bezel on the left side of the screen, but it’s not obtrusive. My biggest complaint about the outer screen is that it’s only 60Hz, which wouldn’t be a problem per se, but it feels jarring when the larger, much smoother inner screen is there.

The Find N’s outer screen works much like a regular phone, albeit a rather small one.

The rest of Find N’s spec sheet is what you’d expect from a 2021 Android flagship. There’s a Snapdragon 888 processor and up to 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. The main camera is 50 megapixels, uses the same Sony IMX766 sensor from the OnePlus 9 Pro and Oppo Find X3 Pro, and is accompanied by a 16-megapixel ultrawide and a 13-megapixel 2x telephoto. The battery is 4,500mAh and can be charged at 33W with a SuperVOOC cable or 15W wirelessly. There’s also 10W reverse wireless charging and standard Qi support. There is a fingerprint sensor in the power button.

Oppo isn’t as ambitious as Samsung with its custom multitasking software, but there are a few gestures that help make the most of the larger screen. You can pinch with four fingers to collapse a full-screen app into a smaller floating column, or split the screen in half by swiping down with two fingers. Oppo has also tweaked many of its own apps with features designed for the foldable screen. For example, opening it diagonally allows the music app to display lyrics on the top half.

The Find N’s rear panel curves in the same way as the Find X3 Pro.

One obvious concern is durability, and I can’t speak to that after having had such a short time with the Find N. But I can speak to the design and I think Oppo has a winner here. The Find N is sleek and easy to use whether open or closed – it strikes a balance between both configurations better than any other foldable phone to date.

I’d say Samsung should be concerned about the Find N, but unfortunately Oppo is only going to sell it in China, a country where Samsung phones are almost non-existent. It will go on sale December 23 for a surprisingly low price of 7,699 Yuan (about $1,200) for a model with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage. 8,999 yuan (about $1,400) will get you a 12GB/512GB model. In comparison, the iPhone 13 Pro Max starts at 8,999 yuan in China, so while the Find N isn’t exactly cheap, it falls well within the mainstream flagship phone territory. The Galaxy Z Fold 3, meanwhile, starts at $1,799 in the US.

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