Updated: January 26, 2022 6:15:54 pm
It is no great achievement, but I have over the few years held almost all foldable phones in my hands. It is only this past year that I have finally held a foldable phone that gave me a sense of confidence that these would be devices that would last and be practical. Now, maybe I have held a foldable phone in my hand which I think is the best iteration of this form factor yet.
The Oppo Find N
Oppo has a legacy of making high-quality top-end phones, even though in a market like India this value has been diluted in the quest to push more affordable phones to the masses. I still remember how I was awed by the Oppo N1 rotating camera phone when it came to India many years ago. This is a company that can take on the best in terms of both innovation and build quality. The Oppo Find N just underlines this legacy.
From a form factor perspective, the Oppo Find N is similar to what Samsung has been doing with its Fold. But there are a few reasons why I think the Find N is a better foldable.
1. A better fold
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This year Samsung perfected its fold on the Fold series. The crease was almost gone and the folding process too felt smoother. But on the Find N there is no crease at all — remember, this is the first version of this phone. Oppo has had the advantage of others getting things wrong so that it did not have to. The result is a foldable screen that is seamless and does not show even hints of a fold when you hold it at different angles. That’s quite an achievement.
2. A better hold
The Oppo Find N is a better phone to hold in your hands. It’s not a giant phone, nor is it an unwieldy shape. It’s almost like a compact phone that unfolds. The folded phone is more the size of an iPhone mini than a large Android. This for me justifies the need for a larger screen when unfolded. But this also means the Find is in a way a more appealing phone to larger audiences — those who need a compact phone as well as those who need an extra-large screen. Samsung actually needs two phones to solve these two problems. Again Oppo seems to have benefitted from not being the first mover.
3. Better as a folded phone
The folded Samsung Fold has a slightly awkward screen size with a vertical orientation that users are not very used to. The Find N has a proper front screen thanks to thinner bezels making it a more natural phone to use while fully folded. This screen is what you expect with a proper smartphone and ensures you don’t have to open up the phone unnecessarily. It is large enough for you to watch a video on, send mails and even quickly check out a spreadsheet when needed.
But is it all good?
A. There are other aspects where the Find N does a good job, even when it is not much better than the competition. For instance, it has a smooth transition where content on the smaller screen loads seamlessly on the larger one as you unfold and vice versa.
B. The fully unfolded Find N screen is a good size for a lot of work. In fact, it is almost a perfect square shape, which works for emails and spreadsheets. But this screen size confuses more sites and you will get a stretched out mobile view. Even with videos that are in slimmer aspect ratios, there is a lot of wasted real estate on this screen.
C. And like other foldable phones the Oppo Find N is also hard to open with one hand. Plus, Samsung has a distinct advantage of having added S-Pen capabilities to the Fold now so that there is an added layer of productivity that can be unleashed. The Find N is still short on that, especially for the creative crowd.
Oppo has played smart by not jumping into the foldable phone bandwagon and coming out with what could have been half-baked products earlier. As a result, its first iteration of a foldable phone is as good or even better than its competition in many ways. But this is an evolving segment and there will be a lot of corners that need to be smoothened out, especially in terms of usability. For now, the Oppo Find N is a great foldable phone that again underlines how this segment is maturing at a fast pace.
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