OPPO Find N Review: Combining the best of Samsung and Huawei’s foldables

OPPO Find N Review: Combining the best of Samsung and Huawei’s foldables

OPPO may be late to the foldable smartphone game — Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi, Motorola, and even, uh, Royole have already hit the market with foldables. But according to the company’s chief product officer Pete Lau, this late entrance wasn’t due to a lack of ability. OPPO had, in fact, built six foldable prototypes over the past four years — and in a media briefing with Lau, we even caught a glimpse of these devices, which included clamshells, innie-folds, and outer-folds. But ultimately, the company decided to wait until the technology matured.

And with the benefit of hindsight, OPPO could also examine what other companies did right and wrong. And so the company’s first foldable, the Find N, seems to take the best of Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Huawei’s Mate X2 to form one well-balanced package. In fact, this is my new favorite foldable hardware.

OPPO Find N Specifications: Click to expand

OPPO Find N: Specifications

SpecificationOPPO Find N
Dimensions & Weight
  • Secondary
  • SoC
  • GPU: Adreno 660
  • RAM & Storage
    Battery & Charging
    Rear Cameras
    Front Camera
  • Dual SIM, Dual 5G standby
  • Bluetooth 5.2
  • Wi-Fi 6E
  • NFC and IR blaster
  • SoftwareColorOS 12 based on Android 11

    About this hands-on: OPPO provided me with a Find N unit to test. This review is after a week of use. OPPO did not have any inputs in this article.

    OPPO Find N Hardware: The Goldilocks foldable

    Up until now, foldable phones have been either very small or very large. Clamshell foldables like the Galaxy Z Flip 3 or Motorola Razr are just normal-sized phones that fold in half to become tiny — smaller than even a drink coaster in height and width. Larger foldables like Samsung’s Fold series, Huawei’s Mate X series, or Xiaomi’s Mix Fold, are basically iPad Mini-sized tablets that transform into a modern era flagship slab — which means they’re relatively big even in this form. Samsung and Xiaomi did make their foldables narrower in width, but they’re still tall phones that tower over, say, a standard iPhone.

    The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2, Huawei Mate X2, and Xiaomi Mix Fold

    The OPPO Find N is the first foldable to find a balance between the two approaches. Its outside secondary screen measures just 5.5-inches, with a more conventional 18:9 aspect ratio, and thanks to thin bezels and subtle curvature at the edges, this makes the Find N look and feel ultra-compact in folded form. In fact, it’s significantly smaller than an iPhone 13 Pro, which itself is not big by modern slab standards.

    The Find N with an iPhone 13 Pro

    And it’s noticeably shorter and more compact than the Galaxy Z Fold 3.

    Find N and Galaxy Z Fold 3

    And because the Find N’s screen uses an 18:9 aspect ratio compared to the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s 24.5:9, it can display smartphone content in a more “normal” manner, without the cramped and elongated feeling you get from the Z Fold 3. This is of particular importance when typing — onscreen keyboards have always felt cramped on the outer screens of Samsung’s Fold phones, and even worse on the Xiaomi Mix Fold, which leads to more typos. On the Find N, I can peck away at my usual speeds.

    The curvature of both front and back glass, along with a more rounded hinge area also makes for a more comfortable in-hand feel than the Galaxy Z Fold 3, whose hinge corners are still slightly sharp (this problem was even worse on the Galaxy Z Fold 2 before it).

    Find N’s rounded hinge corner (top) and Galaxy Z Fold 3’s slightly pointy hinge corner (bottom).
    The Find N unfolded
    The Find N’s hinge
    The hinge in real life

    You may notice from the photo above that the Find N also folds completely flat, while the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s folds at an angle and leaves a slight gap. That’s because the Find N’s hinge has a small cavity into which the screen tucks for a less harsh fold than the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s design.

    A render of the OPPO Find N’s hinge.

    This design also means the Find N’s inside screen doesn’t show much of a crease (and it actually has a double crease because of the lenient fold bend). You can spot the double-crease if you look at the screen from extreme angles under certain lighting, but it’s far, far less noticeable than the crease in the Galaxy Z Fold 3.

    Find N (left), Galaxy Z Fold 3 (right).

    The Find N’s main screen is a 7.1-inch, 1792 x 1920, 120Hz panel, and it looks and feels great. It’s covered by ultra-thin glass so it feels less plasticky than Xiaomi and Huawei’s foldable and more like Samsung’s foldables — the screen, in fact, is sourced from Samsung. And animations are buttery smooth, although quite jarring when jumping back to the mere 60Hz outside screen.

    OPPO Find N Review: Combining the best of Samsung and Huawei’s foldables

    In the last week, the Find N has received a lot of gushy praise from tech media for this hinge design that has mostly eliminated the crease and the gap. I have to add some context to that. While this is a damn great design, the Find N is not the first to offer this design. We’ve seen it in Motorola’s Razr foldables, and in more direct comparison, the Huawei Mate X2, too. In terms of look and feel, the Find N’s hinge is very similar to the one seen in the Huawei Mate X2.

    But OPPO improves on this hinge by adding a trick pioneered by Samsung: the ability for the hinge to stay open mid-fold at any angle. Samsung calls this “Flex Mode,” OPPO calls its take “FlexForm Mode,” but they work the same way. Right now, only Samsung and OPPO foldables can do this — and it is a very practical feature that further justifies the point of foldables.

    The hinge being able to stay halfway folded allows the Find N to be used as a mini laptop, and because the screen aspect ratio is wider than the Galaxy Z Fold 3, the keyboard is less cramped too. I actually can type slightly faster in laptop mode with multiple fingers than just two-thumb typing.

    Find N in laptop mode.
    Find N (left), Galaxy Z Fold 3 (right)

    This form also lets users take photos or videos, or watch media, hands-free. For example, I was able to take this photo of myself in front of a graffiti wall without needing a tripod.

    Battery and Memory

    The OPPO Find N, despite its compact size, packs a 4,500 mAh battery that is slightly bigger than the 4,400 mAh cell in the Galaxy Z Fold 3. And because the outside screen is just a 60Hz panel and OPPO’s Chinese ROM software has some aggressive battery management (more on this in the software section), the Find N’s battery life has been stellar. In the first two days of use, I would unplug at 9 am, use it heavily all day, and still have around 40% battery 15 hours later by midnight. But this is with OPPO’s overly aggressive battery optimization that has unintended side effects (again, more on this in the software section). After I disabled the aggressive battery micro-management, I still finished 15-hour days with 25% battery left. This phone should be able to go all day for anyone. Topping up can be done via the included 30W fast charging brick or wireless charging.

    With 12GB of RAM and at least 256GB of storage (my unit has 512GB), the Find N is as well equipped as many modern flagships. In my week of heavy use I have not experienced app launch stutters or crashes.

    Hardware nitpicks

    There are some nitpicks to be had with the hardware: the Find N only has two speakers (Samsung, Xiaomi and Huawei’s large screen foldables have four), and they’re both located on the bottom of the Find N, so you are not getting immersive stereo sound. And while the hinge feels very sturdy and well-built, there is no official IP rating like Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3 either. The phone’s Snapdragon 888 SoC will also be officially “last-gen” in a few weeks as flagships with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 get announced. Still, considering the Find N’s relatively low price (7699 yuan, which converts to around $1,206), these can’t be called anything but nitpicks.

    OPPO Find N: Cameras

    There are five cameras on the OPPO Find N: two 32MP selfie cameras (one on each screen), and a triple-camera main system headlined by a 50MP, f/1.8, 1/1.58-inch sensor, along with a 16MP ultra-wide and a 12MP telephoto lens that can do 2x optical zoom. While the main camera is the same one used in the Find X3 so it is quite capable, the latter two lenses are inferior to what was seen in the Find X3, which means, once again, a foldable phone is using a compromised camera system that is not the company’s best optics.

    The Find N’s triple-lens array consists of a 12MP telephoto (top), 50MP main (middle), and 16MP ultra-wide (bottom)

    For the most part, the Find N can still produce great shots — and the camera definitely holds up well against the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s cameras — but for someone like me who’s been spoiled by jaw-dropping, world-beating cameras seen in the Vivo X70 Pro Plus and Google Pixel 6 Pro, I can’t say the Find N camera really wows me. For example, the OPPO Find X3 had an awesome ultra-wide camera that produced shots almost as sharp as the main camera. The Find N can’t do this since the ultra-wide sensor got downgraded, so if you pixel peep, you can clearly see that ultra-wide photos are softer and less detailed, especially at night.

    Find N main camera
    Find N ultra-wide camera
    Find N main camera
    Find N ultra-wide camera

    In the below set, we can see the Find N’s main camera blows out the skies a bit compared to the iPhone 13 Pro’s shot. The ultra-wide battle is closer, with the Find N’s shot looking punchier and livelier, but in a scene like this shooting against backlight, some contrast (shadows) may be preferred.

    OPPO Find N main camera
    iPhone 13 Pro main camera
    OPPO Find N ultra-wide
    iPhone 13 Pro ultra-wide

    The OPPO Find N’s telephoto zoom lens can capture 2x optical zoom and digital zoom up to 20x. If we stick to 2x, the shot is clean and sharp.

    2x zoom

    But if we go up to 10x zoom, which is purely digital crop, shots are noticeably not as good as what the Galaxy S21 Ultra or Pixel 6 Pro can do, however, if we compare the Find N against the Z Fold 3, the OPPO foldable’s digital zoom is still a bit better (less noise) than the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s 10x zoom.

    1x reference image
    Find N 10x zoom
    Galaxy Z Fold 3 10x zoom

    The Find N’s main camera does a great job at night thanks to the combination of pixel-binning and relatively large sensor. Colors and dynamic range are on point in both shots below.

    Find N main camera
    Find N main camera

    Selfies and portrait shots all turn out quite good — overall the Find N’s camera system is very good unless you have been spoiled by the absolute best cameras (again, the Vivo X70 Pro Plus and Google Pixel 6 Pro).

    OPPO Find N Software: Awesome gesture and customizations but needs some polish

    The Find N runs ColorOS 12 over Android 11, and when the phone is folded up, the software behaves like any other recent OPPO phone, which in my opinion is a great thing — because ColorOS is very similar to OxygenOS, which most would agree is a very smooth and useful Android skin. ColorOS, like OxygenOS, is highly customizable, both in aesthetics and using the phone. We don’t just have the option to change UI color scheme, icon shape and sizes, and animation speeds, but we also have a myriad of shortcut gestures, from a quick launch sidebar that can be pulled into homescreen with a swipe, or screen-off gestures, which allows us to trigger actions or launch apps by scribbling a shape onto a sleeping screen (without needing to wake up the screen). I absolutely love the screen-off gestures and wish other phones would adopt them: I can, for example, turn on the flashlight by drawing a V, or skip music tracks by scribbling an arrow (“>”), all without needing to wake up the screen. OPPO even lets us customize these gestures, so I can, say, launch Google Maps by drawing an M.

    Speaking of Google, because the Find N is officially selling only in China, it does not come with Google apps, but these can be installed very easily. OPPO’s own app store has the Google Play Store, so it’s just a matter of downloading and installing.

    However, like most China market-only phones, the battery optimization is overly aggressive, to the point that the phone breaks push notifications — meaning you may not be notified when someone sends you a WhatsApp message because the Find N has put WhatsApp to sleep. I can solve this problem by diving into settings and turning off battery optimization for important apps like WhatsApp, Slack, and Gmail, but it is really annoying that we have to do this. Chinese brands — please stop with the aggressive battery optimization! Nobody likes opening a chat app just to realize there are 12 messages sent hours ago waiting to be read. We will gladly sacrifice some battery life to be able to get notifications in time. Seriously, please stop doing this!

    So that’s ColorOS when used as a normal slab phone. OPPO has made further changes to the UI for when the Find N is unfolded — in tablet mode. The biggest additions are quick gestures to help multi-task. With any app opened, swipe down the middle with two fingers to activate the split-screen mode. The gesture feels like you’re slicing the screen in half and the animations add to that whimsical feel. You can also pinch with three or four fingers on an app and the app will shrink into a floating window that can then be resized.

    Not every app works: Instagram, for example, refuses to be split-screened or float. But 90% of apps I use worked well. And because the Find N’s inside screen has a wider landscape aspect ratio, it can display two apps side-by-side in a more native format than the cramped, narrower Galaxy Z Fold 3 screen. Notice in the photo below, XDA’s homepage is looking very cramped on the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s split-screen.

    Find N (left); Galaxy Z Fold 3 (right).

    However, the Find N’s software as a tablet needs more polish. Because the Android tablet scene is so sad, app developers don’t really bother optimizing apps for Android tablets (at least not like they do for the iPad), so one major problem is some apps will open in the wrong orientation. This usually happens with Android tablets in landscape orientation but the app in question only was written to run in portrait orientation. It’s an issue I encountered with tablets from Xiaomi, Huawei and Samsung too.

    On the Find N, for example, YouTube Studios and Uber must open sideways — they refuse to fit into the landscape orientation. But Instagram, another app which only opens in portrait orientation, will open upright on the Find N, but with major pillar-boxing.

    This problem was also there for Samsung’s first couple of foldables, but it’s mostly non-existent on the Galaxy Z Fold 3. This is partly because the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s main screen, even when unfolded, is in portrait orientation. But it’s also because Samsung has clearly fine-tuned its UI to make sure apps can be rotated in any orientation. Samsung’s Fold UI can also force any app to stretch across the entire screen, which I find very preferable for a visual-heavy app like Instagram. Pillar boxing just takes away from the immersion.

    Many third-party apps, from Spotify to Telegram to Gmail, automatically take advantage of the Find N’s larger canvas by showing a two-pane layout.

    Overall, considering this is OPPO’s first foldable, the Find N’s software experience can be called good — it just needs a bit more polishing to adapt to the fact that some widely used apps don’t play well with landscape aspect ratio.

    OPPO Find N: Conclusion

    If we compare the OPPO Find N against competitors, the Find N wins in most cases. The Find N’s screens are clearly superior to the Xiaomi Mix Fold’s screens, which have thicker bezels, slower refresh rates, and a noticeable crease on the inner display. And while the Mix Fold has since gone on discount, if we go by the official retail price, the Find N is cheaper by a thousand-plus yuan or around $200.

    The Huawei Mate X2’s form factor, screen and crease all compete well against the OPPO Find N, and the Mate X2 is still to this day the only foldable to offer a Periscope zoom lens. But its $2,700 price and lack of Google Mobile Services makes this a no contest. You’d have to have no regard for money to want to pay $2,700 over $1,200 for a similar type phone.

    Of course, the device most people will compare the Find N against is Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3, and this one is closer. As I already said, I think the Find N’s hardware looks and feels better in-hand than the Galaxy Z Fold 3, but the latter has more polished software. We also can’t discount the fact that the Z Fold 3 has an official IP water resistance rating, stylus support, and Samsung DeX. How important these extra features are depends on the person — I personally have never broken a phone from water damage, and the stylus experience on the Fold is so compromised that my review unit S-Pen Pro has been collecting dust in a drawer somewhere. So the only Fold 3 extra feature I “miss” is Samsung DeX. But your mileage will vary.

    I can say from my usage, I much prefer the Find N’s form factor and aspect ratio. And judging from many of the comments I’ve seen from my peers in tech media and also readers, I think my opinion is shared by many. But ultimately, it’s the price that makes the Find N a winner. For two years, foldable detractors have mocked the price of foldables. Well now OPPO has made a foldable that is not a cent more expensive than a top-tier flagship. I understand that this is China pricing, and if the Find N gets released internationally, the price will surely jump higher. But even if it gets up to $1,500, this is still not far off from a Samsung Ultra or Apple Max phone.

    The point is, I think 2022 is the year foldables will finally go mainstream, because if reliable rumors are to be believed, the OPPO Find N is just the beginning. We will get foldables from Honor, Vivo likely soon, and Xiaomi will surely have a follow-up. And since OPPO has set pricing at $1,200, there’s no way Honor and Xiaomi can price their products much higher.

    Once multiple brands compete and try to outdo each other, tech breakthroughs happen. Samsung will have no choice but to bring their A-game too. The age of foldables is here.