Too much fun

Oppo's Find N 5G is the best foldable most of us can't buy

Oppo’s $1,200 foldable solves pain points from early folding phones, introduces new ones, and only further underlines the potential of the form factor. I want a U.S. version, badly.

The Find N, partially folded with the screen on
Ian Carlos Campbell / Input

It seems like Oppo did it. Building on the design successes of competitor Samsung — the company currently doing the heavy lifting popularizing folding phones — Oppo created a refined foldable that’s easy to hold while still having big screen benefits.

It’s called the Oppo Find N 5G (hereinafter referred to as just the Find N because tacking on “5G” to a name is silly and really must stop), and while there are no plans to release the phone in the U.S., I can confidently tell you that I wish it was because it’s a well-made foldable in a size I actually want to hold.

I’ve been using the Find N for the last few weeks for a taste of a folding phone that isn’t made by Samsung, a viable second option to the company’s current dominance in the growing market. It turns out the Find N exacerbates some modern smartphone quirks I think many people have grown accustomed to while solving some of the ones that are becoming a bigger and bigger problem.

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Right size

The Find N is much smaller than other 2021 flagships like Google’s Pixel 6.Ian Carlos Campbell / Input

The Find N is at first glance, delightfully small. In a world where smartphones are only getting bigger, smaller-size options are always appreciated. Having a phone that you can easily use with one hand or that can fit in smaller hands at all isn’t just an aesthetic choice, it’s a matter of basic usability. While it’s on the thick side — as most folding phones are — the Find N is a dramatic departure from Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3, whose exterior display is 6.2-inches before you even take into account the rest of the phone’s body. The Find N is shorter, and not nearly as narrow, it also feels very satisfying to hold.

The 5.49-inch exterior “cover” display on the Find N is best compared to Apple’s iPhone 13 mini, which also comes in at around 5.4-inches. It doesn’t stop there for the Find N, the advantage foldables have over their traditional smartphone siblings is not being limited to just one screen size. In the case of Oppo’s foldable, it unfolds into a 120Hz 7.1-inch screen. It’s worth pointing out the specific dimensions here, too. Unfolded, the Find N is about 5-inches tall and 5.5-inches wide, which makes the display much more of a square than the rectangular design Samsung has chosen for the Fold 3.

The Find N’s cover screen is about the size of an iPhone mini.Ian Carlos Campbell / Input
The Find N’s inner screen is more of a square than a rectangle which is a nice change of pace for folding phones.Ian Carlos Campbell / Input

With a more squared-off screen, the Find N isn’t as natural a fit for most content you might want to unfold for. Videos will have big black bars on the top and the bottom and some apps and games won’t take advantage of the whole screen unless you force them. That doesn’t mean consuming content on the device is annoying, quite the opposite, but it does mean I had to do some finagling to really take advantage of the display.

Oppo Find N 5G specs:

  • Display: 5.49-inch AMOLED cover display (1,972 x 988), 7.1-inch 120Hz LTPO AMOLED inner display (1,792 x 1,920)
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 888 5G
  • RAM: Up to 12GB LPDDR5
  • Storage: Up to 512GB UFS 3.1
  • Rear cameras: 50-megapixel wide (OIS) + 16-megapixel ultra-wide + 13-megapixel telephoto
  • Front camera: 32-megapixels (cover and inner displays)
  • Battery: 4,500 mAh
  • Charging: 33W SuperVOOC fast wired charging + 15W AirVOOC + 10W reverse wireless charging
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 5.2
  • Dimensions: 132.6mm x 73mm x 15.9mm (folded), 132.6mm x 140.2mm x 7.8mm (unfolded display side)
  • Price: 7,699 yuan (around $1,200) for 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. 8,999 yuan (around $1,400) for 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage

One of the features Oppo touted when it announced the Find N was a flatter, less noticeable crease. I haven’t used one of Samsung’s folding phones long term, and I know the company has made strides improving its hinge and display since the disastrous launch of the first Galaxy Fold. The Find N seems to be an even further improvement on that. It’s not that the crease is invisible — from the right angle you’ll still see it — it’s just that it’s less pronounced in combination with being a lot harder to feel when you touch where the display bends. You really have to be looking for it to notice it.

On both of the Find N’s displays, Oppo has opted for a rubbery screen protector, which has become standard for folding phones that use impossibly thin flexible glass. It’s an added layer of protection and it doesn’t impact using the device (though I did notice it didn’t hug the edges of the phone as much as I thought it should). What it does do is make the Find N even more prone to smudges and collecting dust. You really see fingerprints on this phone, and because you’re always touching a screen, whether it’s unfolded or not, you’ll get a lot of them.

Oppo wasn’t kidding, the crease on the Find N is hard to see. Not unnoticeable, but definitely an improvement.Ian Carlos Campbell / Input

Somewhere you won’t find smudges is the back of the device. The Find N has a matte, almost frosted glass finish on the back. I wish Oppo had used the same material on the shiny rails of the device, which are as equally fingerprint prone as the display. You might be able to tell the Find N has a power button that doubles as a fingerprint reader even if it wasn’t visible because of how many thumbprints I’ve left on the sides of the Find N.

Camera blips

The Find N has a triple-camera array on the back like every flagship smartphone. Ian Carlos Campbell / Input

The Find N has the triple camera array that’s expected of flagship phones nowadays. A 32-megapixel ultrawide selfie camera on the inner display (which is the same on the cover of the phone), a 50-megapixel main wide camera, a 13-megapixel telephoto with 2x zoom, and a 16-megapixel ultrawide. I’ll be upfront: I don’t want to do a deep dive on the cameras because that’s not personally why I’d purchase a foldable, or why I think anyone should.

Because smartphone manufacturers charge over a thousand dollars for a folding screen – save for the Galaxy Z Flip 3 — there’s some expectation that foldables be positioned as flagships and have all the bells and whistles that flagships have. Logically that makes sense, but I do think it burdens phones with functionality and space-consuming hardware that might barely get used, if at all.

Close-up with the Pixel 6’s main camera.Ian Carlos Campbell / Input
A close-up with the Find N’s main camera.Ian Carlos Campbell / Input
A wider shot using the Pixel 6’s main camera.Ian Carlos Campbell / Input
A wider shot using the Find N’s main camera.Ian Carlos Campbell / Input

The Find N’s main camera and selfie cameras produce good enough results. Photos I took were crisp, with a color saturation that didn’t feel vivid to the point of being over the top. I’d feel comfortable shooting with it and getting fairly naturalistic, if a bit overly warm photos without much work, though I still preferred the photos I’ve taken with the Pixel 6’s main camera. Especially comparing the Find N’s selfie camera to the Pixel 6. By default, the Find N definitely seems to do too much face smoothing for my taste.

A selfie taken with the Pixel 6.Ian Carlos Campbell / Input
A selfie taken with the Find N.Ian Carlos Campbell / Input
A photo of a tree using Night Sight on the Pixel 6.Ian Carlos Campbell / Input
A photo of a tree using Night Mode on the Find N.Ian Carlos Campbell / Input

The same can’t be said for the telephoto, which occasionally seemed to wash out photos. Telephoto shots on the Find N had less detail, much like shots from the ultrawide, but I just couldn’t get over the difference in color. I never stray from the main camera when I’m taking pictures on my personal phone, mainly because telephoto and ultrawide photos require so much more thought. Based on this performance, I don’t think that would change if I owned the Find N either. Moreover, the big camera plateau got in the way of me holding the Find N comfortably. I wanted to slide my fingers just a little bit further up but ran into cameras.

An ultrawide photo taken with the Pixel 6.Ian Carlos Campbell / Input
An ultrawide photo taken with the Find N.Ian Carlos Campbell / Input
A telephoto photo of ducks taken with the Pixel 6.Ian Carlos Campbell / Input
A telephoto photo of ducks taken with the Find N.Ian Carlos Campbell/ Input

I’d prefer for foldables to be an alternative, a different smartphone path, rather than the replacement for the $999+ flagship. Ditch the triple cameras and only give me two, a selfie camera and one rear camera. I’m buying it for the screen and its ability to fold, not to take a family portrait. And if ditching some of the extra cameras means a lower price — I don’t think anyone would be mad about that.

Foldy Android is...

You can hold the Find N comfortably in one hand which ended up mattering a lot more to me than I thought it would.Ian Carlos Campbell / Input

There are currently no plans to release the Find N in the U.S., and the phone’s software reflects that. Oppo was kind enough to sideload the Play Store so I could download more of the apps I’m used to, but out of the box, the Find N has access to Oppo’s App Market, the stock apps that are included with ColorOS (camera, calendar, email, and the like), and a bunch of preloaded (probable bloatware) apps I wasn’t able to translate to English.

The Find N includes several software features in ColorOS 12 (confusingly based on Android 11, though Oppo says an Android 12 update is coming at a later date) to take advantage of the folding setup, but not much that hasn’t already shown up in Samsung’s One UI. There are floating windows, a sidebar where you can access frequently used apps and functionality like screenshots, a slicing gesture to initiate split-screen mode, and the ability to fold the Find N into a laptop for watching videos or using the phone’s body as a sort of built-in tripod for long exposures and astrophotography.

Two apps open on the Find N 5G.Ian Carlos Campbell / Input
A third window floating over the two split-screen apps.Ian Carlos Campbell / Input

In the camera app, next to must-have settings like portrait mode and night mode (which both work well) there are unique foldable features like using the cover screen as a viewfinder for selfies with the back cameras. Like the Find N’s other foldable specific features and “FlexForm modes,” I’m not sure how often I’d actually use them once the novelty wears off, but they do at least seem helpful.

Not all apps work with the Find N’s custom foldable features. YouTube, for example, doesn’t work in “laptop” mode. That isn’t too surprising. In general, though, Android’s overall flexibility has made most apps adapt to different screen sizes. They look weird and don’t always take advantage of the extra real estate the way they should, but they do work. Especially Google apps. I had a fun time loading the Find N up with Google’s core Android offerings and imagining what a future Pixel Fold could look like if the company ever gets its act together.

The screen makes it tricky for some apps like Instagram to adapt. Either you get pillarboxing...Ian Carlos Campbell / Input
Or the app stretches out to fill the foldable display.Ian Carlos Campbell / Input

Oppo has a plan for the apps that don’t play nice with the Find N. In settings, there’s a whole separate section for deciding the aspect ratio for an app, whether it’s 4:3, 16:9, or fullscreen. Take, for example, Instagram. By default, it wants to use a 16:9 aspect ratio, which only fills a center column of the unfolded Find N screen (you can also force apps to be aligned along the left or the right if you prefer). Selecting fullscreen in settings turns Instagram into a half-a-post-at-a-time feed, which while being great for focusing on the details in a photo isn’t exactly how the app is supposed to work. Apple Music, another app that defaults to 16:9, works surprisingly well in fullscreen on the unfolded Find N. Seriously, why does Apple Music work so well?

Genshin Impact produced similarly interesting results. By default it runs with ginormous letterboxes on the 7-inch display, but forced into fullscreen, rather than cutoff controls or menu buttons, it zooms in, without increasing the resolution. So you get a sort of low-res, claustrophobic version of the game. Playable, not terrible by any means, but definitely weird.

Oppo Find N 5G running Genshin Impact on the cover display.Ian Carlos Campbell / Input
The game is way bigger and more immersive, but the aspect ratio is... weird.Ian Carlos Campbell / Input

What’s good about the Find N, is that even on a stretched-out app, more screen real estate is still generally a good thing. It means easier to read text on screen, and larger photos and videos. For the stock apps that come with ColorOS, there are extra sidebars and menus (not unlike what you see in iPadOS), which were solid stand-ins for the apps I’d normally use on Android that weren’t using the larger screen. The novelty of looking at something small and then making it big never wore off for me, and the Snapdragon 888 chips powering things on the inside was more than enough to run any apps I wanted side-by-side, with floating windows on top.

Fun 4 days

The Find N’s hinge allows the two sides of the inner screen to fold completely flat when closed.Ian Carlos Campbell / Input

The Find N is an enjoyable folding phone, one that seems to meaningfully improve on the folding phones that came before it, and hopefully a stepping stone for whatever’s next, whether it’s a folding iPhone or the ‘Pixel Fold’ Google’s long been rumored to be working on. For whatever complaints I have about the cameras, the smudgy screens, or the things that make the Find N annoying to use for a long time (it gets warmer than I’d like), it’s a lot of fun to use. Too fun to ignore, even if I disagree with positioning it, or any other foldable, as a flagship for a phone line.

Too fun to ignore.

If there’s one takeaway I’ve learned from using the Find N for an extended period of time, it’s that folding phones aren’t The Only Future of the smartphone, but they should absolutely be an option for anyone interested, with more diverse designs and price ranges to support that coming down the road. Kinda like how there are many laptop form factors — classic clamshell, 2-in-1, convertible, etc. For any of this to work though, software support needs to be there, and it just isn’t yet. The popularity of Samsung’s Fold and Flip helps, but more options from all the big players in the Android market is what will be necessary for these devices to break into the mainstream. Hopefully, they use the Oppo Find N 5G as an inspiration.