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Oppo Find N3 Flip review: A unique direction for foldable phones

The Oppo Find N3 Flip scores big with its stylish design, a cover display that is a lot more useful, larger battery and versatile camera system

The cover display on the Oppo Find N3 Flip is a whole new ball game.(Oppo)

By Tushar Kanwar

LAST PUBLISHED 22.10.2023  |  12:00 PM IST

It’s no surprise that Oppo chose evolution over revolution with the Oppo Find N3 Flip, given that its predecessor, the Find N2 Flip, launched just seven months ago to take on the Samsung Z Flip series.

The Find N2 Flip, in our opinion, was a “a solid first attempt", one that “missed a trick at launch in not having a lot more features baked in" to the outer display. Oppo’s certainly righted that wrong with the Find N3 Flip (available for 94,999), with major, useful upgrades to the cover screen software and a new telephoto camera on the rear, the first on a flipping foldable. It isn’t perfect, but my time with the phone has left me optimistic about the rather unique direction Oppo is taking with its flip series.

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Design

Let’s dispense with the parts that haven’t changed since the Find N2 Flip, namely the design and dimensions. Borrowing heavily from the predecessor, the signature ‘vertical cover display’ look is maintained, as is the aluminum frame and a glossy rear panel made of Corning Gorilla Glass Victus-protected glass, although there’s a departure from the squared-off edges to what Oppo claims are the most curved edges in any other flip phone.

The glossy finish is a nightmare for smudges and fingerprints on the Sleek Black variant, though not as much with the pearl-like Cream Gold variant I tested. An IPX4 rating is welcome, but still somewhat behind the IP-X8 rating of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5. The left edge has the signature OnePlus alert slider - proof that this is as much a OnePlus flip phone as the massively anticipated OnePlus Open is an Oppo phone.

Like the Find N2 Flip, it’s a wide phone in the hand – for context, it’s almost as wide as the Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max – which affords it the space on the rear panel for the expansive 3.26-inch outer display and the circular camera housing, where you'll find the new Hasselblad-touting triple-camera system. It’s a busy look for what is otherwise still a sophisticated, good-looking and comfortable phone to use.

Display

Flipping it open, Oppo continues to impress with its near-creaseless internal folding display, a product of its Flexion Hinge, which folds the screen into a teardrop shape while still holding the screen open at any angle beyond 45-degrees.

Having seen the best of Motorola and Samsung flips this year, the crease is the least noticeable or perceptible during regular use. Except when viewed at certain angles, you can barely tell that it’s there, and Oppo deserves huge props for having perfected the mechanism this far. No kidding, the other phones look a generation older when placed alongside the Find N3 Flip.

The display itself is a 6.8-inch full-HD+ OLED LTPO (1-120Hz) panel, which gets rather vibrant and bright (1600 nits peak brightness) and HDR10+ content on Netflix and YouTube looks good on the inner display.

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The cover display is a whole new ball game, even though specs wise, it remains largely unchanged – a 3.26-inch, 720×382-pixel, 60Hz, 900 nits brightness screen that mimics the aspect ratio of regular phone screens. What’s new is that unlike the limited pre-installed widgets (weather, clock, calendar and camera) on the predecessor, the cover screen now supports a whole bunch of 40+ popular apps such as Gmail, X, Google Maps, YouTube/Netflix, Uber/Ola, Zomato/Swiggy, WhatsApp, Telegram and Google Pay, all via their native apps.

Oppo’s vertical approach is at odds with the wider, squarer cover displays on the Moto and the Samsung, and here it pays dividends, since getting more apps whitelisted for the cover display is an easier process for Oppo (due to similar aspect ratios). Although why Oppo has to individually approve apps to run on the outer display is beyond me.

User experience

It's a good solution to get more apps ready for cover display use, but it has some scope for improvement. For instance, it’s super seamless to start using an app on the cover display, then unfolding the phone to use it on the larger main screen, though it isn’t quite so the other way round, requiring you to unlock the device via the side-mounted fingerprint scanner and then launch the app on the cover display. The OnePlus Open has solved this very issue of two-way app continuity, so that’s something for Find N3 Flip to leverage.

Also, while you get a full QWERTY keyboard to type responses to emails and messages, the narrow vertical screen isn’t great for text heavy apps where the text gets rather shrunk down. For Maps, YouTube, taking a photo, making a quick call, checking off a to-do or responding quickly to a message – it’s a breeze to use.

The main shooter on the Oppo Find N3 Flip takes excellent shots in good and dipping light, with good details and impressive dynamic range. (Oppo)

Cameras

Even as the cover display gets a lot more usable, the bigger deal for more folks is the inclusion of a better camera package on the Find N3 Flip, one that finally can rival premium candybar phones with the first-on-a-flip telephoto lens.

Aside from the addition of the 32MP 2x telephoto shooter, the ultrawide is bumped up to a respectable 48MP, with the main (50MP) and the selfie (32MP) staying largely unchanged – no 2MP depth/macro sensor just to pad up the spec sheet!

The main shooter takes excellent shots in good and dipping light, with good details and impressive dynamic range. It’s only in the trickier lighting did the camera return slightly softer images than one would have liked.

The 2x telephoto does well too, with good color consistency with the primary shooter, and the ultrawide is no pushover either, with good details, vivid colors and minimal distortion. Macro shots leverage the ultra-wide and are quite usable. I liked that pro mode works across all three rear cameras, plus the Hasselblad-specific features such as XPAN mode which replicates the iconic wide 65:24 aspect ratio. Of course, all the tricks one is used to with a foldable – having your phone angled open to take selfies, for instance – apply here as well.

Portrait shots need a bit of work, though – they’re soft on details and could do with tighter edge detection. Selfies are decent with the camera on the inner screen, but for all intents and purposes, the primary shooter makes for a better selfie shooter with the cover display. There are some odd limitations though – with the phone folded, the video is limited to 1080p, even though it is using the same camera that shoots 4K 30fps video with the phone unfolded.

Processor and performance

The Find N3 Flip is powered by the MediaTek Dimensity 9200, a capable flagship chipset that, with 12GB of memory and 256GB of storage, is a very solid offering. What I did notice was that the performance is throttled as compared to other 9200-sporting phones, likely on account of the limited thermal management options Oppo has on the foldable form factor.

You’re not going to experience any issues with daily tasks, but you have to be mindful that pushing it too much on heavy games will mean the odd but noticeable stutter in gameplay. ColorOS 13.2 is familiar territory, but I found the large number of pre-installed apps less than ideal for a flagship experience.

Battery life with the 4300mAh battery and the power-efficient (and throttled) MediaTek chip yields impressive results, particularly for a flip phone. One easily saw the phone last well into the next day with heavy use, and the 44W charging speeds get the phone from empty to full in an hour. No wireless charging though.

Verdict

Even with its omissions and misses, I really liked the Oppo Find N3 Flip, and it’s a phone that’s a strong contender even after a bunch of excellent options launched earlier this year. The phone is a delight to use – it’s stylish, the cover display is a lot more useful, and a lot of the decisions Oppo has made – like a larger battery with fast charging, a versatile camera system with a telephoto camera, a near-creaseless display – doesn’t let you feel like you’re making a compromise when you’re choosing this device over a regular phone. As always, you’re paying a premium for the luxury of having your phone fold, so there’s that to consider.

Tushar Kanwar, a tech columnist and commentator, posts @2shar.

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