Samsung has had a good run in the flip-style foldables space over the past couple of years, iteratively building and refining the Z Flip without having to look over their shoulder.
That party of one is getting a brand new entrant with the Oppo Find N2 Flip ( ₹89,999), a phone that is a seriously compelling alternative to Samsung in the clamshell foldable segment, even going one better in some respects. Is this the phone that could supplant the Samsung Z Flip 4 as the most popular clamshell around? One month into testing the Find N2 Flip, we certainly think it’s possible.
What catches the eye
Even if you haven’t seen or used the Samsung Z Flip previously, the Find N2 Flip is a familiar design – a thin 6.8-inch slab which folds midway down the screen into a compact footprint that easily disappears into pockets or even smallish clutches. It’s managed to achieve something that Samsung hasn’t thus far – fully close the gap between the two halves – and helps in keeping pocket and handbag dirt out when it's closed.
Oppo has made a big deal at launch about theFlexion Hinge, which is engineered to hold its position at any angle between 45 and 110 degrees yet open smoothly and without the extra resistance as was seen on the Z Flip 4. The more visible outcome (edit: less visible, really) is that by going with this hinge and a teardrop-shape bend at the point of curvature, the Find N2 Flip has the least perceptible screen ‘crease’ of any foldable so far.
If you use the phone in Dark Mode, it’s nearly invisible – switch to a bright wallpaper and it’s a tad more visible, particularly when you’re scrolling. You do feel it under your fingers, but only just. It’s far enough in the background to not draw attention, a subtle change that makes the Find N2 Flip a lot more like an everyday Android smartphone when it’s unfolded. Even as its folded dimensions are a smidgen taller and wider than the Z Flip 4, it’s easier to grip and weighs only 191g, despite a larger battery than the Samsung (4300mAh vs 3700mAh).
In all respects, the Find N2 Flip looks every bit the premium phone its pricing would suggest, with a matte-finish Astral Black and a glossy Moonlit Purple color option, the latter for folks who don’t think a folding phone alone is enough to make a statement these days.
That said, there is one glaring omission – the device misses out on a formal IP dust and water resistance rating which is present on the Samsung. It can take the odd splash, but you’ll have to baby the device when you’re near the pool.
Design and build
While the hinge and how the Find N2 Flip folds ever so neatly is a masterclass in engineering, the likely draw for most buyers will be the outer display that extends almost the entire length of the top half of the phone. At 3.26 inches, it’s the largest display on any vertically folding phone and nearly double the screen real estate of the Samsung. The Gorilla Glass 5-protected AMOLED panel is reasonably sharp (720x382 pixels) with up to 800 nits of peak brightness under sunlight.
Just keep in mind that with a cover screen this big, you’re going to end up resting your fingers on the outer display when unfolded, so it will be riddled with smudges each time you use it.
Yet, this is not a chintzy display with little to no utility. It’s best used as a viewfinder to take selfies/videos from the rear camera, but it’s equally adept at viewing notifications and accessing a set of pre-installed widgets for weather, countdown timer, voice recorder and calendar. While you can view messages in Slack, Telegram or WhatsApp and respond with up to six canned responses, you’ll have to unfold the phone and use the inner screen for actioning anything beyond this. And therein lies the rub – the bigger second screen has so much potential, one can’t help but feel Oppo could have done so much more.
The ability to respond to notifications, view emails or our social media feeds is something we’ve been doing on smaller smartwatch screens, so it’s certainly possible, and you have to only install an app like CoverScreen OS on the Find N2 Flip to see how much more functionality you could unlock. Having this capability baked in would have been a step in the right direction, and a marked leap forward over the Samsung.
Another minor bugbear is the unnecessary need to unlock the cover screen each time via the side-mounted fingerprint scanner for what are essential view-only actions. Well, at least there’s the interactive pet on the cover screen – you can pick from a dog, a cat, a hamster, a bird or a rabbit – and each animal is animated in a fun and playful manner.
The inside display is more ‘normal’ for a foldable, a 6.8-inch AMOLED panel with 120Hz refresh rate, a peak brightness of 1200nits and a resolution of 2520x1080 pixels.
Video playback is excellent on this display, with the stereo speakers sounding good for the few Netflix episodes one watched, although you will notice black bars on the sides due to the extra-wide aspect ratio.
Under the hood, the Find N2 Flip opts for a MediaTek Dimensity 9000+ chipset instead of the Qualcomm silicon that has been the staple for foldables in the past few years. It’s no pushover, this chip, but as with all foldables, there are thermal constraints that you’ll see only during extended duration gaming sessions, with everyday use feeling fluid and sans any lags or stutters.
The Find N2 Flip runs ColorOS 13 with a few additional tweaks for the foldable nature of the device, which includes FlexForm mode for apps that can take advantage of folding displays. For example, YouTube can keep playing the video in the upper half while keeping comments in the lower half, or in the camera app where controls and the viewfinder are split across the two screens (or flipped onto the outer display).
Oppo launched the Find N2 Flip in a single 8GB LPDDR5 memory and 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage, which lines it up alongside the 8GB/256GB variant of the Z Flip 4. Battery life is respectable too, with the phone lasting a day on heavy primary phone use (over 5 hours of screen on time), and it charges faster than the competition (44W). No wireless charging though, which was ostensibly omitted to keep the device thinner.
Co-developed with camera brand Hasselblad, the cameras on the Find N2 Flip comprise of a primary 50MP Sony IMX890 shooter and an 8MP Sony IMX355 wide-angle, with a 32MP Sony IMX709 with autofocus for selfie duties (for all intents and purposes, we used the rear camera for selfies, since the cover display perfectly enables just this use case).
In addition, there’s Oppo’s proprietary MariSilicon X neural processing unit for AI intervention in high dynamic range and low-light scenarios, and Hasselblad’s smarts for color accuracy. One quite liked the results from the main camera, both in terms of detail and handling of dynamic range, but also while capturing colors and reining in noise in low-light shots. The ultra-wide lens struggled to keep up with the primary shooter, both in detail and accurate exposure. Stick to the main camera, and you’ll be a happy camper.
Having used the Find N2 Flip for around a month, it’s got a lot of things going for it, particularly if you pit it against Samsung. It folds shut better, has less of a visible crease and lasts (and charges) better, but it lacks the IP rating and wireless charging of the Z Flip 4, not to mention the software features on the Samsung feel more refined.
The cover screen on the N2 Flip is larger and, therefore, more useful, but it feels as if they missed a trick at launch in not having a lot more features baked in. Yet, to be fair, a clamshell foldable doesn’t aim for the productivity market, and in prioritizing style and a compact footprint, the Oppo Find N2 Flip is a solid first attempt that really takes the fight to the competition and scores. Bonus – it gives buyers that much needed element of choice that was missing so far in the foldables space.
Tushar Kanwar, a tech columnist and commentator, tweets @2shar
Also read: Why we continue to love foldable phones