Foldable phones promise to one day supplant our standard slab-shaped devices, and now another smartphone giant is throwing its hat in the ring with a product set to rival the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3.
Oppo, the overseas parent company to OnePlus, revealed today the Oppo Find N (no, not Fold N), a foldable phone set to launch on Dec. 15 during Oppo’s annual Inno Day convention.
Oppo didn’t reveal much about the device, but a teaser video posted to Twitter shows a phone with a similar form factor as the Galaxy Fold. That is to say, it’s a phone with a standard outer screen that can fold open to reveal a larger flexible interior panel. Looking frame-by-frame, the device appears to have chrome edges, a camera bump in the top-right corner, a USB port on the bottom, and the front screen has minimal bezels.
In a blog post, Oppo chief product officer (and OnePlus CEO) Pete Lau envisions the Find N as the “future of smartphones,” a step forward after the industry “hit a wall.”
The Find N is apparently the result of four years of R&D and six generations of prototypes with the first generation device surfacing internally in 2018. Lau stresses the company took its time to make a viable product instead of “rushing to keep up with trends,” and while he admits others were first to market, Lau says those devices remain hammered by poor “utility, durability and user experience.”
Oppo claims to have fixed the pain points with those devices including the crease in the display and the questionable durability of certain models. The goal, according to Lau, was to make something beautiful that could be comfortably held in the palm of your hand and didn’t require a user manual to use.
Foldables got off on the wrong foot when Samsung was forced to place its first effort, the Galaxy Fold, on hold following a flurry of durability complaints. Since then, enormous strides have made the current crop of foldables viable alternatives to the standard smartphone. Durability remains a concern but it now feels that to find a mainstream audience, foldables need to drop in price and take better advantage of their form factor to showcase new ways of using a phone.
We’ll soon find out if Oppo’s Find N can move the needle, but even if it doesn’t, we may still have Oppo’s triple-hinge slider phone or rollable phone concepts to look forward to. Or maybe we’ll skip these strange bendy, foldy, flippy devices and go straight to the metaverse.