Ah, foldables. The dream of the folding-screen smartphone has been around for more years than we can count, and for a long time, it seemed to be the mobile world’s nuclear fusion – constantly ‘just around the corner’, never actually materializing. That all changed a few short years ago, and Samsung’s already on the third generation of its folding devices. The story goes that there have been a lot of improvements and so – maybe the foldable revolution is finally upon us?
We decided to find out by putting the Oppo Find N through the process of a long-term review. We’ve played with it for a few months, and have used it as our one and only smartphone during that time. Inevitably with normal reviews, there are time constraints left and right, but there were none here. So we had plenty of time to get to know the Find N and live with its quirks and features. And now we feel like we have gotten to a point where we can share our experience of using this intriguing foldable device day-in, day-out, with all of the good parts and the not-so-good parts this has entailed.
This one seems to be one of the best foldables yet, if not the best, with its zero-gap folding and especially the dimensions. It’s a breath of fresh air that sits neatly in between Samsung’s Fold and Flip lines in size, which should mean it’s both easier to use than the Folds and has much more screen real estate than the Flips. So – best of both worlds then?
Join us over the next few pages as we find out. An important note goes here: the Find N isn’t currently available internationally through official channels, and it looks like that may forever be the case. Our review unit is meant for the Chinese market. As such, there are a ton of hardware (specifically in 5G and 4G support) and software differences compared to what you’d get in a theoretical global model. We don’t think most people should go through the trouble of importing one of these, but we were excited enough about it that we couldn’t just ignore it either. With that in mind, let’s dive into what makes the Oppo Find N tick.
The Oppo Find N folds, and that’s very obvious from the first time you look at it. If you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years and don’t know that foldable smartphones are a thing now, you may think that the Find N is two phones stacked on top of each other, because there is a lot of symmetry to the two “sides”. But then the hinge makes it very clear that something else is going on here.
If you’re familiar with Samsung’s Fold and Flip lines of foldables, the Find N will be intriguing to you because it can’t be compared in size to either of those. It sits neatly in between, smaller than the Fold but bigger than the Flip. It folds like the Fold too, so perhaps that’s the more adequate comparison, although its external screen has a much more traditional aspect ratio. It isn’t overly tall, in fact, it’s wider than most normal smartphones these days, thanks to the 18:9 aspect ratio, which used to be all the rage a while ago but isn’t anymore.
If you ignore the thickness from the front when looking at the outer screen, the Find N seems rather vintage – except the tiny bezels make it clear that this isn’t a device from 2014 either. So that’s definitely interesting.
Once you open it up, the foldable screen is rather square – not quite, but almost, and it opens up in ‘landscape’ mode, unlike the Fold, which opens up in ‘portrait’ mode. Oppo made a huge deal out of this at the unveiling event, but honestly, we wouldn’t care either way. That aspect ratio is so close to square that the difference between ‘landscape’ and ‘portrait’ is academic at best – although not so when it comes to software (we’ll get to that in the appropriate section).
The Find N is heavy, as you’d expect from a foldable device that has such a big internal display and a lot of metal around the sides and inside the hinge. And yet, because of the outer screen’s aspect ratio and size, it’s very easy to use one-handed while closed. Probably more so than most modern smartphones when it comes to reaching for the notification area, for example. That said, the weight is something you definitely need to get used to, and will always feel when you’re using it closed.
Open it up, and things change because now there’s the feeling of more surface area to spread the weight across. As a very small tablet, it really doesn’t seem too heavy in any way, and the weight is balanced pretty well. The main handling problem with the Find N is how slippery it is. Seriously, there’s no way around this: it’s probably the most slippery phone we’ve handled in a long time.
The upside of that is that the back looks wonderful, at least in our white version, and it doesn’t show any fingerprints at all. The ‘pearl’ effect on the back glass goes nicely with the ceramic plate that’s adorning the camera island, and the glass gently curves upwards toward that, in a way that’s reminiscent of the Find X3 Pro – but the effect isn’t as extreme here, as it’s not all glass and that ceramic plate ‘sits’ on top, so to speak.
Anyway, it’s a neatly executed design that manages to look nice and stand out subtly. Of course, the Find N doesn’t really need a lot of pizzazz on its back to look the part since the fact that it’s a foldable phone simply does that automatically – it’s not what most people expect when you pull out a phone, with its weird size and chunky look.
Because of how slippery the Find N is all-round (including the frame), it’s rather hard to open, as your fingers keep wanting to slip over the frame. And it’s impossible to open with one hand, that’s for sure. You’ll always need a bit of patience and attention when attempting this in order not to drop it. A case of some sort in the box may have helped had it been less slippery on the sides, but, alas, there is no bundled case. Perhaps this was meant to keep the price lower, but it’s a glaring omission in our view, because it’s unlikely that a lot of third-party case makers would invest in making products for such a niche device.
So, handling is, when closed: better than the Fold3, worse than the Flip3, better than a normal slab phone in that the outer screen’s size and aspect ratio make it easier to reach all of its extremities but also worse than a normal slab phone because of the thickness and the weight.
When opened, the Find N turns into a small tablet, and that’s obviously amazing to see to this day, even if there are a bunch of foldables around now.
Because of the size, handling when opened is perfectly doable with one hand, although the back’s slipperiness will fight you on that. We found that actually rotating to ‘portrait’ works better because then you can prop one of your fingers against the hinge on the rear and that helps alleviate most of the phone’s slippery tendencies.
In terms of design, there’s not really much to say: the back is nice and premium looking and feeling, and otherwise, the Find N is basically all just screens and metal (in the frame and the hinge). The only thing we don’t get is the “Designed for Find” etching on the hinge, which is visible when the phone is closed. This “designed + something” trend really needs to die off, dear Chinese device makers. It’s pointless and transparent in how it wants to emulate Apple’s “Designed in California”, without actually going all the way to “Designed in China” or “Designed in Guangdong” or something like that.
Build quality is outstanding, and the magic of there being zero hinge gap when folded is something we’re still excited about. It just feels right. And looks right. Although technically there is the smallest of gaps still there, with the raised bezels around the internal screen hide this 99%, unless you really go peeping you won’t notice and the most important thing here is that the two ‘sides’ are parallel to each other when the phone is closed. Take note, Samsung.
On the other hand, there’s no water ingress protection here whatsoever, and the placement of the speakers is less than ideal since when the phone is closed, they’re basically on top of each other at the bottom and act more as one big speaker than two stereo ones. бp>
Things improve when the phone is opened, where there’s more separation between them, but perhaps the Find N would have required two additional speakers on the top sides for proper surround sound action.
As it is, the dual speakers are very loud and very good sounding – louder, in fact, than those on any slab-type phone we’ve ever long-term reviewed and on par with the best of them in terms of quality. If these were on opposite sides of the phone at all times, we’d rate them among the best out there, plain and simple. And technically, they still are exquisite; it’s just that the placement hinders their enjoyment somewhat.
Buttons, biometrics, vibration motor
Oppo is one of the rare companies that like to place the volume rocker (or even separate volume buttons) on the left side of a normal, non-folding smartphone, while the power button is on the right. This makes for some neat symmetry (because the middles of the buttons on both sides are usually aligned vertically). And Oppo is being Oppo about this on the Find N too, except there’s a folding twist: while the volume rocker is on the left if you open up the phone when it’s closed, the volume rocker sits awkwardly above the power button. And they’re not in any way aligned either, which for OCD sufferers won’t be a great sight to behold.
All of this is to say that, while the phone is closed, you may struggle to locate the power button by touch alone, as you’d first need to touch the volume rocker and then go digging under it. It’s not a huge deal, obviously, but we still found we had to do it even months after we started to use the Find N.
The fingerprint sensor is embedded in the power button, and as far as accuracy from the first try goes, this isn’t among the best out there. It’s basically on par with Xiaomi’s mid-rangers and ‘flagship killers’ from a while back (those have gotten much better in the latter part of last year). If we were to give an estimate, we’d say the fingerprint sensor unlocked the phone on the first try about 85% of the time for us, and that’s not worth celebrating.
These side-mounted sensors do all have the same physical issue, in that they’re narrow, so they can’t possibly take in all of your fingerprint at once. We did take extra care when enrolling to make sure all of the surface area of the fingerprint was covered, but even so, we found the accuracy here lacking. Speed of unlocking was good, but also not among the best we’ve seen, although the delta, in this case, is much smaller than when we were talking accuracy.
If this state of things gets annoying for you, there’s also face unlocking, of course, and that is extremely fast, accurate and reliable. Still, the downside is it’s only using the front-facing cameras, so it is much less secure than the fingerprint scanner. You get to pick your poison, then.
The vibration motor is very good, but that was expected of such a premium device. We’d still call Apple’s better, and the ones Samsung used to use for the Ultras too, but this isn’t a bad one in any way.
The issue we had with it has nothing to do with the hardware motor but with the fact that ColorOS 12 doesn’t really use it that much while you’re navigating the UI – definitely not as much as the latest iterations of MIUI do, and we feel like that’s a lost opportunity of sorts to make the user experience more physical. There is a Haptic intensity slider and a way to pick “how touches feel”, but that’s about it.
Refresh rates, brightness
Let’s start out this section with the few niggles we had with the Find N’s displays and then proceed to rave about them right afterwards. There’s no escaping the difference in refresh rate between the internal and external screen. There’s no way you won’t feel this in day-to-day use, and of course, it’s especially obvious when you use one screen and then immediately switch to the other. We really don’t think the price savings of going with a 60 Hz panel for the outer display are worth it since this is an expensive device anyway (not compared to most other foldables, yes, but just overall).
Don’t get us wrong, the outer screen is one of the smoothest feeling 60 Hz panels we’ve ever used, but physics is physics. The internal display is buttery, and the external one just isn’t. This is a weird mishap in what is otherwise a very well-put-together package.
Neither display has amazing visibility in direct sunlight – in fact, we’d call it average, which isn’t that much of an issue on the inner screen, but much more so on the outer one since we assume that’s the one you’d use most when out and about. It is legible, it’s just not as easily legible as panels from flagship slab-type phones, and that’s rather strange since this isn’t billed as a mid-range foldable.
Finally, for display niggles, we have to mention the auto brightness curve, which is the worst we’ve come across in the past 18 months compared to the devices we’ve reviewed long term. It just doesn’t seem to make any sense at all. It always makes the screen way too dim outdoors unless the sun is directly hitting it, and a lot of times, it does the exact opposite while indoors, being too bright.
These past few weeks have been a constant game of manual adjustments, and we can’t say we enjoyed that. Theoretically, these should be saved, but we’re not sure that’s actually happening on the Find N – maybe the Chinese software is to blame? We definitely hope that if this ever launches internationally, it will have a better auto-brightness algorithm.
Now that those things are out of the way, let’s get to the nicer bits. Both screens are high quality, and they both go dim enough when in dark environments, so they’re comfortable to use even in a pitch-black room. The outer display’s curve on the right edge makes using the Back gesture very nice feeling indeed, and although there’s a lack of symmetry at play here since the left edge can’t be curved because of the hinge, we’ll take this any day over a non-curved right edge. It’s a very subtle curve, after all, and it’s never impeded our use by allowing for accidental touches.
The external screen is also nicely devoid of big bezels, and its curved corners are symmetrical, which is nice to see, especially if you have some form of OCD. Not just that, but the app drawer, when you pull it up, also has curved upper corners to match those of the screen – a nice touch although the curves don’t line up 100% – close enough, still. That’s about all we can say about the outer display, it feels nice to touch thanks to the Gorilla Glass Victus, and now let’s switch to the main star of the show.
The flexible OLED inner screen is a joy to use, and while there is a plastic protector on top (which you should not remove, as that will most likely kill the panel), it’s not a terribly bad feeling sheet of plastic. Foldables have gone a long way since the first Galaxy Fold in this respect. And while you’ll obviously be able to tell that you’re not touching the glass, it’s not bad at all.
The crease, which we’ve all been used to from Samsung’s foldables, is much less pronounced in the Find N, owing to the special design of the hinge. There still is a crease, mind you – but it’s barely there. You will, of course, feel it when you swipe across it, but it’s much less of an inconvenience than in most of this phone’s competitors. So kudos to Oppo for making this happen.
The inner screen is surrounded by a raised plastic bezel, which takes a few days to get used to, especially if you’re coming from a curved-screen slab, where it feels like there simply aren’t any side bezels, but it’s nothing too bad.
As we’ve mentioned before, both screens are really high quality, and you can, of course, pick a preferred color mode, with your choices being down to Vivid, Natural, and Pro mode. Both Vivid and Natural come with a three-point slider to pick between Cool, Default, and Warm color temperature, while Pro mode has the same but adds a toggle between Cinematic and Brilliant – the former being designed to match the Display P3 color space, while the latter apparently provides the widest possible color gamut. Honestly, all of these profiles are pretty eye-popping, thanks to the great OLED panels in use, so which one you choose will depend on how saturated you like your colors to look.
Blue light filter
As with any other modern smartphone, the Find N has a blue light filter called Eye comfort, and it’s the usual ColorOS fare. You can schedule it, customize how warm the screen color temperature gets, and pick between full color and black and white.
There’s no paper-like texture option or one for light colors as in MIUI, but that blue light filter is pretty much in a league of its own right now, so we can’t fault Oppo for its implementation here; it’s on par with everything else out there, and it works really well.
There is an always-on display (AOD), of course, and this is actually shown on both screens – the outer one if the phone is closed, the inner one if it’s opened. That’s neat since they’re both OLED panels, but the problem here is that you won’t see any notification icons on the AOD, except for missed calls and perhaps SMS (we don’t get any of those, so can’t check).
Not from any other app, which sort of defeats part of the purpose of an AOD – yes, the clocks are nice (and there are a whole lot of designs to choose from), as is knowing the date and charge level, but most people also use AODs in order to be able to quickly glance at them and see if there are any new notifications waiting. That’s not a thing here, but since global builds of ColorOS on other phones don’t have this behavior, we’re assuming it’s a quirk of the China build on offer in the Find N.
Performance has been outstanding throughout our time with the Find N. Sure, looking at it in 2022, you’d probably feel that it should have been powered by the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, but in all fairness the Snapdragon 888 shows absolutely no signs of being superseded.
It just makes the Find N fly no matter what you throw at it, and in day-to-day use, we haven’t noticed any slowdown whatsoever. Heavy gaming might be different, of course, but if you’re a heavy gamer, you should probably look at a dedicated gaming phone – those usually have much better cooling than non-gaming devices, and thus are able to sustain maximum performance for much longer even in the most demanding titles. So, for most people, the Find N will never not feel like a bleeding edge, top of the line device, and that’s exactly what we were expecting, but it’s nice to have it confirmed.
Smoothness is a mixed bag, however, because it’s inevitably influenced by the screen refresh rate. So if we only think about the internal screen, we’d call the Find N the smoothest device we’ve ever tested (compared to the ones we’ve reviewed long term before), but the situation shifts when considering the outer screen. The 60 Hz refresh rate simply can’t compete, so we can’t give the Find N the crown. In its defense, the outer screen is probably the smoothest 60 Hz panel we’ve ever used on an Android device, but it’s still no match to the 120 Hz internal one.
ColorOS continues to be one of the smoothest Android skins around, and we have no doubt that a lot of optimizations went into making the outer screen feel as smooth as possible, but at the end of the day, you can’t really cheat physics. That said, overall, we were happy with the Find N’s performance and smoothness and just wish that Oppo would’ve gone all-in with 120 Hz on both screens.
Battery life has been very good, and exceptionally so compared to our expectations going in. This isn’t, after all, a very large capacity battery, and it also has to deal with an internal screen that’s bigger than on any slab-type phone out there. And yet, the numbers we’ve gotten in terms of screen on time are really good, if nothing record-breaking. Then again, they couldn’t have been record-breaking considering the limitations we just mentioned.
We have to say that some of this endurance definitely comes from the very aggressive way in which this ColorOS build, meant for the Chinese market, handles background activities – more on that in the Software section. But anyway, we were pleased to see that, with a mix of using both screens (about a 60/40 split in favor of the inner one indoors and 95% the outer one outside), we managed to always be around the 7-hour screen on time in a day, with slightly upwards of 8 hours possible too on some lucky occasions.
Now, obviously, if you use the inner display 99% of the time, these numbers will go down, but there’s plenty of headroom for them to drop further and still not arrive into bad battery life territory.
Our average day consists of 12-16 hours off the charger with primarily Wi-Fi connectivity, an hour or two on mobile data, location and Bluetooth always on, half an hour or so of GPS navigation through Waze, an hour or two of Bluetooth streaming music or podcasts, and an hour or so of phone calls also via Bluetooth earbuds.
While the battery life was impressive, we’re underwhelmed by the charging speed topping out at 33W, which is surprisingly low for the company that brought us ultrafast 65W and 80W charging on its flagships over the past two years. Going from zero to 100% takes a little bit over an hour.
So, a letdown of sorts, which we assume is explained by the folding nature of this phone somehow, since we otherwise can’t see why Oppo would be content with 33W. This isn’t a bad charging speed compared to Samsung’s foldables, by the way, in fact, it beats them, but hopefully, the next Find N will find (excuse the pun) a way to do it faster. Wireless charging is available too if you want to use it, and that’s a welcome but expected feature at this price point.
As we’ve mentioned before, the Find N has so far not been launched outside of China, and the unit we have used for this feature is the Chinese model. While it’s unclear if the Find N will ever get a global version, we wouldn’t recommend importing the Chinese one for a few reasons.
First off, there are no Google services on it, but that’s not a hard thing to get around with a little bit of Googling. And yet, adding Google services to this device doesn’t magically make it a ‘global’ model – there are a ton of Chinese bloatware apps preinstalled, for example, and the software itself is tuned to the Chinese market in a lot of ways we’ll discuss below.
But perhaps the most important limitation has to do with connectivity. Depending on where you live, you may not be able to use 5G on the Find N, nor even get 4G carrier aggregation (CA) even if you do get 4G. 4G CA is usually marketed by some carriers as “4G+” or “4.5G” or “LTE-A” or “LTE+” or similar and allows for the combination of different bands to improve speeds.
Throughout our use of the Find N, we got no 5G and no 4G CA, just ‘vanilla’ 4G, limited to one band at a time. While you may not care about missing 5G if your country doesn’t have such networks very well spread, the lack of 4G CA is much more concerning. Let’s exemplify: with CA, we usually get around 50-100 Mbps download from our carrier, while without, it’s less than a third of that at best, and can drop to as low as under 10Mbps. These numbers are not intended to be comparable to your carrier’s speeds directly, just keep in mind the sort of drop in speed you’d encounter if you didn’t have CA to rely on.
While we’re on the connectivity topic, we have to mention that the Find N is one of those phones that doesn’t like to always reconnect to previously paired Bluetooth speakers and car systems. It does so automatically around 8 times out of 10, but sometimes you’ll have to manually dig through the Bluetooth devices menu and select the one you’re trying to connect to. We haven’t seen this happen on flagship tier devices lately, so it’s a bit disconcerting to have this issue here. Normally it is, for whatever reason, something that only happens on some mid-rangers.
The Find N we have here is a device intended for the Chinese market, and as such, it has a lot of quirks, when viewed from an international perspective. Like the fact that it runs Android 11 with ColorOS 12 on top. Globally, the ColorOS version number correlates with the Android version number, so it should either be Android 11 with ColorOS 11 or Android 12 with ColorOS 12. But no, we get this weird combo instead.
In fairness, ColorOS 12 does look and feel a lot like ColorOS 11, and we’re happy to see that its bug-free reputation (at least on high-end devices) is well deserved. We’ve encountered zero bugs, stutters, or crashes, in our time with the Find N, aside from some weirdness in the camera app – which is described in the appropriate section.
We’ve received a few updates during this time, but they were all minor, and we didn’t see any obvious changes. Nor, for that matter, did any of them introduce any bugs (take note, OnePlus!). ColorOS 12, as seen on the Find N, is definitely one of the smoothest Android skins around, which combined with its bug-free nature really makes it a joy to use. And yet, there are issues having to do with the fact that this build isn’t intended for consumption outside of China. We’ll get to those right after we tell you how Oppo has adapted ColorOS to the foldable form factor.
Foldable adaptations, issues
There’s a neat section in Settings that basically details all of the features that are connected in some manner to the folding nature of the device. This is called Main screen rather confusingly, but we still appreciate how Oppo has organized these here – it’s your one-stop-shop if you’re wondering about what you can do.
Perhaps the smallest adaptation, but definitely the most useful in day-to-day use, has to do with what happens when you switch screens. It’s intuitive – when you’re on the outer screen and then open up the phone, whichever app you were using is already there waiting for you. When you go the other direction, closing the phone, you get a “swipe up to continue using” message on the lower part of the outer display. If you do nothing, the phone will lock. If, however, you do swipe up, you’re back into the app you were using on the inner screen. It’s simple, it’s brilliant, and it works amazingly well.
The inner screen gets its own slew of optimizations too. The Settings menu and all of Oppo’s apps are all adapted to its aspect ratio, so you get the categories on the left and their contents on the right in Settings, for example. This works well to maximize how efficiently the added screen real estate is dealt with when you use system stuff or Oppo apps, but the problem is third-party app support. And this takes us to one of the main issues with using this Chinese model outside of China. Understandably, Oppo hasn’t worked with developers of international apps to optimize them for the screen, so what happens when you use such an app is rather random.
Some apps adapt to both orientations of the inner screen, showing a tablet-like UI when in ‘landscape’ mode and an embiggened phone-like UI when in ‘portrait’. We say ‘landscape’ and ‘portrait’ because even though the screen is almost square, it’s not exactly a square. So opening it up normally will put you right into ‘landscape’ mode, unlike on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3, which goes into ‘portrait’. Then rotating it so that the crease is horizontal means you’re in ‘portrait’.
Now that we got the definitions out of the way, here’s what happens. Some apps adapt to both of these very well, but a lot of apps don’t want to be in landscape at all on the inner screen and only work in portrait mode. This is jarring if you’re using such an app on the external screen and then open the phone up because the app is now displayed sideways and won’t rotate no matter what you do – so you need to rotate the phone to use it.
Weirdly enough, Gmail used to work in both orientations, but after one update, it only wants to work in landscape – rotating to portrait will do nothing. So far, it’s the only app we found that only wants to work in landscape; there are many more that only want to work in portrait – oh, and by the way, not in both portrait modes – just the one where the camera punch-hole is on the top right. Incidentally, that’s the portrait mode in which the phone is easier to handle, in this reviewer’s opinion, because the part that houses the camera array does seem to be ever so slightly heavier than the other one, and since the heavier bit is the lower one, there’s no feeling of the device being top-heavy when held like this.
Moving on, Oppo has also created a nice little shortcut to run apps side-by-side when in landscape mode, and that’s swiping with two fingers from the top near the crease. This neatly puts the app that was full screen on one side and then you can quickly select which app you want on the other side. It works very well, but the screen isn’t really big enough for this to have been our main workflow while using the phone.
It’s still nice to have, and you can move the dividing line around a bit, so it’s not 50/50 – but also 40/60 and 60/40. And, of course, you can save such an app pair to your home screen to instantly start both apps in whatever configuration you want when you tap on that icon. However, the weird thing is that when you rotate the screen, the dividing line stays vertical – an option for it to turn horizontal so that one app would be ‘on top’ and the other ‘at the bottom’ would have been nice – to keep the divider aligned with the hinge.
The hinge isn’t an all-or-nothing affair; it’s not just closed or open, you can use intermediary positions, but here too, the lack of third-party app support is evident in the fact that, for example, YouTube’s UI, when playing a video that isn’t full screen, has no concept of where the hinge is, so the video window mostly occupies the top part, but does also spill into the bottom part by a few dozen pixels or so. It’s understandable that Oppo wouldn’t talk to Google for optimizing an app that isn’t even available in China, but jarring nonetheless when you’re using it.
Additionally, you can’t use the outer screen when the phone isn’t closed (with the sole exception being for camera use, covered in the dedicated section). Opening the hinge a little bit, to 40-ish degrees, could have allowed for nice video watching on the outer screen, while the phone is still ‘sitting’ on its lower part, but this isn’t possible. The second you open the hinge, even by 5 degrees, the UI completely switches to the inner screen, and this is an oversight that we don’t think has anything to do with markets. So hopefully, you can get an option through a future update.
There’s a “Laptop mode” too, although this doesn’t seem to be doing anything, and we assume it needs to have per-app support. That’s yet another thing that would need to be taken care of if the Find N was ever to launch internationally.
You can also use Flexible windows (aka floating windows) to multitask – you can open such a window from the Recents menu or the Smart Sidebar, and then you can resize, minimize, or easily switch to Split screen if need be. This works well (not for Settings, though), but honestly, we don’t think the Find N’s internal screen is big enough for it to be practical all the time. Still, there are definitely some good niche use cases for this, so we’re glad it’s there.
The aggressive app management policies that this version of ColorOS has should also be mentioned, even if they thankfully aren’t to be found in the global one, at least not since ColorOS 7. Notifications are off by default for every single app. So if you install an app and want to see any notifications from it, it’s a trip down to Settings to enable them. Same goes for doing anything in the background – not allowed by default but can be manually turned on. In order to reliably get notifications from apps, you also have to “lock” them in the Recents view, since the Settings change isn’t enough.
And, most annoyingly of all, there are heavy – and we mean heavy – restrictions on apps auto-starting. You can only get 5 apps in a category to auto-start, and this, of course, has to be done manually in Settings for every single one. It’s entirely unclear how ColorOS categorizes apps for this purpose, but once you hit the limit, you won’t be able to turn on auto-start, even manually, for any additional app. That’s… not a good user experience and is clearly influenced by the state of things in the Chinese market, where there are many more nefarious apps than elsewhere.
Now that we got all of this out of the way, let’s turn to the normal Android skin features, of which ColorOS has plenty. There’s a dark mode that’s actually three dark modes in one – as you can customize just how dark you want it to be: Gentle, Medium, and Enhanced. We always prefer Enhanced as that’s the darkest of them all, but you can pick whichever you want, and we like that there’s such a level of customizability, that’s not a given in your average Android skin.
You can also adjust the wallpapers to Dark Mode automatically, as well as icons, and there’s a way to force Dark Mode onto third-party apps that don’t have one of their own, although this is still in beta and hilariously only works for a whopping five apps – all of them Chinese. Rather useless, then. Of course, Dark Mode can be scheduled, too.
The dedicated Personalizations menu in Settings is nice to have, and if you think you’ve seen this before – well, we most recently mentioned it in our long-term review of the OnePlus Nord 2. Now that Oppo and OnePlus are integrated, expect more such commonalities in software. Anyway, inside Personalizations you can quickly attend to all the various UI customization options, like changing the wallpaper, setting up the Always-on Display, finding some themes, changing icon shapes for apps and Quick Settings tiles, messing with colors, fonts, the display size, and the Edge lighting that notifies you when something needs your attention.
Although you can find a lot of these things in other parts of Settings too, and we’re not usually fans of redundant features, we think it makes sense for the Personalizations menu to exist. It’s an obvious, quick, and easy way to personalize your device when you feel like you need a change.
Like all modern Android skins, ColorOS in this incarnation also has support for navigation gestures, and this works very well. Thankfully there’s an option to hide the useless “gesture guide bar”, and don’t worry – the quick switching functionality is still there when you swipe horizontally across the bottom of either screen.
Additionally, unlike MIUI, ColorOS has kept the option to quickly switch to the previously used app by swiping from the sides and then holding. We’re very happy to see this survive, as we are big fans of this feature. There’s also a toggle for vibrating when the Back gesture is triggered, which we like to have on because it gives a more physical feeling to using the phone.
The built-in ColorOS launcher has support for an app drawer even though this is the Chinese ColorOS, which is surprising but great. It’s not the most feature-rich of launchers out there, not even if we’re only counting built-in ones, but it gets the job done with zero bugs or any other issues.
If you’re wondering how it handles the two screens with their very different aspect ratios, the answer is simpler than you may think. Basically, you are shown the exact same amount of app icons on both screens (the most packed option is 5×5 for the home screen, unlike in other phones where it’s 5×6). So on the outer screen, such a setup is bordering on cramped, but on the inner screen, there’s a lot of padding around the app icons. It sounds weird, but it works, and it prevents you from having to set up two different home screens – one for each display. We think that would have just been an added hassle, but of course, you may beg to differ.
The App animation speed setting is in the Home screen settings, and switching this to Fast as we did has a notable effect on how fast app starts are perceived to be. There’s also a Quick Glance panel to the left of your leftmost home screen, but this is no Google Discover feed. You can turn it off if you don’t like it. We’ll be honest here – we kept it on but never found any use for it. Otherwise, the launcher settings are pretty bare-bones, with only the most essential things being covered. We don’t mind this at all, but if you want more control and customizations, then you’re going to have to use a third-party launcher.
The Recents view is typical ColorOS with a horizontally scrolling list of app screenshots, under which you can see the app icons. If you swipe across the icons, not the screenshots, then it’s a faster movement, and you can get to apps you used a long time ago much quicker. This may sound weird written down, but it works very well in practice. Under the icons, you’ll find a big Close all button which we’ve never used, but you may if you can’t sleep knowing there are still some ‘open’ apps over there.
Camera app issues
The Find N has a flagship-level camera system, which is not always a given on foldables. That got us excited to see what it could do, but before we get to samples, we need to mention a bug that we’ve encountered a lot. Around 40% of times, when switching to the telephoto lens, the camera app would just freeze for a good 2-5 seconds before it comes back to life. This was an annoying occurrence, especially as it’s literally the only bug we’ve encountered on this phone throughout our time with it. Needless to say, it’s easily fixable through an update, but so far, that hasn’t come through.
Aside from that, the camera app has been fast and reliable, with no other issues. We won’t go into its layout because it basically looks and works like every other camera app out there. The ergonomics are good, and you can quickly get to it by double-tapping either volume button – although this understandably doesn’t work while media is playing.
Okay, now let’s see what it can do. In broad daylight, the main 50 MP sensor produces very pleasant shots, with a lot of detail and contrast, good dynamic range, and practically zero noise. The images are sharp and do sometimes border on oversharpened, but they tread that line very carefully. White balance can be hit and miss in some scenarios, with things looking slightly colder on camera than in real life. Because the lens used here is pretty wide, the corners can get a tad soft sometimes.
As usual, we captured all images with HDR set to Auto and the AI scene recognition off. If you want mind-bending contrast and colors that amp up the saturation level to 11, then by all means, turn this on. We don’t, so we didn’t.
The ultrawide sadly misses on autofocus which means it’s not capable of macro shots. Still, it’s good for its main purpose. For an ultrawide, the detail levels in daytime shots are good, and while there is some noise creeping in, it’s handled well, and you do get a lot of detail. Contrast and dynamic range are good without being either amazing or too much. If you pixel peep very carefully you might notice some slight purple fringing around the corners, though. Colors aren’t overly saturated, which sometimes makes them look dull. See, this is why practically every phone maker out there pumps up the saturation – it simply looks better on screen.
The 2x zoom shots from the dedicated telephoto shooter come out very good during the day, with ample amounts of detail, just the right amount of sharpening, good contrast and dynamic range. There is some visible noise, but reducing that would have probably taken away some of the detail too, so this is the compromise we get. Again the colors can be dull in some shots, and white balance hasn’t been exactly on point every single time either.
When the light goes down, the main camera impresses, with plenty of detail and sharpness, good color saturation, and good dynamic range. Depending on ambient lighting conditions, while shooting in Auto mode, you may get a quick ‘partial’ automatic Night Mode, and you’ll notice because if this triggers, then the shot takes marginally more to capture. It’s still not too slow for most scenes, we’d wager.
Switch to the manual Night Mode, and that’s among the fastest we’ve seen recently, with under two seconds per capture in all but the darkest conditions. Then it’s an extra 1-2 seconds for processing, during which time you can’t capture another image but can safely move your phone (no need to stand still anymore).
The Night Mode images are absolutely stunning, among the best Night Mode shots we’ve ever seen. Compared to the Auto mode shots, they’re brighter, have much-improved exposure, bring in more detail in the darker areas and restore highlights from the brighter ones to degrees that left us very impressed. Sometimes there’s even an extra boost in saturation too, and the Night Mode images are also much sharper. While some may disagree and even feel like they’re a bit too sharp, we’d say they are safely near that line, not having crossed it.
The ultrawide struggles at night, as do most. The shots it captures have nice colors and good contrast, but they are noisy, all of the highlights are usually blown, and detail levels are lacking. You can still make out what’s in these, so this definitely isn’t among the worst ultrawides for nighttime capture, but it’s definitely not among the best either.
Turn on Night Mode, however, and things improve significantly, although you will need to spend a few seconds waiting for it to do its thing while keeping the phone still. It’s worth it, however, since this results in images that are much better exposed, brighter, less noisy, and with improved color saturation. Highlights are restored too, though to nowhere near the same extent as for the main cam. So when possible, if you need to use the ultrawide at night, go for Night Mode – or just use the main camera, as even with Night Mode, the ultrawide’s shots are not on par with those from the main sensor.
The 2x zoom photos at night are digitally zoomed from the main camera, and predictably these aren’t great as a consequence. They’re not exactly bad either, so if you really have to zoom with the camera and can’t zoom with your feet, as they say, then these shots are generally usable.
If you go with Night Mode for 2x zoom shots at night, you generally get results cropped from the main sensor through the ‘magic’ of digital zoom, but not always. Weirdly enough, sometimes (but rarely), the actual telephoto lens is being used, and you’ll know when this happens by looking at the results – they’re sharper, brighter, and more colorful, but still far from great. They also have fewer blown highlights remaining. And yet – this is the one camera for which we generally preferred the Auto mode shots to the Night Mode ones. Night Mode on these zoomed images has a tendency to go overboard, turning everything into an oil painting.
Selfies are handled either by the two identical cameras embedded via hole-punch in both the inner and outer screens, or you can even use the main camera array for selfies if the phone is opened – in that case, you’ll see the preview on the outer display, and this is, unfortunately, the only way to use that when the phone is opened. Selfies captured with the rear camera are as good as any other shots taken with it – see above for details.
If you use the ‘dedicated’ selfie snappers, the results are identical between them because the hardware is too. So, in this scenario, you get nice looking shots during the day, with accurate colors, great contrast and dynamic range, but average detail levels and not amazing sharpness.
Portrait mode selfies come out with decently looking blur and adequate subject separation. At night, things go downhill if there aren’t many light sources around you and you don’t use the screen flash function – which you should if you can, it greatly improves the quality of how your face looks, at the expense of lower background detail and more background noise. Then again, the alternative is having noise everywhere if you don’t use the screen flash. Of course, the best quality selfies will come from the main camera (with or without flash), but we wanted you to see what you can expect from the dedicated shooters, too.
Overall, the Find N does deliver a flagship camera experience, but aside from the main sensor, not really quite on par with the best of the best.
Thanks to its unique assortment of traits, we are tempted to label the Oppo Find N the best foldable smartphone yet, but we can’t actually do that without mentioning some notable caveats, so let’s start with those. Maybe you need a stylus for your foldable device – it is, after all, a tiny tablet when opened – but that’s not doable here. Or perhaps you’d like your foldable to have an official water ingress protection rating. Tough luck with that, too.
If you can live without those things, then the Find N is truly unique and perhaps the first-ever foldable that feels, for lack of a better word, normal. There’s still an adjustment period when you come from a slab-type handset, but much less than for other foldables, and the main thing that will probably always be with you is its heft when closed – both in terms of weight but also chunkiness.
Those aspects aside, even though this is Oppo’s first foldable, it’s worlds apart from what was Samsung’s first try in the space a few years ago. This definitely does not have a “beta” feel to it; it feels finished, it feels complete, and thus there aren’t really any huge downsides to using it, and a lot of upsides stemming from the screen real estate delivered by the internal panel. The weight is something you get used to, after all, and so is the thickness when closed, because that somehow actually makes handling feel more secure. The slipperiness does try to negate this somewhat but never quite succeeds, thankfully.
To finish with the hardware perspective – the design is great, the hinge is fantastic, the zero-gap closing is a sight to behold, the minimal crease is much appreciated, and a case in the box would have been nice.
On the inside, there’s last year’s top-of-the-line chipset from Qualcomm, but in day-to-day use, it’s impossible to tell this apart from the newer Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. There’s plenty of RAM and storage, and the camera system is almost flagship level – not quite on par with the best of the best, but incredibly close when we’re talking about the main shooter and slightly further off if we’re thinking about the other sensors.
It’s a solid first effort from Oppo, so we’re baffled about its China-only launch. That may, of course, change in the future, and we’re hoping it does, and the Find N will be brought to international markets. But as it is, we think the most accurate way to describe this Chinese model is to say that it’s the best foldable yet, but one you shouldn’t buy if you’re outside China. The numerous software quirks, as well as the connectivity limitations, all covered in depth in this review, are unfortunately impossible to overlook. If you pay top dollar for your phone, everything should just work, and, owing to this being a Chinese model, that’s not the case here.
Still, we very much enjoyed our time with the Find N, and are happy to see Samsung getting some real competition in the foldable space – if only in one market for now. Great competing devices will inevitably also push the Korean company to further innovate, which benefits all of us in the end. We’re hoping to see “zero-gap” hinges in all foldables going forward, and perhaps other companies should experiment with more ‘in-between’ form factors like this one. The Find N’s size is definitely one of its key selling points that’s easy to overlook when reading a spec sheet but impossible to ignore once you hold it.
If, for whatever reason, the Find N forever stays confined to China, we’re hoping Oppo keeps this form factor for its second-gen foldable. We also hope it will finally be a global device; there’s just no reason to prevent most of the world from being able to enjoy what is an outstanding user experience. And, who knows, maybe a stylus and some water ingress protection will make the cut too, alongside the very necessary third party app optimizations that the original understandably lacks, at least right now.