Oppo Find N2 Flip review: Flipping the cards in a game of foldables
Overview, design, UI, useability
Note: This article was first published as a preview on 9th March 2023, and is now updated as a full review of the Oppo Find N2 Flip.
For old times' sake?
Do you wish the good times would come back again?
That's a broad, yet oddly specific statement to these times, and one that Chinese phone makers would likely have plenty to say about.
Since the U.S. sanctions kicked in in 2019, Chinese smartphone companies appear to be very cautious with the premium or flagship phones launched outside of their home market. What were once things like periscope zoom cameras, high-megapixel ultra-wides, and homegrown components for dedicated computing tasks have been conspicuously missing from all but the very highest-end Chinese handsets. It’s almost as if they’re wary of treading on tails by having a piece of tech inside that might be taken the wrong way...
But this review isn't about what's right or wrong. This review is about Oppo and the company doing everything they can to make a foldable smartphone good enough to take on the growing number of foldable phone users worldwide.
Like its main rivals, the Oppo N2 Flip shares many commonalities with other clamshell-type foldables, so if you want the hard details on what Oppo offers, you can check out our initial launch coverage here, or the table below.
|Oppo Find N2 Flip
Flipping the pages of foldable phone history
Flip phones were once considered the epitome of 'high SES', and its pioneer was Motorola’s StarTAC, if you asked most phone enthusiasts of the past.
Its launch price of US$1,000 was not a small sum in 1996, considering that money had the same buying power as ~US$1,938 in today's currency (based on the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics's inflation calculator). Owning one immediately made you the talk of the town.
In 2003, an iconic follow-on came in the form of the Motorola RAZR (our review here). But, alas, there was not to be a third act: in 2007, the iPhone and subsequent generations of Android devices, together with their touchscreens and app stores, all but put paid to the future of "small screen-plus-T9 keyboard" form factors. Since then, only the Koreans have attempted to shoehorn Android into devices like the Galaxy Folder and LG Wine Smart (which this writer still owns.)
Just before the modern foldable iterations, LG made a valiant attempt to create “dual-screen” cases that would pair with its Android smartphones, but their popularity has remained tepid. The market cried out for more: a single foldable display without gaps between screens.
Consider the abovementioned theory of the cautious Chinese phone maker and the lead the Korean juggernaut has built up outside of China. Now, we have China-only foldable devices from Xiaomi, Huawei, Honor, Vivo, and even Oppo itself. Yet, the Oppo Find N2 Flip is only the third folding-screen device available officially outside China with native Google Mobile Services, if you're not counting on the Royole FlexPai devices and the Honor Magic Vs coming to Singapore.
Oppo's take on a foldable phone
Our Oppo Find N2 Flip review unit has come to us in a sandstone colourway the company termed “Astral Black”.
On the outside, the Find N2 Flip's 3.26-inch AMOLED touchscreen is the first thing to catch your eye (not only because of what you can do with it, but more on that later.)
Inside, a 6.8-inch E6 AMOLED panel packing FHD+ resolution (2,520 x 1,080 pixels), with a noticeable but inoffensive crease, refreshes at 120Hz, and can handle HDR10+. The grunt work of TikTok scrolling and Reddit browsing is borne by a MediaTek Dimensity 9000+ processor, which shuffles apps around in ColorOS 13, based on Android 13.
The cameras are a 50MP main with an 8MP ultrawide (you probably have comments by now, as we do) and a 32MP punch-hole selfie shooter. You get a 67W SuperVOOC charger in the box (despite the phone's 44W wired fast charging capability) and a pair of case halves made of hard clear acrylic.
Playing the long (screen) game
Holding the Oppo Find N2 Flip against the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 is akin to a study of their external design language from two distinct approaches. The Korean rival integrates both the camera and outer display into a sleek black upper strip, while the Find N2 Flip’s outer display is front-and-centre. Not only is Oppo's version larger than Samsung’s, but the use of a portrait display also confers some advantages.
Since we’re conditioned to portrait displays, the Find N2 Flip gives the momentary impression to the uninitiated that this is “half a phone”; a fully working mini-phone, as it were.
Similarly, messages and graphics are displayed far more naturally than the Z Flip4's horizontal screen. Oppo's phone does especially well with wallpapers, and it’s also excellent as a camera viewfinder, simply because we’re habituated to selfies being taken in portrait, rather than landscape.
Which phone has the advantage here? If flip foldables are all about the idea of “half a phone” - then, they'd command attention when at a café (or classroom) table next to “normie” (Internet slang for "normal"), bar-type mobiles.
If I wanted a device I could flaunt, I’d personally go for the Find N2 Flip. There’s just something that makes the phone equally disconcerting and mildly amusing about having a portrait “mini-phone” screen next to two relatively large camera lenses.
Shock and awe value aside, another advantage of the Find N2 Flip is that it folds without a gap, thanks to Oppo’s so-called New Generation Flexion Hinge.
If you recall, the Galaxy Z Flip4 has a gap near its hinge -- and because some people associate foldables with Samsung and are therefore likely familiar with this drawback -- the Oppo’s "gapless" fold manages to make it a victim of its own success. When the phone is closed, it resembles a makeup case at certain angles (especially in the Moonlit Purple colourway.)
How Samsung strikes a critical return blow to Oppo's take is the IPX8-rated water resistance on the Z Flip4. The Find N2 Flip is apparently only splashproof, and therefore less suitable for pool shenanigans (for selfies, or playtime with the kids).
Also, current foldables aren’t great with dust and dirt. They will probably require some TLC at the end of each day; more so if you have linty bags or pockets. That's something both brands have yet to figure out with their flippy mobiles.
Also, don’t ever try to open foldable flip phones like Find N2 Flip with one hand. You either risk ruining your manicure, or having your fingernails possibly making a nice deep scratch in the flexible display.
More flex, more depth
An apparent advantage of Oppo’s Flexion Hinge comes from the idea that since the inner display is pushed below the depth of the phone's shell when closed. Its bend radius can be larger compared to the competition. This has obvious implications for both display lifespan and the all-important crease when the phone is opened.
The "decreased crease" is indeed not obvious even when the display is active. This is helped by the 1600-nit brightness of the 6.8-inch FHD+ resolution panel. The irony here is it's a Samsung-manufactured panel, using its latest-generation E6 AMOLED material on LTPO backplane circuitry. Each successive material iteration brings more brightness with a reduction in power consumption.
We certainly had no issues viewing the inner and outer displays indoors and in the bright morning sunlight. It helps that the display also appeared to have an anti-reflective coating.
Perhaps the definitive weakness of the Find N2 Flip’s is the speaker setup. It's thankfully stereo, but calling it as such conceals deeper flaws to the casual buyer. The audio quality is at best serviceable.
Even at high volumes, our music and movie audio lacked meaningful definitions in the higher and lower frequency bands. For us, these speakers should just be left to speakerphone calls.
ColorOS 13 - reaching its steady-state
The Find N2 Flip runs ColorOS 13 (its proprietary Android 13 reskin) with nothing really new to recent users of Oppo, Realme, or even OnePlus phones. Most UI/UX flaws, like random Capitalisation For Some menu Options but Not For others, have been ironed out. ColorOS and its “variants” have reached a level of design maturity that isn’t likely to cause any complaints.
For the outer display, you can expect the usual selection of clocks, custom text and fonts, and even an interactive digital pet with five different animals, but here's a “mini-phone” use case that could be a deal-sealer for some: According to an XDA thread, CoverScreen OS, which was originally developed for Galaxy Z Flip3 and Flip4 Cover Screens, now boasts support for the Find N2 Flip as well. Imagine turning the outer display into a whole phone unto itself with a proper app launcher, and full apps running in the cover screen, with access to widgets, toggles and media playback!
Unfortunately, we had to hand the phone back a couple of days after the app was first released, and it was likely still in the early stages of public release at the time, so we could not get it to start properly. Thus, we’ll have to leave you to test this one out for yourself.
The Find N2 Flip's fingerprint sensor is built into the power button; we didn’t find its placement very natural or nifty when the phone was unfolded. The thin build doesn't quite work when you grasp the phone with one hand while trying to unfold it with the other, since the unlocking finger might land in the wrong place. What is very cool, however, is that face unlock works even with the phone folded, using the main cameras!