Samsung could learn a thing or three from Oppo’s latest foldable smartphone

When it comes to buying a foldable smartphone, your options are limited. It is very limited.

Be it the latest Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 or Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4, a good part of the market is dominated by Samsung. Then there are players like Oppo, Xiaomi and Huawei, well known in France, but all offering foldable smartphones… in China. Still, to fully understand the foldable smartphone landscape, it’s always helpful to familiarize yourself with what each manufacturer has to offer, including Oppo’s latest Find N2.

In fact, there are three aspects of Oppo’s latest foldable phone that I wish Samsung had adopted after testing the device over the past week. After all, competition drives innovation.

It is impossible to make a folding screen without wrinkles

June Wan/ZDNET

One of the long-standing limitations of Samsung devices is the in-screen crease, a visual blemish that runs down the middle of the main screen and constantly reminds you of how fragile bendable glass can be.

While I’ve forgiven the Galaxy Fold’s first-generation screen aesthetic, which was a first-generation foldable device, Samsung will release a fifth-generation Z Fold this year — and sadly, I don’t expect anything different.

It’s all the more disappointing as brands like Oppo and Motorola have figured out how to iron out the foldable display wrinkle. The solution is to fold the screen in a teardrop shape in the center, which greatly reduces the pressure on the screen when folded (see image below). Oppo is integrating this technology into the hinge of the Find N2 from what I can see and feel.

So far, it appears that the only compromise with this style of movement is the loss of certified water and dust resistance. But Oppo does an interesting job of keeping the two halves of the phone completely closed when the phone is folded, something Samsung has yet to achieve for the Z Fold.

Oppo Find N's Flexion Hinge system.


Foldable smartphones and tablets don’t have to be big

June Wan/ZDNET

The importance of the smartphone-to-tablet form factor for professionals is hard to overestimate. And this is especially true for workflow and mobile use cases. But if there’s one thing I’m not the biggest fan of, it’s how the outer screens of smartphones shrink to get a squarer inner screen. This design feels like you’re holding a TV remote when using an external display. While it helps with grip, items at the top of the screen are difficult to reach with one hand, and typing on the keyboard can be difficult.

It makes more sense to have a wider aspect ratio on the front screen, as on the Oppo Find N2. Ideally, the external screen should match the size and aspect ratio of a traditional smartphone. This means wider and shorter dimensions so that apps are presented the way developers intended, the user interface never stretches, and the keyboard is actually wide enough to type comfortably.

The Oppo Find N2 only has a 5.5-inch screen when folded. It’s wider than most phones I’ve tested, but it’s great for answering emails and messages, it’s easy to slip into your pocket, and you can actually open it with one hand (as seen in the GIF below). However, the internal screen is 7.1 inches, so you don’t compromise on the foldable tablet aspect.

Try the opposite of Application Continuity

June Wan/ZDNET

One of the features I like about the Oppo Find N2 is its opposite approach to Samsung’s App Continuity. For starters, just like on the Z Fold 4, when an app or browser is open on the Find N2’s external display, content expands on the internal display when you turn the device on.

Oppo goes a step further by allowing users to continue viewing the app by swiping up after closing the smartphone, thinking of users who want to do the opposite (switch from the internal screen to the external screen).

I find this slim feature especially useful when browsing the web on the subway and want to shrink down to a smaller and smaller size. I’ve also used it to easily transition to a more normal-sized device for taking phone calls and holding it close to my ear. Now it’s up to Samsung to do the same.

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