Samsung is far from the only company making foldable phones. Most Chinese manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon as well. However, since they aren’t releasing those products widely, these obviously tend to get overshadowed by the global distribution muscle of Samsung. Having had a chance to try out some of those foldable phones recently, I’m asking Samsung to keep a close eye on Oppo’s foldable smartphone lineup.
Our favorite Korean manufacturer is going to launch the fifth-generation of the Galaxy Z Fold series this year but let’s take a step back for a minute. The first Galaxy Fold had a bit of a misstep out of the gate but Samsung turned things around quickly and relaunched it. By the third iteration, it had introduced the Galaxy Z Fold 3 with an IP rating, something that no other foldable phone offered.
Samsung’s strength in the foldable segment is undeniable. The company has made water-resistant S Pen compatible foldable phones that are durable enough to work as your daily driver. It’s providing best-in-class software support and is now sending out updates at an incredible pace. Samsung’s partnership with Google has also led to increased software optimization and a better user experience for services like Google Meet, which is great for those who want to take meetings on the go.
It’s great but still far from perfect. The crease on its foldables could do with being less prominent. It’s also about time that the Galaxy Z Fold series had an integrated slot for the S Pen. While Samsung has kept the screen sizes and dimensions fairly similar over the past few years, perhaps it should consider expanding the line to provide more options.
I had the opportunity to try out the Oppo Find N2 at MWC 2023 in Barcelona. It’s a book-style foldable like the Galaxy Z Fold but smaller and more pocket friendly. The more compact size makes it so much easier to use the cover display one-handed compared to the finger gymnastics I have to do on the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s cover display. The smaller footprint also makes it more comfortable to use when unfolded and it’s pocket friendly too.
The crease has also been hidden very well though that also might be because the Find N2 doesn’t have an IP rating so Oppo is able to use components that Samsung can’t. There are reports that Samsung is going to use a new hinge on the Galaxy Z Fold 5 that will not only make the phone slimmer but also reduce the visibility of the crease. That’s something I’m keeping my fingers crossed for.
This is something that really took us by surprise. My colleague Adnan was particularly impressed, saying that if Samsung made something like this he would buy it instantly. He has been using Galaxy Z Flip phones instead of the Z Fold since he doesn’t like big and bulky phones as his personal device, and a more compact version of the Z Fold would undoubtedly make him switch.
The Oppo Find N2 is far from a perfect device. It’s missing the certain je ne sais quoi that the Galaxy Z Fold series has. It’s doesn’t feel as premium, as refined, sleek, and robust as Samsung’s device. The software isn’t as optimized and it becomes clear how Samsung’s collaboration with Google helps improve the user experience on its foldables. Oppo’s rather questionable decision to put a synthetic leather material on the back on one of the variants reminded me of Galaxy Note phones from almost a decade ago. Surely there’s no place for such materials in 2023.
Overall, I’d say that the idea that Oppo is executing with the Find N2 is good and we’ll only see the company improve it further in the subsequent iterations. It’s big but not too big to be uncomfortable, easy to use one-handed, compact, and very portable. It reminded us of the concepts that we tried at Samsung Display’s MWC booth.
Samsung could do all of this and do it very well. The only question is whether it will or will it let Oppo users have all the fun?