Oppo Find N3 Flip Review: Better cameras don’t make up for a squandered cover display


The Oppo Find N3 Flip hit the market earlier this year, boasting an impressive cover display that initially set the bar high. However, in a fast-paced tech landscape, it faces competition from newer releases like the Motorola Razr+ and Galaxy Z Flip 5. While the cover display hasn't seen significant upgrades, Oppo has made a substantial improvement in the camera department.

At first glance, the Oppo Find N3 Flip appears as a sleeker iteration of its predecessor, the Find N2 Flip—no surprise, considering the short six-month gap between their launches. Consequently, much of our evaluation draws from our earlier review of the Find N2 Flip.

Let's delve into the hardware. The Oppo Find N3 Flip continues the tradition of stellar foldable hardware established by Oppo over the past couple of years. The "Flexion" hinge stands out for its strength, leaving the display nearly crease-free. In contrast to the creaky Motorola Razr+ hinge and the slightly too-tight Galaxy Z Fold 5 hinge, Oppo's engineering shines.

However, when folded, the device feels a tad thick, a bit chunky. While not a dealbreaker, this characteristic led me to resist using a case, conflicting with the otherwise sleek feel of the glass build. Additionally, the camera module's size might be a concern for some users.

The glass on the Oppo Find N3 Flip, regardless of color, has a knack for attracting fingerprints. During my hands-on experience back in August, where I captured some of the images for this review, fingerprints became glaringly obvious within moments of handling the device. The grey/black model, in particular, accentuated this issue. Not only did the fingerprints stand out, but the accumulated oils also gave the hardware a slightly unpleasant feel, necessitating frequent cleaning. While it exudes a premium look and feel, it's a short-lived experience, lasting only a few minutes at a time.

Upon unfolding the device, you're greeted by a 6.8-inch display. It shares similarities with other foldable flip phones, being slightly too tall, but Oppo's aspect ratio offers a bit more width. Notably, Oppo addressed the problem of polarized sunglasses, a common issue with other flip phones, in its revamped display. This improvement adds to the device's appeal, overcoming a hurdle faced by many in the foldable phone arena.

In the software realm, the Oppo Find N3 Flip is powered by ColorOS 13, and it's, well, alright. Personally, I'm not a big fan of Oppo's (and now OnePlus') user interface—it feels a bit cluttered and disorganized, but it gets the job done. (For a deeper dive into the software, check out our Find N2 Flip review.) Performance, similar to the Find N2 Flip, remains commendable and has even seen a slight boost with the introduction of the newer MediaTek 9200 chip.

Moving on to battery life, it's a strong suit. The 4,300 mAh battery, while omitting wireless charging, delivers exceptional longevity. This device easily powers through a full day, outlasting competitors like the Motorola Razr+ and Galaxy Z Flip 5, which often require a mid-day charge.

Now, let's zero in on the three major changes.

First on the list is the cover display. Physically, it remains the same, sporting a 6.8-inch panel positioned vertically on the outside of the device. Software updates have enhanced the experience, introducing new widgets on the main page and the ability to run full apps. This addresses a previous pain point with the Find N2 Flip's display, a welcomed improvement.

However, here's the catch—you can't run every app on the external display.

Oppo has a curated list of approved apps compatible with the cover display on the Oppo Find N3 Flip. This includes popular apps like Google Maps, Messages, Twitter/X, Reddit, YouTube, Gmail, Telegram, and more. While this adds significant utility, it's a bit frustrating that users are restricted to running only the approved apps. Samsung has a similarly limited list for the Flip 5, but it offers an official way to run any app you desire. Unfortunately, no such option currently exists for the Find N3 Flip's cover display.

It feels bizarre, but apps generally run really well out there!

I can't help but see this as a missed opportunity.

Oppo's outer display is essentially a scaled-down version of a regular smartphone display. Logically, most apps should run seamlessly on it, and based on the approved list from Oppo, they do. While there might be exceptions, denying buyers the freedom to choose diminishes the utility and, frankly, the enjoyment of the device.

In my experience with the Find N3 Flip, I've barely utilized the outer display because I can't engage in the activities I actually want to do. Sure, it's handy for checking the weather or glancing at notifications without unfolding the device, but you know what's equally adept at these tasks? The smartwatch on my wrist. The limitations on app choice significantly dampen the potential of the outer display, leaving me questioning its true value in day-to-day use.

A noteworthy addition borrowed from OnePlus devices is now featured on the Oppo Find N3 Flip—the Alert Slider positioned along its side, facilitating seamless switching between ringer modes. While I often find this feature of limited use on conventional slab phones, its utility takes on a new dimension on the Flip. It allows me to adjust settings without the need to unfold the device or concern myself with volume orientation.

Now, let's delve into the substantial improvement that Oppo has introduced—the cameras.

The Oppo Find N3 Flip breaks away from the norm by featuring not two but three cameras on board. This impressive camera setup includes a primary 50 MP camera, a secondary 48 MP ultrawide camera, and a tertiary 32 MP telephoto camera—a notable addition that has been absent in many flip phone foldables. It's important to note that while the telephoto performance may not be the absolute best, with some color variation between the main and tele lenses and supporting only 2x optical zoom, it still marks a significant improvement within this unique form factor.

The camera system on the Oppo Find N3 Flip impresses as a whole. Captured shots are sharp and clear, without the sense of compromise often associated with fitting cameras into a flip phone design. Having experienced the Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Motorola Razr+ earlier this year, the Find N3 Flip's camera performance feels like a breath of fresh air. However, there's a longing for it to be complemented by improved software and a more capable cover display.

Final Thoughts

To me, the Oppo Find N3 Flip seems like what the Find N2 Flip should have been from the start. The mere six-month gap between launches makes it feel less like a proper sequel and more like a missed opportunity, especially for those who invested in the Find N2 Flip. (Thankfully, Oppo has confirmed that the older device will receive the new cover display features.)

Nevertheless, the Find N3 Flip stands as a robust foldable option. It boasts the best battery life and the best cameras among the "big three," even though its cover display lags behind the competition at this juncture.

Unfortunately, the Oppo Find N3 Flip isn't available in the U.S. market, and there's no indication of a OnePlus variant hitting the shelves either. In markets where it is available, the Find N3 Flip is certainly worth considering if you're in the market for a solid foldable device.