Oppo Find N3 Flip Review: This Clamshell-Style Phone Is Playing to Win
The Find N3 Flip brings welcome upgrades like a more useful cover screen, an IP rating for splash-resistance and a telephoto camera.
Updated Oct. 12, 2023 7:00 a.m. PT
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Sareena DayaramSenior Editor
Sareena is a senior editor for CNET covering the mobile beat including device reviews. She is a seasoned multimedia journalist with more than a decade's worth of experience producing stories for television and digital publications across Asia's financial capitals including Singapore, Hong Kong, and Mumbai. Prior to CNET, Sareena worked at CNN as a news writer and Reuters as a producer.
Cover screen supports Google Calendar, Gmail and other third-party apps
Addition of a telephoto lens
Improved durability IPX4 rating
Raised edges of cover screen
No wireless charging
The Oppo Find N3 Flip has a 3.26-inch vertical cover display, similar to the one on last year's Find N2 Flip. Despite rivals such as Samsung and Motorola supersizing their cover screens, Oppo's doubled down on its design with major upgrades to the cover screen's software that make this new flip phone significantly more useful. I tested the Find N3 Flip over six days and found the new screen features helped it hit a sweet spot: It's larger and more useful than a smartwatch, but smaller and less distracting than a normal phone screen.
Apart from the display, the Find N3 Flip has three rear cameras including a telephoto, making it the only flip phone with more than two. It has a capable processor, a new hinge that Oppo says is 35% more durable, fast charging, and an IPX4 rating for the first time against splashes.
After six days of using the new foldable, I'm convinced that the Oppo phone is playing to win. With its refreshed design, the Find N3 Flip has main character energy that's almost necessary in the increasingly competitive foldable phone subcategory. It also represents a big step forward in terms of cover screen experience, which makes the device more useful without needing to open it.
Going beyond that, the Find N3 Flip is a sleek phone backed up by a nearly creaseless inner display, dependable cameras, solid performance, decent battery life, fast charging and improved durability. However, the Find N3 Flip isn't perfect, and as clamshell-style phones stage a comeback, the space has become more crowded and more competitive. Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Motorola's new Razr Plus entered the mix earlier this year, raising the bar for the clamshell-style phone in 2023. Those phones have an edge when it comes to durability, cover screen size, performance and perhaps even availability, especially if you live in the US.
Oppo didn't share pricing or release information at the time I'm writing this. For reference, Oppo's previous Find N2 Flip started at £849 (converts to approximately $1,045 or AU$1,625).
Find N3 Flip design gets busier
According to Oppo, the Find N3 Flip's vertical screen makes space for the phone's three cameras. However, the trade-off is a more cluttered design on the front cover compared to the N2 Flip, which has two small hole-punch camera bumps stacked vertically.
One of the most significant changes is the new circular camera bump, which Oppo calls the "cosmos ring." It reminds me of the one found on the Huawei Pocket S released in late 2022.
Another new feature is the alert slider, a hardware switch popularized by OnePlus (a subsidiary of Oppo), which makes it easy to toggle between ring, silent and vibrate modes. I found myself using this frequently, and I'm glad Oppo made this change.
The Find N3's edges are curved, compared to the boxy sides of the Find N2 Flip. The N3 also gets a fresh color palette of black, light pink and gold. Oppo sent me the light pink shade, which looks subtle and elegant.
The Find N3 Flip throws around a lot of brand names, between the Hasselblad name on the camera bump and its own Oppo name emblazoned on the back. All this branding makes the design look a little more busy.
Unfortunately, Oppo kept the raised cover screen. When I slide my finger across it, I can feel the screen's edges, which undermines the elegance of an otherwise impressive design. It was an issue as well on the Find N2 Flip.
It's also worth mentioning that the N3 Flip's IPX4 rating for splash-resistance is lower than the Razr Plus and the Galaxy Z Flip 5. The rating means it's splash-resistant and can withstand some rain or even a spilled drink. But it doesn't have any dust-resistance. By comparison, the Motorola Razr Plus has an IP52 rating, which means it also offers protection against splashes and dust ingress. The Galaxy Z Flip 5 has an IPX8 rating, which allows for submersion in water but doesn't include a dust-resistance rating.
The Find N3 Flip's cover screen is more useful
I find the Find N3 Flip's new cover screen software simple and intuitive. I swipe up for notifications, swipe down for the controls shade and swipe left to serve up more cover screen apps.
The cover screen now supports popular apps such as Gmail, YouTube, Google Calendar, Reddit, Spotify and Google Maps. You can enable this using the Labs feature in the Settings app. This is a big upgrade as last year's Find N2 Flip couldn't run any third-party apps on the cover screen, which restricted its usability. However, Oppo said the Find N2 Flip will eventually receive a software update that will allow it to run the same apps on its cover screen.
It was a seamless experience when using apps such as Calendar, Keep, Google Maps and Gmail on the cover screen, then unfolding to use them on the larger main screen. I could continue right from where I left off, and I was more productive for it.
When I moved in the other direction, however, the opposite was true. When I ran an app on the inner screen and folded the phone closed, the cover screen would either turn off or stay on for a few seconds before promptly going dark, depending on which settings I chose. As such, I had no choice but to load whatever app I'd been running on the inner screen a second time from the cover screen, significantly disrupting my flow.
Of the foldable flip phones out there, none truly have a continuous experience going from the inner screen to the cover. Motorola's Razr Plus comes the closest by including an icon on the cover screen that you tap to pick up where you left off. I still hope Oppo adds app and software continuity both ways for future versions of the phone.
Additionally, the cover screen lacks a full keyboard. That means I can't type emails from the cover screen, like you can on the Razr Plus and Galaxy Z Flip 5. I think that's a forgivable omission since Oppo's vertical cover screen design lacks the space for a full keyboard -- the display is too narrow to type coherent sentences. However, I'd welcome the addition of a speech-to-text feature on the Gmail app and others.
The Find N3 Flip's inner display, crease, hinge
When I first took a glance at the 6.8-inch AMOLED inside screen, I couldn't see the crease. But I eventually spotted it in a bright environment by maneuvering the phone at certain angles. When I used the phone for activities like watching videos, perusing emails or scrolling through news feeds, it was hardly noticeable and didn't undermine my experience.
The inner display, which measures 75.78 millimeters (2.98 inches) wide, is wider than competing flip phones. While this width makes it trickier to use one-handed, it helps the Find N3 Flip offer a similar experience to a standard bar phone. It serves us a pleasant experience reading the news, scrolling through social media and watching videos. Oppo has also taken advantage of the folding design with respect to the camera app, allowing you to use the bottom half as a tripod of sorts.
The Find N3 Flip has four cameras
Oppo didn't just concentrate on the cover screen software and hinge, it also gave its camera module an upgrade. The Find N3 Flip has a 50-megapixel main camera, a 48-megapixel ultrawide camera and a new 32-megapixel telephoto camera. The ultrawide camera is a higher-resolution model than the one on the N2 Flip, and it adds a new telephoto lens.
Overall, the cameras took rich and sharp images, especially in bright lighting environments. The Find 3 Flip offers a versatile range of photos thanks to the different camera types, as well as support for macro photos.
Sometimes however, the cameras struggled in trickier lighting environments and images turned out more fuzzy and shadowy than in real life. I didn't have a Galaxy Z Flip 5 on hand, but I was able to compare it with images from 2021's iPhone 13 Pro Max, and in general I preferred the photos taken with Apple's device. It shows once again that flip phones tend to have less-than-stellar cameras compared to their slab counterparts. This is the trade-off of using a phone with a flip phone design, which has its own physical and engineering limitations.
Surprisingly, this phone made selfies (or "we"-fies) my favorite type of photo to take. I didn't even need to open the phone for the selfie below since the cover screen acts as a viewfinder for the rear camera. I could have also angled the phone in an open position (Oppo dubs this "FlexForm") if there was a surface nearby to place the phone one, and capture photos by using my hand to trigger the shutter. And it's easy to get everyone in a group shot to fit within the frame (and I could see it) because I can use the ultrawide rear camera.
Below are a few more images from the Find N3 Flip.
The Find N3 Flip's battery and performance
The Find N3 Flip's 4,000-mAh battery had enough juice on a single charge to last me a full day of moderate use. I made a few calls, read some emails, watched a couple of YouTube videos, browsed the internet and shared my hotspot. Even when the battery eventually ran out, recharging it was relatively quick work, thanks in part to that 44-watt power adapter that came in the box. Within 30 minutes, the Find N3 Flip was more than halfway charged (58%) and within an hour, the battery was fully recharged.
I also performed a battery endurance test, where I watched YouTube videos, scrolled social media and jumped on a video call within a span of 45 minutes. In that time, the battery dropped from 100% to 89%. By comparison, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 dropped 10% in the same test, while the Motorola Razr Plus' battery dropped only 7%.
The Find N3 Flip runs on a Mediatek Dimensity 9200 chipset. In my time with the Find N3 Flip, it handled daily tasks smoothly, including light gaming, watching videos and scrolling through my news feeds. But in performance tests the Galaxy Z Flip 5's Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chip and the Motorola Razr Plus' Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 from last year beat it in the performance tests below.
Final thoughts: Should you buy the Find N3 Flip?
The Find N3 Flip is a solid flip phone -- you can't really go wrong with its three dependable cameras, fast charging, solid performance and that unique cover screen, which is increasingly becoming more usable. Perhaps, if you absolutely craved the only flip phone with a vertical cover screen I could recommend buying this phone, as it stands out through its unique design. But since the phone doesn't have a price just yet, it's hard to say whether it's a good buy in terms of value. Oppo also currently has no plans to sell this phone in the US, though a wide international release is expected in Asia and Europe, among other continents.
The Find N3 Flip has formidable competitors in the form of the Galaxy Z Flip 5 and the Motorola Razr. Both phone makers overhauled the designs for the better. Each of them have cover screens that take up nearly the entire front half of the phone's front panel, making Find N3's Flip's cover screen feel small and less practical by comparison.
Yet the Oppo Find N3 Flip does have plenty of style to stand out, and a telephoto camera that we don't typically find in flip phones. Depending on the phone's eventual price, its unique features might help it find a spot in the increasingly crowded space of clamshell foldable phones.
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Oppo Find N3 Flip specs vs. Motorola Razr Plus vs. Oppo Find N2 Flip vs. Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5