Samsung may be the dominant name in the foldable phone world, especially with the recent reveal of the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4. But it’s not the only player, with Oppo having also entered the fray with the Oppo Find N.
I’ve been a fan of Oppo phones for a while now, with the Find X3 Pro being one of the phones I've used for the longest time before a switch from Android to iPhone, and the Find X5 Pro being a worthy Android flagship. So when I was give the chance to try the Find N, I snapped it up; especially as I’ve become a lot more interested in foldable phones since using the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3.
My haste was a mistake. I’d completely forgotten that the Find N, being a phone not really designed to make it out of China, comes with only the very basic Android features, with no Play Store access or the standard suite of Google apps. In fact, its main and only keyboard option was the Baidu IME keyboard, which is predominantly a Chinese language one full of characters I couldn't even begin to figure out. (I don’t read or speak any version of Chinese.)
While I could painstakingly tap out English words using the keyboard that often tried to trip me up with predictive text, this was hardly ideal. And then the language of the default browser was Chinese too, even though the system language was English. So for a clueless Westerner with limited language skills, the Find N was nearly useless to me.
This was a pity, as the foldable phone has a distinctly different design to the Galaxy Folds and other similar phones with flexible displays. Rather than present a narrow rectangle that folded out into a larger display, the Find N is shorter than my Galaxy Z Fold 3 when closed, but has a wider cover screen, giving it more horizontal space and arguably making it easier to use than the Fold 3’s sometimes cramped cover display.
Folded out, the Find N offers 7.1-inch AMOLED display that is shorter than the Fold 3’s but a little wider, and it’s almost a perfect square even when it’s rotated horizontally.
To me this makes the Find N feel more compact and notepad-like than the book-style Fold 3, which could also be described as being two near-flagship phones stuck together.
I won’t say the Find N has the better design, as when held horizontally the Fold 3 does offer a lot of screen space. But it does show a different take on foldable phone design, throwing other options into the mix than just a copycat Fold aesthetic.
I also really like the overall look of the Find N, with its neat rear camera module, soft matte back and a hinge with a slight indent to help make the phone feel a bit gripper to hold.
But this is all moot if I can’t really use the phone right? Correct. But I found a workaround.
How to add Google Play Store to the Oppo Find N
Now a bit of Google searching may throw up different ways to install the Google Play Store and all its good bits on the Find N. One suggested finding the Play Store in the Oppo app store, but try as I might I found no trace of it.
But the first thing was to go into the Apps section, then App management and check for “Google Play services.” That means the Find N, and indeed other phones that may not have Google services on them by default, have the framework to support the Play Store.
I deduced the next step was to download an APK for the Play Store, Google searching directed me to the Uptodown website, which hosts a range of Android APKs. (It’s also a legit looking site, which lends peace-of-mind.)
But tapping in the URL to the site’s page holding the APK in the Find N’s default browser served me up a load of results in Chinese and a mix of sites I couldn’t make head nor toe of. This was a problem give my aforementioned lack of Chinese language skills.
So I popped back to the Oppo store and searched for Chrome. Thankfully, Google’s browser is avoidable outside of the Play Store and I had it up and running and logged into my Google account in no time. With the language automatically set to U.K. English, I was able to access the legit Uptodown website and download the Play Store APK.
After telling the Find N that I’m happy for it to install apps from the browser, I was able to install the Play Store. And I was in.
Once I’d logged into the Play Store I was greeted by a bounty of familiar apps that I use on a regular basis, from Gmail and Photos to Netflix, Kindle, YouTube and more. With a process that took maybe 15 minutes of Googling and some 5 minutes of action, I’d made the Find N usable for me.
All that’s not to say the Find N is perfect; far from it. A good mix of apps don’t like to play nice with the foldable screen, such as the Kindle app that works perfectly on my Fold 3. Oddly enough, Instagram, an app widely known to suck on tablets and foldables, does actually fill the Find N’s display and seemingly work well.
There’s work to be done here, and I think that using the very skeleton of Android rather than a version adjusted for foldable use rears its ugly head when using Play Store apps.
But the rather lovely display — I’ve long enjoyed Oppo’s color tuning — and the compact design do make the Find N a rather nice foldable phone to use. I won’t recommended you go to the trouble of importing one, as there are too many caveats here.
But if Oppo were to make a U.S. or European version of the Find N, tuned to work well with Google Play apps and services, it could have a really compelling foldable phone on its hands, especially if it manages to trim down some of the bulk.
So while the Galaxy Z Fold 4 has nothing to worry about, and is a likely contender for the top spot of our best foldable phones list, Oppo has shown there’s a heck of a lot of scope for foldable phones to go in a multitude of directions. And in a world where standard phones are just plodding along with mainly dull incremental upgrades, foldables that challenge the status quo are rather exciting.