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Forget the Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X: Oppo Has the Near-Perfect Foldable

Credit: Lets Go Digital

(Image credit: Lets Go Digital)

The Huawei Mate X seems like the almost-perfect foldable phone, but its sidebar camera design limits the format. This new Oppo foldable design avoids that drawback completely, thanks to a pop-up camera.

Let’s take a look at the Huawei’s foldable back.

The Huawei Mate X has a camera sidebar. Credit: Tom's Guide

(Image credit: The Huawei Mate X has a camera sidebar. Credit: Tom's Guide )

The back is not clean. The Mate X’s three-sensor camera package is set on a protruding side bar that serves both as a main camera and a selfie camera. This bar cuts the main display’s size, making it almost a square aspect ratio. It also may make it uncomfortable to hold or set on a table — although some argue that the bar helps with grip and angles the tablet while working on a table, which can be quite convenient.

MORE: Galaxy Fold Teardown Reveals Glaring Design Flaws

Back in February — at Mobile World Congress 2019 in Barcelona, Spain — Oppo showed a prototype for a foldable. It was pretty much like Huawei’s. Back then, Oppo’s CEO said that he was kind of disappointed. Presumably, that meant that the company was working on something else, which may be this.

Credit: Lets Go Digital

(Image credit: Lets Go Digital)

Instead of relying on a sidebar on the back of the phone, this patent filed on October 2018 with the World Intellectual Property Office shows the cameras on a pop-up module.

This setup will give this foldable a completely flat back, hiding the camera completely unless the user decides to activate it. The final aspect ratio looks closer to 4:3 than the square format of the Mate X.

The patent shows 42 full color 3D renders, which probably means that this is a real product and not just a pie-in-the-sky patent. That idea is reinforced by the fact that Oppo has plenty of experience with pop-up cameras, including its latest fancy phone, the Oppo Reno.

There are no details about when — if at all — the Oppo pop-up foldable will show up on store shelves. At this point, it’s just a prototype and a very detailed patent.

On the other hand, perhaps it would be better for Oppo to wait and release a foldable with a camera hidden under the display and avoid mechanical devices altogether. Oppo has shown that it has that technology working already and, with Huawei and the Galaxy Fold against the ropes, there must not be a lot of rush to bring foldables phones to the market.

Jesus Diaz

Jesus Diaz founded the new Sploid for Gawker Media after seven years working at Gizmodo, where he helmed the lost-in-a-bar iPhone 4 story and wrote old angry man rants, among other things. He's a creative director, screenwriter, and producer at The Magic Sauce, and currently writes for Fast Company and Tom's Guide.