OnePlus will finally enter the folding phone market very soon and in doing so will be embracing their company Tag line “Never Settle”.
The phone will be launched alongside OnePlus’s sister company OPPO which has had a presence in both the book-style foldables and clamshell style fold for a few years. During this time the now-joined companies have accumulated many patents regarding folding phones and are merging this with the fast smooth experience and burdenless design that onePlus has always been associated with.
The teams behind the phone have had a clear focus on one of the things that make a folding phone great and that is a smooth and strong hinge with as minimal a crease as possible. Over the past few years, OPPO has been fine-tuning this design in the form of the Find N devices which have never officially made it out of the eastern markets.
During this time OPPO accumulated over 600 patents specifically in hinge design. This has been identified as a key differentiator between foldable phones and OPPO has shown good form as they have been doing the no-gap hinge style design for 2 years now. One of the claims being made for the new phone is that the hinge will close tight enough to be supported by a single sheet of paper between the closed screens. I have tried this with my Pixel Fold and it didn’t go well with my phone letting the paper slip out in a matter of seconds!
So when the OnePlus foldable was being developed they didn’t rest on their laurels and they have added another 35 patents to the already very large list specifically for the hinges. These patents are being used to allow a reduction in both the size and weight of the hinge components whilst also making them stronger. The OnePlus hinge is purportedly 37% smaller than the previous device the Find N2. All this work on the hinge and reworking it has allowed the new foldable to be slimmer and lighter which is great news for the segment of the market and potential buyers.
There have historically been two styles of screen format for the folded outer display the “remote control” style which has been used by all the Samsung Z Fold devices. and the more traditional wider style “phone” screen that can be found on pretty much any other folding phone such as the Honor Magic Vs and the Google Pixel Fold. I am definitely a fan of the latter as it allows the phone to be used for normal phone tasks when folded and then when you need some more space you have that more tablet-style form factor. The OnePlus seems to be leaning towards the latter but maybe not to the same extent as being seen by the likes of the Pixel Fold which some people have found to be too wide when unfolded.
In addition to this large format screen, OnePlus has also included a Camera that is meant to be class-leading no specs have been defined for this yet but we expect it to be of similar levels to the likes of the Hasselblad shooter found on the OnePlus 11. We also see that OnePlus has kept a fan favourite in the form of the Alert slider on the phone which is really nice to see as this is a feature more phones need to have them! The design brief for the team was to hit all the flagship phone top specs and OnePlus is pulling out all the stops to ensure that they meet these targets.
There is one more aspect that will break a foldable phone and that is software. OnePlus may be a little late to the foldable phone market but this may actually be to their benefit especially as the phone looks like it will come out after Google host their Pixel Event where we expect to see Android 14 launch. Having used the Android 14 beta on a Pixel Fold I can see that Google has been working on software tweaks to make the Folding phone experience the best it can be. One of the changes that is especially relevant is the option to have the app scale to the larger screen instead of letterboxing it like we initially saw on the Pixel Fold when it was first released. This was a feature that was highly requested by the early adopters. On top of this, I would expect that the Oneplus foldable will have some other multitasking tricks up its sleeve.
I am looking forward to seeing this phone in the flesh as I think this will be one of the foldable that Samsung may be justifiably concerned about and that can only be a food thing as their designs have become somewhat stagnant. The OnePlus And Oppo partnership and simultaneous release will allow them to get the maximum market exposure in a short amount of time.
Editor note. Images are credited to Unbox Therapy who got a hands on an early prototype during an interview with Pete Lau, Founder of OnePlus and Senior Vice President and Chief Product Officer of OPPO.