On the first day of this year’s Mobile World Congress, we participated in a Q&A session moderated by several members of Oppo’s senior product and strategy team, and we were invited to shed light on the company’s current stance on the foldable market and why it feels like the time has come. This technique is suitable for penetrating into the mid-range space.
Even though we’ve been able to afford to pay for foldable devices for about three years, the materials, engineering, and hardware used for such devices still make them significantly more expensive than similar-spec alternatives without bending over.
A week before MWC 2023, Oppo released the world’s first foldable flip phone, the Oppo Find N2 Flip. Despite the great value of a foldable smartphone (£849 in the UK), its price still puts off many users who would otherwise appreciate the convenience of having a compact foldable phone in their pocket.
When asked if there was room for a foldable or clamshell phone in the mid-range price range, Billy Zhang, Oppo’s vice president of overseas sales and service, had a lot to say in his answer.
Zhang explained through a translator, “Now, when we talk about products like [a mid-range foldable]we need to think about whether it can actually provide a good experience because in order to try to reach the mid-range price range, if we sacrifice things like the SoC [the chipset] Or imaging, that’s not good. Because, if we cut corners on the SoC, we also won’t be able to maximize the computing power for imaging. “
Zhang continued: “With the increase in foldable product shipments, there will definitely be more room for cost reduction from a supply chain perspective, but this process will take time.”
You’d think that’s all she wrote; Zhang confirms that cutting corners to bring such a device to market would be bad for users, and that costs are unlikely to come down until shipments ramp up.
Clearly, Zhang isn’t done yet. He’s eager to expand the potential and feasibility of mid-range foldable phones.
“I just want to share some more comments about the falling cost of flip phones,” he continued. “Some initial thoughts might be removing the screen cover, cutting corners on the SoC, cutting corners on the camera.
“But when we’re talking about flip phones, if we remove the protective screen, it’s definitely not a good experience because the protective screen is important, it makes it easier for you to see things like quick notifications. Or if you cut corners in the In SoCs, this also has an impact.”
“In about six months or more, there might be flip phones like this on the market, but they might cut corners — like using plastic in the frame or removing the screen cover — but that’s definitely not a good idea. experience for us; that’s not us [Oppo] want to do. If competitors want to do it, let them do it. User experience is our top priority. “
An affordable foldable, but at what price?
According to Zhang, it’s unlikely we’ll see foldable phones that cost much less anytime soon.
Oppo wants to appear uncompromising in its approach to product development, with the message that user experience comes first; there is one aspect of any device that is sure to suffer if you start hacking basic interaction methods (like the cover display) or functionality.
Zhang does, however, leave the door open for other manufacturers to make tough decisions about what needs to be cut in order to bring a familiar foldable experience to the midrange. So the question is, who is first?
Check out our roundup of the best foldable phones, and you can find out more about the Oppo Find N2 series while using it.