Oppo showcases futuristic lifestyle at MWC Barcelona

At the Mobile World Congress 2023 in Barcelona, consumer electronics manufacturer Oppo showcased a futuristic smart lifestyle, including assisted reality glasses, a health monitor and its Zero-Power Tag. But its biggest drawcard was its new clamshell foldable phone.

The Find N2 Flip, revealed a few days prior to MWC Barcelona, was on full display at the show. It will make its way to South Africa soon, unlike Oppo’s first foldable Find N, which was released to the Chinese market.

The Find N2 Flip is the company’s first clamshell pocketable folding phone with a refreshing design choice — a 3.26-inch vertical cover screen that shows more information, and lets you do more, compared to Samsung’s Z Flip 4.

The cover screen supports Oppo apps like weather, camera, timer and music, with an optional interactive digital pet from a selection of five animals. Third-party app support is expected in the coming months, so it won’t be limited to Oppo-only apps.

The N2 Flip has Oppo’s new generation water drop Flexion Hinge with durability testing for more than 400 000 folds. The crease from the fold is barely noticeable on its vibrant OLED display.

When opened, the device is 6.8 inches, marginally bigger than the Flip 4, weighing 191g. It features a Hasselblad dual camera with a 50MP main and 8MP ultra-wide-angle lens and a 32MP selfie-cam.

It is powered by Mediatek’s Dimensity 9000+ chipset with 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, and a large 4300mAh battery. It supports Oppo’s proprietary SuperVooc 44W fast charging that takes 23 minutes to get to 50% battery.

Based on a quick hand-on, the device feels solid and cannot be opened one-handedly but supports FlexForm Mode to use it in angles between 45° to 110° when placed flat. It supports hand gestures that triggers the shutter to take photos or videos.

The company is confident about the future of foldables and estimates that in 2023, growth rates will be at 100% when compared with 2022, Elvis Zhao, overseas chief marketing officer at Oppo, told journalists at MWC.

“At Oppo, we have all the technology and product resources in foldable phones and aim to become one of the most influential players in the foldable market,” Zhao said.

Oppo acknowledges it was not the first to market a folding phone, but believes it has an advantage through access to user insights. Its two form factors — the horizontal-folding Find N2 and clamshell N2 Flip — will make its way to overseas markets soon, Zhao confirmed.

Despite global smartphone shipments falling in the fourth quarter of 2022, according to multiple research houses such as IDC, CounterPoint Research and Canalys, Oppo held onto fourth place as the top five smartphone vendors globally after Samsung, Apple, and Xiaomi with sister company Vivo ranked fifth.

Oppo is committed to developing ground-breaking technologies which will be introduced to local markets, Zhao said, adding that companies which make samples only would eventually be eliminated by the industry. The technologies available at MWC included the Air Glass 2, OHealth H1 and the Zero-Power Tag.

The assisted reality Air Glass 2 is lightweight at 38g and features a heads-up display. Oppo says it is a world-first resin SRG-diffractive waveguide lens that will support vision correction and other customisations.

Compared with its predecessor, the size and weight of the micro-LED projectors on the Air Glass 2 have been reduced, and microphones and speakers have been added on. Importantly, there are no cameras on the glasses, users cannot record others in public without their consent.

It is easy enough to understand how to operate the Air Glass 2 — through a press or swipe on the arm. It can be used to make calls, perform real-time translations, provide directions from a navigation and, for the hearing impaired, convert voice to text. It has other smart experiences that are not yet available.

The OHealth H1 health monitor resembles an Apple Magic Mouse. The 6-in-1 Bluetooth enabled, and battery powered monitor can assess blood oxygen, do ECGs, heart rate measurements, sleep monitoring, forehead temperature checks and acts like a stethoscope (cardiopulmonary auscultation).

The user places the device on the palm of their hand and holds it firmly with all fingers touching the side sensors and within around twenty seconds, can get readings for heart-rate, SpO2 and blood pressure.

Oppo’s Health Cloud Platform will provide data health management services. The OHealth monitor is meant to provide more accurate readings from the fingertips or chest than a smartwatch that only sits on the wrist. However, it cannot replace a visit to the doctor.

Part of its Zero-Power Communication technology and pledge to be carbon neutral by 2050, Oppo also showcased its version of Apple’s wildly popular AirTag, a prototype Zero-Power Tag.

The company says it uses technologies such as energy harvesting, backscatter, and low-power computing, and through ambient energy from radio waves, light or heat, making it battery-free.

The credit card-sized prototype on display was not the final product, but it was paired to an Oppo device to show its tracking capabilities when moved around.

The Air Glass 2, OHealth H1 and Zero-Power Tag have no availability yet, but the Find N Series will be launched officially in Africa. South Africa will be the first country to bring in the Find N2 Flip in April, available in black and purple. Pricing will be confirmed at the launch.

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