OPPO's upcoming foldable smartphone or at least one of the patented designs which could materialize later this year has been envisioned in a new series of 3D renders created by Dutch tech blog LetsGoDigital. The renders are based on sketches attached to a patent application found in the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) database and reveal a smartphone-tablet hybrid device featuring an unusual pop-up camera.
It looks like the OEM's first entry in this emerging smartphone-tablet hybrid category will be based on a single large flexible panel, unlike the newly-introduced Samsung Galaxy Fold which features a small non-flexible display on one side and a large flexible panel on the inside. Assuming of course that this will be the final design employed by OPPO for its flexible device.
Compared to the Samsung Galaxy Fold, OPPO's phone-tablet hybrid folds the other way around, meaning that the screen wraps around the exterior of the device when folded into phone mode. In theory, this should reduce production costs given the exclusion of a secondary screen, but of course, there are other factors that come into play when discussing the luxurious $1,980 entry-level price tag attached to Samsung's new ambitious product.
Another key aspect that could differentiate OPPO's solution from Samsung's is the camera. According to the sketches and renders at hand, the OPPO flexible device has a dual camera that pops out from the top. It doesn't carry any sensors on the metallic back panel nor does it have a display notch similar to Samsung's flexible solution.
Finally, the OPPO foldable tablet-hybrid device appears to have a standard 3.5mm headphone jack on the bottom edge, while the Samsung Galaxy Fold lacks this proven standard altogether.
It's an interesting concept and it's refreshing to see that OEMs are exploring other solutions and designs for the implementation of flexible display technology. Not every foldable phone should, or will have two displays like Samsung's product does, and not every device will fold the same way, for better or worse.
In OPPO's case, the design at hand doesn't seem as excessive as Samsung's model, while it still appears able to provide a camera in both tablet and phone modes, as well as leaving the door open for something akin to App Continuity, where applications adapt from one usage mode to the other on the fly.
However, smartphone enthusiasts who might want to become early adopters of the new flexible form factor might not have too many options throughout the first half of the year. While the Samsung Galaxy Fold is scheduled to hit the market in April, OPPO's first foldable device is expected to arrive sometime in the second half of the year. Other OEMs including Huawei are expected to unveil new foldable phones in the coming days at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, but reportedly OPPO will not be among them.
In the meantime, OPPO's next high-end smartphone – the F11 Pro – is scheduled for an unveiling on the MWC show floor. The device is expected to carry the MediaTek Helio P70 chipset and 6GB of RAM. Earlier this month the same device was confirmed by the OEM via Twitter to carry a pop-up camera similar to the Vivo NEX S.