Review, Smartphone

Oppo Reno Review: A Mid-Ranger in a Flagship Shell

The Oppo Reno series is quite interesting. Unlike other smartphone series, the Reno lineup has two devices from separate segments. The standard Reno is a mid-range smartphone, while the Reno 10x Zoom Edition is a high-end, flagship device.

I’ve used the regular Reno as my daily driver for the past couple of weeks, and even though it’s “only” a mid-range smartphone, it has some elements of a proper, flagship smartphone too. That being said, it’s also quite a costly mid-ranger. So is it worth getting? Let’s find out.

Specifications

Display6.4-inch FHD+ AMOLED (2340 x 1080)
ChipsetQualcomm Snapdragon 710 2.2GHz octa-core
GPU
Adreno 616
RAM6GB
Storage256GB, non-expandable
Camera (rear)
48MP f/1.7 (primary)
5MP f/2.4 (depth)
Camera (front)16MP f/2.0 (motorised)
Battery
3,765mAh
Dimensions156.6 x 74.3 x 9 mm
Weight
185g
OSColorOS 6 based on Android 9 Pie
ConnectivityLTE
NFC
Bluetooth 5.0
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz)
3.5mm headphone jack
USB Type-C

Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 chipset, the Reno is comfortably an upper mid-range smartphone. Even though it’s not quite as fast as a flagship device, it’s still plenty capable. On top of that, the reasonably big 3,765mAh battery can return good battery life too.

Unfortunately, the Reno doesn’t have a microSD card slot, but it does come standard with 256GB of internal storage. The downside? It drives up the price of the phone quite a bit. Nonetheless, having that amount of native storage should be sufficient for most users.

Design

As it shares the same design language as the higher-end Reno 10x Zoom model, the standard Reno feels like a flagship smartphone. It is very well-built, it feels great in the hands, and most of all, it looks really stunning in person.

What makes the Reno unique is its rear glass panel, which has a frosted glass-like finish. It’s reminiscent of the Oppo R17 Pro‘s design, and while it does make the phone quite slippery, it feels really nice to the touch. However, this finish is only available on the Ocean Green colourway; the Jet Black model has a glossy, more fingerprint-prone finish instead.

On the front, the Reno has an almost all-screen design with a bit of chin at the bottom of the display. Among all screen types in the current market (notch, hole-punch cutout, you name it), this is the most aesthetically pleasing design, even if it is not the most practical solution.

Like most smartphones with an all-screen design, the Reno has a “shark fin” 16MP motorised pop-up camera. It’s a good solution in theory, but as with all moving parts, there’s always a chance it will break sometime in the phone’s lifespan. However, Oppo claims that the camera module can be activated over 100 times daily for five years without issue.

That kind of assurance is good, but do note that it can gather dust quite easily. While a quick wipe is enough to clean it, it’s still quite unsightly.

Overall, the Oppo Reno is a mid-range smartphone that looks and feels like a phone above its segment. In fact, if it had a more powerful chipset, I wouldn’t hesitate to call it a flagship smartphone.

User Experience

ColorOS 6 on the Reno is quite similar to other versions of Android from Chinese phone makers. There is no app drawer (but there is an option to enable it), and there are some bloatware here and there.

Now, I don’t particularly mind bloatware if they can be uninstalled easily, but that’s not the case with ColorOS. There is one app in particular that got my attention: the Oppo App Store. As its name suggests, it is the company’s app store, and occasionally, it would even send push notifications.

I could block the app from sending notifications, but to not be able to outright uninstall it from the phone is quite annoying.

Regardless, it’s a good thing other aspects of ColorOS 6 are good. It is lightweight, there is no major bug, and it feels fast and responsive. One particular feature that I really appreciate is the always on display, although I do wish it was more functional – it only show notifications from specific apps.

Beyond software, the in-screen fingerprint sensor of the Oppo Reno is quite good. It’s not the quickest sensor around, but it can consistently identify my fingerprint accurately. I can’t say the same for the vast majority of in-screen sensors.

In the performance department, the Reno’s Snapdragon 710 chipset is fast enough to provide a pleasant user experience. I can switch between different apps relatively quickly, I can play games like PUBG Mobile and Hearthstone without issue, and the phone as a whole doesn’t feel sluggish.

That being said, you will notice the deficit in performance if you compare it to a flagship smartphone in the same price point. As capable as the Snapdragon 710 is, it’s not in the same league as the Snapdragon 855. It’s not even comparable to last year’s Snapdragon 845, for that matter.

Let’s move on to something more positive: the Reno’s 6.4-inch 1080p AMOLED display. Just like every other AMOLED panels, the Reno’s screen has very deep blacks, vibrant colours, great viewing angles, and good brightness level. I’m also quite impressed with the display’s colour temperature: it’s neither too cold nor too hot.

Battery life is also quite good on the Reno. ColorOS doesn’t allow me to check the screen on time of the phone, but I’m confident it’s somewhere between four to five hours. While this isn’t particularly impressive for a phone with a 3,765mAh battery, I’m a heavy user, and never did the Reno run out of juice before the day ends throughout the review period.

Oppo’s proprietary VOOC 3.0 fast charging technology on the Reno is quite decent too. Within 30 minutes of charging, the phone got up to about 50% from completely empty.

Using the Reno as my daily driver was a mostly positive affair. ColorOS 6 could definitely still use some work, but you can do a lot worse with other versions of Android.

Camera

In a market dominated by triple and quad camera systems, it’s pretty surprising to see only two rear cameras on the Reno. The primary shooter is a 48MP f/1.7 camera, while the 5MP f/2.4 sensor is for capturing depth information. So how does the dual camera system perform? Pretty good, actually.

Whether it’s daytime or nighttime, the Reno can take good-looking shots. To improve low light performance, the 48MP sensor takes advantage of pixel binning, which also reduces the file size of images it takes to 12MP. Basically, you won’t be disappointed with the Reno’s camera performance.

However, having only one “real” camera sensor does limit the Reno’s versatility. After all, it only has one focal length to work with, and the “2x zoom” option in the camera interface relies solely on digital zoom.

Most – if not all – of the Reno’s competition have a wide array of focal lengths to choose from, so its dual camera system certainly pales in comparison. However, you do get very good camera performance with this phone, and the night mode (even if the results can look artificial in certain conditions) improves low light performance even further.

Does it have the best camera performance in this price range? Well, not exactly. But I definitely enjoyed shooting with this phone.

Competition

Only one variant of the Oppo Reno is offered in Malaysia, which is the 256GB model with 6GB of RAM. That’s a generous amount of storage, but retailing at RM1,999, the Reno has to contend with a number of smartphones that are not only more capable, but also offer better value for money.

Xiaomi Mi 9

At this price point, the Xiaomi Mi 9 is arguably the best smartphone to get. Compared to the Reno, it has a faster Snapdragon 855 chipset, a much more capable and flexible camera system, as well as a better in-screen fingerprint sensor. Although the RM1,999 variant of the Mi 9 only has half the storage at 128GB, you’re still getting a lot more value for your money here.

Of course, there are areas where the Reno is superior. Aesthetically, I’d argue this phone is a lot sleeker than the Mi 9, especially with its all-screen design and unique glass back. That is not to say the Mi 9 isn’t good-looking, but its notched display definitely isn’t quite as eye-catching as the Reno’s notch-free screen.

Samsung Galaxy S10e

Officially retailing at RM2,699, you can easily get the Samsung Galaxy s10e around the RM2,000 price point now, putting it in the same price bracket as the Reno. The S10e is a smaller device, yes, but it has a more impressive Dynamic AMOLED display, water and dust resistance, superior (and more versatile) camera system, and support for expandable storage.

But, again, design is where the Reno comes up on top. The Galaxy S10e simply cannot compete with the Reno’s all-screen design and beautiful glass back. Next to Oppo’s offering, the Galaxy S10e looks…pedestrian. Then again, that’s not a bad thing if you want a more minimalist, understated smartphone.

Conclusion

To sum it up, the Oppo Reno is a handsome, sleek mid-range smartphone in a flagship shell. After all, it shares the same chassis as the higher-end Reno 10x Zoom model, which is a proper flagship smartphone. It wouldn’t be far-fetched to dub the Reno a “premium” mid-ranger for this reason alone.

However, you will be paying quite the premium simply for the Reno’s aesthetics. See, other aspects of the phone simply aren’t up to par for a smartphone at this price point. It doesn’t offer the latest flagship chipset; it doesn’t have the best camera performance in this price range; and its software experience isn’t particularly fantastic either.

The only saving grace for the Reno is the generous 256GB internal storage, which is probably why it is so costly in the first place. If Oppo were to bring in a more affordable 128GB variant, I reckon that particular model would make a lot more sense for a mid-ranger like the Reno.

For what it’s worth, I thoroughly enjoyed using the Oppo Reno as my daily driver. I love how it looks, it feels great in my hands, and the all-screen design never gets old. Just know that you are paying a premium not for a faster, more capable smartphone, but simply for the Reno’s sleek design.

And I’m sure some folks are willing to do just that.

One Reply to Oppo Reno Review: A Mid-Ranger in a Flagship Shell

  1. Very good detailed review! The only Malaysian review of the Reno I found. And dang the camera! Thanks for the hard work 😀

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