Oppo Reno review (early verdict): 10x lossless zoom, all-screen design – what's not to like?

Huawei may've beaten them to the punch, but the Oppo Reno and it's 10x lossless hybrid zoom is still an impressive feat

Oppo Reno 10x Zoom 5G Review

Oppo has unleashed its latest flagship smartphone series, dubbed Reno, at an event in Zurich, Switzerland. The Reno 5G packs an expansive 6.6-inch edge-to-edge OLED display that fills every corner on the front of the device, a whopping 4,065mAh battery, 10x lossless hybrid zoom from the rear-mounted camera, and 5G support.

That's a lot. And squarely positions the Oppo Reno 5G as a competitor to the latest raft of flagship smartphones, including the Huawei P30 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus, iPhone XS Max, and Google Pixel 3 XL – to name just a few. 

T3 was in the crowd at the Oppo Reno launch event and managed to get our grubby mitts on the brand-new flagship. What follows are our early impressions with the handset from the event. Check back soon for our comprehensive review (complete with that all-important star rating) very soon.

OPPO RENO REVIEW: DISPLAY, DESIGN

From the outside, it's impossible to tell the Reno 5G and Reno 10x Zoom apart. Both devices have the same expansive 6.6-inch OLED display that bleeds into every corner on the front of the handset. We've never had any qualms with the notch design adapted by some competitors, like the iPhone XS Max, but the truly edge-to-edge design on the Oppo Reno offers a greater level of immersion. When photographs, video or apps fill the 2,340x1,080 OLED display, it's easy to catch yourself getting genuinely lost in the expansive screen.

The display on the Oppo Reno is DCI-P3 compliant, too. So amateur photographers will be able to properly assess their family snaps on the screen.

To achieve this stunning 93.1% screen-to-body ratio – one of the highest on the market right now, Oppo has had to banish the selfie camera to a separate pop-up drawer that emerges periscope-like from the top of the handset.

And that, brings some trade-offs.

Oppo Reno 10x Zoom 5G Review

When you switch to the front-facing camera in the default app, the pop-up drawer emerges from the chassis in 0.8 seconds. On paper, that sounds pretty speedy. But when you're using the phone, it feels a little slow. Oppo shows the viewfinder flipping around when you switch between the cameras – an animation that's present on almost all modern smartphones. However, after the animation, there is still a beat or two while you've got to wait for the selfie camera to fully emerge, ready to shoot.

It's a small irritation and might be worth it for that expansive screen, but it's a trade-off you should be aware of. If you're worried about the durability of that mechanised camera drawer, Oppo says that it's good for 200,000 return journeys in-and-out of the chassis. That means you'll be able to take 100 selfies a day for five years before you run into any trouble. While that's undoubtedly impressive, it's still less than you'll get from a smartphone without a mechanised pop-up drawer.

Unlike other pop-up cameras we've seen, the Oppo Reno has a jaunty angled design that appears at 11-degrees from the phone. It gives the handset real character. In our time with the phone we tried our luck pressing down on the mechanised drawer. It felt sturdy – and automatically retracted after a certain amount of force, a safety feature that'll stop you losing your selfie camera if/when you drop your new phone.

Oppo Reno 10x Zoom 5G Review

Speaking of drops, Oppo is using the latest-generation of Gorilla Glass on the front and back of the Reno to keep that impressive edge-to-edge screen protected from drops and dings. If you're wondering where the fingerprint scanner is hiding, you'll find it embedded beneath the screen itself. Oppo says its 30% faster than its previous generation sensor, although we didn't get a chance to put those claims to the test during our brief time with the handset at the event.

OPPO RENO REVIEW: CAMERA

Let's not beat around the bush any longer, this is the main event: the camera.

As the unimaginative name suggests, the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom boasts a triple-camera on the back of the handset capable of 10x lossless hybrid zoom. The Oppo Reno 5G has the same camera capabilities. Oppo first unveiled this impressive camera technology at the MWC tradeshow earlier this year. Unfortunately for the Chinese manufacturer, rival Huawei has since beaten it to market with the 10x lossless hybrid zoom feature on its P30 Pro. Nevertheless, it's still a hugely impressive feature and comes with a smaller price tag than its Huawei counterpart.

The camera system, which is comprised of a 48-megapixel primary shooter coupled with an 8-megapixel ultra-wide angle camera and 13-megapixel telephoto lens, uses all three cameras in tandem to squeeze as much detail as possible from each shot.

Oppo is using Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) to remove any blurring from handshakes, which is absolutely necessary when you're dealing with this level of zoom. Oppo employs a mixture of software and AI to enhance some of the rough edges to improve the quality of the finished photograph. Unlike the Huawei P30 Pro, which allows users to hit 50x digital zoom – albeit at a greatly reduced quality to the 10x lossless hybrid zoom feature, Oppo restricts the feature to 10x.

The zoom functionality is accessed from the main viewfinder in the default camera app, which means you won't have to go digging through the menus for a dedicated mode or anything like that. At the bottom of the viewfinder, Oppo includes a shortcut to switch between 1x, 2x, 6x, 10x, and the ultra-wide angle lens. Of course, you can also pinch to zoom for more granular control over the zoom, too.

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Switching between the various levels of zoom on offer is fast, and pictures look great from the camera. However, photographs shot in lower-light conditions at the greatest zoom seemed to carry a hefty amount of grain. In brighter conditions, everything looked crisp, bright and lives up to the lossless name.

As with the Huawei P30 Pro, this feature is transformative and lets you capture images that simply wouldn't be possible with other smartphones. If the results we got inside the launch event are anything to go by, the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom will seriously upgrade your architecture shots during your next city break.

Another new feature headed to the impressive rear-mounted camera is Ultra Night Mode 2.0. Like the Night Sight feature on Google Pixel 3, and upcoming dedicated Night mode coming to Samsung Galaxy S10 in the near future.

The Oppo Reno series leverages AI, HDR, and multi-frame noise reduction to reduce any noise in the image shot in tough, low-light conditions. Oppo says its highlight suppression and dynamic range "enable users to achieve the level of brightness and details that normally exceed the limits of human eyes".

Oppo says it has incorporated facial recognition into the feature to ensure the subjects of your images are prioritised when it comes to saving details from the shadows. When you take a night portrait, the rear-mounted camera automatically finds any human faces, and offers "special protection for the portrait", Oppo says. 

The sample images shown on-stage look pretty impressive, but we'll have to spend more time with the handset to put this new feature through its paces.

All three models in the Oppo Reno series support shooting 4K Ultra HD footage up to 60 frames-per-second, using OIS to ensure stable video. Oppo has fitted the handset with multiple microphones to record 360° of the ambient sound, so that it can be cancelled out. Presumably, this also works during phone calls on windy days.

Despite all of the camera technology crammed into this handset, the Oppo Reno doesn't have a camera bump on the back. That's somewhat of a rarity these days.

Interesting, Oppo has fitted a small nubbin just below the rear-mounted camera set-up, which its marketing department refers to as a "ceramic O-dot gem", which lifts up the camera from the surface it's resting on – stopping the lens getting scratched or scuffed, no matter how carelessly you thrown the handset down. It's a really great idea, although we'll need to do some thorough testing to see just how effective it is at saving your fancy new 10x Zoom camera from getting ruined.

OPPO RENO REVIEW: SOFTWARE, OTHER FEATURES

Oppo Reno 5G and Reno 10x Zoom are packing stereo speakers combined with Dolby Atmos to improve video playback on-the-go, if you like to binge boxsets during your morning commute. It's tough to truly assess the speakers through the hubbub of other journalists excitedly narrating the features of the phone to Instagram TV viewers, but they sounded comparable to other stereo-sporting flagships.

Oppo has fitted its Reno series with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, coupled with either 6GB or 8GB of RAM, depending on the model. Oppo offers a choice of either 128GB or 256GB of built-in storage, too. Since there's no expandable storage, you'd better make sure you're happy with whatever configuration you plump for – and if you're planning to load-up a lot of graphic-intensive games or boxsets, you'll need to buy the 256GB model. End of.

Under the bonnet of the Reno 5G and Reno 10x Zoom, you'll find a 4,065mAh battery cell – that's the heftiest battery you'll find in any Oppo smartphone on the market, and we'd expect to get a full day of use out of the new Reno range. When your handset does run out of juice, Oppo has fitted the Reno range with its so-called Flash Charge 3.0 technology. We didn't get a chance to test the battery life during our brief time with the smartphone during the launch, but we'll report back when we've livedf with the Oppo Reno for a little longer.

The Oppo Reno series is powered by ColorOS 6 – a custom skin applied to Android 9.0 Pie that includes a lot more white space than earlier iterations. It's pretty colourful, and not as garish as some of its rivals (here's looking at you, Huawei). 

As you'd expect from any Android Pie handset, there's a new intelligent battery management system that throttles apps that haven’t been used in a while to try and eke out as much battery life as possible. Oppo will also swap battery longevity in favour of raw power in the new Frame Boost mode, that ensures you won't see dropped frames – no matter how many characters are battling on-screen.

According to Oppo, "the Frame Boost system can analyse the status of mobile performance in real-time while gaming. When lag is predicted, frame rate and stability will be adjusted to prioritise a first-class gaming experience."

Sounds impressive, right? We'll have to test this thoroughly, but it sounds like this could be a real contender for those who want to hammer the likes of PUBG on their smartphone day-in, day-out.

OPPO RENO REVIEW: OUR EARLY VERDICT

Oppo Reno is a seriously impressive piece of kit. The notchless all-screen design is genuinely immersive and makes watching videos on the 6.6-inch OLED a pleasure. Unfortunately, the trade-off for this edge-to-edge panel is a jaunty pop-up camera that takes 0.8 seconds to burrow out of the top of the handset, and could start to fail on you in the next five years or so. Whether that sounds like a compromise you can live with to avoid the hole-punch design seen on the Galaxy S10, or the dewdrop notch of the Huawei P30 Pro and OnePlus 6T, we can't say quite yet.

Like the Huawei P30 Pro before it, the 10x lossless hybrid zoom is a killer trick and ensure you'll never need to push your way to the front of the crowd to get the perfect gig photo or cityscape ever again. There's also improved portrait mode photographs with artificial bokeh-style blur, an ultra-wide angle lens for arty fish-eye shots, and Ultra HD video capture to keep you busy, too.

While ColorOS 6 isn't our favourite twist on Android Pie – and doesn't look half as pretty as some of its rivals – it feels fast and responsive on the Reno 5G and Reno 10x Zoom. The lack of expandable storage is a bit of a kick in the teeth, especially with the amount of photos you're likely going to shoot with this phone.

If you can live with its niggles, the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom is an impressive Android-powered flagship phone that brings the best feature from the Huawei P30 Pro... without the price tag.

  • Oppo Reno 10x Zoom costs €799 (roughly £690), Reno 5G costs €899 (roughly £790)
  • Whether Oppo converts these prices, or simply swaps the € for a £ and keeps the numerical value identical – as many handset manufactures do – remains to be seen