Oppo are here with a new phone series and from the offset, their marketing angle is that it’s a phone for ‘creatives’. As a
designer/ illustrator and content creator, I was curious. Clearly this wasn’t just another phone launch. The whole event was curated around this idea of creation. Funky illustrative designs adorned their logo and the waiters offered us colourful and interesting food. Ok, Oppo, your message seems clear – what is it that you’re offering me? What do you offer the creative, that other phones don’t?
‘The best smartphone camera in Asia’
This was a pretty bold claim to kick off the keynote, especially as the Huawei P30 Pro seemed to have just taken that crown. However, when we look at the specs you can see why they were happy to make the claim. Its 48 MP primary shooter and 13 MP telephoto lens trumps the P30 Pro. Despite that, the P30 Pro has a better ultra wide lens (8 MP vs 20 MP) and selfie camera (16MP vs 32MP). Furthermore, Huawei beat Oppo to market with the 10x lossless hybrid zoom feature that is so proudly noted in the Reno’s name. There are aspects of the camera, which arguably make it better than the P30 Pro, but until it’s beating its competitors on all counts, I don’t think it’s quite ready to claim the title (especially as we haven’t even mentioned the P30 Pros 50x zoom capabilities).
I did manage to get some time with the phone to test out some of the camera features. First, I checked out the 10x lossless hybrid zoom. Oppo uses Optical Image Stabilisation. With that level of zoom, you’re going to get blurring from handshakes. It offers your standard pinch and zoom or includes a shortcut below the viewfinder of 1x, 2x, 6x and 10x. Lo and behold, it kind of does what it says on the tin. The zoom is good, and considering the lighting at the event, turned out ok, but unless you’re in brighter conditions, you’re not going get that clear and bright image you want from the hybrid zoom.
Other features include Ultra Night Mode 2.0, which allows good quality low-light shots. This is something I would expect it have as its competitors are already offering it. It was hard to really test this at the launch as they had a designated space where someone took the photo for you and printed it out. I quickly snapped a pic with my Mate 20 pro in night mode and didn’t really see any difference with what they had taken.
With limited time with the phone it was hard to really test out all the features included. Like Huawei, they’ve made use of AI to which I already have a love hate relationship with on my Mate 20 pro. Sometimes I don’t want my portrait images to have a blurred background and my food photo didn’t always need brightening. Oppo also introduces similar features by leveraging AI, HDR and multi-frame noise reduction to reduce noise in low-light conditions. These features do guarantee that most your photos will have a good finish and you can get a good quality photo quite easily.
What else do we get?
The 6.6 inch OLED screen is actually quite stunning. I, personally, don’t have a problem with the notch design. That doesn’t mean you miss it when you’ve got a screen that achieves 93% screen to body ratio. To achieve this they got rid of the selfie
camera on the front, and so the ‘shark fin’ was born. The fin is hidden in the top of the camera and when the front-facing camera is switched on, the pop-up fin reveals itself. Oppo claims this emerges in just 0.8 seconds. Although that’s pretty speedy, you do feel a slight lag between pressing to turn the camera on, and having the selfie camera ready. It really is quite negligible and if you love the notchless screen it’s probably a trade-off you can live with.
Oppo told us that the fin mechanism would last 200,000 rotations before breaking down. That’s 100 selfies a day for five years. However, we’re not going to really know until people start using them. They also claim that the camera automatically retracts when dropped, again this wasn’t something we were able to test. Time will tell whether the shark fin stands the test of time as a rubbish gimmick or a smart move that gave us all a notchless and expansive screen. On the plus, the camera does take pretty nice selfies! However, its 16MP camera still misses out to the 32MP P30 Pro.
More things that will need further testing…
The Reno 10x Zoom have stereos speakers combined with Dolby Atmos. The sound blasted through the event speakers during the presentation, and when we are asked how brilliant it sounded… I think most of us didn’t know how to respond. Of course it sounds great when it’s hooked up to expensive speakers and blasted out. This is a feature that will definitely need further review, as this was something none of us could really do in the noisy crowded room.
A feature I am particularly interested in is the battery life. The phone is equipped with a 4,065mAh battery cell. This is the largest of any Oppo smartphone currently out on market. However, it falls short of the P30 30 Pro. I can only assume by comparison that the battery life will be decent (just not quite as decent as the P30 Pro) but without spending more time with the phone it’s hard to judge accurately. To accompany its battery, Oppo has thoughtfully fitted the Reno with its Flash Charge 3.0 technology. Without spending longer with the phone I can’t really say much about it other than if it works, terrific!
So, initial thoughts?
The biggest shame about the Oppo Reno was how the marketing rubbed me up the wrong way and distracted me from some of the great features this phone offers. Yes the camera is great, but so is the P30 Pro’s. AI technology allows me to take great photos quickly, just like the P30 Pro. However, most smartphones already equip creatives with what they need to be creative. The fact that it doesn’t offer anything hugely different means their marketing of the Reno 10x zoom was a whole lot of style over substance. Creatives don’t need telling that your top of the line smartphone allows you to be creative. We know. What I want to know is how the Oppo Reno provides something different!
Marketing aside, the Reno series does have nice little touches. Its camera is great. The 10x lossless hybrid is useful, especially if you’re not bothered about the P30 Pro’s 50x zoom feature. The notchless screen is beautiful, if you don’t mind the shark fin camera that probablywon’t break in five years. However, the biggest reason why you may want to opt for the Reno 10x zoom is its price tag. Oppo Reno 10x Zoom costs 799 euros (around £690), with the 5g versions going up to 899 euros (around £790). If Oppo don’t just replace those euros with pound signs then you’re looking at saving some money compared to the P30 30 pro.
Oppo declared that their ‘(Our) ambition is to become the favourite smartphone in Europe’. Whether they achieve such a title is for us to see, but they are certainly ones to watch as they establish themselves in the European market.
It may not be a phone for creatives, but it certainly helps you achieve creativity.