Oppo Reno 10x Zoom hands-on review

The Oppo Reno is a smartphone that takes its key design feature not from a racing car, the latest fashionable color, or some fabulous piece of architecture — but from a shark.

No, it doesn’t have rows of razor sharp teeth. It does have a motorized selfie camera that pops up from the top of the phone at an angle, making it look like a shark fin. Oppo even calls it a “shark fin camera.”

Shark-like cameras

The shark fin camera is very cool, even by pop-up camera standards. It rises up from the right side to reveal not only the selfie camera lens on the front but also a flash unit on the back. This is clever use of space, and a great way to minimize clutter on the already busy rear panel.

The selfie camera has 16 megapixels packed in along with some trickery to make skin tones look more natural in low-light conditions. I used it in bright conditions and the results were good, although it was difficult to asses the algorithm’s effectiveness.

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The real camera action on the Reno is around the back of the phone. Oppo has two versions of the Reno coming in June — a standard Reno and the Reno 10x Zoom. In case it’s not obvious, you will want the Reno 10x Zoom model if you’re a camera fan. Powerful zoom features are a big trend at the moment, and the camera on here delivers a 10x hybrid zoom. The camera app cycles through 2x and 6x zoom levels before it reaches 10x, or you can use a scroll wheel for more accuracy.

Zoomed in shots at this level in a room with artificial lighting looked solid, but not remarkable. Look closely at the images and detail is lacking — but it’s still amazing you can take any kind of shot like this on a phone. More

I loved the seamless switch between the zoom levels in the interface — it’s like you’re actually shifting the lens manually — and the versatility such a feature provides. Oppo uses a similar periscope zoom technology as the Huawei P30 Pro. The Reno 10x Zoom has a 48-megapixel main camera, a 13-megapixel telephoto, and an 8-megapixel wide angle lens.

Pictures look excellent on the massive 6.6-inch, notch-free AMOLED screen

Photos taken inside looked great in standard mode, full of color and life, and also at 2x. Oppo’s Ultra Night Mode and the Dazzle Color setting are available, and these modes produced some great photos on the RX17 Pro, meaning they should get even better here.

Pictures look excellent on the massive 6.6-inch, notch-free AMOLED screen, which may sound enormous, but the phone is surprisingly compact and light. The bezels are really small, resulting in a 93.1% screen-to-body ratio, and although the phone is quite thick it never felt unmanageable.

Software, specs, and downsides

Shown on the screen is Oppo’s Color OS user interface over Android 9.0 Pie. It’s version 6 on the Reno, and it’s a smoother, more acceptable style than version 5.3 on the RX17 Pro and other recent Oppo phones.

There is a pull up app tray, for a start, and moderately more acceptable icon designs. The notification shade is a cheap rip-off of iOS’s Control Center though. However, the increase in speed and responsiveness is very welcome. In the short time using the Reno, the software has graduated from being almost hateful to just quirky, which is a step up for Color OS.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The software’s speed is helped by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 inside the phone, which will also power a third version of the Reno — one with 5G. This will be one of the first 5G phones available in the U.K., and it’ll be available on EE’s 5G network when it launches on May 30.

The size of the phone is partially due to a big 4,065mAh battery with Oppo’s VOOC 3.0 fast charging system, which should take it from zero to 100% in about 80 minutes, based on previous experience. It’s great to see so many high-end smartphones launch with big batteries recently.

Now that the software isn’t such a big downside to buying an Oppo phone, are there other problems? The Reno doesn’t have an IP rating, so isn’t strictly water resistant in any way; there’s no wireless charging, and the design isn’t one of the company’s most exciting. It’s a little faceless, despite the pretty green hue on the model I handled.

Price and availability

Oppo is a relative newcomer to the U.K., having only started selling a selection of devices earlier this year. The Reno series is a comprehensive line-up of pretty smartphones, with some compelling specifications. However, clearer nomenclature is needed to tell them apart, and not to confuse potential buyers. The regular Reno does away with the wide-angle lens, the hybrid zoom, and the 855 processor, making do with a Snapdragon 710 processor, and a 6.4-inch screen. It will cost 450 British pounds when it goes on sale June 5.

The Reno 10x Zoom could potentially provide a similar photo experience to the Huawei P30 Pro

The Reno 10x Zoom is the one to look at, and it will cost 700 pounds from June 12, putting it up against the excellent OnePlus 7 Pro. The Reno 5G will come at a later date, and for an unspecified price. I was told I saw the 5G model, but it looked identical to the Reno 10x Zoom, but no 5G test network was available to see it working.

Conclusion

Last time I swooned over an Oppo phone, it was the utterly stunning Find X. How does the new Reno compare? It may not be quite so eye-catchingly gorgeous, but it has a more comprehensive and usable camera, better software, and more power. It’s even future-proofed for those keen 5G early adopters, if you wait and buy the 5G version.

For everyone else, the Reno 10x Zoom could potentially provide a similar photo experience to the Huawei P30 Pro, but for much less money. That’s exciting, and could help Oppo really build its brand among tech fans in the U.K..

Sadly, the Reno will not be for sale in the U.S., so the only way to buy one will be to import one.