Oppo Reno 5G review: A great phone, but 5G leaves us wanting

Alex Kidman 19 June 2019 NEWS

The Oppo Reno 5G provides great application performance and amazing battery life.

Quick Verdict: Despite the suffix, 5G isn't the reason you should buy the Oppo Reno 5G. Instead, it's worth considering for its battery stamina and performance, as long as you can put up with its design quirks.

The good

  • Amazing battery life.
  • Snapdragon 855 provides great app performance.
  • 5G ready for future networks.
  • Flexible camera.

The bad

  • Selfie camera slow to pop up.
  • At launch 5G isn't that fast.
  • No water resistance.
  • No wireless charging.
  • No headphone jack.


Oppo stepped into the flagship world in 2018 with the Oppo Find X, having spent many years selling mid-range and budget phones of exceptional value. The Find X was an interesting phone, but one that failed to stand out against its competition.

The good news here for Oppo fans is that it's produced a much better phone in the Oppo Reno 5G.


Oppo Reno 5G

Oppo Reno 5G: Design

  • Full screen design.
  • Pop up camera fin.
  • No headphone jack.
  • A phone for larger hands.

There's really only one phone design I can fairly compare the Oppo Reno 5G to, and that's Oppo's own 2018 flagship, the Oppo Find X. That's because while other flagships have notches, teardrops or hole punch cameras at the front, the Oppo Reno 5G doesn't have anything of the sort. You're faced with 6.6 inches of pure display screen, ringed by the thinnest of bezels. That means that this is absolutely a phone for fans of larger devices only.

The Reno 5G manages a full screen display in a similar fashion to that of the Oppo Find X by placing the front-facing camera in a pop-up mechanism that slides out smoothly from the top of the phone itself. Where the Find X had a square pop-up, the Reno 5G slides its camera up on a diagonally placed fin mechanism, although that doesn't mean your selfies are angled in any way. The rear of the fin houses the camera flash if required for a shot.

There's one design reality with the Oppo Reno 5G's pop-up camera that was also an issue for the Find X, and that's water resistance. Most premium flagships offer IP67 or IP68 water resistance, but it's notably absent on the Reno 5G. It's understandable, but it does mean you're going to need to be very careful indeed if you favour taking selfies in the rain.

The commitment to no interruptions to your on-screen experience extends to the fingerprint sensor, which is an under-display model, very similar to that found on the excellent Oppo R17 Pro.

The mechanical camera array at the top means that Oppo has to cram in everything else at the base, including the SIM card tray and a single speaker. Like the Find X, there's no headphone jack to be seen, so you'll need to use a USB C adaptor or Bluetooth headphones with the Reno 5G for audio purposes.

On the right-hand side all you'll find is the power button, and on the left simple volume controls, so there's no inbuilt assistant button to be found. I've got no issue with that at all – it's not as though it's particularly hard to invoke the Google Assistant plenty of other ways.

The rear of the review model of the Oppo 5G is eye catching, if only because it's the green model. Sorry, Oppo, that should read "Fog Sea Green" if you want to be precise, although that does make it sound like a colour you might splash onto a feature wall in your house.

We really don't see that many green phones hit the local market. The Oppo Reno 5G's green is a brilliant dark emerald colour, and I'll be honest – I'm quite smitten.

The camera array at the rear is vertically mounted, sitting just above a tiny little nub extrusion of metal. Presumably it's there to minimise lens scratches, although Oppo does provide a case in the box with the Oppo Reno 5G.

It's certainly a good shorthand way to remind you not to run your finger over the lenses while you're holding it, although some other reviewers have become very enamoured with it.

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Oppo Reno 5G

Oppo Reno 5G: Camera

  • Triple lens with hybrid zoom.
  • Selfie camera is slow to fire up.
  • Oppo's camera app needs to embrace flexibility.

The Oppo Reno 5G features a triple rear camera array, led by a 48 megapixel f/1.7 primary sensor. There's also an 8MP f/2.2 wide angle lens and a 13MP f/3.0 5x optical zoom lens. The zoom lens uses the same periscope approach as the Huawei P30 Pro, which means it can work in concert with the primary lens to deliver 10x "Hybrid" zoom on demand. You can push that further with digital zoom, up to a frankly preposterous 60x digital zoom, but the results are often disappointing.

As an example, while I was testing the Oppo Reno 5G for real world 5G speeds on the Telstra network at Milson's Point, a helicopter started hovering above me.

Alarming? Yes, it was somewhat confrontational, so I did what any good journalist would do, and started snapping photos. If nothing else, they'd provide a Google Photos-based evidence trail if I was to suddenly be vanished.

Here's the helicopter with the regular 48MP lens:

Oppo Reno 5G standard lens

Then with the 2x optical zoom:

Oppo Reno 5G 2x zoom

Then at 6x zoom:

Oppo Reno 5G 6x zoom

Then at 10x hybrid zoom:

Oppo Reno 5G 10x zoom

And finally at (mostly useless) 60x digital zoom:

Oppo Reno 60x optical zoom

There's fun to be had with the pop-up camera fin on the Oppo Reno 5G, but only really the first few times you show it off. Like the Find X, there's a noticeable delay while it slides into view, so if you like spontaneous selfies, you may find it annoying. Predictably there's a beauty mode on offer, although it can only do so much with my raddled visage.

Here's a straight selfie shot:

Oppo Reno 5G selfie

And one with the face thinning cranked up to flatter me a little more:

Oppo Reno Selfie with beauty mode engaged

Oppo's camera app still leans heavily on the iOS camera app for its inspiration. On the plus side that makes it very easy to use with options simply for photo, video and portrait mode by default.

It's also an issue because with a triple lens array there's a lot more you could do with the Oppo Reno 5G, but it's hidden away in a vertically expanding hamburger menu. The effect is a rather messy UI that needs cleaning up to be really serviceable for either amateur or more serious users.

As you'd expect at the premium end, the Oppo Reno 5G can deliver entirely pleasing photos, whether you're a fan of selfies or cat photos or anything in between. In lower light situations it's a fair performer, but not the best I've seen. I've already compared the Oppo Reno 5G to other 5G phones, where it gave a generally acceptable performance, but rarely best in class performance, with a tendency towards darker shots and a slower focus overall.

Oppo Reno 5G sample photos

Oppo Reno 5G sample photo

Oppo Reno 5G Boat

Oppo Reno 5G sample photo

Oppo Reno 5G

Oppo Reno Sample Photo

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Oppo Reno 5G

Oppo Reno 5G: Performance

  • Snapdragon 855 is a performance beast.
  • ColorOS is slowly shifting to a more Android feel.
  • 5G isn't a great reason to buy the Reno 5G by itself.

For years, Oppo's market position was in highly affordable smartphones with the Find X being the first device it wanted to really tackle the premium market with. The Reno 5G certainly fits the premium bill at a technical level, with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 paired with 8GB of RAM. Storage sits at 256GB, but where the Find X didn't allow for expandable storage, the Reno 5G will happily take a MicroSD card if you fill it up.

Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 is its flagship processor for 2019, and the Oppo Reno 5G doesn't disappoint against its Android rivals when it comes to pure power. Here's how it compares using Geekbench 4's CPU test:

On the 3D visuals side, here's how it compares using 3DMark Slingshot extreme.

Oppo's commitment to aping the general style of iOS – making it a good choice for folks switching away from iPhones, but challenging for those who like a more "Android" look and feel – has wavered over the past few years. The Reno 5G still runs Oppo's highly customized "ColorOS" launcher, but its latest iteration feels more "Google" than it used to.

It's still very bright and bubbly, and I'm still stuck sometimes hunting around for familiar settings to get them to work.

There are also a few oddities in the way that ColorOS changes up Android. As one example, grabbing the photos for my 5G camera phone comparison, I was using a USB C-to-C cable to grab photos to a MacBook. The Galaxy S10 5G and LG V50 ThinQ had no issues, but the Oppo Reno 5G refused to kick Android File Transfer into gear. I couldn't even find a settings switch to get it to do anything but charge from a connected MacBook.

There's also the question of 5G performance. Here the Oppo Reno 5G wins the award for the most variable performance of any 5G handset I've tested to date on the Telstra network. In lab tests we've seen it peak near 2Gbps down, which is seriously impressive. Out in the real world with 5G coverage, we've seen it drop much lower, including one instance where it picked up a 5G signal but wouldn't pass data through at all. Here's how it's compared in tests to date with other 5G devices on the Telstra 5G network:

There's a very necessary caveat at play here, because it's all but impossible to separate the 5G phone from the performance of the 5G network. It's early days in Australia's 5G rollout, with very limited coverage zones in just a few select cities. Even within the timeframe of running these reviews, I've seen expansion in where the Oppo Reno 5G would pick up a 5G signal in Sydney's north. It could well get better, and the Reno 5G is a Category 20 4G LTE device in its own right anyway. Still, despite the prevalence of that suffix, 5G isn't a key reason to buy the Oppo Reno 5G just yet.

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Oppo Reno 5G

Oppo Reno 5G: Battery life

  • 4,065mAh battery delivers class-leading battery life.
  • Fast VOOC charging.
  • No wireless charging.

The Oppo Reno comes with a 4,065mAh battery, which seems like an oddly precise kind of battery figure. It's just marginally above the 4,000mAh batteries we've seen in competing flagships, but that large display screen has to play a part in sapping the Oppo Reno 5G's endurance.

The Oppo Reno 5G might not have the largest battery I've seen in a smartphone – that would currently be the much cheaper Motorola Moto G7 Power – but its battery life is simply superb. Here's how it compares using Geekbench 4's battery test:

We have a new battery endurance champion here. Now, while Geekbench's test is rather linear, the Oppo Reno 5G backs it up in real world use. I've been using it both as my day to day phone and as a hotspot in its own right, and it's rarely caused me grief in battery terms at all.

However, it's not all good news. The Oppo Reno 5G lacks any form of wireless charging at all, and that's a feature that is very common on phones in its price range. You do get Oppo's super-fast VOOC charging via USB C cable, but that only kicks in if you're using Oppo's specifically supplied charger.

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Oppo Reno 5G

Oppo Reno 5G: Should you buy it?

  • Great performance and battery life.
  • Design robs it of some premium features.
  • The most affordable 5G phone for now.

There's an awful lot to like about the Oppo Reno 5G. It's currently the lowest-cost 5G flagship you can buy, even though buying a 5G device right now is really more about future proofing than speeds you can get immediately.

Its application performance is nippy, and there's definitely something to a full-screen display that can't be ignored. Its battery life is great, and the metallic green back is really nice to look at.

The flip side is that it lacks water resistance and wireless charging. ColorOS is grindingly moving back towards a more pure Google look and feel, but it's not quite there yet. The pop-up shark fin camera is a neat gimmick, but even during testing I noticed it picking up dust along the way. We're seeing the first glimpses of phones that will place the selfie camera under the glass right now. While they're probably at least 12 months away from being available, there's little doubt that mechanical pop-up lenses are living on borrowed time.

If you're keen to get a future-proofed phone with 5G compatibility, the Oppo Reno 5G is your most affordable option, and it helps that it's an excellent phone in its own right too.

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Oppo Reno 5G: Pricing and availability

Oppo Reno 5G

Oppo's first 5G phone

The Oppo Reno 5G connects to superfast 5G networks, but also has a triple camera and high-speed processor. Buy yours today.

Promoted

The Oppo Reno 5G is available outright for $1,499 or on contract terms with Telstra over 24 months.

Oppo Reno 5G: Alternatives

If 5G doesn't matter to you, the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom is the exact same phone, but for the presence of Qualcomm's x50 modem. It's substantially cheaper and an easy recommendation in the lower-end premium smartphone market.

In the 5G space, you currently only have two other alternatives. Samsung's Galaxy S10 5G was the first 5G phone to launch in Australia, but it's currently only available on contract through Telstra.

LG's V50 ThinQ is your other option. It's a little more pricey than the Oppo Reno 5G but comes with a unique "dual screen" accessory that gives it some additional functionality. Like the Samsung, it's available on contract with Telstra, but can also be purchased outright for $1,728.

If you're happy to look further and want a better camera, you could consider the Huawei P30 Pro. It's still got the best camera of any phone we've ever tested, although there's a cloud over Huawei's future due to its dispute with the US government right now.

Huawei P30 Pro

Huawei's flagship camera phone

The Huawei P30 Pro combines the power of Huawei's own Kirin 980 chip, an exceptional battery and a class-leading quad-lens camera array.

  • Astonishingly good camera.
  • Hefty battery life.
  • Kirin 980 processor performs well.
  • Nice design.
Promoted

If you want a better camera and wish to spend less, consider the Nokia 9 Pureview, with its amazing rear camera array. It's a better fit for photo professionals.

Nokia 9 Pureview

Nokia's camera-centric handset

The Nokia 9 Pureview is all about photography, with an astonishing 5 cameras all shooting at once to help you get superior shots.

Promoted


Oppo Reno 5G

Specifications

Oppo Reno 5G Specifications

OS Android 9
Display size (inches) 6.6
Display resolution (pixels) 1080 x 2340
Pixels per inch (PPI) 390
Processor Qualcomm SDM855
Height (mm) 162
Width (mm) 77.2
Depth (mm) 9.3
Weight (g) 215
Battery size (mAh) 4,065
Wireless charging
Internal storage 256GB
MicroSD expansion 256GB
Fingerprint scanner Yes
RAM 8
Water resistance N/A
Rear camera (1) resolution 48
Rear camera (1) aperture f/1.7
Rear camera (2) resolution 8
Rear camera (2) aperture f/2.2
Rear camera (3) resolution 13
Rear camera (3) aperture f/3.0
Front camera (1) resolution 16
Front camera (1) aperture f/2.0
Front camera (2) resolution
Front camera (2) aperture
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Network category speed N/A
NFC support Yes
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