(Pocket-lint) - Oppo got everyone talking in 2018 when it launched its innovative and exciting Find X. Just the kind of attention it needed as launch plans for Europe began.
Since then, the Chinese company has rolled out a handful of other phones, including the recent unveiling of the Reno series of phones. This series includes its first 5G enabled phone as well as a more mid-range offering, and the subject of this review: the flagship Reno 10x Zoom. The 5G phone is actually the same as the 10x Zoom, but with the added modem for that super fast data connection.
This flagship comes with plenty to differentiate it from the competition: there's the bezel and notch-free display, the triple camera on the back with a periscope-like zoom camera (hence the '10x Zoom' name), and the 'shark-fin' pop-up camera on the top edge.
Unique cameras dictate design
- Glass front and back
- Pop-up shark-fin camera
- 162 x 77.2 x 9.3mm; 210g
Over the past couple of years, Oppo has revamped its design efforts in an attempt to be seen as a true flagship smartphone maker. Following modern trends, the Reno flagship is a glass and metal sandwich, with curved glass towards the edges on the back, and a screen that dominates the front.
The materials definitely give it the kind of premium look you'd expect to see on a high-end phone. There are some great design touches too, with two particularly stand-out.
First, there's no camera protrusion on the back. The triple camera system sits underneath the rear glass, so it's completely flush, unlike you'll find with the Huawei P30 Pro. Those worrying about that making it too easy to scratch the cover glass will be glad to know Oppo thought about this already: there's the tiniest little protrusion about two thirds of the way up the back that kind of looks like a pimple. It's very subtle, but does mean that when you plonk your phone down on its back, the cameras are never in contact with the surface.
However, the 10x Zoom is a relatively thick phone. At more than 9mm, it's noticeably thicker than the iPhone XS Max or even the OnePlus 7 Pro. We don't mean just by the numbers game either; it can be felt in the hand, which we think is likely a result of building the cameras into the back of the phone. But it's also to do with eye-catching feature number two...
Second, Oppo has opted for a pop-up front camera in the 10x Zoom and Reno 5G models. But unlike most smartphones with a pop-up - such as the Vivo NEX S - Oppo has built-in a shark fin-like mechanism that pops up at an angle, featuring the front camera on one side and the LED flash on the other. In order to build this into the top edge of the frame, without impacting the integrity of the phone's build, there had to be enough frame on surrounding the pop-up.
Apart from those camera special tricks, the Reno 10x Zoom has a conventional selection of ports and buttons. The power/sleep button on the right has an attractive green highlight on it, while the separate volume buttons on the left are colour-matched to the frame. With there being no extra space on the top edge, that means all the other ports are on the bottom edge: USB Type-C, speaker and SIM tray all live here.
That speaker is one of two on the phone, with the other behind a very slim slit in the top edge. Together they offer a stereo effect, but we find the top speaker is much weaker and has no real bass output to it, so most of the power and presence is supplied from the speaker on the bottom edge. Cover that over and you're left with a tinny, timid sound from one side.
- 6.6-inch fullHD+ display
- AMOLED 1080 x 2340 resolution
The display on the Reno 10x Zoom is often super. Rather than Quad HD, you get an extended Full HD panel (that still offers nearly 400 pixels per inch in density) which means there's plenty of detail at arm's length.
What's more, despite being an AMOLED-based panel, the colours are accurate, while also being vivid enough to give you that 'pop' you'd expect to see when watching your favourite shows - even reds and oranges are respectfully tuned as to not get rid of detail, while still being amply saturated. Watching Black Mirror on Netflix gave a visual experience we really enjoyed; both because of the colour and the 19.5:9 ratio lending itself well to the 2:1 Netflix Originals.
As with most modern Android phones, you can also tune and adjust the screen to your preference. You can choose to have it cooler or warmer, or switch off the dynamic/vivid mode in favour of a more flat sRGB option.
Our only criticisms of the display are two fold. One, the rounded corners don't perfectly match the radius of the phones corners, so they look a little mismatched, and we'd much rather see the curves following the exact lines of the outer frame/bezel for a more uniform look. Two, the OnePlus 7 Pro - which is Oppo's cousin, as it's owned by the same umbrella - offers a more impressive experience due to its fast-refresh screen.
- ColorOS 6
- Based on Android Pie
- There's an app drawer now, yey!
In previous years, we've criticised Oppo's software for being far too much like Apple's iOS - which just feels odd for an Android-based phone. With the company now moving into Western markets, however, that approach is quickly shifting for the better with each new version of its Android-based ColorOS system.
In the latest version of ColorOS, you get the option to have an app drawer (praise the heavens), rather than just a series of home screens with app icons strewn across them. You can still choose the latter if you want it - just as you can in Huawei devices, for example - but if you like to have all your apps hidden away an an easily accessible and searchable drag-up window, you can do that now.
One other big redesign in the latest ColorOS user interface is the drop-down settings. When you slide down from the top, instead of getting some really basic icons in a grid, you get a set of bigger, square tiles with rounded corners. While it's nicer to look at overall than the previous version, we did find that tiles with longer labels that went into two lines ended up with text a bit too close to the bottom edge. Like it wasn't aligned properly.
There are other useful features too, many of which have existed for some time now, and others we've seen from many Android manufacturers over the past couple of years. One example is the app cloning feature, which lets you have two versions of the same app installed so you can access two different accounts separately.
Then there's the Smart Assistant screen on the left of the home screen, which collates useful info into small, manageable widgets. You can have shortcuts to apps, your favourite contacts, weather, a calendar overview, among others.
As many great features as there are, there's still that lingering Oppo-ness about the software. One we noticed from having the company's Phone Clone app to transfer across apps, messages and data from our previous Android phone: rather than use the Google Play Store to auto-download apps, like they would if you restored from a Google backup, the Oppo uses as many versions as possible from its own app store. That means, when app updates are available, we had apps downloading from two different sources - a needless issue.
Performance and battery
- Snapdragon 855 processor
- 6GB or 8GB RAM
- 4,065mAh battery
- 20W VOOC flash charging
Unlike some older Oppo phones, the 10x Zoom is a true flagship in terms of spec. Inside, there's the latest Qualcomm processor, the Snapdragon 855, which is paired with either 6GB or 8GB RAM depending on the model you go for. What that means in real daily use is that you have a phone that struggles with nothing. It's fast, fluid and can cope with even the most graphically intense games.
It was only when looking really closely that we sometimes noticed the movements and animations weren't quite as smooth and flawless as those on the OnePlus 7 Pro. There's good reason for that though: OnePlus has equipped its flagship phone with a 90Hz screen, which means animations are a lot faster when they're optimised to match that 90 frames-per-second refresh.
The in-display fingerprint sensor is fantastic too. It seems as though Oppo has increased the optical sensor size, meaning it's not only quicker at registering a fingerprint pattern and unlocks faster, it's also a lot more reliable. We've hardly had any failed scans this time out, which is a big step up from previous generation optical in-display fingerprint sensors, such as that found in the OnePlus 6T.
One of the benefits of having a thicker phone such as the 10x Zoom is being able to build-in a thick battery. Oppo has opted for 4,065mAh, which is a generous capacity for an everyday flagship. It has fewer pixels to push than Quad HD phones, which means more power efficiency. In general everyday use, we didn't once struggle to get to the end of the day, even with a couple of hours worth of gaming thrown in. In fact, on moderate days, we got to bed time with roughly 50 per cent left over, meaning we could almost push this phone to two days use.
Perhaps the only downside from a battery/performance perspective is the fast-charging tech used in the Reno 10x Zoom. Rather than use the company's awesome 50W Super VOOC flash charging that can charge a battery to full in 35 minutes, Oppo has opted for the third-gen 20W VOOC charging.
That means you'll be waiting just over an hour to go from 0-100. The reason will be down to the battery capacity: as it's a single cell over 4,000mAh it can't fast charge in the same manner as a smaller battery, or combination of smaller cells. Still, 20W is still pretty quick by any standards, and VOOC is efficient enough temperature wise that you can still charge quickly even when you're using the phone.
Oppo Reno 5G
As we said in the introduction, the Reno 5G is the same handset as the 10x Zoom model, but adapted for that Qualcomm X50 5G modem that provides that faster connection on the move. It is, essentially, the same modem used by many first-gen 5G handset and appropriately we have had the chance to test that on the first network to launch 5G in the UK.
What impact does that have on the handset itself? Not a huge impact, apart from the ability to get those really fast download speeds, buffer-free videos and seamless things like map detail that just pops into place without the loading times.
With 5G still being in its infancy, roll-out isn't hugely wide, so we can't say that you'll see benefits all the time. Depending on where you are geographically, you might still spend a lot of your time on 4G - in which case the experience is very much as it would be on the 10x Zoom. We've also not seen hugely different battery life.
- Triple camera: regular, ultra-wide and periscopic zoom
- 48MP, 8MP and 13MP, respectively
- 16MP front camera
The Reno 10x Zoom has a triple camera system, very much like the system you find on the Huawei P30 Pro. There's a primary lens with a pixel-packed sensor, an ultra-wide lens, and a telescopic zoom lens using a periscope style makeup to offer impressive zoom, without adding thickness to the body. Both the primary and the telescopic lenses are stabilised optically. Oppo actually introduced this camera system at Mobile World Congress early on in 2019, but without saying which phone it would make its entrance on.
That zoom lens is made up of multiple glass elements inside the phone, lying horizontally inside the phone body, with a right-angled prism at one end to direct the light/image towards the sensor. This essentially enables much longer 'optical' or lossless zoom than a traditional phone camera, meaning you can zoom in really far to make far-away subjects look closer without losing detail.
On the whole, it offers a lot of the same functionality and features as the Huawei P30 Pro, which means it's generally very good. Get close up to a small object, and it'll kick into Macro mode and focus in to give you a well balanced and detailed shot.
What we particularly love is how many different focal lengths it offers. You can switch between ultra-wide angle, 1x, 2x, 6x and 10x just by tapping on the icon in the camera viewfinder. Or, if you want more smooth zooming in and out, you can press, hold and drag the zoom icon up or down.
Now, while Huawei's camera interface is quite cluttered and busy with shooting modes and textures, Oppo's is simple and quite plain. The main shooting options you swipe between are video, photo and portrait. To access the night mode, panorama, expert (manual), time-lapse, slow-mo or Google lens you can just tap the little sidebar menu icon on the left and simply choose one of them.
One thing that needs addressing in future iterations of this setup - as is the case with any multi-camera phone - is the difference in quality between the individual cameras. Switch out to ultra-wide and the picture doesn't look quite as rich, or detailed, and quality is a bit noisy in comparison to the primary camera.
Still, overall, the Reno 10x Zoom offers a versatile and often great camera setup.
There's a lot to like about the Reno 10x Zoom. It looks good, has one of the most versatile camera systems on the planet, a cool-looking pop-up shark-fin camera, great battery life and software that is miles better than it was even two years ago.
What's different about this Oppo compared to some of the ones reviewed in the past is that there are no real compromises. Or at least, nothing that significantly impairs the experience. It might not having everything you want in a smartphone - the software can irk and it's a little chunky - but it's as complete a package as the manufacturer has ever put together. It's also one that costs significantly less than the alternatives from the big name manufacturers like Samsung or Huawei.
Make no mistake, the Reno 10x Zoom is a real flagship phone success - and one that will make people stand up and pay attention to Oppo as a brand.
Originally published June 2019; updated with Reno 5G details.
Alternatives to consider
OnePlus 7 Pro
While the Oppo wins on battery life and camera chops, the OnePlus 7 Pro wins on the display front. It has one of the best screens we've ever seen on a smartphone, and a much lighterweight software. It's speedy, smooth and flies through any task with ease. It also starts at £50 less than the Oppo, and charges more quickly.
Huawei P30 Pro
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While we often find a couple of flagship features missing on Oppo or OnePlus phones, the Huawei has it all. It's got fast wired and wireless charging, IP-rated water and dust resistance, stunning design and a fantastic triple camera system. It has a small dewdrop notch, so not quite the edge-to-edge screen on offer from the other two, but still not intrusive enough to really affect your viewing experience.