(Pocket-lint) - There's no two ways about it: Oppo is flooding the market with smartphones. Barely six months after the first Reno series phones hit store shelves, the second-generation devices are here.
The main device in the second-gen line-up is the Reno 2, which fits somewhere between the more affordable Reno 2 Z and more expensive Reno 10x Zoom. It's got a notch-free display, pop-up selfie camera and quad camera system all built into a premium-looking chassis.
Classic, minimalist appeal
- Dimensions: 160 x 74.3 x 9.5mm / Weight: 189g
- Glass/metal design
One thing we loved about the first-generation of Reno series smartphones from Oppo was the stylish minimalistic looks. Unlike its competitors, there was no protruding camera bump, on brash and bright unicorn colours.
That same design ethos continues with the Reno 2. The back has that same classy look, with a column of four cameras placed centrally in the top half of the phone. And this camera setup doesn't protrude at all. It's completely flush and covered by the same glass as the rest of the rear of the phone.
In order to give it some protection, it does have that Oppo Reno nubbin. It's a black, shiny pimple that sticks out of the phone slightly, ensuring that when the phone is placed on its back, the cameras aren't in contact with any surface. Directly beneath those cameras is the matte pill-shaped area with Oppo's standard "designed by Oppo" branding, breaking up the otherwise entirely glossy rear.
While this glass is definitely more subtle in its reflection than a lot of other flagship phones, it still has that multi-layer effect to it. At certain angles you almost see some subtle purple breaking through our deep blue unit, and when light catches the glass you'll get bright stripes lining the back as it reflects and refracts through those layers.
This glass then curves gently towards the blue metal edges, giving it a comfy feel in the hand. Saying that, it's still quite a large phone. It's noticeably thicker and taller than an iPhone 11, as an example. So it's hardly the most easy phone to use in one hand, but at the same time it's not overly uncomfortable.
The real spectacle is on the front, where the screen takes up nearly all of the available real-estate. The bezel around the display is so slim, and there's no notch or punch-hole camera to break it up. It's just all screen. And being a premium Reno phone, that means the front-facing camera is inside that iconic shark-fin poppy mechanism.
This camera slides up easily whenever it's needed. Whether that's when you're unlocking the phone using your facial recognition or taking a selfie. And - just like the OnePlus 7 Pro - it withdraws when it detects the phone dropping. However, it's not the only way to unlock the phone. There's also the much faster in-display fingerprint sensor. This is an optical sensor, but is quicker and more reliable than the first wave of sensors we saw towards the end of 2018.
Big, bright display
- 6.5-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display
- 1080 x 2400 resolution (401ppi)
- No notch/cutout
Displays on phones are getting better all the time, to the point where you can now get really good panels on devices that don't cost the earth. This is true of the Reno 2.
It's a 6.5-inch Full HD+ AMOLED screen that's bright, vibrant and has plenty of contrast. Blacks are inky and colours look full of life, without looking overly saturated. It's a great display for watching Netflix. Being completely flat is a help too, avoiding that slight warping that tends to happen when you have curves at the edges.
Having a pixel density over 400ppi means there's plenty of sharpness too. You don't get that absolute crispness in the fine details and curves that you might with a higher resolution Quad HD+ screen, but when you're using it at arm's length - as you would normally - it's not something you'll really notice.
The only issue we noticed with the display was the unusual scaling of apps when full screen. Some apps fill the screen properly, using up all the space, while others don't. So this could well be a developer issue.
Using Mario Kart Tour as an example, we found that the screen wasn't completely full. There's a slim black bar on the top and bottom of screen, which looks really unusual when combined with the rounded corners, because it cuts the rounded corner in half. It just seems not very well scaled, particularly because the icons in the status bar at the top go right to the very edge of the game content, with no spacing.
- Snapdragon 730G processor, 8GB RAM
- 20W VOOC fast charging
- 4,000mAh battery
The Reno 2 may not have the latest and greatest processor inside, but that doesn't make it a slowcoach. In everyday tasks, the Reno 2 is quick and consistent. You're never left waiting around for anything to load, or struggling with lagging animations or transitions. You're certainly not going to feel short-changed, or notice any slowness.
Running graphically intense games, especially fast-moving ones like Asphalt 9, we have noticed the odd bit of slight stutter here and there, but it was never pervasive enough to tarnish an experience.
For the most part though - unless we put a super speedy flagship phone side-by-side with it - playing the same title or going through the same gestures on the Reno 2, we wouldn't really notice anything suggesting it isn't a proper flagship.
It's a similar story with battery life. Combined with the built-in optimisations in the software, Oppo's 4,000mAh battery is more than good enough for day-to-day life. The only way we'd ever manage to drain it in one working day would be if we actively tried to do so by playing non-stop games for hours.
Like most big and powerful Android phones we'd get from waking up in the morning to bedtime with more than 40 per cent charge left over. That's with an hour or so's worth of gaming, maybe an hour of social media, keeping in touch with colleagues via Slack, and listening to music.
When the battery does deplete, there's no need to worry about waiting ages to recharge it either. Oppo's biggest strength has long been its fast-charging technology. Over the past few years, it's evolved a tech called VOOC flash charging. You'll find various versions of this technology at different speeds, but this phone uses what is now the standard version. So while it's not as impressive as the ultra-speedy Super VOOC, you can still get the battery from 0-60 per cent in around 30 minutes.
We won't go too in-depth on the software side of things, because it's the same operating system most of the previous Oppo and Realme phones. It's not like stock Google Android, but with each new iteration Oppo has improved elements that were once confusing. The settings menu has been simplified, there's an app drawer now, too, and a handful of the usual default apps like the clock and calendar.
Four cameras enough?
- Quad camera system
- 48MP primary, 8MP ultrawide, 13MP telephoto, 2MP b/w data
We've seen a race to increase the number of cameras on the back of smartphones in recent times, and Oppo's Reno 2 has four of them. The fourth, smallest camera is a low-resolution black and white sensor, so in reality the benefits you get from this system come from the three other cameras.
There's a 48-megapixel primary camera, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide camera, and a 13-megapixel telephoto camera. Together, they offer a tonne of versatility. Load up the camera app on the phone and there's an easy-to-use button that lets you switch between four different focal lengths. You get ultra-wide, 1x, 2x and 5x. The last of these is a digital zoom, but using some camera AI trickery, Oppo has reduced the blur and kept a lot of detail.
Results from this 5x zoom aren't as pin-sharp as the photos you get from the other three focal lengths, as you'd suspect, but they're still decent when shot in good light. The processing does seem to be softening quite a lot of detail though, making it look a little too soft, like an oil painting. It's almost as though - in attempting to reduce image noise - the detail is smudged over like an oil painting.
In good light, the results from the cameras are decent, with nice colours and detail. The camera also focuses quickly - so long as you're not trying to shoot something that's close-up and moving a little too much. When it detects a scene, the Reno 2 does a good job of balancing out out the colours and exposure. You don't get that over-saturated blue in the sky or the overly green grass like we've seen from some other AI cameras.
It's not a perfect camera though. At times, highlights like white clouds or white elements with light shining on them, become over-exposed, losing all the detail, while the rest of the photo is nicely balanced. What's more, in low-light the white balance and colours seem to shift slightly and don't look as good.
On the whole, unless you're really picky, you'll not complain using this camera. It's versatile, powerful and can take some great shots if you've got the right conditions.
The Reno 2 is a premium looking device with a very capable camera system, long battery life and a great display. But with the latest Realme X2 Pro phone having just been announced, even all this good stuff makes the Oppo a little harder to recommend.
That Realme device - which is a sub-brand of Oppo and still runs Oppo's ColorOS software - has a more powerful processor in a device which shares a lot of similarities with the OnePlus 7T.
Which is a point in itself: at the £500-£600, OnePlus' latest standard non-Pro flagship is still arguably the phone to get, thanks to its clean, fast and customisable software.
So while we find the Reno 2 a success, in the same breath Oppo is flooding the market in a way that doesn't necessarily always help itself.
When it comes to value for money, OnePlus has led the way for a few years with power, premium design and lightweight software. For 2019, the OnePlus 7T represents a leap forward from its predecessor, and has a versatile triple camera system.