The OPPO Reno Z is part of the new Reno series – joining its
4G lossless 10X zoom and its well-priced 5G model. Reno is pronounced Ree-No
like OPPO is Ohh-Po…
The Oppo Reno Z, however, is a $499 phone. I wondered if it was not a little cheeky of OPPO to call it a Reno when its Reno 4G and 5G siblings cost $1,199 and $1,499 and use the current flagship powerhouse Qualcomm SD855. This uses a MediaTek Helio P90 processor. And it is missing the uber-sexy, shark fin pop-up selfie camera. Instead, it has a centre teardrop. Reno’s brother by a different mother perhaps.
Don’t get me wrong – OPPO can call it whatever it likes just as Google has done with the Pixel 3a/XL and Huawei with its P30 Lite (that bears little resemblance to its P30/Pro siblings). As John Laws used to say, “When you are on a good thing, stick to it”.
Interesting, however, is that the OPPO Reno Z has caused so much excitement. Several readers now report having bought one, and I set out to discover why.
Spoiler alert: This is a terrific phone with a 6.4-inch gorgeous
AMOLED screen, 6/128GB, Wi-Fi AC and a pretty amazing camera. And it is $499,
repeat $499 dual sim unlocked.
How rate smartphones
We develop paradigms – what it needs to do – and slot them
into market segments.
Our original four categories have grown to seven, and we
review against different paradigms for each category.
Premium Flagship $1600-2499 (usually a flagship
with more memory/storage, additional camera lens and now 5G)
Flagship $1000-1599 (account for about 10% of
Premium mid-market $800-999 (10% and often last
year’s flagship at run-out price)
Mid-market $500-799 (about 25% of the market)
Mass-market $200-499 (about 25% of the market)
Value pre-paid <A$199 (about 30% of the
market – good for pre-paid and children)
The OPPO Reno Z is $499 and competes squarely with the Motorola One Vision (review here), the new Nokia 7.2 (when available), Samsung Galaxy A50 and the Huawei P30 Lite. Each phone has strengths and weaknesses.
Buy here – or you will regret it
We issue the standard warning that you must buy the genuine
model CPH1979AU dual sim with Australian firmware as it works on all Australian
Telco carrier LTE bands and can make a 000-emergency call (not 911) without a SIM.
These also have Google Pay that works with Australian PayWave readers.
How to tell: Printed under the box it has the words ‘OPPO Mobile
Australia’ and the warning that this product is only for sale and use in Australia.
It will also have a C-tick.
I like the OPPO style, so I am always happy to see a new model. The review unit, however, came in basic dull, boring piano black albeit that OPPO calls it Jet Black (and it is a fingerprint magnet). The only other Australian colour is Aurora Purple. Both are gradient colours – change as you view them from differnt angles.
By the way, if you see it in Star Purple, Extreme Night
Black, Coral Orange, or Bead White – warning – these are not Australian models.
The 6.4-inch centre teardrop screen is big, bright and
almost bezel-less. The rear has a subtle OPPO branding and the wording ‘Designed
by OPPO’ which is a shot over Huawei’s bow that has ‘Designed by Leica’.
It has a dual rear 48/5MP camera, dual-LED flash and the now
famous ‘nub’ that raises the body ever so slightly to protect the camera.
OPPO also puts effort into the box – its worthy of finding under
the Christmas tree.
But above all remember that this is a $499 phone and there
must be cost compromises somewhere. Our job is to find them and let you know if
Resolution: 2340 x 1080
Type: AMOLED (Samsung sourced)
AOD – clock, missed calls, SMS and selected notifications
Colour depth in bit/colours: 16m
Brightness: measured from 440 to 455 nits
Contrast: infinite due to OLED
producing true blacks
Colour gamut: 97% NTSC (95% sRGB) Delta E 4.82 (no adjustment)
Notch: Centre small half teardrop
Under glass 3D fingerprint
Screen protection: type: Gorilla Glass 5
Daylight readability: Superb
It is a bright AMOLED screen, easily readable in sunlight. You
can alter the colour temperature from cool 6500K to warm 7500K – default is
As usual, the auto-brightness setting is too aggressive towards
battery life, and I turn it off. Then set the slider to about 80% before it
displays the high-power consumption warning.
There are no colour adjustment options, but under Developer
Options, you can enable sRGB, and it achieves ABOUT 95% sRGB.
Summary: The best screen so far on a $499 phone – its AMOLED!
Here is the first of the compromises. The MT Helio P90 12nm
is quite a good chip for mid-to-high-end handhelds, lets alone debuting in this
mass-market device. But it is no Qualcomm. Its closest and more powerful rival
is the Qualcomm SD730 or SD710 that OPPO uses in the R17 Pro.
It uses six smaller A55 at 2.0GHz (for most things) and two
A75 cores at 2.2Ghz (for grunt). These idle at 774/850Mhz and this means excellent
power efficiency. GeekBench gives it a single/multi/compute score of 2017/6979/5635.
We loaded the phone with multiple apps and browsers – it was
What you lose is Qualcomm’s tech like the superb Hexagon Digital
Signal Processor, AI, Aqstic sound/aptX and its X series modems. Is it a deal-breaker?
Apparently not and it saves valuable pennies.
The GPU’s forte is low power use, photo rendering and video compression – it can encode/decode MP4 and decode HEVC H.265. It also supports Google’s AR extensions.
Game use: OPPO has a Game Boost 2.0 mode with Frame Boost
and Touch Boost. It should play most FHD+ mobile games. However, MediaTek has just
released its games focused, Helio G90, and it uses the Mali G76 MP4.
The 8/128GB ram/storage is unheard of in a mass-market
phone. Another compromise is no MicroSD slot for memory expansion. Still, for
this price who cares.
Heat load: Under 100% load for 15 minutes it went between
122,466-134,283 GIPS. It averages 95% performance, so there is no throttling under
load. The rear cover temperature was just on 32° – perfect.
Wi-Fi AC, dual-band, MIMO
A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, BDS
Wi-Fi strength on 5Ghz is -47dBm compared to our reference Galaxy
Note9 at -48dBm (lower is better). Both phones achieve 866Mbps at 2m from our D-link
AC 5300 router. At 5m the Note9 is 195Mbps versus 173Mbps for the Reno Z. It
has an excellent Wi-Fi antenna setup.
GPS has fast satellite acquisition and more than enough speed
for turn-by-turn navigation and recalculations.
Dual sim unlocked – no microSD slot
(note Vodafone, Optus and Telstra are single SIM)
Dual active SIM can support both 4G and VoLTE at the same time
VoLTE and VoWiFi depends on carrier
Both the Reno Z and Note9, were -97dBm. But where the Reno Z shines is finding the next nearest tower at -99dBm – the Note9 cannot – that reflects later tech.
LTE Bands cover all Australia carriers and many international
You can read about Dual Sim setup options on OPPO here. It really offers excellent flexibility.
3.5mm audio jack Earpiece (mono for phone) plus becomes stereo with the down-firing speaker Mics: 2 3.5mm buds FM Radio (needs wired headphones)
Dual Class D TFA98912UK 3.6W RMS at 8 Ohm THD <1% Dolby Atmos decoding Default res: 16-bit/48kHz Max res 24-bit/192kHz
This is a loud phone. Ringer is 86dB and voice/music is
76/79dB – outstanding.
I usually criticise the so-called a stereo earpiece and down-firing
speaker combo, but it had reasonable separation and similar volume and sound
characteristics. Good tuning!
As is OPPO’s style our reference Sony WH-100XM3 headphones
sounded superb although we suspect its nothing to do with the SBC codec and
more to do with the Dolby Atmos psychoacoustic trickery.
Dolby Atmos means it can accept up
to 5.1.2 or 7.1.4 Atmos content and downmix it to the 2.0 speakers or
headphones/buds. Atmos settings are Smart, Movie, Gaming and Music.
We tested the 3.5mm buds, and the sound was adequate – no bass,
strong mids and weak upper mids and treble.
Deep Bass: 20-40Hz – nil Middle Bass: 40-100Hz – nil High Bass: 100 to 200Hz – building Low-mids: 200-400Hz – still building Mids: 400-1000Hz – building and flat High-mids: 1-2kHz – flat Low-treble: 2-4kHz – flat to peaking Treble: 4-6kHz – declining High Treble: 6-10kHz – declining Dog whistle: 10-20 – dropped off the cliff at 16kHz
This is predominately a bright vocal sound signature that is good for voice but tends to lack the ‘oomph’ for bass.
OPPO has a headphone monitor setting that allows you to hear
the smartphone mic via the headphones. Karaoke anyone?
Fingerprint sensor under glass
Face recognition 2D
This has one of the best under glass scanners I have used.
It is fast but not quite as fast as the Reno 5G which is blazing – blame the lower-powered
Helio 90 SoC.
Face recognition is also excellent and quick. I tended to use
this for convenience over the fingerprint system.
The battery is large for this class of device. OPPO VOOC is
two batteries wired in serial and the Charger is two chargers putting out 5V/2A
each. It is an eminently sensible and safer way to give it the capacity and
charge speed without overstressing a single 4000mAh battery and USB-PD charger.
The ‘green’ cable USB-A to USB-C is for VOOC to deliver two concurrent
charges. If you lose that you can still charge at half rate using the VOOC
charger or a 5V/2A charger. It is not USB-C USB-PD compatible but using that
charger will not damage it.
1080p Video loop, 50% brightness, Airplane mode, 13 hours
Heavy Use: 11 hours
Under 100% load and everything turned on 3 hours
Given typical use we expect this to run for 24-36+ hours between charges.
Security Patch: July 2019 (excellent)
UI: ColorOS 6
My son is an OPPO fan using its phones since 2014. He has
seen ColourOS grow up. “ColorOS, when I fist started using it, was very
Apple-like and that was OK as I had come from Apple. But OS5 and now OS6 are more
Android-like, and that is a good thing. OS6 (based on Android 9) has so many more
smarts, and I can see why it needs its camera app (for AI and added features).
I really like it – it adds much value to pure Android, and you sill have all
the Google services and apps.”
It is now a minimal learning curve, but for the most part, Android users will love the added functionality of ColorOS6 – more here. BTW – you can set the home key layout to Android 9, Apple or Android 8 styles.
Jet Black and Aurora Purple
2nd-generation ink-ribbon printing technology, which uses a seven-layer ribbon over polycarbonate. Alloy frame Slippery – use the bumper case
157.3 x 74.9 x 9.1 mm x 186g
Not rated (rain resistant)
The last thing you expect is Gorilla Glass (any version)
over an alloy frame. OPPOs build quality is excellent.
IP ratings are always nice but not expected for $499.
I must take a point off for no Micro-SD, but with 128GB I
have to add it back on in a $499 phone.
Rear Camera 1 Primary
48MP (pixel bins to 12MP) Sensor brand/model: Sony IMX586 Pixel Size: .8um (pixel bins to 1.6um) F-stop: f/1.7 Stabilisation: Gyro EIS for 1K video Focus type: PDAF HDR: Auto Zoom: 10X digital Flash type: dual, Saved images: Bayer RAW or JPEG Video:4K@30fps with stereo recording Google Lens:
Rear Camera 2
5MP Depth sensor F/2.4
AI Low-light Shot, Ultra Night Mode 2.0, Backlit Selfie AI scene recognition, Photo, Portrait, Video, Night, Pano, Expert, Time-lapse, and Slo-mo
32MP (bins to 8MP) F/2.0 .8um (1.6um equivalent when binned) HDR Face unlock No screen fill flash
Why the detail?
While 48MP sounds impressive and it
is the same primary sensor as the Reno 5G,
and 4G 10x zoom. The reality is that it defaults to a pixel binning 12MP
camera in all but the brightest light. There is nothing wrong with that – most
high MP cameras do that including Google’s Pixel series.
In terms of luminosity, HDR and colour reproduction of the OPPO Reno Z camera is much better than its competitors for the price. But I think it needs a firmware update to its post-processing algorithms to make images a little sharper (compared to the Qualcomm powered Reno 4 and 5G)
There are small differences between the Sony 48MP IMX586
sensor and the Samsung 48MP SK5GM1 used in the Motorola One Vision.
Sony has gyro-EIS and can shoot at 48MP or 12MP. Samsung has
OIS and only shoots at 12MP.
From what I read, the Sony Sensor has the edge
it gives sharper resolution and only pixel bins when necessary, e.g. low light. The Quad-Bayer arrangement allows three modes, e.g. two-exposures HDR, Quad-binning (12MP), and normal (49MP).
The Samsung has Tetracel Plus (really Quad-Bayer), but its
12MP output means digital zoom is not as crisp as it extrapolates to 48MP.
Suffice to say OPPO is a leader in AI for photography and has almost every conceivable feature. Now they have added night mode.
Tests – all auto
Indoors Office Light (400 lumens)
Low light (room with less than 100 lumens)
32MP (bins to 8MP) detail is excellent, but contrast is not quite there. Still it is a sharp and colourful shot.
See toy dog shot above. The rear bokeh works flawlessly. It is OK for the single-lens front camera as long as you are not wearing things that break your silhouette.
It has 4K@30fps and colour and details are excellent if you hold it still. At 1K@30fps gyro-EIS kicks in and colour and quality are terrific even if you are walking around
GadgetGuy’s take – OPPO you have done it again. The Oppo Reno Z is a class-leading act even if its as cheap as chips.
Huge colourful, bright AMOLED display, fast SoC, 8/128GB, and a 48 (12MP) and 32MP selfie camera. There is not one thing to dislike about this.
I love this phone. In a week or so of use, it could be my daily drive. At $499 it makes me think about forking out over $1000 on a flagship ever again.
Naysayers will point to the MediaTek Helio P90 and its lack of a pedigree (specifically games, but I think it is OK. Then they will point to no microSD slot – 128GB for $499, get real. They may also say ColorOS 6 over Android 9 is not perfect, but it is pretty good, and those who use it – love it.
The only real competitor is the $499 Motorola One Vision, and yes, Pure Android One (and its guaranteed patches and OS updates) and an IP53 rating may sway me, but it’s a tough call between them.
One reader who bought and OPPO Reno Z sent me this
Despite the Reno Z not having removable SD card I’ll live
with the Reno Z’s 128GB. I can use Wi-Fi or USB-C to transfer excess ‘stuff’ to
One key determinant was the Reno Z’s stereo speakers – after the Sony Xperia I didn’t want to do without. The speakers are louder which is a boon with my old man’s hearing problems.
I’m still getting the hang of the ColorOS 6. The fingerprint recognition works well, and very fast (a second or less). The screen has a noticeably better resolution and much easier to read than the Xperia’s. The phone overall is close to the same size as the Xperia’s.
One nice touch is that the screen comes with a scratch-resistant protector and a silicone case is thrown in, so you don’t need to source and pay extra for these. The phone looks very nice (until you mask it with the cover, of course).
I don’t play games, so the processor is not an issue for me. It easily copes with road navigation, etc. As far as I can ascertain at this early stage, having a MediaTek rather than Snapdragon won’t be an issue.