OPPO Reno 5G – and 4G variant
4.9Overall Score
Name: OPPO Reno 5G
Price (RRP): $1499 (4G for $1199)
Manufacturer: OPPO

The OPPO Reno 5G is a true flagship class smartphone from one of the world’s largest mass-and-mid-market Chinese phone makers.

Perhaps, more importantly, the OPPO Reno 5G is one of three handsets available from Telstra that operate on its embryonic 5G network. We will cover that later.

If you have not heard of OPPO, click on this link for GadgetGuy’s coverage. No, they do not pay us, and every review is independent and well researched. This brand has been in Australia for about five years; it has a considerable local presence with offices and support here. Its budget A-series and mid-market R series punch well above their weight. Canstar has awarded OPPO its most satisfied customers gong for two years in a row.

The OPPO Reno 5G (pronounced Re-No like OPPO is Oh-Po) is leading edge – from its Qualcomm SD855 engine to its amazing camera setup. It is the best value choice of a 5G phone for us all. Although I think its 4G OPPO Reno 10X Zoom version is the one we should all buy.

How we rate smartphones

We develop paradigms to measure performance against and then slot them into market segments.

Our original four categories have grown to seven, and we review against different paradigms for each category.

  1. Foldable $2500+
  2. Premium Flagship $1600-2499 (usually a flagship with more memory/storage, additional camera lens and now 5G)
  3. Flagship $1000-1599 (account for about 10% of sales)
  4. Premium mid-market $800-999 (10% and often last year’s flagship at run-out price)
  5. Mid-market $500-799 (about 25% of the market)
  6. Mass-market $200-499 (about 25% of the market)
  7. Value pre-paid <A$199 (about 30% of the market – good for pre-paid and children)

The OPPO Reno 5G sells for $1499 from JB Hi-Fi or a plan from Telstra. The 4G variety sells for $1199 from JB Hi-Fi and major retailers – it is identical except for the 5G modem chip and is not locked to Telstra.

Buy here – or you will regret it

We issue the standard warning that you must buy the genuine model with Australian firmware to work on Telstra’s 5G and 4G network. Also, it can make a 000-emergency call (not 911) without a SIM. These also have Google Pay that works with Australian PayWave readers.

The 5G Model is CPH1921AU, and the 4G Model is CPH919AU have the word/image Australian C-tick under ‘Settings, About phone, Regulatory’. Importantly reject any phone that does not come with an Australian VOOC 3.0 wall charger  (does not use a plug adaptor).

International models from AliExpress, GearBest, Banggood, Mobicity, Allphones – in fact almost any online source – are usually not for Australia.

Telstra 5G network

Telstra is an early 5G adopter. Its network is embryonic – Telstra admits this. There are currently 125 small cells over ten cities. You can read more here. You can also read GadgetGuy’s 5G guide here and why we say its better to buy a 4G handset in 2019/20/21 and save money now – at least until the network has grown and you have a use case for it.

We have valiantly tried to get a 5G signal in spots on Telstra’s coverage maps but have been less than successful. The one signal we got in Surry Hills was very erratic and nowhere near the 2Gbps nirvana that Telstra obtained at the OPPO Reno launch.

We are not knocking the Telstra 5G network nor discouraging you from buying a 5G phone – it is just that for most of us it will be a very expensive 4G phone. Perhaps your next phone in 2022 will be 5G.

Review: OPPO Reno Model CPH1921

Australian Website here.

Telstra’s OPPO Reno 5G page is here

In the box

  • Handset
  • VOOC 3.0 5V/4A Australian plug wall charger (requires OPPO ‘green cable’)
  • OPPO ‘green’ USB-A to USB-C cable
  • USB-C Premium earbuds and mic
  • Dark grey texture bumper case

First impression – gorgeous green

OPPO Reno 5G features

The OPPO Reno is unlike anything you have ever seen before. Almost 100% screen, no notch, rounded corners – OPPO nailed this design.

Pick it up, and it is a solid phone – 215g over the Huawei P30 Pro (192g) and Samsung Galaxy S10 5G (198g), but it’s not heavy in your pocket.

Turn it over and take in the iridescent Ocean Green (bah humbug – boring matte Jet Black) and see a neat array of three glass covered lenses (yea! Not the usual Apple ‘on the edge’ design) and a small O-Dot to raise the phone off the surface and protect the glass covered lenses. Very glassy, err classy.

Screen

Size: 6.6-inch
Resolution: 2340 x 1080, 60Hz refresh
PPI: 390
Ratio: 19.5:9
Type: AMOLED with Always on display (Samsung made diamond PenTile)
S-T-B-R: 93.1%
Colour depth: 24-bit, 16M colours
Brightness: 430 nits (typical) – tested to 440 nits
Contrast: Infinite
HDR: Yes
Colour gamut: 100% DCI-P3
Settings: Vivid (DCI-P3) or Gentle (sRGB)
Colour temperature: Slider from Cooler (bright blue tint white) to Warmer (Daylight)
Notch: Full screen – no notch with pop up shark fin selfie
Screen protection: Gorilla Glass 6 and factory applied screen protector
Daylight readability: As good as an OLED gets
Eye protection: Low blue light eye protection certification by TÜV

The screen is flat (good) with 2.5D infinity edges. It is a delight to use with simple flowing finger movements.

deltaE (colour accuracy) is very good (depends on settings) and you can get to 2.4 (anything below 4 is good). Colours really pop in Vivid DCI-P3 mode.

Brightness is a maximum of 430 nits – there is no aggressive super boost that you find on some OLED screens. This is one of the few phones where Auto-Brightness does not favour battery life over brightness no can you change the screen resolution to save battery. It has Night Shield and Low-Brightness Flicker-Free Eye care – not that you need it with AMOLED.

Summary: One of the best 1K AMOLED screens we have seen with excellent DCI-P3 (Hollywood movie) coverage and sRGB colour if you want it.

Performance

Processor Qualcomm SD 855 new 7nm die
1×2.84GHz Kryo 485 & 3×2.42GHz Kryo 485 & 4×1.8GHz Kryo 485
New Copper Tube, triple graphite layer, gel liquid cooling system
X50 5G modem sub 6GHz and X24 4G World modem
Wi-FI 6 (AX and AD backwards compatible)
AI Engine
AI DSP Hexagon 690 – 7 trillion AI operations per second
AI ISP Spectra 380
GPU Adreno 640
Video codecs H.265 (HEVC), HDR10+, HLG, HDR10, H.264 (AVC), VP8, VP9
RAM RAM: 8GB LPDDR4-2133Mhz
Storage: 256GB UFS 21. and 220GB free
OTG Support: Yes
Micro-SD card: 256GB

The Qualcomm SD855 is the 2019 flagship processor, and any phone using it will perform similarly. That means GeekBench single/multi-core tests of around 3500/11000. To put that in perspective the Huawei P30 Pro Kirin 980 SoC is approx 3300/10000. Note these speeds are not far off the Apple iPhone XS series.

The Adreno 640 is the fastest GPU and is about 20% faster than the Kirin 980.

Some reviews state the unit gets hot. Yes, under full load it gets warmish – 30° – but nowhere near alarming levels. And, we did not see evidence of throttling (tested at 100% for five minutes) – you get the full value from the SD855 in the OPPO Reno 5G.

OPPO Reno 5G heat pipe

Game use: It has game Boost 2.0. When it predicts lag, frame rate and stability prioritise for a first-class gaming experience. This has lowered PUBG lag by 44.1% and increased frame rate stability by 31.38%. It also has a screen touch boost and an X-axis haptic feedback motor.

OPPO Reno 5G games

CPU/GPU summary: Silky smooth performance even in the most graphically intense apps.

Comms

Wi-FI Wi-Fi AC, dual-band, 2 x 2 MU-MIMO
Peak speed 10Gbps 8×8
Wi-Di, Hotspot, Miracast
BT Bluetooth 5.0
Peak speed 2 Gbps
NFC Yes
USB USB-C 2.0
Display Port over USB-C
OTG
GPS and e-compass Dual-frequency, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO, QZSS

It gets -49dBm in Wi-Fi AC (Samsung Note 9 gets -48dBm) – excellent. It appears that a future firmware update may enable Wi-Fi AX use.

BT 5.0 is the most recent standard and supports multi-point connections and higher transfer speeds.

Dual Frequency GPS means more accurate GPS, and we found it fine for in-car navigation use (in a cradle).

Sound

Sound 3.5mm audio jack: No
Earpiece speaker: part of the shark fin pop-up, audio transparency through the top bezel
Speaker: down-firing
Mics: 3 (one for ANC)
Buds: USB-C premium
Res Qualcomm TrueWireless and Aqstic SM8150
24-bit/192kHz
Dolby Atmos
Max98927 Class D Amplifier capable of 85dB
Codecs SBC, AAC, aptX/HD, LDAC and other hi-res audio to 32-bit/96kHz.

The top speaker does not match the acoustic properties of the much louder bottom speaker, so any semblance of stereo L/R separation is not really possible.

Maximum ring volume is 82dB (good), and music/voice is 75dB. Hands-free is clear enough in an office environment, and callers did not feel I was in a ‘tunnel’.

Dolby Atmos simply means it can accept 5.1.2 or 7.1.4 Atmos content and downmix it to the 2.0 speakers or headphones/buds. Sorry but the speakers lack the oomph, and there is no sound stage there either. Atmos settings are Smart, Movie, Gaming and Music.

But attach our reference Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones that support SBC, LDAC and aptX/HD, and you get glorious Atmos sound. The premium USB-C buds were not bad either.

Note: Frequency response is from 20Hz to 20kHz

  • Deep Bass: 20-40Hz – none
  • Middle Bass: 40-100Hz – creeping in
  • High Bass: 100 to 200Hz – building
  • Low-mids: 200-400Hz – flat
  • Mids: 400-1000Hz – flat
  • High-mids: 1-2kHz building
  • Low-treble: 2-4kHz – building
  • Treble:4-6kHz – flat
  • High Treble: 6-1kHz – flat
  • Dog whistle: 10-20 – non-existent

This is a bright vocal signature – quite clear and crisp for voice but can be shrill for music and movies. We tried with Dolby Atmos (music preset) on/off.

With Atmos on bass improves and the speakers are ‘listenable’.

OPPO Reno 5G FR Atmos

With Atmos off the music is shrill and harsh evidenced by no bass, poor mids and excellent treble.

OPPO Reno 5G FR no Atmos

Other

Other Goodix optical fingerprint sensor in-glass
Face recognition
Shark fin The shark fin pop-up is elegant and fast – .08 seconds.
Tested 200,000 uses – 11 years at 50 times a day
Auto retraction if it senses a fall and will not open if there is resistance (in a pocket)

The Goodix optical fingerprint sensor is in-glass. It’s 99.99% accurate and fast – less than a second to unlock the phone.

Face recognition can be a default (why bother) and the sharkfin automatically pops up if Fingerprint Recognition does not work.

Battery

Battery 4065 mAh battery (VOOC uses two batteries in parallel for safety)
Charger   Charger type, e.g. 5V/4A (20W)
Quick charge: VOOC 3.0
Wireless Qi charge: NO
Approx recharge time: 50% in 30 minutes and 100% in 60 minutes
GSM Arena endurance rating: 107 hours

The battery is large but comparable for this class of device.
Tests:

  • 1080p Video loop, 50% brightness, Airplane mode was an astonishing 18 hours
  • General to heavy use patterns – 35 hours
  • Under 100% load, maximum brightness and everything turned on GeekBench 4 estimates around 6% battery use per hour – 16 hours.

These figures are excellent and due to the  AMOLED screen, AI and the power efficiency of the SD855.

Given heavy/typical use, we expect this to run for 24/36+ hours between charges.

4G/5G/LTE

LTE Cat 20/13 2Gbps/316Mbps
Bands: 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/17/18/19/20/25/26/28/29/32/34/38/39/40/41/66
5G Sub-6GHz 4×4 MIMO
Band: n78 Telstra
Sim Single Nano SIM
Single MicroSD slot
Other VoLTE and VoWiFi depends on carrier

4G

In a 4G zone Network Cell Info shows a rock-solid -101dBm 4G signal which is superior to the Samsung Note9 reference phone at -108dBm. What that means is that it gets better 4G reception. It also picked up the next furthest tower at -107dBm where the Samsung Note9 was -141dBm.

In a 4GX Zone using Ookla Speedtest, the OPPO managed 128/40Mbps download/upload versus the Samsung Note9 at 59/30Mbps.

However, we are comparing 2019 and 2018 technology so you would expect the OPPO to be better.

5G

We did finally get a 5G signal in Surry Hills. Before we report the best signals, let’s just say that we had a wild range of signal strengths in a 5-minute period.

The OPPO Reno got 450/65Mbps download/upload.

For comparison the LG V50 ThinQ 5G got 452/30Mbps (dual screen) and 462/46.5 in single screen. We can only suggest that the clip-on dual screen may impede 5G signals slightly.

Operating system

OS Android: 9 Pie
UI: Colour OS 6
Eligible for Android Q Beta
Google Assistant and Lens

Android Pie has loads of features, including AI, to learn about your use and adapt the phone to it. In the test week, we started to see minor improvements, especially in the adaptive brightness setting. OPPO adds its own AI overlays like the optional AI Ice Box Intelligently analyses app usage over two weeks.

OPPO uses its own Color OS 6 (details here) user interface and while it gets better and is a lighter touch with every iteration – you still need to learn where some things are. In the past, it has been an iPhone work-alike, but now it is more back to its Android roots.

OPPO Reno 5G Color OS 6

The change is due to Apple iPhone’s steady market share decline in China and OPPO needing to match Huawei’s EMUI (much more Android-like) – that is a good thing.

Both companies need a User Experience for the Asian market who cannot access Google services or apps. But wait for it – Reno now has an App Draw (missing from all earlier Color OS). There is also a Theme Store. Oh, and it supports App cloning (two versions of the same app running in different accounts).

OPPO pre-loads Google Apps neatly in a Google Folder. Apart from OPPO’s more highly developed Camera and Photos app, you are not stuck with clone apps. Google Assistant activates on a short press of the power key.

Interestingly you can join the Android Q Beta program (some conditions apply) and run pure Android Q Beta. Is this a sign of things to come?

Build

Colours Ocean Green (frosty, semi-iridescent)
Jet Black (Glossy black)
Build Aluminium Alloy frame offers some grip
Gorilla Glass 5 with curved sides (more scratch resistant)
Slippery – use the grippy bumper case provided
Dimensions 162 x 77.2 x 9.3 x 215g
IP Rating None

It is very well-made. An exceptional looking- ocean green, notch-less AMOLED and the shark fin is a real feature.

OPPO Reno 5G colours and sharkfin

What’s missing

Missing FM Radio
IR blaster
IP rating
Wireless and reverse charging

Unless you are a Qi wireless charging addict, then none of the above are deal breakers.

Camera: OPPO Reno 5G and 4G 10X

It has a tri-camera setup with the works.

Rear Camera 1
Primary
MP: 48MP (26mm wide)
Sony IMX586 Exmor RS, ½”, Quad Bayer colour filter array, backlit and stacked
Pixel Size: 0.8 µm at 48MP (for high brightness) or 1.6 µm, 4-in-1 pixel binning 12MP
Lens: 6 glass
Aperture: f/1.7
ISO: 100-6400
FOV: ?°
HDR: Yes
Stabilisation: Both ball-bearing OIS and gyro-EIS
Focus type: Phase detection AF, Laser focus, contrast detection autofocus
Zoom: Digital
AI scene recognition
Flash type: Dual LED as part of the shark fin pop-up
Saved images: RAW or JPEG
Video: 8.29MP, [email protected] with mono/stereo recording
Google Lens: Yes
Features: Continuous shooting; Touch focus; face detection; AI screen mode
Rear Camera 2 8MP 16mm ultrawide
F/2.2
120° FOV
Rear Camera 3 13MP 160mm telephoto (saves images as 12MP)
Sensor: Samsung S5K3M5
1.0 um
F/3.0
Laser/PDAF, OIS
5X Optical and 10X Hybrid Zoom and 60X ludicrous zoom
Selfie 1 Motorised pop-up shark fin
16MP
Sensor: Sony IMX471 (also pixel bins to 4MP)
26mm focal length
1.0 um
F/2.0
Fixed focus
EIS
ISO 100-1600
Video 2MP, [email protected]
Face unlock
79.3° FOV
LED flash

Why the detail?

This is an interesting camera setup.

  • 48MP with OIS/EIS that can pixel-bin for superb low light shots – in fact, it will default to 12MP for all but high ambient light shots.
  • 8MP ultrawide is for both depth sensing as well as those impossible ‘Grand Canyon’ vistas.
  • 13MP ‘Periscope’ telephoto with OIS for rock-solid long-distance shots and the 5X Optical Zoom with up to 60X hybrid zoom. OPPO claim it is lossless zoom to 10X, and I tend to agree.

These lenses work seamlessly together, and the camera decides what combination or lens you need.

On paper, the OPPO Reno 5G (or 4G) camera is better than the Huawei P30 Pro – the current DxoMark king tying with the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G. Frankly, it would not surprise me if it beats that although OPPO does not support DxoMark. OPPO is, after all, a camera first and a phone second (cameraphone) and have enormous photo expertise.

In a gentle swipe aimed at Huawei that has its camera’s branded designed by Leica, OPPO has in fine print under the camera – ‘OPPO – Designed by OPPO’.

And best of all the camera is now in the centre, mid-top of the phone away from annoying fingers in the shot that you experience with edge-mounted cameras like Apple’s iPhone or Huawei’s P30/Pro.

AI software

The Qualcomm SD855 is a powerhouse when it comes to post-processing images. Give it good lenses and decent camera sensors, and it can do miracles. Night Mode relies on this power. Noise reduction is great – the processor chooses the best pixels.

It recognises around 120 scenes – food, snow, pets (dogs and cats), sunsets, grass ‘mostly’ correctly.

Beautify uses face recognition to intelligently analyse the user in terms of gender, age, skin colour, skin texture, face shape, and pupil characteristics to fix minor blemishes.

Unlike a lot of AI, OPPO seems to have bought it under control. Colours are accurate instead of what the AI thinks they should be.

Tests – all set to auto flash and HDR

Daylight, outdoors

You can shoot in 48MP or 12MP pixel binning. We saw little difference in the finished product.

Huge detail, low or no noise, sharp, good contrast and little evidence of over-post-processing. A true idiot proof flagship camera.

OPPO Reno 5G outdoors 1X
1X – perfect colours, detail and contrast
OPPO Reno 5G outdoors 5X
5X Optical zoom – excellent detail, no post-processing noise. Love OIS!
OPPO Reno 5G 10X
10X – even more detail
OPPO Reno 5G 60x
60X ludicrous zoom but great details.

Indoors Office Light (400 lumens)

OPPO Reno 5G office
Our model dog has never looked so good. Perfect colours and detail.

Low light (room with less than 100 lumens)

OPPO Reno 5G indoors
Excellent detail and reasonable colour – no washout of the PC screens

Ultra Night mode 2.0

OPPO Reno 5G Night
Night mode gives a better shot toning down the colours a little

It takes a second or so to pixel-bin the 48MP to 12MP and uses AI to fill in colours. Almost as good as the Google Pixel 3/XL. OIS works but holds the camera steady for best results.

Portrait/Bokeh rear camera

Stellar foreground and background definition. Five modes to select, plus filters, and beautify mode.

Selfie – front camera

16MP is great for detailed and colour accurate selfies. Add OPPO’s legendary Beautification mode, and even I look good. Bokeh is a little hit and miss due to the single lens, so don’t push it.

It is just about wide enough for two people – but not for a group. It has shark fin fill flash.

Dazzle Colour

Adds saturation to washed out colours

Macro

Automatic for extremely detailed image

Zoom

Really easy to tap 1x, 2x, 6x, and 10X instead of having to pinch and spread. Plus, smooth zoom (press and hold). Note that if you want optical zoom you need to keep it at or below 5X where it produces superb details.

Video

[email protected] with OIS and at [email protected] you get OIS and EIS. Records both 3D stereo and focused audio (when aiming at someone).

Videos are excellent with great colour, detail and contrast. Our recommendation is [email protected]

Camera Summary:

We compared to the class-leading Huawei P30 Pro, and the results were 50/50 marginally in OPPOs favour.

Huawei uses a 40MP RYYB sensor (10MP Pixel binning). OPPO uses a 48MP RGGB sensor (12MP pixel binning).

OPPO’s daylight colours are better and have fewer post-processing issues – the shots look more natural and less manufactured. OPPO Periscope Zoom has better detail, especially to 10X.

Huawei uses AI more effectively for Night Mode, but colours can be a little off. Overall there is little between them.

GadgetGuy’s take – OPPO Reno 5G is for us all

When Trump said, “It’s my way of the Huawei” he opened a huge gap in the flagship field. Most expect Samsung’s excellent Galaxy S10/+/5G to fill the gap, but I suspect OPPO Reno 5G will get a large share too due to price and a like-specified camera.

My first impression of the drop-dead gorgeous phone has not changed. What has changed is the respect for OPPO to make a great flagship class phone (5G or 4G varieties) that leaves many in its wake. This is a great phone at an even better price.

I am a dyed in the wool Qi wireless charger aficionado – so it is not for me. But it is tempting. Sure VOOC 3 fast charge makes up for that – 50% in 30 minutes, but my work and home life is organised around Qi charging pads.

Lack of an IP rating is a pain. I have never had water damage to a phone, but I want to know that if it is raining or if one day I drop it into the toilet that it is not a write-off.

As a 5G phone, it’s a worthy contender, despite the abysmal lack of Telstra 5G coverage. I would buy the 4G and buy a 5G when it is a mature technology.

Note on rating. It’s worthy of a 5-out-5, but lack of Qi means we have to knock off something.

Price: OPPO Reno 5G and 4G 10X

4G $1199 unlocked all carriers
5G $1499 via Telstra

OPPO Reno 5G – and 4G variant
Name: OPPO Reno 5G Price (RRP): $1499 (4G for $1199) Manufacturer: OPPO
Best looking phone on the planet – love the Ocean Green and SharkfinAmazing full sized, bezel-less, notch-free screenFastest Qualcomm processor in 201924+ Hour battery life commensurate - VOOC 3 fast chargeCamera – Zoom, Zoom, Zoom and night sight for idiot-proof photosLower cost than the LG V50 Thin Q and Samsung Galaxy S10 5G with few comprises 4G version with all the same features for $400 less
No IP ratingNo Qi wireless charging
Features
Value for money
Performance
Ease of Use
Design
4.9Overall Score
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