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Oppo’s fairly new Reno series has a midrange member – the Reno Z which offers all the essential features from a phone in its price range and even some improvements compared to the more expensive Oppo Reno. The device recently made its way to our office and we got to unbox it and take a look at its key features.
Starting with the design the Reno Z feels really similar to the vanilla Reno. In fact, the two devices are nearly identical as far as dimensions go with 6.4-inch AMOLED displays and a dual-layer glass build.
What you do notice with the Reno Z though is the waterdrop notch which replaces the signature shark fin pop-up mechanism from the other two Reno models. On the flip side, the selfie camera on the Reno Z comes in at 32MP which is double that of the regular model.
The paint job on our review unit is called Aurora Purple and it’s a predominately blue color with a purple tint towards the top part of the back. Speaking of the backside we have the same dual-camera setup from the Oppo Reno here with a 48MP main shooter utilizing a Quad Bayer filter and a 5MP depth sensor.
One of the biggest changes comes under the hood with the new Helio P90 SoC paired with 4GB RAM and 128 GB storage. The phone comes with Color OS 6 which is a heavily skinned version based on Android Pie with a lot of room for tinkering and customization. Audio heads will also enjoy the added Dolby Atmos support which was absent on the vanilla Reno.
Another welcome addition is the 4,000 mAh battery which should translate into ample running times. At around €300/£300 here in Europe, the Reno Z is a compelling package but we’ll have to go through our review procedure before we give out any judgments.
Oppo Reno Z specs
A few years ago, if you paid £300 for a smartphone you’d be treated to a boxy slab of plastic that was about as alluring as a trip to Slough or Milton Keynes. To this day, lazy design remains an issue at this end of the market – even the Pixel 3a is a little on the dull side visually.
Oppo’s decided to try and buck this trend, and make the Reno Z look as jazzy as possible, loading it with a wealth of flashy colour options and a few design flourishes that are normally reserved for more expensive phones. For a start, it has a glass back. This, plus my review unit’s snazzy purple colouring, instantly make it more alluring than most £300 phones. Be warned, though. As Bon Jovi sang, it gets slippery when wet and will crack if dropped without a case.
It also has a few top-end features including a Huawei P30-style dewdrop notch, dinky bezels and an in-screen fingerprint scanner. The scanner’s not quite as nippy as the P30’s but the fact the tech’s even in a phone this price is seriously impressive.
At first glance, under the hood things are also solid. Powering up the phone I was instantly stunned by how good the 6.4-inch AMOLED screen is, when compared to other phones this price. The 2340 x 1080 is suitably sharp and colours, while a little warm to the naked eye, generally look great. This, plus the Dolby Atmos stereo speaker setup, make it a great phone for Netflix bingeing in bed.
The Oppo Reno Z’s battery
Battery life is also great thanks to Oppo’s decision to load the Reno Z with a giant 4035 mAh cell and its custom VOOC Flash Charge 3.0 tech. With regular use, this combo let me easily get at least two days’ use out of the Oppo Reno X as my main work and personal phone.
This entailed listening to music on my commute, taking and making a few calls, constantly checking my social media and message feeds, plus a game of PUBG and a quick hour on Netflix before bed.
It dealt with demanding tasks like video streaming and gaming pretty well. Streaming video on Netflix with the phone screen at 150 nits (the level most people will be comfortable with), the Reno Z lost an average of 6-8% of its charge per hour, which is excellent. Most phones lose at least 10% running the same process. Gaming was the same – it lost around 12-15% per hour, which again is not to be sniffed at.
The Oppo Reno Z’s camera
On paper the camera’s a similar story. Oppo’s loaded the Reno Z with a dual-sensor rear camera setup that pairs the 48-megapixel Sony sensor seen on the OnePlus 7 with a secondary 5-megapixel “depth” snapper. Up front you’ll find a 38-megapixel selfie camera. The specs put the Reno X on a par with its arch-rival, the Motorola One Vision, which has a near-identical rear camera setup.
With real-world use I found camera performance between the two is fairly comparable. This means it’s good, but not Pixel 3a level, particularly in low light.
The camera app is fairly stripped down, but it has most of the features you’d expect, including auto, panorama, night, portrait, slo-mo and Google Lens options. The only minor issue is the fact there’s no RAW shooting option, which will annoy enthusiasts, but at this price that’s far from a deal-breaker.
Shots taken in normal light look good and match, if not beat, the One Vision for quality, though be warned – like the Motorola, shutter speeds can be a little slow and the camera can sometimes push the bokeh effect too far, giving portrait shots a slightly soft feel.
A few years ago I’d have praised the Reno’s low-light performance at this price. The phone can actually take usable images in low light. But hold it next to the Pixel 3a and the difference is clear. Pictures taken on the Pixel 3a in low light have better contrast, are less prone to noise and generally look more realistic than those taken on the Reno Z.
Though again, this is forgivable as it matches, if not beats, nearly every other competing £300 phone’s low-light performance.
The front camera paints a similar picture. For the money, you get great image quality that’s more than good enough to chronicle most drunken students’ clubbing adventures or finding-themselves trip around Europe. The only slight annoyance is that the app seems to softly “beautify” you even when the beauty mode is turned off and, once again, it can be a little aggressive when applying bokeh.