Tech review: Oppo Reno2 a good camera phone for its price

At $899, the Reno2 straddles the mid-range and flagship categories. This is evident from its hardware specifications, which mixes mid-tier and premium features.
At $899, the Reno2 straddles the mid-range and flagship categories. This is evident from its hardware specifications, which mixes mid-tier and premium features.PHOTOS: OPPO

Chinese smartphone makers are churning out new models at a staggering pace. Take Oppo for instance. The firm recently launched a sequel to its Reno smartphone, which itself was released in April this year.

Like its predecessor, the Reno2 has an all-screen design enabled by a front selfie camera that pops up at an angle, like a shark fin.

At $899, the Reno2 straddles the mid-range and flagship categories. This is evident from its hardware specifications, which mixes mid-tier and premium features.

For instance, its quad-camera system, Oled screen, in-screen fingerprint sensor, 256GB storage and 8GB memory, match up to flagship models. But its Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G chip and lack of wireless charging, as well as the absence of water and dust resistance are indicators of a mid-tier device.

My Sunset Pink review set comes in an understated, pearl-like shade of pink that looks lovely. But I had to put the phone in the included case for its own good because its glass back is extremely slippery.

The bottom of the phone has the USB-C charging port, a 3.5mm audio jack and a single speaker. The latter can be muffled accidentally by a wayward hand but, on the flip side, it does not become distorted at high volumes.

The rear cameras are arranged vertically and are flush with the back. But the top portion of the phone feels thicker than the lower half. Oppo has also added a tiny nub below the camera array - seemingly for aesthetics.

The 48-megapixel (MP) main camera is very competent and has the same sensor that is found in many of this year's phones. It uses pixel-binning to produce 12MP photos that are detailed with good contrast and have accurate colours. The quality takes a slight dip when using the 8MP ultra-wide camera, though the photos are still very usable, especially in good lighting conditions. This camera also enables close-up macro shots.

It has a 2x telephoto camera that can be used with some software cropping to create a 5x hybrid zoom. The resulting photos are fairly decent, though not as amazing as the ones taken by Oppo's higher-end Reno 10x Zoom smartphone, which has a periscope-enabled optical zoom camera lens.

Finally, the fourth camera is a monochrome one that is used to capture depth information for portrait shots, as well as to enable some interesting colour filters. I found the bokeh effect (background blur) to be well-done most of the time, with the occasional artifact.

The Reno2 also performs admirably in low light conditions. Night shots looked suitably atmospheric - highlights were restrained and not overblown. When zoomed in, the photos did look grainy, but they were still mostly acceptable.

Oppo touts the ability of the front camera to add bokeh and colour effects to videos in real time. I found them rather fake and gimmicky, but they may prove entertaining to some users.

Its Oled screen is decently bright with a maximum brightness of around 500 nits. Its 1080p resolution is typical of phones in its price range and its colours look accurate to me. Given its pricing, the Reno2 unsurprisingly does not support the high dynamic range (HDR) videos in Netflix.

 

Because of the Oled screen, the Reno2 has an always-on display (AOD) feature that shows the time, date and battery indicator. But Oppo's AOD implementation, like most brands except Samsung, only shows notifications from system apps like the SMS messaging app, but not the ones from third-party apps like WhatsApp or Telegram. There is no notification LED either.

A minor grouse - the Reno2's haptic feedback engine, which vibrates when a key is tapped, is overly strong, unlike the tight and focused feel of Oppo's higher-end Reno 10x Zoom.

I am not a fan of the look and feel of Oppo's ColorOS interface, which runs on the Android 9 mobile operating system. The mix of circular and square icons is not consistent while the phone comes with several preloaded apps that cannot be uninstalled.

To be fair, the Reno2 feels responsive and smooth while navigating its interface. The phone performed well in the game Call of Duty: Mobile, which is unsurprising as its Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G chip is designed for gaming. The phone's exterior felt only slightly warm after 30 minutes of gaming.

But I was most impressed by the battery stamina. In our usual video-loop battery test at maximum brightness, the Reno2 lasted a lengthy 15hr50min.


FOR

Good set of cameras

Bezel-less Oled screen

Smooth performance

Excellent battery life

AGAINST

Lack of third-party notification for the always-on-display

Look and feel of ColorOS

Mediocre haptic feedback

SPECS

Price: $899

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G (Dual-core 2.2GHz, hexa-core 1.8GHz)

Display: 6.5-inch Amoled, 2,400 x 1,080 pixels, 401 ppi pixel density

Operating system: Color OS 6.1 (Android 9)

Memory: 256GB, 8GB RAM

Rear cameras: 48MP (f/1.7), 8MP ultra-wide (f/2.2), 13MP telephoto (f/2.4), 2MP monochrome (f/2.4)

Front camera: 16MP (f/2.0)

Battery: 4,000mAh

RATING

Features: 4/5

Design: 4/5

Performance: 4.5/5

Value for money: 4/5

Battery life: 5/5

Overall: 4/5