If you had to choose between a Sh100,000 smartphone and an SLR camera of the same amount, what would you go for?
Five years back or so, I would definitely go with the SLR camera for my photography needs, but the rate at which smartphone cameras are evolving today would make me think twice.
Cameras on smartphones were initially seen as a secondary feature, with most smartphone manufacturers giving little attention to it.
Today however, the camera has taken the centre stage This is an in depth review of the new Oppo Reno, a pocket camera with the potential to rival entry level SLR cameras.
First things first, the cameras. There are four image sensors on this device; a 16 MP selfie camera tucked away in a pivot rising structure on top of the device and the rest (48MP + 8MP + 13MP) are located at the back.
The image quality on all of the cameras on the device can be summed up superb, colour accuracy is great with impressive detail and contrast. But the telescopic sensor is what makes it special.
The device is able to zoom in at an object at 10× and although that sounds impressive, the telescope sensor only provides a 6x optical zoom. Software based (possibly AI) kicks in from 6x to 10x, which is why Oppo markets the device as 10x Hybrid Zoom – it is a combination of the two zoom options.
Thereafter, the device can zoom from 10x to 60x, although that is purely a digital zoom – a faux that results in the loss of image quality the further you zoom in.
The camera app comes with a variety of interesting features such as AI scene recognition which automatically adjusts the camera settings to get the best out of your shooting condition, night mode, time-lapse recording, Google Lens integration and a dedicated portrait mode which I found quite accurate in detecting the edges of the image in focus.
Its video quality is equally great with capability of shooting 4K resolution at 60 frames per second (fps). You also get an array of filters to add a little glitz to your videos.
A major let-down however, is that you don’t get expert mode for videos. I would have loved the freedom to choose between the three lenses and manipulate settings as you would under expert mode in photo mode.
The second most notable selling-point of the Oppo Reno lies in the design. The race to have a bezelless smartphone has seen the advent of screen notches, pop-up cameras, screen cut-outs and even under-screen cameras.
Out of all the designs I have come across, Oppo’s pivot rising structure that houses the front camera, receiver and both front and back flash lights is by far the most impressive.
But does it make it fragile? Not really. The device has been fitted with a sensor that detects whenever the phone gets dropped thereby retracting the ‘fragile’ front camera module before the phone hits the ground.
At the back of the device is a glass cover in a gradient colour finish. The camera modules are positioned centrally at the top and they don’t create any bump at all. Oppo has also fitted what it calls an O-dot, a small hump ball near the cameras to ensure the glass covering the cameras don’t scratch when the device is placed on a surface.
The Oppo Reno 10x comes equipped with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, one of the most powerful mobile processors in the markets today. This is coupled with 8GB of RAM and a whopping 256GB of internal storage. I didn’t experience any performance issues.
The 6.6” AMOLED screen is vibrant and gets bright enough for outdoor use. It is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 6 and thanks to the retractable front camera module, the device has a screen-to-body ratio of 93.1 per cent.
Under the screen is arguably one of the fastest under-screen fingerprint sensors I have ever come across. The response is superfast and accurate.
The bottom of the device hosts a USB type-C port for charging (fast charging), data transfer and audio – Yes, Oppo killed off the earphone jack in this one. Instead, the device ships with decent sounding Type-C earphones.
The main speaker, also positioned at the bottom, sounds fantastic across the volume range. This is assisted by a secondary speaker at the top of the device and this helps create a sound surround effect.
Oppo’s ColorOS 6 which is based on Android 9 runs the device and I am glad to report that it lacks the common spam apps typical of Chinese phones. The system runs smoothly.
So, the Oppo Reno seems to be winning so far. The performance is great, the design is impressive and cameras live up to expectations. But the pricing of the device, which is a trouser troubling Sh 89,999 pits it against serious competitors from established brands like Samsung and Apple.
Its closest rival, however, is the Huawei P30 Pro which comes equipped with a similar telescopic camera and some of the internal features such as the Random Access Memory size among others.
Out of the box, you get the phone, VOOC fast charger, a phone case and the aforementioned type-C earphones. A key feature missing on this device, considering its price, is water resistance.