OPPO Reno 10x Zoom Review: A New Flagship Contender with Impressive Imaging Capabilities
When we talk about flagship smartphones, OPPO isn’t usually the first name that comes to mind. The company is primarily known for producing mid-range phones such as the OPPO F series which sell very well in regions like China and the Indian subcontinent—the latest examples being the OPPO F11 and the OPPO F11 Pro which were launched earlier this year. Until last year, OPPO also used to sell the upper mid-range R series, the culmination of which was the OPPO R17 and the OPPO R17 Pro. OPPO also sells the budget A series and the online-only K series, but the company doesn’t have a consistent release record in flagship phones. The OPPO Find X in 2018 was the first OPPO flagship to be launched in four years as the successor of the 2014 OPPO Find 7/Find 7A. However, even the Find series is nowhere to be found this year. The brand has started traveling on a new road, and it’s called the OPPO Reno.
The OPPO Reno phones are intended to be the successors of the OPPO R series as well as the Find series. This year, OPPO launched two phones in the series in April: the regular OPPO Reno and the flagship OPPO Reno 10x Zoom. The regular OPPO Reno was an upper mid-range phone with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 SoC, but it had a short life cycle. The OPPO Reno 10x Zoom, on the other hand, is a full-fledged flagship with a 10x hybrid zoom telephoto camera, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC, and a big 6.6-inch AMOLED display. The Reno 10x Zoom is also priced lower than last year’s Find X. In India, the starting variant of the phone is actually cheaper than the base variant of the OnePlus 7 Pro, which makes it an interesting proposition. OPPO then launched the OPPO Reno2 mid-range phones in India, consisting of the Reno2, Reno2Z, and the Reno2F. However, the Reno 10x Zoom still remains the company’s flagship phone.
In previous years, the OPPO R series had questionable value as the phones’ prices were on par with or higher than OnePlus phones of the corresponding generation while having mid-range processors and old-fashioned microUSB ports. At times, it felt like OPPO was deliberately holding itself back on flagships. This year, the OPPO Reno 10x Zoom makes no such mistakes, at least on paper, as it has a high-end list of specifications (while having a strangely long-winded name). Can it compete with the OnePlus 7 Pro head-to-head, though? Is it compelling enough to differentiate itself from the variety of affordable flagship competitors on the market, such as the regular OnePlus 7, ASUS ZenFone 6, Redmi K20 Pro, Xiaomi Mi 9, Honor 20, and more? Our full review attempts to answer these questions below.
OPPO Reno 10x Zoom Specifications - Click to expand
|Specifications||OPPO Reno 10X Zoom|
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 855|
|Fingerprint Sensor||Optical In-display|
|Front Camera||16MP with front-facing LED, f/2.0|
|Android Version||ColorOS 6 based on Android 9 Pie|
|Colors||Fog Sea Green, Extreme Night Black|
About this review: OPPO India loaned me a review unit of the Indian 8GB RAM/256GB storage variant of the OPPO Reno 10x Zoom. All opinions in this article are my own.
OPPO Reno 10x Zoom Design
The OPPO Reno 10x Zoom achieves high marks in aesthetics but is let down by its excessive weight. This sums up the phone’s design in a single sentence.
The Reno 10x Zoom’s design is similar to other full-screen OPPO phones such as the OPPO F11 series. From the front, it also bears some similarity to the OPPO Find X, but it employs a completely different mechanism for the front camera. On the back, the phone has a unique design that does manage to stand out in an understated fashion.
The build quality of the OPPO Reno 10x Zoom is competitive. The phone has Corning’s Gorilla Glass 6 protection on the front and Gorilla Glass 5 on the back, just like the OnePlus 7. A matte metal frame with visible antenna bands provides structural rigidity. Thankfully, there are no sharp edges to be found here, and the fit and finish of the device are just as good as other flagships on the market.
The Reno 10x Zoom has a minimalist design on the front. Thanks to the shark fin popup camera, there is no notch or hole punch to be seen here. The slim bezels provide a very high screen-to-body ratio of 93.1%, according to OPPO. Interestingly enough, the phone uses a traditional earpiece solution instead of going with a piezoelectric solution like the Vivo NEX S or electromagnetic levitation as seen on the Huawei P30 Pro. The earpiece is placed on the shark fin popup camera, but calls can be made without activating the popup camera because there is a tiny hole at the top. The earpiece also acts as the secondary speaker.
The shark fin popup camera is unique—there is nothing quite like it on the market. Other phones have small popup camera modules that contain only the popup camera, while the Reno phones have a big triangular pop-up camera module that also contains the earpiece and an LED flash. This means that all cases for this phone have to forgo protection of the top. The inclusion of the two features is the primary functional difference between it and “traditional” pop-up cameras. OPPO refers to this as a shark fin camera, although its shape is roughly equivalent to that of a scalene triangle. The camera has survived 200,000 drop tests, according to OPPO, and it rises 11-degrees in 0.8 seconds. It also has automatic drop detection, wherein it will automatically close itself if it detects the phone is falling.
As the phone employs a shark fin popup camera instead of a full-on magnetic mechanism, there is no room for 3D facial recognition hardware on the Reno, unlike the Find X. The Find X had an automatic slider that slid up the entire top bezel which contained the hardware required for 3D face unlock such as the dot projector, flood illuminator, and IR camera. The Reno 10x Zoom, on the other hand, has no room for this because only the front camera pops up out of the body. While some may think of this as a downgrade, it’s not all bad news as the Reno 10x Zoom does have an in-display fingerprint sensor, while the Find X didn’t have any sort of fingerprint sensor.
The volume buttons are placed on the left-hand side of the phone while the right-hand side contains the power button which is colored green on the Ocean Green variant. I had no complaints concerning stiffness, actuation force, or placement of the buttons.
The hybrid SIM tray is placed on the bottom which means it can take two nano-SIMs or a nano-SIM and a microSD card. The inclusion of a microSD slot is good to see considering that an increasing number of phones are skipping its inclusion these days. The USB Type-C port, the microphone, and the primary speaker are placed alongside the SIM tray. Unlike the regular Reno and the Reno2 phones, the OPPO Reno 10x Zoom doesn’t have a 3.5mm headphone jack.
On the back, we find the triple camera setup on the center which contains the 48MP (primary) + 13MP (telephoto) + 8MP (ultra-wide angle) cameras. The 13MP telephoto camera has a square shape because of the periscope design, as it has a native focal length of 125mm (more on this later). Then we have a long glossy strip that proclaims “OPPO – Designed by OPPO.” It primarily acts as an aesthetic element, but it also contains a functional addition in the form of a nub that prevents the phone from slipping on flat surfaces.
The color variants determine the texture of the back as well as that of the metal frame. The Extreme Night Black variant has a traditional glossy finish while the Ocean Green variant applies a matte finish on both the frame as well as the back. Interestingly, this coating feels warmer than the coating applied on the OnePlus 7 Pro’s Nebula Blue variant. It doesn’t catch fingerprints, which is a plus. On the other hand, it doesn’t feel cold to the touch or as premium as the OnePlus 7 Pro’s soft-touch glass. The matte coating is appreciated, but side-by-side, the soft-touch coating of the OnePlus 7 Pro is superior. Thankfully, neither of the two color options stand out too much, but the Ocean Green variant is especially understated, which is a nice touch in a sea of flashy phones.
In terms of ergonomics, the OPPO Reno 10x Zoom will prove difficult to handle for some users. There is no way to deny that the phone is big, thick, and heavy. At 210g, it’s even heavier than the OnePlus 7 Pro while the 9.3mm thickness is pushing boundaries as well. To put it simply, the phone just doesn’t feel as comfortable in the hand as smaller phones like the OnePlus 7 or the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. At least the sides, as well as the back, are curved because a flat design would have pushed it too far. For users accustomed to smaller phones, the Reno 10x Zoom may well be tiring to hold for long periods, but at the same time, the big 6.6-inch flat display will prove to be a boon for users interested in bigger displays. In general, the size of the Reno 10x Zoom is borderline in terms of usability, but I can accept its size constraints because of the benefits the big display provides. Users’ mileage may vary.
Overall, the OPPO Reno 10x Zoom’s design is almost great. The small bezels are great to see, and the understated nature of the color finishes are welcome as well. The popup camera is unique, but it doesn’t have any major drawback for its feature additions. The one thing that disappoints me is the weight. Subjectively, it’s just a bit too heavy for me, and even a weight reduction of 20 grams would have made the phone a much more pleasant one to hold in the hand.
The OPPO Reno 10x Zoom’s box contains a 20W OPPO VOOC charger and a Type-C to Type-A cable instead of the 50W Super VOOC charger featured in the OPPO R17 Pro and the OPPO Find X Lamborghini Edition. The underlying technology is the same as OnePlus’ original Dash Charge. The box also contains a hard black case that gives the phone adequate protection on the sides. We also get USB Type-C earphones bundled in the box, unlike with OnePlus. The box could have been a full-featured one had OPPO thrown in a 3.5mm to USB Type-C adapter for users having 3.5mm earphones/headphones, but the company, just like OnePlus, Huawei, and Apple, has chosen to forgo it, which means that buyers will have to purchase it separately if needed. I still can’t get behind the (lack of) reasoning for this short-sighted decision.
OPPO Reno 10x Zoom Display
The OPPO Reno 10x Zoom has a 6.6-inch Full HD+ (2340×1080) OLED display with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio and 387 PPI. The display’s dimensions are 153 mm x 71 mm. For such a big display size diagonal, the 19.5:9 aspect ratio is one of the only aspect ratios that makes sense as it ensures that the display width is kept in check. It’s also the most prevalent display aspect ratio as of now.
The Reno 10x Zoom’s display supports HDR10. The flat nature of the display is a plus point in comparison to the OnePlus 7 Pro’s curved display as it actually has more usable screen area despite having a lower display size diagonal (6.6-inch vs. 6.67-inch). It’s also less susceptible to glare and accidental touches.
The Full HD+ resolution is arguably pushing it at the 6.6-inch display size, however. Ironically, the OPPO Find 7 from 2014 had a 5.5-inch Quad HD LCD, which means it has a higher resolution than the Reno 10x Zoom. In the years since, we have seen a move back to Full HD+ displays as only top-tier flagships have QHD+ displays these days. The OnePlus 7 Pro also has a Quad HD+ display, and it is appreciably sharper than the Reno 10x Zoom. The text rendering of the Reno’s display is good, and subpixel anti-aliasing helps a great deal to hide the flaws of the PenTile matrix. While the Full HD+ (1080p) resolution is acceptable for now, a QHD+ display would have been appreciated as the difference in clarity is visible at such a big display size, even if we keep in mind the power cost of moving to QHD.
The display’s brightness is average. In manual brightness, the display’s brightness is on par with the OnePlus 7 and the OnePlus 7 Pro, which means it reaches an approximate maximum of 400+ nits. High Brightness Mode is not activated, which is a disappointment for an affordable flagship. At the upper level, flagship phones can reach as much as 700 nits (at 100% APL) brightness, as seen on the Samsung Galaxy S10e.
The contrast of the display is theoretically infinite thanks to OLED’s deep blacks. The viewing angles, unfortunately, are not as good as the OnePlus 7 Pro’s top-tier display. It’s easy to determine that the Reno 10x Zoom has a Samsung-sourced display, even though there is no mention of the display vendor in apps such as AIDA64 or DevCheck. That’s because it’s still affected by a rainbow out interference effect at extreme angles, a characteristic of cheaper Samsung-sourced panels. The Samsung-sourced displays of the OnePlus 7 Pro and the Google Pixel 3 XL, the BOE Display panel on the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, and newer LG Display panels are not affected by this issue. It’s not a major issue, but it does mean that color shifting is higher than what is seen on top-tier flagship displays while being roughly equivalent to that of the cheaper OnePlus 7.
In terms of color accuracy, OPPO offers two display modes and a color temperature slider. The “3P” mode targets the DCI-P3 gamut for all colors by stretching them to the gamut with a cold white point. The “Gentle” color mode supports automatic color management which means it’s calibrated for both the sRGB and the DCI-P3 gamuts. The default white point is a little colder than 6504K, and it can be fixed by setting the colour temperature slider near to the extreme end of the “Warm” preset. In comparison, the OnePlus 7’s display has a warm white point (~6200K) in its calibrated Natural mode. The grayscale, saturation, and gamut coverage of the display all seem fine subjectively in comparison with the OnePlus 7 Pro’s Natural color mode.
The OPPO Reno 10x Zoom’s display has a 60Hz display refresh rate, instead of stepping forward with a 90Hz refresh rate. This means scrolling is not as smooth as the OnePlus 7 Pro’s fantastic 90Hz panel. 90Hz does have a power cost associated with it, but the significant improvements it brings to fluidity are strong enough to override its drawbacks. I wish OPPO could have placed a 90Hz panel in the Reno, and going on account of the increase in high refresh rate phones being released (the Nubia Red Magic 3 and the ASUS ROG Phone II), this is a natural addition in the to-do list for the phone’s successor.
The Reno’s display also has support for DC dimming (disabled by default) which is referred to as “Low Brightness Flicker-Free Eye Care” in the display settings. The “flicker-free” terminology refers to the fact that it doesn’t use high-frequency flickering to change brightness, unlike PWM.
The notchless display of the Reno 10x Zoom means that users don’t have to worry about cut-outs, decrease in space for the status bar icons, media, and games, etc. It just works well out of the box.
Overall, the OPPO Reno 10x Zoom’s display is good without being outstanding. Its lack of a QHD+ resolution and high display refresh rate prevent it from being a future-proof display, while the higher degree of color shifting makes it apparent that it’s not a top-tier display. On the other hand, the display posts competitive results in brightness, contrast, and color accuracy. For its price point, it provides similar quality to the regular OnePlus 7 and gets the job done, but it’s fair to say that the OnePlus 7 Pro’s display is a better quality panel.
OPPO Reno 10x Zoom Performance
The OPPO Reno 10x Zoom is powered by the flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC. We have gone in-depth regarding the SoC’s AI and gaming features, performance compared to the HiSilicon Kirin 980 and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, and tested it in multiple phones: the Xiaomi Mi 9, Samsung Galaxy S10+, Nubia Red Magic 3, OnePlus 7 Pro, OnePlus 7, and the Redmi K20 Pro.
The Reno 10x Zoom, therefore, isn’t expected to post any surprising results in terms of system performance. To test this, we put the phone through its paces in PCMark, which holistically tests performance across common use cases such as web browsing, photo editing, writing, and more using a range of Android APIs. For example, the Writing 2.0 test uses the AndroidEditText view and the PdfDocument APIs.
The Reno 10x Zoom’s PCMark Work 2.0 overall score is significantly lower than the other Snapdragon 855-powered flagships we have tested, which is a bit disappointing. It’s also lower than the Kirin 980-powered Huawei Mate 20 Pro, but it does manage to beat the Exynos 9820 variant of the Samsung Galaxy S10e. In the Web Browsing 2.0 test, the phone’s score is the worst in its class, coming up even below the Galaxy S10e. In the aging Video Editing test, its score is on par for the course, but the Writing 2.0 score is a true disappointment as the Reno 10x Zoom is only slightly ahead of the Galaxy S10e while trailing the OnePlus 7, Huawei Mate 20 Pro, and even the OnePlus 6T.
The Photo Editing 2.0 score is also uninspiring, as it gets substantially beaten by the OnePlus 7 again, while the OnePlus 6T is also ahead. The Data Manipulation score is fine as it virtually ties with the OnePlus 7, but it’s clear to see that the Writing and Web Browsing tests are dragging down the overall score.
In Speedometer 2.0, the OPPO Reno 10x Zoom’s score is yet again lower than the OnePlus 7.
In Geekbench, the phone’s single-core score is a bit lower than the other Snapdragon 855 phones, but the multi-core score actually beats most of its competitors.
To test storage performance, we turn towards AndroBench. The Reno 10x Zoom has 128GB/256GB of UFS 2.1 NAND (my unit has 256GB storage). It would have been nice to see UFS 3.0 storage as seen on the OnePlus 7 and the OnePlus 7 Pro, but the real-world performance improvements are marginal at this point, with the newer standard acting as a future-proofing measure. Nothing is surprising with the Reno 10x Zoom’s AndroBench results, although the sequential reads speed is a little lower than most 2018-2019 flagships we have seen while being significantly lower than the OnePlus 7. The random write speeds are par for the course, with only Huawei having a huge advantage (or bug) here.
UI performance, RAM management, and unlocking speed
In terms of real-world performance, the OPPO Reno 10x Zoom holds up well. The phone feels a little slower than phones like the standard OnePlus 7, but this is more to do with OnePlus speeding up animations in its OxygenOS software. The OnePlus 7 Pro is on another level in terms of smoothness because of the 90Hz refresh rate of its display that helps out a lot for scrolling fluidity. Both OnePlus phones also benefit from UFS 3.0 storage in terms of faster app installation speeds, but the differences are almost impossible to perceive (unless and until you’re updating the Google App).
The Reno 10x Zoom’s performance, therefore, is on par for the course when it comes to the subject of Snapdragon 855-powered phones. It’s still smoother than the Exynos Samsung Galaxy S10e, which is a plus point. The smoothness here leaves no real room for complaints, even if it’s not class-leading.
The RAM management on the Reno 10x Zoom is excellent. It’s demonstrably better than on the OnePlus 7 Pro, which may signify that ColorOS has less aggressive app management policies than OxygenOS. Multitasking is not an issue, and although apps and browser tabs do reload after long periods, there are no unpleasant surprises to be found here.
The unlocking speed of the OPPO Reno 10x Zoom is very good. The phone’s in-display fingerprint sensor is significantly improved from the first-generation optical in-display fingerprint sensors. In terms of speed and accuracy, the sensor is only slightly slower than the fastest capacitive fingerprint sensors, which means that the gap has almost been bridged. The sensor is not always-on, which remains its one weak point, but OPPO enables an understated fingerprint sensor icon on the display whenever the phone is moved, mitigating this drawback to a significant extent. The fingerprint sensor is just as fast as the fingerprint sensors of the OnePlus 7 and the OnePlus 7 Pro.
The Reno 10x Zoom doesn’t have 3D facial recognition like Face ID, but it does have 2D face unlock. This is not intended to be secure, so it can’t be used for making payments. In terms of speed, it does work rather seamlessly as a backup unlocking method and OPPO allows the user to either press the power button to trigger the popup camera or swipe up the display when it’s switched on. There is also an option to have facial recognition fail if the user’s eyes are closed. Due to the shark fin popup camera’s mechanical nature, I don’t recommend face unlock as a primary unlock mechanism because it would lead to much higher wear of the mechanism.
The Reno 10x Zoom also behaves well when it comes to thermals. Temperatures of both the battery and the CPU are well under control during moderate use, and the phone feels warm even after intensive use, instead of becoming uncomfortably hot like the Exynos Samsung Galaxy S10e.
Overall, the OPPO Reno 10x Zoom passes the real word performance tests with room to spare, even if it doesn’t post best-in-class results in some areas. The Snapdragon 855 is such a great SoC that great performance is almost guaranteed, and OPPO doesn’t disappoint here. A 90Hz display would improve device smoothness by a substantial percentage, and that is where the company needs to apply its attention for the future.
With the Adreno 640, GPU performance hasn’t been a thing to worry about in phones with the Snapdragon 855. That’s because Qualcomm continues to enjoy a significant GPU performance advantage over ARM’s Mali GPUs found in HiSilicon’s Kirin SoCs and Samsung’s Exynos SoCs. While Apple is the overall leader in GPU performance thanks to the super-fast GPUs in the A12 and A13, the Adreno 640 is as good as it gets in the Android market in 2019. The overclocked version of the Adreno 640 in the Snapdragon 855 Plus is 15% faster, but differences in real-world gaming performance are sure to be negligible.
The OPPO Reno 10x Zoom’s scores in 3DMark are on average slightly lower than the OnePlus 7’s scores. The differences are marginal between the two, and the Reno does end up beating Kirin 980-powered phones and the Exynos 9820-powered Galaxy S10e. This means that the phone has a great hardware base that should lead to excellent gaming performance.
OPPO Reno 10x Zoom Camera Performance
The OPPO Reno 10x Zoom features a triple camera setup. The primary camera has the famous 48MP Sony IMX586 sensor with 1/2″ sensor size, 0.8um pixel size, f/1.7 aperture, 4.75mm focal length, phase detection autofocus (PDAF), and optical image stabilization (OIS). The wide-angle camera has 8MP resolution, 120° field-of-view, and an f/2.2 aperture (it skips out on autofocus). The 13MP telephoto camera is where things get interesting. The Reno 10x Zoom is currently one of only two phones so far (the other being the Huawei P30 Pro) to use a periscope zoom telephoto camera. The periscope nature of the lens is the reason behind its square shape, and it’s the feature that enables an astonishing 125mm focal length without the need for a thick camera bump.
The Huawei P30 Pro has an 8MP camera with 125mm equivalent focal length that enables the phone to achieve 5x optical zoom relative to the primary camera’s 26mm equivalent focal length. According to the software of the Reno 10x Zoom, the 13MP telephoto sensor has a 135mm equivalent focal length that lets it achieve 6x zoom relative to the primary camera’s 25.7mm equivalent focal length. The software doesn’t tell a true story, however. The true focal length of the sensor is 125mm and not 135mm, meaning that the phone can do 5x optical zoom, with the 6x zoom being a hybrid option. Strangely, OPPO promotes the 6x zoom option in the camera app, while the 5x zoom option has to be accessed by pinch-zooming. As we will see below, the differences in image quality between the two zoom levels are marginal.
On paper, the Reno 10x Zoom positively distinguishes itself from the regular OnePlus 7 and the ASUS ZenFone 6 by having triple camera modules, as it has both an ultra-wide sensor and a telephoto sensor. It also positively distinguishes itself from the OnePlus 7 Pro by having a periscope telephoto lens, letting it achieve 5x optical zoom and hybrid zoom up to 10x.
Camera app and user experience
The camera app of the OPPO Reno 10x Zoom presents the Photo, Video, and Portrait modes on the home screen, while the other modes are hidden by the menu button. The other modes are Night, Pano, Expert, Time-Lapse, Slo-Mo, and Google Lens. On the top, we find buttons for the flash, HDR, wide-angle camera, “dazzle color,” filters, and the settings menu. The main zoom options are: 1x, 2x (digital), 6x (hybrid), and 10x (the upper limit of hybrid zoom). Digital zoom can be done up to 60x, which is a first for a smartphone (the Huawei P30 Pro goes up to 50x), but users shouldn’t expect usable photos at that insane magnification. Photos are taken at 12MP resolution, but OPPO does provide an option to take full-resolution 48MP photos in the camera settings menu. The reason it’s not the default option is because of the Quad Bayer nature of the sensor.
The camera modes are par for the course for a 2019 flagship phone. The night mode that OPPO includes is similar to OnePlus’ Nightscape mode. It’s not quite a competitor to Google’s Night Sight or Huawei’s Night Mode, and we will go into more detail below. In the photo section of the camera settings menu, users can choose to customize the volume button action, disable the shutter sound, enable location, or choose whether to flip selfies. They can change the photo ratio, which is where the 48MP resolution (4:3) option will be found. Other options include: touch to take a photo, gesture to take a photo, enable a grid, disable AI scene recognition (which is enabled by default), or enable a watermark.
In the video settings, users can choose the video resolution and frame rate from [email protected] to [email protected] Slow-motion video resolution (720p/1080p) can also be configured, and users can choose between H264/best compatibility (default) or the H265/efficient video encoders. There is also an audio zoom-like microphone feature in the form of audio effects where users can choose between three options including a “standard” option and a 3D recorder (enabled by default), which enables the microphone to record 360-degree surrounding sound in landscape mode. The last option is sound focus, where the microphone is said to enhance the sound on the front and also change the sound volume from the subject while users zoom the lens.
Camera user experience
The user experience of the Reno 10x Zoom’s camera app is pretty good. The focusing and shutter speeds are fast although not best-in-class as the camera lacks Dual Pixel PDAF (meaning it doesn’t use 100% of the pixels on the sensor for autofocus). This makes a difference in low light as cameras like the Google Pixel 3, the Samsung Galaxy S10e, and Huawei’s flagship phones, can focus and take photos more quickly. The lack of Dual Pixel PDAF is a downer for sure, but it’s unclear if it can go hand-in-hand with the IMX586, as no other vendor has accomplished this. Again, it has to be mentioned that the aforementioned phones are in a different price tier compared to the Reno 10x Zoom. The camera app is also quick to open, just like all other flagships.
A basic mistake that OPPO makes in the camera preview is that it’s too dark in most low light situations, so it won’t accurately reflect the final photo. On the other hand, the preview’s frame rate stays high at all times. The camera’s AI scene recognition is also OK as it doesn’t significantly deteriorate the quality of photos in terms of saturation and exposure, and most of the time, it’s hard to tell a difference with it switched on or off. It stays out of the way, which is a good thing. (Huawei is probably the biggest offender here with its intrusive Master AI feature.)
Image quality assessment – Daylight
48MP primary camera
In daylight, the OPPO Reno 10x Zoom takes fantastic 12MP photos. The photos are free from glaring issues such as corner softness and image processing artifacts. In terms of exposure, they are better than the Pixel 3’s predominantly underexposed photos, while falling behind the Huawei P30 Pro, Huawei Mate 20 Pro, and the Samsung Galaxy S10. The OnePlus 7 Pro’s photos are slightly brighter, but the differences are marginal in most cases. The Reno tends to take slightly darker and more realistic photos, which can be thought of as a plus or minus. In daylight, this doesn’t make a big difference unless the benchmark for comparison is the Huawei P30 Pro, the class leader in exposure and dynamic range. The dynamic range of the Reno’s camera is not best-in-class, but it manages to stay in the top tier. The color accuracy is on point as well. The hierarchy in exposure and dynamic range is the Huawei P30 Pro/Huawei Mate 20 Pro > Samsung Galaxy S10 > OnePlus 7 Pro > OPPO Reno 10x Zoom > Google Pixel 3.
In terms of detail retention, the Reno 10x Zoom’s camera is an excellent performer. The level of detail is nearly on par with flagship cameras from the likes of Huawei. Google still has a slight advantage here thanks to the Pixel’s best-in-class noise reduction algorithm that opts to let luminance noise remain in favor of retaining more detail. The Reno’s photos are clearly more detailed than photos from the Samsung Galaxy S10 or OnePlus 7 Pro. The hierarchy in detail retention runs as follows: Google Pixel 3 > Huawei P30 Pro/Huawei Mate 20 Pro > OPPO Reno 10x Zoom > OnePlus 7 Pro > Samsung Galaxy S10e.
Overall, the primary camera’s image quality is great in daylight, and it’s good enough to be compared with top-tier flagship phones that are priced significantly higher than the Reno 10x Zoom.
8MP ultra-wide-angle camera
The 8MP ultra-wide-angle camera looks to be run-of-the-mill on paper as it’s lacking the crucial autofocus feature that is present on Huawei’s ultra-wide-angle cameras. However, the image quality is surprisingly good while not being best-in-class. It’s definitely two or three tiers below the output of the primary camera, but that’s to be expected. The camera’s 120-degree FOV is also competitive among flagships, and the good news is that corner softness isn’t a major issue in most samples. The quality of this camera is nearly on par with the Galaxy S10’s 16MP ultra-wide-angle camera despite the 2x resolution difference. This is because it does a better job at resolving per-pixel detail and has better noise reduction as well. On the other hand, Huawei’s ultra-wide-angle camera on the Mate 20 Pro/P30 Pro remains the class leader.
13MP periscope zoom telephoto camera
The nature of the periscope zoom of the 13MP telephoto camera means that the lens is placed at a 90-degree angle inside the phone, negating the need for a thick camera bump or an increase in device thickness. This does have a side effect of downgrading the aperture of the camera; the telephoto lens has an aperture of f/3.0 whereas conventional 2x and 3x telephoto zoom cameras have apertures ranging from f/2.2 to f/2.6, with f/2.4 being the average.
The periscope zoom lens is an innovative idea, but OPPO was just beaten by Huawei in the race to launch the first phone with such a camera. Nevertheless, to bring the technology to a significantly lower price tier is definitely praiseworthy, and the Reno 10x Zoom’s camera’s USP is the 5x/6x/10x zoom capabilities that are matched by only one competitor in the smartphone market.
In daylight, the telephoto camera is capable of taking excellent photos at 5x optical zoom and 6x hybrid zoom. Surprisingly, there is almost no difference in image quality between the 5x zoom level and the 6x zoom level, which says good things about OPPO’s hybrid zoom tech. Apart from the Huawei P30 Pro, no other phone is currently capable of taking photos with 5x optical zoom. In terms of image quality, both the 5x zoom (125mm equivalent focal length) and 6x zoom (135mm equivalent focal length) photos aren’t as good as the 5x zoom samples of the P30 Pro. The P30 Pro simply has a sharper lens that captures a lot more detail, and the differences are visible without zooming in. The Reno 10x Zoom’s 5x and 6x zoom photos are much softer, and the oil painting effect is more visible. In a head-to-head, the P30 Pro’s 8MP telephoto module with f/3.4 aperture is a better camera that stretches the limits of smartphone camera technology, but the Reno 10x Zoom posts an honorable performance.
This is because the phone doesn’t need to compete with the P30 Pro, as its price tag is much lower (at least in India). It only needs to prove itself, and it does accomplish that task. The 5x and 6x zoom shots have good image quality, even if their per-pixel detail is lower than the Huawei Mate 20 Pro’s 3x zoom telephoto camera. The 10x zoom shots are usable in bright sunlight, but as expected, detail levels do fall off quite a bit. There is not much point in playing with digital zoom levels above 10x zoom as they have very limited use.
This is where I have to point out a constraint with periscope zoom cameras. The 5x zoom of the Reno 10x Zoom’s camera is optical because it has a 125mm equivalent focal length. However, this doesn’t mean that it can do 2x or 3x optical zoom, unlike a DSLR or mirrorless camera. Smartphone cameras don’t have moving parts. This constraint means that their focal lengths and apertures are fixed. A fixed focal length of 125mm means that the Reno 10x Zoom can do only 5x optical zoom. No more, no less. Even 2x zoom is digital as the photo is simply taken by the primary camera. The differences between purely digital zoom and optical (lossless) zoom are perceptible. In most cases, users won’t need a 5x zoom or 6x zoom telephoto camera because the level of magnification it provides may simply be a bit too much. A general-purpose telephoto camera with 3x zoom would have been more useful in broad cases because an equivalent focal length of 80mm is more versatile than an equivalent focal length of 125mm.
Both the Huawei P30 Pro and the OPPO Reno 10x Zoom suffer from the same constraint, and it’s one that can’t be solved without adding yet another camera to provide 2x/3x optical zoom as well as 5x/6x lossless zoom. I find the Reno’s telephoto camera to be overkill in many situations where 5x/6x zoom isn’t required, but the image quality of the 2x zoom or 3x zoom levels is uninspiring. The Huawei P30 Pro does better here thanks to its hybrid zoom algorithms that lead to better image quality at 2x/3x zoom magnification, but it also has cut-off points where the photo becomes a product of digital zoom. The conclusion is that smartphone cameras are complex.
This is where the Google Pixel 4’s telephoto lens may provide the answer to these types of constraints. The 16MP telephoto camera looks to be combining Google’s Super Res Zoom feature with optical zoom to provide zoom up to 8x. We will have to wait and see how well it does at different zoom levels.
Indoor image quality
The indoor image quality of the Reno 10x Zoom’s camera stays in the upper tier of smartphone cameras. In the regular Photo mode, indoor photos are clean and have restrained noise reduction, meaning they don’t suffer from image processing artifacts like on the OnePlus 7 and the OnePlus 7 Pro. The processing is natural as well, so there is comparatively less smoothing compared to OnePlus and Xiaomi cameras, although Google, Huawei (P30 Pro only, as the Mate 20 Pro has detail retention issues here), and Samsung remain ahead. In terms of detail retention indoors, the Reno 10x Zoom is handily beaten by the Pixel 3 and the P30 Pro, while it trades blows with the Galaxy S10’s regular photo mode.
The one real downside here is that indoor photos taken by the Reno 10x Zoom are darker than photos from its competitors, as the camera doesn’t seem to capture as much light as top-tier flagships. This makes them seem unappealing as even the OnePlus 7 Pro captures more light indoors. However, OPPO’s night mode comes to the rescue here by taking much brighter shots with better exposure. As expected, the flip side of night mode is that photos taken with it have a lot less detail compared to the regular Photo mode. Thanks to OnePlus’ recent strides, the Nightscape mode on the OnePlus 7 Pro is nearly on par with the Reno’s night mode for static subjects, but both modes fall apart when it comes to taking photos of people rather than static subjects because of their over-processing. Google’s Night Sight, Huawei’s night mode, and Samsung’s new night mode remain miles ahead of other night mode implementations, and this is because of fundamental differences in the mechanism.
Image quality assessment – Low light
Most smartphone cameras struggle with low light photography, but since 2018, vendors have stepped up their efforts with computational photography-powered night modes, with Huawei and Google leading the way. Samsung was a late entrant in this field, but at least, the company did its homework properly. Vendors like OnePlus, Xiaomi, ASUS, LG, and others have struggled to keep up with these developments, as not all night modes are the same. A well-implemented night mode can lead to phenomenal photos, so can the OPPO Reno 10x Zoom keep up with phones such as the Pixel 3 and the Huawei P30 Pro in low light?
The answer: It’s two steps behind. In general, the Reno’s low light image quality is inferior to top-tier flagship cameras from Huawei and Samsung. It can, however, be compared with the Pixel 3’s default “HDR+ on” mode which suffers from distracting chromatic noise in low light. Without night mode, the camera again showcases its strengths with restrained noise reduction and lack of distracting artifacts, but it’s let down by the lesser amount of light being captured. The OnePlus 7 Pro, with all its camera updates, has nearly caught up to the Reno 10x Zoom in terms of exposure, color accuracy, and dynamic range in low light, although the Reno still has a detail retention advantage. Comparing the auto modes of these cameras, I would say the hierarchy is: Huawei P30 Pro > Huawei Mate 20 Pro > Samsung Galaxy S10 > OPPO Reno 10x Zoom / Google Pixel 3 > OnePlus 7 Pro.
When night modes are taken into consideration, the Reno retains its good position because its night mode performs very well in outdoor low light. In extremely low light conditions, its brighter exposure can pull out more detail than the Photo mode. The hierarchy of flagship smartphones when comparing night modes is: Huawei P30 Pro > Google Pixel 3 > Samsung Galaxy S10 > Huawei Mate 20 Pro > OPPO Reno 10x Zoom > OnePlus 7 Pro.
In low light, the ultra-wide angle and telephoto cameras aren’t of much use because of their weaker apertures and inferior sensitivity to light. Unfortunately, OPPO doesn’t allow night mode to be used with either of the two cameras. In low light, there is an unknown cut-off point when the camera automatically switches from the telephoto lens (f/3.0 aperture) to a digitally zoomed photo taken by the primary lens (which will show f/1.7 aperture in the EXIF data of the photo).
Overall, the OPPO Reno 10x Zoom is a good performer in outdoor low light conditions, but it’s outperformed by more expensive competitors, as expected. An improved night mode could take OPPO a few steps up the ladder in this key respect.
Video quality evaluation
The OPPO Reno 10x Zoom can record video up to [email protected] EIS is disabled in [email protected] and [email protected] I am not very impressed by the video quality from the Reno 10x Zoom’s camera. EIS is fairly decent in [email protected], but I have seen better stabilization from cheaper phones such as the OnePlus 7 or the Redmi Note 7 Pro. More worrying is that EIS is not really effective in [email protected]—nearly every competitor is much better in this respect. The [email protected] videos are not stabilized at all (disabled OIS and EIS), and it’s difficult to tell whether OIS is active in [email protected] or not. For the sake of fairness, I will retest this aspect of the phone before coming to a definite conclusion—right now, something looks off with my video samples.
The autofocus, frame rate, detail levels, color accuracy, and dynamic range of the Reno’s videos are all good, but the disappointing stabilization of the [email protected] video brings down the overall score by a substantial amount. [email protected] videos are also not best-in-class, but at least they seem to have working EIS. In low light, videos suffer from luminance noise and exposures are often darker than they should be, but detail levels are fairly competitive.
Unfortunately, OPPO doesn’t allow users to record videos with the ultra-wide-angle camera. Videos can be recorded with the telephoto camera, but again, the 125mm focal length limits the usefulness of this option.
Take a look at the [email protected] video recording sample below:
OPPO Reno 10x Zoom Audio
The OPPO Reno 10x Zoom’s stereo speakers are some of the better speakers out there. They aren’t quite as loud as the Samsung Galaxy S10’s speakers, but I had no issues with clarity or distortion.
The Reno 10x Zoom lacks a headphone jack unlike other phones in the Reno and Reno2 series. This is strange, but it’s also part of a growing trend where flagship phones have almost completely dropped the headphone jack while budget and lower mid-range phones still have it. It’s still not a trend that I agree with, but at this point, it seems like the trend is too good for any manufacturer of a flagship phone to resist, as even Samsung has dropped the headphone jack in the Galaxy Note 10 series.
OPPO does bundle USB Type-C earphones in the box with the Reno 10x Zoom. USB Type-C earphones haven’t really managed to distinguish themselves versus 3.5mm earphones in general, and OPPO’s bundled earphones are also fine—nothing more, nothing less. Thankfully, the phone supports the audio accessory mode of the USB Type-C port which lets it accept passive USB Type-C adapters in addition to active adapters.
OPPO Reno 10x Zoom Software: ColorOS 6
ColorOS hasn’t historically been one of the well-liked custom Android user interfaces. Along with Vivo’s FunTouch OS, it has had a reputation for being bloated, having an iOS-like look and feel, and in general, the consensus was that it didn’t feel as seamless or as well-rounded as other user interfaces such as OnePlus’ OxygenOS.
I haven’t used a ColorOS phone in the past, so the OPPO Reno 10x Zoom is my first experience with OPPO’s custom user interface. I found ColorOS 6 (based on Android Pie) to be a surprisingly inoffensive OS in terms of functionality. We have previously covered ColorOS 6’s features in-depth in our Realme 3, Realme 3 Pro, and Realme 5 Pro reviews. I’ll note some of my brief observations:
- ColorOS 6 does have an option to enable an app drawer in the launcher, something that was missing in past OS versions. It makes the stock launcher much more usable, and as I said before, the UX speed is nice and smooth, even if it remains a step behind OxygenOS.
- The look and feel of ColorOS’ notifications panel is not as appealing as other custom UIs. Subjectively, I think the bright blue-green color scheme can be toned down a bit.
- ColorOS doesn’t have support for notification channels and notifications snoozing, two features that were introduced in Android Oreo. This is disappointing to see as it means that notifications are much smarter on stock Android and stock-based user interfaces (or even EMUI) compared to ColorOS. Even MIUI, which was a laggard in the past when it came to supporting Android’s notification features, now supports notification channels and notification snoozing.
- The gestures in ColorOS 6 is the best feature of the custom UI. Android 10 brings its own gesture navigation system, so it’s unclear if OPPO will still bundle its custom gestures with the Android 10 update. For now, users can choose between three-button navigation gestures, swipe gestures from both sides with a cut-off area for navigation drawers (such as MIUI and EMUI), or swipe-up gestures (such as OxygenOS). The gestures themselves aren’t as responsive to the user’s finger as on OxygenOS and MIUI, but the ability to choose from so many options is unparalleled.
- The stock apps in ColorOS are par for the course in terms of features, with no major highlights or disappointments.
- ColorOS doesn’t show ads like MIUI, but it does send annoying spam promotional notifications for its OPPO App Market. Such notifications can’t be disabled because the OS doesn’t support notification channels; they can only be marked as unimportant (and the user still has to swipe them away).
- The battery stats in ColorOS is by far the worst feature of the custom UI (more on this in the battery life section below).
- On the other hand, memory management is pretty good, unlike some other user interfaces.
- The Reno 10x Zoom is currently on the August 5, 2019 security patch. OPPO has done a good job sending timely security updates on the Reno so far.
Overall, ColorOS is a usable software experience. It does a good job of making up for its deficiencies by providing useful features like different navigation gesture systems, Game Space, motion gestures, App Clone, three-finger screenshots, and more. It’s not as good as OxygenOS or stock Android, and it also falls behind Huawei’s EMUI. It’s more of a closer contest versus MIUI, but for now, MIUI still remains slightly ahead in my opinion. OPPO has narrowed the gap with the best custom user interfaces; now the company must focus its efforts on closing it entirely.
OPPO Reno 10x Zoom Battery Life and Charging
The battery life of the OPPO Reno 10x Zoom is good… but there is no way to quantify how good it is. This is because the battery stats in ColorOS are terrible. Screen-on time is not visible. Unplugged time is not visible. The time usage of an individual app is not visible. This makes it extremely hard to get any sort of data on how long the phone lasts. Unfortunately, the screen-on time timers are even broken in third-party apps like Greenify.
My subjective impressions are that the phone’s battery lasts for 1.5-2 days on moderate use. The Full HD+ display seems to be power-efficient, the 4,065mAh battery capacity is good enough, and the lack of a power-draining 90Hz refresh rate is more good news for lower power consumption. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC has also shown itself to perform well when it comes to energy efficiency, even as the Cortex-A76 cores draw more power than their Cortex-A75 predecessors in the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845.
In terms of charging, the Reno 10x Zoom supports VOOC 3.0 fast charging (5V/4A = 20W). This is the same as OnePlus’ original Dash Charge. Phones like the OPPO R17 Pro and the Find X Lamborghini Edition support 50W SuperVOOC, but 20W is a fair compromise for charging speed and long-term battery longevity. VOOC 3.0 is a proprietary standard, and the phone doesn’t support USB-C Power Delivery. The Galaxy Note 10 brought support for 25W USB-C PD 3.0 chargers (the Note 10+ goes up to 45W), and seeing the compatibility issues with proprietary fast charging, settling on USB-C PD 3.0 should be the best way forward as an open standard. In the meantime, VOOC 3.0 gets the job done.
There is no wireless charging support on the Reno 10x Zoom. This is a feature that has yet to arrive in affordable flagship phones.
Odds and Ends
I didn’t face any issue with cellular call quality or reception on the OPPO Reno 10x Zoom, and as expected, the phone supports dual VoLTE simultaneously on both SIMs.
The vibration motor of the phone is one of the best vibration motors out there, which leads to a great typing experience. It’s just as good as the OnePlus 7 Pro’s vibration motor. The phone is much better than the regular OnePlus 7 in this key but understated aspect.
The OPPO Reno 10x Zoom is an understated flagship phone that manages to positively distinguish itself in several aspects. Let’s briefly summarize them:
The shark fin popup camera makes the OPPO Reno phones unique in the smartphone market. For the most part, this solution works well, and OPPO has ingeniously found solutions for stereo speakers and a traditional earpiece while avoiding something like piezoelectric speaker (Vivo NEX S) or electromagnetic levitation (Huawei P30 Pro). The downside is that the phone’s weight is higher than it should be, and my guess is that this is probably because of the shark fin popup camera. The compromise is that we get more screen estate in exchange for decreased comfort, which is acceptable. The understated green color option also looks great, and OPPO achieves high marks with the screen-to-body ratio.
The display of the Reno 10x Zoom is not a top-tier flagship quality panel, but its positives outweigh its negatives. The size of the display and calibrated color profiles make up for the display’s color shift, the lack of an activated HBM mode, as well as its aging Full HD+ resolution. The lack of a 90Hz refresh rate is the one sore point that can only be addressed in the phone’s successor, but in all other aspects, the display is good enough for an affordable flagship even as we head closer to Q4 2019.
In terms of system and GPU performance, the Reno 10x Zoom’s scores in benchmarks like PCMark and 3DMark are lower than the OnePlus 7 and several other Snapdragon 855 phones. However, this doesn’t seem to make a difference in real-world performance. OPPO’s implementation of the Snapdragon 855 may seem lacking in benchmarks, but it holds up fine in terms of UX speed. OxygenOS still leads the pack in terms of the perception of speed, but the Reno’s ColorOS isn’t too far behind. Thermals are under control, and RAM management is excellent. The optical in-display fingerprint sensor is great. The fast GPU of the Snapdragon 855 means that users will also be able to keep playing high-end games after 2-3 years.
The camera of the Reno 10x Zoom is its selling point – in fact, it’s there in the name itself. As I have continuously stated over the past year, image processing matters more these days as compared to hardware. The Sony IMX586 sensor is being used in budget phones these days, but it is the image processing that separates the flagships from the budget phones. It’s clear that OPPO uses the IMX586 in a better way compared to OnePlus, when we compare the Reno 10x Zoom and the OnePlus 7 Pro head-to-head (even though OnePlus has also come a long way with multiple camera updates). The primary camera’s image quality may not match top-tier flagships in every respect, but it holds its own. In its own price class, the Reno 10x Zoom is one of the leaders. The ultra-wide-angle camera also provides a different shooting perspective, and its output is surprisingly good.
The 13MP periscope zoom telephoto camera is the star of the show here. Usable 5x/6x lossless zoom on a smartphone is fantastic to see. The quality of the camera can’t match the Huawei P30 Pro’s 8MP telephoto module, but it has no other competition to speak of at the time of writing. Even far-off subjects can be captured with an equivalent focal length of 125mm with adequate levels of detail, although this also leads to constraints when the user wants to take photos of closer objects, as 2x and 3x zoom is digital, not lossless. Ultimately, OPPO’s efforts here deserve a lot of praise, but there is still room for improvement in terms of image quality.
The video quality of the Reno 10x Zoom isn’t one of its strong points, unfortunately. This is because of one reason: relatively poor stabilization. This can be fixed with a software update, and it should be done.
In terms of audio, the Reno 10x Zoom’s stereo speakers present great sound in terms of both clarity and loudness. The wired audio story is uninspiring as the phone lacks the 3.5mm headphone jack, and OPPO doesn’t bundle a 3.5mm to USB Type-C adapter. The company does bundle USB Type-C earphones, but the loss of the 3.5mm headphone jack results in significantly decreased flexibility. At this point, I’m not sure if anyone is listening to customers’ demands in this aspect anymore.
ColorOS has been a highly divisive custom user interface, but in its latest iteration, it’s said to come a long way. I didn’t find it as good as interfaces like OxygenOS and EMUI because of functional disparities, but it’s clear that OPPO is catching up fast. The rich feature set is appreciated, but it would have been good to see OPPO retain stock Android’s notification handling features.
The battery life of the Reno 10x Zoom is subjectively great. It has low idle drain, leading to long standby time. Even in use, the power consumption is frugal, and while it’s almost impossible to give numerical data, the Reno 10x Zoom’s battery life subjectively seems better than the OnePlus 7 Pro. In terms of charging, not opting to use Super VOOC means that the phone doesn’t charge as fast as phones like the OnePlus 7 Pro or Redmi K20 Pro. Charging speeds are still acceptable, but the fact that the phone doesn’t seemingly support USB-C PD is a bit of a downer.
In India, the OPPO Reno 10x Zoom is sold in two variants: 6GB RAM/128GB storage, and 8GB RAM/256GB storage. The 6GB RAM variant is only sold online, while the 8GB RAM variant is available in offline stores. The variants cost ₹39,999 ($562) and ₹49,999 ($702) respectively.T makes the starting 6GB RAM variant a great deal – buyers are getting a lot of value with it.
In terms of the competition, the OnePlus 7 Pro is the prime contender. The OnePlus has a higher-resolution and higher quality QHD+ curved 90Hz display, and it also comes in a 12GB RAM variant. It has cleaner software in the form of OxygenOS, better video recording, and faster system updates. The Reno 10x Zoom, on the other hand, has a flat display, a better primary camera, a better telephoto camera, and subjectively better battery life. The 6GB RAM/128GB storage variant of the Reno is also much cheaper: ₹39,999 ($562) vs. ₹47,999 ($674). The OnePlus 7 Pro is also due to be refreshed soon with a successor, and so is the OnePlus 7.
Other competitors for the Reno 10x Zoom include the ASUS ZenFone 6 (ASUS 6Z in India), Redmi K20 Pro, Google Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 3a XL, Samsung Galaxy S10e, Honor View20/Honor 20/Honor 20 Pro, and the Huawei P30 Pro/Huawei Mate 20 Pro. The Reno exists in its own niche as it bridges the gap between the cheapest affordable flagships (Redmi K20 Pro and OnePlus 7) and top-tier flagship phones (such as the Huawei P30 Pro).
Overall, the OPPO Reno 10x Zoom is a bright new contender with impressive imaging capabilities. Five months after its initial announcement, it remains one of the only two phones on the market with a periscope zoom telephoto lens. If users are interested in the long-range lossless zoom, the Reno 10x Zoom is the only affordable option as its price tag is substantially less than the Huawei P30 Pro (₹39,999 vs. ₹71,999). It’s a well-rounded phone with high-end performance, versatile set of triple cameras, and great battery life. It’s a phone that deserves consumers’ attention in a crowded market.
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