OPPO Reno2 Review – A Solidly Mid-Range Smartphone
2019 was a pivotal year for OPPO on the global smartphone market. The OPPO Reno 10x Zoom was actually my favorite phone of that year thanks to its impressive haptics and stellar image quality in an all-around great package. With the company’s commitment to becoming more than just a smartphone brand in 2020, I’m excited to see what they’ll come out with next. One of their newest smartphones, the Reno3, was just announced late last month, but given that it hasn’t launched outside of China yet, it’s effectively a 2020 device. Before we check that device out, we wanted to test its immediate predecessor, the Reno2. The mid-range OPPO Reno2 launched in Europe back in October, and we’ve had quite a bit of time to gather our thoughts on it.
Before delving any further into this review, it’s important to note that my thoughts on ColorOS will mirror that of Zachary Wander’s in our OPPO Reno Z review. I am really not a fan of ColorOS, but based on what I’ve seen, OPPO seems to be taking community feedback to heart. ColorOS 7 based on Android 10 looks a lot more acceptable, and I’m itching to try it out myself. But the mid-range OPPO Reno2 is here – now – and it runs ColorOS 6.1. Is it worth consideration before the Reno3 launches internationally? Does OPPO have much to improve upon for the next phone? Here’s what I think of the Reno2.
About this review: I received the OPPO Reno2 from OPPO on the 16th of October 2019. OPPO is a sponsor of XDA, but they did not have any input on the content of this review nor did they read it before it went live.
OPPO Reno2: Device specifications
|Specifications||OPPO Reno 2|
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G|
|RAM & Storage||
|Battery||4000mAh with VOOC 3.0 fast charging|
|Front Camera||16MP, shark fin rising design|
|Android Version||ColorOS 6.1 on top of Android 9 Pie|
Hardware and build quality
The OPPO Reno2 features a unique design with an all-glass curved back. It has a blue shimmer on each of the edges and in the center, which becomes more prominent based on how the light hits it. The triple camera setup lays flush with the glass, and an “O-Dot” helps the device level flat on a table, avoiding a common complaint of curved phone backs. While glass is probably the worst material to make a phone back out of from a pragmatic point of view, OPPO made the most of it by making the design as beautiful as can be. Glass also adds weight, though not as much as you would expect in this case of the OPPO Reno2 as it feels pretty lacking in weight.
The OPPO Reno2 is very much a fingerprint magnet, and if you’re using it caseless, you’ll be wiping down the back of it every few minutes. It otherwise looks fantastic, which makes it a shame that the included case covers up all of the wonderful things that the design gets right. The OPPO Reno 10x Zoom’s included case left a cut-out for the middle section of the device, but the OPPO Reno2’s doesn’t. The included faux-leather case covers up pretty much anything that shimmers blue. It’s not a very nice looking case either – I’d have preferred a transparent gel silicone case or a sandstone one like the one that’s included with the Reno 10x Zoom.
The frame of the phone is made of hard plastic, with a USB Type-C port, speaker grille, microphone, and a headphone jack on the bottom. You read that right – a headphone jack. Bonus points to OPPO for that one. There’s another microphone at the top, along with the phone’s pop-up camera. On the right side of the phone is the power button, while on the left is where both of the volume keys lie.
The display itself is a 6.5-inch AMOLED 1080p panel, and thanks to the pop-up camera, it’s a complete no-notch experience. Content is uninterrupted by a notch or cut-out, and the display is completely edge-to-edge. The phone is pretty hard to use one-handed, though the phone is light so you might be able to manage. The phone’s lightness also contributes to the fact that it does feel somewhat cheap, though that’s more of my personal preference than anything else.
Presentation-wise, the phone comes in a pretty long box with a VOOC charger, cable, and earphones. The included earphones are just your standard 3.5mm ones and are of low quality.
The OPPO Reno2 has a “shark-fin” pop-up camera at the top of the device, which houses the selfie camera. It slides up on an axis as opposed to directly up or down. It looks pretty cool and feels durable, and it has a bit of a wow-factor that managed to catch the attention of multiple friends. It’s my favorite style of pop-up camera, that’s for sure. There are no fancy colors highlighting the edges like on the Redmi K20, nor is it the fastest popup in the world, but it works and it stands out. You can use it for face unlock too, though that will obviously be slower than the in-display fingerprint sensor.
OPPO Reno2 Display
One of the selling points of the OPPO Reno2 is its entirely bezel-less, no notch experience display. We touched on this briefly already, but the experience deserves its own section. While I don’t really have a huge problem with notches, it’s always better to not have one. Watching Netflix or playing games on an uninterrupted display cannot be understated, though keep in mind that there’s pretty much no actually-native content for this particular screen aspect ratio. At least on Netflix and on YouTube, you can pinch to zoom in and fill the display, though you’ll be cutting off some of the top and bottom of the content you’re watching as a result. As for games, I’ve not found any games that have had trouble resizing to fit the display.
Brightness wise, the OPPO Reno2 is perfectly usable in moderate sunlight, which is about the best it gets in Ireland. Just as it gets bright though, it also gets dark, and because it’s AMOLED, darks are really dark. It’s not an exceptional, HDR experience with any of the other bells and whistles you may have come accustomed to such as a 90Hz refresh rate, but at this price range, it doesn’t need to be.
Even better, the OPPO Reno2 comes with a pre-applied plastic screen protector. It’s not the highest quality mind you, but it protects the screen so I’ve got no real complaints here. There’s nothing really visibly off about it, and it feels nice to the touch as well.
ColorOS 6.1 on the OPPO Reno2
ColorOS 6 is a thorn in the side of Android enthusiasts who may own an OPPO smartphone, and it’s no exception for me either. ColorOS 6.1 is not enjoyable for me to use, looks ugly, and has some really strange quirks. It’s pretty inconsistent in its design, features that sometimes don’t make sense, and if you want to move away from it, you can’t unlock the bootloader and flash another ROM. Before I get into it though, it’s worth noting that OPPO has made a commitment to greatly improving its Android experience going forward with ColorOS 7. It takes a more stock-Android approach, which I’m sure many will appreciate.
But aside from that, ColorOS 6.1 actually does a decent job with the hardware that it has, even if it doesn’t look the prettiest. The battery lasts long and performance is more or less indistinguishable from a flagship handset. Apps don’t really lag, animations are fluid, and games run very well. The software behavior oddities do mar the experience a little bit, but if you can get past this, then the OPPO Reno2 is very usable. I personally switched over to Nova Launcher as soon as I got the device, which alleviates me from having to deal with a whole portion of ColorOS. I didn’t notice many differences between ColorOS 6.1 and 6, though I did pick up on the fact that screenshots are instantaneous on ColorOS 6.1 – that is, you don’t need to hold down the volume button and power. Just tapping them together at the same time will take a screenshot.
ColorOS 7 is confirmed for the OPPO Reno2, and I can only hope that it’s a lot better than this.
Gaming on the OPPO Reno2
The OPPO Reno2 isn’t really marketed as a gaming smartphone, though the chipset which powers it, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G, is. The 730G features a higher clocked GPU, support for anti-cheat extensions, HDR gaming support, and the X15 LTE modem with Wi-Fi 6 support. From Call of Duty Mobile, to PUBG, to even Citra for Android the OPPO Reno2 handles a lot of what you’ll throw at it. You won’t be playing a lot of 3DS games, admittedly, but you’ll be able to play pretty much anything on the Google Play Store with maybe a slight reduction in graphics fidelity in some games. Animal Crossing: New Leaf was surprisingly playable, which is honestly more than I expected from a mid-range chipset. If you can bare the occasional lag, Pokemon X and Y are playable as well.
Overall, I had no problems running games on the OPPO Reno2. There was nothing that was really unplayable, as everything ran smoothly even if the graphics needed to be downgraded a little bit. OPPO’s Game Space springs into action whenever you launch a game, which aims to optimize performance, make it easier to answer phone calls while playing, and more. Gaming on the OPPO Reno2 is overall a pleasant experience and is surprisingly viable for pretty much all games that you can throw at it. It’s not the best in the business, but it doesn’t have to be at a much lower starting price than the flagship gaming competition.
OPPO Reno2 Battery and App Management
An0ther ColorOS 6.1 addition was a much-improved power consumption analysis menu. In previous versions of ColorOS, you couldn’t even view the total screen on time since last charging, so this change comes in better late than never. The battery on the OPPO Reno2 is pretty good, and it’s one thing that ColorOS seems to get right. The 4,000 mAh battery in the OPPO Reno2 coupled with the power-efficient chipset means that you’ll have, more or less, all-day battery life. I didn’t have any trouble making it from morning until night, and the 20W VOOC fast charger in the box gets me from 0% to 50% in about 30 minutes.
My typical use case consists of a lot of Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, Reddit, Twitter, and other typical apps. I’ve used my phone as a laptop replacement at times, but I’ve had no trouble getting through a day on the Reno2. At worst, I may have had to top it up a bit in the evening, but with the help of the aforementioned fast charger, that’s not really an issue.
That’s not just my experience, though. Take a look at some battery stats below, which Zachary Wander, who also has the device, shared with me.
As you can see, his device usage is somewhat heavy as well. His experience of the device’s battery life is that it’s worse than the Reno Z, but still okay. Good battery life is achieved thanks to ColorOS’ admittedly extreme app management, which I find shuts down apps in the background somewhat often. It’s interesting to me that I actually managed to get Steam Guard notifications consistently on the OPPO Reno2 whenever I tried to log in, something that both the Honor 20 Pro and the OnePlus 7/7T Pro struggled with. While it does appear to shut down apps in the background quite a bit, I’m glad to say that I haven’t missed any important notifications or ran into my messaging apps being entirely killed off. That’s a solid plus in the OPPO Reno2’s books.
OPPO Reno2 Camera
The OPPO Reno2’s driving marketing force is its camera, and when I had heard of its photo-taking capabilities from peers who had the device, I was intrigued. Could this have been OPPO’s answer to the Google Pixel 3a? Unlikely to compete completely on photo quality, but an effort nonetheless is what I had this device pegged to be. Sadly I was mistaken, as while it can take decent photos, I find that it all too often misses the mark. There are technically four cameras on the back, though only three are usable. The primary sensor is a 48MP shooter, then there’s a 13MP 2x optical zoom telephoto, and finally, an 8MP wide-angle camera. There is a 2MP B/W sensor as well, simply just to get extra data to be used in image processing. Overall, the OPPO Reno2’s camera is good, but it’s not great and I feel like you can get a much better camera experience in other smartphones at a similar price. Take a look at the image gallery below to get an idea of what I mean.
My biggest gripe with the OPPO Reno2’s camera is how it seems to struggle in low light. Photos in well-lit environments come out looking quite nice most of the time, although with a few exceptions. Day time shots look nice, and pictures have a lot of detail. You can also take wide-angle shots – great for capturing groups or a lot of things in one frame if you can’t step back far from it. The OPPO Reno2 has one major selling point over competitors when it comes to video though, in the form of its super steady video filming. It combines OIS and EIS to stabilize even the shakiest of videos. From my testing, it does a fantastic job as well. Take a look at the video below, where I more or less violently shook my hand for the duration of the recording.
As for the camera UI, I find that it’s easy to navigate and appealing to use.
The OPPO Reno2 is, overall, a decent smartphone, but there are still some other characteristics that may go into a smartphone that may not necessarily deserve their own section. One is cellular connectivity. The OPPO Reno2 was noticeably worse in signal strength than the OPPO Reno 10x Zoom, but it did a lot better than both the OnePlus 7 Pro/7T Pro and was a noticeable, albeit small, improvement over the Honor 20 Pro. The bottom line is that you shouldn’t really have any issue with signal on the OPPO Reno2 — if it’s possible to pick up a signal, it more than likely will. For phone calls, it’s perfectly fine, and people on the other end will hear you, and you’ll hear them.
On an audio note, this phone features a single bottom-firing speaker that does the job fine, but it’s not going to blow you away. The headphone jack can also drive my Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 headphones perfectly fine. There are four main audio equalization options powered by Dolby Atmos: Smart, Movie, Gaming, and Music. Smart mode attempts to guess what sort of sound you’re currently listening to and apply the most relevant of the other three modes. I don’t tend to touch the equalizer, so I switched this off when using headphones.
Haptics-wise, this particular device is pretty much middle of the pack. It’s not quite on the level of hearing it instead of feeling it, but it’s close to crossing that line. It’s clear that the vibration engine in this device is one of the corners that OPPO cut in its design in order to lower the price. OPPO is capable of making much better vibration motors, as is the case with the OPPO Reno 10x Zoom. I’m a little bit disappointed in this department as a result.
The OPPO Reno2 is a mid-range smartphone worth checking out if you want a slightly less powerful flagship experience. It’s not that the OPPO Reno2 heavily compromises in one particular department – instead, the company took the approach of reducing every aspect of the device by a small amount. Slightly worse cameras, slightly worse haptics, lower-end chipset, and a price tag of €499 means this device is a solid upper-mid-range smartphone, even if it’s not the best of the bunch. With ColorOS 7 on the horizon as well, much of the software woes associated with it should hopefully be eradicated.
Compare the OPPO Reno2 to other smartphones in a similar price bracket, such as the Google Pixel 3a XL. The Google Pixel 3a XL has the superior software and camera experience, but the OPPO Reno2 offers more versatility in its quad-camera array, along with a faster SoC and storage as well. You could also go for something like the Honor 20, but with the ongoing trade debacle with Huawei, you wouldn’t be blamed for shying away from that option. There are lots of options for alternative devices in a similar price bracket, but none that offer a near-flagship experience on pretty much every level.
The bottom line of the OPPO Reno2 is that it is, all around, a mid-range. There are no insane compromises that you have to put up with to use this device, and it’s a pleasant experience for the most part. I didn’t run into any major issues that hindered my usage of it. The OPPO Reno2 is a viable mid-range in pretty much any market, and it’s worth checking out if you’re on the lookout for a new smartphone. You can pick it up in carrier stores in the UK, which may make it easier to show it off to a friend or relative as well if they’re interested.