It seems that few markets have grown so rapidly in the past few years as the market for mid-range phones has. It’s a fact that tech in general is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, since 2007 worldwide smartphone sales have increased by almost twelve times. Amongst the largest contributors to this growth is the Chinese market and brands, most notably Huawei, Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo and their countless off shoot brands. It’s been proven to everyone that the biggest threat to the flagship smartphone market, the iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones, has been the mid-range promises, the $500-$800 range of smartphones. These are the devices that are becoming increasingly packed with features most commonly found on their flagship counterparts. These are also the devices that maintain an air of indominable release and stealth, most of them seemingly appearing on shelves with little marketing or buzz.
One of the newest members in this deafening swarm of endless mid-range phones is the Oppo Reno 8 Lite 5G coming in at $599. A fairly quiet release from Oppo, although definitely an option worth deliberate consideration. It’s a fairly solid all-round option, although I’m nagged by the question: is it enough? Does it give enough to truly hold its own in this cut-throat market? I’m not sure that I’m convinced.
As we know with almost all mid-range devices, lavish materials should not be expected. In line with this, Oppo has opted to construct the main body of the Reno 8 Lite 5G with plastic, with the rails being made out of aluminium. Overall, the construction is nice and remains fairly grippable, but the plastic can get a bit smudged, although nowhere as bad as glass backs. Included in the box is a clear TPU case if you would prefer that anyways. It’s a fairly good deal in my opinion, and overall the plastic doesn’t feel super cheap or tacky.
On the back are the two cameras of choice, the main f/1.7 64MP sensor, and the 2MP f/2.4 macro, accompanied with the dubious title of ‘AI PORTRAIT CAMERA’. To me it would have been more sensible to include a wide angle camera in the place of the macro one, but maybe that’s just me. Each camera is big and is made to stand out, helped along by the ring lights which encircle each camera. These give off a little pulse whenever you get a notification or open up a game. Gimmicky, maybe, but why not!
On the right side you will find a sole power button, and on the opposite side you’ll get the volume rocker. Both buttons are satisfyingly and sufficiently clicky. But most interestingly, you’ll find a 3.5mm headphone jack on the bottom, a naturally scarce addition on mobiles these days, but alas, you’ll find one here. It’s a nice addition that will surely satisfy all of us that still rock our old sets of wired headphones. Of course you’ll also a USB-C charging port, but more on that later.
Overall, not a bad design by any means, but very little here is set to stand out, especially if you get the Cosmic Black colour. All of this is contained in a body about 7.5mm thick and only 173g thanks to the largely plastic build and so remains overall very light and manageable.
Here we get a bit of a mixed bag of equipment. Beginning with the display panel, we are presented with a fairly capable 6.43-inch 1080 FHD+ AMOLED display. It does its job satisfactorily, colours overall present as fairly accurate, viewing angles are good and in my testing and experience there were no major shortcomings aside from the refresh rate and brightness, which speaking of, maxes out at only 600nits, which was barely enough to comfortably use outside on a bright day. It’s something that perhaps goes without full consideration on phones often yet is one of the most necessary in terms of usability. The refresh rate also maxes out at only 60Hz which is strange, especially since faster refresh rates are often used to soup up cheaper phones. Especially now, where the range of options of mid-range devices with at least 90Hz displays is becoming endless. Contained in the upper left corner of the display is the fairly standard hole-punch camera, a 16MP f/2.4 sensor.
Inside you get the relatively new Snapdragon 695, one of the most popular chipsets currently for mid-range phones of similar specs, also found in the OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G and Redmi Note 11 Pro+ 5G. Made primarily for 5G performance and raw power, it managed to handle just about anything I needed, albeit most high-powered games required medium settings for best performance. It’s decently capable and paired with the 128gb ROM and 8gb RAM you should be covered for just about any daily tasks and medium powered gaming.
A Geekbench benchmark returned a score of 682 for Single-Core and 1973 for Multi-Core. The results are on par with the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G, a $699 phone. The A53 returned results for Single-Core and Multi-Core of 690 and 1846 respectively. An overall respectable number which is on par for its price bracket.
On the software front, the device comes shipped with Android 11 – even though Android 12 has already been out for around seven months – and OPPO’s own ColorOS 12 skin. For the most part, ColorOS isn’t too intrusive and keeps the stock android design for some apps like Phone and Messages. It’s fairly slick and smooth and not as glitchy as some other Android UI’s. Contained within you’ll also find the basic security settings along with an under-screen fingerprint sensor and face recognition. Both, I’m happy to say are very snappy and fast, but considering the face recognition is only 2D its not going to be as secure as Apple’s 3D Face ID.
It was slightly shocking when, having set up the phone, there on my home screen sat Facebook. I definitely didn’t install it, nor did I install Booking.com or Soloop Cut or O Relax. It’s common to have bloatware on cheaper devices, and the Reno 8 Lite 5G is no exception. Aside from this and a few instances of Oppo’s questionable design choices, for example the camera app which looks suspiciously like the iPhone camera app, ColorOS 12 works well enough for me to only experience one or two small glitches in my few weeks with the phone.
I was fairly curious to get to trying out the camera on the Reno 8 Lite 5G mostly because it seemed to me the feature that was set to stand out the most; it is physically labelled ‘AI PORTRAIT CAMERA’. And although I wasn’t disappointed, I wasn’t blown away either. Overall, the camera is passable, the output is just as good as you’ll ever need as a non-hobbyist photographer. But, if you ever want a little more, something a little special or something to show of a little, the Reno 8 Lite 5G is not the camera to do so.
When you step out into bright daylight the camera seems to perform fairly well. There was always a good amount of detail in photos, although the overall colours were on the cold side. It’s fairly quick and easy to use, and typically pointing and shooting yielded the best results. The autofocus tends to be snappy enough for standard usage. Overall, the camera works best in strong natural light. As you can see in my picture of a camellia below, the red comes out looking fairly bright and saturated. The phone also produces a fairly desirable natural background blur.
When you get into less favourable lighting, the Reno 8 Lite 5G manages to hold a decent standard, especially considering the price. Although, this being said, there is still noise present in night mode photos, resulting a general fuzz that rests over the image. As you can see in the picture of the rooftops below the phone has a hard time picking up all the little details, although the overall clarity is respectable. It should be noted that when taking the photo, it was fairly dark outside, although not quite pitch black.
Portrait mode is also commendable; I was very much surprised at the AI’s ability to detect the edges and apply a smooth and consistent bokeh effect. Although, the bokeh can be unpredictable, being either non existent or far too heavy. The little figurine remains largely in focus, with respectable edge detection and blur, although there is still a general lack of sharpness throughout. As with all photos, the colours also seem a bit flat.
Like with the photo quality, you’re not going to be blown away, although you will surely get the job done. Overall, the colour accuracy is decent, and again leans to the colder side. The stabilisation is smooth enough but not something I’d expect anyone to be blown away by. As you can see below in the video the dynamic range is nice and so is the overall noise reduction although, the stabilisation is somewhat choppy and shaky. Also at some points you may notice the phone having a few minor auto focus issues, but overall it isn’t too bad.
One of the most necessary daily features on a phone has to be the battery life and charging speeds. Oppo has seemed to knock it out of the park with this one. The battery is a 4300mAh cell which on paper is fairly standard for smartphones throughout mid and high price points. Oppo here opts to optimise their ColorOS to make the most of the 4300mAh rather than try to pack in a huge cell like some other manufacturers. The result is commendable. I never had a day where I had less than 20% by 9:00pm, and these are days with over five to six hours screen on time, with GPS and some light gaming. On lower usage days, around two hours screen time, I was able to finish the day with around 40-50%.
Compound onto this Oppo’s brilliant 33W SUPERVOOC charging which Oppo claims will charge the phone zero to full in only 63 minutes, and they’re not far off. This is done through the INCLUDED cable and brick in the box; that’s nice. I was able to get the phone fully charged in just under 70 minutes consistently. It’s perhaps the phone’s best feature, it’s something that I was able to enjoy and benefit from every day.
Verdict & Value
In a market as dense and populated as the mid-range, it takes something special to stand out, especially considering that there are so many worthwhile choices. Though it’s hard to say that the Oppo Reno 8 Lite 5G manages to really set itself apart. It does its job and does it for a decent enough price.
But is it worth buying? If you just need a phone to do basic phone things then sure. If you need nothing in particular, but just something to check the basic boxes, sure why not. I’m sure a few hours of research would reveal some better options, but the Reno 8 Lite 5G will definitely get the job done. You wont be blown away, but you definitely will not be disappointed either.
THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Highlights: Great value for included features; 33W SUPERVOOC charging; Sleek design
Lowlights: Average processor; Slightly smaller capacity battery than other phones at this price point
Review based on unit supplied by Oppo.