Oppo Reno4 5G Review: Smart compromises make this mid-ranger a solid 5G option

After the masterstroke that was the Find X2 series, Oppo is in a very good spot within the smartphone market. Chinese peer Huawei is still battling away with its advanced hardware but Google shut-out, which definitely helps, plus the brand has now expanded their ecosystem in Australia, which includes Oppo Watch and Oppo Enco Earphones. Can they capitalise on this momentum with the Reno4 series? The mid-range 5G phone certainly has a lot going for it, but it cuts a few necessary cost-associated corners to get there.

This year especially, Oppo seem to have gone hard on the value propositions. I was impressed with a few of their budget-friendly A series phones, and the aforementioned Find X2 Pro is my favourite high-end of the year, doing a lot to justify its eye-watching price tag. It’s clear the brand can play ball on both ends of the spectrum, as well as in the middle – the Oppo Find X2 Neo is one hell of a phone. There’s little doubt the Reno4 series can match up.

Note that only two of the Reno4 series phone are available for Australian consumers. The standard 4 (which is $799), and the “Z” variant (which is $599). Here, I take a look at the straight-forward Reno4 5G. The “Pro” variant isn’t yet available in Australia, but given Oppo’s uptick in popularity, I don’t doubt that we’ll be seeing it down under soon enough.

Design

With almost no bezel, the Reno4 sports a 6.4-inch AMOLED display with a 2400x1080p resolution, expected at this price point but not unappreciated. The 60Hz refresh rate keeps things reasonably fluid, while avoiding the temptation of putting more load on the battery. Oddly enough the Z variant features a 120Hz refresh rate, but the LCD display is not as crisp and lacks the punch of the more expensive model.

The phone’s shiny plastic back surprisingly doesn’t feel cheap, although it does attract plenty of fingerprints. My Space Black version looks glossy and attractive enough, but once its smeared with skin oil you’re going to want to be using the provided case.

Oppo is generous at this price point, but they’ve always been quite generous with just about every phone they make. The in-display fingerprint reader works like a charm and the wide hole punch means you’ve got two front-facing lenses which perform quite well in low-light – an area where this phone excels in general.

Ecosystem

On top of the Reno4 launch, Oppo made a major move for their presence in the Australian market. They introduced both the Oppo Watch and Oppo Enco W51 truly wireless earphones. With all the major smartphone brands doubling down on their own ecosystems, this is Oppo’s impressive play with mid-tier devices that perform reasonably well when compared to the more established devices. The Oppo Watch liberally lifts from much of the design and functionality of Apple’s smart wearable series, but while it may feel unoriginal, the curved 1.91-inch display is crisp and gorgeous, the performance is smooth with a smart, efficient dual chipset, and, with over 90 tracking modes, its a nifty alternative to your Fitbit or Withings. Similarly, the oddly named Oppo Enco W51 is a respectable attempt, with a satisfying audio performance that’s well balanced, if not a little too reliant on its lower end. The battery life for both devices could be a bit better, but Oppo certainly makes a strong case for their ecosystem here.

Performance

You’ve got a Qualcomm Snapdragon 756G here, which again is expected and is entirely reasonable at this price. It’s fast and efficient enough for average users, combined with 8GB of RAM and 128GB storage. I wouldn’t want to be using this for anything more than your standard gaming experience, so power users may be left wanting for more. Still, it’s hard to fault a phone that performs just as well as some more expensive competitors, plus uses Oppo’s very clean, very likeable Color OS on Android 10.

And no, there’s no microSD for expandable storage, which I know is going to disappoint a few users. There is a dual-SIM slot though.

Camera

The Reno4 series has mainly been getting over with consumers thanks to its respectable night mode. And that’s well deserved. It’s not as good as say the Pixel 5’s (or 4’s), but as long as you’ve got at least some good lighting down, you’re going to get some great results. This is because Oppo’s image processing is evidently not as forward as Google’s, but they still put software to good use.

Headlining the set-up on the rear is a 48MP f/1.7 primary (pixel binning for 12MP images), complemented by a 8MP f/2.2 ultra-wide, and 2MP f/2.4 mono lens. The ultra-wide is not reliable when it comes to low-light, and the edges can look overly warped, but there’s still satisfying detail where it matters the most.

Unfortunately, forget about any kind of optical zoom on this phone. And that might be a deal breaker for some who would want to use this on their travels (whenever travel is viable, that is). As such, 2x and 5x hybrid zooms just aren’t impressive and introduce quite a bit of noise, and 20x is just not worth even entertaining. At least with the mono lens, portrait mode can be quite good, but unlike Pixel, it won’t do the heavy lifting for you. You’ll still need to frame and steady like a pro, and choosing backgrounds that won’t be too difficult for the sensor. You’ll get good results as long as you’ve chosen the subject carefully.

Content creators should be happy with the phone’s video capture, with a max of [email protected] (or [email protected]). The phone is quite capable when it comes to stabilisation, even outdoing some more expensive phones I’ve tested like the Google Pixel 4a 5G.

Battery

The 4,000mAh battery is another non-shocker that’s common for this price point. The mid-range is still a nice area to play in, but a proper 5G connection will drain the juice faster than people may like. Its still easy to get a full day from this thing, and I would consistently go to bed with around 15% left in the tank, even on days where I was flicking some full HD video on during the work commute. 65W SuperVOOC 2.0 charging is a generous inclusion from the brand, meaning this phone can go from 0 to hero in well under an hour – I clocked around 40 minutes.

Verdict & Value

Anyone familiar with Oppo should already know how big the brand is on customisation, so just about everything listed above can be improved somewhat if initially it isn’t satisfying enough. Gamers should just turn on high-performance mode for snappier results, but faster battery drain. And Oppo’s OS is one of the best out there when it comes to shaping your phone’s individuality to any desire. This always makes an Oppo phone worth a look, even with the sacrifices that the Reno4 5G makes.

Despite some compromises, this is one of the better mid-range 5G phones out there. Just don’t go in with unreasonable expectations.

THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Highlights: Fantastic display; respectable battery life; great low-light performance on the primary camera; nice weight; affordable 5G; Oppo ecosystem growing nicely.
Lowlights: Camera system is not as flexible as some competitor’s; fingerprint galore; no optical zoom.
Manufacturer: Oppo
Price: $799
Available: Now

Review based on a unit supplied by Oppo.

Chris Singh

Chris Singh is the Deputy Editor of the AU review and a freelance travel writer. You can reach him on Instagram by following @chrisdsingh.

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