Oppo Reno Ace review: A phone that may be worth importing

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We looked at the Oppo Reno Ace earlier, where there was concern about its software. With the phone primarily available in China, it comes pre-loaded with a lot of Chinese software. However, since then, we have had time to dig around and use the phone more extensively. And it is safe to say that we have found a lot of surprises on the way.

Strikingly familiar design

Having reviewed the Realme X2 Pro, the Oppo Reno Ace basically has the exact same design in a purple finish. All of its dimensions are identical, barring its weight which comes in 200g. And this is no surprise considering Realme is an offshoot of the Oppo brand.

A familiar design in a refreshed colour

On the front, you find Corning’s Gorilla Glass 6 for resistance against daily wear and tear whereas the back has Gorilla Glass 5. Things like the volume buttons and the power button feel as expected with the phone also coming with a regular Type-C USB port for charging, dual stereo speakers and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Do note though that there is no official dust or water resistance.

Good display technology

With a tear-drop style design, the front of the Reno Ace comes with a 6.5-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display. Right off the bat, it has a 90Hz refresh rate which makes elements on screen feel extremely smooth. For multimedia consumption, the stereo speakers are also good and that 84.9 per cent screen-to-body ratio helps with making content look immersive.

The 6.5-inch panel is great for multimedia consumption

However, the panel’s 500 nit maximum brightness means sunlight legibility can be an issue at times. And with no support for HDR10+ and only HDR10, content may not look as rich as other smartphones that have this certification on their displays.

Aced it with processing power

Running the show on the Reno Ace is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 Plus octa-core processor alongside 8GB of RAM. This is a high-end configuration and goes toe to toe with any other flagship in the market. Whether it is high-end gaming or multitasking, you should face no problems using this phone daily.

Plenty of processing power on the phone means multitasking and general usage should be a breeze

In addition to this, the phone comes with either 128GB or 256GB of storage. While this storage cannot be expanded, the good thing about it is that it is UFS 3.0. This means that installing your favourite applications or copying data onto the phone should be a lot quicker than general.

Surprising software

Having grown accustomed to Color OS 6.1, it is not as much of an eyesore as it used to be. For people coming from cleaner operating systems or stock Android, this is will be a huge change. But quite conveniently, there are a lot of software features baked into the operating system running Android 9.0. Things such as an in-built screen recorder, nifty gestures and a dedicated Game Boost application to enhance gaming performance.

In spite of it being a Chinese variant, the Reno Ace comes with Play services pre-installed

At the same time though, this phone is meant to be sold in mainland China. And with this in mind, you find tons of Chinese bloatware on the device. Most of the applications are hard to understand for a person who does not know the language. But with a bit of digging, we found that the phone comes with Google services out of the box. Or at least, the unit that we have.

You can get rid of the Chinese bloatware on the phone by simply uninstalling

This means getting the Google Play store and other Google applications running on the phone was as simple as downloading the Google Play APK file. Essentially, this makes the Reno Ace as robust when it comes to loading applications as any other phone on the market. Even specific applications such as Google Pay and Uber worked so you should not face any issues. Even more so, by simply uninstalling the Chinese applications on the device, the Reno Ace’s experience is equivalent to the Realme X2 Pro we reviewed earlier.

48MP camera does the job

While we have started to see 64MP cameras and beyond on flagships nowadays, the Reno Ace still keeps that 48MP sensor. And it is not a bad thing in all honesty. Alongside this, you find a 13MP telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom, an 8MP ultra-wide camera and a 2MP B/W sensor. This combination enables good day time photos and you can capture moving objects too with little trouble because of the phone’s quick shutter. But if you like to zoom into photos a bit and see more detail, the camera may not be ideal as detail tends to get muddy in complex shadows despite the B/W sensor on the phone.

The 48MP quad-camera setup does not have a dedicated macro sensor

Otherwise, understanding the camera application is intuitive. The text, icons and user interface is streamlined and you have a number of software features to help your photos look better. The AI mode helps by adapting color tones based on the scene being capture whereas Dazzle Color allows you enhance the saturation of colors for a more pleasing look. Neither of these two options portray color as accurately as real life but in terms of overall look, you do get a bit of a pop that many of us prefer nowadays.

The other aspect to camera performance is versatility. One feature that is substantial is the ultra-wide angle mode. While this enables you to capture more landscapes, there tends to be an overall reduction of detail in the photo. Not only this, the color differences between the standard and ultra-wide angle lens are huge which is not ideal. Unfortunately, there is no dedicated macro lens or macro mode built into the camera hardware of the Reno Ace which is disappointing.

The streamlined camera interface is great for first time adopters

In night time situations, results are fairly underwhelming. Photos lack sharpness or detail however, the phone has a night mode of its own which improves results. You cannot expect massive changes but if you plan on taking a lot of night time photos, make sure it is with night mode enabled. And if that is in extremely pitch black conditions, you may need to stay extremely still when the phone is processing.

Selfie enthusiasts should feel at home

On the front tear drop style notch is the 16MP camera. It is wide by nature and does a good job with both detail and dynamic range processing. And for day time video if you want to vlog your trips, you should encounter little problems. Where you may find trouble is with portrait selfies. While edge detection is great, the camera cannot retain the blurred background but rather, completely blows it out. This is not ideal if you intend to take portrait selfies at certain landmarks. The camera does redeem itself though, with great night time selfie results with less skin softening and more detail. But there is no dedicated night mode for selfies.

Blazing battery performance in the good way

The Reno Ace is equipped with a 4,000mAh battery, that is capable of getting you through a relatively busy day. But that is not the most impressive part of the cell by any means. Equipped with Oppo’s SuperVOOC Flash Charge 2.0, recharging the battery is extremely quick. From 0-100 per cent, the phone takes 24 minutes. Yes, you read that right. And for a short 0-50 per cent, it only takes 10 minutes.

We do not think you will need wireless charging considering how fast the phone is able to charge by wire

These are some scarily impressive recharge times and to be honest, they have not impacted battery performance in the short run. The battery does not drain noticeably quicker than a phone with a slower charging rate and that is a good sign. However, we are not sure how much of an adverse effect this may have on the longevity of the battery over 6-12 months. And to add, whether or not the lack of wireless charging becomes a genuine issue.

Our verdict

The Oppo Reno Ace is a great smartphone, if you look at it from the overall standpoint. It has high-end processing power, ridiculous battery technology, a decent camera and a good screen. We initially thought its software would be an issue but that does not seem to be the case either. However, the phone is awfully similar to Realme’s X2 Pro, which offers a similar package, and arguably some better features. But most importantly, it retails locally as opposed to the Oppo Reno Ace, for which you would have to figure out import costs from China and weigh up whether it would genuinely be worth it. And in light of this, we would just recommend you opt for the more easily available X2 Pro because it offers an experience that is strikingly similar to the Reno Ace.