Oppo Reno 3 Pro Review: Close but not quite enough

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We took an initial look at the Oppo Reno 3 Pro a few days ago. And since then, we have been able to use it more extensively. In particular, we focused on its battery life, performance and durability. Furthermore, we also played around with its camera, testing out night mode in particular.

Design and durability

While the smaller form factor and light weight design is great, it comes at a sacrifice in build quality. The 175g Reno 3 Pro is made with a plastic back. While this may not be detrimental in the short run, it is prone to scratching over a period of time. In my usage, it has picked up scratch marks from keys and coins which does not make for a good look. Of course, this can be avoided with a protective case although at the phone’s price point, we expected some Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection at least.

The plastic back makes the phone easily prone to scratching

In daily use though, the phone does not feel cheap. There is a good heft to it however you do not quite get the same feel in hand as a glass and metal build. Even the power and volume buttons are made from plastic although their placement is convenient. Thankfully, the display on the front comes protected with Corning Gorilla Glass 5.

We wish the phone had some basic IP protection

Furthermore, the phone carries no IP-rating. In the past, we have seen that smartphones in this price category, if not for an official rating, at least have some seals around its SIM-card slot for example. This is evident on OnePlus devices which are comparable to the Reno3 Pro in terms of market segment. However, even budget smartphones like the Honor 9X Pro seem to have this for rudimentary protection. Unfortunately, this is not present on the Reno3 Pro, which is a shame. Speaking of the SIM slot, it is nice to see it sport dual-SIM and micro-SD card slots for simultaneous use.

Display and speaker usage

Up front, you find a 6.4-inch Super AMOLED panel on the smartphone. It sports a 20:9 aspect ratio and a 2,400 x 1,080 resolution. Through my usage, I was able to spot a few pixels at times however it was nothing major. One thing the phone is quite good with is brightness, where even at around 30-40 per cent, the screen remained usable indoors.

The punch-hole design of the display is not too intrusive in daily use

The other aspect to the screen is its OSIE Vision engine. This works to enhance colours in any application on your phone, and does so fairly well. It is a subtle enhancement but enough to make a difference. I found myself using this on all occasions and did not want to turn it off. That being said, the AMOLED panel by itself is also fairly punchy with no issues when it comes to usage otherwise.

Color OS 7 seems much improved

However, one omission that is a big deal for 2020 is a high refresh rate panel. While we have seen many manufacturers adopt this, the Reno3 Pro does not sport it. Granted, higher refresh rates on AMOLED panels drive costs upwards however, we have seen this being done on competing smartphones at the same price bracket. And to not have any form of a high refresh rate is disappointing, and evident if you are switching to the Reno3 Pro from a smartphone that had it. This in combination with only a mono-speaker serves as a double sacrifice and thus, we would have liked to see either a high refresh rate panel or stereo speakers at least. The mono speaker is by no means terrible but lacks wholesome sound.

Performance and connectivity

There is 256GB of UFS 2.1 storage available on the Reno3 Pro. Side by side, you also find 8GB of RAM and the MediaTek Helio P95 processor on-board. This is a 12nm chipset that makes for average performance, scoring 225,896 on AnTuTu benchmark. As far as playing your favourite games or browsing applications goes, the phone can handle it. During my usage, I have had short spans of play-time of Call of Duty: Mobile and the phone seemed to handle it well. This also reflects in daily performance, where the 8GB of RAM seems to keep a decent amount of applications in memory. Keeping 2-3 games open is pushing it however, you can quite easily keep social media applications, YouTube and your browser open simultaneously with no problem. Oppo’s Color OS 7 too did not trouble me too much aside from switching to Dark Mode and enabling the app drawer for convenience.

Oppo’s use of this constant feature to pin certain applications comes in handy

Of course, there are instances where the phone hits a roadblock. However, this only happens for 1-2 second stutters before it is up and running again. A case where it happens over and over is when reading storage information. When opening the phone’s Photos application, it takes a moment to load and read information, especially if you have more than 30,000 files like I do. And here, perhaps the better UFS 3.0 storage type may have helped.

At the phone’s price tag, the omission of NFC is inexcusable

In terms of wireless connectivity, there is no support for NFC which is a huge omission but you can use Oppo Share. However, the phone’s WiFi posed some issues. It seemed to suffer from connectivity problems which is not something I have experienced with other smartphones. But as for call quality and signal reception, the Reno3 Pro did a good job.

Imaging capabilities

The Reno3 Pro is fairly camera focused, with a 64MP main camera and a 13MP telephoto lens which has some solid 2x optical zoom. Digitally, you can go up to 20x however in those situations, there is a big degradation in quality. To complete the quad-camera setup, you also find an 8MP ultra-wide lens which can also take pretty good macro images alongside a 2MP B/W sensor. On the front, you get a 44MP and 2MP setup for your selfies.

While daytime testing showed the phone is good even with its ultra-wide angle lens, in the night, you experience some inconsistencies. Due to developments with the recent COVID-19 outbreak, we could not go out during night for extensive tests however these samples should give you a fair idea of the phone’s capabilities. We think the sensor is good, and can compete with high-end offerings. However, especially when using Night Mode, you get detail although but the phone’s image processing does not do enough to suppress noise. Its Ultra Night Mode is also useful however when using it, you would be much better off by resting the phone stationary on a surface.

Battery life

Something noteworthy about the Reno3 Pro is its battery. By default, the phone comes with Intelligent Power Saver. This is found in the settings and is an option that is recommended by Oppo to be turned on. With this on, the battery life on the Reno3 Pro is exceptional. Personally, it was able to get through a whole day of usage with almost 7 hours of screen on time and yet have 50 per cent left in the tank. Granted, with this mode on, the phone does not perform as smoothly as it should.

With Intelligent Power Saver, battery life is extremely impressive

Without it, you can expect the same 7 hours of screen on time, but with almost nothing left in the tank at the end of the day. For the 4,025mAh battery on-board, this is good. In addition to this, the phone’s 30W charging means you will get up to 50 per cent juice in just 20 minutes of charging. While this is great for short bursts, I always tend to charge my phone overnight.

Our verdict

To say the Oppo Reno3 Pro is an all out recommendation is wrong. Priced at Dh1,899, we feel it is wrongly priced especially given the stiff competition it faces. The likes of the Realme X2 Pro as well as the OnePlus 7T outshine the Reno3 Pro, especially in performance, build quality and display technology. Perhaps, a good reason to consider the Reno3 Pro is its battery backup and dual-front camera. Although, if priced at Dh1,499, it will definitely attract a lot more buyers.