Oppo Reno5 Pro 5G Review: High-end optics at a price

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The Oppo Reno5 Pro 5G goes slightly against the norms of a typical flagship. It may not have the latest processor or display technologies but it does make a case for itself. From its particularly attractive finish to its high-end camera system, the Oppo Reno5 Pro 5G is worth considering. But does it warrant the Dh2,799 price tag?

Design and build

One of the most stand-out features of the Reno5 Pro 5G is its design. Oppo has traditionally made some great one-handed use smartphones. And this is no different. At 184g and 7.99mm thin, the Reno5 Pro 5G blows away the flagship competition. It is a lightweight and extremely manageable smartphone, a pleasant departure from the bulkier and heavier flagships we have seen of late. The only slight drawback to this is device wobble. When on a flat surface, using the smartphone is a bumpy affair despite the rather minimal camera module.

The thin design of the smartphone makes it using it bumpy despite the small camera bump

The back of the device is made from a Reno Glow hydrophobic material. This means no fingerprint buildup, no smudges and most importantly, a grip when holding the smartphone. You also get noticeable shimmer to the Galactic Silver Reno5 Pro 5G via this finish which compliments the solid build of the device. However some people may not prefer the flashy look.

There is a rough texture to the Reno5 Pro 5G which adds a good grip

The left edge of the Reno5 Pro 5G houses separate volume buttons whereas the right edge sports the power button with a nice green splash. It would have been nicer if Oppo made the power button textured for added character. While the buttons are both tactile and satisfying, we wish the volume buttons were also on the right side next to the power button to eliminate the slight learning curve with having to get used to placement.

Lack of microSD card support may be a miss

Otherwise, the metal frame around the top of the smartphone just sports the secondary microphone whereas on the bottom, you find the speaker grill, Type-C USB input, the primary microphone and the nano-SIM tray. Here, the nano-SIM tray can house dual 5G SIM cards but does not support microSD card expansion. Despite the solid overall build of the smartphone, it is disappointing that it without official IP water or dust certification which is something we would have liked to see.

Display and multimedia

The front of the Reno5 Pro 5G sports a 20:9 6.5-inch Super AMOLED display. At first glance, it is extremely vibrant and bright which is great for outdoor visibility especially as we move towards the scorching summer. The single punch-hole design has now become a standard however, the curvature to the display is subjective. We do not mind it because it gives off a slightly more immersive feel and thus far, we have not faced any accidental touch issues.

Using the fingerprint scanner is fast and reliable

Before we address display quality, it is fair to also talk about bio-metrics. Being an AMOLED display, it is nice to find an in-screen fingerprint scanner here. Registering your fingers is simple and the placement works best with either of your thumbs. But it is the scanner itself that is also fairly impressive. It is quick to unlock and very reliable with slightly damp fingers. Despite it being an optical scanner, we are extremely happy with its performance. Of course, you can also opt for a face unlock feature although this is less secure than using a pattern, pin on your fingerprint.

We are fans of watching content on the Reno5 Pro 5G’s display

Getting back to the 2,400 x 1,080 FHD+ resolution display, it is a treat to use. Text is sharp despite it not being a QHD+ resolution panel. As for contrast and viewing angles, we have no complaints either. Black levels are impressive and there also does not seem to be any issue with green tinting. This is great to see considering the display is a 90Hz panel with a 180Hz touch sampling rate. For gaming enthusiasts, the lack of a 120Hz refresh rate may be disappointing especially considering the price tag of the Reno5 Pro 5G. However, in practice, the difference between 90Hz and 120Hz is not that large.

The stereo speaker setup of the smartphone is great

Lastly, for multimedia consumption, the Reno5 Pro 5G is no slouch either. The bundled stereo speakers offer a good sound sound experience that compliments the display well. We did not face any issues listening to music, podcasts or dialogue in movies. Of course, having a 3.5mm headphone jack would have added to convenience. Although we appreciate that a decent wired pair of Type-C USB headphones are provided out of the box.

Performance and gaming

Running the show on the Oppo Reno5 Pro 5G is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 octa-core processor. This is a 7nm chip although it is not the latest one available on the market. Compared to this year’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or Exynos 2100 processor, on paper performance is about 10-12 per-cent lower. Moreover, benchmark results are also inferior to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ chip from last year. To put that in perspective, the Reno5 Pro 5G scores 579,107 on AnTuTu with a single-core score of 918 and a multi-core score of 3,064. However, benchmarks do not always tell you the full story.

Alongside the processing power, the smartphone packs 12GB of RAM and 256GB of non-expandable storage. With this combination and the 90Hz refresh rate panel, general performance is not an issue on the device. You can browse between heavy applications to lighter ones without the smartphone having to budge. This is great from a practicality perspective and we have thoroughly enjoyed the reliable performance from the device.

Multitasking on the smartphone can lead to some lag issues which is surprising

Even when pushed, the smartphone does not show signs of overheating. And as far as gaming performance is concerned, you will not have to face any issues. We were able to play titles such as PUBG and Call of Duty: Mobile for extended sessions with no considerable drop in performance. A game like TauCeti, notoriously known to push hardware and graphics performance on a smartphone does show frame drops. However, this was present even on the new Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra which sports a 5nm Exynos 2100 processor so we cannot take anything away from Oppo here.

User experience and software

Since Oppo introduced us to ColorOS, it has come a long way in making sure to improve user experience. We remember when it was a fairly obtrusive skin but has now become one of the more streamlined experiences available on a smartphone. But you still find a lot of unnecessary bloatware pre-installed with the device. For example, we saw a dedicated Hot Apps folder when we first booted the smartphone which is not something that anyone would ever use.

Oppo’s ColorOS 11.1 brings a pleasant experience

Many of Oppo’s pre-installed applications cannot be uninstalled. So it is likely that users could find themselves with a bunch of unnecessary applications that add very little to their experience. This combined with Oppo’s standard user interface without an application drawer can be challenging to organise. However, it is nice that ColorOS 11.1 provides the option for drawer support. This is akin to stock Android, and in this case, we do see Android 11 underneath Oppo’s skin.

That being said, we think Oppo does useful integrations the best. For example, the access to useful notification toggles, theme support and split-screen usage. There are also a number of useful tools for screen recording, video sharing and photo editing pre-baked into the software. We would also throw Oppo’s dark mode into the mix here however it seems to darken web-pages and elements in Oppo’s default applications by mistake, which takes away from user experience. ColorOS 11.1 seems to aggressively apply the effect everywhere and this is something that Oppo should look to address.

The pre-built folders promoting Oppo’s own App Market should not be there

And going back to split-screen multitasking, we did find an issue here. When running two applications in split-screen mode, the smartphone seemed to struggle with frames. This is a bit of a surprise given the processing power found on the Reno5 Pro 5G. We were also able to replicate this issue when Google Maps and the camera application ran simultaneously. Here, the viewfinder became very laggy which once again was not expected. We hope Oppo looks to fix this issue with upcoming software patches which are also due for the smartphone as it releases in the region given our unit is still running a January 2021 security update.

Still camera performance

In quite a compact and slender camera housing, the Oppo Reno5 Pro 5G packs a rather impressive camera setup. This is what distinguishes itself from the competition, firstly with a main 50MP f/1.8 lens with a Sony IMX766 sensor. This sports a 1/1.56-inch size and its impact during low light usage is prominent. You also find a 16MP f/2.4 ultra-wide angle camera with a 13MP f/2.2 telephoto and a 2MP f/2.4 macro lens.

The rear camera setup sports a Sony IMX766 sensor

The macro lens is there just to make up the numbers. It works when there is good light around but aside from that, it serves as a meagre novelty factor. The Reno5 Pro 5G is also not particularly great at zoom images. Images taken at 2x zoom stay crisp however at 5x zoom, they start to become softer with detail. As for 10x and 20x zoom, while it is nice to have, it is not a feature to rely on very often with results showing noise and a drop in quality.

Arguably, the star of the show is the smartphone’s 50MP primary camera. It is capable of some impressive photos with good dynamic range and detail. The balance of colours from the sensor is good as well, producing truer to life results. There is some loss when it comes to highlight retention and a sway of colours is definitely seen when switching from the wide to the 16MP ultra-wide angle lens. But when it comes to both ease of use via the snappy shutter and quality, the Reno5 Pro’s sensor is definitely up there. Using night mode on the device was also pleasing. More often than not, it did not take away from the general mood of night time which is something we appreciate.

The front 32MP selfie camera could be better

Alongside the primary camera unit, you find a 32MP f/2.4 selfie shooter on the device. We found its performance to be slightly underwhelming partly due to Oppo’s colour science. The Reno5 Pro 5G takes detailed pictures however in both day and night situations, it tends to brighten and beautify images a bit too much by default. There is a way to tone this down in the camera settings however we still found it a bit much. That being said, one of the nice aspects about the selfie camera is its optimisation when it comes to night time photo and video capture, supporting both night mode and AI Highlight Video.

Video camera performance

This year, Oppo has also worked to ensure that the Reno5 Pro 5G delivers a reliable video experience. With a feature called AI Highlight Video, you can take advantage of better video quality in a number of situations. For example, the camera’s Live HDR works well against sunlight whereas its Ultra Night Video is particularly useful to bring out more detail in the dark. To be fair to Oppo, these algorithms work fairly consistently. However, they do induce an overly warm tone to the video captured. This is great for general night video to bring out never before seen detail however not so great when you are focusing on a lit up building or scene.

Colours of the Burj Al Arab or the Dubai Water Canal come out extremely saturated which in turn takes away from the detail in the video captured. There is of course a case for video quality as well. Just like Oppo’s Ultra Steady Video feature, its AI enhancements only work at 1080p resolution. With the device supporting up to 4K 60fps video recording, it would have been nice to see these enhancements at this higher resolution. This is something that Oppo can definitely work on to improve video performance even further in the future.

Battery life

When we first picked up the Oppo Reno5 Pro 5G, we thought its slim form factor would sacrifice battery. However, with its 4,500mAh cell, it does a tremendous job with backup. With moderate to heavy use, you should see the smartphone lasting at least one full day. This includes syncing, general web browsing, video watching and social media usage on WiFi and 5G. Typical screen-on times for the smartphone should range between 8-9 hours, which is more than enough.

With lighter usage, you can even push the Reno5 Pro 5G for up to 1.5 days. This is outstanding for the smartphone considering its flagship chip. To further bolster this, the Reno5 Pro 5G comes with 65W SuperVOOC 2.0 charging support. Using both the charging brick and cable provided out of the box, the smartphone can charge from 0-100 per-cent in just 33 minutes. But to improve the longevity of the cell, Oppo has also bundled an optimised night charging feature to charge slower when not required. We appreciate the convenience the smartphone brings in this regard however, we would have liked to see support for wireless charging as well. With the smartphone sporting a glass back and a considerable price tag, there is no excuse for Oppo here.

Conclusion

To put it simply, the Oppo Reno5 Pro 5G is a great all-rounded smartphone. It gets high praise from us when it comes to camera performance and battery backup. And to be fair, its display is also great. We do not mind that the 90Hz refresh rate and in terms of real world performance, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor is sufficient. However, the smartphone struggles in justifying value. With no IP68 certification, the lack of wireless charging support and an older processor, the Reno5 Pro at Dh2,799 is overpriced. It would be wise to wait for the smartphone’s price to drop in a few months’ time or look at alternatives such as the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE.

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