Oppo Reno5 Z 5G Review: The cost of 5G

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The Oppo Reno5 Z 5G is its entry level smartphone in the flagship series. Available for Dh1,499, its focus is on design, performance and 5G capabilities. The latter means the smartphone is priced higher than other competing devices. But is the added cost worth it?

Design and build

Like many of the smartphones at this price bracket, the Reno5 Z 5G adopts a poly-carbonate build. In doing so, it delightfully thin and light at 7.8mm and 173g. This is a signature trait found on most Oppo smartphones, with a 73.4mm width making one-handed use extremely manageable. Moreover, its Cosmo Blue colour finish is beautiful and keeps fingerprints and smudges away. But its lack of rugged features is slightly concerning.

With no Gorilla Glass protection on either the front or back, we recommend you use the Reno5 Z 5G with a case. One is provided out of the box however, some native inherent protection on the smartphone would have been better. While a full IP-rating is too much to ask for at this price, a middle-ground like IP53 found on cheaper competition would have been nice to see.

The colour and design of the smartphone is unique making it stand out

Even a standard rubber seal around the SIM-tray is missing on the smartphone, which typically provides some unofficial water resistance. But in either case, it would be wise to keep the Reno5 Z 5G away from any water or dust exposure. Speaking of the SIM-tray, it is on the left of the smartphone and can house two nano-SIM cards and a microSD card simultaneously. Only the primary SIM slot lets you take advantage of 5G though.

Despite the questionable build quality choices here, the power and volume buttons found on the right and left of the plastic frame respectively are tactile. The top edge houses a secondary microphone whereas the bottom squeezes in a 3.5mm headphone jack, the Type-C USB port for charging, the primary microphone and the mono-speaker. Last but not least is rear-camera island. Its placement means the phone will not wobble in usage so long as you interact with the left half.

Display and multimedia

A large part of the design experience on any smartphone also correlates with its display. You find the earpiece here as standard, with a punch-hole style design. The phone would looked more modern with a thinner chin bezel but it does not bother us too much. As for the flat display, it is a 6.43-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED panel with a 20:9 aspect ratio.

Multimedia on the Reno5 Z 5G is good although it would have been better with stereo speakers

There are no bells and whistles here with much of the display behaving as standard. The AMOLED panel means colours are vibrant and multimedia looks noticeably better than on an IPS LCD panel. We watched a few videos and there was nothing to complain about. But unsurprisingly, the speaker experience is a let down. With stereo speakers a common feature on cheaper smartphones than the Reno5 Z 5G, the omission almost counters all the good of the AMOLED panel. While you can still rely on wired or wireless headphones, the quality and convenience of stereo speakers is missed here.

We wish Oppo included a 90Hz display here

Another factor to consider is the display’s refresh rate. The trade-off with its AMOLED nature is a maximum refresh rate of 60Hz. For people who have never experienced high refresh rate displays, the omission is not a huge deal. But it would have been nice for Oppo to include this on the Reno5 Z 5G as it could have served as a genuine unique selling point.

Using the MediaTek Dimensity 800U processor

On the Reno5 Z 5G, you find the MediaTek Dimensity 800U octa-core processor clocked at 2.4GHz alongside the Mali-G57 MC3 GPU. While this brings support for 5G, it will not blow you away in terms of benchmarks. On AnTuTu, it scores 339,478 whereas on Geekbench 5, it posts a 594 single-core score and a 1,636 multi-core score. This is in line with the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T’s theoretical performance but software makes a big difference.

Oppo’s ColorOS 11.1 seems to be delightfully optimised when it comes to performance. The 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage is ideal, especially with the ability to expand the latter. As we have mentioned in our Oppo Find X3 Pro review, ColorOS has seen massive improvements over the years. It comes with handy tools and features such as screen recording and split-screen functionality among others. And they work well because of the Dimensity 800U chip. The higher than usual 2.4GHz clock speed means you get an edge with everything you do.

General performance on the smartphone is fluid too, which we think is due to the 8GB of RAM on board. There are still instances of bloatware on Oppo’s software but at least there is an option to uninstall these applications pretty easily. And quite frankly, a higher refresh rate panel would have made the experience second to none. With the Dimensity 800U supporting up to 120Hz displays, we feel Oppo missed the trick here.

There are other things that Oppo can look to improve as well. Firstly, the Reno5 Z Pro 5G sports some below average haptics. We have seen much better at lower price ranges so this is not a sacrifice users should face. And secondly, the optical in-screen fingerprint scanner needs work. While it is still accurate, it is not fast enough to be convenient, so much so, that we would have preferred a side or rear-mounted hardware fingerprint scanner.

The Reno5 Z 5G maintains an FPS between 50-60FPS when playing Call of Duty: Mobile

The display also leads nicely to gaming performance and Oppo’s Game Space. You benefit here from the Mali G-57 GPU, which for us made game launch times a tad bit faster. When testing Call of Duty: Mobile, we saw that we were restricted to ‘Medium’ graphics at ‘High’ frame rates. With the extra effects turned off, we saw an average frame rate between 50-60 and some very cool temperatures ranging between 40-45°C. So, from a raw performance perspective, games will run smooth. And of course, the cooler temperatures are an added benefit. But perhaps to achieve this, you will have to sacrifice on gaming quality.

Camera performance

The Reno5 Z 5G comes with a quad-camera island on its rear alongside a single punch-hole selfie camera. Its primary camera is a 48MP sensor which accompanies an 8MP ultra-wide sensor, a 2MP macro lens and a 2MP depth camera. For day-to-day pictures, the experience is fluid. The camera’s decent shutter speed helps with this and although quality is good, it does degrade when you zoom into a photo taken in low light.

The primary camera setup is capable enough

Generally, the dynamic range shown from the smartphone is on-par with average, but results can seem slightly underwhelming. We also tested the ultra-wide angle camera which is good to cover a larger area. This does come at a loss of both colour accuracy and detail although the versatility is nice to have at times. But we would not recommend using this feature in low-light conditions. As with many mid-range smartphones these days, you find extras in the 2MP macro and depth cameras. We felt the macro camera did not provide the same flexibility as other macro cameras. On the Reno5 Z Pro 5G, it seemed you had to stay further from a subject when taking a macro image which defeats the purpose. The 2MP depth camera though seemed useful, allowing for a more consistent performance when it came to portrait images.

For night time photos, you need a steady hand. Without night mode, do not expect a wow-factor to your images. Using the enhancement does make your photo better. However, it also over-sharpens the image. This is generally a trade-off on many budget smartphones so it is not surprising to see here. On the overall though, the experience is satisfactory. We think for its 16MP selfie camera, there are some greater challenges. There is a noticeable ‘jelly-like’ effect when using the sensor and it needs to have good lighting conditions to work. In less than ideal light, it introduces noise in your images whereas in portraits, it completely blows out the background. The selfie experience here does require some work and hopefully, Oppo can mend this soon.

Battery life

When it comes to battery performance, you find a 4,310mAh cell on the Reno5 Z 5G. This is about a 10 per-cent decrease compared to what we can typically expect at this price bracket. Coupled with 5G, you can expect anywhere between 4.5-5.5 hours of screen-on time, which is average.

But with light to medium usage without 5G, the phone should last you a full day and a bit without recharging. When you have to recharge, you find 30W charging support which takes the smartphone from 0-100 in approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes. Thankfully, the charging brick and cable are included in the box.

Conclusion

As soon as you introduce 5G on a budget smartphone, it suffers from cost-cutting. And we feel like the Oppo Reno5 Z 5G is a victim of that. If 5G is your only necessity, there are already cheaper options available on the market. And unfortunately for the Reno5 Z 5G, it does not do anything outstanding in the category to justify its pricing. A small tweak to bump up the display’s refresh rate to 90Hz would have made a huge difference here and could have strongly justified the purchase. But in its current state, smartphones such as the Redmi Note 10 series and the Poco X3 Pro comfortably beat the Reno5 Z 5G.

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