The Oppo Reno4 Pro 5G has all the exact right technical ingredients to make a smartphone that’s desirable and exciting, and in several cases suitably different from the competition. I’ve been using it for a couple of days and have enjoyed doing so too, but then I couldn’t ignore the ingredient that’s not so good for long: The high price.
The midrange smartphone market is hyper-competitive this year, and while we applaud devices that offer more value than ever before, it’s still very price-sensitive. The Oppo Reno4 Pro’s 699 British pound price, which is $898 converted over, means this otherwise good phone is a hard sell. Let’s look at it in more detail.
What’s most striking is the Reno4 Pro 5G’s size and weight. It’s just 7.6mm thick and 176 grams, which feels positively feather-like in today’s world, with phones regularly tipping the scales at more than 200 grams. It’s sleek and slim, slips in your pocket and bag without a fuss, and is supremely comfortable to hold and use.
Sure, we’ve seen thin and light phones before, but this is notable because the Reno4 Pro 5G of course has 5G and all its associated antenna hardware, plus a 4,000mAh battery and an in-display fingerprint sensor. It’s an impressive piece of engineering to squeeze all this into such a thin and light phone.
The review model seen here is in Space Black, which has a subtle rainbow effect when it catches the light in the right way, but it’s nowhere near as noticeable as the other design flourish — the O and P logo branding. This unusual effect sits under the Gorilla Glass 5 (used on the front and the rear) and is certainly eye-catching. I like it, but the more I look the more I see an awkward blend of Chanel and Gucci branding, and that makes me like it less.
Not to worry — if it’s not for you, there’s a Galactic Blue color as well, which has a special diamond-like structure to it which apparently took six months to develop, and benefits from increased scratch resistance and a strong resistance to fingerprints. This doesn’t seem to apply to the Space Black version, as the glossy finish still gets greasy.
Ignoring the colors and the use of the logo, the takeaway here is just how slim and light a 5G phone can be. For a while, there was concern that every phone with 5G would be a fat brick, but at least with Sub-6 5G devices, this hasn’t proven to be true. The unfortunate thing for the Oppo Reno4 Pro 5G is that we really knew this already, because it joins the 180 gram LG Velvet and the 184-gram OnePlus Nord.
The triple-lens camera on the back has a main 48-megapixel lens, a second 12MP 120-degree wide-angle lens, and a 13MP telephoto lens. The wide-angle lens is a custom made Sony IMX708 providing 16:9 video with special algorithms for low-light video. In addition to the rear cameras, the front 32MP camera also uses Oppo’s Ultra Steady technology for smooth video performance.
Taking stills for an hour shows the phone performs well in bright and slightly overcast conditions, although some may not like the high saturation levels, but can struggle with its exposure when using the 5x hybrid zoom. Portrait mode has good edge-detection and a natural look, while the HDR works well using the selfie camera too.
A quick low-light test shows the Reno4 Pro 5G does a great job with adding light and detail to stills taken in the dark, without sacrificing too much realism. While noise is kept to a minimum it does smooth the image out quite a lot. The new low-light video mode is less successful. It definitely brightens the video, but introduces a lot of noise and artifacts which detract from the finished product. I’m using a prerelease version of the phone, so there is a chance the software will be updated and improve the performance here.
Screen and performance
The Reno4 Pro 5G is small and light, but the screen is a sizable 6.5-inch AMOLED with a 90Hz refresh rate and a standard 2400 x 1080 resolution. By default, the screen auto-selects the best refresh rate for what you’re doing in an effort to protect the battery life. If you don’t trust it and always want the silky smooth scrolling from 90Hz screens, then it can be forced to deliver the full rate all the time.
It’s a pretty screen as you’d expect from the latest AMOLED technology, delivering lots of color and some lovely deep blacks. The Reno4 Pro 5G has stereo speakers — one at the bottom and the main earpiece speaker doing double duty — and while there’s a lot of volume, the super-slim body doesn’t provide much bass response, resulting in an often harsh sound.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765G processor delivers the power, and with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage space, Oppo hasn’t held back on giving it room to breathe. At launch, the phone will come with Oppo’s ColorOS 7.2 version of Android 10, rather than its newly announced ColorOS 11 which is based on Android 11. Thankfully, ColorOS itself is solid and way better than it used to be, with a cleaner more Pixel-like look and reliable speed. The Reno4 Pro 5G will get an update to ColorOS 11 next year.
ColorOS 7.2 introduces an interesting battery-saving feature where you can choose six different apps to run without restriction when the battery is almost depleted, including Google Maps and WhatsApp. These may be battery hogs, but Oppo promises 90 minutes of use with only 5% battery remaining.
The 4,000mAh battery has lasted all day without a problem so far, but with around 30% remaining after being used between 8 a.m. and 1 a.m., it won’t last two days. Oppo’s excellent SuperVOOC 2.0 charging system is a very welcome addition, as it charges the battery from flat to full in just 36 minutes, which is an astonishing performance. The 65W charger needed to do so is included in the box as well, along with a clear case to protect the phone.
Price and availability
Oppo currently does not sell its smartphones in the U.S. It will release the Reno4 Pro 5G in Western Europe including the U.K., where it will cost 699 British pounds, which is around $898 at the moment.
The conclusion, so far
Let’s recap on the right ingredients: The Oppo Reno4 Pro 5G is slim and light, has a big AMOLED screen, a strong processor, and plenty of RAM, plus the fastest battery charging tech out there, and a capable camera with some nice additional features. All good stuff, except Oppo’s gone and put the price right at the top end of the scale and invited prospective buyers to look at the 699 pound/$699 Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, which has a faster processor, a fabulous screen, a great camera, water resistance, and Samsung’s good software too.
Pay less and you’ll get the absolutely beautiful $599 LG Velvet, even less for the $499 Google Pixel 4a 5G, and even less again for the OnePlus Nord. All are fairly equal regarding specification and ability, with only the Oppo’s SuperVOOC charging tech making the Reno4 Pro 5G stand apart. But in such a price-sensitive segment, is this enough of a draw for people to spend more than they technically need to?
For the Reno4 Pro 5G to really catch people’s attention it needed to beat Samsung’s superbly priced Galaxy S20 FE, and at the very least match the rest of the competition. It’s a very good smartphone, just like the Find X2 Pro, but like Oppo’s capable flagship the high price may end up pushing people into the arms of Samsung and others.