Optical zoom seems to be the new obsession in the smartphone camera market, with the likes of Huawei, Honor, and OnePlus trying to beat one another. But before any of these companies made their move, OPPO was already playing around with periscope-style zoom lenses. With the OPPO Reno 10x Zoom, the company has finally used its own technology to its own advantage. But does the latest OPPO flagship live up to the expectation it set for itself and does it have more to offer than just a great camera? We zoom in to find out.
Design and Quality
The OPPO Reno 10x Zoom is definitely a sight to behold both front and back. The absence of any notch and the thin bezels on all sides gives the phone a distinct visual identity. Of course, you probably know by now that its spotless face doesn’t come without a cost.
The phone comes in the usual glass-metal-glass sandwich, with the screen protected by Gorilla Glass 6 while the back settles for an older, 5th generation protection. The matte texture on the back glass gives it a bit of a grip and saves it from smudges but for less confident users, OPPO does have a protective case in the box.
Quite noticeable on the back is the lack of a camera bump, with the array almost completely flushed to the glass – Almost; There are some rings around the lenses to prevent them from making direct contact with surfaces. The effect, however, is that the Reno 10x Zoom looks thicker than its contemporaries but it’s almost easily forgotten after some time.
The phone’s “shark fin” or “gum stick” pop camera has more consequences than just providing a notchless screen. Because of the moving parts involved, the Reno 10x Zoom misses out on any formal IP rating. But as OnePlus would try to assure customers, the absence of that expensive certification doesn’t always mean that a phone isn’t, at the very least, resistant to accidental splashes.
Specs and Performance
As far as hardware is concerned, you won’t be wanting with OPPO Reno 10x Zoom. It pretty much has the top of the line components for this half of the year. For a brief recap, here’s what you will find inside. And if the list looks familiar, that’s because it’s the same set you’ll find in almost high-end flagships launched so far.
• Operating System: Color OS 6 (Android 9 Pie)
• CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
• RAM: 8 GB
• Storage: 256 GB, expandable
• Display: 6.6-inch, 2340×1080 OLED
• Battery: 4,065 mAh, VOOC 3.0 fast charging
It probably doesn’t require much imagination to figure out that the phone performs like a beast. Of course, part of that can be helped or hampered by the software running on top, which we’ll get to later. Overall, the Reno 10x Zoom can stand tall beside the Samsungs and Huaweis of the market. Of course, we have benchmarks for that but, as always, your actual real-world mileage may vary.
Like almost any smartphone these days, OPPO also has its own special gaming mode. It calls it “Game Space” and the app allows gamers to fine-tune the phone’s performance with a bias towards gaming. For example, they can even reduce the network usage of background apps to give all the bandwidth to games that need it.
Battery Life and Charging
The OPPO Reno 10x Zoom has a 4,065 mAh battery which is already plenty by most premium phone standards. After a full recharge, 19 hours of regular use, 5 hours of Netflix and 2 hours Hulu, we’re still left with 58%. Which, of course, means you can carry over the same activities to the next day. In other words, the phone’s battery life is solid and when you do need to recharge, you aren’t left shorthanded either.
OPPO is one of the first OEMs to implement its own fast charging technology and its SuperVOOC is more than impressive. I just 47 minutes, the phone went from 25% to full, which means you won’t have to stay tethered to the wall too long just to get up to 50%. And considering its battery life, that 50% is going to last you almost a day. Depending on your usage, of course.
And now we come to the meat of most smartphone reviews these days, the cameras. Considering the importance placed on these sensors, they need to be more than just “decent”. For major players like OPPO, they have to be good, if not great.
The OPPO Reno 10x Zoom boasts of three cameras. The main one needs no introduction, as it is the same 48 megapixel Sony IMX586 you’ll hear of on many other flagships this year. Don’t be fooled though, as the sensor operates in 12 megapixel mode primarily, using a Quad Bayer/Quad Pixel filter to produce high-quality photos even in low light situations. There is also an 8 megapixel wide-angle camera that, unfair as it may sound, is mostly uninteresting compared to the other two.
The most interesting of the three is, of course, the 13 megapixel telephoto camera for two reasons. One is that it uses that periscope-style lens layout that allows OPPO to cram more lenses in almost the same space as any other smartphone camera lens. The other is directly related to that. That space-saving layout allows OPPO to offer 5x lossless zoom, same as the Huawei P30 Pro, and a more advertised 10x hybrid zoom. That’s the theory but how does it perform in practice? Quite well, actually, as long as you also set your expectations correctly. Even with all the innovation and the hype, a smartphone’s cramped space is still easily outmatched by dedicated cameras with powerful lenses.
The OPPO Reno 10x Zoom performs best in 1x and 2x zoom, especially in well-lit environments. At 6x zoom, you still get usable details but the color and white balance start to lose their quality. At 10x things start to get grainy. Forget about using the 60x hybrid zoom for any sleuthing, as you will get practically unusable results. Here are three sets taken at 1x, 2x, 6x, 10x, and 60x zoom, respectively.
“Pivot Rising Structure” Camera
The other star of OPPO’s show is the front facing camera, but only because of the strange design it adopted for it. The “stick” rises only on one end, making it look like a shark’s fin, which is its common moniker. Unlike most popup cameras, though, it doesn’t only house the 16 megapixel front camera. It also hides the LED flash for the main cameras.
OPPO promises that the mechanism can withstand 200,000 operations, just 100,000 less than the OnePlus 7 Pro. The camera does have one special trick that OPPO’s competitors have quickly caught on. When the phone’s motion sensors detect that the phone is falling, it retracts the camera quickly before it even hits the ground (or your hand if you manage to catch it). A small trick that goes a long way in preserving this valuable moving part.
There’s no escaping the fact that OPPO uses a modified version of Android but, this time, users might not be too keen on escaping at all. The company’s ColorOS has been one of the more notorious custom Android experiences but, this time around, OPPO may have started turning over a new leaf.
ColorOS version 6.0 is based on Android 9 Pie and, unlike its predecessors, seems to go easy on the bloatware. The overall experience and look and feel is still not your standard Android, but it feels more snappy now compared to older versions. The leaner software and powerful hardware make for a great combo in not only optimizing performance but also prolonging the phone’s battery life.
Of course, there are “special features” that OPPO has added to that experience, including the Game Space boost mode mentioned earlier. There’s also Kid Space for parental controls, Smart Driving for safety on the road, and special gestures for activating Google Assistant or switching to split-screen mode.
The OPPO Reno 10x Zoom is, hands down, OPPO’s best product so far. Beefy hardware paired with less bloated software and a large batter cement its place in the top tier of smartphones. It may not yet beat a DSLR but, considering it would always be in your pocket, it gets pretty close, especially with its advertised 10x zoom.
Unfortunately, its biggest weakness isn’t in hardware or software but in availability. It does sell directly in a few markets but many, especially those in the US, will have to make a leap of faith when purchasing from retailers.
Considering its expected price of 799 EUR ($890), some might feel more at ease buying what’s easily and directly available to them, even if it means paying more or getting less.
UPDATE: The previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the OPPO Reno 10x Zoom provided 10x optical zoom. It actually only has 5x optical zoom, same as the Huawei P30 Pro. Apologies for the confusion.