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Hands on: Oppo Reno 5G review

One of the best 5G phones right now

What is a hands on review?
(Image: © Future)

Early Verdict

The Oppo Reno 5G is a Reno 10x Zoom with 5G capabilities. It’s a small upgrade in the grand scheme of things, and one that’s matched with a sizeable price increase, but it’s still a fantastic device, and it’s also one of the most affordable 5G phones yet.

For

  • Great camera array
  • UI has 5G-related perks
  • Good-looking device

Against

  • As pricey as a premium 4G phone
  • Battery life isn’t incredible
  • Not one-hand sized

Of the many 5G phones available to buy right now, few are completely unique devices, instead most are just versions of 4G devices with added 5G connectivity; the Oppo Reno 5G is an example of this, as it’s just the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom but with next-gen connectivity.

The Oppo Reno 10x Zoom is one of the best smartphones we’ve used, so it’s fitting that the Reno 5G is one of the best 5G phones out there right now – it’s also one of the most affordable as of writing (though that’s subject to change), but that’s a tentative title given that 5G phones cost a whole lot more than 4G phones.

Does 5G connectivity improve the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom experience, then, enough to justify spending more on it? Well, of course it depends on your contract provider, as some have pretty extensive 5G networks while others are still rather limited. We took the Oppo Reno 5G for a spin on EE in the UK, to see how different the device is with 5G.

To know our overall opinions on the smartphone itself, it’s best to check out our Reno 10x Zoom review, as that’s our in-depth exploration of the phone, but here we’ll explain what differences 5G makes to the equation. 

Oppo Reno 5G price and availability

(Image credit: Future)

The Oppo Reno 5G is available now in the UK and Australia, but you can’t get it in the US. 

In the UK, it’s available on O2 and EE, and there are a variety of plans for both. For a two-year contract and unlimited data, you can get it for £30 upfront and £70.42 per month at O2, and £10 upfront, £69 per month at EE. There are various perks available from both, so make sure to check your options.

In Australia, it’s available from Telstra and Optus. For a two-year contract and 100GB of data it costs AU$80 per month at Telstra and AU$105 at Optus, and again each plan has its own perks and advantages.

If you want to buy the Oppo Reno 5G outright, it will set you back £969 / AU$1,499, but there’s not much point in buying a 5G device if you’re not going to get a plan to connect to 5G networks, so if you do buy it outright you’ll want to make sure you get a 5G SIM-only plan.

Design and display

The Oppo Reno 5G has the same sleek look as the 10x Zoom (because it’s exactly the same build), so there’s the iconic ‘shark-fin’ pop-up at the top that houses the front-facing camera and flash, a sleek back with no camera bump (as the lenses sit flush with the back), a power button on the right, a volume rocker to the left, and a USB-C port.

The phone is rather big, so it’s not suitable for much one-handed use (unless you’ve got fairly big hands), but at the moment there are no compact 5G phones. It’s heavy too, at 215g, and you’re going to find very few smartphones that weigh more than that, especially if you’re using the solid case that comes in the box.

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Front

Front
(Image credit: Future)
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Back

Back
(Image credit: Future)

Still, we’re fans of the way the Oppo Reno 5G looks, as it’s both novel and sleek in equal measure.

In terms of display, you’re getting a 6.6-inch AMOLED screen, which is good-looking and high quality. In the general world of smartphones 6.6 inches is pretty big for a display, but at the time of writing all 5G phones are fairly large, so it could be considered average in this category.

The screen makes your viewing experience great thanks to its high max brightness and bold color production, so if you’re using 5G to stream a movie, TV show or game on-the-go, it’s going to be buttery smooth and good-looking.

Battery life

The battery life of the Oppo Reno 5G might be its weakest element, and this is probably because of the 5G aspect.

The Oppo Reno 5G has a 4,065mAh power pack, just like the Reno 10x Zoom, and while that device had a rather average battery life, we found the Reno 5G didn’t last as long for normal use, though it was comparable for locally stored media.

While the Reno 10x Zoom could comfortably last a day and a fair way into the next, we found ourselves topping up the Reno 5G overnight because it didn’t get very far into the second day at all. For most people who charge their handset daily this won’t be an issue, but if you’re a heavy phone user or can’t power your smartphone up regularly, it might be something to consider.

(Image credit: Future)

Despite this, when we ran the Oppo Reno 5G through the TechRadar battery test (where we play a 90-minute video with max brightness from full charge to see how much it drops), the device returned almost exactly the same scores as its non-5G counterpart, dropping around 9% each. This makes sense though, because it’s likely the extra 5G connection that’s draining the battery, and watching media saved on the phone doesn’t use 5G.

Charging the smartphone is pretty easy, thanks to Oppo’s VOOC fast-charging tech, which powers the Reno 5G up at 20W. That’s not insanely fast, not compared to Oppo’s 65W fast-charge that’s sadly absent here, but few of the 5G smartphones around as of writing actually have substantial fast-charging tech, so 20W is decent.

Camera

We were fans of the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom camera, and the Reno 5G has exactly the same camera array. It consists of a 48MP main snapper joined by a 13MP sensor with a periscope lens (for optical zoom) and an 8MP ultra-wide camera. On the front there’s a 16MP selfie camera.

(Image credit: Future)

For our full camera trial you should check out the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom’s camera section analysis, but overall we found the camera very good, and it’s one of the best smartphone cameras at its price tag.

Special mention goes to the zoom functions. There’s 5x optical, 10x hybrid (that combines optical and digital) and a whopping 60x digital zoom, which helps you get significantly closer to your subject without having to move in real life.

The camera was also great for portrait shots, whether it’s of a person or an object, as these pictures always had appropriate background blur and rarely also blurred parts of the object. This was also true of pictures taken with the front-facing camera, although we did find them a little pale at times.

So how does 5G change this? Well, the main highlight is snappy uploading of pictures to Google Photos or whatever other cloud system you use, so you can make sure your snaps are safe and secure as soon as you take them.

Of course, 5G also means these pictures can go straight up to social media, but the bigger impact will be for people who put videos online, as 5G can be quicker than Wi-Fi for many people, so instead of going home to download your video onto your computer and upload it that way, you can post your clips to the internet easily and quickly.

Below are some images we took on the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom, with an identical camera array.

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(Image credit: Future)
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(Image credit: Future)
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(Image credit: Future)
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(Image credit: Future)

Features and specs

The Oppo Reno 5G has a Snapdragon 855 chipset, which is one of the most advanced processors as of writing, and it gives the phone snappy performance, whether you’re gaming or processing pictures. The 8GB of RAM doesn’t hurt either.

This combines great with the 5G connectivity – you can play an online game while you’re out and about, and the internet speed will be as quick as the graphical rendering and gameplay speed. 

(Image credit: Future)

Audio comes from two Dolby Audio speakers, which really pack a punch, with a high maximum volume and decent quality, but there’s no 3.5mm headphone jack, so if you’re sticking with wired headphones you might need an adapter.

The Oppo Reno 5G runs on Android 9, with Oppo’s ColorOS laid over the top. As with all custom UIs, whether or not you like ColorOS largely depends on your own personal tastes, but there’s a perk in ColorOS that makes the most of 5G.

A tiny ColorOS feature is that you can have your internet speeds displayed in the top bar alongside the time, battery remaining and notifications. On 4G the numbers here are appropriately low, but on 5G they’re way higher – because of this, whenever you’re out and about you can bask in the speed of your internet connection.

This feature also helps you work out if you’re in an area with 4G or 5G coverage – at the time of writing there isn’t much 5G coverage in the UK, and even in 5G areas speeds aren’t always much higher than 4G, but the ColorOS speed monitor helps you work out what internet speeds you’re getting.

Of course we took this picture somewhere with bad connection.

Of course we took this picture somewhere with bad connection.

(Image credit: Future)

Verdict

The Oppo Reno 5G is a great smartphone, and it’s also among the most affordable 5G phones you can use (at least, as of writing), so if you need ultra-fast internet, it should be one of the first devices you check out.

Its closest rival is the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G, which is very similar in many ways, but that device costs more in most places. While several other 5G phones have more impressive features, like the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G with its quality display or the Galaxy Note 10 5G with its top-end processor, those improvements will cost you if you’re looking for a better phone.

Saying that, 5G connections will take years to be as ubiquitous as 4G, so if you’re more interested in the phone than the 5G, you should stick with the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom, which will give you the same specs and features for a lower price.

When 5G is easy to access for all, the Oppo Reno 5G will be an older device, which means it will be cheaper, so if you’re reading this review in the 2020s (hello, future selves!) the Reno 5G will be an even better deal.

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.