- Excellent design
- Great camera performance
- VOOC 3.0 fast charging
- One of the best displays I’ve used
- Performance is average
- ColorOS is still not that good
- Better options available
So OPPO recently launched the entire Reno 2 series in India, which came right after the launch of the Reno 10X Zoom. The entire series is positioned as a budget offering of the same package that the Reno series is trying to be known for, which is stellar design and great cameras. Of the three smartphones launched, the OPPO Reno 2Z is the one that caught my eye, simply because at a price tag of Rs. 30,000, it is one of those rare devices that sport a MediaTek chipset.
Keeping that in mind, I wanted to test this out, to see whether the device manages to offer the same flagship experience as its costlier brothers or not. I’ve had this phone for two weeks now, and truth be told, I have mixed thoughts. So, is the Reno 2Z actually that good as the company claims it to be? Let’s find out, as I review the OPPO Reno 2Z, Mr. Phone style.
Design and Build Quality
Starting off with my favorite thing about the OPPO Reno 2Z, which is the design. I mean, just look at it. All three Reno 2 smartphones have the same design, which is great since you get that premium feel on a device at this price as well. At the front, you get a clean bezel-less display. Yes, there is a chin, and it is still bigger than some of the other phones in the market, but it isn’t too massive to be a distraction.
Over to the backside is where things get great. Right off the bat, I wanna say that I’m not a fan of camera bumps. This is something where the Reno 2Z excels since it completely eliminates the camera bump. What’s more is that they’ve also added a separate bump, which lifts the device ever so slightly. This allows you to rest the device on any surface you want, without the fear of you damaging your camera lens. It is such a small thing, but so intelligently crafted that you have to give credit to the brand for this.
There’s also the stylish “OPPO: Designed for Reno” branding on the back, which shines quite differently. It looks sleek, and really adds on to the oomph factor of the design. In terms of buttons, there’s the power button on the right side, while the volume rockers are ergonomically placed to the left side. The selfie camera resides in the pop-up mechanism up and you get a 3.5mm headphone jack coupled with a USB Type-C port and the speaker grill at the bottom. Honestly, it’s been a while that I’ve seen a headphone jack on a device, and while I personally have completely shifted to the Bluetooth life, it is nice to see a brand focus on things that appeal to everyone.
The glass back feels quite premium, and I genuinely wish OPPO would have included wireless charging with this as well. Yes, with VOOC 3.o there’s no need for that, but it would have been the sweet cherry on the top. Also, about that pop-up camera I mentioned earlier, the Reno 2Z does away with the Shark Fin design and instead sports a standard vertical pop-up design. It’s not bad, but the Shark Fin clearly made the Reno stand apart from the herd, and the lack of it does leave me a bit sad.
Overall, the design of the OPPO Reno 2Z is simple, functional, and premium; all at the same time. It feels so complete that there’s hardly anything wrong with this.
The OPPO Reno 2Z packs in a beautiful 6.5-inch full-HD+ (1080×2340 pixels) AMOLED display which gives this phone a screen-to-body ratio of 91.1 percent. In a nutshell, this is one of the best displays I’ve used on a smartphone, short of only the premium offerings by Samsung and Apple. Yes, there’s no high refresh rate here, but this is not a gaming phone. As a budget-flagship smartphone, the Reno 2Z actually looks damn great.
The colors here are accurate, and the viewing angles are great too. It also comes with Widevine L1 support, and streaming Netflix on this is a treat, thanks to the bezel-less display. One thing that I absolutely love about this is that the display can get quite bright too. I use the OnePlus 7 as my daily driver, and the Reno 2Z actually manages to outperform it in terms of brightness levels, which is saying something. Even while gaming, there was no touch latency. OPPO also bundles a screen protector that comes pre-applied to the device, which is a nice touch and almost a necessity for a device that is so much exposed.
Nonetheless, the display itself is great, and you can use it pretty much anywhere without the FOMO. Yes, I said FOMO and if you don’t know what that means, you are clearly “missing out” on something.
The OPPO Reno 2Z comes preloaded with ColorOS 6.1 running on top of Android 9 Pie. If you’ve used an OPPO or Realme device previously, the experience is pretty much the same. We’ve talked a lot about ColorOS extensively in our Realme 3 review, which you can take a look at here. On the OPPO Reno 2Z, there are a fair amount of things that I like, which includes an easy access sidebar, the ability to create dual apps, Smart Services, an assistive ball like iOS, universal search, and even some pretty handy screen-off gestures. That said, not everything is merry with the custom skin, and it does get on your nerve at times.
For starters, the animations here are pretty slow. I had to deliberately go into Developer Options and literally turn them off completely, ‘coz even on 0.5x the phone feels slow (more on that later). Then, there are gestures. While everything else is fine, the fact that you have to hold the back gesture to go to the last app feels slow. It may sound like nitpicking, but it genuinely slows down on your productivity, making you wait for a fraction of a second each time you want to juggle between apps. Also, ColorOS as a whole feels like a very heavy custom skin.
Despite having 8GB of RAM on my device and having just WhatsApp and Twitter open, the device showed only about 2GB of RAM available, which is pretty bad. I can live with the fact that ColorOS goes at a different approach than stock Android, but when it comes in the way of productivity and daily usage, I cannot recommend it.
Yes, the features that ColorOS offers are great. However, they do come at a cost, and when that cost affects your overall performance, you really need to start questioning whether the features are even worth it or not. The software has come a long way, but the team still needs to work on the optimization factor a bit before actually competing for the best custom skin out there. Maybe they could learn a thing or two from OnePlus on how to add features to the OS while still keeping things minimal and smooth.
Coming to one of the most highlighted features of the OPPO Reno 2Z, the cameras. The device packs in a quad-camera setup on the Reno 2Z, consisting of a 48MP primary sensor with an f/1.7 aperture, an 8MP wide-angle camera with an f/2.2 aperture and a 119-degree field of view, a 2MP monochrome sensor, and a 2MP depth sensor. Upfront, there is a 16MP selfie shooter inside the pop-up mechanism.
In daylight shots, the Reno 2Z captures some really amazing shots. There are a lot of details and the color reproduction is mostly on point. The smartphone enables HDR automatically for bright scenes as well to make the images exhibit a better dynamic range. For portraits, the bokeh effect is there. While it does look slightly fake, the edge-detection is mostly accurate. The phone also allows you to control the blur so there’s that. Even with the ultra-wide sensor, the images look great. Yes, there is a noticeable difference in the details as well as color parity. As for low-light photography, there is a noticeable amount of noise in the images. However, the overall result isn’t too shabby, and quite comparable to a lot of higher-priced smartphones as well.
I’m a fan of taking selfies, and the Reno 2Z is decent at that. First off, the pop-up mechanism is slightly slower than other options out there, but that’s not a big issue. The problem exists with the software here being too powerful, wanting to put a filter each time you take a photo. Even with all the settings off, you can notice a softening or beautification of the image, which makes it look slightly fake. Yes, it is a good image, but it is also fake. As for portraits, the edge detection works fine, and there are no complaints in that aspect. That said, the camera tends to overblow the background in certain instances, as you can see in the camera samples attached below.
While we are on the topic of photography, I want to point out that I am a big GCam fan. Sadly, there is no GCam support here, ‘coz of the MediaTek chipset on board. That shouldn’t be an issue for most users, but if you’re a fan of Google’s way of processing an image like I am, you would probably be left asking for a bit more. Do note that this is due to the lack of development of GCam for MediaTek chipsets. The device in itself comes with full support for Camera2API.
As for videos, the Reno 2Z is actually pretty good. The recording maxes out at 4K 30fps for the primary sensor and 1080p for the wide-angle camera. That said, the footage itself is quite stable. The device also comes with an Ultra Steady mode, which basically crops the frame to enable super-smooth and stutter-free video.
The Reno 2Z comes with MediaTek Helio P90 SoC coupled with up to 8GB of RAM. There are not a lot of phones available with this chipset, which really does make it stand apart. The chip manufacturer claims that this is the most powerful chipset by MediaTek, with a focus on camera enhancements and gaming. That’s weird, considering that at the same time, they promise to offer performance similar to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 675. Nonetheless, the company’s statement does hold true in some cases. However, there are certain things that it doesn’t focus upon which actually turn the table on them. Nonetheless, let’s talk about the positives first.
I’ve already talked about the camera speed previously, so there’s no point addressing that again. In terms of benchmarks, the Helio P90 is actually quite decent. The device scored in 2,12,123 points in AnTuTu v8, which is amazing. In 3DMark as well, the Reno 2Z held its ground with a score of 1,214 and 1,516 in OpenGL and Vulkan respectively. Even in terms of gaming, things are pretty good. I constantly used the Reno 2Z for playing PUBG Mobile and Call of Duty: Mobile, and both the games were running on High Settings without any issues. Yes, there was a slight delay when compared to other devices in terms of app load times, but that’s a very marginal difference.
At this point, you must be wondering that everything sounds so good, so why am I not happy with the performance of the device? Well, remember how I said that MediaTek claims how good this chipset is? Well, the fact is that while that statement holds true, those are all single apps that focus only on the high cores. Sadly, multitasking on this device is a completely different ball game. In daily use, the device feels quite sluggish. Apps such as WhatsApp and Twitter take time to refresh, and Instagram is just completely unusable on this device. The RAM management here is absolutely crazy, and even if you have 4 apps open in the background, the phone starts to lag here and there. This is also evident by a highly mediocre score of just 401 in single-core and 1438 in multi-core on GeekBench. As a result, it becomes really hard to use the device in day to day activities.
Can you use the Reno 2Z for gaming and photography? Yes, absolutely. That said, can you use it as a daily driver? To be fair, I don’t think so. I have used devices that feature a Snapdragon 4xx processor that performs better than this in day to day usage. As such, paying such a premium for a make-do performance is something I don’t think anyone should do.
Okay, so right here is one of the best things about the OPPO Reno 2Z. The device features a 4,000mAh battery that is decently sized for its package. Add to that the fact that despite its cons, ColorOS is great at battery management, and it also comes with various power management modes to get the most juice out of your battery. In my testing, which includes a ton of photography, listening to songs on Spotify on BlueTooth, playing an hour or so of COD: Mobile, and just spamming my followers with random tweets all day long, the device actually managed to last over a day and a half. Do note that this was with the battery at standard mode. The device also comes with a High-Performance mode, and I reckon despite the slight performance boost, the Reno 2Z could have easily lasted an entire day.
And then, there’s the charging. The Reno 2Z comes with the company’s VOOC 3.0 charging that goes up to 20W. In my testing, I was able to juice the device in just 1 hour and 40 minutes, which is great. The bundled charger is decently-sized, and it has this green accent on the cable that makes it look unique too. Despite its cons, the MediaTek chipset is power-efficient, and you should have no issues using the device for a day or even longer.
Should you buy the OPPO Reno 2Z?
The big question that remains is whether the OPPO Reno 2Z is worth it all or not? I’ve used it both as a primary device and as a secondary device, and personally, I would prefer the latter. The reason for that is simple. Despite everything that I just love and adore about the device, the daily performance here is just not up to the mark. It’s hard to point fingers, whether it is the software or the processor, but the end result is something that could end up annoying buyers. In fact, at the same price, you can get the OnePlus 7 or the Vivo V17 Pro, depending on whether you want maximum performance or great photography. With options like these, the Reno 2Z has an uphill task of exciting buyers.