When it comes to smartphones, we're quite literally spoilt for choice. There's literally a phone for everyone in every price range. In the sub-40k category, where today's review unit, the Oppo Reno 2 resides, you have the Redmi K20 Pro (review), the OnePlus 7T, and even the Pixel 3A (review) and the impressively specced Asus ROG Phone 2 (review).
They're all great phones and they all satisfy particular niches. At this price, you could also pick up older flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S9 or even the Note 9, not to mention the older Pixel phones.
How does the Oppo Reno 2 fit in here?
The Redmi K20 Pro is deserving of its 'flagship killer' monicker. At Rs 30k, it's one of the most powerful phones you can get. I can tell you right now, it's camera sucks in comparison to the Reno 2.
At Rs 38k, the OnePlus 7T is the obvious competitor, especially if performance is your thing. It has some great cameras and you can't argue with the spec sheet.
The Pixel 3A, despite its relative lack of grunt, boasts of a camera that far outshines flagships that sell for nearly twice the price. It also does more with its single camera that others can't do with two. Regardless, it's not as flexible as the Reno.
The Asus ROG Phone 2, however, changes things up significantly, possibly redefining expectations in the sub-40k price bracket. At the same price as the Reno, it claims to offer the best performance, the best display and the best battery life, it also comes with a 48 MP primary camera, which, as we've seen in our review, is excellent.
In this exalted company, the Oppo Reno 2 offers a decent enough Snapdragon 730G chip (better than the Pixel 3A but behind the OnePlus 7T/Redmi K20 Pro/ROG Phone 2), plenty of RAM and storage, a nice, large AMOLED display and, its USP, a quad camera setup starring a 48 MP primary sensor and 5x of hybrid zoom that can also hit 20x digital.
But is that enough? As it turns out, that answer is a definite maybe, and it all comes down to the cameras.
Oppo Reno 2 camera system: Not a gimmick
At first, I thought the Reno 2's camera system was a gimmick. So many smartphones are offering triple and quad camera systems, after all, and everyone's talking about ridiculous zoom levels. The Reno 2, however, is different.
First, here are the camera specs:
Rear camera setup:
- 48 MP wide with a Sony IMX 586 sensor with OIS + EIS
- 13 MP tele 8 MP ultra-wide
- 2 MP mono
- Features include Ultra Dark Mode and Ultra Steady Video
Front camera setup:
- Shark fin pop-up camera
- 16 MP sensor with LED fill light
- AI beauty modes
It's an impressive spec list and the photos are easily just as impressive. Don't take my word for it, just look at the image samples below:
Images, especially those shot on the primary camera, are sharp and the colours are pleasant, if a tad oversaturated. White balance between the cameras doesn't differ greatly and camera focus is nearly instantaneous.
The night mode is particularly impressive and could give the Pixel a tough fight. The image below was shot in pitch darkness with only an iPhone X display (at half brightness at that) for illumination. The image was exposed for at least 2 seconds and is still incredibly sharp and detailed.
Verus the Pixel 3A, the Reno 2 does hold its own. The Pixel 3A's night mode captures more detail in shadows and lighting structure, but it's not like the Reno 2 is terrible in comparison. The Pixel 3A remains king for night shots, but it's also a relatively inflexible single camera system.
I didn't really use the Reno's ultra-wide and tele lenses as much as I should have, probably because they're simply not as good as the primary 48 MP unit. They're great to have, but images are softer and more noisy. Also, the 5x hybrid zoom isn't optical zoom, and when the light falls even slightly, you start seeing noticeable patches and pixelation.
Selfies are sharp and almost as good as images from the rear cameras.
Photos are great, videos aren't bad
I'm primarily an iPhone user and I loathe switching to Android every time I have to review a phone (Haters may please use the comments section, I promise I'll try and get mortified.). One of the big reasons I love the iPhone so much is its impeccable video stabilisation. It doesn't matter the resolution, video is always silky smooth and stable.
The Reno 2, sadly, doesn't do anything to change my mind in this regard. While videos shot from stable mounts are via stable hands are actually not bad at all, anything involving strong motion (when you're running, say) is riddled with artefacts. That's not to say that other phones do a better job. They don't. It's just that the Reno 2's video doesn't stand out significantly.
Just look at the video below. It's 3-minutes long, but watch to the end. I'll wait.
Impressed? I'm not.
This was a handheld video involving a few seconds of clambering over rough terrain and quite a bit of jogging and fast walking. The video is stable overall, but the judder from each step results in significant artefacts that are clearly visible on anything larger than a phone screen.
Then there's this, a video shot using the 5x hybrid zoom. Clearly, a shot like this would be impossible from any other phone in this price range.
Audio is also great and whether recording ambient sound or in the faux zoomed mic mode, the quality is quite acceptable.
If you need a reason to buy this phone, the videos above are what will, or won't, give you one.
Performance and features: Ho hum
With the cameras out of the way, we return to ho-hum territory. The screen is good, but it can't be compared with the ROG 2's 120-Hz, 10-bit HDR AMOLED panel. The speakers are loud, but they're not the best.
The 4,000 mAh battery will get you through a full day of use and the VOOC 3.0 charger is indeed satisfyingly quick, but then, so is Dash Charging, and ROG 2 offers s 6,000 mAh battery.
A Snapdragon 730G is not a Snapdragon 855 and performance is, as expected, a minor concern. If you use a OnePlus 7 or Redmi K20 Pro, you'll immediately feel the slight performance dip when you pick up the Reno 2. It's not significant, but it is noticeable when you're used to more powerful hardware.
That being said, gaming performance is brilliant and you really won't find any reason to complain even when playing PUBG Mobile or Asphalt 9 or any other demanding video game.
My only complaint is the UI. ColorOS 6 (based on Android 9 Pie) is just not my speed and I would, given a choice, pick stock Android, MIUI or OxygenOS over this at any time. The UI is functional and colourful but, at least to my jaded eyes, not exactly aesthetically pleasing and a little haphazard when it comes to design logic.
Externally, the phone itself looks nice, especially the finish and the rear camera placement. That being said, the Redmi K20 Pro and OnePlus 7 aren't exactly ugly either, and I do dig the gamer-aesthetic of the ROG 2 phone.
If you can live with the UI and don't mind sacrificing some UI performance for the flexibility of having a wide and long tele lens, you'll love everything else about this phone.
If I were you, though, I'd hold off just a bit to see what OnePlus is tossing our way.
Oppo Reno 2 price and specifications
The Oppo Reno 2 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G chipset that's supported by 8 GB RAM of LPDDR4x RAM and 256 GB of UFS 2.1 storage. The 4,000 mAh battery supports VOOC 3.0 Flash Charge. The display is a 6.55-inch AMOLED with a resolution of 2400x1080. It's protected by Gorilla Glass 6 at the front and Gorilla Glass 5 at the rear. You get an in-display fingerprint camera as well.
Cameras include a 48 MP Sony IMX 586-based primary sensor, a 13 MP tele, an 8 MP ultra-wide and a 2 MP mono unit on the rear. The front has a 16 MP camera in a pop-up shark fin design. The rear cameras support Ultra Dark mode for low light and an Ultra Steady Video mode for cinematic video stabilisation.
The phone, in this configuration, is available for Rs 37,990.
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