Oppo Reno 10x Zoom review: A classy, fast, long-lasting phone

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Like all smartphones, the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom is essentially a bag of off-the-shelf bits bolted together running mostly standardised software. That sounds boring, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Indeed, without this approach, our smartphones would almost certainly be less sleek, less exciting and a lot less capable.

The flipside is that, once you boil it down to the essentials, it makes it awfully tough for manufacturers to differentiate their hardware from that of their competitors’ phones. Which is why the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom’s specifications read like a boilerplate checklist of must-have flagship features.

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Oppo Reno 10x Zoom review: What you need to know

This is an Android handset that leaves no 2019 trend unturned: top-of-the-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset? Check. Edge-to-edge 6.6in AMOLED display with no notch? Check. Motorised pop-up selfie camera? Check. Triple rear camera array with long-reach zoom and ultra-wide-angle lenses? Check. Available in a range of fancy colours (with equally silly names)? You betcha.

There aren’t many areas where the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom falls short. There’s even microSD expansion for those greedy for storage space beyond the base model’s 128GB. In fact, the only areas that might concern you are that it lacks a dust and water-resistance IP rating and has no 3.5mm headphone jack.

Oppo Reno 10x Zoom review: Price and competition

It’s perhaps the price that proves the Reno 10x Zoom’s most attractive feature, however. Not only is the list price of £700 very reasonable for a heavyweight flagship such as this, but it also brings the Oppo into line with mid-priced flagships such as the £700 OnePlus 7 Pro.

Its strongest rivals are the £899 Huawei P30 Pro, which also has a screen-filling AMOLED display, a triple camera array and a long-reach zoom, but that’s nearly £200 more expensive. We also like the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus and the Sony Xperia 1, but both of those are around £150 more expensive and lack the long-range zoom of the Oppo.

The OnePlus 7 Pro is, perhaps, the closest rival in terms of price but lacks the Reno’s wide-angle shooter. The iPhone XR is only £50 more but comes with only a single camera. Even our current favourite mid-price Snapdragon 855-based phone, the Xiaomi Mi 9, which is ridiculously good value at under £500, can’t match the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom’s telephoto range – its zoom camera only gets you two times closer to the action.

Oppo Reno 10x Zoom review: Design and features

It’s also worth pointing out that none of Oppo Reno 10x Zoom’s rivals can quite match its looks. This is a phone of rare beauty, particularly when finished in the “ocean green” of my review sample. It’s also available in black and “mist pink”, but I think the green looks the nicest.

It’s not just the colour that looks good. It’s finished in fingerprint-busting matte Gorilla Glass 5 on the rear with a silky sheen that shimmers attractively in the light. A glossy stripe runs down the centre, neatly framing the logo and three cameras. The front is topped with Gorilla Glass 6, and soft curves all-around ensure the phone slips into pockets without snagging.

On the downside, this is a big phone – and it feels it. Not only is the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom heavier than an iPhone Xs Max, but it’s also taller by a couple of millimetres and has a larger 6.6in screen.

In fact, it’s closest in size to the rather bulky OnePlus 7 Pro, measuring 77 x 9.3 x 162mm (WDH) and weighing 210g, which is appropriate given how closely the two phones are matched on price.

They’re also pretty close when it comes to other physical features. Just like the OnePlus, the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom keeps its screen free of notches and holes by stowing the selfie camera away in a motorised module. This one, unusually, rises up on a hinge like a shark fin but it achieves a similar effect and works in a similar way to the one on the OnePlus 7 Pro.

It appears automatically when unlocking the phone – if you have face unlocking set up – and it pops up whenever you switch it into selfie mode within the camera app. The phone is fitted with drop sensors, too, so the camera will retract if it falls from your grasp.

Otherwise, it’s all pretty standard stuff. The power button sits on the right edge with the volume buttons on the left. The phone charges via a USB Type-C port, placed as usual on the bottom edge, and it’s equipped with stereo speakers – one on the bottom edge to the right of the USB port, the other positioned in a tiny slot between the top edge of the screen and the pop-up camera module.

The phone has microSD expandability via a shared second SIM slot, no 3.5mm headphone jack and lacks dust or water resistance rating.

The only remaining physical feature to cover is the existence of what can only be called a small, chromed nubbin in the centre of the rear of the phone, just beneath the camera array. It’s an odd adornment but one that serves a purpose: to protect the camera lenses from scratching when you place the phone on a desk. That’s clever thinking from the Oppo design team.

Oppo Reno 10x Zoom review: Display

Physically, the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom is one of the nicest phones I’ve come across and it’s topped off by a pretty decent display, too. Measuring 6.6in from corner to corner it’s absolutely huge and, although the resolution doesn’t look all that high at 1,080 x 2,340, you’re not going to be seeing any jaggies with a pixel density of 387ppi.

As with all flagship phones in 2019, the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom uses an AMOLED panel and, as Android and Android apps aren’t colour aware, there are some different colours modes to choose from. On the Oppo, you get just two (the OnePlus 7 Pro has a confusing five to pick from): Gentle, which produces a colour space roughly equivalent to sRGB (93.2%); and Vivid, which covers 96.3% of the DCI-P3 colour space used in the HDR 10 standard.

Colour accuracy itself isn’t all that great, though, and neither is peak brightness, reaching 419cd/m², where phones like the Samsung Galaxy S10 can go up beyond 900cd/m² in auto mode. That means legibility in bright sunshine isn’t as good as it might be.

Still, contrast is perfect and where it matters – playing back Netflix HDR movies – the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom performs without fault. Colours are a touch warmer and slightly more saturated than on the iPhone Xs, which for me is the benchmark for watching HDR, but the impressive thing about the Oppo is that I’d struggle to say which I’d prefer watching. The lack of a notch edges it in favour of the Oppo, though, which is a result that surprised me.

Brightness Contrast ratio Gamut coverage (mode)
Oppo Reno
10x Zoom
419cd/m² Perfect 93.2% sRGB (Gentle); 96.3% DCI-P3 (Vivid)
OnePlus 7 Pro 428cd/m² Perfect 89.2% sRGB (Nature); 98% DCI-P3 (Display P3)

Oppo Reno 10x Zoom review: Performance and battery life

The Oppo Reno 10x Zoom continues to impress when it comes to both performance and battery life but that’s hardly surprising given the components within.

Powering the phone is the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset with 6GB or 8GB of RAM backing that up depending on which model you choose.

That’s good enough to keep pace with the fastest phones out there, with only the iPhone XR, iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max proving quicker.

The only slight anomaly you might see is a faster onscreen test result in the GFXBench data than some others, notably the Samsung Galaxy S10. That’s due to the Reno having a lower native display resolution, which means the graphics chip has less work to do pushing pixels around the screen.

And, in line with pretty much all the rest of the Snapdragon 855-powered phones we’ve tested in 2019, the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom excels when it comes to battery life. In our testing, with the phone in Flight mode and the display set to a brightness of 170cd/m², it outlasted all but one of its rivals with a time of 22hrs 28mins. That one phone was the Xiaomi Mi 9 with a time of 22hrs 54mins, beating the Reno by a piffling 26 minutes.

Oppo Reno 10x Zoom review: Camera

With design, display and performance nailed, the only thing that remains is for the Oppo Reno to get the camera right and that’s precisely what it does.

Let’s start with the specifications. The Oppo Reno 10x Zoom has three rear cameras and one front-facing selfie camera. On the rear, those cameras are as follows: 

  • Ultra-wide: 8-megapixel, f2.2 (16mm equivalent)
  • Wide-angle primary: 48-megapixel, f1.7 (26mm equivalent)
  • 5x optical telephoto: 13-megapixel, f3 (150mm equivalent)

Where’s the 10x camera, you might ask? The short answer is that there isn’t one. The 10x is a “hybrid zoom”, which takes the image from the 5x optical telephoto, zooms it digitally and enhances it with details from the 48-megapixel primary camera to approximate a true 10x optical zoom.

Confusingly, what these three cameras produce are, in fact, 12-megapixel images, whether you use the ultra-wide, wide or telephoto camera. This is odd, and especially so in the case of the 48-megapixel camera, with which it is only possible to capture 48-megapixel photographs if you go into settings, select “Photo ratio” and tap “48 MP”. Intuitive, huh?

In this mode, annoyingly, there’s also no option to quickly zoom in and out. Even weirder, in Expert mode where it’s possible to select each of the three cameras individually, you can’t select to shoot 48-megapixel images at all. Here, all images from each camera are captured at 12 megapixels.

Still, the quality of the 12-megapixel shots the Oppo is capable of producing (and the 48-megapixel shots when you switch it into that mode) is pretty darned good. The Huawei P30 and P30 Pro are still the kings of smartphone photography, and the Pixel 3 and 3A produce the best quality stills from a single camera setup, but the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom isn’t far behind.

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Again, there isn’t much between it and the OnePlus 7 but, in most instances, I preferred the photographs captured by the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom. Its colours are more natural across the board. Its ultra-wide-angle shots don’t look anywhere near as badly distorted and its telephoto camera allows you to get significantly closer to your subject.

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In low light, the Oppo beats the OnePlus 7 Pro, with images that may be a touch noisier but, conversely, are a lot less soft. 

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Video is the only area where the OnePlus 7 Pro edges in front of the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom and that’s down principally to the lack of stabilisation in 4K 60fps. Quality is perfectly good but to make the most of it handheld you’ll either have to invest in a stabiliser such as the Zhiyun Smooth 4 or drop the resolution to 1080p.

Oppo Reno 10x Zoom review: Software

Perhaps the most divisive thing about modern smartphones is software and that’s what might, ultimately, put you off the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom. The phone uses Oppo’s own ColorOS Android skin, which takes a little bit of getting used to.

I’m generally of the opinion that you can get used to anything if you persevere and that’s certainly the case here. There’s nothing about ColorOS that caused me to grind my teeth in frustration. However, it isn’t as elegant to look at as the best Android skins and it’s a long way behind Google’s own Pixel launcher when it comes to the integration of Google Assistant, Google Lens and so on.

Perhaps the worst sin committed by ColorOS, however, is the amount of rubbish it attempts to foist upon you when you first set up the phone. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up installing all sorts of unnecessary apps and games that you’ll end up having to uninstall later, and there appears to be no way to remove the folders of suggested apps it plonks right in the middle of your desktop.

I suggest you switch to the app drawer UI layout and remove the folders from your Android desktop. They’ll still be there, lurking in the app drawer but at least it will be out of sight most of the time.

Oppo Reno 10x Zoom review: Verdict

That’s a small blot, though, on what is otherwise an excellent all-round smartphone. The Oppo Reno 10x Zoom may not be able compete head-to-head with the superb Huawei P30 Pro on outright camera quality, and its software installation is bloated with unnecessary extras, but I still prefer it to the OnePlus 7 Pro.

The Oppo’s biggest issue is that the Xiaomi Mi 9 is so cheap and not, truth be told, an awful lot worse. Still, if you absolutely must have a phone with – very specifically – a 5x optical zoom and an ultra-wide-angle camera that also looks gorgeous, the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom absolutely ticks every box.

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