Oppo Reno 4 5G review: a rock-solid smartphone

Oppo Reno 4 5G review: a rock-solid smartphone

Rounded corners, a borderless display with the camera located in the upper left corner at the back: The Oppo Reno4 5G could also be an iPhone at first glance if it weren't for the punch-hole notch located in front. At the same time, the manufacturer flooded several iterations of the smartphone in the market. This review is about the standard version, which comes with 5G connectivity, a triple camera setup at the back, and super-fast charging capability.

Rating

Good

  • Fast system performance thanks to SD765 chipset
  • Beautiful iPhone look with solid workmanship
  • Triple camera setup delivers good results
  • Wonderful video stabilization
  • Fast 65-watt charging

Bad

  • 60 Hz refresh rate
  • No WiFi 6 connectivity
  • No IP certification
  • Poor loudspeaker performance

Oppo Reno4 release date and price

Before we begin, here is a brief overview of the Reno4 5G models: Oppo's latest Reno 4 series comprises of a trio of units, of which the standard model is the least spectacular among the trio. While the Pro version shines with a refresh rate of 90 Hz and OLED screen while the Reno4 Z delivers an LCD display with a 120 Hz refresh rate, the standard model only manages 60 Hz. You can read about all the differences in our coverage of the three phones. Now let's concentrate on the Reno4 5G.

Who is the Reno4 5G suitable for?

With a recommended retail price of €599, Oppo positioned the Reno4 5G as an alternative to the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, but offers inferior hardware in comparison. Oppo's hardware is more comparable with devices like the Pixel 4a or the OnePlus Nord, which are significantly cheaper. Optically the smartphone reminds one strongly of the iPhone X, alongside its respective successors without Touch ID. So if the second-generation iPhone SE looks too old-fashioned for you, you might find the Reno4 5G an interesting iPhone alternative that runs on Android with a few technical superiorities.

What I like about the Oppo Reno4 5G...

The look and feel

With its fairly borderless 6.4-inch display, glass back, and rounded edges, the Reno4 5G has a very high-end feel to it. This is because Oppo's strength lies in the choice of materials and workmanship for this device. The entire package looks a bit rounder than with the Find X2 Neo, which in the review seemed a bit unrefined and less well thought out. The Reno4 5G, on the other hand, looks as if it had been lovingly handcrafted by an old master in order to show his apprentice his craft.

NextPit Oppo Reno 4 back
The look of the Oppo Reno4 5G is reminiscent of the iPhone X...if not for the unsightly lettering on the back. / © NextPit

This positive impression is supported by several other characteristics. Oppo did not spare any expense with the vibration motor, which worked quietly and reliably. The subtle vibrations of the motor indicate that the biometric security functions have recognized you. More precisely, it is capable of detecting accurate face recognition within seconds and also offers a very precise fingerprint sensor that is located under the display. The interaction of these functions that many of us take for granted is so much fun that I have locked and unlocked the phone again and again, simply for the sake of doing so. Such small touches and details have a really big effect!

Triple camera with dual-selfie

If you leave the Oppo Reno4 5G locked and draw a circular gesture on the display, you can launch the camera app through this shortcut (it is required to be activated in the menu beforehand). Once done, you will be able to enjoy crisp colors, sharp shots, and a surprisingly useful HDR mode.

HDR Collage
The HDR mode (right) delivers good results. / © NextPit

But first, a few words about the technology involved. The Reno4 5G sports a triple camera setup at the back, which focuses on subjects using laser autofocus. Bear that in mind as it will be an important point later, especially when it comes to night shots. The main camera has a resolution of 48 megapixels, of which all 48 million pixels are available to you upon request. The open aperture is top-notch at f/1.7 with a focal length of 26 millimeters being adequate. If the field of view is not enough, the Reno4 5G also offers an 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera with a field of view of 119 degrees, in addition to an extra two-megapixel lens for depth information.

Recessed in the display are two selfie cameras, which when working together, ensure good results. One camera snaps photos with 32 megapixels while the second lens collects depth information. There is no real difference to software-based solutions for the bokeh result in your selfies. Nevertheless, this quintet of cameras is a reasonable setup without any redundant monochrome or macro lenses. The performance is also noticeable in the recordings.

Oppo Reno4 5G Lichtstimmung
This smartphone captures light moods very well! / © NextPit

The Reno4 5G captures light moods especially well with rich colors and a nice dynamic range. Shots in HDR mode look surprisingly natural and don't deliver an unnatural look, as though it is a painting, as found in many other smartphones. As you can see in the test images, the north German weather that is normally gloomy is nicely transferred into the final product. At the same time, the high-resolution 48-megapixel images can also be used in post-processing according to your preference.

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However, such high resolution also results in annoying noise in the ½ inch sensor found in the Reno4 5G. This is especially noticeable when you activate the night mode. Even if the snapshots lose a lot of details, the Oppo smartphone scores with atmospheric pictures. So if you're not a notorious photo zoomer, you'll also like the night shots taken with this smartphone.

Oppo also has another innovation in store for you when it comes to night mode. This is because you can also activate it whenever you switch from photo to video mode.

Night-videos and video stabilization

When it comes to video, the Oppo Reno4 5G is surprising, as 4K recordings at 60 frames per second are not yet available in too many smartphones. Video pans are silky and the resolution is good enough for cropping and for output in Full HD resolution. Once again, the smartphone surprises with a beautiful lighting mood that was able to capture the bluish colors of dusk, which is popular among videographers and photographers, for instance.

Oppo Reno4 5G Nachtmodus
Even videos in night mode (right) get a nice mood thanks to the night mode. / © NextPit

If you don't like quiet shots with nice lights, you can bring the Reno4 5G with you on your futuristic mountain bike and then ride past me far too close for comfort whenever I shoot my lame videos. Just like the Find X2 Neo, Oppo's video stabilization system will definitely make gimbal manufacturers nervous. Even fast movements or recurring shocks when walking downstairs are reliably compensated by the smartphone. However, the mode described in the camera app as a "professional image stabilizer" requires more light than regular video stabilization in order to work well. Hence, this mode is not very suitable for shooting in the dark.

Performance

The other hardware of the Reno4 5G is partly to blame for the positive aspects! Because with the Snapdragon 765 chipset and 8 GB of RAM, the smartphone runs smoothly and stable. However, the configuration is nothing too special where the mid-range smartphone market is concerned. In the OnePlus Nord, the same processor is also used, not to mention in the Motorola Moto G 5G Plus, the 5G-SoC worked well.

This is especially so after minimizing the animation via the developer settings of Android, with the installed Android 10 running at full speed. Menus and apps pop up in a fraction of a second, only to close again just as quickly via a simple gesture. Mobile games such as PUBG Mobile, Call of Duty: Mobile, and Battle Prime confirm this impression. Here, the loading times are short even if you crank up the graphics settings in the games to run at 30 to 60 frames per second. If you lose yourself in numerous rounds of PUBG during the middle of the working day and your battery runs low, Oppo still has a big trump card up its sleeve!

Super VOOC quick charge with 65 watts

This is because the Oppo Reno4 5G charges quickly thanks to its Super VOOC 2.0 technology via a 65-watt power supply! After unpacking, it looks remarkably bulky and has a pluggable and extremely thick USB-C cable. With the original power supply unit, it will be able to go from 10 percent battery condition to 50 percent within a matter of 15 minutes. If you want to fully charge up the smartphone, it takes a total of just 40 minutes. These are good times, and they are in fact, slightly higher than the touted values mentioned by Oppo. Surprisingly, neither the smartphone nor the power supply generated too much heat when in use despite the superior charging speed.

With a full battery charge, the smartphone will last for a long time thanks to the large 4,000 milliampere-hour battery. It depends on how you use it, but if you make occasional calls, check your email, and return home after work using Google Maps, you shouldn't have any problems charging it at night. Especially since Oppo applies very unique battery management. Depending on your needs, you can activate one power mode or choose from the different energy saving modes in the settings.

Unfortunately, the Oppo Reno4 5G does not support wireless charging and is therefore unsuitable for charging your headphones simply by placing them on it. Here is a small consolation: Even the most expensive version of Reno4 Pro does not support wireless charging.

What I don't like about the Oppo Reno4 5G...

The 60 Hz display

Speaking of the other versions from the new Reno4 5G lineup: depending on your preferences, Oppo uses the "worst" screen in the standard model. Because while the Reno 4 Pro has a 90 Hz refresh rate while the Reno 4Z comes with a 120 Hz panel, and here you are settling down with a 60 Hz refresh rate in the Reno4 5G. As my colleague Antoine wrote in his opinion on the iPhone 12, this is an even worse choice than including 5G compatibility at the time of the launch. This is because high refresh rates are becoming more and more standard even among mid-range smartphones.

NextPit Oppo Reno 4 front camera
The OLED display of the Oppo Reno4 5G is limited by its 60 Hz refresh rate. / © NextPit

The display of the Reno4 5G is by no means a bad display. The OLED panel cuts a really fine figure with its resolution of 2400 x 1080 pixels, a screen-to-case ratio of over 90 percent, and a maximum brightness of 600 nits. The colors are also vibrant and cover almost 93 percent of the DCI-P3 color space. The low refresh rate is all the more annoying for this reason.

With such a technical limitation, it gives the impression that Oppo has installed the slower panel in order to differentiate it from the Reno4 Pro and thus creates reasons to buy it, which is in fact, an exercise in futility. This is because the 90 Hz refresh rate is considered to be a 2020 staple in many smartphone models, where cramming in  a better camera setup and the bigger display should be within the domain of the Pro version.

The boring design

With these thoughts at the back of my mind, another thought came to my mind: The Oppo Reno4 5G is somehow...boring. The design is distinguished enough, the datasheet is decent, and the camera is by far no longer an outstanding performer despite its good results. The Find X2 Neo and especially the Find X2 Pro seemed more daring in nature, and you had the feeling that Oppo could replace Huawei as an underdog position in the market.

Even the quick charge function, as technically impressive as it may be, is more of a gimmick in the end. Because like many smartphone users, I usually charge my smartphone at the end of the day and leave it plugged in overnight. Whether the phone is fully charged when I fall asleep or only after a few hours, I do not really care - as long as it is full in the morning. This is different with the other models in the series. The Reno 7Z surprises its user with a 120 Hz display and holds the fort when it comes to including a 3.5mm headphone jack. A rebel in the world of cheap smartphones, the Reno 7 Pro, comes with a 90 Hz refresh rate in addition to high-resolution cameras. The Reno 7Z 5G, on the other hand, does have a place in the entire product range as well with 65-watt charging technology.

The mono speaker

Another beef that I have with the Reno4 5G is the sound quality. While the call quality for phone calls is OK, the mono speaker is horrible when it comes to mobile games or videos. Although the maximum volume is decent, the sound is very tiny and lacks bass. In addition, Oppo, like with so many smartphones, is poorly placed. 

NextPit Oppo Reno 4 usb
The mono loudspeaker on the bottom is hardly usable. / © NextPit

That's because the sound comes out of three holes at the bottom of the case, and when you hold it in horizontal mode, you constantly cover the smartphone's speaker. The sound then becomes very thin or, in the worst-case scenario, can hardly be heard. An additional loudspeaker at the top would have been good for the smartphone.

No IP rating, no WiFi-6, and no Android 11 to begin with

It is also a pity that Oppo does not offer protection of its smartphone against water damage. The smartphone lacks IP certification and Oppo does not mention any other kind of protection measures across its product page. You also search in vain for support for the WiFi 6 standard, and Android 11 is also not in the pipeline.

However, Oppo has already announced ColorOS 11, which is based on Android 11. Since the Reno4 5G is one of the newest Oppo smartphones, an update is likely incoming. It remains to be seen how long you will have to wait for this.

Final verdict

With the Oppo Reno4 5G, you're buying a rock-solid smartphone that's really fast courtesy of its Snapdragon 765 chipset. Current standards such as 5G and 128 GB of internal memory make this affordable smartphone a long-term option. The design, the processing muscle, and especially the photos taken with the triple camera setup, including videos that are very appealing to the eyes. However, the Reno4 5G is a bit boring due to its few unique selling propositions and far too expensive for the hardware offered. But if you're looking for a rather boring smartphone and always liked Apple's iPhones without Touch ID, you'll find the Oppo Reno4 5G to be a high-quality alternative with a good camera - albeit on the Android platform. The 60 Hz display matches Apple's charm, but it is a big minus point for me in this review.

Alternatives to the Oppo Reno4 5G

Many of the alternatives to the Reno4 5G have already been mentioned in this review! If you sort the smartphone lists on the Internet by price and then look to the far left, you will see the Pixel 4a without 5G, the OnePlus Nord with 5G and 120 Hz display, and the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro. You will also be able to save money when you settle for the iPhone SE that runs on Apple's iOS. While this review was being written, OnePlus also showed off with the OnePlus 8T, which is on par with the Oppo smartphone in terms of price. You can find more information in the respective reviews!

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