Hands-on and first impressions of OPPO's latest mid-ranger, the Reno Z

OPPO's Reno family stood out for a couple of reasons: for one, the Reno 10x Zoom, which we recently reviewed, was one of the first devices to have a periscope lens to offer better zoom capabilities, and for another, the devices used a motorized front-facing camera that looked like a fish's fin. The Reno devices were flagships, and thus, they weren't exactly cheap. More recently, OPPO announced the Reno Z, which ditches some of the standout features of the more expensive siblings to fall in a middle-of-the-road price point.

To get there, OPPO switched out the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset for a MediaTek Helio P90, which is still a pretty powerful chipset, with eight cores and a maximum clock speed of 2.2GHz. The company also lowered the base RAM to 4GB instead of 6GB, and it cut out some of the hardware highlights in the original Reno family. The motorized selfie camera is replaced by a waterdrop notch housing a 32MP selfie shooter, and on the back, you'll find just two cameras - but one of them is still the 48MP IMX586 sensor from Sony, so it's not all bad. The second rear camera is a 5MP sensor that's only there to gather more depth information for portrait shots.

It still has some of the features of the other Reno phones, too, like the Ultra Night Mode and Color Dazzle mode, which OPPO says is "color reconstruction solution" to help make shots more vivid and natural. In my short experience so far, the night mode has been very unpredictable, but Color Dazzle does help in most shots.

Night shot with Color Dazzle mode
Night shot with night mode

The screen is a little smaller than the Reno 10x Zoom, coming in at 6.4 inches, but it keeps the same 2340x1080 resolution, and the screen-to-body ratio is still pretty high at 92%. The bezels are truly minimal, and the small waterdrop notch makes this display look very immersive. It also gets incredibly bright, so using it outdoors isn't an issue at all. There's an optical fingerprint sensor under the display, which leaves the back as clean as on the original Reno family. It also has two stereo speakers and supports Dolby Atmos, so you should get a pretty good media experience. The speakers are pretty loud, and even though the bottom one fires down, the front-facing one helps compensate in case you block it with your hand.

One thing I love about the design of this phone is that its rear is almost absolutely smooth and flat. The cameras sit completely flush behind the rear glass, and the only things that protrude from the back of the phone are the ring are the LED flash and the ceramic O-Dot. At first, it may seem like a pointless addition, but it's there to raise the phone off the surface you put it on, which prevents the glass on top of the camera from being scratched. It fits pretty well into the overall design, so I don't have any problems with it being there.

The phone comes in two colors, Aurora Purple and Jet Black, and I really wish I got the former, because the gradient on it looks very nice in OPPO's renders. The Jet Black model I got is a little more boring, but it does have a certain dark blue sheen when light hits it at the right angle, and it looks very nice.

Like its siblings, the OPPO Reno Z runs ColorOS 6 on top of Android Pie, and I have some mixed feelings about that. I'm more used to the cleaner experience of stock Android in Nokia phones, and the Reno Z comes with a lot of custom apps. It also, unfortunately, doesn't let me disable a lot of Google apps, which I can do on other phones. It also means updates aren't going to come in as fast as on some other phones.

On the bright side, ColorOS 6 does have nice and smooth animations and transitions, and it offers some small improvements over stock Android. For example, it supports screen mirroring to a Windows 10 PC, and there's also a quick gesture to enter split-screen mode, which Google made much harder with Android Pie. You can also choose between having the traditional navigation buttons or using the gestures Google introduced with the latest version of Android. OPPO actually uses the same gestures as Google's implementation, so there wasn't really a learning curve for me here.

Depending on your region, the phone may cost between €320 and €350 for the model with 4GB of RAM, though some regions may have an 8GB variant. I'll be testing the phone more extensively over the next couple of weeks and see if it's worth that price.

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