Oppo Reno 2Z review: A superb-value mid-range smartphone

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  • Editors' rating
    8.5 Excellent

Pros

  • Superb value for money
  • High-quality industrial design
  • Great OLED screen
  • Good battery life
  • Dual SIM and MicroSD card support

Cons

  • Two of the four rear cameras are arguably superfluous
  • No IP rating for dust/water resistance

Oppo hit the UK smartphone market this year with some compelling handsets. The attractively priced Oppo RX17 Pro with its long battery life and very fast charging really impressed, as did the flagship Find X. We also found the Reno 10X Zoom to be a good alternative to leading flagship handsets. Oppo keeps releasing new phones at a brisk pace, and two recently landed together -- the Reno 2 and Reno 2Z. We review the latter here, and for the attractive price of £329 (inc. VAT) it offers a lot of compelling features. 

Oppo's handsets generally look much more expensive than they are, and so it is with the Reno 2Z, which looks and feels much more 'premium' than you'd expect for £329. 

The Reno 2Z is available in black or white, and I was sent the latter. The pearlescent Gorilla Glass 5 backplate is, to my eyes, stunning. Oppo calls the colour Sky White, and it catches the light to reflect the pink and blue tones that pearls do. The backplate curves into the long edges, and I found it less slippery than some other handsets. Oppo provides a leather-look bumper that, while it hides that nice backplate, does provide a much better grip.

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The Sky White Reno 2Z has a pearl-like Gorilla Glass 5 back. There are four cameras at the back.

Image: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

There are four camera lenses flush to the handset's back, with a small convex bubble of glass protecting them from being scratched when the handset is laid on a desk or other surface. This doesn't protect against pocket or bag detritus, but it's a thoughtful touch.

The front of the handset is nearly all-screen (the screen to body ratio is 85%). The front camera is a pop-up unit that we're used to seeing from Oppo (and also now from OnePlus). You can set a light to illuminate the edges of the camera when it pops up -- it was set to deep pink by default, but the colour can be altered, and you can add a sound effect too. If you don't go for son et lumière effects, then there's just a mechanical grinding noise as it rises and drops back into place after use. Oppo rates the pop-up mechanism as good for 200,000 uses, and it has an auto-retract feature in case you drop the phone while it's popped out. This worked faultlessly on test. 

Note that neither the Reno 2Z nor its Reno 2 sibling, which also has a pop-out front camera, has an official IP rating for dust/water resistance.

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The Reno 2Z's pop-out 8MP front camera mechanism is rated for 200,000 uses, but does preclude an IP rating for dust/water resistance.

Image: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

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There's a small 1mm-deep grille above the screen for the call speaker, which you'd never notice unless you made a particular point of looking for it. The single main speaker sits on the bottom edge: top volume is quite loud but a little distorted -- audio quality is better at about 75% volume, and that's loud enough for personal listening. If you want to use the screen in wide format -- video viewing or gaming, or example -- you'll find the location irritating, as it's easy to cover with part of your hand, muffling the sound almost entirely.

Oppo has managed to fit in a 3.5mm audio jack on the bottom edge of the phone, next to the USB-C charge/PC connection port.

It's a little counterintuitive to have the volume buttons on the left edge, but that's not a deal-breaker. The power button is on the right edge, with a tiny turquoise inset. The SIM caddy is here too, and -- joy of joys -- it accommodates two SIMs and a MicroSD card, which will come in handy if you want to expand on the 105GB of storage that's free from the installed 128GB. There's really no excuse for any handset-maker to force you to choose between a second SIM and boosting internal storage: kudos to Oppo for recognising that.

There's no fingerprint scanner on the back of the Reno 2Z because it uses an in-screen sensor, which I found to be fast and accurate. It's a little low on the screen for my liking and awkward to use one-handed, but this isn't an Oppo-specific criticism. 

This is a somewhat chunky and weighty handset. Its 161.8mm by 75.8mm footprint leaves a small bezel at the bottom of the 6.5-inch screen, but it's otherwise almost bezel-free. It is a bit thick at 8.67mm, and heavy at 195g. On the plus side, you get a 4,000mAh battery, which testing proved very capable during testing, keeping the handset alive under the PC Mark battery test for 11 hours and 36 minutes. In real-world usage I got through a day with no problems at all -- and that included a couple of hours of radio streaming.

Oppo includes fast charging here, claiming 50% charge delivered in half an hour, so long as you use the supplied power brick and cable. 

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The Reno 2Z's 6.5-inch AMOLED screen is a standout feature.

Image: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

The Reno 2Z's 6.5-inch AMOLED screen has a resolution of 2,350 by 1,080 pixels (394ppi) and is a delight to use, with rich colours and vibrant rendition of video, in particular. The screen is definitely one of this phone's standout features. There's a 'night shield' mode that reduces blue light, which can be set to kick in at a set time or enabled manually. Still, I'd like to be able to shift it into greyscale mode for reading ebooks (a perennial gripe of mine).

There are no fewer than five cameras -- four at the back and one at the front, which sounds like a real lure on paper. The pop-up front camera has a 16MP sensor and an f/2.0 wide-angle lens, and offers panorama, time-lapse and sticker modes -- the latter adding a cartoon character whose expressions change as you grin and gurn.

The main rear cameras are a 48MP sensor with an f/1.7 wide-angle lens and an 8MP sensor with an f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle lens. These are joined by a pair of 2MP-f/2.4 cameras -- primarily for adding depth (bokeh) and extra black-and-white detail to portrait-mode images. The black-and-white sensor seems particularly superfluous -- if you want mono, just take a shot with the 48MP camera and make it greyscale for a much better-quality photo. There's no optical image stabilisation, which will be an irritation to those prone to shaky hands.

For all that, basic point-and-click shooting was generally good, and the night mode, on limited testing, did seem to capture more light than standard shooting mode. 

The Oppo Reno 2Z runs on a MediaTek Helio P90 chipset with 8GB of RAM, a combination that felt slick during everyday use -- I wasn't aware of any stutters or glitches. It delivered solid CPU benchmarks under Geekbench 5, with three-pass average scores of 389 (single core) and 1483 (multi core). That's by no means cutting edge performance, but it's impressive at this price point. 

Oppo combines Android 9 with its ColorOS overlay. It's a pretty light-touch add-on, and although some apps are pre-installed they can be removed or dropped into a folder that you can then ignore. You may or may not approve of the square style Oppo has chosen for most (but not all) of the app icons, but this wasn't a make-or-break design feature for me.

Conclusions

Given the Reno 2Z's screen quality, speedy in-screen fingerprint reader, classy industrial design, decent performance and good battery life, £329 (inc. VAT) represents superb value for money. A 3.5mm headset jack and support for two SIMs and a MicroSD card at the same time are welcome extras.

Photography fans should check that the camera array is useful for their needs, and not be lured by the pop-up front camera and four rear cameras. Still, all things considered, Oppo has just set the standard for handsets in the £350 price bracket.

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