Oppo Reno 10x Zoom review: Ticks every box
A big, beautiful smartphone with a decent collection of cameras and great battery life
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.
This is an Android handset that leaves no 2019 trend unturned: top-of-the-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset? Check. Big 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? Naturally.
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 is that it lacks a dust- and water-resistance IP rating and it has no 3.5mm headphone jack.
It's perhaps the price that proves the Reno 10x Zoom's most attractive feature, however. Not only is the SIM-free price of 700 very reasonable for a heavyweight flagship such as this, but matches the 700 OnePlus 7 Pro and undercuts the Huawei P30 Pro by almost 200. We also like the Samsung Galaxy S10+ and the Sony Xperia 1, but both of those are around 150 more expensive and lack the long-range zoom of the Oppo.
Oppo Reno 10x Zoom review: Design
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 finished in "ocean green" as our review sample is. It's available in black and "mist pink" too, but 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. 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-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 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. Clever thinking.
Oppo Reno 10x Zoom review: Display
Measuring 6.6in from corner to corner, the Oppo's screen is absolutely huge. 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, since 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 HDR10 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, the Reno 10x Zoom plays back Netflix HDR movies superbly. Colours are a touch warmer and more saturated than on the iPhone Xs, which remains the benchmark for HDR performance, but we're being picky: films look amazing. And due to the lack of a notch, we actually prefer watching on the Oppo.
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 housed within. Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 855 chipset is in charge, with 6GB or 8GB of RAM to back it up depending on which model you choose. That's good enough to keep pace with the fastest phones out there, with only the top-end iPhones proving quicker.
And, in line with most Snapdragon 855-powered phones, 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 every one of its rivals apart from one 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:
- Wide-angle primary: 48MP, f1.7 (26mm equivalent)
- Ultra-wide: 8MP, f2.2 (16mm equivalent)
- 5x optical telephoto: 13MP, f3 (150mm equivalent)
Where's the 10x camera, you might ask? 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 48MP primary camera to approximate a true 10x optical zoom.
Confusingly, what these three cameras produce is at the end of all this is, in fact, 12MP images, whether you use the ultra-wide, wide or telephoto camera. This is odd, and especially so in the case of the 48MP camera, with which it is only possible to capture 48MP photographs if you go into settings, select "Photo ratio" and tap 48MP. Hardly intuitive. In this mode, annoyingly, there's no option to quickly zoom in and out, either. Even weirder, in Expert mode where it's possible to select each of the three cameras individually, you can't select to shoot 48MP images at all. All images from each camera are captured at 12MP.
More importantly, quality is excellent. 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 smartphone, but the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom isn't far behind.
Again, there isn't much between it and the OnePlus 7 Pro but, in most instances, we 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. In low light, too, the Oppo beats the OnePlus 7 Pro, with images that may be a touch noisier but, conversely, are a lot less soft.
Overall, the Oppo's cameras are good, but not great, and it's disappointing not to have the option to capture full 48MP images.
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 some getting used to.
There's nothing about ColorOS that caused us to grind our 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 set up the phone. If you're not careful, you'll end up installing all sorts of unnecessary apps and games, and there appears to be no way to remove the folders of "Suggested" apps it plonks right in the middle of your desktop.
We suggest you switch to the app-drawer UI layout and remove the folder from your Android desktop. It's still there, lurking in the app drawer, but most of the time it will be out of sight.
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 can't compete head to head with the superb Huawei P30 Pro on outright camera quality, and its software installation is bloated with unnecessary extras, but we 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.
The Oppo Reno 10x Zoom is a fantastic example of a device which does absolutely everything it needs to. Aside from a slightly iffy UI and the lack of an IP rating, there’s virtually nothing to complain about here.
Octa-core 2.84GHz/2.42GHz/1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
Adreno 640 graphics
6.6in AMOLED screen, 1,080 x 2,340 resolution
802.11ac Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth 5
MicroSD slot (shared with second SIM)
77.2 x 9.3 x 162mm (WDH)