News & Trends

Oppo Reno: the highlight isn’t 5G but the video camera

Dominik Bärlocher
Zurich, on 17.07.2019
Support: Samira Kobler
Video: Samuel Kobler, Manuel Wenk
Translation: Eva Francis
I’ve tried out the Oppo Reno and realised it’s not only about 5G technology. What impressed me most is the ease with which this smartphone takes 4K videos with 60fps.

First and foremost: this isn't a review. I didn’t have enough time for an actual review, I’m afraid, because I could only keep the Oppo Reno for a few days before I had to send it back to the manufacturer. This article isn't about 5G either, as I’ve kept this one for later. Sure, the Reno is promising and I should have only tested the 5G capabilities of the Chinese smartphone. But then I played around with the camera and discovered something that made 5G look like old hat:

4K, 60fps.

Oh yeah! That’s no breaking news and other phones, the OnePlus 6T, for instance, can do the same? Yes, but the Oppo Reno just does a far better job – and it does so with frightening ease.

So today, I’m writing about the Oppo Reno’s camera.

Snapdragon 855 rocks

If you're not a videographer, you probably won’t know what «4K, 60fps» means. If you are a videographer, you’re probably looking at your Nikon, Sony or Canon now and thinking «But my baby takes better pictures», clinging to the last bit of pride. That’s fine. I do the exact same with my Sony a7sii.

4K describes the image resolution, i.e. how many pixels per frame – per image – are captured. The more pixels, the sharper and more detailed the image. So far, some smartphones can take pictures with UHD, which corresponds to 3840×2160 pixels. 4K resolution would actually be 4096×2160 pixels. This is a somewhat wider image format. But because 4K sounds better than UHD, 4K has established itself as a term for both formats in the industry.

60fps, that’s 60 frames per second, indicates the frame rate. This means 60 individual images per second are captured. The more frames per second that are displayed, the smoother the image will appear. According to tests with combat jet pilots, the human eye can perceive up to 255 frames per second. Most movies are recorded at 24fps or 29.97fps. The Hobbit movies are an exception: they’re shot at 48fps. You’ll need a display with at least 60Hz to display this with the full effect.

So make a 4K-60fps image possible without your phone exploding, it needs plenty of power. Oppo Reno has more than enough. It even kept up when I was cycling down bumpy forest paths on a dirt bike in Eastern Switzerland during five minutes – and the digital image stabiliser, which stabilises photos but not videos, does great work. Let's see if Youtube's can keep up.

There’s no difference whether the whole picture is moving or only individual parts of it. The frame rate remains stable and the phone manages to keep up. What doesn’t keep up is the image organisation and image backup app Google Photos. On some phones, the image will judder during playback. On the Huawei P30, for instance. The recordings are intact, but they judder when you play them. A video player app such as VLC can help. The Oppo Reno, however, can handle everything, even with Google Photos. If anyone know why this is so, please let me know by posting a comment below this article. My first assumption that it is due to the RAM wasn’t right: The Oppo Reno, the Huawei P30 Pro and the OnePlus 6T all have 8GB RAM.

To deliver this power, Oppo features the current flagship Systems-on-a-Chip (SoC) by Qualcomm. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 used to be a nice-to-have feature, but in the Oppo Reno, it can show what it’s really capable of.

Battery at the limit

On top of what’s required from the System-on-a-Chip – in this case the Snapdragon 855 – to capture and play 4K-60fps videos, it also requires quite a bit of battery power. The solution would be to build a huge battery into the device. However, this would make it heavy – an aspect would make it unattractive. Thinner, faster, lighter is the motto for flagships. Nevertheless, the Oppo Reno is heavy. It weighs 216 grams with a SIM card, which is well above the psychological limit of 200 grams. To put this into perspective, the Huawei P30 Pro weighs 192 grams; the Samsung Galaxy S10+ 175 grams.

As the battery is by far the heaviest component of a smartphone, this is often the component manufacturers try to save weight on. Samsung was the prime example last year: the battery of the S9 only lasted one working day, if at all. Oppo, however, does not save on the battery and delivers 4000mAh of capacity, which allows to record a few 4K videos. Watching film footage for a quarter of an hour, taking about 100 photos and playing around every now and then caused the Reno's battery to drop to 20 percent in about 12 hours.

That's decent, but if you're planning to go on a long trip and record video with the Reno, take a power bank with you and charge your phone between takes. If you're using the Reno as a phone and a camera, using some WhatsApp here, Instagram there and then also filing, I assume the battery doesn't last long enough.

My first impression of Oppo Reno: it's large, heavy, fast and promising. And it's a monster. A full review could follow if you wish so.

Oppo Reno review?

Do you want to read a review on the Oppo Reno? Anyone answering «No time, gotta play football» will be ignored.

The competition has ended.

And that’s it for today. I’m off to play with puppies.

24 people like this article


Dominik Bärlocher
Dominik Bärlocher
Senior Editor, Zurich
Journalist. Author. Hacker. A storyteller searching for boundaries, secrets and taboos – putting the world to paper. Not because I can but because I can’t not.

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