In cricket, the value of a genuine all-rounder cannot be over estimated. South Africa famously had one for many years in the form of Jacques Kallis, who was as deadly with the ball as he was prolific with the bat. When it comes to smartphones, finding a genuine all-rounder can prove difficult, especially in the mid-range space. Yes, there are countless great value for money devices, but genuine all-rounders are hard to come by.
Having spent the past two weeks reviewing the recently launched Oppo Reno5 5G, we think we have a contender for the best all-around Android phone we have encountered so far in 2021.
The Reno5 5G is not perfect, there are certainly elements that could be better, but it does all the little things really well. Add all of those up and you have a great smartphone on your hands.
So why do we have such high praise for the Reno5 5G?
We unpack all of that below.
Dancing in the light
Let’s start as we always do with design. On this front Oppo has not pushed the boundary as it has done with some of its flagship devices. Instead the Reno5 is about standard as far as a mid-range device goes – 6.4″ FullHD+ (2400×0180) display, metal frame, thin bezels punch hole selfie camera and under the screen fingerprint sensor.
All these elements tick the necessary boxes on a device that retails for R14 999 (RRP).
What Oppo has done a little differently for the Reno5 is add an eye catching back cover colour option. There is a simple Black one, but our review model is something that the Chinese company calls Galactic Silver. It has a matte finish, which is a nice change from the usual glossy glass versions you normally find, and the cover is kaleidoscopic in terms of how it changes colour depending on how the sunlight hits it.
If you’re going to pick up this colour option, you’re going to want to make use of the clear plastic cover included on the box, or opt for something similarly transparent to make the most of the colour changing effect.
This might seem like a small thing to get excited about, but when the mid-range space is awash with Silvers, Blacks and jewel tones, this option helps distinguish it from a sea of similar looking slabs of technology.
Clean and simple
As we saw with the Oppo A72 last year, the company definitely wants you to know it runs Android based on all the logos we see littered on the box and when powering up the device.
Oppo says it has been working closer with Google in recent years to improve the smartphone experience on its devices. That’s not to say that we’re getting Pure Android like the Nokia Mobile phones, but we have been pleasantly surprised by Oppo’s Color OS. The overall aesthetic is clean and simple, with nice flat app icons and room for the UI to breathe.
There are a few duplicated apps, so some bloatware exists, but unlike on some other Android skins, you can delete the superfluous ones if you want a fully Google experience.
We were also pleased by the overall performance. Apps load quickly, multitasking happens unimpeded and the phone is adept at handling media and gaming (90Hz max refresh rate).
During our benchmarking a similar result was found. Comparing to the similarly specced Nokia 8.3 5G, the Reno5 5G scored higher in both single and multi-core results with 618 and 1 833 respectively. The same happened during 3D Mark’s Slingshot Extreme and Wild Life tests, with the Reno5 registering 3 184 and 1 680 respectively.
Powering this experience is an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G chipset, which is paired with a generous 8GB dollop of RAM and 128GB onboard storage. If you’re wanting to hold onto a device for the next few years, the Reno5 5G should you have covered from a specifications perspective, not to mention its support for 5G once it becomes more readily available throughout the country.
One of the other crucial elements, and one that Oppo has been talking up quite a bit – is the battery performance. Here a 4 300mAh unit is found in the Reno5 5G. While that capacity is not out of the ordinary for this space or price point, the fast charging is exceptionally quick. The 65W charger and accompanying USB Type-A to Type-C cable that comes in the box (which is becoming rare these days) can take your device from empty to 100 percent in 40 minutes in our experience.
Added to this is the ability to yield four hours of battery life from roughy five minutes of charge, which means it is very handy when your battery is low, but you need to make a quick pop out of the house.
How this battery will hold up to all the fast charging a year or two down the line remains to be seen, but right now, the battery capabilities of the Reno5 5G are very impressive indeed.
An area that is a little less impressive is the camera. There’s a quartet of lenses on the rear – 64MP main, 8MP ultra wide-angle, 2MP macro and 2MP mono. This array is by no means poor, but perhaps lacks the nuance and detail we were expecting. The low light performance also leaves a little to be desired, especially if you try to zoom.
As such, the onboard cameras are serviceable, but won’t be the first thing you boast about when talking up the phone to others.
At R14 999 (RRP), the Oppo Reno5 5G is of the more expensive side of the mid-range range. That said, it is certainly more premium than most of the devices you’ll find in this segment. When weighed up against the flagship offerings out there, which are all more expensive, the Reno5 5G serves as a viable alternative for those who cannot stomach flagship prices.
Armed with a vivid and crisp display, solid enough camera, superb battery, clean operating system and support for 5G, the Reno5 5G may just be the best all-around Android phone you’ll see in 2020.
It also serves as a nice precursor for some of the flagship hardware that Oppo has in its lineup, which should hopefully be landing in SA next year.
FULL DISCLOSURE: THE RENO5 5G WAS SENT TO HYPERTEXT AS A SEEDING UNIT FOR REVIEW. IT WILL REMAIN WITH THE PUBLICATION AFTER THE REVIEW PERIOD.
Oppo Reno5 5G
As a premium mid-range device, the Oppo Reno5 5G offers a viable alternative to its more expensive flagship brethren. That said, it ain't cheap, but luckily it ticks all the boxes and definitely fits into the category of a genuine all-rounder.
Jack of all trades