Oppo Reno Z Australian review (2019)
Should I buy the Oppo Reno Z (2019)?
Oppo’s new Reno Z sneaks the look and feel of the company’s first 5G handset into a cheaper segment of the market but there are more than enough compromises for the latter to hold its allure.
Though the budget-friendly device held back by uninspiring camera hardware and omissions like 5G connectivity, water resistance and wireless charging, the Reno Z manages to deliver the essentials with more than enough charm to distract you from what you’re missing out on.
If you spend more, you’re gonna get more. However, if $499 is all you have to spend, you’re probably not gonna complain too much about what the Reno Z has to offer.
Price when reviewed
In Australia, the Oppo Reno Z launched at a recommended retail price of AU$499.
Oppo Reno Z (2019) full review
Oppo’s new Reno Z attempts to bring the look, feel and feature-set of the brand’s 2019 flagship to mid-tier shoppers who can only stretch their budget so far. It’s great when it comes to the first thing, good enough at the second and middling at the third. Still, Oppo are mostly successful in what they’re trying to do here.
When it comes to the Oppo Reno Z, there's a meager motley crew of compromises to be found. Fortunately, few of them are outright dealbreakers. Under the hood, Oppo's latest comes powered by a MediaTek MT6779 processor, 8GB of RAM and Color OS 6.0 - Oppo’s take on Android 9 Pie.
The device also comes kitted out with a notched AMOLED display, dual Dolby speakers, an in-display fingerprint sensor, USB Type-C charging, 2D Face Unlock plus a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Then, the back of the Reno Z brings to bear a dual-lens camera configuration that’s built around a 48-megapixel (f/1.7) primary lens and a 5-megapixel (f/2.4) depth sensor. At 32-megapixel (f/2.0), the Reno Z’s front-facing camera is no slouch either. Unfortunately, in practice, the results that the Reno Z’s camera delivers are a little predictable.
They’re by no means bad but they do fall short against the Pixel 3a - which is this device’s biggest competitor and the smartphone camera to beat in the mid-tier right now. Regardless, if you can look beyond that specific shortcoming, the Reno Z is affordable as all get out and offers a delightfully smooth (if quirky) take on the usual Android experience.
Unless you’re keen to spend that little bit more and nab yourself a Pixel 3a (review here) or Samsung A70 (review here), the Oppo Reno Z is close to the best smartphone phone you’re gonna find for $499 in terms of design and value.
In Australia, you can buy the Oppo Reno Z outright at the following retailers:
- Kogan - AU$399
- Amazon - AU$599
The Oppo Reno Z is no longer available on postpaid mobile plans via Woolworths and Vodafone but you can always pair it with a SIM-only plan using the widget below:
Design - Look, Feel, Features and Camera
Oppo’s new Reno Z apes the look and feel of the more expensive Reno and Reno 5G but sweetens the deal with a more affordable price-tag. To Oppo’s credit, the Reno Z is mostly successful at realising that ideal but that’s not to say there aren’t compromises here.
Spec-wise, the Oppo Reno Z comes powered by a MediaTek MT6779 processor, 8GB of RAM and the latest version of Color OS - which is Oppo’s take on Android 9 Pie. The device also rocks an AMOLED display with a teardrop notch, NFC connectivity, USB Type-C charging, 2D Face Unlock and a grill speaker that’s tucked away next to the headphone jack.
Like the regular Reno, there’s no wireless charging or formal water resistance ratings to speak of. There is, however, an in-screen fingerprint sensor located underneath the screen. The experience of using this sensor was broadly consistent with how the feature fares in other Oppo handsets like the Oppo R17 Pro - though I did find it attracted an alarming amount of scratches in short order.
It’s also worth noting that the Reno Z doesn’t have the 5G connectivity found in its big brother. For more on 5G and 5G phones, check out our guide here.
The back of the phone touts a dual-lens camera configuration to the sum of one 48-megapixel (f/1.7) lens and one 5-megapixel (f/2.4) depth sensor. Meanwhile, the teardrop-shaped selfie camera on the Reno Z is a hefty 32-megapixels (f.2/0) but only utilises a single lens. Those numbers might sound impressive at first blush, but comparisons to fare like the Motorola One Vision (review here) find it closer to this new median for what a phone at this price gets you.
On paper, the Reno Z’s photography kit feels like it easily eclipses what you’d usually expect from a $499 device. However, in a post-Pixel 3a world, I found it a little less convincing.
The native camera app that comes pre-installed on the Oppo Reno Z is snappy enough to use at a moment’s notice but I was never really taken aback - or even mildly impressed - by the results it delivered.
If you’ve looked at buying a mid-tier smartphone in the last year or so, this next bit is gonna sound familiar. The Oppo Reno Z is occasionally awesome but mostly just solid when it comes to daylight and outdoor photography.
Despite a dedicated night mode, it lags a little when it comes to nocturnal shots.
Portrait mode works more-or-less as advertised but the inability to go beyond 2x optical zoom without a major drop in image quality remains a clear drawback versus more expensive smartphones.
Even if it might look the part at a glance, the Reno Z just can’t come close to delivering the kind of shots that the mainline Reno can.
Sure, you get the same curved glass found in the regular Reno. The Oppo Reno Z even features the same nifty nub on the back. However, the material design feels noticeably cheaper and you’re also missing out on the Reno’s iconic shark fin pop-up selfie camera.
In addition, I wasn’t super won over by the palette of the Aurora Purple model we reviewed. Your mileage may vary but I found it just doesn’t convey the same cool confidence and colloquial charm I got out of the Jet Black and Ocean Green versions of the Reno 5G.
Eagle-eyed consumers may notice the downgrade in material design and screen quality compared to its namesake but the Oppo Reno Z has still nice specs, clean looks and a feel-factor that’s far from cheap. You wouldn't confuse it for the kind of premium fare that Samsung and Apple are making in 2019. Stuff from a few years ago though? The Reno Z would probably pass muster.
Performance - Specs, Software, Benchmarks and Battery Life
Processor: MediaTek MT6779
Operating System: Android 9.0 Pie with Color OS 6
MicroSD slot: No
Connectivity: Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 5, NFC,
Rear Camera: 48-megapixel (f/1.7) lens + 5-megapixel (f/2.4) depth sensor
Front-Facing Camera: 32-megapixels (f.2/0)
Dimensions: 157.3 x 74.9 x 9.1 mm
Much like the mainline Reno, the Oppo Reno Z runs on Color OS 6, the latest version of Oppo’s attempt to fuse together the friendly aesthetics of iOS with the raw functionality of stock Android.
If you’ve already made up your mind about Color OS, feel free to skip ahead but, if you’re on the fence, there are a handful of changes and new features worth taking note of.
The biggest of these is the addition of a proper app drawer. Obviously, other Android brands have had this feature for ages. However, Color OS 6 is more-or-less the first time that Oppo’s devices have come with it enabled fresh out of the box and it makes for a much better software experience overall.
There’s also a new Game Space app and a Game Assistant feature that allows for streamlined notification management and screen recording without closing you out of a game you’re in the middle of playing.
The new version of Color OS also supports a total of three different gesture navigation setups. None of these are quite as mature as Google’s pill or as reliable as Huawei’s own take on the concept but it’s nice that you have options to choose from here. Whichever way you go with it, the final experience benefits from feeling like one you've chosen.
Overall, it feels like Color OS is fast maturing into one of the better Android skins out there. The competition around might be intensifying but the software experience you get out of a device like the Reno Z is much closer to something like OnePlus’s Oxygen OS than it used to be.
When it came to the benchmarks, the Oppo Reno Z lagged behind on more intensive gaming experiences but excelled on most fronts. In particular, it smashed the competition on PCMark’s Work test and Geekbench’s Multi-Core benchmark.
Anecdotally and moment to moment, the experience of using and relying on the Oppo Reno Z was incredibly smooth for a mid-tier device. I had no stuttering, lag or crashes to speak of. Everything worked like a charm and even frantic multitasking failed to slow the Reno Z down.
The Oppo Reno Z might be a mid-tier device but it doesn’t cut any corners when it comes to battery life and fast charging. You get the full VOOC 3.0 treatment here and the 4035mAh battery inside the Reno Z goes the distance.
Pretty much no matter what I threw at the Reno Z, I’d manage an easy day and a half on a single charge. Getting to two-days per charge? Not much of a challenge either.
In fact, it might not even be hyperbole to call the Reno Z one of the longer lasting mid-tier handsets out there. On this front, It delivered in a way that alternatives like Motorola's One devices just can't match.
The Oppo Reno Z supports VOOC 3.0 fast-charging via USB Type-C but does not offer any form of Qi wireless charging.
The Bottom Line
The Reno Z subtracts much of what makes the mainline Reno such an exceptional device. However, at less than half the price, it manages to carve out a compelling balance between nailing the essentials and being good enough at everything else that you rarely think too much about what you’re missing out on.
There’s a sleight of hand at play here but, at $499, it’s hard to complain too much about the Oppo Reno Z and the value-rich experience it delivers. Even if it's all you can afford, you'll probably find plenty to like about it.
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