3 reasons to get the OPPO Reno 3 Pro (and 3 reasons to skip it)
The OPPO Reno 3 Pro is one of the latest smartphones to come out of China. Originally announced in December, the Reno 3 Pro released into China before a new variant came out several months later into India and the European market. What was left out, was the US. But that didn’t stop us from getting our hands on one, and while we wanted to give it a full review, the fact that it wasn’t built with US carrier band support made it pretty hard to truly put the phone through its paces. So instead, since this is the Reno 3 Pro, we came up with three reasons we love the Reno 3 Pro, and three reasons why we’ll pass.
OPPO is no slouch in the design department. As Adam noted in his breakdown of the OPPO R17 Pro a few months back, OPPO’s colorways are often quite gorgeous. In our case we got a beautiful silver to blue gradient that just pops. Of course, the back of the phone is a fingerprint magnet and the OPPO branding is super subtle (read: no it isn’t). It’s about as subtle as the fact that OPPO’s official branding guidelines dictate that OPPO is in caps. OPPO!
Also on the back, you’ll find a camera module that’s not overly large by today’s standards but it sticks out by a solid 2 mm and has relatively sharp corners. That camera module sports four sensors that we’ll talk about a bit later and despite its depth, the design really stands out on this phone with gently curved back, notchless display on the front, and tactile buttons with good travel on either side. Yes the selfie camera resides in a punch hole, which is less than awesome, but overall, the design is a win here.
The camera on this phone is very good. While it lacks the qualities that you’ll find in a Samsung phone, Huawei phone, or iPhone, the camera setup here is no slouch. The default camera app packs a wide-angle view, 1x, 2x, and 5x views. The 5x zoom is a hybrid of 2x optical zoom and digital cropping. Up to the 5x zoom, the camera performs very well, especially in good light. After the sun goes down, so does the quality. Of course, everyone’s quality goes down with the sun. The OPPO Reno 3 Pro’s camera hovers somewhere between the premium flagship and the midrange market expectations.
What puts the camera in the plus category is the 5x hybrid zoom and video capture. Detail is crisp at 5x zoom. That includes zooming in for a macro shot on a close object, or trying to capture a far off subject. Anything beyond that gets really messy really fast. But the fact that it’s good up until that point, is a big plus.
As for video, the camera can capture up to 4K video, but at 1080p, the stabilization is remarkable. We tested the stability of the video against a current flagship, the LG V60 Thinq, and the OPPO out performed it – not by much, but better is still better. Naturally, that all goes out the window at 4K, as there’s no OIS in video capture, but if you’re content to shoot handheld 1080p, this is on par even when tested against action cameras like the GoPro Hero 7 Black and the DJI Osmo Action.
The battery life is a bit of a mixed bag, but we have to count it as an overall positive. While battery discharge is great, battery charge times are decidedly not great. We tested the phone with continuous YouTube playing, at full brightness on Wi-Fi and saw almost 10 hours of Wi-Fi streaming screen on time. Granted that’s not the best metric in the world to test battery life, but it’s the most impressive SOT we have seen in quite some time. Charging is another matter, which we’ll get to later.
On the downside, OPPO went in a different direction than many other phones, opting to go with a Mediatek Helio P95 chip and 8GB of RAM. Overall, you can do a lot with this setup. Games like Clash Royale on the light side and Call of Duty Mobile on the heavier side play fine, but they take longer to load than one would like. Fortnite doesn’t play well at all with rendering issues, dropped frames, and lag. It’s basically unplayable. To be fair, in our experience, Fortnite in general is not great on mobile, so maybe that particular bar is too high. This is, after all, a mid range phone for all intents and purposes. Still, we want a bit more in this category.
OPPO’s colorOS used to be something of a dumpster fire on older versions of the platform. OPPO has made great strides in cleaning a lot of that up. But overall, ColorOS is still just not very good. The good news is, it’s no longer a train wreck, but in 2020, you need to expect more from your software.
The icons are a bit too cartoony, as if OPPO is trying to say, “See? Look how differentiated this is!” That’s fine, but some of the icons are a bit too different, to the point where we’re not really sure what they are. Pressing and holding the power button launches Google Assistant which we like. You can only dismiss notifications in only one direction which we don’t. If OPPO continues in the direction it’s going, it’ll eventually get to a place where ColorOS is fun, but it’s not there yet.
For obvious reasons, our review unit came with a European charger which we were unable to test. So, we used the cable in the box and the 50w charger from the OPPO R17pro. Charge times were not awesome, averaging about 16% every 10 minutes up to 64% and slowing down thereafter. All told it took us 90 minutes to charge the Reno 3 pro to full from full discharge. So while it takes a long time to charge, it will hold that charge for an impressive amount of time, putting the battery in the good category.
Of course, we don’t want to let you go on a down note, so we have two honorable mentions for you. The first is a downer because the phone is not available in the US, nor does it have band support – at least not for T-Mobile. That’s not really a problem if you don’t live in the US, but it’s worth mentioning. However, on the plus side, and this is our final point we’ll leave you with – the phone does have a headphone jack, so hooray for old-school media enjoyment!
That’s going to wrap it up for the OPPO Reno 3 Pro. Overall, this is a solid mid-range option that’s hard to go wrong with. It’s not the best performer and the camera is also not the best, but for right around $500, it won’t set up back a whole lot compared to some other competition out there.