Sunday, 01 December 2019 17:40

Review: OPPO's 5G phone is great, but it's tough to find 5G in Melbourne

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The selfie camera on the OPPO Reno 5G 10x Zoom pops up from the top when needed. The selfie camera on the OPPO Reno 5G 10x Zoom pops up from the top when needed. Supplied

The OPPO Reno 5G 10x Zoom proves two things: one, that the same company can be a competitor in both the low-priced and high-priced smartphone markets, and two, that Australia's 5G is mostly hype and should be experienced before one believes anything.

Last month, OPPO offered me either of the models it released in October — the A9 2020 and A5 2020 — for review, but I wasn't keen because both are aimed at the lower end of the market, the same end targeted by the OPPO AS5X which I reviewed in July. When the company came back with an offer of a 5G model, I thought it was worthwhile, to test both the conclusions I have mentioned above. To be clear, this model hit the Australian market in June.

At $1499, this phone is among the pricier models on sale. But the storage (256GB) and the fact that it makes the purchase of a case and headphones unnecessary, count as plus points.

full phone

The OPPO 5G device feels like an expensive phone, a subjective statement no doubt, but something I have felt when using a Pixel 2XL and an iPhone 8, the latter albeit very briefly. It comes along with a matted black case, and a set of USB-C earphones, which, while not noise-cancelling, provide more than adequate sound.

The notch-free display extends right to the edges of the screen, using 93.1% of the screen with no bezels. The 2340 x 1080 resolution makes it easy on the eye. Whoever picked out the screensaver images deserves a mention for his/her taste; there are some excellent pics among them.

HARDWARE

The fact that this device comes with the top-level Qualcomm processor, the Snapdragon 855, means that everything becomes that bit more snappier. There is 8GB of memory and 256GB of storage space which can be doubled by the use of an SD-Card. But all this grunt also demands a lot of power to function.

convention centre outside

Taken in the afternoon in the Melbourne CBD.

The smartphone has an optimisation solution devised by OPPO, which speeds up operations using three modules: Game Boost, System Boost, and App Boost. It has the new VOOC 3.0 fast-charging technology, which is said to allow low-voltage fast charging while gaming or streaming video, without emitting excess heat or limiting performance.

In practice, an actual full charge from zero took about 45 minutes.

BATTERY

While the Reno 5G 10x Zoom has a pretty big battery, OPPO might like to consider increasing the size to what it provides with lower-priced models like the A9 2020 and A5 2020, both of which have 5000mAh batteries.

shopping centre inside

Inside a shopping centre.

With the current capacity of 4065mAh, moderate to heavy use demands a daily charge.

SECURITY

The device has a light-sensitive, under-the-screen fingerprint sensor, the standard number lock and face recognition. There is no delay at all as far as face recognition is concerned, with the unlocking taking place instantaneously.

There are no issues like those which surfaced with the Pixel 4XL recently, where a person with closed eyes could not unlock the device.

CAMERA

There is no camera protruding on the rear of the phone. The three cameras are embedded within the body, right in the vertical centre. The 48MP(f/1.7) + 8MP (f/2.2) + 13MP(f/3.0) give very good pictures, no matter the light conditions.

image in the dark

Taken at 11pm on a poorly lit street.

The front camera is a pop-up, that emerges at the top of the phone when needed, taking just 0.8 seconds to rise. According to the manufacturer, if the phone were dropped when this camera was extended, then it would retract before it hit the ground. I did not have the guts to test this out.

SOFTWARE

The phone comes with OPPO's customised version of Android, known as ColorOS. During the testing, there was a major upgrade with Google's September updates being included.

5G

For many months now, Australia has been bombarded with 5G hype by both big carriers, Optus and Telstra. OPPO provided a Telstra 5G SIM for testing out the technology.

And so what one has to report is that when it comes to cold-hard reality, in Melbourne you can get a 5G signal in a small circle around the CBD. And the speeds are not that fancy, anyway.

5g fastestThere is an equally small circle near the airport where you can experience 5G speeds. On three occasions, I tested out the signal, but could only get a maximum of 185Mbps download (screenshot on right).

All 5G phones released so far — there are three in Australia, from Samsung, LG and OPPO — are using the non-standalone version of 5G NR, which is built on top of existing legacy LTE networks, and was finalised in December 2017.

Devices built to take advantage of the standalone 5G New Radio specification will have much lesser latency and are likely to emerge in 2020.

SPECS

Height 162mm

Width 77.2mm

Thickness 9.3mm

Weight About 215g

Colour Ocean Green, Jet Black

Operating System ColorOS V6.0 (based on Android 9)

Processor Qualcomm SDM855

CPU Octa-core (1x2.8 GHz + 3x2.4 GHz + 4x1.7 GHz)

GPU AdrenoTM 640

RAM 8GB

Storage 256GB

Expandable Storage Up to 256GB MicroSD card

Battery Capacity 4065mAh (non-removable)

DISPLAY

Size 6.6”AMOLED Panoramic Screen

Resolution 2340 x 1080 pixels

Durability Corning Gorilla Glass 6

CAMERA

Rear + Aperture 48MP(f/1.7) + 8MP (f/2.2) + 13MP(f/3.0)

Front + Aperture 16MP(f/2.0)

CONNECTIVITY

Bands GSM: 850/ 900/ 1800/ 1900 MHz. WCDMA: Bands 1/ 2/ 4/ 5/ 6/ 8/ 19. LTE FDD: Bands 1/ 2/ 3/ 4/ 5/ 7/ 8/ 12/ 13/ 17/ 18/ 19/ 20/ 25/ 26/ 28/ 29/ 32/ 66. LTE TDD: Bands 34/ 38/ 39/ 40/ 41. 5G NR: Band n78.

SIM Card Type Single Nano SIM + MicroSD card

GPS Supported

Bluetooth BT5.0

WiFi 802.11 b/g/n/a/ac

CONNECTORS

USB Type-C

Hidden Fingerprint Unlock

VOOC 3.0 Flash Charge

Face Recognition

NFC

bright sun outside

Taken on a sunny afternoon.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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