But does it do enough at a cluttered price point?
When I reviewed the Oppo Reno7 Pro in March, I had some reservations about its camera performance and value. So when I got my hands on the Oppo Reno8 5G, I couldn’t help but wonder if these problems would persist.
The Reno8 5G is priced a whole 25 percent lower than the Reno7 Pro, selling for Rs 29,999. While featuring a newer, but broadly similar, Mediatek Dimensity 1300 chipset, it still shares many of the key specs with the older device.
The silky, shimmery back feels premium.
It made me wonder, what corners have they cut? How much did they improve things? And did they fix the issues I complained about?
I used the Oppo Reno8 5G for two weeks. Here’s what I found.
While the Reno7 line sported an attractive, but safe design, the Reno8 pushes the envelope design-wise. I am not sure if I love the aesthetics, but it’s certainly distinctive – and that’s a good thing. While the screen is Gorilla Glass 5, the back is a silky, shimmery plastic, with the camera bump smoothly and seamlessly sloping up from the main panel. In fact, I had to re-check the specs to make sure the back was plastic, because it actually does feel quite premium.
The display is a 6.43” AMOLED with a 90 Hz refresh rate and 1080p resolution. The body has straight edges but the subtle bevels ensure that your palm and fingers curve around the body comfortably. This, combined with the screen size, the light weight (179 g), and the texture of the back, means the phone is a pleasure to hold and use one-handed without a case. I am a cautious person and in this era of curved, glass-backed phones, I always rush to put a case on any phone I am reviewing. The Oppo Reno8 is the first phone that I was happy to use without its supplied case, because it inspires an unusual level of confidence.
The design is distinctive, with a gently sloping camera bump.
I’d go so far as to say this phone is an ergonomic triumph, hitting a balance of big-enough screen and handleability which is rare. I hope more phonemakers take a leaf out of Oppo’s book here.
The camera array has two usable cameras and a pointless macro camera (when will this trend die?). The main camera uses the Sony IMX766 sensor that is now very popular, finding its place on the Nothing Phone (1), among others, and there is also an ultrawide snapper.
The Mediatek 1300 processor powering the Oppo Reno8 is an upper mid-range chipset that delivers solid bang for the buck. Rounding things out is a 4500 mAh battery which can be charged with the 80W charger supplied in the box. The single variant comes with 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage.
Sadly, as is all too common, there is no headphone jack.
The bevelled edges make for comfortable handling.
While its pricier sibling, the Reno8 Pro, is the more premium model, the Oppo Reno8 5G is positioned at the very strategic Rs 30,000 price point, targeting people who want an experience a cut above the more basic models, but still don’t want to splash out on a flagship. Let’s call it the “comfort” bracket, easily above the rabble of necessity but not quite in the realm of luxury.
And that typifies the experience of using the Oppo Reno8 – it's comfortable, start to finish. The 90Hz screen feels like an improvement from the 60Hz screens you’ll find on phones like the iPhone 13, but it doesn’t feel as luxurious as the 120Hz Xiaomi 12 Pro. That said, you’d be hard pressed to tell there’s a compromise unless you do a side by side comparison.
The design is an ergonomic triumph.
The phone itself is fast and smooth to use, which is table stakes at this price point. Everything loads snappily and there were no bugs or stutters in my experience so far. I have to make special mention of the fingerprint scanner. While still not as fast as the best capacitive scanners, this is definitely the quickest in-display scanner I’ve used and for a change I will not complain about the fingerprint scanner in this review. It’s very responsive and accurate and I can imagine living with it quite happily.
The AMOLED screen looks good, with typical deep blacks and great contrast. It gets bright enough to use outdoors in the sun, but again, it’s not quite class-leading. The colour profile is not particularly accurate, with even the natural colour option looking cooler than neutral. While most users are unlikely to notice this, they will notice the absence of stereo speakers. The single down-firing speaker is loud and has a decent amount of bass and detail, but I wish they’d thrown in a second speaker on top as well.
The single down-firing speaker.
The Oppo Reno8 runs ColorOS 12.1 on Android 12, and it feels like ColorOS always does – good enough. It doesn’t have the visual flair of stock Android but it is flexible without leaning too far in the iOS direction, unlike Xiaomi’s MIUI. While there is a raft of bloatware that comes pre-installed, most of it is mercifully removable. Essentially it’s an unremarkable Android skin that gets out of your way and can be tweaked to your tastes.
The 4500 mAh battery easily lasts you a day of reasonably heavy usage, delivering over six hours of screen-on time consistently. The Dimensity 1300 is clearly an efficient processor, and Oppo has tuned ColorOS to sleep very well. The 80W charging, while not life changing like the 120W charging that’s the flavour of the season, is still fast enough for you to eschew nightly bedside charging if you’re so inclined.
The camera bump is distinctive.
The Oppo Reno7 Pro offered a solid camera experience except for one major failing. It would unerringly brighten people’s faces, no matter the lighting conditions. I am relieved and happy to report that with the Reno8, Oppo appears to have abandoned this approach.
The camera experience with the Reno8 is very good. You may not mistake it for a flagship camera, but at its price point, it delivers very pleasing results. Images from the main camera are accurately exposed with good sharpness, detail and contrast, even in low light situations. Skin tones look natural without any gratuitous brightening and pictures of people generally look good. White balance can sometimes be inconsistent, but it’s not a major concern.
The main camera performs very well.
Low light performance, with or without night mode, is excellent, with good detail and accurate colours. In fact, the low light performance is at times as good or better than more expensive phones.
The ultrawide camera is, unsurprisingly, a step behind the main unit, but still performs creditably, with well-judged colours and acceptable sharpness and detail. The lack of autofocus is a bit of a disappointment but very much standard at this price. The selfie camera performs really well, producing great detail, although it does have a tendency to slightly overexpose in darker scenes. It’s easy enough to manually override this but I wish I didn’t have to.
The low light performance is excellent.
Oppo makes a great deal of the Reno8’s video capabilities and it does live up somewhat. Especially in low light, I found the video performance to be very good with accurately judged exposure and colours and impressive control over noise. The background blur feature works roughly as well as iPhone’s cinematic video – it’s a gimmick but fun to use and can produce great results in the right circumstances.
Overall, the camera performance exceeded my expectations and definitely sets the standard for the price range.
The ultrawide is a step behind, but still competent.
Should I buy it?
Before I pronounce a verdict, let me make one suggestion. Go over to your nearest cell phone store and see if you can hold an Oppo Reno8 in your hand. If you, like me, find the ergonomics and one-hand feel to be compelling, I’d say you should consider this device.
It ticks all the boxes for a Rs 30,000 device while also offering a good camera experience, but it’s the ergonomics that tips the scales for me. Alternatives at this price range include its close cousin the OnePlus Nord 2T, the Xiaomi Mi 11X, the IQOO Neo 6, and the Samsung A53. While all these offer some advantages over the Oppo Reno8, they also all lag the Reno8 in one department or the other. In my view, the Reno8 offers a balance of performance, features, camera prowess and ergonomics that will appeal to most people. That said, if you have specific priorities like a bigger, better screen or a bigger battery, you could consider one of the others.
The one wild card here is the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, which currently sells for around Rs 35,000. If your budget extends to it (or if you get some good deals on it), it’s a phone that exceeds the Rs 30,000 class comfortably in virtually every metric, although it will get only one more Android update.
The Oppo Reno8 5G was sent to the reviewer as a loaner unit for review purposes. The unit will be returned on completion of the review. Oppo has been given no advance information about the content of this review and exercises no copy approval.
Contact the author on Twitter @vinayaravind.
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