OPPO has a big presence in key parts of the world, especially in its home turf China, India, and the better part of Asia. Its popularity has been growing because the BBK-owned phone maker has been honing its devices over an extended period, and the outcome has been witnessed by notable releases that have made a name for themselves based on superior hardware and appealing craftsmanship they bring to the table.

OPPO’s best of the best aka the Find X line is a true manifestation of what the company can do and a general public announcement that it can compete with the big boys in the smartphone space. Kenya was lucky to see the Find X in store shelves in 2019, albeit in limited numbers. The OPPO Find X2 and X2 Pro are selling out there, but it appears that we will not get them this time around.

In place, OPPO has been pushing the Reno series locally. Reno was introduced a year or so ago, and it is a flagship series by all metrics, although there are some subtle adjustments that keep it from being an all-rounder. That aside, we saw the Reno 10x Zoom hit the Kenya marketplace, as well as the less-specc’d Reno 2F. The trend has since continued with the launch of the Reno3, which we have been playing with for a couple of days, and have come to really love.


The following few paragraphs will detail, albeit briefly, the points that make the Reno3 a great device for any person who wants it all in a pocket computer – but does not want to make a hole in their pocket considering top-tier devices are very expensive. In the same breath, I will share my misgivings because, well, they are there, and I have to tell you else I wouldn’t be doing my job.

With that in mind, let’s jump right in.

In brief: how the Reno3 excels

  • This is one of the nicest hardware around you can get for KES 40000. It has a big screen, but it does not feel like a big phone. The body is slender and is constructed on a 20:9 aspect ratio. It is not the usual 18:9, meaning it is slightly taller than your normal 6.4” phones without being an ergonomics mess.
  • The buttons are placed where you can reach them. The power button has a nice colour accent on it (green). I love subtle features like these.
  • The AMOLED screen is very good. It gets very bright outside and goes very dim during your bedtime scrolling routines. Colours pop too, and a lot of people love that.
  • The screen is not curved.
  • The cameras are excellent for the price, perhaps beyond the sticker tag (more of that in a second).
  • ColorOS 7 has grown on me and I enjoy using it. It has some really cool features (more of that in another minute).
  • ColorOS 7 does not overwhelm you with bloat. There isn’t much here, and the two or three extra apps can be erased. Also, you will not see any ads here (ahem Transsion).
  • Reno3 does gesture-navigation excellently.
  • You will get all-day battery life with the Reno3.
  • Charging speeds are stupid fast (50% by the 30th-minute mark).
  • The Reno3 is speedy and has sufficient storage and RAM for your day to day tasks. If you need more, you can supplement memory with a microSD card.
  • The headphone jack is alive.
  • The in-screen fingerprint reader is fast.

Missteps

  • The screen, while all bright and appealing to the eye, has a notch. Notches are not welcome in 2020, and most people would probably prefer a punched or motorized camera. Screen cutouts are just getting staler day by day.
  • The 4025 mAh juicer is big, but unless you use it frugally, it cannot pull two days.
  • The packaged earphones that look like earpods are not very good – they don’t fit into my ears, and leak sound way too much. You are better off with a new set that goes into your ears.
  • Lifestyle features have been skipped here. May some form of ingress protection next time?
  • At KES 40000, the Reno3 has some serious competition for Huawei, Xiaomi, and Samsung. It is challenging to rationalize some of its decisions against the price, and convincing the next person that it is a very good pick.

Build and design choices

My initial impressions attested to my guess: that the Reno3 is a pretty phone, and I loved it instantly. It is built beautifully with the right placement of buttons. The back is hardly busy. It has the OPPO branding, the vertically-paced quad-camera system and an LED flash. The fingerprint has moved into the display like any other modern phone.

OPPO Reno3 Colours
Reno3 in Midnight Black and Aurora Blue

The front features a 6.4” AMOLED screen that get plenty bright. It is an AMOLED so all colours are going to appeal to your eyes. Nothing to fault here. In fact, the display is flat and avoids curves at all costs that are actually bad in my book due to accidental touches, as well as them making handling a device a nightmare.

The only beef I have with the screen is the rain-drop notch. OPPO gave us a pop-up camera with the Reno 2F, which makes a display very clean thanks to that immersive experience. We would have loved the same thing here, or a selfie cam punched into the display as we have to come to expect even for low-end phones.

OPPO has always positioned buttons strategically. On the left are volume controls that are almost at the mid-section of the handheld. The power button is on the right and can be reached easily without any finger gymnastics. These design nuances, besides the green touch in the power button, go a long way in making handling and overall ergonomics a breeze.

The bottom edge house a headphone jack, a speaker and USB-C charging hole. The speaker gets plenty of load, although I have come to love a stereo setup. However, if blasting tunes with phone speakers is not your thing, you can hook up the included earphones and bang ‘em mp3s. The only problem here is that I do not like the earphones because the design of my ears cannot take them. Maybe it may work differently in you, but a second problem comes up, and that is sound leakage. If you crank the volume, people around you will hear what you are listening to. To this end, you are better off with another pair.

The charging port is supplemented by OPPO’s proprietary charging solution VOOC v3.0. It fills up the battery very fast, and within an hour and 10 minutes, your 4025 mAh cell should be full.

Oh, the SIM tray accommodates two cards and a microSD card. 4G support comes in by default, and you can make calls using Safaricom’s voice over LTE (voLTE) feature.

Overall, I have come to love this package, and as explained, there is little to complain about. And that is a good thing.

Software overview

I have debated doing a deep dive covering ColorOS 7 but decided against it because there are a lot of things to talk about. Not to leave you high and dry, I have rounded up a few touches that make the skin on top of Android 10 a pleasant experience. It surpasses the offerings of stock Android that lacks customization features. ColorOS takes advantage of that and shines throughout the Reno3 with features that I have come to enjoy. However, these features took a while to get here because previous iterations were not very good, and the skin was faulted over its missteps.

Reno3 SWRight off the bat, these are some features that I’m currently enjoying:

  • The skin, or Reno3, or OPPO does gesture navigation right. Navigation is intuitive and fast. One thing I love is that if you are playing a game and you accidentally call the Home gestures, the device would ask you to swipe again if you want to exit the game. Others, like Samsung, will kick you out of a game with a single swipe.
  • You can clone social media or chat apps for two profiles. Whatever you choose to do with two profiles is up to you.
  • You can choose to populate multiple homes screens with apps. If you hate that, an app drawer comes to your rescue.
  • You can choose how your icons should look like. Heck, you can use a third-party icon pack without the need for a third-party home-screen replacement app.
  • You can secure your screen with multiple options, including an in-display fingerprint scanner and a super-fast face unlocking feature.
  • The game space minimizes pop-up notifications for some peace of mind.
  • The dark mode option is just that. It is not grey.
  • You can theme the system to your liking.
  • The packaged wallpapers, especially live ones, are excellent. They blend well with the time of the day. For instance, they get darker.
  • About gestures, again: if you don’t want them, you can opt for the three buttons.
  • ColorOS 7 is fast.

I can go on and on, but I don’t want to take a lot of your time.

On the whole, I am fairly certain buyers will be happy and appreciate the offerings and features of ColorOS 7. It is functional and does not need a launcher. Maybe, OPPO should get rid of the Smart Assistant page on the left panel for Google discover.

Camera: it is excellent

The Reno3 has a quad-camera system that is equipped with all camera sensors one would ask for: a standard 48 MP main sensor, a 13 MP telephoto snapper, an 8 MP ultrawide and a 2 MP monochrome sensor. Under the notch is a 44 MP selfie shooter.

OPPO Reno3 Camera

The 48 MP main shooter pixel-bins images down to 12 MP, although you can snap 48 MP samples if you want to.

The camera interface is familiar and easy to use. It is not cluttered with tons of features. It packs the essentials including a Pro mode, standard mode and night mode. The Pro mode comes in handy for pros who want to adjust metrics such as ISO, white balance and shutter speed. More settings are tucked away in the hamburger menu on the screen.

So, how do these cameras perform? Admirably, to say the least. I am mainly impressed with the dynamic range from the main snapper, and it matches what other big boys such as the Galaxy S10. Colours are very good and accurate. Details are also done as expected, wit minimal noise.

The Reno3 has done a good job especially in maintaining the reliability of the sensors. In other words, you will get virtually the same colours and good contrast from the telephoto, ultra-wide and main shooter.

The front camera, despite being a 44 MP shooter, captures 40 MP samples. However, you can crank the MP count all the way to 44 MP with a toggle. However, you may not need to do that because 40 and 44 MP samples look the same. They are sharp and detail natural skin tones. You can even capture portrait selfies if that is your jam.

Portraits are equally impressive. You get very good edge detection with excellent dynamic range and good contrast.

Lastly, the Reno3 is capable of 4K video capture at 30fps. 1080p videos can do 60fps.

Our video host Daddie Marto did some good work in low light, so you may need to check low light samples and other images from the video linked below.

Overall, OPPO has always done cameras right, and we are glad it delivers with the Reno3.

Performance

The Reno3 is equipped with the MTK P90 chipset. It is an octa-core CPU, with 2×2.2 GHz Cortex-A75 and 6×2.0 GHz Cortex-A55. The graphics are handled by PowerVR GM9446 GPU. The whole system is built on the 12nm FinfFET process.

Reno3

The Reno3in my hand has 8 gigs of RAM and 128 GB of internal space with a slot for a microSD card.

SpecsOPPO Reno3
ScreenAMOLED
6.4"
1080 x 2400 pixels
OSAndroid 10, ColorOS 7
ChipMediatek MT6779 Helio P90 (12 nm)
GPUPowerVR GM9446
RAM8 GB
Storage128 GB
Battery4025 mAh
Fast Charging at 30W aka VOOC 3.0
Headphone jackYes!
FeaturesUnder the display fingerprint reader
CamerasSelfie
44 MP

Main: Quad
48 MP, f/1.8, (wide)
13 MP, f/2.4, (telephoto)
8 MP, f/2.2, (ultrawide)
2 MP B/W
ColoursMidnight Black, Aurora Blue
PriceKES 40,000

So how does it perform? Very well, bearing the P90 is a capable chip. Apps will open fast, and will be held in RAM for an extended period. I haven’t experienced any slow-downs, but that is nothing special because modern phones with more than decent specifications have been excelling in this department.

Furthermore, you will not see any real-life difference between the Reno3 and a phone that costs twice as much. It is that impressive.

Exit

There are many things that the Reno3 does superbly. Its software is very good with necessary additions atop Android 10, it is fast, charges fast, and keeps juice for an entire day and is put together expertly. However, its biggest selling feature is the camera or cameras that go above and beyond what we have come accustomed to at KES 40K. The rear snappers are versatile, and the selfie one will take an accurate representation of you.

At KES 40K, it is on the expensive side for an upper midrange, but if you look around, the Reno3 scores some points against the competition. These points will be detailed extensively in a head-on with the Samsung Galaxy A71 that we have in the house. Both cost KES 40000, but the A71 is bigger at 6.7” and packs a larger battery.

Overall, it deserves the price tag, and we are certain you will enjoy every bit of it.

TLDR


Pros

  • Bright and excellent AMOLED screen
  • More than enough battery life
  • Very good cameras
  • Fast software
  • Charging speeds are impressive

Cons

  • The notch should die at this time
  • No ingress protection
  • While audio performance is good, the packaged earphones are terrible

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