OPPO Reno4 Z 5G Review: Better Than The Pixel 4a 5G?

by | 02/12/2020 11:09 am
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The OPPO Reno4 Z 5G is positioned as a cheap 5G phone with plenty of specs. But does it cut the mustard or are you better off with the Pixel 4a 5G? Let’s find out…


OPPO is a brand on the move. In the past few years, the company has grown massively, thanks to a slew of innovative releases. OPPO has quite a few firsts under its belt already, its shark-fin camera for instance, and that is no mean feat in today’s ultra-competitive phone market.

It also makes a bunch of super-cheap, high-performance phones like the OPPO A72.

The OPPO Reno4 Z 5G is a VERY affordable Android 5G phone and launched as part of OPPO’s 2020 Reno lineup of phones. It ships with Android 10, packs in a quad-lens camera, and, unlike most 5G Android phones, it doesn’t run on Qualcomm silicon. Instead, the OPPO Reno4 Z 5G is powered by a MediaTek Dimensity 800 – a 7nm 8-core CPU.

Given the price of this phone, and the fact that it runs Android and has 5G, the obvious question about this phone is relatively simple: should you get the OPPO Reno4 Z 5G or the super-impressive Pixel 4a 5G? By the end of this review, you’ll have your answer. Let’s do this…

Design

Like all OPPO phones, the OPPO Reno4 Z 5G is a stylish looking mobile phone. The front is almost entirely display, you have a fingerprint scanner located on the side of the handset inside the power button, and a punch-hole camera that is located in the top left corner of the display. From the front and the back, the phone looks great, cutting a sharp figure from all angles.

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It is a bit of a fingerprint magnet, thanks to its plastic, high-gloss chassis. In terms of raw size, the OPPO Reno4 Z 5G is around the same size – footprint-wise – like the iPhone 12 Pro Max, meaning it is not a small phone. But, thanks to its plastic chassis, it is actually lighter than Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Available in two color options (Ink Black and Ice White), the OPPO Reno4 Z 5G does remind me quite a bit of the Pixel 5 from the front. It has similarly sized bezels, a similar overall shape, thanks to its soft, rounded corners, and it is impressively sold in the hand.

The OPPO Reno4 Z 5G has dimensions of 163.8 x 75.5 x 8.1 mm and it weighs in at 184g. You have a 6.57in LTPS IPS LCD panel with a 120Hz refresh rate. The display delivers an 84% screen-to-body ratio too, so from the front, the phone is more or less entirely screen real estate.

Like the Pixel 4a and Pixel 4a 5G, the OPPO Reno4 Z 5G does ship with a headphone jack. It also supports 24-bit/192kHz audio which is great news for audiophiles or those with expensive, premium-grade headphones. With this kind of audio-support, you can listen to your music in the highest quality possible – just don’t use Spotify!

Given all of the above, the low price for this phone, you’re getting A LOT of value for your money. I love that it includes a headphone jack and HD audio, and I really like the look and design of the phone from the front and back. It’s smart, it doesn’t look cheap at all, and it will definitely age well thanks to its progressive styling and color options.

Display Tech & Performance

The OPPO Reno4 Z 5G does not use OLED panels like OPPO’s more premium Reno and Find brand phones. Instead, the OPPO Reno4 Z 5G utilizes an LTPS IPS panel. The resolution is 1080p, but you do get 120Hz refresh rates from the panel, so scrolling and video look outstanding.

OLED is better than IPS LCD, this is why Apple recently switched over, but at this price point – plus the fact the display will do 120Hz – you really cannot be too critical of OPPO in this context. In order to keep the price low, concessions have to be made. And in this context, swapping OLED for LCD is a sensible choice – especially when you’re still getting a 120Hz screen.

The LCD panel isn’t quite as good as what you get on the Pixel 4a 5G; that phone uses an OLED panel, so darks look better and color saturation is more natural. The Reno4 Z 5G’s display is no slouch though. Thanks to its high refresh rate and excellent management of color, apps, games, video, and blog content look and run great on it.

I have zero complaints about the Reno4 Z 5G’s screen. At this price point, it is about as good as it gets.

Specs & Features

With respect to raw performance, the Reno4 Z 5G is solid. It has MediaTek’s 7nm Dimensity 800 CPU paired with 8GB of RAM. For most users, that is plenty; it will handle all the most common tasks with ease and have plenty left under the hood for more intensive tasks. I did not notice any difference, with respect to performance, between the Dimensity 800 CPU and the SD765G.

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The SD765G has a few more bells and whistles inside its features-set, but most people – if we’re honest – seldom use their phones to their full potential. Most just use them to browse the web, run apps, and play the occasional game. If that sounds like you, the Reno4 Z 5G’s core specs will be more than enough for your needs. You can get more, of course, but you’d have to pay more. But if you’re not actually going to use it, why bother?

On top of this, the Reno4 Z 5G ships with an ample amount of internal storage (128GB) which should be more than enough for even the heaviest of users. Go back just a few years and 128GB was the MAX storage you could get on iPhone. Things haven’t changed that much since then, so, yeah, 128GB is fine for 99.9% of users. The Reno4 Z 5G does not support MicroSD cards.

With respect to software, the OPPO Reno4 Z 5G runs on Android 10 with OPPO’s pleasant and beautifully designed Color OS. Out of all the custom Android skins I’ve come across, OPPO’s – next to OnePlus’ – is just about my favorite. It is simple to use, it looks great, and it doesn’t try and do too much. And that is what ALL custom Android skins should be like.

Camera

  • 48 MP, f/1.7, 26mm (wide), 1/2.0″, 0.8µm, PDAF
  • 8 MP, f/2.2, 119˚ (ultrawide), 1/4.0″, 1.12µm
  • 2 MP, f/2.4, (macro)
  • 2 MP, f/2.4, (depth)

On paper, the OPPO Reno4 Z 5G has a very competitive camera setup. You have a quad-lens array on the rear with support for both wide, ultra-wide, macro, and depth. Everything a modern-day smartphone user needs.

Images captured via the camera look decent enough, but the spec on offer here, while impressive, isn’t quite as good as you’d imagine. Images look decent enough, but if you have a more technical eye you will notice issues and problems with aspects of the images captured.

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Most, however, are not technically trained photographers, so you’ll be fine with the camera setup here. In fact, I’d go as far as saying most users will be really impressed with the OPPO Reno4 Z 5G’s camera capabilities given its low price tag.

OPPO’s tuned the camera to take as natural as possible shots. And they do, but the lack of OIS hurts the camera performance in low-light. In this respect, the Pixel 4a 5G has the OPPO Reno4 Z 5G bang to rights. But you don’t get a macro lens or a depth lens on the Pixel 4a 5G, so if that’s important to you, then the OPPO Reno4 Z 5G is definitely a viable option.

If you don’t consider yourself a camera snob, meaning you’re not somebody that knows the difference between apertures or uses white balance when taking shots, the OPPO Reno4 Z 5G’s camera will be more than enough for your needs. It’s great for Instagram posts and brilliant at capturing large landscapes and cityscapes, thanks to its ultrawide lens.

The macro lens leaves quite a bit to be desired with respect to detail, but it does work and, providing you have the right lighting and a steady hand, you can capture some really great looking shots with it.

Battery Life

The OPPO Reno4 Z 5G ships with a 4000mAh battery. That’s fairly decent-sized, but it is a lot smaller than many new budget phones that are coming to market with a 5000mAh battery.

Because most new phones released in 2020 run 5G, they require big batteries. 5G is very battery intensive, as any new iPhone 12 user will tell you. For this reason, Android phone makers are increasingly looking to 5000mAH batteries to meet the demands of 5G connectivity.

Here, OPPO is opted to go with a 4000mAh battery. And that’s fine. With moderate/normal usage, it’ll see you through a full day, no problem. If you start pushing the phone hard with games and video editing, you will deplete it faster and it may require a top-up in the evening. But thanks to its 18W fast-charging, this top-up of power doesn’t take long at all.

During my test of the phone, which took place over the course of several weeks, I didn’t once run out of battery during the day. The OPPO Reno4 Z 5G made to bedtime every day without fail. And for me, that means the battery life is good. Had it failed to make through a full day on a single charge, like my iPhone 12, I’d have marked it down.

Verdict

Look, I’m a massive fan of the Pixel 4a 5G. The phone is cheap, runs 5G, has an OLED display, and it runs pure Android just as Google intended. For most people, the Pixel 4a 5G is perhaps the best value Android on the planet right now. It is the phone I recommend most to my friends and family.

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But the OPPO Reno4 Z 5G is also a very attractive proposition. Like most mid-range cars, there’s very little to separate the two where it counts – battery life, design, overall performance, and call quality. I think the OPPO Reno4 Z 5G is a more exciting phone than the Pixel 4a 5G. It just has more “stuff” and that will be attractive to certain users.

For the price, the OPPO Reno4 Z 5G delivers relatively unbeatable value for money. You get a gorgeous-looking phone, plenty of performance, 128GB of storage, 5G support, and a very decent camera. There aren’t really too many weak areas here, just the missing OIS on the camera. But that’s forgivable at this price level.

I love how it looks, I really like OPPO’s Color OS software, and I really enjoyed testing this phone. Would I go and buy one? Yes – without a doubt. If you want something a little different from Samsung and Apple, OPPO is one of the best Android brands right now. And for just £224, the OPPO Reno4 Z 5G is easily one of the best value Android phones on the market right now.

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OPPO Reno4 Z 5G Review: Better Than The Pixel 4a 5G?
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