Have you been looking enviously at phones with a telephoto zoom features, an ultra-wide camera lens, and plenty of other features like on the Huawei P30 Pro, the iPhone 11 Pro, and the Samsung Galaxy Note 10, but decided not to spend the money to get one? If so, the Oppo Reno 2 may be of interest, as it has an ultra-wide camera with a 5x zoom, a super macro mode, a Night mode, and smooth stabilization for video too.
In other words, it’s feature-packed; but it’s also a midrange phone, and the 450 British pound price (that’s about $575) is very reasonable.
Oppo has announced the Reno 2 for release in the U.K, but no U.S. release date has been provided, although there’s always the option to import one if you’re really keen. I’ve been using the Reno 2 for a few days and I’m instantly impressed with the camera. Here’s why it’s such a winner.
There are four camera lenses on the back of the Reno 2, impressive for a midrange smartphone. The main lens has 48 megapixels and an f/1.7 aperture lens, the telephoto lens has 13 megapixels and an f/2.4 aperture, plus there’s an ultra-wide lens with 8 megapixels and an f/2.2 aperture. Finally, there’s a 2-megapixel monochrome lens.
The sheer number of lenses means you can take a variety of photos, from wide-angle shots to those using the 5x hybrid zoom. You can get even closer with the 20x digital zoom too, or use the Ultra Macro mode for shots where the lens is just 2.5cm away from the subject. The main camera is equipped with optical image stabilization, plus other features include HDR portrait shots, and artificial intelligence to enhance selfies taken with the 16-megapixel shark-fin pop-up camera on the front.
What can you do with the Reno 2, and what results should you expect? Here’s a sequence shot in London showing a photo taken with each lens, starting out with the wide-angle, then moving on to the standard lens, 2x zoom, and 5x hybrid zoom. The photos are excellent, with great contrast and dynamic range, and on the 5x zoom shot, the detail is superb.
Remember, this isn’t a flagship phone and doesn’t cost flagship phone money.
Let’s look at some more photos taken with the zoom feature. The close-up of Tower Bridge shows how well the camera captures detail, finding plenty of texture on the weathered stone, while the clouds are still fluffy in the background. Even the gold on top of the spire looks good.
It’s a similar story with the Tower of London photo. There’s age to the building, which was taken at 5x zoom, and enough detail that you can see the people queuing outside, and the writing on the boat as it passes by.
How about something closer? The Reno 2 has a macro mode which is activated using the ultra-wide-angle button at the top of the screen. It then uses artificial intelligence to recognize you want to take a super close-up, and switches focus accordingly. It’s moderately successful, and not quite as reliable as the OnePlus 7T’s similar feature. The photos aren’t quite as good either, with tight areas of focus and relatively strong blur around the edges. There’s good atmosphere though, and enough details to make the feature worth using.
Open the camera app’s extended feature mode and you’ll find Night mode. The Reno 2’s low light capability is solid already, and it does need to be really dark for Night mode to make an noticeable difference to the photo. The image of Harrods, for example, is taken with Night mode and looks excellent.
The picture of the post box was taken around 7 p.m. in the U.K. and it was past dusk and almost dark. The normal photo is acceptable, but there’s no question the Night mode picture is a big improvement with more detail, brightness, and color. The detail is sacrificed slightly, as it’s easier to read the text on the front of the box in the non-Night mode picture.
Take a look at the photo of the hall at night too. This was taken later in the evening when it was completely dark, and although the Night mode picture is much brighter — you can see my shadow on the ground, for example — detail has been stripped out and there’s more noise. The non-Night mode picture is much better, with more atmosphere and detail.
I’ve really enjoyed using the Reno 2’s camera. It has all the lens options I could want, takes strong pictures whether it’s day or night, and the camera app itself is easy to use, clearly laid out, and fast. All the while I was using it, I was aware it didn’t cost $1,000 or more, and that made it even more enjoyable. Everyone loves a good value, right?
The rest of the phone
This value translates into the rest of the phone, from the design, the materials, the camera, to the performance. The Snapdragon 730G processor is a small step down from the range-topping Snapdragon 855, but it’s still built on an 8nm process and it comes with 8GB of RAM. It has proven to be a reliable, speedy, and capable performer.
Yes, the Reno 2 is quite thick at 9.5mm, but it does have a big 4,000mAh battery inside — that has lasted for two days with moderate use for me — and VOOC 3.0 charging, which takes it to 50% in only 30 minutes. I like the design too, with the flush camera lenses adding style and making the phone look quite different from most other phones available at the moment. The little dot under the camera raises the phone off the surface of a table to stop the lenses scratching, too.
The shark-fin selfie camera looks cool, there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a neat faux leather case with stitching detail included in the box. The Reno 2’s presentation, build, and features are enviable, and really should help the brand capitalize on its recent, high profile brand-awareness campaigns.
Even Color OS has improved over previous versions. Long the company’s Achilles’ heel, Color OS 6.1 is installed on the Reno 2 and it brings improvements to speed and style, plus a more standard app tray too. However, the notification shade is ugly, confusing, and busy, and the notifications themselves don’t always work properly. It has long been, and remains, the part I like least about Oppo phones.
Price and availability
The Oppo Reno 2 has already been announced internationally and is available to buy in India, China, and elsewhere. It’s now set for release in the U.K. on October 18, and will cost a very competitive 450 British pounds, which is around $575. This is a little cheaper than the Pixel 3a XL in the U.K., and several hundreds less than the aforementioned flagship phones.
If getting a smartphone that’s good value with an excellent camera is important to you, the Oppo Reno 2 ticks the right boxes. The camera is extremely capable, taking strong photographs with any lens, and with plenty of usable special features that enhance the fun and creatively around it.
The Reno 2 proves Oppo’s competitiveness in the more affordable space, perhaps more so than with its more expensive phones, and will be a smart buy for anyone who wants to take their mobile photography to the next level without spending a fortune.
- Oppo Reno 3 Pro hands-on review: Serious software upgrades
- Oppo Find X2 Pro review: The sweet spot
- The best lenses new photographers need in their bag
- The best travel cameras for 2020
- Huawei P40 Pro Hands-on review: So silky, it’s like a digital Persian cat