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The least expensive 5G phone is excellent, but still too pricey

Probably the weirdest thing about the phone is its 16MP front-facing camera, which pops up on a little motorised shark fin when activated. It’s a novel way of getting around having a notch, but introduces a moving part which is likely going to be the first thing to break on the phone, and means the phone can’t be waterproof. Perhaps a notch might be better, though they get points for effort.

The oppo Reno 5G has a fin-like pop-up camera.

The oppo Reno 5G has a fin-like pop-up camera.

On the rear there’s a 48MP main camera, a 13MP periscope lens for 5x optical zoom and an 8MP ultrawide. The photos were good, but I still prefer the cameras on the Galaxy S10+, Google Pixel 3XL and iPhone XS Max. I found that photos taken with both the front and rear cameras tended to be a little over exposed for my taste, and the portrait mode often couldn’t quite understand my hair, blurring odd parts of it.

The battery life was fantastic, easily handling a full day of use including a lot of Pokémon Go, watching videos, and reading excessively long books on medium brightness, and it still didn’t run out of juice before being charged at bedtime. It easily had the best battery life of any of the phones I’m currently using.

The phone runs Android 9 Pie with Oppo’s own twist, Colour 6, on top. It’s fine enough, the shortcuts are good, but it could use another pass from a graphic designer to make it a bit less ugly. I also found some apps (including settings) randomly crashing, which was annoying.

The in-screen fingerprint sensor worked extremely well, quickly unlocking the phone with no drama. It was a much smoother and faster experience with much more accuracy than the Samsung Galaxy S10+’s fingerprint scanner.

However, while the Reno 5G is certainly a very good phone, $1500 is still pretty expensive given there are other phones on the market with similar or better features for a lower price. The 4G equivelent of this phone for example, the Reno 10x Zoom, can be had for $300 less, or you could spend the $1500 on a phone with nicer software. The only reason to buy the Reno 5G is for the 5G, and the network just isn’t quite where it needs to be to justify this kind of expense for most people.

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