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You might not have noticed it, but Oppo has quietly become a brand to watch here in the West.
From the Oppo A72 right up to the top of the four-strong Oppo Find X2 range, the Chinese brand offers a showcase of good taste and competitive performance for any budget between £200 and £1,100.
Now, the Oppo Reno 4Z 5G is here to offer a fresh option to those with just over £300 to spend. Does it keep up the high standard? Let’s take a look.
Design & Build
The Oppo Reno 4Z 5G doesn’t sport anything quite so eye-catching as the notchless, all-screen design of last year’s Oppo Reno 2Z.
Indeed, there’s very little to mark it out at all. This is a deeply vanilla budget phone design with flat surfaces, a curved rim, and a square rear camera module that protrudes ever so slightly from the top left corner.
A 6.57in display fills most of the front of the phone, but there’s a tell-tale extended chin that tells you you’re still some way away from the premium smartphone border.
An all-plastic construction similarly ensures that you won’t be mistaking this for a flagship phone any time soon. I found a little creak and flex with the shiny glass-effect back of my test unit, but only when exerting a little extra pressure to it.
There’s a positive pay-off from this choice of materials in a weight of 184g. The more classily-built Realme 7 5G (with which the Reno 4Z 5G shares quite a lot in common) weighs 16g more, and that’s enough to make it feel quite heavy by comparison.
In place of the aforementioned Reno 2Z’s flashy pop-up selfie camera there’s a much more run-of-the-mill notch cut into the top left corner of the screen. Less exciting, for sure, but also less prone to mechanical issues.
This notch has a stretched-out lozenge shape, rather like the OnePlus Nord, which means you’ll notice it a lot more than with a classic hole-punch configuration.
Oppo has opted for a side-mounted fingerprint sensor here, which is stashed behind an elongated power button along the right edge. I much prefer this approach to the budget in-display solution many rivals adopt. It’s both faster and more reliable.
My model came in Ink Black, which actually has a pronounced blue tinge to it in the light. There’s also a Dew White option out there.
Oppo has made some genuinely interesting decisions with the Oppo Reno 4Z 5G’s 6.57-inch FHD+ display.
They’re very similar decisions, in fact, to those made for the aforementioned Realme 7 5G. Which is perhaps unsurprising when you consider that both brands are subsidiaries of BBK Electronics.
The first choice is to ditch the vibrant colours of AMOLED, as found in the Reno 2Z, in favour of an IPS LCD. Sure enough, the Reno 4Z display is much less punchy and contrasty than its predecessor. Blacks appear more light grey, while reds no longer run the risk of scorching your cornea.
It’s a compromise alright, and it’s been made in the name of speed. Like the Realme 7 5G and the Poco X3 NFC, Oppo has hopped aboard the refresh rate bandwagon, with an impressive-sounding 120Hz display literally doubling the scrolling speed of the Reno 2Z.
I can’t pretend that such a feature being available in a sub-£300 phone isn’t impressive, but as with the Realme, it’s not an unqualified success.
Scrolling through content certainly feels smoother with the Oppo Reno 4Z, but don’t for a second expect the experience to match the likes of the OnePlus 8T or the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. There’s still the slightest sense of lag and stutter that accompanies phones running on less-than-prime silicon.
It’s not pronounced or ruinous by any means. But when switching between the Reno 4Z and the 90Hz Huawei Mate 40 Pro, the latter flagship phone display still feels faster and smoother in the hands.
Ultimately, I would have preferred the constant vibrancy of AMOLED to the limited benefits of an elevated refresh rate. But I suspect opinion will vary on this one.
There’s been little apparent change on the photography front since the Oppo Reno 2Z last year. There’s still a sharp 48Mp sensor leading the way, backed by a less impressive 8Mp ultrawide.
And there are still a pair of 2Mp support sensors of dubious value. This time they include a black-and-white portrait monochrome lens and a vintage portrait monochrome lens. If you think those sound confusingly similar, you’re not alone.
In practice, you’ll only be directly selecting and using those first two sensors for 1x and ultrawide shots. Any zoom that’s applied will mean cropping in using that main sensor’s surfeit of pixels. With detail taking an exponential hit the further you zoom in – I really wouldn’t recommend going beyond 2x.
Regular 1x shots look pretty good on the Reno 4Z 5G, however, with the reliable old Sony IMX586 (as seen in much higher-end phones like the OnePlus 8T) putting in another good shift. I particularly appreciated Oppo’s more restrained approach to colour, which didn’t punch things up unnaturally like some of its rivals tend to do.
In combination with a nice wide f/1.7 aperture and Oppo’s solid image processing, I managed to get usable shots when shooting on a particularly overcast winter’s day. Even when straying into an indoors market to snap some vegetables, the results weren’t too shabby. There’s a touch of overexposure to brighter elements, but that’s par for the course in non-flagship phones.
The noise started to creep in when capturing a bowl of steaming ramen with only artificial kitchen illumination to go off, at which point the autofocus also struggled a little. Doubtless, the lack of optical image stabilisation hurts the phone in such less-than-ideal conditions.
The 4Z 5G’s Night mode does a pretty good job at lightening up dark street scenes and cosy interiors. In one controlled shot, we took of a collection of objects in a dark hallway, the Reno 4Z 5G’s Night mode far outperformed that of the Realme 7 5G and the OnePlus Nord N10 5G, producing a brighter shot and more accurate colours.
Portrait mode works quite well at delineating subject from bokeh-ed up background, but I found that this came at the expense of fine detail and dynamic range for the subject.
As ever with cheaper phones, the ultrawide camera doesn’t match up too well with the main shooter. It’s still good to have in your arsenal, but know that switching to the wider angle will wash out colours and lose a whole heap of detail – especially towards the edges of the frame.
You can capture video at 4K and 1080p, though in neither case can you push the frame rate beyond 30fps. What you do get at 1080p is the potential for Ultra Steady Video, which really takes the bump and shake out of your footage.
Specs & Performance
The Oppo Reno 4Z 5G switches to an interesting new budget processor in the MediaTek Dimensity 800 5G. I’ve only seen this once before in the Realme 7 5G (which uses the 800U variant), and it performs similarly impressively here.
This fresh 7nm chip might not have the familiarity of a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon chip, but it stands up to its mainstream rivals in the performance stakes, helped by a generous 8GB of RAM.
An average Geekbench 5 multi-core score of 2148 tops such illustrious mid-range performers as the OnePlus Nord, the TCL 10 5G, and the Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC. Elsewhere, the Reno 4Z’s GFX scores place it towards the bottom of that prestigious pack, suggesting that its GPU isn’t quite as capable. But it’s still right in there.
Day to day performance bears this out. Remember that unlike those aforementioned mid-range rivals, the Oppo Reno 4Z 5G is running a 120Hz display. As discussed, this isn’t the flawlessly smooth experience that you might expect, but the fact that it still keeps pace to any degree is impressive in itself.
We’re not surprised to see an affordable phone specced out with 128GB of internal storage any more, but it’s still good to see here. Especially at a time when Apple still starts at 64GB for the iPhone 12.
Indeed, the Reno 4Z 5G is pretty comprehensively specced. As the name suggests this includes 5G connectivity, but it also ticks the boxes for NFC, Bluetooth 5.1, aptX HD and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Find out how we test smartphones.
The Oppo Reno 4Z 5G packs a 4000mAh battery. That’s not among the most capacious in its class – the Realme 7 5G has a 5000mAh unit, and the Poco X3 NFC squeezes in a 5160mAh battery – but it beats the Pixel 4a’s 3885mAh cell.
In light usage, you could quite feasibly squeeze two full days out of a single charge. After a long 14-hour day of light mixed usage, totalling three hours of screen on time, I was left with 59% in the tank.
In the PCMark for Android battery benchmark, the Reno 4Z 5G scored a more-than-respectable 12 hours and 43 minutes. It’s a hard-working phone for those who regularly surf the web, message and check their social feeds.
However, when you start to hit the media a little harder, those numbers fall rather alarmingly. I found that an hour of video streaming (both Netflix and Amazon Prime) with the screen brightness set to full would consistently sap 15 to 16% of the remaining charge.
That’s really not a great result. The Vivo Y70, for example, lost just 8%. Perhaps it’s down to the Reno 4Z 5G’s 120Hz display, which I had set to be permanently active. But even the Realme 7 5G, with its similar chipset and display, lost 11% under the same conditions.
Recharging isn’t especially rapid by modern standards, but it’s adequate. The bundled 18W charger will get you from 0 to 38% in 30 minutes, which matches the Pixel 4a and trails well behind the Poco and the Realme.
While Oppo’s ColorOS 7.1 isn’t my favourite custom Android skin, it’s far from the worst offender out there. There’s a touch of garishness to the homescreens and icons, but everything’s clean and crisp, and navigation is smooth.
You don’t get anything like the level of bloatware that many affordable rivals suffer from either. I question the value of the preinstalled Soloop video editor and Oppo Relax apps, but the rest are fairly run-of-the-mill tools that earn their place, even if it’s just until you replace them with your favourite third-party alternatives.
ColorOS is also very customisable. Within minutes of boot up, I had selected the gesture-based navigation system, gotten rid of the ugly default wallpaper and ensured that the 120Hz refresh rate was permanently selected.
Oppo has finally restored Google Feed to the left of the primary homescreen too. There’s no longer a half-baked Smart Assistant, offering up widgets you don’t really need.
There are still annoyances here and there, such as the inability to uninstall apps from the homescreen, or the lack of specific battery information by default. But overall, this is a clean, customisable skin that mostly stays out of your way.
At £329, the Oppo Reno 4Z 5G finds itself flanked by some stiff competition. At the same or similar pricing, you’ll find the OnePlus Nord N10 5G, with its clean software, and the Google Pixel 4a with its superb camera.
But I’d argue that more damage is done to the Reno 4Z 5G lower down the market. There’s the £279 Realme 7 5G, with which the Reno 4Z 5G shares much in common, and the imperious Poco X3 NFC, which packs similar performance and a 120Hz display for just £199.
You can buy the Oppo Reno 4Z 5G from the official store as well as retailers such as Amazon and Carphone Warehouse. It’s not available in the US.
Check out our chart of the best mid-range phones for more alternatives.
There’s a lot to admire in the Oppo Reno 4Z 5G, which gives you a well-rounded smartphone package for just £329.
It’s not the first affordable phone packing a 120Hz display, but such a feature remains rare enough to feel special. It’s debatable whether such a high refresh rate is worthwhile in these humble surroundings, however.
5G connectivity is much less rare, but it’s still good to see such a thing at this end of the market. And the camera – whilst nothing to write home about – comfortably holds its own.
All that said, the Oppo Reno 4Z 5G has been released into a highly competitive market. It isn’t bad value by any means, but it’s worth keeping in mind that you can get its stand-out features for similar or less money elsewhere.