The Oppo Reno5 5G does decent job of presenting itself as an affordable flagship. There's adequate power from the Qualcomm 765G which powered many of last years' better 5G phones, and 8GB or RAM keeps things slick. And speaking of which the superior 6.4-inch AMOLED screen has 90Hz refresh which should keep your scrolling smooth.
The camera array was wonderfully easy to get into, with loads of useful extra options available. The wide-angle and macro cameras were nothing special but the 64MP main shooter shone, both with HDR and AI turned both on and off. The night mode was particularly good.
However, our favourite features of the Reno5 turned out to be less about the electronics inside than about the build quality and finishes of the handset. It felt remarkly good in hand: easy to grip and handle thanks to it's frosted back cover, and it was very light and easily pocketable. In short, it felt like a less fussy version of a leading flagship phone.
CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G 5G
GPU Adreno 620
Screen 6.4" FHD+ Super AMOLED, 90Hz screen (1080x2400px)
Front Camera 32MP
Rear Camera 64MP + 8MP ultra-wide + 2MP macro + 2MP depth sensor
Price ZAR14,300 (£700)
Release date and price
- ZAR14,000, fits the flagship category
- Overshadowed by the market leaders
As a new entrant to South Africa's already crowded smartphone marketplace Oppo's strategy would be to build its brand with its top-notch budget phones. Released towards the end of 2020 its first models were the A15, A53S and A72 which were all strong performers at the budget end of the market.
Arriving in January 2021 the Reno5 5G was marketed as an affordable flagship, and despite solid specs, premium build quality and a price tag of ZAR14,300 (£700) it hasn't fully lived up to that expectation.
Its direct competitors would be the small-screen iPhone 12 Mini and the Samsung Galaxy S21, both selling for ZAR 14,000 (£700), or the iPhone 12 with 6.1-inch screen for ZAR16,500. In both camera performance and sheer processing power these competing models easily outshine the Reno5 5G.
- All plastic body
- Uninspired design
At the level of pure design, the Reno 5 might be our favourite phone of 2021 so far.
Button positions were optimal for our man hands, with volume controls on the left hand side and power button on the right, and no annoying extra (Google Assistant) button to be accidentally triggered on the opposite side to the power button. The 6.4-inch screen has tiny bezels all round and the tall-and-thin shape makes it easier to handle and to slide into skinny jeans pockets.
Although there is no IP-level waterproofing rating the metallic-finish plastic back plate handles wear and tear remarkably well. I took our review unit on a punishing week-long camping trip into the desert, and it came back looking good as new.
Aesthetics are a very subjective thing, of course, but the Reno 5 ticked all our boxes. The high-gloss metal frame contrasts pleasantly with the frosted back panel, and there are just enough subtle ridges between front and back panels to give your fingers something to grip. The Reno 5 5G feels altogether fantastic in hand.
Finally, let us not trivialise the extraordinary light diffraction effects created by the textured finish on the back panel. Tilt the phone back and forth and the back of the phone glows with a veritable rainbow of colours, cycling through blue and green to red orange and yellow as you move it around. Laugh it off as cosmetics but the trippy effect showing through the supplied clear cover really does give the phone some real personality in a world of samey phone slabs.
- Fast refresh AMOLED screen
- 6.4" is bigger than competitors
It's not that surprising to find an AMOLED screen on phones in this price range, and the Oppo Reno5 5G offers 90Hz refresh rate for smoother scrolling and all-round better response. In FHD+ at 6.4-inches this screen is bigger than both the Samsung S21 and iPhone 12. Overall, the screen was sharp (441ppi) and colour rich, but well balanced, bright enough and certainly on par with the likes of industry leader, Samsung.
Our jury is still out on the trade-off of smooth scrolling high refresh screens against the very real impact battery life.
The use of AMOLED means there is room for an under-screen fingerprint sensor.
- Quad rear camera setup
- Strong night mode shots
The hero here is the 64MP main shooter which was a delight to use. We used it straight out of the box, with no adjustments, and produced consistently great photos, even under difficult lighting conditions. Photos are sharp and colours are bold. HDR and AI scene recognition is turned on by default, of course, but the lack of any telephoto capability means it can never match the versatility of the camera setups on most other flagship phones.
The 8MP wide angle and the 2MP macro cameras also take great shots, but with the usual compromises in colour balance and minor distortions that affect all smartphone cameras. In the end these extra camera sensors perform to expectation, but deliver nothing remarkable.
Main 64MP with HDR
Main 64MP with HDR
Wide angle 8MP
Portrait mode with AI
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G merely adequate
- Superb fast charging
CPU & GPU: The Qualcomm chipset used in the Reno 5 5G is the Snapdragon 765G, which was one of the first SOCs to incorporate 5G. But that was all the way back in 2019 and you might well expect more grunt from a phone released in 2021, especially in light of the horsepower offered in comparable Samsung and Apple phones. In practice, we never noticed any slowdowns which is at least partly due to the ample 8GB of RAM.
The Snapdragon 765G is paired with the popular Adreno 620 GPU, and is slightly tweaked for gaming performance. In practice, all the games we threw at it (Asphalt, Fortnite) handled just as well as when played on beefier hardware.
The hard specifications, however, mean this 7nm SOC would be considered mid-range at best, especially compared to the current generation of high-end CPUs found on phones in this price range.
Battery life: Battery life on the Reno 5 5Gwas certainly impressive overall considering the power-hungry 90Hz screen and its smaller battery of 4300mAh, where most top phones are now at 5000mAh. We got nearly two full days of "real world" use, including shooting over a dozen HD video clips and playing several hours of music. It is possible the above-average battery life is a trade-off against the lower CPU power, aided by the more energy efficient AMOLED screen.
But the real story here is about charging. Oppo has long been the pioneer of fast charging and the Reno 5 5G takes that to the next level using what Oppo calls SuperVOOC 2.0. Using both the supplied 65W charger and optimised cable you can get a full charge in a little over 30 minutes. That shaves nearly 20 minutes off the fastest recharge time of its competitors.
Should you buy it?
Buy it if...
You want an affordable, top quality phone
It's extremely well built and has very few compromises. What you lose in horsepower you make up in battery life, and you get crazy fast charging into the bargain.
You're ready to try something new
The Oppo Reno 5 5G tries to present an alternative to the boring and predictable flagship models which have dominated the market for years. It certainly looks different with it's psychedelic back panel.
Don’t buy it if...
You are all about horsepower
Even though most users never exploit the processing power of their phones, it might matter for your specific application, whether that's editing 4K video or playing serious games. The chipset used here is good but not great, and appears dated for a new phone.
You take your photos very seriously
While it turns in a solid camera performance, the underlying tech can't compete with the market leaders which have more sophisticated image processing features and optical zoom lenses.
First reviewed: 25 May, 2021