The OPPO Reno3 Pro was only just launched in a global variant in March and Android Headlines was lucky enough to be provided a review unit to assess the company’s efforts. The handset has been around in China, with some differences, since December 2019 and follows in the OEMs long line of Reno-branded gadgets.
As the branding and price bracket at just over $400 imply, the OPPO Reno3 Pro is not a flagship. Instead, it occupies the middle of the Android spectrum. Now, normally that might carry some caveats regarding where shortcuts were taken to make the smartphone cheap. But while there are caveats to be found here, OPPO has actually done a remarkable job where it really matters.
The company has not spent an enormous amount of effort aesthetically or to improve in-hand feel. Instead, it focused on refining that exterior package and making internal changes for the better.
As a result, the OPPO Reno3 Pro delivers respectable, if not remarkable, battery life. But that battery also charges much more quickly than other handsets. It performs but with some drawbacks where real computing power is needed. There’s no lag or latency to be found and the display is bright and punchy.
OPPO included a quad-camera setup that deserves plenty of praise too. Meanwhile, the audio isn’t great but not necessarily worse than the competition and that doesn’t bleed over to headphone listening. Summarily, OPPO Reno3 Pro is a well-rounded device that doesn’t take too many risks but definitely checks the boxes.
The OPPO Reno3 Pro aesthetic is mostly familiar but that’s not all a bad thing
OPPO built its Reno3 Pro around a design that’s going to be familiar to anybody who has used one of the company’s handsets in the past. Its curved plastic frame, glass-like plastic back panel, and flat front panel fit neatly in-hand. They also aesthetically still fit in among the latest gadgets Android has to offer.
The biggest differences here are going to be in the camera arrays and the use of a camera bump instead of an o-dot.
In previous devices, the company built in a rounded extension on the back of the phone just below vertically aligned cameras at the center. The bump — referred to as an o-dot — was meant to keep the flush-mounted cameras from getting scratched. This time around, a more traditional camera bump with a slightly-raised bezel renders the inclusion of that extrusion pointless.
The cameras are also oriented to the top-left of the rear panel instead of being centered.
Around the front of the device, OPPO includes a dual selfie camera array in an in-screen elongated punch-hole notch. The bezels around the display feel about the same as the Reno 2 but there’s no pop-up mechanism in the top frame for the camera. So, from the perspective of looks, the OPPO Reno3 Pro appears much more modern in any of its three color configurations.
OPPO sells the device in Auroral Blue, Midnight Black, and Sky White. My review unit for the OPPO Reno3 Pro shipped in Auroral Blue, which features a gradient from a light, almost sky blue tone to almost purple-hued indigo.
In terms of build, OPPO has built its Reno3 Pro with quality in mind. The frame feels seamless and the overall design feels sturdy. The plastics used in this handset mean that dropping the handset mostly likely won’t crack the back panel, although it will scratch more easily than glass. That still has a glass-like feel, so it’s going to feel great in-hand for users who want to go case-free.
OPPO does include a screen protector already on the next-gen Reno handset. The company includes a slim-fitting clear case in the box for those who aren’t comfortable going without.
The rest of the build, from the buttons to the ports, is solidly put together as well. The former push through with a satisfying click while the ports fit plugs snugly with no wiggle to speak of.
The primary caveat here is that there’s no IP rating listed to protect against dust or water. That’s a fairly big drawback but one that’s common among mid-rangers and budget devices. So it also shouldn’t be a dealbreaker.
Secondary to that, the entire device collects fingerprints and lint like crazy. That’s not a problem on the rear panel, especially if the case is used. But the screen is actually well above the norm in terms of difficulty keeping dust and other particulates off of it. In fact, I had to remove the case to get the screen cleared. And that’s going to be an issue for users who like to keep a clean device.
A battery that’s not amazing but charging is
Battery life is going to be one of the most important aspects for consideration in any modern smartphone. With mid-range phones, that’s not necessarily a problem since they typically feature similarly sized batteries to flagships. But with less power-hungry hardware and components to drain things quickly.
For the OPPO Reno3 Pro, that mostly holds true but the longevity of its 4,025mAh battery is admittedly less than impressive. My review of the OPPO Reno3 Pro showed just ten minutes short of seven-and-a-half hours of screen-on time. For reference, that’s around an hour more than might be gotten out of many flagships.
My test split those screen-on hours between music and video streaming, navigation, and gaming. All other activities were fairly limited since those are my most common uses and were categorized under the light-use or standby umbrella.
I worked the OPPO Reno3 Pro through a gaming session over a period of one hour and forty minutes. I turned on and used navigation for an hour. Music streaming was used for just ten minutes over two hours. I spent two-and-a-half hours of streaming video content specifically. An overnight test showed that OPPO Reno3 Pro loses around three percent over a six-hour period.
The total device-on time came in at around 25-hours and 45-minutes. That’s not overly impressive but not at all bad either. Throughout my review, screen brightness was kept at around 70-percent, as was volume for playback. I kept auto-brightness and battery-saving turned off. So the battery life could likely be extended by quite a bit.
Charging this gadget via VOOC Flash Charge 4.0 at 30W was much more impressive. In fact, there really shouldn’t be too much downtime if one forgets to charge and the battery runs low. The first 50-percent filled up in just under 20 minutes. OPPO Reno3 Pro only takes 31 minutes to hit 75-percent. And a full charge took just 49 minutes.
The OPPO Reno3 Pro display doesn’t leave much to be desired
Now, OPPO utilized a better-than-expected display panel in its OPPO Reno3 Pro too. That’s not going to be the best around but at 6.4-inches, built on a Super AMOLED foundation, it’s nothing to smirk at. The use of Super AMOLED for this fullHD+ (2400 x 1080) display means that black hues are as dark as they can be while other tones are rich and full. This is the same display technology found in Samsung flagships.
Gorilla Glass 5 is laid over the top of that to prevent scratching and cracks.
That’s also exceptionally bright. Using this handset in full sunlight is simply not going to be an issue. Throughout my review of the OPPO Reno3 Pro, I never needed to turn the setting above three-quarters of full brightness. Indoors, turning that almost all the way down still left graphics completely visible.
OPPO set the panel with a tall 20:9 aspect ratio. The ratio makes viewing media playback more cinematic and allows for a better in-hand fit. Aiding in that, OPPO includes standard color tone adjustments in settings. So users can alter the display to more natural or more vivid hues to meet their own individual preferences.
Simultaneously, the display ratio does mean that some media displays with letterboxing on the left and right-hand sides. A pinch-to-zoom gesture fixes that in most cases. But the gesture also results in some content being cut from the screen, which is going to bother some users.
In terms of usability, the display operates almost flawlessly. Not only does the under-screen fingerprint scanner perform better than previous generations of OPPO handsets. The screen itself delivers lag-free input across the board.
Software is slightly bloated but on-point and feature-rich
For the OPPO Reno3 Pro, the OEM opted to build its handset around Android 10-based ColorOS 7. The company worked hard to include Digital Wellbeing, Parental Control, and Dark Mode features. Those are present and accounted for but also work precisely as expected. There are also plenty of extra settings and features not found on other devices. And there’s still plenty of bloatware included out of the box.
The bloat doesn’t mean that the software is laggy or slow. It isn’t. And some of that bloat is accounted for by applications that are found in nearly any non-stock Android build.
OPPO includes a sound recorder, compass, music player, file manager, phone manager, video player, and a theme store, for instance. FM Radio is part of the package for those who like to use wired headphones. It includes a Game Space tool that helps optimize performance, notifications, and other aspects while playing games. But not every additional app is desirable or standard.
OPPO’s Reno3 Pro includes Opera as a secondary browser choice, for example, atop the included Chrome browser. It goes further to include video creation and sharing tool called Soloop, as well as a travel app for Trip.com and a cloud service called HeyTap Cloud. The most interesting extra app included by OPPO by default is one called Music Party. That allows users to link up multiple OPPO devices that will act as a single stereo speaker to play music.
The Settings app doesn’t follow stock Android with the OPPO Reno3 Pro either. But that comes with some beneficial extras while maintaining a near-stock level of user-friendliness. It’s also still very easy to navigate.
On the audio front, OPPO has incorporated not only Dolby Atmos tuning but also headphone monitoring features that will prove useful for those who like Karaoke apps. Smart tools associated with OPPO’s own AI integrated assistant additionally allow for automatic Bluetooth functionality while driving. That includes automated Do Not Disturb.
Similar smart features for gestures, accessing Google Assistant via the power button, and more are in place. So the entire experience is very smooth and highly customizable.
One characteristic of ColorOS 7 that will be problematic for some users, though mostly a matter of preference, is the lack of an app drawer. Navigation is still reliant on on-screen icons here too, rather than being based on gestures. The gesture navigation is available as an option in settings but not turned on by default. But apps and folders occupy the home screens a la iOS rather than using Android’s convenient app drawer.
Audio suffers on OPPO Reno3 Pro but not extensively
Audio quality from the OPPO Reno3 Pro, as shown with an extensive review, is not great. And there’s really only one reason that seems to be the case. Namely, OPPO opted to forego utilizing the earpiece speaker for audio outside of phone calls. That means that media playback is limited to a single bottom-firing speaker.
Initially, that didn’t seem to present much of a problem. As far as minuscule smartphone speakers go, at lower volumes, playback was mostly clear and well-balanced. That held true across each form of media, whether a piece of music, movie, or ringtone was being played. The higher quality at low volumes likely comes down to the fact that Dolby Atmos is included. OPPO turns that on by default for fine-tuning the sounds based on what that the context of the content is.
On closer inspection, there are also two areas where the audio output falls well short of a great experience.
First, at higher volumes, higher frequency tones immediately become dominant. They don’t necessarily drown out lows and mids but they do approach coming across as ‘tinny’. Second, with songs or movies where higher tones are more prevalent, the speakers become outright tinny. In those cases, the slight buzz of higher tones quickly became unbearable.
The placement of the speaker presents issues too. It resides on the right-hand side of the bottom edge. So its exceptionally easy to accidentally cover the speaker when placing the gadget in landscape mode to play games or watch a movie. That’s more a problem in games since reversing the phone to avoid that means accidental touches and swipes on the in-display selfie camera are more likely.
Audio via the included 3.5mm headphone jack doesn’t suffer those issues and Dolby Atmos tuning becomes much more prevalent there too. So that experience is just about on-par with listening via any other smartphone.
Call quality and connectivity go beyond acceptable here
Call quality and connectivity for any smartphone in any price bracket should be, this far into the growth of the Android market, expected to perform almost uniformly across every device. That’s not always the case but my review of the OPPO Reno3 Pro showed it performs at least as well as my flagship daily driver on that front.
More concisely, whether on speakerphone or via the earpiece and mic, the OPPO Reno3 Pro audio came through at least as clearly as my Galaxy Note 10+. The audio on the receiving device for calls was as clear too. So users can expect a clean experience when it comes to phone calls, as long as the network is connecting solidly.
The same holds true for data connectivity. My review of the OPPO Reno3 Pro relied on Google’s Fi mobile service. That meant it used, in this case, T-Mobile and US Cellular’s networks. Sprint, Fi’s other network provider, doesn’t utilize the GSM networking tech supported by the handset.
Regardless, this global handset, again, performed as well there as my flagship device does. Connections were solid and data rates were consistent. I didn’t notice any drops or issues in that, in Bluetooth connectivity, or Wi-Fi networking. That was a pleasant surprise since Chinese phones often do suffer from connectivity problems on the mobile networking side of the equation.
Performance belies the mid-ranger underpinnings
OPPO put a lot of effort into making this handset one of the best devices available for the money. My review of the OPPO Reno3 Pro shows that, aside from a few caveats, the OEM has been mostly successful. One of the few remaining questions is how that has been translated on the performance front.
Fortunately, OPPO has absolutely not dropped the ball when it comes to how well its latest Reno handset handles day-to-day tasks. The latency typically noticed during initial setup and app installation was all but nonexistent. Any lag in the pre-installed apps was worked out well before this device launched.
That’s to be expected, even with budget devices, but isn’t always the case.
OPPO took things a step further with the Reno3 Pro’s MediaTek Helio P95 SoC. Namely, installing heavy-hitting games and apps such as photo and video editors didn’t seem to cause any real issues either.
Now, it’s fair to say that those media editing apps that are meant mostly for use on top-tier flagships won’t perform quite so quickly here. The finalization of projects in a video editor, for example, will take significantly longer. This is a mid-range handset after all. With that said, not one application showed any hints that the hardware was slowing down.
Stacking atop that already-great performance, for the price bracket, OPPO’s Game Space makes a return in the Reno3 Pro. So gamers will be pleasantly surprised to learn that the phone can be adjusted to optimize games for performance, battery life, or a balance of the two. That comes with not only underlying hardware-use changes. It also allows brightness and resolution to adapt as needed or to be locked in.
OPPO made the right choice with the 6 cameras on Reno3 Pro
One thing I noted during my review of the OPPO Reno3 Pro is that the company chose to utilize a fairly standard software environment. That meant that everything was laid out in a way that made various settings easy to get to and manage intuitively. There was effectively no learning curve.
Carrying on from that, the company’s choice in sensors for its camera proved to be just about as flawless as any other smartphone I’ve used. Under even lighting indoors, the cameras OPPO includes in its Reno3 Pro really shine. Detail capture is high and color accuracy is on-point. Everything just works, despite the camera’s AI-driven features such as automatic scene detection not performing quite as accurate as hoped.
More succinctly, AI-driven scene selection is finicky at best. It didn’t always recognize the scene at all, although it did work quickly when it did function. But it also did a great job with out-of-the-box settings to automatically turn on or off hdr mode. So the camera feels like it performs brilliantly anyway. There weren’t really any anomalies to report across any of my time using the camera under any circumstances.
That doesn’t necessarily mean it performed perfectly either. When taking outdoor shots, I did notice that autofocus experienced some difficulties when shooting between two differently lit areas. For instance, when shooting from inside of a carport, as shown in our Flickr gallery for camera samples, the camera captured the background in pristine detail. But shaded areas in the shot did not turn out quite so well, with a significant amount of detail lost.
Now, that could probably be addressed with a bit more patience or fine-tuning in the camera’s “pro” mode. However, that’s not always going to be an option for people, especially where circumstances require a quick snap.
OPPO does include a more detailed 64-megapixel mode that appears to work much better in this handset than previous OPPO devices. That comes with the caveat of exceptionally large file sizes though and won’t likely see much use in day-to-day photography for most users.
Another drawback to this camera, compared to some competing devices, is that “Macro” mode doesn’t work from as close up as might be expected. I noted that the camera needed to be at least 6-inches from the subject or things would go out of focus. Similarly, pixelation begins occurring at the fairly standard 5x zoom level, while zooming in at the 20x max renders photos effectively useless.
OPPO incorporated an AI-powered dedicated Night mode here as well. On that front, the device performs well above adequately. That remains the case as long as those are shot with a steady hand. As with all night-mode camera features, unsteadiness results in a blurry mess.
Now, I didn’t have the chance during my review of the OPPO Reno3 Pro to test the Night mode feature against a starry sky. The weather remained overcast, providing not one opportunity to see how it captures a night sky. But, even in almost pitch darkness, the AI-driven feature did manage to capture a stunning amount of detail and color.
Overall OPPO Reno3 Pro is well-deserving of its branding
As noted in the introduction to the OPPO Reno3 Pro, this handset checks all the boxes without going overboard. It’s a well-rounded handset that doesn’t focus on frills and doesn’t focus too much on moving what might be called standard in the mid-range. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing either.
Often, when OEMs look to push the boundaries of what’s possible, the results aren’t great. There are many areas where shortcuts are taken or concessions made in order to accomplish new features without impacting price. So while screen technology or the battery might improve, there are often downgrades required elsewhere. Those might impact something as prominent as the camera performance or something as small as the overall weight and in-hand feel of the gadget.
It’s for those reasons that big changes are typically kept in the flagship models.
Following on that, OPPO seems to have centered its efforts with the Reno3 Pro on building a great experience with existing technology. For the most part, it’s succeeded there. The overwhelming majority of drawbacks with this device are minuscule and won’t impact most users.
Meanwhile, the overall experience of using the OPPO Reno3 Pro is a good one. Not only does this device work in the US. It brings unique system-level features, a solid build, great battery charging, and an above-par display panel. Performance from the MediaTek SoC and cameras are also above what might be expected.
So the OPPO Reno3 Pro feels refined across the board, despite comparatively minor external changes. It’s just going to be a great choice for any buyer potentially looking at the Reno3 Pro as a serious option.