Although believed by many to be closely associated (OnePlus’ founders come from Oppo, and OnePlus device boxes in India carry “manufactured by Oppo” tags), both brands have generally stayed out of each other’s way in the Indian market, although both have been there for a while now. OnePlus has always been the budget flagship (of “flagship killer”) available almost exclusively online while Oppo has tended to focus on more conventional offline retail and generally higher price tags.

That pretty much ended in 2019. On May 16, OnePlus released the OnePlus 7 Pro and OnePlus 7. Less than a fortnight later, Oppo launched the Reno 10x Zoom. And after a period of staying apart, the long lost brothers met. Or rather clashed. For, make no mistake about it, the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom is targeted squarely at the territory that OnePlus has lorded for a while now – the one where great specs are served up at a surprisingly affordable price. In fact, one would say that Oppo has even gone a step ahead of its alleged sibling by bringing a very premium level of design to the Reno 10x Zoom, something that OnePlus has only now attempted with the OnePlus 7 Pro (for a comparison of the OnePlus 7 Pro and the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom, go check

Turning on the style

We will get this out of the way – the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom is perhaps the most distinct looking Android flagship out there alongside Google’s own Pixel series. Yes, the brand has followed the now popular glass on front and back formula that almost every brand is following, but it adds several touches to it. The most spectacular of course is the “shark fin” selfie camera, which is a camera that pops out in the shape of a triangle rather than a square when needed. Of course, its presence means that the Reno 10x Zoom’s front is almost all display with very small bezels – a screen to body ratio of a staggering 93 percent. The back is extremely classy too. We got the Ocean Green unit and loved the way the light played off it, changing shades subtly, a far cry from the louder gradient finishes on other devices. Yes, it will pick up smudges and scratches but credit to Oppo for putting in a sturdy cover (and not one of those cheap transparent ones) in the box. What’s more, the three cameras on the back are flush against it and do not jut out. But perhaps the most distinct design touch is the presence of a thin strip in the center below the cameras which has the words “Designed by Oppo” and a tiny sphere that protrudes ever so slightly, evidently to ensure the cameras are slightly off the surface on which the phone is placed, It is not the slimmest at 9.3 mm nor the lightest at 210 grams, and to be honest, that massive 6.6 inch display does make handling it a bit of a problem, but there is no doubting that the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom is one of the best-looking phones in the market right now.

Adding some spec substance

There is some serious hardware muscle behind that gorgeous exterior. The 6.6-inch display is a full HD+ AMOLED one, and under the hood is the current flagship darling, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage (there is a 6 GB/ 128 GB variant too), with provision for expandable memory, if you are ready to give up one of the dual SIM card slots. The Reno scores big in the camera department too – the main sensor is a 48 megapixel Sony IMX586 with f/1.7 aperture and dual optical image stabilization, and supporting it are an 8-megapixel ultrawide lens and a 13-megapixel telephoto lens.

The main sensor may have the megapixels, but it is the telephoto lens that has the magic. It has 5x optical zoom, but thanks to some tech wizardry, it can actually zoom up to 10x without significant loss in quality, giving the phone its name. Need more? It can actually zoom up to 60x digitally – yes, more than the 50x that the HUAWEI P30 Pro showed us. And the shark fin not only contains the 16-megapixel front camera but also the flash for the rear ones – a slightly peculiar arrangement, although Oppo claims the sliding mechanism is strong enough to last five years even if used a hundred times a day! There is a big battery in there as well – 4065 mAh with support for Oppo’s VOOC charging that ensures that it gets charged in less than an hour and a half. In terms of connectivity, there’s 4G, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and GPS. There are even stereo speakers, with one of them being on the upper portion of the shark fin. Some might complain about the absence of a 3.5 audio jack, but we really think that that is so 2017 now, although given the size of the device perhaps a case could have been made for its inclusion. Other omissions include wireless charging and water and dust resistance, but we are not sure they are of “deal breaker” status yet.

An outstanding performer

Holding all this together is the task of Oppo’s Color OS, running on top of Android UI. And for the most part, it does a brilliant job. Yes, the UI will take some getting used to and it is definitely not in the same class as MIUI (ad complaints notwithstanding), but we can see a lot of people loving the additional features it brings to the table, especially when it comes to camera options and image editing. If you are willing to give it some time, the Reno will deliver a very smooth performance. Of course, with that sort of hardware, you would expect a very smooth performance. We had no problems at all while handling heavy duty games like PUBG and the Asphalt series, or even running multiple apps. That big display handles colors and contrasts well and blended with the stereo sound, game and film lovers will just love the viewing experience. Of course, that massive battery ensures that you can keep going for a while. We easily got a day and a half of usage out of a single charge, and even with a lot of gaming and film watching, you will be able to see a day without too much of trouble. And as we said, thanks to VOOC, you can get the phone recharged from zero to tops in less than an hour and a half. We are, however, not huge admirers of the under display fingerprint scanner. No, it never really failed us but it did seem a little slower in comparison to the conventional fingerprint scanner.

All said and done, the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom pretty much checks all flagship boxes – performance, software, battery, display, sound, and connectivity. Yes, yes, we know there’s one item missing there. Which bring us to…

Cameras that star, but sometimes stutter

Why have we left the cameras for the last? Well, because we are honestly puzzled by them. On paper, the Reno 10x has phenomenal camera potential. And for the most part, it delivers. We got some very good colors and detail from the main sensor, although the ultrawide was a little disappointing when compared with the likes of those we have seen on some of the Samsung Galaxy A and S devices. Then there is the little matter of Ultra Night Mode 2.0, which delivered some very good low light shots, both in terms of color and detail and without the sort of glare that one gets on other devices. We really think that Oppo deserves to be up there close to the Pixel when it comes to low light magic. Most importantly, unlike the Pixel and the OnePlus, the Reno does not go in for a minimalistic camera interface, but actually gives you a number of options ranging from Pro mode (which it calls “Expert”) to the regular panorama, portrait and filter options.

However, unlike some other players (most notably Huawei), it has managed to keep the options well organized so as to not overwhelm the user. AI scene identification is present and in our opinion is one of the better implementations we have seen of the concept, as shots seemed discernibly better – if a little more colorful – with AI turned on. And before you ask, yes, the 10X lossless zoom actually works in good light conditions, although we would advise sticking to 5X in low light ones. We were able to get some very good zoom shots without losing too much detail at 10X. There are a few shortcomings though. Perhaps the most visible of these is the fact that the camera sometimes seems to shift focus or lose it altogether while taking a shot. Turning off AI seemed to make this better, but it still occurred from time to time. We also felt that in close up shots, the focus seemed to shift after from the closest object at times, something we had seen happening in the macro mode of the Honor 20 as well. And while the 10X zoom is very good, the 60X zoom is a bit of a paper tiger. It is very cool to have on board and boast about but you are not likely to get the sort of moon shots you got on the (admittedly much more expensive) Huawei P30 Pro. The selfie camera also was a bit of a letdown by Oppo’s own standards – no, it is not bad by any means but we certainly expected more from it in terms of detail, and less in terms of over smoothened beautification. All in all, we would say that the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom’s cameras are a clear notch above the ones on the OnePlus 7 Pro at the time of writing, but like that device, cannot consistently challenge the likes of the Galaxy S10 or the Pixels. Not yet anyway. [Click here for full resolution versions and additional samples]

Here’s looking at you, OnePlus

At Rs 39,999, the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom might seem a little on the expensive side, especially following the arrival of the Asus 6z which has the same processor and an innovative camera set up of its own. That said, we think the Reno 10x Zoom just has a much more premium feel to it, and also offers a much better camera experience. Yes, there are others in the fray, but no matter how you cut it, the budget flagship segment does seem to look like an Oppo vs OnePlus battle.

The Reno 10x Zoom is priced closer to the OnePlus 7 (Rs 32,999) than the OnePlus 7 Pro (Rs 48,999), but make no mistake about it, the device poses a very serious challenge to both of those worthies. Those looking to invest in the OnePlus 7 might be tempted to spend just a little more to get a far better set of cameras and a more eye-catching design, while OnePlus 7 Pro users might find the decision as simple as getting competitive specs at a much lower price. Yes, the Asus 6z does come into the mix, but the Reno offers a better camera experience and a much more premium design. No, And as we mentioned in our comparison between the two devices, the Reno 10x Zoom does score heavily when it comes to design and cameras in comparison with the Never Settler. The brothers lost in a fair have met. And in typical Bollywood fashion, one has become a policeman and the other a thief with a heart of gold. Who is who will be revealed in the coming days, but as of now, we can safely say that with the Reno 10x, Oppo just got on OnePlus’ radar. In a downright dangerous manner. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is no mean achievement.