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Good camera but slightly underwhelming otherwise

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Just six months on from the Oppo Reno 5 Pro, the Oppo Reno 6 Pro is an incremental smartphone. Over the last few days, we have had a chance to extensively test it out. Our initial impressions laid the foundation for this review, which focuses on Oppo’s design choices, speed, camera performance and battery life.

Design and build quality

At 7.99mm and 188g, the Reno 6 Pro is a slender smartphone. It retains all the characteristics of a typical Oppo flagship smartphone including the Reno Glow finish. Available in either blue or grey, we feel that the texture adds a unique touch to the device. It makes it slightly easier to grip although we feel Oppo had done a better job with the Reno Glow finish on last year’s Reno 5 Pro. This year, it feels like Oppo focused more on making the back look shiny as opposed to making it genuinely easier to grip. Regardless, this is a minor problem that can easily be fixed with a case. The fact that the Reno 6 Pro is less wide than a typical smartphone at 72.5mm on top of its compact design means adding a case to the smartphone does not make it unwieldy.

The Reno Glow finish at the back resists fingerprints and adds grip

As great as Oppo’s hardware choices are including the glass and metal build, one omission that sticks out like sore thumb is the lack of IP resistance. We are used to smartphones even at a much lower price bracket offer this kind of protection. However, not seeing it on the Reno 6 Pro is disappointing. It is something that we have noticed on the Reno series for quite some time and we hope Oppo addresses it with its next launch. Oppo does provide sealing around the dual nano-SIM tray, which means the smartphone is naturally resistant to water and dust damage. Although with no official word, we are always apprehensive with the smartphone when at a beach or in the rain.

Display performance

On the front, the Reno 6 Pro houses a 6.5-inch AMOLED 3D Curved Display. This boasts up to a 180Hz touch sampling rate and a 90Hz refresh rate for smooth performance. On its own, the display is fantastic. Colours are vibrant, elements remain smooth and brightness is excellent even in direct sunlight. The punch-hole for the front camera sits on the top left edge of the device which we think is small enough to not bother you when consuming content. The curved nature of the panel makes it more immersive. If you find yourself watching a series or movie, you will appreciate this touch from Oppo. However, the curved panel also means touch sensitivity issues. If you find yourself gripping the smartphone with one hand, you will often find the display to be unresponsive.

The 3D curve of the display can sometimes register accidental palm touches

This is because your palm often registers on the display due to its curve. For many, this is something that you can get past with a few adjustments. However, for others, adaptability could be a slight issue. Pairing with the display, we also found the stereo speakers on the device to be great. They are not as loud or rich as we tend to find on traditional high-end smartphones. However for general listening or to fill up a small room, these should be plenty. You can always look to bump up your audio experience via some wireless Bluetooth or wired headphones. The latter will have to be Type-C USB ones though as there is no 3.5mm headphone jack on the smartphone.

Hardware and performance

Making up the internals of the Oppo Reno 6 Pro is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 5G chip, 12GB of RAM and 256GB of UFS 3.1 memory. The latter cannot be expanded however Oppo has bundled a RAM expansion feature on the Reno 6 Pro. With this, you can add an extra 3GB, 5GB or 7GB of RAM to the memory of the smartphone. This comes in handy especially for heavy gaming although personally, we think 12GB is more than adequate for all other use cases. With this extra memory, we did notice that the smartphone managed to keep a lot more applications open in the background.

Multitasking with the Reno 6 Pro is oddly full of lag and stutter

However, it is not all smooth sailing for the Reno 6 Pro when it comes to performance. While the Snapdragon 870 5G is a more than capable chip on paper, the Reno 6 Pro suffers from overheating issues and performance anomalies. For example, when browsing through Twitter or Chrome, we noticed that the smartphone froze and became unresponsive. The only way to fix this was by restarting the application.

As far as the overheating issues are concerned, we noticed this when we started pushing the smartphone heavily. With many applications open in parallel, this becomes a more prevalent issue. Given that the smartphone is equipped with technology like an ultra-large vapor chamber and a multi-cooling system, we were surprised to see this happen. If you continue using the smartphone when hot, it does get uncomfortable in the hand. So often times, we had to give it about 10-15 minutes to cool down before using it again.

We hope Oppo can fix performance issues with the smartphone via software updates

We know that a lot of the smartphone’s performance also boils down to software optimisation. In this case, you find Oppo’s Color OS 11.3 running on Android 11. Like we have mentioned many times on previous Oppo smartphone reviews, we are a fan of the software. It gives you a lot of value added features whether it comes to editing captured video, themes or customisation but for the Reno 6 Pro, it might be missing a bit more optimisation. Throughout our usage, we have seen the smartphone receive two software updates up to the August 2021 security patch although the issues we have mentioned when it comes to performance still persist. We sincerely hope that with more updates, Oppo can iron these out.

Primary camera

The Oppo Reno 6 Pro is quite good when it comes to capturing photos. You find a quad camera setup on the smartphone made up of a 50MP Sony IMX766 primary lens, a 16MP ultrawide angle lens, a 13MP telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom and a 2MP macro lens. We will talk about quality and performance but before that, we want to address some odd behaviour from the camera. For some reason, captured video does not save on the smartphone. We have had 2-3 occurrences where we could not find what we had just captured in the gallery. This is surely not something that we expect from the Reno 6 Pro but it is worth mentioning.

There is a quad-camera setup on the back of the Reno 6 Pro however the star of the show is the primary 50MP sensor

Regardless, during the day you will notice that the camera tends to over exaggerate colours like red, yellow and blue in pictures while also making for a cool tone. While these images turn out great for social media, they do not convey the mood of the scene accurately. Sometimes, a cloudy day ends up looking much sunnier than it actually is. While detail in such photos is great, where Oppo needs to work is colour and detail consistency between lenses.

Switching to the ultrawide angle camera, you will notice that pictures are much softer. They lack the same detail found on the main lens which is to be expected. However, more disappointing is the lack of proper colour tuning. This shift in colour is also present when switching to the telephoto lens. While the ultrawide lens makes for even cooler colours, the telephoto lens leads to warmer tones. Speaking of the latter, it also sports up to 5x hybrid zoom technology. While this is not as good as native optical zoom, it does give you a good amount of flexibility when capturing photos of subjects at a distance.

In lower light, the prowess of the of the Sony IMX766 main sensor shows further. You will notice that the camera unit is great at capturing colours indoors and outdoors. And especially when using night mode, the amount of detail captured is really good. While testing the smartphone on social media, we got a number of people asking about the camera quality of the Reno 6 Pro, saying the picture seemed like it was taken from a DSLR. Unfortunately though, pictures like these will only possible from the main lens as the telephoto and ultrawide setup at night leads to lower quality images.

As far as video is concerned, Oppo’s AI Highlight Video mode makes a return. This enables good quality video in challenging conditions like low light or high dynamic range situations. We often found ourselves using this to capture sunsets or during the night. However, you notice that when doing the latter, the camera increases ISO a lot. This leads to noise in video which is not very favourable. Moreover, AI Highlight Video mode is capped at 1080p, which means higher resolution 4K video using the mode is not possible.

Front camera

There is a 32MP selfie camera on the Reno 6 Pro. While this is good for capturing detail in selfies, we were not too keen on using it a lot. The main reason for this is colour processing. Oppo’s software takes the reigns when it comes to selfies, making them look overly bright and imposing a faux look. Even after all enhancements were turned off, we were not a fan simply because we like a natural look to selfies. Regardless, the camera’s performance was good, with a good portrait mode, and all of the AI Highlight Video features from the primary camera.

Battery life

Inside, the Reno 6 Pro is powered by a 4,500mAh battery. For its size and body, the battery capacity is good. However, throughout use, we have found its endurance to be below average. This once again correlates to the smartphone’s inconsistent thermals, where it heating up causes battery to drain faster than expected. Over our usage, we found that the Reno 6 Pro gave us an average 5-6.5 hours of screen-on time. Over 5G, this dropped even further. If you plan to use the smartphone for 12 hours continuously, it will not last on a single charge.

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