back to article OPPO's Reno 2, aka 'Baby Shark', joins the deepening pool of high-spec midranger mobes

What even is a flagship phone anymore? It was only a few years ago that the line of demarcation between a scrappy midranger and a high-spec handset was well defined. If you spent an extra £300 on a phone, you could reasonably expect to get an extra £300 worth of value. Now, thanks largely to efforts from a predominantly …

  1. TKW

    Looks good. Does it support Oppo's fast charging system?

    1. Swedish Chef

      Mine does

      It happily accepts the chargers (wall/car) that came with my OnePlus 3T. The phone acknowledges them with the same lightning bolt animation that Oppo's own charger gets.

      My OnePlus phones will also accept Oppo's charger, so AFAICT they're completely interchangeable.

  2. Tom7

    Two things to note

    I've recently purchased a OnePlus 7 Pro which also has a mechanically-extended selfie camera. It's rather unnerving; for some reason, every time I open eBay in Firefox, the selfie camera pops up briefly - I assume it's taking a photo of me. Of course, on any phone with a fixed selfie camera you just won't know this is happening.

    The other thing that midrange phones almost always skimp on (and which is not mentioned in this review) is waterproofing - and the Reno 2 is no exception here.

    1. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge

      Re: Two things to note

      WTF? And who TF is that photo for? Time to gaffer tape the front camera

  3. Patrician

    The Android "skin" and installed bloatware is a deal breaker for me; I have a OnePlus 6T and their "skin" is pretty minimal thankfully, but I wouldn't want anything more intrusive than that.

    1. nkuk

      I had a OP6 and now have the 5G version of the Reno. In day to day use you wouldn't know the differences in the software between the two. Pull down options screen is a little different but in general use of the phone there really are minimal inconsequential differences.

  4. STOP_FORTH
    Devil

    Question

    Does the sharkfin have a "laser"?

    Asking for an evil would-be overlord.

  5. Warm Braw Silver badge

    £449, putting it firmly within the middle of the pack

    There was a time when that would be considered a very high price to pay for a phone - the Nokia N95 and original iPhone were significantly less than that figure on launch.

    Personally, I wouldn't get £300 of value from a £300 phone, but I do have to tip my hat to the phone makers who have managed to create a technology market in which prices are expected to rise significantly year-on-year in apparent defiance of economic logic.

    1. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: £449, putting it firmly within the middle of the pack

      "There was a time when that would be considered a very high price to pay for a phone - the Nokia N95 and original iPhone were significantly less than that figure on launch."

      The original iPhone cost a minimum of $500 at launch. I can't find the UK price, but that would usually translate directly to £500, and they'd gone up to $600 within a couple of years. The Nokia N95 cost £370 at launch. Meanwhile £450 today is the equivalent of £330 back then. It's easy to just look at prices and complain that the numbers are getting bigger, but when you're dealing with time scales greater than a decade inflation is much more significant than most people seem to think. The Reno 2 is cheaper than both the phones you mention.

      That said, comparisons with the prices of a decade ago are rather pointless. Back then smartphones were new and there was a reason for them to cost more than regular phones. The article says there's not much reason to buy an expensive flagship when you can get a phone like this for half the price, but I can't see any reason to get a phone like this when you can get a phone like my Moto G5 for half the price again. A flagship doesn't offer much in addition other than some completely unnecessary extra processing power and some shiny gimmicks, but what exactly does the Reno 2 offer over a two year old, sub-£200 phone?

      The problem isn't that phones have got more expensive. Unless you deliberately opt for the most expensive ones available they really haven't. The problem is that phones have actually got cheaper, but most people seem to get suckered into buying the ones that still cost the same as they used to instead.

      1. Baldrickk Silver badge

        Re: £449, putting it firmly within the middle of the pack

        The original iPhone, in the UK at least was exclusively on contract with 02. And the contract was a lot back then, but about £45 a month for it with an unlimited data plan? that currently sounds amazing.

        The iPod Touch was £330 for the 32GB version - I can remember this because I bought one. I both loved and loathed that device. It was great, but it made me vow not to buy apple.

    2. llaryllama

      Re: £449, putting it firmly within the middle of the pack

      In the late 90s I was working in telecoms and was constantly getting laughed at for my bright orange monstrosity of a phone (I don't even remember the manufacturer). So I coughed up £220 for a Nokia 8210, according to BOE's inflation calculator that £220 is worth almost £400 today.

      Now I understand what you are saying, especially since the 8210 was a premium phone when it came out. But you have to admit you get a lot more for £400 these days then you did 20 years ago. My current phone has a dock and doubles up as a very usable laptop. And I certainly couldn't peruse El Reg on an 8210.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: £449, putting it firmly within the middle of the pack

      For only one pound more you can get a Fairphone that can run Lineagoe OS.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And at £449, it's nothing short of a bargain.

    the ultimate proof alternative universes do exist.

    1. quxinot Silver badge

      Re: And at £449, it's nothing short of a bargain.

      I would love to know what the reviewer was drinking when this article was written.

  7. juice Silver badge

    £449 is now "midrange"?

    As a few other people have noted, the high-end of the phone market has crept up, but I'm still struggling to see £449 as a mid-range value.

    I've just fired up Carphone warehouse's website and arbitrarily picked a couple of a handsets at the £200 price range to compare against the Reno 2 - the Huawei Mate 20 Lite and the Samsung Galaxy A20E.

    At least on paper, the Reno 2 does a fair job of spanking the A20E, but it doesn't really offer much more than the Mate 20 Lite - more ram (8gb vs 4gb), a higher resolution rear camera (48mp vs 20mp)[*] and a slightly newer version of Android out the box.

    Certainly, I'd be hard pushed to justify spending another £250 based on the specs alone.

    Admittedly, I did buy a Samsung S10 Pro when it was released, partly because I was at contract end and partly because I use the camera enough to justify trying to get the best available bit of kit at the time. Sadly, it also made me realise that (slight camera tech improvements aside) there really wasn't any significant difference between the S10 Pro and the LG V30 it was replacing, despite the fact that the former was twice as expensive as the latter.

    It's all incremental hair-splitting at this point. As such, I'm pretty much out of the phone arms-race; as and when this beast dies, I'll just pick something up secondhand for a fraction of the original price!

    [*] Though as ever, higher resolution doesn't necessarily mean higher quality; as the sensor density increases, the amount of light hitting each receptor decreases...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: £449 is now "midrange"?

      £150 will buy you a phone which will do basically everything this one will as far as the average person is concerned.

      (And my Sony XA2 will do at least two days on one charge, which makes it about twice as good as any flagship phone as far as I can tell).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: £449 is now "midrange"?

        frankly speaking, half of the £150 will buy you a phone which will do basically everything this one will as far as the average person is concerned. OK, to clarify, 2nd hand (but excellent condition and way more durable than the average, etc.), the only real bummer is that the (...) locked the bootloader.

        In 7 years, if I live that long, I'll replace it with something else around the same price, why would I ever NEED to pay more.

      2. Ian Johnston

        Re: £449 is now "midrange"?

        £150 will buy you a phone which will do basically everything this one will as far as the average person is concerned.

        I've was very happy with my sixty quid Medion (ie Lenovo) phone from Aldi for four years. Unfortunately I dropped it too many times and it started being a bit erratic, but its identical twin cost me under twenty quid on eBay and is working very nicely. I really don't feel a level of deprivation worth throwing hundreds of quid at.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: £449 is now "midrange"?

      Overspecced phones are today's equivalent of overspecced cars for displaying wealth and status.

      The Smartphone generation have been sleep-herded into overvaluing such a short-lived devices that are unlikely to ever retain their value. The one thing that is most likely to get scratched, dropped, stolen or lost is about the least worthwhile thing to invest in for it's shiney appearance. Purveyers of inverted sense must be pleased.

      1. llaryllama

        Re: £449 is now "midrange"?

        I own an Asus ROG phone that was about £800 in English money. That happens to be exactly what I paid for my first ever 2nd hand laptop a long time ago and I get a lot more use out of the phone.

        I tend to change phones about every 3-5 years usually because I have worn them out and/or had one too many accidents. So let's say my phone is costing me less than £20 a month. I probably use it at least 8 hours a day, mostly for work but I also use it to watch movies and all that other stuff.

        Yeh I could get by with a much cheaper phone and I did for many years. But having all that extra processing power and memory is very nice, I can plug it into an HDMI screen and it runs as fast as a midrange laptop. In fact I also use it as a laptop with a USB-C dock.

        I guess there is a fine line between weighing up the value of an item that you can easily afford and getting into debt so that you never have a car/phone/clothes more than 6 months old. But there is a real use case for some of these expensive things. If they make your life better or easier in some way and their purchase does not create any financial difficulties then why not?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Few details missing

    Does it come with single sim/dual sim, sd card support, headphone jack, unlockable bootloader ?

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Few details missing

      According to CPW, the answers to the first three are dual sim, micro SD card (presumably in the other SIM slot) and headphone jack. The OPPO website is entirely silent on the subject and the user manual is unhelpfully generic and says "depending on model". Obvious opportunity for some value-added journalism, but to be fair to El Reg, all the review sites seem to have lost interest in publishing specs, which rather suggests that most people are not interested in reading them.

    2. Swedish Chef

      Re: Few details missing

      It's either dual-SIM or single-SIM plus SD card, comes with a headphone jack and the OEM unlock in the developer options is there (though I didn't try it yet). No official TWRP available at the moment, though Magisk is reported to work well.

  9. DrBobK
    Megaphone

    The same OPPO?

    Is this the same OPPO who sell audio gear? Planar-magnetic headphones which are too expensive for me to buy (a rich friend has some though), a very good portable headphone amp which I do possess, and desktop headphone amp which is way out of my price range. All decidedly at the high (but not totally, totally insane) end of things. On that basis I'd expect them to be selling £1000+ phones with maybe one lesser option.

    (The megaphone is the closest icon I could find for 'audio')

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The same OPPO?

      yes and the did the classic BDP83 blueray player

  10. Alex Walsh

    Spent £300 on a Xiaomi Mi Mix 2s this time last year. It has a SD845, wireless charging, fast charge, 6GB RAM, 128GB storage, and is due Android 10 shortly. Half as much again a year on for a phone with a lower spec SoC seems...expensive?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      What kind of screen does the Mix have? OLED screens are still at quite a premium, though obviously not £ 150. But Oppo moved away from cut price a few years ago, whereas that's where Xiaomi wants to be.

      Fancy a mattress with your next phone?

      1. Alex Walsh

        Full screen spec is:

        Type IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors

        Size 5.99 inches, 92.6 cm2 (~81.9% screen-to-body ratio)

        Resolution 1080 x 2160 pixels, 18:9 ratio (~403 ppi density)

        Protection Corning Gorilla Glass 4

        The screen to body ratio is pretty impressive though!

        Xiaomi are feature limiting stuff to differentiate phones- the newly announced Mi Note 10 Pro has a super amoled screen but a SD730,their Black Shark 2 has super amoled, inscreen fingerprint reader & a SD855 but no wireless charging or NFC, and so on...

      2. 's water music Silver badge

        What kind of screen does the Mix have?

        IPS for the Mix 2 according to GSMARENA. The Mix 3 (currently GBP355 for the 6/128GB model on amazon) has super Amoled. I'm torn between something like this versus a Mate 10 Pro (currently GBP339) versus thinking either is ridiculous and a 150-200 device will do all the same things pretty much as well

  11. EvilGardenGnome
    Headmaster

    Lexicon options

    I humbly offer the following options to name the camera mechanism:

    * Peek-a-boo

    * Whack-a-mole

    * Pop-up

    * Periscope

    Further, obviously lesser ;] , suggestions welcome.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lexicon otions

    How about an endoscope ? That too a folding & rollable one, so as not to waste precious cable lengths? With a suitable app. for self diagnosis of the back orifice, of course !

    1. Ian Johnston

      Re: Lexicon otions

      I think you'll find it's Apple owners who are up their own arses and Audi drivers who are up everyone elses's.

      1. Gio Ciampa

        Re: Lexicon otions

        For Audis... literally in my (old car's) case - the dent in the boot that resulted in a write-off had a clearly visible logo...

    2. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

      Re: Lexicon otions

      Endoscope? Brilliant.

      Here is my marketing pitch for it: "Exclusively from [] ... The Intruder... The world's first smartphones telescope powerful enough to see Uranus.

  13. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    LTE bands

    I like OPPO but they're usually a few LTE bands short of being fully global phones. This one is missing bands 12 and 66 for the US. Band 12 is the gap-filler in the US so you'll hit lots of little dead zones without it. Sibling OnePlus has about as many LTE bands as can be crammed in one phone, but there's no more headphone jack or storage card.

    LOL, I just noticed that OnePlus has already added Sprint's bands to their T-Mobile compatibility list.

    1. bengoey49

      Re: LTE bands

      The LTE bands are unfortunately neglected by most reviewers of mobile phones. This is important if you often go abroad especially to the US and usually for the phones sold in the EU only the top of the range, the most expensive phone have LTE bands covering the US.

      One Plus , Google Pixel and iPhones have wide coverage of the LTE Bands on all their phones.

  14. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Stop

    OK, if the unfortunate title of this article is going to cause me to have this song on my mind....

    I'll be damned if I am going to be the only one!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqZsoesa55w&list=PLQiKLJnked44gBRBlNZuzcP081oFlaGj1&index=2&t=0s

    I will not suffer alone!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: OK, if the unfortunate title of this article is going to cause me to have this song on my mind

      Question..

      I've been avoiding Google related stuff lately but is that really how long YouTube links are now?

      Or is that last bit tacked on by the Chrome browser for tracking purposes?

      1. 's water music Silver badge

        Re: OK, if the unfortunate title of this article is going to cause me to have this song on my mind

        I've been avoiding Google related stuff lately but is that really how long YouTube links are now?

        Or is that last bit tacked on by the Chrome browser for tracking purposes?

        List encodes a follow-on playlist. T, I assume, is the video time to start playback. Not sure about index

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: OK, if the unfortunate title of this article is going to cause me to have this song on my mind

          Everything from ..."&list"... onwards is unnecessary.

          People send me Amazon links similarly. Everything after "/dp/<long number>/" is unnecessary.

          M.

          1. e^iπ+1=0

            Tracking

            "Everything from ... onwards is unnecessary."

            Surely Google / Amazon find it useful to establish links between browser instances that use the shared 'unnecessary' parts, hence they may be necessary for tracking.

  15. Swedish Chef

    Bought it a week ago...

    I've bought the Reno2 some 8 days ago to replace my aging OnePlus 3T.

    So far I'm very happy with it. It's posh, snappy and generally a pleasure to use.

    It supports the latest iteration of VOOC (what OnePlus used to call Dash Charge). AFAICT the chargers are totally interchangeable between the phones, though Oppo's (newer) charger promises 20W of oomph instead of just 15W.

    It also came with a screen protector pre-applied, which is a very good thing, and a really ugly case which I'm not using.

    The selfie camera (I've heard it called 'shark fin' but will henceforth refer to it as 'pizza slice') works very well so far. I don't use it often though so don't mind the slight delay. The mechanism seems sturdy enough.

    The pizza slice also looks much nicer than OnePlus's rectangular periscope thingy.

    Pros:

    * The camera is very good (though I might be biased as the 3T's camera is not much to write home about). I'm very impressed by its night mode.

    * The on-screen fingerprint reader works very well and looks good, too.

    * ColorOS is generally a nice thing. Coming from OnePlus's OxygenOS (which I love) it's not all that different. The notifications are a bit too iPhone-y for my tastes... and dragging a finger down on the start screen will bring up a search window instead of pulling down the notification area. The latter would be lovely for one-handed use on such a big screen.

    * Built-in privacy tools. You can set data-grabbing apps to see an empty phonebook, an empty calendar etc. Unfortunately this does not work with system apps.

    * Autostart can be disabled on a per-app basis.

    * Secure environment for banking apps. Not sure how secure it really is, but at least the phone tells you that the app gets some extra protection.

    * Protected apps that require an extra PIN (or fingerprint) to access. You can also hide the app icon, so that the app is only available by dialling a user-configurable phone number. I'm using this for my banking apps and the bloatware that can't be uninstalled, see below.

    * The battery lasts forever.

    Cons:

    * There is some bloatware. Most can be uninstalled, though a couple apps remain.

    * Most Google apps, especially Chrome and Maps, can neither be uninstalled nor disabled. I hate both. With the Reno2's very good privacy helpers, this would be the one reason for me to root the phone. Workaround: remove all app permissions, make them 'protected apps' (see above) and hide the icons.

    * There's an app Called Phone Manager which is supposed to keep your phone in good shape. While this is a good idea in theory, in its current iteration it does this by repeatedly asking you to disable all background app and asking you to delete basically everything on the phone, including data you're still actively using. It also won't take no for an answer and keep bugging you on a daily basis. I ended up disabling the notifications altogether.

  16. stungebag

    Bezels

    "The OPPO Reno 2 comes with a 6.5-inch AMOLED display, with a 87.5 per cent screen-to-body ratio. This would be higher, if not for the fact that the phone has some surprisingly chunky bezels."

    What could affect the screen-to-body ratio apart from the bezels?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Advertorial

    The writer seems like a paid shill (for getting a free phone) ! Waxing lyrical no ends.

  18. NerryTutkins

    I'd rather have the value where it counts

    I bought a Pocophone F1 for little over 200 GBP end of last year. Primarily because it had a snapdragon 845 which at the time was what was in the top flagship phones, and 6 GB ram.

    The screen is LCD rather than OLED, so you don't get deep blacks at night. But I can live with that. Also, it's got a plastic back, which to be honest is an upgrade over fancy glass, because plastic tends not to break. Spending money on premium feel, when it's more likely to break and will probably have a cover over it anyway just doesn't make much sense to me.

    I just don't see point of a phone like this with a halfway house processor. It's like handstitched leather interior and carbon fibre body panels on a budget supercar and then putting a 1.3 L diesel and four speed transmission in it.

  19. Missing Semicolon

    Cheap offshore software

    Anyone checked it for phome-home spyware?

  20. Zebo-the-Fat

    Just bought a second hand Oneplus 3 on Ebay for £90.00, does everything I need and lots of things I will never use, why spend more?

  21. Gordon 10 Silver badge
    Meh

    The shitty middle ground

    I dont see how this phone is anything to write home about. Too expensive for the mid-range crowd around £300 mark and not cool enough to compete with the "name" brands at the high end.

    If you look at market share there are only really 2 brands with any market share that can sell top end specs for stupid money - Apple and Samsung. Huawei obviously have market share too - but its mostly low-mid range volume based I fully expect their top end share to dive off a cliff now they are at price parity with AppSung.

    Full disclosure - happy owner of an Honor 10 - thats how to make a mid market phone. £280 on black friday last year. Only complaint is still waiting for Android Q (but its coming), that will make it the third and last major Android release on it. Oh and the bluetooth stack needs a reboot every once in a while. Plus its not stupidly big at 5.8". This race to make phones bigger than the average thumb-forefinger span is utter muppetry in my opinion. The missus' next phone is a secondhand iPhone X or Xs to replace her aging SE for her tiny girl hands. Seriously considering joining her.

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