The newly launched Oppo Reno4 Pro and the Oppo Watch show that the Chinese phone-maker is coming in strong and fast in the lifestyle-cum-functionality space

There is fierce competition today in the affordable “flagship” phone space. American tech giant Apple released its competition-crushing second-generation iPhone SE (starting from $649) in April. Then, Google attempted to steal part of that pie with the Pixel 4a ($499), the lowest-priced Pixel yet, and Samsung has recently announced the FE, or Fan Edition, of its high-end Galaxy S20 phones, with a starting price of $1,098.

It seems that tech giants are finally beginning to realise that not everyone is okay anymore to casually drop thousands on a phone. Technology too, driven very much by Chinese phone-makers, have grown in leaps and bounds, so much so that you can get almost-equal hardware in mid-range phones as you can in a flagship phone.

Choices abound these days for the consumer, and truth be told, phones need not cost the monthly salary of an average Singaporean — unless it is meant to be a status symbol.

Oppo, one of the fastest-growing tech companies right now, is no stranger to this space and is throwing its hat into the ring once again by releasing its Oppo Reno4 Pro. Priced at $899, the Oppo Reno4 seems to be going for the jugular of its competitors, offering a Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G SoC chipset, 256GB worth of memory (the iPhone SE 256GB is priced at $889), and a truly stunning 6.5-inch E3 Super Amoled display with a 90Hz display refresh rate and up to 180Hz touch sample rate.

There is some impressive camera hardware for the price point: 32M front camera and Rear Quad Camera set-up consisting of a 48MP primary camera, an 8MP Ultra wide-angle camera, as well as a 2MP Macro camera and 2MP mono lens. There is also a whole suite of new AI-focused software inside: photos of up to 108MP during daytime with Ultra Clear 108MP Images, Night Flare Portrait Mode, and AI Colour Portrait Photo and Video, which promises creative and artistic portraits.

The Oppo Reno4 Pro also boasts giving users a “full cinematic experience” in the palm, with features such as Dolby Atmos, Oppo Screen Image Engine (OSIE) Ultra Clear Visual Effect, and Netflix HD Streaming Certification. I will hand it to them, watching Netflix on the Oppo Reno4 Pro was far superior to doing it on my tiny Google Pixel 3. Specs-wise, the Oppo Reno4 Pro is right up there with other phones in the price range, and it feels and looks good in the hand. Its 6.5-inch form is a little too large to fit into most (women’s) pockets, but is not so outsized to the point it becomes a problem.

Battery-life with fast-charging is incredible, with the best-in-class 65W SuperVOOC 2.0. This means the Reno 4 Pro charges in just 36 minutes, and the battery lasts pretty much all day with heavy use. While it only lasted about 16 hours for me, after a full day of texting, video calls, watching YouTube and Netflix, emails as well as constant auto-syncing of the Oppo Watch (more on that in a bit) on Bluetooth, fast charging meant it was a cinch for me to just juice it up quickly anytime, without worry.

Inside the phone, the Oppo Reno4 Pro runs the Colour OS 7.2, and truth be told, I have never been a fan of the Android OS as interpreted by different phone-makers. I am a firm believer of stock Android, or as close to stock as possible, for I detest all manner of bloatware (and there is a shocking amount of bloatware in some Android phones these days).

The Oppo Reno4 Pro presented a few problems for me to adjust to its OS, and regrettably, it was certainly not my favourite. It did, on occasion, noticeably lag upon running many applications at once. I had the phone for over three weeks, and while it stood up well to my “abuse” (I am a terrible one for never checking apps running in the background), I was not pleased by its occasional stutter when attempting to switch quickly from one app to another.

One major (minor to most) gripe for me was the Oppo Reno4 Pro’s haptic feedback. It was far too aggressive, and often lagged behind your actual activity on-screen. I prefer short, punchy, and vibrant feedback like on the Pixel phones, and found the Oppo’s haptic feedback too much for me.

Now we come to the Oppo Watch, which was released at the same time, and running the new much talked-about Android Wear OS. It comes in two sizes, a 46mm and 41mm watch face; and the Oppo Watch 46mm has the world’s first flexible dual-curved display on a smartwatch, with vibrant 3D flexible Amoled screen which measures 1.91 inches with a 72.76% screen-to-body ratio.

It is a smartwatch and also an activity/fitness tracker. It sports 4 PPG sensors, as well as GPS and Glonass; the watch accurately tracks and monitors physical activities such as running, swimming, bike riding and walking. Additionally, its always-on heart-rate monitoring will ensure consistent tracking and monitoring, even when resting.

The first thing I noticed right off the bat was how well the Oppo Watch and the Oppo Reno4 Pro both synced. I could access almost everything I needed: control media, answer messages, and more, on the Oppo Watch when it is synced with the Oppo Reno4 Pro. I liked the look and feel of the Watch. Activity tracking was not as accurate nor as full-range as a dedicated fitness tracker, but that’s probably not what the Oppo Watch is for. It acts more as a casual lifestyle tracker and smartwatch rather than a watch for serious athletes.

Priced from $299, it is a fine accessory to have if you’re getting the Oppo phone while you’re at it.

Overall, there were plenty of upsides, but also big downsides, to these two devices. However, it is certainly a worthy contender and will give other brands a run for their money