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[Review] AI Portrait Capabilities on a Mid-Ranged Device: The OPPO Reno6 Z 5G


OPPO Reno6 Z 5G

Price TBD

Touted as a '5G AI Portrait Phone', the OPPO Reno6 Z's emphasis seems to be set in stone from the start - a simple point-and-shoot that makes you look good. Featuring a MediaTek Dimensity 800U chip, the Reno6 Z 5G is a mid-ranged device and the pared down variant of the Reno6.

Unboxing and first impressions


The packaging consists of a black box within a seafoam green sleeve. Within the box is the phone itself, along with some paperwork, a TPU case, as well as a 30 W charger and the corresponding USB-A to USB-C cable.

The Reno6 Z comes in two colours - Aurora and Stellar Black. While I was initially disappointed I received the latter option (the Aurora looks so good!), I was pleasantly surprised to find that it isn't your typical run-of-the-mill black colour variant. Instead, the coarsely textured back has a cool-toned shimmer to it under the light, and seems almost pearlescent under certain lighting. The sandy texture also has the added benefit of providing users a good grip, which is already facilitated by the curved back and comfortable size of the phone.

The photo doesn't do the colour justice, really

A trio of cameras are housed on a bump on the back, while the front features a punch-hole camera on the top left. On the right, you'll find the power button, while the volume rocker and SIM tray are located on the left. The top houses just one microphone, while the bottom of the phone has another, along with a 3.5mm jack, mono speaker, and USB-C charging port. The only adornment is a simple 'OPPO' logo placed discreetly on the bottom right of the back.

Overall, I really like the size and build. It's narrow enough for one-handed use, and the weight hits a sweet spot - heavy enough to not feel cheap and light enough for prolonged use.

Vibrant AMOLED display, mediocre audio


The Reno6 Z boasts a 6.4" AMOLED panel with a 1080 x 2400 resolution. It has excellent colours and contrast, and the brightness is nothing to scoff at either. Even under bright sunlight it fared well, though the auto-brightness seemed a little finicky at times. The display is 60 Hz instead of the 90 Hz found on the Reno6 and Reno6 Pro.

As for the bezels, they are reasonably slim for a phone in this class. The chin is slightly thicker than the other 3 sides, and the bezel is nicely curved along all corners.


Watching videos on this device is extremely enjoyable and as immersive as it can get for a screen of this size. The only downside is that the mono audio makes it unsuitable for landscape use, unless you don't mind having unbalanced sound. Volume-wise, it musters up a decent amount of loudness, but otherwise it sounds like most other mid-tier devices - slightly sharp with mediocre bass. You'll want to use a pair of earphones for gaming and watching videos - thankfully there's a headphone jack as well as Bluetooth 5.1 to support most types of audio devices.

The AI Portrait Camera: Artistic vs realistic?


Now, we've come to the Reno6 Z's main selling point, the AI Portrait camera. OPPO seems especially keen to push the Bokeh Portrait feature, which is understandable since most of our social media-reliant generation loves gorgeous selfies.


So, after putting aside my self-consciousness, I tested out both the Bokeh Flare Portrait and AI Color Portrait modes. And to be honest, I have mixed feelings about the results. On one hand, it does create an ethereal feeling about your pictures, thanks to the extremely strong bokeh effect. However, the result looks over-stylised and quite detached from reality. The smartphone will remind you that having a single subject is recommended, but even on plain backgrounds, the edge detection is extremely finicky.

Indoors vs. outdoors


And for some strange reason (or user error), I could only adjust the bokeh level on AI Color Portrait mode and not the Bokeh Flare Portrait mode. Here are examples with bokeh level set to 10% vs 100%:

10% bokeh vs. 100% bokeh


Beautification is also pretty aggressive. With skin smoothening at just 30% like the pictures above, virtually all your flaws are erased, and when ramped up to 100%, your face pretty much turns into putty (which admittedly, some people seem to enjoy).


Just for the lulz, I turned every single beautification setting (smoothen, thinner face, bigger eyes, smaller nose, chin, smaller face, touch up, and 3D) and set them to 100%. Behold my creation:

You're welcome for the nightmares

Pretty much the only thing it can't do is draw on some eyebrows for me, but that's okay. To sum up the phone's Portrait capabilities, I think it's a fun feature to add an artistic touch to your photos, but if you're seeking something more realistic, then this is probably not for you.


Anyway, moving on from the 32 MP selfie camera to the main camera array on the back. It consists of a 64 MP main shooter, an 8 MP wide angle, and a 2 MP macro camera. Overall, the results are decent, though there are a number of quirks. In bright sunlight, photos tend to come out with slightly artificial colours - it fares much better in shaded areas.

Bright sunlight: 1x; 0.6x (wide); 10x


In shade: 1x; 0.6x (wide); 10x


Taking macro photos turns out much better on auto mode instead of the dedicated macro mode, where it struggles to focus in both low light and bright sunlight. The final result is also much grainier and of lower quality in general. Although this is not an issue as you can just use auto mode all the way (and it's more convenient too), it just feels like a waste of the macro lens.

Auto (L) vs. macro mode (R)


Turning on night mode results in nearly identical results as when it is turned off. Again, this is not a huge issue for me cause low light performance is decent in general.

Night mode on vs. night mode off


Overall, sticking to auto mode and letting the camera do its thing seems to be a much better than bet than manually activating the other modes at your disposal. The results are good for a camera in its class - the shutter is pretty responsive and the interface is user-friendly.

Performance


When it comes to performance, the OPPO Reno6 Z performed admirably. It features a Dimensitiy 800U chip paired with 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal storage. Storage is expandable via a MicroSD card.


Launching apps and browsing is smooth and responsive, and I didn't experience any discernible lagging. It also features the 'RAM expansion' feature, which allows you to allocate some storage space as virtual RAM when needed. This might come in handy for intensive tasks, but even while gaming I didn't feel the need to make use of it. It also comes with a caveat - by doing this, you'll increase wear and tear on your storage over time, so unless you really need it, I recommend not using it.

I tested Genshin Impact on this device and it plays smoothly, albeit on the lowest settings at 30 FPS. It has an in-game quick menu where you can easily monitor your phone's stats and adjust settings on-the-fly. Another handy thing is can do is bring up messenger bubbles in-game, so you can quickly reply messages without minimizing your game; this should come in especially handy in competitive multiplayer games where paying ongoing attention is vital.

The 4,310 mAh is enough to last you throughout the day, and can be topped up to full in just 52 minutes via the 30 W VOOC Flash Charge 4.0 feature. I would have liked to see a battery of at least 5,000 mAh battery in this day and age though.

UI and user experience


The Reno6 Z is running on ColorOS 11, which is based on Android 11. There's a generous amount of customization one can do on this device, including font type, font size, colour scheme, icon shapes, icon styles, home screen layout, fingerprint unlock animation and more.

Speaking of fingerprint unlock, the sensor is located under the display right at the bottom edge of the screen. While it is pretty snappy, I would have liked the sensor area to be located slightly higher up, so one won't have to stretch their thumb to access it.


For gamers, there's a game assistant that can be accessed by swiping from the edge of your device. This allows you to access the aforementioned in-game messaging capabilities, as well as a variety of settings and features beneficial to gamers, such as touch optimisation, game focus mode, and more. You'll also be to set your device to block notifications and reject calls if you want full immersion in your game.

One unique experience supported by the Reno6 Z is the Air Gesture feature, which allows you to answer or reject calls as well as scroll up and down without touching the phone screen. This definitely comes in handy if your hands are occupied with eating, painting, or doing other messy stuff that would otherwise dirty your phone.

However, getting it to work took a lot of effort. Firstly, your hand will have to be directly in front of the front camera, which is located on the left, which is quite awkward for right-handed people like myself, as you'll have to reach over to make sure your hand gestures are properly detected. Secondly, its gesture detecting system is pretty sensitive, so if you're so much as holding your hand at a slightly wrong angle, it will simply not read your movement at all, which can get very frustrating. That said, it's a good idea and hopefully it will be improved with future updates.


Apart from that, it also supports screen-off gestures like we recently saw in the Zenfone 8 Flip. In the same manner, you can control music playback, toggle the flash light, wake the screen and more by tracing designated gestures on a black screen.

Buy or no buy?


In essence, the OPPO Reno6 Z 5G is a decent mid-ranged device, albeit without any particularly unique features that make it a particularly outstanding choice from the competition. It's still a solid device with a nice AMOLED display, expandable storage, and the nifty AI Portrait feature which may appeal to some shutterbugs. However, there are several shortcomings to contend with, such as the single speaker, ineffective camera modes, and just average battery capacity.

Without the official price available, it's difficult to say whether I recommend the OPPO Reno6 Z 5G or otherwise. However, if the price falls within the RM1.2 - 1.5k range as I suspect, it's up against some stiff competition in its class. In the end, it's up to you to decide between the small features and quirks of each option available within this particular price range - otherwise, the Reno6 Z 5G is a solid little device, albeit a bit too vanilla to properly shine.