«Two years ago, 5G-capable devices were the size of a refrigerator. One year later, they were the size of a bottle crate.» Klaus Liechti smiles with satisfaction as he weighs the Oppo Reno 5G in his hand. Liechti is an engineer at Swisscom and is jointly responsible for the expansion of Switzerland’s fast data network. He takes visible pleasure in holding the Oppo Reno, one of the first 5G-enabled smartphones.
On April 10, Swisscom and several partner companies, including Ericsson, announced the launch of their 5G network at a major media event in Zurich. Their goal is ambitious: The plan is to have 90% of the Swiss population covered by the new network standard by the end of 2019.
Oppo’s debut with the Reno 5G
For the first time in Switzerland, we also saw the official introduction of the devices that will benefit from the new, superfast network. First among them was a smartphone brand that up to now has remained relatively unknown in Switzerland: Oppo’s Reno 5G, due to appear on the local markets in May, marks the beginning of a new generation of mobile devices.
Tech Garage managed to snag one of these brand-new devices at the media event and then put it through extensive testing. And it wasn’t one of the demo models that were strapped to a booth and available to all the other media pros, but thanks to a bit of haggling in Chinese Mandarin and Oppo’s highly cooperative PR team, we got an exclusive, untethered pre-production model.
A quick look at Switzerland’s first 5G phone
The Oppo Reno 5G already possesses a certain wow factor. When I hold the device in my hand, with its large 6.6-inch OLED screen, I’m happy to see that it doesn’t have a notch. Somehow, the model manages without the need for an indent in the display.
Similarly, the bezels on all sides of the screen are kept narrow, a definite advantage for the way the content appears on the screen. This allows the device to have a screen-to-body ratio of 93%. The OLED screen has a resolution of 2340 x 1080 pixels and an aspect ratio of 19.5:9.
Technical data of a current flagship
Oppo may have just arrived in Switzerland, but on a technical level, the Reno 5G is already playing in the major leagues. For example, we like the fingerprint scanner that’s installed beneath the display. The device comes with 256 GB of storage and 8 GB RAM, and the apps we tested opened and closed with corresponding smoothness.
The device comes with a generous 4’065mAh battery, and here we’re curious to see how a 5G connection will affect the usage time. For charging, the Reno 5G has a USB-C port, which is also where you plug in the headphones.
In addition, the workmanship on the device is super clean. Along with high-quality materials, it has clean seams, and there’s no crunching or creaking.
A promising camera setup
The other thing we find exciting is the Reno 5G’s camera setup. The selfie camera is hidden inside the case and only pops up in the form of a wedge when you activate selfie mode. When it’s not in use or it senses that the phone is about to fall, the selfie module automatically retracts.
On the back of the phone, Oppo boasts a 48-megapixel sensor and 10x zoom, which our blog readers are already familiar with from the MWC unveiling in February. We can hardly wait to compare this camera with the SuperZoom from Huawei’s P30 Pro.
The smartphone manufacturer from China is actually number five worldwide and has a market share of around 20 percent in its home country, but here in Switzerland, this smartphone brand has been relatively unknown to date. That could easily change this year since Oppo’s appearance as a prominent smartphone partner with Swisscom at the 5G media event, which gave Oppo Director of Standards Henry Tang the exclusive chance to unveil his brand-new Oppo Reno 5G on stage.
When Tech Garage asked how Oppo had achieved such a prominent place, Tang explained that they had sought discussions with Swisscom early on and collaborated on the implementation of the technology. The Swisscom version sounds similar, with Klaus Liechti confirming that Oppo was already taking part in the 5G discussions at an early stage and that the Chinese company contributed a lot of effort and know-how to the preparations for the 5G launch.
Here’s where Switzerland is ahead of China
The new Oppo smartphone was simultaneously announced at an event in Shanghai, but the model presented in Zurich has a 5G chip from Qualcomm, while the variant for the Chinese market is only 4G-capable. That’s because Switzerland’s 5G network expansion is already more advanced, and upon the device’s release in May, it will be able to access Swisscom’s 5G network. In China, nationwide expansion of the new network standard will take more time.
If the Oppo Reno 5G marks the debut of the brand in Swisscom’s product line, then the newcomer from China will already be demonstrating a high standard with the introduction of its first device. Starting in May, the Oppo will be available through Swisscom for CHF 999, or about $1000. 5G devices from manufacturers such as LG, Samsung and Huawei with its foldable Mate X will follow in the subsequent weeks and months.