If there’s one beneficiary to Huawei’s continued ban, it would be OPPO. The Chinese manufacturer was able to take advantage of Huawei’s downfall in global markets, positioning itself as the ideal alternative. Thanks to a strong portfolio of devices like the Reno 5 Pro and the Find X3 Pro, OPPO is now the world’s fourth-largest smartphone brand, posting a 35% year-on-year increase in sales.
The Reno series in particular is driving a lot of momentum for the brand. The Reno 10X Zoom was aimed at the flagship segment, but OPPO pivoted the lineup to focus on the value segment — going up against the best cheap Android phones — and that has proved to be a fruitful decision. With the Reno 6 Pro now slated to make its global debut (the phone is launching in India on July 14), I talked to Tasleem Arif, VP and R&D Head at OPPO India, to get a better sense of what the phone has to offer.
The Reno 6 Pro is coming just six months after the introduction of the Reno 5 series, and at the outset, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot that’s different between the two devices. Both phones share a 6.5-inch 90Hz AMOLED screen, identical cameras, and 65W fast charging. The Reno 6 Pro is powered by the beefier MediaTek Dimensity 1200 chipset, and it has a slightly larger 4500mAh battery.
The Reno 6 Pro lets you shoot video with ‘cinematic bokeh.’
While the hardware itself hasn’t changed too much, OPPO is touting significant gains on the camera side of things. In an email exchange, Arif pointed to advances in computational photography as a key differentiator for the Reno 6 series. “Using computational photography, Reno 6 Series breaks through the limitations of mobile phone hardware to achieve an unprecedented level of video enhancement.”
“To achieve the type of cinematic video quality, we not only need compelling smartphone hardware but also need to make use of some clever computational photography tricks. Hardware can guarantee the lower limits of image quality, but the upper limits can only be reached through the innovation of advanced algorithms.”
OPPO is turning to computational photography to introduce a new feature on the Reno 6 series: Bokeh Flare Portrait Video. Arif says the feature will deliver “cinematic bokeh” for video recording, and that it leverages AI algorithms to “pinpoint real light sources in the background and create bokeh light spots with blurred depth-of-field portrait video effect, imitating professional cameras.”
Arif noted that OPPO has a database of over 10 million photos that it uses for training its AI models to recognize “different image scenes, the posture, and positioning of people in the images, differences in shooting angles, changes in lighting, distances between objects and the camera.” Bokeh Flare Portrait Video relies on this data, with Arif stating that the feature has an accuracy of 97%.
OPPO’s R&D center in India is driving its push in global markets.
With OPPO increasingly focusing on global markets for growth, R&D plays a key role in the brand’s progress. OPPO set up an R&D facility in Hyderabad, India — its largest outside China — and Arif says that the center focuses on “product localization and innovation in fields such as software, imaging, battery performance and communication network (5G).”
“Last year we set up our first 5G innovation lab in India. The team at the lab is working relentlessly to deepen the development of core product technologies for the 5G ecosystem and help accelerate its rollout in India,” said Arif. “While most 5G tests in India involved non-standalone models, OPPO developed their solutions on stand-alone platforms – which meant testing devices with an authentic 5G set-up. Besides working on fast deployment of 5G devices in the country, our team is also working on developing some core technologies that will cater to OPPO’s growth across global markets.”
Arif also confirmed that the Reno 6 series will have adequate 5G bands for India — the Reno 6 comes with 13 5G bands, and the Reno 6 Pro has 11 5G bands. This hasn’t been the case for a lot of devices in India, with the OnePlus 9 series in particular limited to just one or two 5G bands.
With the Reno 6 Pro, OPPO will be looking to continue the momentum that it has built with the Reno 5 series earlier in the year. With the Nord 2 also on the horizon and set to use the same hardware as the Reno 6 Pro, it’s going to be an exciting month for phone launches.