Oppo Reno 4 5G Review: Try Before You Buy

There certainly is no shortage in quality smartphones that exist in the hotly contested and somewhat difficult to signal “midrange” market in 2020. Dropping $1000 on a phone is still a sizeable investment for most, and it’s something that Oppo is keenly aware of with their latest offering. 

I’ve been using the Reno4 5G for the past few weeks (thanks to Oppo being kind enough to send one out for review), and whilst the results are mixed, I certainly respect what they’ve managed to put in consumers’ hands with this product. As the midrange offering that sits between the cheaper Reno4 Z 5G and the topline Reno4 Pro 5G, the Reno4 does more than enough to warrant a purchase – if you understand just what you’ll be getting out of the box. 

In the hand, this feels like a premium product and is topped off by a superb glow-like design on the back which has a grippy texture to make holding the Reno4 5G a pleasant experience at all times. In terms of the triple camera setup, the Reno 4 5G rocks a monster 48MP main camera and a 32MP selfie camera. There is a bit of technical mumbo jumbo worth mentioning here – such as the camera system featuring the Sony IMX586 sensor and a nifty little Ultra Steady Video feature – but on the whole, you’d be hard stretched to find better photographic capabilities on a phone at this price point.

How those capabilities are executed remains up for debate. Camera features have come to be a big selling point on the modern smartphone, and this year, Oppo has also introduced what they call the Ultra Night Video, a handy little feature for those keen to shoot in the dark. 

In terms of raw power, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G claims to boost performance but I didn’t notice anything remarkable in this area. Apps load at a similar pace to my Samsung S10, boot-up times are virtually identical, but where the Reno4 5G does win is in download times. For memory, you’re looking at 128GB of space with no option for expansion, somewhat disappointing given that many phones that are priced less than the Reno4 5G have that feature. 

All in all, on a technical and design level, the Reno4 5G should serve you just right. But there is a problem here. 

The OS being implemented by Oppo is terrible. Named ColorOS 7.2, this is similar to some of Oppo’s competitors in that it has taken its own stab at Andriod and tried to make the operating system its own. It might be a thing of personal preference and is certainly nothing close to a deal-breaker, but the needless amount of apps that come pre-built into the Reno4 5G and a difficult to maneuver OS take up what little space the product has with a user experience that I cannot describe as anything other than annoying. 

But again, that’s a slight nitpick on my behalf however certainly still a genuine criticism. 

In terms of share value, the Oppo Reno4 5G does more than enough to push itself into the forefront of your decision making if you find yourself after a solid mid-range smartphone this Christmas. Definitely try to have a go with it in-store if you can, but know you’ll be getting decent value for money regardless. 

The Oppo Reno4 5G was provided by Oppo New Zealand for the purposes of review.

iPhone 12: Same High Price But Little Innovation Once Again

As I tweeted earlier today, there is something about a brand-new smartphone (regardless of the brand) coming with no charger or crappy pair of headphones that feels grossly unnatural. Having said that, wireless charging isn’t exactly a new innovation and in the case of Apple, they’re banking on the fact that most who upgrade to the iPhone 12 will already have chargers on hand.

To give Apple a bit of credit, the iPhone 12 will come with a USB-C cable, so all the consumer needs is the wall adapter, and even then, it doesn’t have to be official spec.

Personally, I made the switch from iPhone to Samsung last Christmas, and whilst the adjustment from OS to Android took a bit of getting used too, there is nothing from today’s Apple event that makes me think I need to switch back.

Indeed, there is nothing about the iPhone 12 that really sticks out above its predecessors, and certainly nothing that makes me second-guess my well loved S10.

Here’s the thing. For me at least, the iPhone 12 is just more of the same with a slight improvement to the camera and an increased operating speed thanks to that sexy A14 Bionic chip. That might be a somewhat dull assessment, but to the average consumer like myself, that’s simply how these Apple events have come to be.

Apple events are flashy, focused, and extremely impactful marketing tools that those firmly aboard the iPhone fandom train will tune into each year. To the general consumer though, they are typically events that end with the same question, a question that starts and ends with to second guess the cost of the device in question.

And honestly, call me a bit “behind the times”, but how much better are we really expecting our smartphone cameras to get at this point? Is the camera really worth shelling out over a grand for? If that’s your market, go and spend the money on a good quality DLSR.

Priced firmly in the premium market at $1350 for its ‘cheaper’ mini version, the iPhone 12 is a hard sell given the current financial outlook for many after a year of uncertainty and job losses on mass thanks to COVID-19.

To those who can afford it, and especially those already in the Apple echo system who are looking for an upgrade, an iPhone 12 purchase makes a bit more sense.

But for the average user, and especially an Android native considering making the jump to Apple’s latest offering, the iPhone 12’s wildly overpriced $1350 just to get in the door should make for harrowing reading.

I Can’t Quit Social Media, But I Can Do It Differently

Like a lot of you, the thought of logging out of all my social media accounts and “disconnecting” has flashed through my mind a lot as of late.

Also, like a lot of you I’m sure, I was left somewhat shocked by what I learned when watching “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix recently.

Even if you aren’t on the major social media platforms, or perhaps you are and you don’t feel being on them is a problem worth considering, I’d highly recommend you take a look at the documentary.

“The Social Dilemma” doesn’t necessarily expose these tech giants for their happy willingness to do all they can to keep our eyes glued on the screen, but it confirms what some of us probably already knew if we really stopped to think about it in the first place.  

I certainly don’t like to think of myself as some sort of lab rat being experimented on, but in reality, it’s hard to argue that these social media platforms all largely started out as experiments and took off to heights that even their own developers didn’t imagine.

Sure, any business is an experiment at its beginning, but few have the potential to contribute to the negative impact on our mental health that Facebook, Twitter, and yes, even Instagram can have on our population.

Anyhow, I didn’t start this blog to write a review of “The Social Dilemma” or try to convince you that social media is bad, I want to talk about why I’m going to make a consolidated effort to lessen my time on the socials and what that could look like.

I Can’t Quite Social Media, But I Can Do It Differently

It seems somewhat disingenuous to make bold claims of lessening my time on social media, whilst at the same time writing this blog and sharing it on social media for you all to read. How else would I share it? Send a link out via an email? Maybe text it to my closest friends and family?

No, quite honestly, the only place to share a blog is on your respective social media timelines and I can guarantee that it’s on social media that you came across this in the first place.

This blog is probably one of a few things you’ll read online today, so no, the answer for me (a freelance journalist and experienced blogger) is not simply disconnecting and walking away because I’d effectively be putting a bullet to my career.

Social media is here to stay, it’s likely only going to increase I’d imagine, and it’s definitely going to be a requirement for those of us who work in the information/news/distribution spaces.

So, I’ll be sharing the content, monitoring feedback to it, and doing by best to respond to intelligent comments, but I’ll also be finding a way to utilize mass sharing using services such as Buffer or Hootsuite to do the distribution part.

But why? Why, for me personally, is limiting time on these services scrolling up and down such a bad thing? Surely, as a journalist at the very least, I need to be connected and up to date at all times?

I hear and take your point, and this is the very reason why this “experiment” to reduce time on the socials isn’t exactly knew. I’ve tried before and failed.

For me, and I wonder for a lot of you who may either be in similar situations or are considering taking on the challenge of less time on social media, it’s not a matter of disconnecting altogether but radically changing up your time on Facebook, Twitter, and especially, Instagram.

Maybe it’s just me, and let be completely honest for a moment, as someone with diagnosed depression and anxiety I’ve noticed that Instagram is a major trigger for a meltdown because it visually shows me what is often the “best” of what others are doing or the “best” of what they have going on.

So, I started this “experiment” by logging out of Instagram and I’ve promised myself I’ll only check in once every other day. That feels like a good place to start as its Instagram which seems to trigger the most.

This morning, instead of checking Twitter and endlessly scrolling through my lists (in my case, curated lists with the latest in politics, rugby, gaming, and disability) while having breakfast, I decided to just use my screen time looking at the actual news apps to see what was breaking.

There is something odd about using Twitter, a platform that is becoming more and more clouded with mis fact and division, as the first place to get my news each day. Ok, granted, I’m fully prepared to admit that using Twitter will often take me to the same official news outlets anyway because I come across a story that I need to read (both out of curiosity but also because of my profession).

It’s just the other stuff that I could so without at this point in my life. I don’t need to hear about everyone’s reaction to the news, I don’t need to see why you agree or disagree with something that Jacinda Ardern said today or why NZ Rugby is a monster organization in desperate need of change.

What I do need is time to breathe, room to concentrate on my work which as a journalist, blogger and part time communications assistant, requires discipline that clouded, information overload with a side of some 1000+ live reactions flashing across my screen simply doesn’t provide.

I’ll start here. It isn’t about disconnecting, I won’t do that, I will check in a few times a day and continue to share my latest yarns, but I’m certainly not going to be scrolling up and down trying to find ideas for the next thing or using these platforms to latch onto others who can increase my professional cred.

Everyone, it seems at least, is an entrepreneur on social media these days, myself included in large part. Our thoughts have become the primary driver behind it all, and it’s what creates so much division, because how can we disagree and still respect one another when there are no parameters to what we can share?

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be on social media. I’m saying we all need to put more time, and more value, on something that is beyond that screen that almost never leaves our side.

When writing this blog, it’s a beautiful sunny day outside. I spent my time between pages by taking a stroll down the street and enjoying the fresh air. Nothing happened, my career didn’t suddenly end. It felt great, maybe because spring is here and I’m feeling different.

Fitbit Attempting To Add Greater Health Indicators To Fitness Wearables

Wearables go hand in hand with daily fitness duties for many, but what if there was a way to use these devices to measure better metrics for long term health?

This, in a hard to explain a nutshell for a fitness dummy such as myself, appears to be exactly what Fitbit is attempting to pull off with their new Active Zone Minutes (AZM) feature.

Available on all Fitbit wearables, the AZM is a new form of heart metric that goes beyond general step activity to provide the user with greater acctivity targets for improved health and well-being.

According to Fitbit data scientist Aubrey Browne, understanding the data behind AZMs and improved understanding of health is key to users.

“Our cross-sectional analysis shows a clear association between the acquisition of AZMs and our users having the tools they need to improve their health. Now that the feature is available for the masses, we are excited to use this physical activity metric further in longitudinal analyses,” Brown said.

But what does that actually mean? Basically, an AZM is a measure of active minutes recommended to the user, a.k.a how long they should be doing different types of physical activity based on their current health, age. and lifestyle statistics already in use across Fitbit apps.

The science that has emerged to sit behind the AZM is interesting.

After launching AZM on wearables in back in March, over 20,000 Fitbit users data showed that the more AZM’s a user logs each week (through increased exercise and activity), the better long term health indicators a user sees. This is based on lower Resting Heart Rate (RHR) and Body Mass Index (BMI).

For dummies like me, think of it in these simplistic terms:

With the AZM feature enabled on your Fitbit wearable, and assuming you’re engaged in a certain amount of physical activity (whether that be Yoga, going for a run, dance class etc), you’ll soon be presented with a metric that can predict certain long term health indicators based on individual data.

I know, it’s all ranging into the territory of over the head mumbo jumbo for those who simply want to be a bit more active and lose a bit of weight.

But at least Fitbit are doing what they can to track what you’re currently doing from more than a purely data collection perspective and are entering into greater health tracking indication.

Fitbit Joining The COVID-19 Fight With ‘Cheaper’ New Ventilator

Last week, Fitbit announced what they’re calling the Fitbit Flow, a low-cost emergency ventilator that will be available in the United States and around the world for COVID-19 patients when there are shortages of traditional ventilators.

Current estimates show that the number of ventilators in the United States range from 60,000 to 160,000, far below the 2M confirmed cases.

Seeing an opportunity to help respond to the urgent need both now and into the future, Fitbit Flow has quickly been granted Emergency Use Authorisation by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for use on people in need.

Fitbit co-founder and CEO James Park says that the experience the company has with sensor development and a global supply chain made the task of producing a fit for purpose, cheaply priced ventilator a wise decision.

“We saw an opportunity to rally our expertise in advanced sensor development, manufacturing, and our global supply chain to address the critical and ongoing need for ventilators and help make a difference in the global fight against this virus”, Park said.

Specifically designed to be easy to use, it’s also hoped that the Fitbit Flow will help reduce the strain on highly specialized who are typically required to operate a commercial ventilator.

Fitbit Flow builds on standard resuscitator bags, like those used by paramedics, with sophisticated instruments, sensors, and alarms that work together to support automated compressions and patient monitoring.

During development and testing, Fitbit consulted with Oregon Health & Science University emergency medicine clinicians caring for COVID-19 patients at OHSU Hospital and worked with several other working groups on the design to meet the needs of practitioners.