Bloch-Zener oscillations (BZO), i.e. the interplay between Bloch oscillations and Zener tunneling in two-band lattices under an external dc force, are ubiquitous in different areas of wave physics, including photonics. While in Hermitian systems such oscillations are rather generally aperiodic and only accidentally periodic, in non-Hermitian (NH) lattices BZO can show a transition from aperiodic to periodic as a NH parameter in the system is varied. Remarkably, the phase transition can be either smooth or sharp, contrary to other types of NH phase transitions which are universally sharp. A discrete-time photonic quantum walk on a synthetic lattice is suggested for an experimental observation of smooth BZO phase transitions.