Realme has just come out with two new devices which has brought the total number of Realme phones to 5 in 2020 and this is just early March. By releasing smartphones at such short intervals, Realme has taken every competitor in all price segments, sans the premium flagship segment, head-on. The Realme X50 Pro (review) was an affordable flagship aimed at the iQOO 3 (review) and OnePlus 7T (review). The Realme X2 Pro (review) was a mid-tier phone aimed at the Redmi K20 Pro (review) and Oppo F15 (review). The Realme XT (review) looked to overthrow the budget king Redmi Note 8 Pro (review). Now the launch of the POCO X2 (review) in February has forced Realme’s hand to better their competing products at a much faster rate and the Realme 6 series is the answer.
The Realme 6 Pro, launched just a couple of days ago, happens to be the former OPPO sub-brand’s answer to both the POCO X2 and also the upcoming Redmi Note 9 Pro. Affordable phones were content with a reasonably okay chipsets, decent cameras, and average displays just two years back. Not anymore. Now we have specs like 8nm-based chipsets, up to 8GB of RAM, 64MP cameras, 90Hz FHD+ displays, and 30W fast charging. All of this is packaged at a price starting from Rs 16,999 in the case of the Realme 6 Pro. With this device, it has become quite obvious that the company is going all guns blazing to counter Xiaomi’s dominance in the budget smartphone space. I believe that Realme has created a compelling affordable phone. Read on to find why.
The Realme 6 Pro is an efficient powerhouse with the right balance of performance and battery consumption. The 90Hz display is really the cherry on top and as with many Realme phones before it, there is really not much to complain. Although the pricing this time around is higher than before, I really think the Realme 6 Pro is worth your consideration for a budget under Rs 20,000.
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Design and display
Dual-tone gradient finishes are all the rage right now on smartphones and the Realme has been on the bandwagon for a while now. However, the implementation I’ve seen on the Realme 6 Pro is really trippy. The Lightning Blue colour variant that I’ve received has a shimmering ‘S’ shape in the centre which looks like it is racing out and fading into the bluish hues on the side every time you look at it from different angles. The unibody polycarbonate back, that has adorned the back of Realme phones since its inception (with the exception of Realme X50 Pro), is present on the 6 Pro and it makes the device less prone to slipping. However, the glossy finish means that the phone is still a fingerprint magnet.
Since the Realme XT, the Chinese brand has positioned all its quad-camera arrays vertically on the top left. The Realme 6 Pro is no different and I’ve to say for all the awesomeness of this new gradient design, the same design language from Realme for so many of its recent phones has become very repetitive, bordering on boring. The phone’s bottom has the Type-C port, headphone jack, and a speaker grille while the left side of the device has the volume rocker. There is a side-mounted capacitive fingerprint sensor on the right which doubles up as the power button as well. While the phone does not pack in a beefy battery per se, I still felt slightly more weight on the phone that I would’ve wanted. Flipping the phone over we see a clear inspiration from the Realme X50 Pro with the dual punch-hole cutout, thin bezels on the side and a tiny chin. As a matter of fact, it would be impossible to discern either phone from the front.
The Realme 6 Pro offers an IPS LCD panel, instead of AMOLED. This becomes quite apparent when you take a look at the corners of the punch hole and see backlight bleeding around it. However, this hasn’t been a deterrent to my viewing experience on the device. As I’ve mentioned before in my reviews, I have always preferred a punch hole to any kind of notch or pop-up camera. While you do not get the high dynamic range and deep blacks of an AMOLED display, for the purpose of consuming content, the Realme 6 Pro’s LCD display is quite good.
Overall a bright and colourful display, the phone also employs a high refresh rate of 90Hz which is much easier to produce on an LCD panel than on an OLED. While 90Hz is not the extremely buttery smooth 120Hz that is seen on the POCO X2, in my experience most people will not be able to tell the difference as much as they can tell coming from a normal 60Hz display to a 90Hz. A big advantage of high refresh rate displays, which is quite likely going to become a norm on upcoming phones, is the added perception of smooth performance thanks to fluid animations and effortless scrolling. The phone also lets users set the refresh rate to auto so that the phone can effectively switch between 90 and 60Hz according to the support in the app. The usual display features are there, including Eye Care, Dark Mode, and the ability to adjust the colour temperature.
We get the same set of optics on the Realme 6 Pro as the company has put on its most expensive flagship device, the X50 Pro. However, don’t expect the same camera quality, as the latter comes with a much better Spectra 480 ISP which is integrated with the Snapdragon 865 SoC. That being said, the Realme 6 Pro clicks impressive photos for a phone of its price tag. We get a 64MP Samsung ISOCELL sensor as the primary lens and it is supported by an 8MP ultrawide sensor, 12MP telephoto sensor, and a 2MP depth sensor.
At this point, it seems prudent to mention that Realme’s budget series has always been a favourite of mine as far as daytime photography is concerned with the only exception being the Realme 3 Pro. The Samsung ISOCELL sensor used in Realme may not be as good as Sony’s IMX686 used by POCO X2 but to the untrained eye, which is mostly going to be the market for the Realme 6 Pro, there will be no discernible difference. Realme has usually always handled details, dynamic range and exposure quite well and as such the 6 Pro also gets the same qualities. However, the camera is pumping up the colour saturation to unnaturally high levels which is not to my taste. For example, the leaves on trees turn fluorescent green instead of the light green colour they have, and the sky is turned into a darker shade of blue even though the weather outside is overcast. This problem disappears while shooting indoors which leads me to believe that Realme’s AI scene detection is responsible for this saturation. You can turn it off in the settings menu if you have a taste for natural colours, though using it will give you much more Instagram-worthy images.
Low-light photography also has me impressed with the main camera capturing in a lot of details without using the dedicated night mode. As a matter of fact, I rarely felt any need to use the Night mode since the AI Scene recognition automatically captures an exposed shot in low-lighting. Results have generally been favourable, although sometimes noise can be a problem. The night mode will churn out more soothing photos with the caveat being you have to keep your hands extremely still. I believe most people will tilt towards flash photography in the night anyways which by the way, is also quite good.
There other sensors as well and they serve their purpose well if the lighting is enough. The 8MP ultrawide sensor has obviously a bigger frame to capture than the primary lens but it sacrifices quality and detailing to achieve it. While most of the photos are generally quite good, the lack of lighting can affect the images adversely. The same goes for the 12MP telephoto lens which offers 2X optical zoom and up to 5X hybrid zoom. The addition of the depth camera gives you good bokeh shots and also allows for adjusting the background blur to your liking.
On the front, we have the 16MP primary selfie shooter complemented by an 8MP ultra-wide sensor which I prefer more than the depth sensor that quite a few phones have. Selfies are crisp and detailed and I’m quite happy that my facial features haven’t been smoothened out. Background separation is also quite good in portrait mode with a soft blur which falls easy on the eye. In low light however, the sensor will struggle with finding a face but it can be remedied by using the screen flash.
Performance and software
Historically, the Pro version of any smartphone will always have better performance than the non-pro version. I thought that to be the case for the Realme 6 Pro as well. However, it turns out the new Snapdragon 720G chipset on the device is not faster than the MediaTek Helio G90T seen on the Realme 6. This much has been confirmed by Realme itself on stage during the live stream of its launch event. Running the AnTuTu benchmarks on both the device actually shows a score of 280,681 points for the 6 Pro as compared to 291,216 for the Realme 6. In the run of things, the real-world performance for both the devices is going to be more or less the same, which leads me to believe that Realme 6 Pro is not tilting towards performance to make its mark.
This by no means implies that the Realme 6 Pro is a slouch in day-to-day tasks. All apps thrown at the phone run with ease and the 8GB RAM variant keeps the apps open for a long time. Running graphical intensive tasks happens to be a specialty of the Snapdragon 720G and as such there was little to no lag while playing PUBG Mobile on the highest settings. Of course, these settings were locked at only High for both graphics and frame rate instead of Extreme due to hardware limitations. Call of Duty Mobile also has the same settings as the Ultra graphics and anti-aliasing options not available. I was quite impressed with the heat management on the device with the phone getting only a couple of degrees hotter after nearly an hour of intensive gaming.
Since the Realme 6 Pro, like the POCO X2, is using the capacitive variety for fingerprint authentication, it is ultra-fast, to say the least. The good thing about the side-mounted sensor is that when I press the power button the phone automatically unlocks, which is a feeling I’ve forgotten since using the Sony Xperia Z3. The face authentication is similarly fast although if efficiency is something you are looking for you want to rely on the fingerprint authentication. Speaker, mic and earphone quality were good as expected.
Android 10-based Realme UI runs on the Realme 6 Pro and I’ve already reviewed it on the Realme X50 Pro. If you want finer details about the platform you can read it in my detailed review of the X50 Pro. In summary, it’s a lot like stock Android, simple and easy to navigate, bloatware is at a minimum, has lots of customisation options, and no ads.
The Realme 6 Pro packs in a 4,300mAh battery with a 30W charging solution. Our standard battery test on the phone saw it last about 25 hours which was an hour more than the POCO X2 which has a 4,500mAh battery. Both the phones were tested at 60Hz refresh rate. Obviously you will want to use the fluid 90Hz setting all the time so here’s how my real-world usage of the device stands. I have about three social media accounts active at all times along with Slack and Telegram accounts for handling office work. Apart from that I watch on a daily about 2 hours of Netflix while commuting and play on an average about an hour of CoD Mobile. With all of that the Realme 6 Pro easily lasted me the full day without a hiccup. Even if the battery is not enough for your usage the phone packs in the 30W fast charging solution which will completely juice up your device in less than an hour and 50 percent in just 20 minutes.
I can see people gravitating towards the Realme 6 Pro simple because it has a set of worthy cameras and a more than capable 90Hz display. What the 6 Pro lacks in performance, it more than makes up for it in the design department. With respect to its main competition right now, the POCO X2, I can only say that the latter has a 120Hz display to better the Realme 6 Pro, but that is not really a significant bragging right since the Realme 6 Pro has a comparable 90Hz display. The Snapdragon 720G chipset on the Realme 6 Pro bests the POCO X2’s 730G by a small margin. Design is an ambiguous matter but personally I prefer the Realme 6 Pro’s design over the POCO X2. The Realme 6 Pro also faired better in our standard battery test. Cameras might be a roll of the dice for either phone but I personally would tilt towards the POCO X2, partly because it uses a Sony 64MP sensor and also there is less saturation in photos.
Then there is also the fact that Xiaomi will be announcing the Redmi Note 9 Pro on March 12th which will surely amp up the competition. The affordable segment is the most competitive of all the price segments and there will never be a clear winner. However, I can say this with complete confidence that you will not regret buying the Realme 6 Pro. Even so, I would advise potential buyers to wait for the Redmi Note 9 Pro before making any decision as I’m sure Redmi will have something up its sleeves.
Editor’s rating: 4 / 5
- Fluid 90Hz refresh rate experience
- Amazing design
- Software is customisable
- Primary camera is quite good
- Chipset is weaker than Realme 6’s MediaTek G90T
- Low-light selfies are not good