From ‘Proud to be Young‘ to ‘Dare to Leap‘, Realme, has grown up as a brand in the past one year itself. The company has continued to expand rapidly, while fending off increased competition from not just its arch-rival Xiaomi, but companies like Samsung too, which have opted for an aggressive stance to protect their market share. With its latest smartphone however, Realme isn’t just focusing on the specs, but the design too. Dubbed the Realme X (first impressions), I’ve been using the handset for the past one week and now it’s time to find out whether it has what it takes to take the brand to the next level.
Specs at a glance
|Resolution||1080 x 2340 pixels|
|CPU||Dual core, 2.2 GHz + Hexa Core, 1.7 GHz, Snapdragon 710|
|Internal memory||64 GB|
|Capacity||3765 mAH, Li-ion, Non removable|
|Primary camera||48 MP|
|Secondary camera||16 MP|
|Network support||Dual SIM 4G|
|Other options||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS|
|Operating system||Android 9.0 Pie|
The best way to look at the Realme X is to consider it as the Realme 3 Pro (review) that has undergone cosmetic surgery in order to offer an immersive viewing area, while improving the imaging performance. With a starting price tag of Rs 16,999 for the 4GB RAM variant, Realme’s latest scores high on almost every aspect as the review below would delve into. It’s also interesting that the higher-end version ships with 8GB of RAM, and there isn’t any 6GB model, which justifies the Rs 19,999 sticker price for this edition.
Design and display
Dimensions: 161.2 x 76 x 9.4 mm
Weight: 191 grams
If you’re a tech enthusiast, I’m sure Realme X’s vegetable-inspired design convention, when it was announced in May in China, must’ve caught your attention. The brand joined hands with noted Japanese designer Naoto Fukasawa to create unique colours and textures for its latest offering, christened Onion and Garlic editions. While they are special variants and I haven’t got either of them for review purposes, I’ve to say that initial apprehension aside, they do offer a unique look and their texture also make for a better grip.
Coming back to the unit that I have with me — it’s the Polar White colourway, which I daresay, exudes premiumness from the word get-go. The other blue hue is also quite classy. Of course, the fact that the device features an impressive screen-to-body ratio of 91.24 percent also captures one’s imagination.
Not just from afar, the Realme X continues to impress you when you hold it in the hand. That’s because even though it has a dominating form factor, its weight has been distributed well across the body. In fact, it tips the scales at 191g, and doesn’t seem bulky even while holding it with a single hand. Speaking of that, you would need to resort to using two hands to operate the phone as it’s difficult to reach the corners of the display single-handedly.
On the plus side, that means you are getting a large screen real estate of 6.53-inches to consume multimedia content and playing games. The AMOLED panel bears a resolution of 1,080 x 2,340 pixels, ensuring good sharpness levels and punchy output. Brightness is more than enough too and I didn’t need to squint my eyes to read what’s on the display in harsh summers of Delhi. I didn’t face any issues with the viewing angles either.
As far as design elements are concerned, the Realme X sports the power toggle on the right spine, whereas the volume keys are placed on the left. The top holds the housing for the pop-up selfie camera, whereas the base is choc-a-block with a USB Type-C socket, a 3.5mm port and a speaker grille.
The minimalistic aesthetics continue over to the back, with a pair of snappers aligned vertically in the centre. There’s no physical fingerprint sensor, while the Realme logo can be found further below. The curved edges and rounded corners make the Realme X all the more ergonomic, while the white colour reflects colours in a unique rainbow-like hue that makes it quite attractive. Sadly, the glossy surface means that the device gathers fingerprints and smudges rather easily. It’s also quite slippery, which is why, I’d recommend you use the bundled case. The cover has a textured pattern which offers good grip, though it’s odd to see a protective flap for the Type-C charging socket, which is quite irksome every time you want to juice up the handset or transfer data.
For security, Realme has opted for an under-display fingerprint scanner as well as face unlock. The optical fingerprint reader works really well; it’s fast and accurate and can easily compete with physical modules. You could also customise the fingerprint animation. The face unlock mechanism, on the other hand, is pretty good too considering the pop-up camera takes just 0.74 seconds as per the brand’s claims to elevate from the body, and hence manages to authenticate the user in a jiffy. It also works in low-light situations by making use of screen illumination, though unsurprisingly, it fails to recognise in dark environments.
Primary camera: 48 MP
Flash: LED Flash
Secondary camera: 16 MP
The Realme X joins the rare list of mid-tier smartphones with Sony’s IMX 586 48-megapixel f/1.7 primary camera. The shooter has been paired with a 5-meg depth-sensing sensor. The device offers all the usual features, including PDAF and EIS (sadly there’s no optical stabilisation), 4K video recording, and slow-mo video shooting capabilities among others. For selfies, the elevating module hides a 16MP Sony IMX 471 unit with an aperture of f/2.0.
In terms of the camera interface, the viewfinder is exactly the same as other Realme devices. In the portrait orientation, you get the shutter key in the middle at the bottom, with the selfie camera switch on one side and preview gallery on the other. Above it, you’ll find different modes like Photo, Video, Portrait, with the remaining ones hidden away in the options menu letting you access Nightscape, Panorama, Expert mode, Time-Lapse and Slow-mo. You can also get AI-enabled beauty mode, while the top row offers toggles for flash, HDR mode, Chromaboost, filters and a settings gear.
We’ve already been impressed by the IMX 586’s prowess in a number of devices, and the Realme X is no different. Let’s talk about the camera capabilities in detail:
1) In the default 12MP mode, the images are full of detail and colours are reproduced quite well too. The image processing is tuned towards saturation ala Samsung phones, which means a pleasing output, though in some cases, it does seem artificial.
2) The image processing works well across scenarios, be it daylight or landscapes, as well as close-ups. However, the 2x zoom mode is actually digital zoom since the device lacks a telephoto lens.
3) Talking about portrait mode, the secondary snapper helps in capturing depth information to ensure well cut-out subject from the background.
4) As has been the case with the Sony sensor, the 48MP resolution increases the sharpness levels, but in normal situations, it may not be needed as such. Worth noting that I’d set HDR to auto, as the mode does enhance the pictures by improving the contrast.
5) Special mention goes to the Chromaboost mode that also helps in offering better contrast levels and differentiation between highlights and shadows, when used in such situations.
6) Thanks to 4-in-1 pixel tech, otherwise known as pixel-binning, images captured in dim settings are amazing, with noise levels kept to the minimum. You could also enable the Nightscape mode, which utilises AI and multi-frame noise-reduction tech to offer better dynamic range in low-light situations.
7) The Realme X shoots good videos with the device being able to shift the focus quickly. Sadly though, due to the lack of optical stabilisation, the results aren’t as smooth as they could have been.
8) For selfies, the device offers a well-detailed output, although the image seems to be quite soft even with the beauty mode set to zero. The software-enabled bokeh mode does work quite well though.
Now instead of trying to impress you being verbose about the camera quality of the Realme X, here’s a gallery of camera samples for your viewing pleasure.
We’ve already proclaimed the Realme 3 Pro as one of the better shooters in the sub-Rs 20k segment, so here’s a gander at how the smartphone competes with its sibling, the Realme X. At first glance, the 3 Pro seems to be better in terms of detail as it ships with a 16MP snapper, as compared to default 12MP output by the Realme X. However, if you notice closely, then the newest offering from Realme seems to have done a better job for keeping noise in check and offering better colour science. The same remains the case in the dim environment, for the Realme X has superior sharpness levels. You could also see how the Nightscape mode has improved, as it’s faster and improves the shot even further.
Comparing the Realme X with another 48MP camera-toting smartphone, the Redmi Note 7 Pro (review), the level of details are the same. But those who prefer oversaturated colours will like the Realme X more. In poorly-lit conditions however, the Note 7 Pro comes out ahead as it ensures that the shot isn’t overexposed. The superiority continues while pitting the night modes on both these phones too.
Hardware and software
CPU: Dual core, 2.2 GHz + Hexa Cor…
GPU: Adreno 616
RAM: 4 GB
Memory: 64 GB
SIM Slots: Dual SIM , GSM+GSM
Battery: 3765 mAH
While the Realme X had enough differences against the Realme 3 Pro till now, the devices share the same innards. That’s not to say that it’s a bad thing as the Snapdragon 710 SoC is one of the best processors in this segment, offering an octa-core chip clocked at 2.2GHz. The capable silicon is paired with 8 gigs of RAM, promising effortless multitasking. The combination is quite solid, and during my review period, there was nary an instance where the phone gave up while switching between tasks or running heavy apps.
The Adreno 612 GPU offers great gaming experience as well, which is enhanced with the immersive screen on the Realme X. I played PUBG Mobile and Asphalt 9: Legends on the device, and didn’t find any issues, save for some frame drops here and there.
The good thing is that it doesn’t heat up even after 45 minutes of gaming, all thanks to the brand’s gel cooling technology utilising copper foil, graphite flakes and aluminium alloy. Sadly, the battery drains fast while gaming, as I noted a 25 percent drop after 45 mins of playing Asphalt 9: Legends.
For storage, the Realme X is available with 128GB memory onboard, which should be more than enough for storing a multitude of files and apps or games. Worth noting however, that the device doesn’t support storage expansion.
Software-wise, Realme’s X boots Android 9.0 Pie-based Color OS 6.0. And if you’ve used a Realme or OPPO phone before, then you’ll know what all the experience entails. My only gripe with the interface is a lot of preloaded bloatware and the fact that you get a lot of incessant notifications from apps like NewsPoint (though they can be uninstalled). There’s also Smart Assistant in the left-most homescreen, offering app shortcuts, calendar, weather info, and step tracker among others.
With regards to audio output, the Realme X ships with a single speaker grille at the bottom. While it’s quite loud, its placement isn’t ideal as it gets muffled by your fingers when the handset is held in the landscape orientation. For those who love listening to music or watching movies with the 3.5mm headset socket, the device offers Dolby Atmos support.
The Realme X is fuelled by a powerful 3,765mAh battery. The cell manages to make sure that the device can stay away from the charger for about 24 hours, if not more. Even with heavy usage, I was able to use the phone without any battery anxiety. This was reflected in our battery loop test as well, since the handset achieved a runtime of around 17 hours. And when you run out of juice, then all you need to is to plug in the bundled VOOC 3.0 Flash Charge-compatible 20W adapter that can fuel the handset up to 50 percent in 30 minutes. Charging from 10 to 100 percent levels took about 90 minutes, though.
The Realme smartphone falls smack dab in the middle of the super-competitive mid-budget segment, and that means that prospective buyers are spoilt for choice.
Now the way I see it is deciding what’s important for you in a smartphone. If you’re simply looking for a performance-oriented handset, then you could save some money and opt for the Realme 3 Pro or the Snapdragon 712-equipped Vivo Z1 Pro (review). The Vivo handset is also more versatile in the camera department as it ships with a triple camera setup on the back, and packs a high-res 32MP selfie shooter. On the other hand, if you could shell out a couple of thousand more, then the upcoming Redmi K20 is also worth watching out for, as it brings the powerful Snapdragon 730 chipset along with a pop-up selfie shooter, just like the Realme X.
As mentioned above, there’s no dearth of capable options in the sub-Rs 20k segment. But what works in the Realme X’s favour is that it offers a powerful package for a price that its rivals aren’t able to match.
Editor’s rating: 4 / 5
- An impressive screen-to-body ratio
- Smooth performance
- Great imaging experience
- Long-lasting battery with fast charging support
- Slippery build
- Software experience could’ve been better
Photos by Raj Rout