Since the launch of the OnePlus 7T (review) a couple of months ago, I’ve firmly believed that its been by far, the best smartphone anyone could buy in 2019 if clout for cash was the only thing to care about. It’s the phone that perhaps won-back OnePlus a moniker that initially meant nothing more than a marketing catchphrase for its first smartphone: ‘flagship killer’.
Over the past couple of years, Xiaomi’s tried its luck at getting at OnePlus, with the launch of the POCO F1 and the Redmi K20 Pro (review). While both phones were well received, they weren’t quite as good as OnePlus’ offerings. But that’s about to change and that challenge is being set by relative newcomer, Realme and their first attempt at a flagship – the Realme X2 Pro.
The Realme X2 Pro balances a packed-out spec sheet with a competitive price and an improved user experience. Sounds unreal but Realme’s managed to do it. The Realme X2 Pro packs the most powerful hardware that is currently available for smartphones. Whether it’s the chipset, display, battery or the camera, the X2 Pro does all of it but at a price that starts at just INR 29,999.
In fact, if you look at the spec sheet, you’ll struggle to find a single area where Realme’s cut corners. But being the ‘flagship killer’ clearly wasn’t what team Realme for aiming for while launching the phone in India. They wanted to flip things on their head and for that, they also threw in something that’s class-leading: 50W SuperVOOC fast charging juices the phone up from 0-100% in just over 30 minutes.
That said, the entire point of this review is to tell you if the phone actually does as well as its specs sheet suggests and the short answer to that is a yes. But, like every piece of technology, it isn’t perfect.
Battery Life and 50W Fast-Charging Goodness Out Of The Box
With 4,000mAh being the standard for smartphone batteries these days, the Realme X2 Pro is pretty average in that department. Nevertheless, our testing showed impressive results, and I was easily able to go a full day without needing to top up, even with heavy usage including at least an hour of gaming.
But that’s not the icing on the cake. That’s the SuperVOOC Flash Charge support that the Realme X2 Pro brings to the table, and it’s unbelievably fast. The whopping 50W charger, included in the box, takes the device from dead to full in just over 33 minutes. But I did notice the phone get warm while plugged in and even though that felt normal, I hope it doesn’t have a bearing on the overall battery longevity.
This was probably expected given the hardware, but the Realme X2 Pro doesn’t drop a sweat when it comes to performance. The use of the top-of-the-line processor and RAM configurations means this device will do anything and everything that you ask it to do. I tested a bunch of heavy 3D gaming titles, including PUBG Mobile, Fortnite Mobile, Call of Duty Mobile and Asphalt 9: Legends and the X2 Pro held its own. I’ve yet to experience any lag or frame drops whilst gaming with the Realme X2 Pro, which bundled with the 90Hz display, makes it the best Android phone to game on if your budget tops off at 30k.
To top that off, even the base variant of the Realme X2 Pro offers UFS 3.0 data transfer speed. This would be news for people who still like to manually transfer media to-and-from their phones or even if you’re someone who likes to shoot a lot of video on your phone.
The Motorola Moto G8 Plus (review) I reviewed before moving on to the Realme X2 Pro had surprisingly good speakers, but I had no complaints here. The phone features a stereo speaker setup with the earpiece doubling up as the left output and they sound great.
Great is pretty vague a term to describe audio performance but what I mean is that the audio seem quite refined.
A Display Worth Of Heavy Media Consumption And Gaming
High refresh rate displays are in right now, and Realme isn’t waiting around for their next flagship to jump on the bandwagon., The X2 Pro a silky-smooth 90Hz Super AMOLED panel. The 6.5-inch Full HD+ screen, topped with Gorilla Glass 5, is impressive to say the least.
At over 480 nits, the Realme X2 Pro’s display gets surprisingly bright, making outdoor viewing easy even on a bright Sunday afternoon. As for sharpness, I found the X2 Pro to perform admirably, providing more than adequate detail in all scenarios tested, including reading fine text from a zoomed-out article.
The screen isn’t incredibly color accurate, but Realme generally does a commendable job with calibration and that stays true for the X2 Pro. If I had to nit-pick, I did notice a minor shift towards cooler tones in both Vivid and Gentle modes. I didn’t notice this right way but if you were to view a photograph on the X2 Pro’s display and see the same photo on a MacBook Pro, you can clearly see the cooler hue.
Shooting Video and Vlogging
If you’re someone who likes to vlog on the go using your phone or just someone who shoots a lot of video content, you’re going to love the Realme X2 Pro. There’s no OIS here but Realme’s done a commendable job with its EIS implementation which even works at 4K 60fps.
The same applies to the 16MP selfie shooter in the front which offers great dynamic range for vlogging.
What’s Not Smashable
Sturdy Build Quality But It Doesn’t Feel As Premium As The OnePlus 7T
It’s easy to see where the Realme X2 Pro gets its looks from — the rear and sides of the device remind me a lot of the Realme X. From the centrally-placed camera housing to the aluminum rail that lines the sides of the device, the two phones definitely share some DNA. The main difference here is that the X2 Pro’s back is now glass over the plastic used last time around, leading to a more premium-feeling device.
Smartphones with large display sizes are quite common and add to that a sizably large battery unit and the use of glass on either side and you end up getting a phone which tends to become bulky. While OnePlus managed to keep the 7T’s form factor slim, that is not entirely the case with the X2 Pro. The device is slightly thicker and it doesn’t sit as well in your hand.
Its form factor isn’t drastically different from the 7T but the metal frame and the glass (Gorilla Glass 5) back have sharper edges on the X2 Pro. That said, the build quality is great and Realme hasn’t cut any corners in durability, an area where we did see Xiaomi cut corners last year with the POCO F1.
The notch on the top almost identical to the one on the OnePlus 7T. Keeping them side-by-side, it was difficult to tell the difference between the two. The X2 Pro also comes with an in-display fingerprint sensor that is visibly faster than that on the OnePlus 7T.
ColorOS Needs More Polish
I’ve never been a fan of ColorOS in the past and that’s mostly because of the heavy-feeling collection of bloatware and the overly playfully colored icons. Realme has made some significant changes to the look of ColorOS with version 6.1, including a tidier notification shade and a reduction in bloat applications. These changes, on top of the 90Hz display, make the experience feel leaps ahead of what it once was.
However, it’s far from close to catching up with OnePlus’ OxygenOS in terms of polish. Default apps on the phone still seem cluttered, especially the camera app. The infamous App Market, the Hot Apps suggested apps folder, and many other preinstalled apps just add a bit of annoyance even though I’ve learnt to ignore them over time.The infamous App Market, the Hot Apps suggested apps folder, and many other preinstalled apps just add a bit of annoyance even though I’ve learnt to ignore them over time.
There’s no visible stuttering in the UI while scrolling or switching apps. Paired with the super-smooth 90Hz display, you won’t really complain in terms of functionality if you like the overall looks. For me, the overly colourful and clunky icons aren’t appealing enough. The system-wide dark mode is thoughtful but it does mess up the font colors on apps that aren’t quite ready with their implementation of dark mode just yet, for example, Facebook, Zomato and even WhatsApp.
Overall Camera Quality Can Be Bettered Through Updates
With a 64MP main camera, 8MP ultra-wide camera, 13MP telephoto camera, and 2MP depth camera, Realme has really packed a lot of versatility into this quad-camera setup, but I wasn’t as happy with the images shot, when compared to the likes of the OnePlus 7T.
There is a lot of flexibility in taking different types of shots with the quad-camera system on the rear. It goes all the way up to 20x using digital zoom; allows you to take nice ultra-wide shots and also some decent-looking portraits and pet shots.
The 64MP primary sensor can take some really detailed, natural-looking shots when the subject is well lit. The 2X telephoto lens also does a good job at getting you closer to the subject (the wideangle is fun too, but dynamic range does take a considerable hit). You’re sure to get some great-looking food photos for Instagram, provided there’s adequate light.
In low-lighting conditions, is where the camera falls apart. The images don’t look bad but when you zoom in, the details are all hazy. The phone does have a night mode, that’s also called Nightscape just like OnePlus. However, it isn’t as good. It does manage to tone down the highlights but the added exposure introduces noise which ultimately takes contrast levels for a toss. The OnePlus 7T certainly does a better job here.
The Realme X2 Pro is the unequivocal flagship killer of 2019 and to be fair, its beaten OnePlus at its own game. A Fluid 90Hz display, top of the line internals, super fast charging and a quad-camera system with a 64 MP primary sensor, all packed inside the phone starting at a super competitive price of INR 29,999 – definitely has the competition scratching their heads.
The one reason why I’d still shell out an addition INR 8,000 is for the better software experience (which includes timely software updates) and better cameras. But then again, both of these areas where the Realme X2 Pro falls marginally behind the competition are shortcomings which can be bettered through software updates.
Even if I completely ignore that, there’s no denying the sheer value that the X2 Pro offers. There’s also a higher configuration with 12 GB RAM and 256 GB of storage that’s priced at INR 33,999 and another special edition called the Realme X2 Pro Master Edition that has a unique design is priced at INR 34,999.
The benchmark for budget flagships have been set and Realme currently sits pretty on that throne.