Realme X review: Offers everything you need under Rs 20,000
When I tried the Realme X a few months ago in China, I said that the phone had the right combination of features that could make it a winner in India, if it was priced right. Well, the Realme X is now in India with a starting price of Rs 16,999, which is quite impressive for this feature-packed premium device. The Realme X comes with a large, notchless Super AMOLED display, 48MP dual camera setup, pop-up selfie camera, an in-display fingerprint sensor and VOOC 3.0 fast charging. On top of that you get a pretty powerful Snapdragon 710 chipset as well and 128GB of internal storage.
Now, many people were expecting the Realme X to feature a Snapdragon 730 SoC rather than the Snapdragon 710, especially considering it will take on the Redmi K20 soon. After all, the Realme 3 Pro also comes with a SD710, and at a cheaper price point. Should the Realme X have offered a Snapdragon 730 chip at this price? Maybe. Is it disappointing that it comes with a Snapdragon 710 SoC? Not at all.
In my review of the Realme X, I will look at all the ways the phone comes together nicely and a few places where it could have offered more.
Realme X Design
The best way to describe the Realme X would be to call it a refined version of the Realme 3 Pro. I loved the look of the Realme 3 Pro when I reviewed the device earlier this year. It offered an attractive Dewdrop display and a unique glasstic back with racetrack lines. It looked premium for its price. The Realme X takes it a few notches higher as far as design goes, and is easily one of the best looking phones in its segment.
The Realme X looks extremely polished and feels like a 2019 phone. The bezels are even thinner than what we saw on the Realme 3 Pro. In fact, the top and sides offer practically no bezel at all. There's no notch, no punch-hole and essentially zero distractions. The chin is the only sliver of bezel you'll find. So what you're left with is a near bezel-less display, keeping the screen as the main attraction. But more about the display later.
So, by removing the notch, Realme had to hide the selfie camera in a pop-up mechanism that rises from the top center of the frame. It's one of the more snappier pop-up cameras in this segment as it is able to rise up and unlock the phone using facial recognition well under a second.
While the phone does support face unlock, it's the in-display fingerprint sensor that I found myself using more often. This is because the optical under screen sensor is surprisingly fast at unlocking the device and does not require you to press your thumb down too hard. Using the fingerprint sensor felt convenient and intuitive as it would be ready to read your fingerprint every time you lift the phone.
With an in-display fingerprint sensor, the rear panel is now cleaner than ever. You get a vertical dual camera setup near the center of the panel and the Realme logo on the bottom, but that's it. This makes the device look clean and minimalistic. The panel is plastic rather than glass, which may disappoint some people who feel glass is more premium. But the Realme X still feels premium nonetheless. The panel has a sweet curve around the sides, which makes it comfortable to hold a phone as large as this.
The Realme X comes in two colour options - gradient blue and gradient white. I checked out both and but my favorite by far is the white option, which is what I received for my review as well. The white colour gives the Realme X an elegant and sophisticated look while the prism-like gradient effect adds that touch of flavour. The purple-blue gradient looks good as well, but it is now a pretty common choice for most brands right now.
Another reason I prefer the white colour option is because you get a stainless steel-like shiny metal frame that makes the phone look that much more premium and almost iPhone XS-like. Over time, this frame might show more visible scratches, but it looks great during the early days. The power button is placed on the right side and has a yellow accent on it which is subtle but a nice touch. The SIM tray is just above it which will hold two Nano SIM cards. Unfortunately, the Realme X doesn't not offer a microSD card slot for storage expansion which is the first downside. To make up for it, the company is offering both 4GB and 8GB RAM variants with 128GB of internal storage, which should be good enough to store pictures, video and music data.
The left side of the frame has the volume keys. All the buttons are placed near the middle of the frame which makes it easy to reach and use. The bottom of the frame sees a 3.5mm headphone jack, a Type-C port and a speaker grille. The phone around 191 grams which is on the heavier side. It is also quite large, which means you will find it a little difficult to reach the top of the display with one hand.
Realme X Display
The display is, of course, the main attraction of the Realme X. The company is offering a bezel-less screen for the ultimate viewing experience. The 6.5-inch display looks large and fantastic which is also because Realme has used a Super AMOLED panel which offers dep and vibrant colours. The Realme X offers a FHD+ (2340x1080) resolution and 394 ppi pixel density.
The Realme X offers excellent brightness levels that is enough to make it visible outdoors under bright sunlight. Viewing angles are great and the display itself offers good white balance and deep blacks, which makes it perfect for watching videos and playing games.
While the Realme X offers a stunning display, it does lack Widevine L1 certification which means you won't be able to stream videos on platforms like Netflix and Prime Video is true HD resolution. This does tend to make videos look slightly less sharper and crisper than say a Galaxy A50, but if you aren't squinting too much, the Realme X offers a great display in every other way.
Realme X Performance and Software
Realme X is powered by a 2.2GHz Snapdragon 710 chipset, which may bother some who were expecting a Snapdragon 730 SoC, but I wouldn't call it a deal breaker by any stretch of the imagination. The basic difference between the two SoCs is that the former is based on a 10nm process while the latter is based on a 8nm process. This means the SD730 will offer slightly better power efficiency. Apart from that, you're likely not going to find a lot of difference between the two when it comes to real-world performance.
The Snapdragon 710 processor powering the Realme X is quite fantastic. It is snappy and offers an exceptional Adreno 616 GPU which is great for running graphic-intensive games like PUBG and Asphalt 9. The chipset is paired with 4GB or 8GB of RAM. Our review unit had 8GB of RAM, which is enough to offer a smooth multitasking experience.
During my gaming experience, I found most popular titles running on high graphic setting by default. A 30 minute session of PUBG on high graphics was smooth throughout with almost no noticeable drop in frame rate. The phone barely got warm during the game and the battery dropped by only 8 per cent, which is pretty decent. I also breezed through a season of Asphalt 9, winning all the games without breaking a sweat. The Realme X is as good a gaming phone as any.
The Realme X handles almost everything you may throw at it during the day with ease. Apps open and load in a jiffy and scrolling through Twitter, Facebook or Instagram was smooth without any stuttering. The Realme X is a fast phone, but it does come with some excessive RAM management which tends to kill background app quickly.
ColorOS 6 based on Android 9 Pie is what you find right out of the box. The latest custom Oppo software brings you features like an app drawer that's enabled by default, while app icons get a makeover and are more pleasing to look at thanks to a lighter, gradient colour theme. Swiping right on the home screen will bring you Smart Assistant, which is where you will find cards relevant for the day like calendar, weather, quick apps steps tracker and more.
ColorOS 6 also brings features like Quiet Time, lockscreen magazine, app encryption and some smart battery saving options, among other things. It's a fairly loaded custom OS which also offers tons of preloaded apps that you may never use. The Realme X comes with apps like NewsPoint, UC Browser, WPS Office, Webnovel, Sharechat and DailyHunt, all of which can be uninstalled if you want a cleaner looking interface.
Realme X Camera
The Realme X is all about offering the biggest trending technologies of 2019. So naturally, the phone gets a 48MP main camera. Realme has used a 48-megapixel Sony IMX586 sensor with f/1.7 aperture as the primary camera which is paired with a 5-megapixel secondary camera that kicks in for portrait shots. The selfie camera housed in the pop-up mechanism offers a 16-megapixel f/2.0 sensor. Using the main camera, Realme is promising some crisp, high-quality photos in daylight. The camera app offers a simple UI with a few modes like Photo, Portrait and Video on the bottom. Nightscape, Pano and Slow-mo can be found in the hamburger icon. There is HDR and Chroma Boost options as well.
By default, the camera will shoot in 12MP and will stitch together photos using pixel binning to offer a clear photo with good amount of light and detailing. You can also switch to the 48MP mode in Settings by selecting the 4:3 (48MP) option to shoot raw high-res photos. These photos will be heavier in size but you'll be able to capture some ultra clear photos in daylight. It won't offer any help during low-light which is where you should use the 12MP standard mode plus Nightscape.
Nightscape is Realme's long-exposure mode, which comes in handy when you want to capture bright photos in low-light. You will need to keep your hand steady for a few seconds and make sure there is no movement in the frame, but the results are often pleasant. You won't get Pixel-level low-light shots here, but it gets the job done.
The Realme X also gets AI scene recognition which will automatically detect your surroundings or the scene and will adjust the setting accordingly. There's also Chroma Boost which artificially bumps up saturation levels to turn regular photos a little more vivid like say when you're capturing food or flowers. This tends to overstaurate photos and cause loss in detail, which is why I prefered the more natural looking photos. You can also capture some decent bokeh shots in portrait mode using the rear camera, but portrait captured using the selfie camera look a little more unnatural with choppy blurring around the edges of the subject.
The main camera also supports slow motion video recording up to 960fps at 720p which works best in daylight conditions. The 960fps mode, however, will only let you capture a short 3-secod video which is then converted into a 10-second slow-mo video. It's important to note that the 960fps mode is only possible via frame rate conversion due to limitations of the Snapdragon 710 chipset. This means that the Realme X actually converts a 240fps video into a 960fps super slow mo video, so the resulting video will look choppy rather than smooth.
Realme X Battery
For a phone as large as this, I would have preferred a 4,000mAh battery like the one inside the Realme 3 Pro. But the Realme X houses a smaller 3,765mAh capacity, which I wouldn't say is bad by any means, but it isn't spectacular. Suffice it to say that it is enough to last a full day on a single charge but may not offer more than that on heavy usage days.
By heavy usage I mean if you watch a lot of videos or play a lot of graphic intensive games, which you can't help but do thanks to the phone's attractive display. Like every other Realme phone, what really helps get the most out of the battery is some smart power saving options in Settings which can be enabled to limit background app power consumption. There's also a Sleeping Mode that will detect when you sleep so that the phone switches to low power mode to limit battery drain.
Luckily enough, the Realme X supports VOOC 3.0 fast charging and you do get a 20W charger with the box. On most days, I would wake up in the morning with the Realme X on around 10-15 per cent battery and would hook it up to the charger while getting ready for work. The phone will charge up to 85 per cent in exactly 60 minutes, which is great.
Should you buy the Realme X?
As far as 2019 trends go, the Realme X ticks all the right boxes. It has a great combination of features such as a full-screen Super AMOLED display, pop-up selfie camera and a 48MP dual camera setup that is easily accessible under Rs 20,000. And these features aren't just added for the sake of it. They actually work. The Realme X offers a stunning display and some of the best cameras you will find in this segment. To top it off, it offers a powerful Snapdragon 710 chipset along with plenty of RAM and VOOC fast charging.
There are a lot of reasons to love the Realme X. And with a starting price of Rs 16,999, you will be hard-pressed to find a better deal right now. But the Realme X is not a perfect smartphone. It misses a microSD card support and offers a bloated ColorOS 6 software. But the pros do outweigh the cons here, which is why the Realme X is a highly recommended phone in this segment. The biggest challenge to the Realme X will be the Redmi K20, which is due to launch on July 16. The Redmi K20 offers a lot of the same features as the Realme X, but with a Snapdragon 730 SoC at a possibly higher price point.