Forget the flagships, the mid-range is where the action’s at. With Xiaomi and Realme turning out one smartphone after another in a bid to reign supreme on the consumer’s wallet and, equally crucially, win big on mindshare.
So, just about when the mainstreaming of a 48MP sensor on smartphones finally happened, the duo has shifted their focus onto 64MP image sensors. No sooner had Xiaomi announced plans for the 64MP-shooter-toting Redmi Note 8 series that Realme launched the Realme XT with the 64MP sensor in India, at a competitive mid-range price.
Does Realme’s winning streak continue with the Realme XT, and does this model go beyond the headlining camera to differentiate itself from the pack? Our deep dive into the Realme XT attempts to answer just these questions.
The Realme XT is on sale in Pearl White and Pearl Blue colorways, starting at Rs. 15,999 for the 4GB RAM + 64GB storage variant, with the 6GB + 64GB and the 8GB + 128 variants setting you back by Rs. 16999 and Rs. 18999 respectively.
The Camera: Pixels Galore!
In all its recent devices, Realme has delivered consistently good camera performance. As with the 48MP sensors in its other phones, you’re getting 16MP pixel-binned images by default, but you can go the whole hog and shoot in the native 64MP resolution as well, though the gains in detail are marginal, despite a big increase in file size. If anything, shooting in full resolution in poor lighting accentuated image noise and artefacts.
Shots taken off the primary camera look pretty good, and the phone does a good job of managing details in the shadows and highlights in tricky lighting. You can eke out more saturation and dynamic range by using the Chroma Boost mode. The night mode is pretty usable as well, with good amounts of detail and poppy (if a little oversaturated) colours.
The ultra-wide-angle camera lets you fit more in the frame or shoot with some dramatic perspectives, but it applies distortion correction automatically, which means images are cropped occasionally. Images shot off the ultra-wide are usable even if the levels of detail take a bit of a hit compared to the primary sensor.
The depth sensor helps take good portrait shots with acceptable edge detection, but the macro shooter was a real letdown-quality is low and most images just aren’t sharp enough to be usable.
Videos score high on colour and detail, and you can benefit from the electronic image stabilization (EIS) so long as you restrict yourself to 1080p shooting, not at maximum 4K/30 frames per second.
Design and Finish: Premium and Refined
If the Realme 5 Pro and the Realme X had a love child, the Realme XT would be it. It shares the processor and a similar quad camera setup as the Realme 5 Pro, but drops the pop-up selfie camera for a waterdrop notch.
The choice of Gorilla Glass 5 both front and rear has done a world of good for the phone, bumping it several notches up in the segment both in terms of looks and hand feel. The Pearl White colourway, in particular, is gorgeous and bears a faint resemblance to the Huawei P30 Pro.
Save for the busy camera housing, the phone offers a clean design—the display is ensconced between rather slim bezels and the in-display fingerprint scanner is responsive.
The display on the Realme XT is an excellent AMOLED panel not too dissimilar to the one they used on the Realme X, and the deep blacks and vibrant colors make the phone a joy to use.
Performance: Holds its Own
Packing in respectable mid-range hardware, the Realme XT runs ColorOS 6.0.1 (based on Android 9) and feels sorted in a very optimized-hardware-software sort of way. Everyday performance showed no lag, even if the animations and skin was a little heavy, and it speaks volumes about mid-range phones these days that usage across daily tasks is indiscernible from the big-budget flagships.
Of course, the phone will run PUBG and Asphalt 9 with ease, but you’re probably not going to be able to max out the settings without seeing a couple of frames drop or having the phone heat up a tad.
Realme XT: The Verdict
You get a headphone jack, microSD card expansion, and a capacious 4000mAh battery with 20W fast charging that goes from empty to full in a little over 80 minutes. Software is the usual Realme story—a whole bunch of customization options accompanied by a lot of pre-installed bloatware.
By and large though, the Realme XT is a sorted device that builds on Realme’s design, display and performance strengths and throws in the 64MP camera as an impressive differentiator, at least until the competition catches up. Right now, it’s an easy recommendation in the sub-20,000 segment and the phone to beat when it comes to hardware and value. Your move, Xiaomi.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.