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Realme 6 review: raising the bar in the budget segment

On: March 5, 2020

If I had to pick one word to describe Realme, it would be relentless. Even before the dust around the Realme X50 Pro 5G could settle, the handset maker has gone ahead and launched the much-anticipated Realme 6 series in the country, consisting of the Realme 6 and Realme 6 Pro. Both these smartphones flaunt 90Hz displays and 30W fast charging as their USPs. They also feature cutouts for the front cameras – while the Realme 6 gets a single punch-hole on the front, the Pro variant comes with an oval-shaped cutout for dual selfie cameras. I have been using the Realme 6 for over a week now as my primary device, and here’s what I think of the new launch.

Design and display

Usually, when brands launch phones in the same series in quick succession, they are mostly iterative upgrades featuring the same design, with all but one or two specs remaining unchanged. I was pleased to see that was not the case with the Realme 6, as it’s a major upgrade over Realme 5 (review) in every way. Gone is the signature diamond pattern on the back, and instead you get a mixture of polycarbonate and glass fibre for the rear panel, which lends its a very premium feel. The chassis, on the other hand, is aluminium, so the whole construct of the device feels very solid in the hand.

I received the Comet White variant, which didn’t pick up smudges as much, but I believe the Comet Blue variant may not fare so well in that regard. In a first, Realme is offering the same quality smoked protective case that comes with X-series devices with Realme 6, and I prefer the hand feel of the smartphone with the case on.

Speaking of things that the brand has changed to make Realme 6 premium, there’s another interesting new upgrade. Realme has moved the fingerprint scanner from the rear panel to the side. And I must say I prefer a side-mounted fingerprint scanner, since my thumb naturally rests on the biometrics, unlocking it in a jiffy. There’s also a face unlock. which is quite fast and accurate as well. With the fingerprint scanner moved to the side, the rear panel is home to just the quad-camera module in the top left corner and Realme branding in the bottom left. As for the other elements, you will find the volume button with dual SIM slots on left, and power button/fingerprint scanner on the right. The SIM tray has a dedicated microSD card slot, which can accept cards up to 256GB in size. At the bottom, you will find the 3.5mm audio jack, USB-C port and speaker grill.

The Realme 6 marks a departure from the standard waterdrop notch display of the past, and ventures into punch-hole territory. The smartphone features a 6.5-inch LCD screen with 20:9 aspect ratio, FHD+ (1,080 x 2,400 pixels) resolution and 90.5 percent screen-to-body ratio. There’s a layer of 2.5D curved Gorilla Glass 3 on the top for protection against scratches. However, the cherry on top is the 90Hz refresh rate, which was unheard of in this price segment prior to this. Needless to say, the whole interface feels extremely smooth and snappy.

Additionally, you get the whole array of features like Widevine L1 certification, screen colour temperature adjustment and more. Despite being an LCD panel, the display offers pretty good contrast, sharpness, brightness and viewing angles.

Cameras

In the camera department, Realme has once again left no stone unturned as the Realme 6 comes with a 64MP f/1.8 quad-camera setup on the back. The primary camera is backed by 8MP f/2.3 wide-angle lens, 2MP mono and 2MP macro lenses, both with f/2.4 aperture. Notably, this is the nearly the same setup as the Realme X2 (review), except for the depth sensor which has been replaced by a mono portrait lens on the Realme 6. The camera setup is accompanied by a dual-tone LED flash for low light imaging. However, I would suggest using the dedicated night mode instead. Other modes include portrait, 64MP, ultra macro, slo-mo, expert, chroma boost and more. The front punch-hole cutout is home to a 16MP f/2.0 snapper, which gets a set of features like Beauty, filter, HDR, panoramic view, Portrait, Timelapse and more.

The 64MP quad-camera setup takes 16MP pixel-binned photos in regular mode, but there’s a dedicated 64MP mode if you want to click full resolution images. Since I mostly stick to Instagram and view pictures on my phone itself, I didn’t find much difference between regular and 64MP modes. However, the difference was significant when I transferred the images to my laptop and started pixel peeping. Therefore, for an average joe, it’s better to shoot in normal mode. The daylight pictures turn out to be quite crisp and well-detailed with natural colour tones. Additionally, the camera module manages to handle dynamic range very well, both behind and against the light source, thus bringing out details in shadows as well as bright areas. I did struggle with the 10x zoom, as you can see in the gallery below, because of my unsteady hands. You will need to have either very stable hands or a tripod to get the best results from the zoom. The AI scene recognition is good too, as it accurately detects the frame.

Moving on to low light shots, in standard mode, the Realme 6 did click good images but overexposed the light sources to the extent that it produced a halo effect. However, turning on the dedicated night mode brings about a day and night change (pun intended) as it handles exposure much better, resulting in crisper images with greater details. I also found the Ultra Macro mode on the Realme 6 to be spot on as the smartphone was able to lock focus from close proximity, and click highly detailed close-up shots. To put things into perspective, the flower bud in the macro shot in the gallery above is smaller than a single corn kernel. As you can see, the detail and colour accuracy is on point in the picture. On the flip side, I found the portrait mode to be sub-par, as it didn’t detect the edges accurately on more than one occasion. The wide-angle mode also captures good images with minimal distortion but with slightly dull colour reproduction. Keep in mind, all three dedicated lenses work the best in daylight and suffer after dark.

The 16-megapixel front camera captures natural skin tone with high details, however, fails to detect edges accurately in the portrait mode. There’s also a beauty mode, which let users tweak the face shape, nose shape, eye size and more. Both front and rear camera setup offer real-time bokeh effect video recording. Speaking of video recording, the smartphone offers up to 4K/30fps regular and 1080P/120fps as well as 720p/240fps slo-mo. Realme has also promised that the phone will receive selfie slow-motion video recording and UIS max video stabilisation through an OTA in the future.

Performance, software and battery

The Realme 6 is only the second smartphone after the Redmi Note 8 Pro to come with the MediaTek Helio G90T chipset ticking at its core. The gaming-centric processor is manufactured using 12nm fabrication and offers two high-performance Cortex A76 cores alongside six high-efficiency Cortex A55 cores. The processor is further mated to the Mali-G76GPU. I received the 8GB variant of the phone with 128GB storage, of which around 110GB is available to the user out of the box.

I have been using the Realme 6 for a week now and I genuinely have no complaints as far as performance is concerned. The Helio G90T handles heavy multitasking like a champ and 8GB RAM means I had all of my frequently used apps open in the background. I am yet to run into a single instance of lag or hang on this smartphone, and that’s saying something for a budget device. However, the buck didn’t stop there as the Realme 6 fired up PUBG Mobile in ULTRA and HDR settings by default. And while I have used a couple of phones in the recent past that also did the same, none of them managed to impress me this much. This was because despite having the required configurations for high graphics settings, all of them suffered from jittery gameplay and frame drops. This is where Realme 6 shone through, as during my week-long sojourn with the smartphone I didn’t experience a single frame drop or jitter while playing PUBG. Unfortunately, the 4GB variant of the smartphone doesn’t support Ultra and HDR mode in PUBG (this is due to hardware limitations with the Helio G90T chipset), therefore, if that’s something you want then you must opt for the 8GB model.

Realme is offering the 6 with the latest Realme UI based on Android 10 out of the box. As I noted in my Realme C3 review, the new UI is a customised ColorOS with a cleaner interface and improved visual cues. The handset does come with a fair bit of bloatware, which can mostly be uninstalled. Realme has loaded the software with a slew of features like a system-wide dark mode, digital wellbeing, app cloner, game space, split-screen and more.

Lastly, the phone is powered by a 4,300mAh battery, which comes with support for 30W Flash Charge technology. Realme claims that the Flash Charge technology can juice up the battery to 100 percent in just 60 minutes and to 70 percent in 30 minutes. During my testing, the numbers held true and I was good to go within an hour from zero percent. I also had at least 20 percent battery left by the end of the day, which is again quite impressive considering my heavy usage including a lot of social media, PUBG, WhatsApp and navigation.

The competition

The Realme 6 competes with heavyweights like the Redmi Note 8 Pro (first impressions) and Samsung Galaxy M31. The Redmi Note 8 Pro is a good-looking alternative that offers simular specs including a 64MP quad-camera setup on the back and Helio G90T, but misses out on 30W fast charging speeds and a 90Hz display. The Samsung Galaxy M31, on the other hand, comes with a dated processor but offers a much larger 6,000mAh battery. In a nutshell, the Realme 6 comes across as the most complete value for money offering at this price point.

Bottomline

The Realme 6 is a smartphone that I can easily recommend at this moment in the sub-Rs 15,000 segment. However, the spat between Realme and Xiaomi is well known, and the latter has already announced that the Redmi Note 9 series is arriving on March 12th. We can expect the Redmi Note 9 to be a solid contender to the Realme 6, so the jury is still out on which one comes out on top.

Pricebaba’s rating: 8.5 / 10

What works:

  • Great gaming performance
  • Runs Android 10 out of the box
  • 30W fast charging on a budget

What doesn’t:

  • Portrait mode needs improvement
  • Realme UI comes with a bit of bloatware

Photos by Raj Rout

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Abhiman Biswas

Abhiman is obsessed with all things tech. His hobbies include reading on his Kindle and clicking random pictures on his phone. His secret superpowers happen to be mixing great cocktails and lip reading. In his spare time, you are likely to find him cleaning his aquascape, researching new species of aquatic fishes and planning which aquatic plants to buy next.