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Realme X2 Pro review: the real flagship killer

Realme has been challenging Xiaomi ever since it made its debut in India last year, and now the brand is setting its sights on OnePlus with its latest launch. The brand has been hyping up its flagship smartphone, the X2 Pro for a while now, and has finally launched it in India today. With the X2 Pro, Realme has unveiled the most affordable Snapdragon 855+ powered smartphone in India. I received the device ahead of the launch, and tried to find out how it holds up against the OnePlus 7T.

Design and display

I would be lying if I said that the Realme X2 Pro has better aesthetics and design than its contemporaries. The phone looks run of the mill with a curved glass back panel and metal chassis. However, what works in its favour is the heft that lends it a confident hand feel. Additionally, the Corning Gorilla Glass 5 layer on the back helps to prevent minor scratches. However, I cannot say the same for the smudges, and would suggest slapping on the protective case provided in the box. On the flip side, the black frosted case conceals the beauty of the Lunar White variant that I received.

On the display front, the brand has taken a leaf out of OnePlus’ book and equipped the X2 Pro with a 90Hz display. In layman’s terms, the screen refreshes 90 times in one second. This ensures improved touch latency, display smoothness and graphics. The display itself is a 6.5-inch Super AMOLED panel with FHD+ screen resolution and a 91.7 percent screen-to-body ratio. It also gets a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 5 for protection. I couldn’t fault the colour production and sharpness on the AMOLED panel. Also, the support for HDR 10+ and Widevine L1 ensured that I could enjoy my favourite shows in high resolution. However, I did find the screen struggling with the brightness, especially when outdoors.

Speaking of the display, Realme X2 Pro comes with an optical in-display fingerprint scanner that was quite fast and accurate. There’s a face unlock module as well, which is as fast, but struggles in low light as expected. As for the other elements, the Realme X2 Pro belongs to the club of affordable flagships that are still rocking a 3.5mm audio jack. Accompanying the audio port at the bottom are a USB Type-C port and loudspeaker. On the right edge, there is dual nano-SIM tray and power button, while on the left are the volume up and down buttons. The top edge is bare except for a single noise-cancelling mic.

Cameras

On the camera front, the Realme X2 Pro one-ups the OnePlus 7T by using a 64-megapixel quad-camera setup on the back. The primary camera is backed by a 13-megapixel telephoto lens with 5X “hybrid optical” zoom, an 8-megapixel 115-degree ultra-wide-angle lens, and a 2-megapixel depth-sensing lens. Realme claims that the telephoto lens also offers 20x hybrid zoom, but we have no way of checking if this is hybrid or digital. Taking care of selfies is a 16-megapixel camera on the front with features like AI-intelligent beauty and selfie nightscape. The camera app is loaded with features like an Ultra 64MP mode, Nightscape, Ultra Macro, Portrait, Croma Colour Boost and more.

Coming to the real-life performance of the camera setup, the 64-megapixel primary camera captures detailed shots in daylight, with ample details and good dynamic range. While the camera captures punchy colours, I particularly enjoyed shooting in Chroma Boost mode, which amped up the colours producing extremely eye-pleasing images. I also liked the zooming and close-up imaging prowess of the setup. However, bear in mind, you need to have super steady hands to be able to capture good pictures in either of these modes. The 64-megapixel mode lives up to expectations with tons of details, but it doesn’t make sense to use this mode if you are only going to post pictures on social media or view them on the phone. The Nightscape mode has definitely improved as I could capture some really good low-light shots with ample details and no noise.

However, it’s not all hunky-dory for the Realme X2 Pro as I found wide-angle shots to have noticeable barrel distortion. Also, as mentioned above, if you don’t have steady hands, zoomed and macro shots will turn out blurry. Portrait shots taken with the Realme X2 Pro are also hit and miss as they fail to detect edges in less than ideal lighting but did well in the day time.

As for selfies, the 16-megapixel camera was able to capture skin tones accurately, however, the AI beautification is tad aggressive and I would suggest turning it off. The selfie nightscape also captured images with good exposure, but there was noise and softening of details.

Performance, software and battery

The Snapdragon 855+ chipset ticking at the core of Realme X2 Pro didn’t disappoint me. Realme is offering the phone in two variants – 8GB + 128GB and 12GB + 256GB. I received the former and the phone offered close to 110GB out of the box. However, there is no microSD card slot for expansion. In my day to day usage, the Realme X2 Pro multi-tasked without breaking a sweat. I used the phone without closing any apps, and at one point had about 115 apps running in the background without any lags or freezes.

On the flip side, I found that the phone struggled while playing PUBG or even Call of Duty: Mobile when set to Smart Performance Management in the battery options. Switching to High-Performance mode improved things considerably. During my time with the phone, I played PUBG at high graphics settings with no issues. The vapour cooling system on the phone works as intended, and does a good job of keeping thermals in check as well.

The Realme X2 Pro runs Android 9 Pie, which is not only dated but also comes with the proprietary ColorOS running atop it. ColorOS comes with tons of bloatware, apart from the ubiquitous Hot Apps and Hot Games folders. To its credit, most of these apps can be simply removed to free up sources. Realme has also included the system-wide dark mode out of the box, but the implementation needs more work as it messed up the interface for some apps like Paytm. However, there is an option to turn off the dark mode for specific apps in settings.

Powering the Realme X2 Pro is a 4,000mAh battery, which consistently gave me a screen-on time of up to five hours with heavy usage. But the cherry on the cake is the bundled 50W Super VOOC charger, which juices up the battery from zero to 100 percent in just under 30 minutes. This is the highest charging speed you’ll find on any smartphone commercially and is pretty impressive to get in the box at this price point.

The competition

As I mentioned earlier, the Realme X2 Pro goes head-to-head with the OnePlus 7T (review), and manages to match it in every aspect from the display to the processor. However, with a more affordable price, 64MP camera and the world’s fastest charging technology onboard, the Realme X2 Pro really comes out ahead in the race. The only area where the OnePlus 7T trumps the X2 Pro is in software, with Oxygen OS offering a minimalist yet feature-rich interface compared to ColorOS’ clutter-filled UI.

The next solid contender is the Redmi K20 Pro (review), which is more affordable than the X2 Pro at Rs 25,999. It features an elevating selfie camera and more stylish design, but misses out on the 64MP camera, fast charging and the newer Snapdragon 855+ SoC.

Bottomline

At its starting price of Rs 29,999, the Realme X2 Pro has decimated the affordable flagship segment in India. There’s no other phone at present that offers a 90Hz display, 64-megapixel quad-camera setup, Snapdragon 855+ chipset and 50W fast charging in India, let alone at this price point. If you can ignore the cluttered interface, the Realme X2 Pro becomes the de-facto option if you’re looking for a complete flagship without breaking the bank.

Pricebaba’s rating: 8.5 / 10

What works:

  • Smooth 90Hz display
  • Excellent performance
  • Blazing fast charging speeds
  • 3.5mm audio jack

What doesn’t:

  • Display brightness could be higher
  • Wide-angle shots are distorted
  • ColorOS comes with bloatware

Photos by Raj Rout

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