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Realme X50 Pro 5G review: a powerful flagship that won’t break the bank

On: March 9, 2020

Realme’s growth in India’s smartphone market over the last 1.5 years has been nothing short of phenomenal. The brand has quickly developed its own identity despite the initial association with parent brand OPPO, and has now become a real challenger to Xiaomi in India. While this meant releasing a spate of phones in the budget and mid-range segments, Realme has now set its sights on more premium pastures. Following the Realme X2 Pro (review), the brand’s second flagship phone is the X50 Pro 5G, which comes with several firsts under its belt for India, including being the first 5G phone, the first to come with 65W fast charging and the first to feature the Snapdragon 865 chipset. To find out how it squares up to the competition like OnePlus, iQOO and Samsung in India, read on.

Design and display

With the X50 Pro 5G, Realme is adopting a different approach to design. The phone comes in two understated colours – Moss Green and Rust Red. Realme has opted for a matte finish for both colours. I really liked the handfeel of the back panel – it’s smooth but not too slippery. The back panel is made of glass, while the frame is constructed out of metal. Unfortunately there’s no IP rating, so you have to be careful about spills and splashes.

I used the phone without a case, and as someone who’s excessively clumsy, I was quite confident doing so. At 207g, the phone feels very solid in the hand, with even weight distribution. As for the ports and buttons, the power button on the right edge is textured making it easy to locate. The volume rocker is on the left, and the Type-C port and ejectable dual-SIM card tray at the bottom. Unfortunately there’s no 3.5mm headphone jack or microSD card slot on board.

The phone is also very compact for a flagship, despite its large 6.44-inch display. Realme has opted for a cutout in the top left corner of the screen to house the dual selfie cameras, with the result being a virtually bezel-less fascia. The double punch-hole can be jarring at first, but after a few days with the phone, I barely noticed it was there.

The screen has full HD+ resolution and is a Super AMOLED panel that’s HDR10+ certified. It boasts a 90Hz refresh rate and a touch sampling rate of 180Hz. This makes the touch response extremely snappy, and of course, scrolling and swiping through various apps and the interface also feels smooth and fluid. Colours are rich and legibility is good in sunlight, but what really impressed me is how low the screen brightness can get in pitch darkness. There’s a toggle to enable “Low-Brightness Flicker-Free Eye Care” in display settings, which ends up saturating the colours more, but makes it much easier to view the screen in the dark.

The screen is protected by a layer of Gorilla Glass 5, and my review unit came with a screen protector pre-applied. The X50 Pro 5G makes use of an in-display fingerprint snapper, which was fast and accurate throughout my usage. There’s also face unlock which is very snappy, and you can enable dual authentication to swipe up for your fingerprint or passcode when it’s too dark for face unlock to work.

Cameras

The Realme X50 Pro 5G has four rear cameras, arranged in a vertical setup on the back panel. The primary camera is a Samsung GW1 64MP sensor with f/1.8 aperture, which takes 16MP pixel-binned images in the standard mode. The 8MP wide-angle camera (119-degree field of view) also doubles up as a macro camera, and can get as close as 3cm to subjects, as per Realme. Then there’s a 12MP telephoto camera that offers up to 2x optical and 20x hybrid zoom, and lastly a 2MP mono portrait lens. The Realme X50 Pro 5G makes use of dual selfie cameras – a 32MP wide-angle camera and an 8MP ultra-wide camera. The camera app comes with the usual selection of modes, including night, portrait, 64MP, ultra macro and pro. There are toggles for 2x and 5x zoom, and you can pinch to zoom up to 20x.

The X50 Pro’s cameras in my opinion are its weakest link. Images shot in bright daylight turn out to be pretty decent, and you can get good close-up shots too. However it’s inconsistent – there are times the camera struggles to lock focus or handle dynamic range well. The wide-angle camera has a noticeable fish-eye effect, with details appearing hazy near the edges. The ultra-macro mode lets you get quite close to the subject, although you’ll need to have steady hands and ensure there’d adequate lighting to get a good shot. The 20x zoom doesn’t have much aesthetic usage since images are cropped and very grainy at that zoom level, but it can be useful if you’re trying to make out details at a distance.

Low light is where the camera really struggles – details are softened and there’s quite a bit of noise. The night mode seemed glitchy on my unit, either completely getting the white balance wrong or blurring the edges like a portrait shot. The selfie cameras do a fine job when the lighting is ideal, with natural skin tones and plenty of detail. Once the lighting starts to deteriorate, the cameras follow suit.

Performance

The Realme X50 Pro 5G is powered by Qualcomm’s latest flagship chipset, the Snapdragon 865. The processor comes with Qualcomm’s X55 5G modem, but of course, in India, you won’t be able to take advantage of 5G networks for another couple of years. The phone comes with up to 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, but the variant I received came with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage. There’s also a base 6GB + 128GB variant. Notably, the X50 Pro 5G makes use of LPDDR5 RAM and UFS 3.0 storage. While the former enables faster data transfers and improved power efficiency, the latter ensures fast read/write speeds. The phone also comes with Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1, GPS/A-GPS and NavIC (India’s regional satellite navigation system).

During my time with the phone, I found it to be fast and efficient, even with multiple apps open in the background. Realme has implemented a vapour cooling system in the phone for better heat dissipation. In our labs, the temperature increased by 7.8 percent after 30 minutes of gameplay. Compared to the competition, this was an excellent figure. The OnePlus 7T showed a 27.1 percent temperature increase, while the iQOO 3 showed a 16.5 percent increase for the same test.

Despite the good heat management during gaming, I found the X50 Pro 5G to heat up excessively while using the camera. Using the camera for a few minutes at a stretch is enough for the phone to get hot, and if you’re using it without a case as I did, it can be uncomfortable. This is especially noticeable if you’re on a video call.

Software and battery

The X50 Pro 5G runs Android 10 out of the box, overlaid with the brand’s own Realme UI (which is based on ColorOS 7). Realme has tried to offer a cleaner experience with Realme UI, and this can be seen in the icons and interface. However, it still comes with its share of bloatware, including the dreaded Hot Apps and Hot Games folders. The good news is that most of it can be uninstalled, but you’re still stuck with a bunch of Realme’s own system apps. The UI does come with the usual extras, including dark mode, digital wellbeing, app cloner, game space and more.

The battery on the Realme X50 Pro 5G is a 4,200mAh unit. This is sufficient to get you through a day of heavy usage. I got an average of about 5 hours of screen time with the device, which is pretty decent. The cherry on top of course is the 65W SuperDart Charge, the highest charging speeds we’ve seen on a phone yet. Realme says the battery can charge completely in 35 minutes. In our charging tests, we found it to be closer to 43 minutes, which is an impressive figure nonetheless.

The competition

The Realme X50 Pro 5G starts at Rs 37,999 for the 6GB + 128GB version. The 8GB + 128GB and 12GB + 256GB models are priced at Rs 39,999 and Rs 44,999 respectively. At these prices, it goes up against the OnePlus 7T (review) and iQOO 3 (review). The OnePlus 7T has a clear advantage on the software front, and also offers better cameras. The X50 Pro 5G however comes with the latest Snapdragon 865 processor (vs Snapdragon 855+) and 65W fast charging (vs 30W). The iQOO 3 is a new entrant in India. It comes with a 60Hz refresh rate and no Widevine L1 support which is disappointing, however, it does offer more gaming-specific features like pressure sensitive buttons and better cameras. Special mention should be made of Samsung’s S10 Lite and Note 10 Lite which are also present in this segment and would appeal to those looking for a more established brand.

Bottomline

For most users, buying a flagship is a big decision. Brands like OnePlus have taken years to establish a foothold in the premium category, and it’s not an easy task for a company known mainly for its budget and mid-range phones to follow suit. The X50 Pro 5G is a great second attempt by Realme. It’s worth noting that the 5G support is just a marketing gimmick at this point, since by the time 5G networks do come to India, the phone will be outdated. That said, the Realme X50 Pro 5G offers excellent performance, a fluid display, super fast charging and good battery life, and provided the company can improve the cameras with future software updates, offers almost everything you’d need from a flagship device without breaking the bank.

Pricebaba’s rating: 8 / 10

What works:

  • Super fast charging speeds
  • Excellent display
  • Smooth performance
  • Good battery life

What doesn’t:

  • Cameras need improvement
  • Realme UI has some bloatware
  • No headphone jack

Photos by Raj Rout

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Ketaki Bhojnagarwala

Ketaki has over 10 years experience writing on tech, having worked at the Hindu Business Line and 91mobiles earlier. When she's not editing copies or reviewing the latest gadgets, she spends her time binge-watching Netflix and reading fantasy fiction.