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Realme XT review: the Realme 5 Pro 2.0

Just last month, Realme took the covers off its latest mid-rangers, the Realme 5 (review) and Realme 5 Pro (review). While reviewing the latter, I mentioned that the device not only decimates the competition, but even emerges as a strong contender against its own sibling, the Realme X. It looks like Realme isn’t done with the in-fighting though, because its newest launch, the Realme XT, is pretty much identical to the 5 Pro, with the 64MP primary camera being the main differentiator. So, is Realme merely playing a megapixel game here, or trying to provide varied choice in the mid-range segment? I’ve been using the Realme XT over the last week to find out.

Design and display

The Realme XT takes its design cues from the 5 Pro, but adds a bit of spit and polish in the process. While the 5 Pro featured a glossy polycarbonate back panel with a geometric pattern, the Realme XT opts for a glass rear with a plain gradient finish. The phone comes in two colour variants – Pearl White and Pearl Blue, and I had the latter for review. Despite the blue gradient being done to death on phones, the XT’s gradient starts with a turquoise blue on one edge, and ends up a deep purple on the other. The panel gets a coating of Gorilla Glass for 5 protection, and despite the glossy finish, smudges don’t look that pronounced. Realme has provided its standard TPU case in the box, but still insists on the cumbersome flap over the Type-C port.

The display is a 6.4-incher with full HD+ resolution and a waterdrop notch on top. It gets Gorilla Glass 5 protection, which was missing on the Realme 5 Pro. The display panel has also been upgraded from LCD to Super AMOLED, and the difference is clearly visible in the inky blacks and deep colours. The issue of slower touch response which I faced on the Realme 5 Pro isn’t there on the XT, with the experience of swiping and scrolling feeling silky smooth. Being an AMOLED panel, you also get an always-on display feature that displays the time, date, battery level and notification icons when the screen is off.

The Realme XT gets another big upgrade over the 5 Pro here, in the form of the in-display fingerprint sensor (also seen on the Realme X). The sensor is fast and accurate, and you can choose from a bunch of unlock animations in settings. There’s face unlock too, and while it recognises faces in a jiffy, it doesn’t work in the dark.

Cameras

The camera setup of the Realme XT is identical to the Realme 5 Pro, barring the primary shooter which is now a 64MP Samsung ISOCELL GW1 Bright sensor. With a tiny 0.8um pixel size, the sensor makes use of 2 x 2 pixel-binning Tetracell technology, which combines four pixels into one for brighter 16MP images. In regular photo mode, the sensor outputs 16MP pixel-binned photos, but you can also take photos in full 64MP resolution if you want to.

As for the other cameras on the phone, you get an 8MP 119-degree wide-angle camera, 2MP macro camera and 2MP depth sensor. The front camera is a 16MP unit with f/2.0 aperture.

The primary camera captures detailed shots in daylight, with good dynamic range and slightly punchy colours. It’s quick to focus and is great for close-up shots too. When there’s backlighting in daylight shots, the camera handles the exposure well and doesn’t wash out the entire image. There’s not much difference in the overall image when shooting full resolution 64MP photos, so I suggest using the regular photo mode unless you want to crop the image. Realme’s Chrome Boost feature amps up the saturation if you prefer the effect, although I kept it turned off.

There’s a bit of distortion when using the wide-angle lens, but the fish-eye effect isn’t too pronounced. However, the wide-angle lens does come with a narrower f/2.25 aperture, which means a bit of noise tends to creep. The macro lens, like I mentioned in my Realme 5 Pro review, doesn’t do a great job. Images shot in ultra macro mode are usually blurry, and the low resolution doesn’t help either. Portrait shots turn out well when there’s ample lighting – if not, you’ll end up with a blurry photo more often than not. Low light performance is a bit hit and miss – the images taken in this mode are usable, but there’s too much over-softening in the details. Using the nightscape mode definitely helps to brighten the overall image, but doesn’t do much to improve sharpness.

As for the selfies, the camera outputs detailed images with natural skin tones, provided you have the beauty mode turned off. There’s also a portrait mode for the front camera, although it doesn’t do a good job of detecting edges, particularly hair.

Software and performance

The Realme XT runs Android 9 Pie, overlaid with ColorOS 6.0.1. You get the usual extras atop Android, plus a bunch of pre-installed apps. Folders like Hot Apps and Hot Games are basically ads, which keep refreshing content. However, these can be removed if you wish. I’m not the biggest ColorOS fan, but at least this version is cleaner, and comes with an app drawer. I did miss a system-wide dark mode though.

Coming to the performance, the Realme XT is powered by the Snapdragon 712 chipset – the same one on the Realme 5 Pro. You get 4GB/6GB/8GB RAM configurations, and storage options of 64GB and 128GB. I got the top-end model for review, which comes with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage. The phone features a dedicated microSD card for additional expansion as well. The 712 is a powerful, reliable chipset, and during my usage period I didn’t encounter any lags or freezes, even with multiple apps running in the background. If you enjoy gaming, this phone handles PUBG like a champ. It plays with HD graphics, and there’s no frame drops or heating issues either. The Super AMOLED display also goes a long way into making content look richer on the screen.

A 4,000mAh battery sits inside the hood of this phone, and you get a bundled VOOC 3.0 20W fast charger in the box. The phone lasted me an entire day during my usage, with enough left over to last me through the night. The VOOC charging does a great job of topping up the battery quickly too.

Competition

The Realme XT is priced starting at Rs 15,999 for the 4GB + 64GB version, and goes up to Rs 18,999 for the top-end 8GB + 128GB variant. At these prices, its biggest competitor is the Vivo Z1x, which is also based on the Snapdragon 712 platform and packs quad cameras as well. While the Z1x offers a 48MP unit for the primary camera, it adds in a larger 4,500mAh battery. The Vivo Z1 Pro (first impressions) is another option, although this one comes with a punch hole display which isn’t as unobtrusive as a waterdrop notch, and three rear cameras instead of four. Realme has fair competition from its own stable as well – the Realme 5 Pro as I mentioned above is nearly identical to the XT barring the 48MP primary camera, and it comes at a much cheaper price too.

Verdict

The Realme XT is a great phone. It’s a capable daily driver offering smooth performance, good cameras, day-long battery life and a bundled fast charger, and a phone I’d easily recommend if you asked me about it. I just wish Realme had done more to differentiate it from the Realme 5 Pro, which despite the 48MP camera, continues to be the de-facto choice in the mid-range.

Pricebaba’s rating: 8 / 10

What works:

  • Fluid performance
  • Capable cameras
  • Good battery life
  • Bundled fast charger

What doesn’t:

  • Nearly identical to the Realme 5 Pro
  • Macro camera needs improvement
  • ColorOS comes with bloatware and ads

Photos by Raj Rout

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Ketaki Bhojnagarwala

Ketaki has 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.