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Redmi K20 Pro vs Realme X2 Pro: the great budget flagship battle

On: December 18, 2019

Mention the word “budget flagship,” and it is a fair chance that two phones will come to most people’s minds. And perhaps for the first time since late 2014, neither of them would be a OnePlus device – 2019 is the year when OnePlus got just a little premium, remember. That does not make the two contenders any less formidable though. In fact, both are capable of giving any OnePlus device a good run for its money, in spite (or perhaps also because) of having lower price tags. We are talking of the Redmi K20 Pro (review) and Realme X2 Pro (review), both of which deliver exceptional hardware below Rs 30,000. But which of these two is the one for you? Let us try and figure out, shall we?

Design: the Red beats Real

This is pretty much a no-brainer. The Redmi K20 Pro easily beats the Realme X2 Pro. It is not as if the Realme device looks bad. Far from it – it is in fact handsome enough. However, its appearance is relatively routine, with a gradient glass back and a front with a notch. It is not quite in the league of the Redmi device which has a glass back with a very different gradient finish – almost like flames coming out from a core in the centre of the back. It also has a display with no notch, thanks to the presence of a pop-up camera, which incidentally flashes light as it emerges and retracts. If having a flaunt-worthy phone is important, the Redmi K20 Pro is the one for you.  

Hardware: easily a Real win

When it comes to pure hardware, the battle is very one-sided. Yes, the Redmi K20 Pro came with top of the line specs for its time, but the Realme X2 Pro is literally a level above it. Both phones have full HD+ AMOLED displays with in-display fingerprint scanners, but the Realme X2 Pro comes with a larger 6.5-inch AMOLED panel (the K20 Pro has a 6.39-inch one) with a 90Hz refresh rate (the K20 Pro has 60Hz). What’s more, it also has a Snapdragon 855+ processor which is supposed to be superior to the Snapdragon 855 on the Redmi K20 Pro. Add to this the fact that the Realme X2 Pro has four cameras at the back and a 64-megapixel main sensor, as compared to the three on the back of the Redmi K20 Pro with a 48-megapixel main sensor, and you can see why we are handing this round to Realme, even though the K20 Pro has a better selfie camera (20-megapixels against 16-megapixels). The base model of the X2 Pro also has 8GB RAM, while the Redmi has 6GB. Realme also has a 12GB variant, something the Redmi does not, although to be fair, the Redmi does have expandable memory, which the Realme X2 Pro lacks. Finally, the Realme has dual stereo speakers, as compared to the single one on the Redmi. 

Software: a Red takeover

Both phones were launched with their company UIs – MIUI in case of Redmi, ColorOS in the case of Realme – on top of Android 9. However, Xiaomi has since updated the K20 Pro to Android 10 and also a new version of its interface, MIUI 11. The X2 Pro is due for an update to ColorOS 7 and we also hear news of Android 10, but it is some distance away. Round this off with the fact that MIUI is a far more polished skin (ads notwithstanding) than ColorOS, and this round comfortably goes to the Redmi K20 Pro.

Cameras: will four cameras be better than three?

On paper, the Realme X2 Pro would seem to have this stitched up, with a four-camera set up on the back, with a 64-megapixel main sensor, a 13-megapixel telephoto sensor, an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. Against this, the Redmi K20 Pro offers a triple camera set up with a 48-megapixel main sensor, a 13-megapixel wide-angle lens and an 8-megapixel telephoto lens. However, in terms of real performance, we found the K20 Pro actually taking better images in terms of colour and detail. The Realme took great pictures too, but when push came to shove, we found ourselves opting for the Redmi time and again. And that applied to selfies too, where the pop up 20-megapixel shooter of the K20 Pro was a step ahead of the 16-megapixel snapper on the Realme X2 Pro. The difference is not a massive one, but the Redmi K20 Pro is simply the more reliable performer, and thanks to MIUI also has a cleaner and easier to use interface. Another one for the Redmi phone then. 

Gaming: that refresh rate really makes a difference

All right, I need to state upfront that the Redmi K20 Pro is a very good gaming phone, capable of running high-end games like PUBG and Call of Duty without a hitch. But the Realme X2 Pro outguns it thanks to that superior display (that 90Hz refresh rate can make a difference sometimes) and much better sound over speakers. Neither device is likely to drop frames or stutter but the Realme is pretty much the boss here!

Generally speaking: Real equals to Red

With that sort of hardware, it is hardly surprising that both phones are more than capable of handling any task you hand out to them, whether it is browsing multiple sites on different browser tabs or running a number of applications simultaneously. The Redmi K20 Pro’s slightly more compact frame makes it a little easier to handle, and call quality also seemed a bit better on it, but then the Realme X2 Pro scores in terms of generally better sound quality and that slightly larger display makes it more suitable for watching films and the like. We also felt that the Realme’s in-display fingerprint scanner was slightly faster than the one on the Redmi. We are calling this one a tie. 

Battery life: Really fantastic!

Both phones come with 4000mAh batteries. And both phones support fast charging over their USB Type-C ports. But that’s where the similarity ends. The Redmi K20 Pro comes with an 18W charger out of the box and up to 27W fast charging speeds, which lets you charge it in about two hours. The Realme X2 Pro on the other hand takes charging speed to another level, with a 50W VOOC charger that charges the phone in HALF AN HOUR (yes, the caps were intentional). Yes, the Redmi K20 Pro’s battery lasts a little more than the Realme X2 Pro’s (that display drains mAh, I reckon), but the Realme X2 Pro wins this round comfortably. 

Price: Really left in the Red

The Redmi K20 Pro takes a clear lead when it comes to price. It starts at Rs 25,999 for the 6GB + 128GB variant (the 8GB + 256GB variant is priced at Rs 28,999), which is well below the Rs 29,999 starting price of the Realme X2 Pro. Although, the Realme comes with an 8GB + 128GB configuration, with a 12GB + 256GB variant priced at Rs 33,999. In simple terms, the highest variant of the K20 Pro at Rs 28,999 costs less than the base variant of the X2 Pro. Yes, the K20 Pro has no 12GB RAM variant, but truth be told, I am not too convinced about what we would do with 8GB RAM on our phones, leave alone 12GB. Yes, the X2 Pro brings a better processor and display to the battle, and a crazily faster charging battery to the battle, but the K20 Pro has a better design, newer software and marginally better cameras, which we think evens things out a little. The clear price differential makes this a win for the Redmi K20 Pro.

Conclusion: which is your Pro?

So which of the two phones should you be going for? A simple count of parameters would indicate that the Redmi K20 Pro has a slight edge, but that would not be a totally fair reading as the X2 Pro wins comprehensively in battery, gaming and overall hardware and ties with the K20 Pro in general performance, all of which might be of paramount importance for many users. So how to work out which one to go for? 

Well, if you love the newest hardware, then it is a no-brainer – the X2 Pro has a newer processor, more RAM in the base model, an additional camera, a faster charging battery and well, a larger display with a 90Hz refresh rate. But drag the question back to sheer performance and value for money then the Redmi K20 Pro comes back into contention, mainly because while it does not quite match up to all the specs of the X2 Pro, it does not fall too far behind. Most folks still get cannot tell the difference between a Snapdragon 855 with 6GB RAM and a Snapdragon 855+ with 8GB RAM, and the same applies to a display with a 60Hz refresh rate and a 90Hz refresh rate. What’s more, the Redmi K20 Pro has a much more eye-catching design, a comparable (if less versatile) camera set up, and thanks to Xiaomi’s update program, is already on Android 10. And it does start at a lower price and tops off at a price that is lower than the base model of the Realme X2 Pro. 

So here’s my take: if specs matter, the Realme X2 Pro is the real deal. If the price does, then the Redmi K20 Pro will leave you a lot less in the red. 

That simple. 

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Nimish Dubey

Nimish Dubey has been writing on technology since 1999. He has contributed to a number of publications and websites including The Times of India, Hindustan Times, Mint, Economic Times, Outlook, and India Today. He is currently the Editorial Mentor at TechPP.com and a regular contributor to Indian Express. When not writing, he loves to read and listen to classic rock.