Realme 6 Review: Another hit in its budget smartphone lineup

A fantastic budget smartphone from Realme

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Realme’s 5 Pro garnered a lot of praise from us last year. However, with the Realme 6, the company intended to take that to the next level. After a week of continuous usage on the Realme 6, it is safe to say that the company has exceeded expectations with its latest smartphone.

Design and build quality

With the Realme 6, you find a typical build budget smartphone build with added splash resistance. Its rear is made of plastic whereas the front panel is protected by Gorilla Glass 3. It sports a plastic frame but its brushed finish makes the smartphone feel a bit more premium than it is. The 191g heft also helps although with its plastic back, expect to see some wear and tear from keys and coins unless you pair the phone with a protective case.

The linear quad-camera setup is better looking than the square bays we have started to see of late

On the left edge of the device, you find the volume rockers and the SIM slot. The volume rockers are separated, which is a design choice you have to get used to. They are fairly tactile though and accompanying them is the dual-SIM and micro-SD card slot. This accommodates both extra storage and 4G dual-SIM cards simultaneously which is a huge plus point. On Realme’s front, this is a nice inclusion and something we do not see even on some higher-end smartphones.

Realme has gone for a triple-card slot which is great

While the top edge of the smartphone is bare, the right houses the power button that also doubles as a fingerprint scanner. The indent to it makes using it comfortable and the scanner is quick and accurate. Lastly, the bottom edge houses both the primary and secondary microphones, the speaker grill, a Type-C USB port for charging as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Over rough use, the phone’s plastic back will pick up scratches

On the rear, you find the smartphone’s 64MP quad-camera unit and we prefer this linear configuration over the square camera bays we are starting to see. It does protrude outward a fair bit although this is something you get used to with time. The other aspect about the back is colour. Both its blue and white variants are attractive with Realme branding and overall, this makes for a fairly flawless package. The only improvement we would have liked to see would be a glass back to further strengthen durability in the long run.

Display quality and refresh rate

The front of the smartphone boasts a 6.5-inch IPS LCD display, which is topped off with the earpiece. You also find the 16MP front camera embedded in the punch-hole style display, which has now become less of an eye sore. The phone sports a resolution of 2,400 x 1,080 and a brightness of up to 480 nits. Due to current circumstances with COVID-19, we tested the phone indoors and brightness remained great even at 20 per cent. Using the phone in my balcony proved to be no challenge so unless you are using it under direct sunlight, brightness should not be an issue.

The 6.5-inch IPS LCD panel is great to use especially with that 90Hz refresh rate

More impressively, the panel on board is a 90Hz one. This makes content on it feel smooth and responsive. It makes a huge difference and to be honest, I prefer the higher refresh rate over a Super AMOLED panel at this price tag. Granted, this IPS LCD does not look the most saturated but it is still enough for regular multimedia consumption with slight drawbacks thanks to its lack of HDR processing which means less detail in shadows. But you do get Realme’s OSIE Vision Effect baked into the smartphone however that only works on certain supported applications such as MX Player and TikTok.

Content on the display is not has rich as an AMOLED panel but is still viewable

Personally, the display’s bezel-less design did give it an immersive feel. There is still as sizeable chin at the bottom however this is not a major deal. The only drawback to overall media consumption was the smartphone’s speaker. It is a single bottom firing unit which is powerful although not suitable if more than one person is watching content. You also tend to cover it by mistake and sound lacks clarity. The easiest was to avoid this is to use wireless earphones or a wired pair of 3.5mm jack headphones, which is what I did often.

Hardware performance

Under the hood, the Realme 6 packs a MediaTek G90T 12nm octa-core processor clocked at 2.05GHz. This is accompanied with 8GB of RAM on our variant and 128GB of UFS 2.1 storage. General performance on the phone is a breeze, with it easily keeping up multiple applications and browsing social media. Editing video content on the phone using Adobe’s Rush is a struggle but that is the only time I found the smartphone’s processing to be lacking.

Intense graphic editing may prove to be problem given the phone’s hardware

On AnTuTu benchmark, the smartphone scores 284,364 which is above average for a phone at this price point. More so, gaming on the Realme 6 is enjoyable too. I was able to get in a few quick sessions of Call of Duty: Mobile with no problems in touch sensitivity or frame rate. Sometimes, the phone heated up noticeably towards the camera region but for the most part, Realme’s cooling held up well.

Gaming performance on the smartphone is no issue

Areas that did impact me were loading times and some issues with Wi-Fi. The more content you store on the device, the longer it takes the phone to process. There is a noticeable 3-4 second pause before the phone can load up content and that may be to do with its older UFS 2.1 storage type. On the other hand, Wi-Fi performance is a bit poor in regions where reception is not as strong. This is not something I have faced with flagship smartphones but has been a recurring theme in more budget options.

Software optimisation

Over my usage, the smartphone has seen one update which is a great sign. The Realme 6 runs on Realme UI on top of Android 10. This borrows heavily from Oppo’s ColorOS which is not a terrible thing. I enabled the app drawer as soon as I started using the phone but aside from that, everything else felt fairly comfortable. Even for someone who may have not used Realme UI in the past, it is easy to adapt to.

Realme Share comes in handy if you own any of these devices

Its settings menu is well categorised and offers useful features such as a dark mode, battery saving modes and navigation tools. It also comes with Realme Share which enables quick file transfer between Oppo, Xiaomi and Vivo smartphones. I was also pleasantly surprised seeing the phone come with offline FM radio and native Screencast. However, one huge feature grew on me with the time I spent using the phone. Much like on many other smartphones, you find a Smart Sidebar which lets you pin useful applications. I did not pin any of my applications although for quick screen recordings, this came in extremely handy.

Easily having access to applications and features via a Smart Sidebar proves to be useful

For the most part, the software blends with hardware on the Realme 6 incredibly well. Something I like is that the software does not offer too many unnecessary features. And with its streamlined, it is less taxing on the hardware present on the phone. Quite simply, this allows the phone to perform well almost 90 per cent of the time. The only times I saw force closes was when using Chrome, however that was fixed with a software update and when opening the camera through another application, where the smartphone fails to detect it. This however is not a deal breaker in any way.

Camera features

With us staying indoors, we will start with the front 16MP unit. I found myself using this a lot for video calls and it seemed to perform just below par. It seems to struggle in low-light conditions not just on video calls but on the overall too. You can get by with selfies on occasion but that is about it. The front camera also supports face unlock however during my testing, I relied heavily on the side-mounted fingerprint sensor.

As for the primary camera, the 64MP quad-camera setup also comes with an 8MP ultra-wide lens, 2MP macro lens and a 2MP B/W lens for portraits. To me, it performs well so long as you get the sensor ample light. Remarkably, it can pick up some fairly minute detail but as soon as you try taking low-light photos, the experience crumbles. While photos may still be usable, they lack sharpness and have noise. But we think for a phone starting at Dh799, impeccable night-time photography should be the last thing on your mind anyway. Something that did surprise us was 4K for video support at 30fps with gyro-EIS.

Battery life and charging

To round up on the smartphone, you find a 4,300mAh battery with 30W charging. In this regard, the Realme 6 excels on all fronts. You can easily get through a day and more of moderate usage, clocking screen-on times of up to 11 hours. More so, enabling Smart Power Saver mode pushes this even higher. We found the battery to be on 51 per cent at the end of the day, with 8 hours of screen-on time with it enabled. This just shows how capable the Realme 6 is.

The 4,300mAh battery on the Realme 6 is amazing

I am more of a person who charges their phone overnight but if you still happen to drain the battery quickly during the day, Realme bundles a 30W charger with the phone. This, in our testing, charged the phone from 0-100 per cent in 49 minutes which is incredible.

Conclusion

The Realme 6 is a smartphone that impresses on all fronts. There is barely anything to complain about except for maybe its camera performance. However, priced starting at Dh799, we do not think that is a major deal breaker. Its closest competition is Honor’s 9X Pro and Vivo’s S1 Pro however it manages to stand out from them with superior software optimisation, hardware and that higher refresh rate display. If you are looking to buy the Realme 6 though, make sure you spend that extra bit on the 8GB variant which retails for Dh999 because it will make a big difference in performance in the long run.