Realme X2 Pro review: Taking the UAE by storm

Unreal value for money

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Often, a new entrant in an already fierce market for good and affordable smartphones struggles to make a name for itself. Yet, with Realme, the case is different. Its X2 Pro is a phone that is gunning for top spot. And it has all the makings of getting there.

Fairly standard design

The Realme X2 Pro is made of a glass body encased in an aluminium frame. Both the front and back glass is made of Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5, giving the phone added resistance against daily wear and tear. In the hand, the phone does feel quite hefty and with its 8.7mm thickness and 199g weight, it is doing itself no favours.

The phone is also available in a blue finish, which arguably looks more attractive than the white

Around the phone, there is nothing unique either. You find solid feeling buttons for the volume rocker and power button, accompanied by a secondary microphone on the top edge. The bottom edge of the device is the busiest, which includes a 3.5mm headphone jack, a Type-C USB port and a speaker.

Are you glad that the headphone jack is still here?

In the white finish we have, the phone looks nice. However, the phone’s branding off to the top right edge feels a bit out of place. Just beside the branding is the 64MP quad-camera which we will discuss in a later section. The only notable sacrifice when it comes to design is the lack of official water and dust resistance, for which Realme can be excused because many phones at this price range tend to omit the feature.

Tear-drop display

You find a 6.5-inch 2,400 x 1,080 pixel Super AMOLED display on the X2 Pro, with an 84.9 per cent screen-to-body ratio. Except for the small tear-drop notch on the top edge, you get an immersive experience. Its HDR10+ certification means supported content also has that extra bit of pop. And combined with the phone’s Dolby Atmos powered stereo speakers, the phone becomes good companion for multimedia.

The HDR10 enabled Super AMOLED display on the Realme X2 Pro is a treat

Even for daily use, you will enjoy having elements on screen whizzing past at 90Hz. This bump up in the screen’s refresh rate does make a genuine difference. And as most flagship phones are moving towards an upgrade to a 90Hz panel, it is nice that Realme has included this. Using it outdoors too should not pose any problems even in considerable sunlight, as the display can go up to 1,000 nits when put in auto-brightness mode which is plenty for visibility.

Once you switch to 90Hz, it will be hard to come back

Being an AMOLED panel, the screen also accommodates the phone’s fingerprint scanner. You can either use the front camera for face unlock, which has been secure in my usage or use the optical in-screen fingerprint scanner. Quite refreshingly, the in-screen scanner felt more reliable and a tad faster than previous flagships suggesting improvements. However, I always had face unlock and the in-screen scanner enabled and used either based on my situation and convenience.

Processing hardware

Powering the Realme X2 Pro is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 Plus octa-core chip and up to 12GB of RAM. By default, you also find either 128GB or 256GB of UFS 3.0 storage, which facilitates faster application install times. However, there is no room to expand on storage further via a micro-SD card.

Top-end processing power is on board coupled with Android 9 and Color OS 6.1

Translating this hardware to real world performance, the user interface remains as smooth as butter. On AnTuTu, the phone notched a score of 470,000 points and kept up with rendering and gaming tasks with ease. I tested Call of Duty: Mobile, PUBG as well as Asphalt 9 with great, playable frame rates. A dedicated Game Boost mode could also come in handy for when you are testing the limits of the smartphones however I did not need to rely on it a lot to enjoy gaming. Plus, with the 90Hz panel, the experience was second to none.

Software experience

With Realme being an offshoot of Oppo, it is no surprise that the phone runs Color OS 6.1. In the past, I have said that the user interface does require a bit of learning. However, as I am now familiar with it, it does not seem that daunting. Visually too, it is a departure from the usual stock Android but in return, you do get a few additional features such as in-built screen recording and gestures. Even though the phone is running Android 9 for the time being, an update to Android 10 is in the pipeline.

You get access to the full suite of Google services out of the box

Some may have concerns on whether or not the phone comes with Google services out of the box. And unlike the Oppo Reno Ace, which is a very similar smartphone to the Realme X2 Pro, the latter does have support just like any other smartphone. But something that Realme may want to look at is further software optimisation. There were times when the phone had to reload applications in memory, which for a phone with 12GB of RAM is a bit strange.

64MP primary quad-camera setup

On the Realme X2 Pro, there are four cameras led by the primary 64MP camera. Aside from this, you find a 13MP telephoto camera with 2x optical zoom, an 8MP ultra-wide camera and a 2MP depth sensor. In combination, you get mixed results with this camera setup.

The quad-camera setup is more than capable for photography

The primary 64MP sensor does indeed capture a bit more detail than standard, but the difference is not extraordinary. Generally, photos have a good dynamic range but colors tend to be over saturated. This effect is highlighted further if you use the camera’s AI mode or Chroma Boost. Otherwise, the photos captured lack that sharpness however it is not much of a deal breaker.

With the phone’s telephoto lens, zooming into an object results in fairly good results. However the phone tends to deviate colors when switching lenses. And the same can be said about the X2 Pro’s ultra-wide angle lens. However, the ultra-wide does allow you capture some nice landscape photos thanks to the extra field of view. While the phone has 2x optical zoom, it can zoom digitally up to 20x, however results are less than ideal. But the phone excels in taking both macro close-ups and portrait images in complex situations.

There are not many situations where the Ultra 64MP mode would be genuinely useful

Bundled with the camera experience is Realme’s night mode. Without it, the camera performs below average. However, when turned on, the results are impressive. The phone balances lighting and detail well, and quite frankly, Realme has done a fantastic job. If you find yourself taking pictures of plants at night, the phone does over saturate greens but that is my only gripe with its night mode.

Not right for videography

As all-rounded as the phone’s photography suite is, its video capabilities fall massively short. The Realme X2 Pro is capable of recording up to 4K resolution footage at 60fps. However, with it relying on gyro-EIS for stabilization, output is barely stable at Full HD resolution. As good as the quality of the video may be, unstable footage takes a lot away from it. Realme’s Ultra Steady footage is aimed to provide a better filming experience however that too tends to suffer. Also, something you should note is that the phone is not capable of recording 4K footage with its ultra-wide angle lens. During night, the video camera’s quality is decent. But because of a lack of light, it introduces noise in frame. And alongside below par stablilisation, the overall result leaves you wanting a bit more from what is otherwise a good camera package. Check out the samples we took here.

Selfie camera

On the front of the phone, you find a 16MP camera. It comes with gyro-EIS and is capable of 1080p video. As far as dynamic range and quality goes, it does a decent job however once again, stabilisation is an issue.

When taking photos, selfies are quite detailed. However, the phone struggles with retaining dynamic range in photos when using portrait mode. Performance even at night is pretty good and with a dedicated night mode, you can take fairly detailed selfies at night too.

Battery life and endurance

One of the more unique things about the Realme X2 Pro is its battery technology. The 4,000mAh cell is ample and using SuperVOOC Flash Charge, it is able to charge from 0-100 per cent in just 35 minutes. In actual testing, this was around the 29 minute mark, which is incredible. Quite surprisingly, the phone does not heat up to unbearable temperatures during the charging process and even when using the phone, it can still charge up at a rapid pace. There is also a notion of fast charging batteries draining quicker than usual and quite impressively, it is not the case with the X2 Pro.

Recharging the 4,000mAh battery from 0-100 within 30 minutes is extremely convenient

Although the 90Hz panel meant screen-on-times were around the 5 hour mark, these can be easily extended by either using the phone on battery saver mode or by lowering screen refresh rate to 60Hz. In either scenario, you could always carry the charger in your backpack for a quick top up on the go to never worry about losing battery again. That being said, the disadvantage to all of this is the lack of wireless charging support. This is not a complaint about the phone directly, as you can only do so much at this price point. But for people switching from an older phone which perhaps may have had wireless charging, this may be an inconvenience.

Conclusion

At an asking price of Dh1,699, the Realme X2 Pro’s closest competition is the OnePlus 7T. And it gives it a good run for its money. Arguably, one of its shortcomings is video recording capabilities. But it makes up for that in other features such as fast battery charging and great night time photography. Overall, this is a solid effort from Realme. And as it becomes more popular in the region, it would not surprise me if it became a staple brand in the near future, competing fiercely and maybe even surpassing OnePlus.