Realme X hands-on: Ten out of ten?

Realme has made a name for itself thanks to its rapid product release schedule and its equally speedy rise up the market share tables in emerging markets. The launch of the all-new Realme X is incredibly the tenth phone to launch since its inception as an Oppo sub-brand just 12 months ago.

All the details: Realme X announced: Realme’s most impressive device yet

The Realme X isn’t just another phone from the Chinese brand though, as it sees Realme taking tentative steps out of the entry-level sector and into the mid-range with more than a few flagship-like features thrown in for good measure.

Ahead of a full Realme X review coming very soon, we wanted to share our initial impressions on the new top-tier offering in Realme’s increasingly bloated product portfolio. Here’s our Realme X hands-on.

Realme X: X-factor

The smartphone industry’s current tug-of-war between $1,000+ handsets with luxury trimmings versus ultra-budget devices packed with premium features has basically warped the meaning of value for money beyond recognition.

The Realme X takes this to the extreme with a trio of hardware perks that you’d think would have no place on a phone at this price point.

Let’s start off with the most obvious one: the pop-up selfie camera. The Realme X is the latest phone from the wider BBK family — OnePlus, Oppo, Vivo, Realme — to sport a motorized camera, and it’s also by far one of the cheapest.

Realme X pop up selfie camera

The pop-up camera is located in the middle of the phone’s top edge, which Realme says was conscious decision to deliver “more natural selfies.” Realme claims the elevation takes 0.7 seconds. That feels like a fair reading based on my time with the phone, though it does take a little longer than I’d hope for it to retract after switching camera modes.

If you’re worried the design might be cheaper than other phones with pop-up cameras, Realme says the mechanism is tested for over 200,000 cycles and is protected by sapphire glass. It also retracts automatically if you happen to drop your phone thanks to the phone’s built-in sensors. In this regard, the Realme X works just like the brand new OnePlus 7 Pro.

The Realme X offers flagship features at a mid-tier price point.

This all leads into another huge advantage the Realme X has over its rivals. With no selfie camera to deal with, the Realme X maximizes its screen real estate with a 6.53-inch display and an impressive 91.2 percent screen-to-body ratio.

This is also Realme’s first ever phone with an AMOLED display, though it matches the 2,340 x 1,080 resolution and 19.5:9 aspect ratio found on the recent Realme 3 Pro. The display is also protected by Gorilla Glass 5.

While it may not have the smallest bottom bezel I’ve ever seen on a pop-up phone, it’s still negligible enough to call this a true fullscreen phone and it generally gets plenty bright with satisfyingly deep blacks.

Realme X in-display fingerprint sensor

The final surprise inclusion is an in-display fingerprint sensor and based on my short time with the phone it’s a surprisingly good one. Realme has outfitted the Realme X with the latest Goodix sensor that’s capable of analysing over a thousand feature points and boasts expanded range for increased accuracy. It certainly seems to have paid off as it rarely failed to recognize my thumb and is lightning fast.

Realme X: High-class hardware

Realme X playing movie

These flagship-aping features would be meaningless without a solid base, and thankfully the Realme X has sturdy foundations.

The Realme X is outfitted with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 710 SoC which we already know is a great fit for Realme’s architecture after it impressed in the Realme 3 Pro. This is backed by either 4GB, 6GB, or 8GB of RAM and 64GB or 128GB of storage, though this will almost certainly vary by region.

Read more: Realme X specs

Even at the lowest SKU, the Realme X surpasses the recently launched and more expensive Google Pixel 3a series. This is especially true for gamers thanks to the Adreno 616 GPU. Gamers will also be happy to hear the Realme X uses cooling gel technology to keep things running cool and smooth, while software modes called Hyperboost 2.0 and Game Boost 2.0 look to optimize performance for games like PUBG Mobile. There’s even a Game Space feature for storing all your games in one place and Game Assistant which lets you manage notifications during an extended play sessions and record the action on screen.

Realme X display top

The Realme X also supports Dolby Atmos for mobile with different modes for gaming movies and music. Unfortunately, despite the really long grill around the earpiece, you only get a single, bottom-firing speaker which is far too loud above 50 percent volume for some reason.

There’s also a headphone jack on the bottom for those still rocking wired headphones. This sits next to a USB-C port — again a first for Realme after refusing to ditch Micro-USB for so long.

If there’s an area of the overall hardware experience I have concerns with its the battery life. Realme phones have always been champions of endurance, combining low power displays, efficient processors, and large batteries.

Realme X ports

Under normal circumstances, the 3,765mAh cell would be impressive, but the Realme X is hoping to make bank in China, India, and emergent markets where 4,000mAh+ batteries are the norm. Combine that with the AMOLED display and things may start to get dicey if you’re hoping to stretch the battery into a second day.

At least you know it’ll get back to full charge quickly with support for Oppo’s VOOC 3.0, 20W fast charging technology, which takes the phone from to just over half full in around 30 minutes.

Realme X: A flagship camera?

Realme X rear camera

The recent launch of the Pixel 3a has upped the level of competition for mid-range smartphone cameras, but the Realme X should give it some decent competition.

Let’s start with that pop-up front camera. The 16MP camera is a Sony IMX471 sensor with an f/2.0 aperture and quad-bayer pixel binning for better low light performance. Realme inherited a love for beauty modes from Oppo and there’s plenty of beautification options here, all bolstered by AI that lets you smooth out all your wrinkles and blemishes by examining 296 different recognition points. There’s even a group selfie beauty mode in case you want to make all your friends and family look like creepy manikins too.

Editor’s Pick

On the other side, the Realme X sports the same 48MP Sony IMX586 main sensor found on the OnePlus 7 series and Oppo Reno, albeit with a few tweaks.

The 1/2.0-inch sensor uses four-in-one pixel binning and has an f/1.7 aperture, and works alongside a 5MP secondary depth sensor.

While the Realme X’s camera shares traits with its BBK kin, there’s far less versatility on offer overall, as there’s no wide-angle lens or telephoto lens to play around with. It also doesn’t have the Snapdragon 855’s superior image signal processor, but the Snapdragon 710’s Spectra 250 ISP should mean the phone is capable of delivering quality shots with speedy post-processing.

The Realme X camera should be capable of giving the Google Pixel 3a some decent competition.

Realme’s Chroma Boost feature also returns for help touching up images via the Realme X’s AI engine, as well as real-time AI scene recognition for up to 16 scenes and objects, and a retooled portrait mode. Video also gets an upgrade with support for 960fps/720p and 120fps/1080p slow-mo.

Realme X: Price, availability, and wrapping up

Realme X on a sofa

The Realme X comes in Steam White or Punk Blue which, like the Realme 3 Pro, adds a shimmer effect to the rear plastic. It’s not going to challenge Huawei/Honor’s gradients or the mirror sheen of Samsung Galaxy flagships, but it’s a nice aesthetic touch.

The Realme X also runs Android Pie out-of-the-box, but you’ll have to grapple with the brand’s take on Oppo’s ColorOS, which may put a lot of people off with its faux-iOS look and convoluted menus.

Realme has launched ten phones in just 12 months, and the Realme X could be its best yet.

We’ll be going into more detail on the Realme X in a full review at a later date. For now, this feels like another incredibly strong offering from the nascent Chinese brand that once again delivers premium features at an insanely low price. This is perhaps true more than ever with the Realme X, which starting at just 1,499 yuan ($218/195 euros/15,322 rupees) is an absolute steal.

We’ve still waiting on full details for availability outside of China, but it seems likely we’ll see the phone make its way to India and perhaps in selected regions in Europe. Keep an eye on Android Authority for more info as we get it.

What do you think of the Realme X? Let us know in the comments.

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