Before we dive into the Realme X2 Pro review a small prologue: Things tend to take their own way, without anyone being able to predict the future, even when looking at a few years onwards. Chinese smartphone manufacturer Oppo, took two decisions back in 2013. Their goal was to protect the future of the company, when faced with a multitude of smartphone brands in the country. Both decisions unleashed a chain for reactions that were… unthinkable at that time.
The first was to copy Huawei’s, off-line retailer, country-wide strategy. By 2016 Oppo was second in China in official stores and off-line sales. Along with Huawei, they shipped smartphones in China’s interior along with after service support and mass advertisement. They got back an enormous market share! Their huge customer base at the end of the year, was larger than the population of countries outside of China. These results stood heavy on other brands.
Most of the smaller and medium sized companies were closed by 2017. Those left were standing by a thread, diving into a life or death situtation. In 2015 Xiaomi was a small company by all standards. They decided to enter the Indian market in order to survive Oppo’s and Huawei’s pressure. Three years later Xiaomi was a global brand, climbing at the first place in India in smartphones sales and fifth globally (just under Oppo).
The second decision by Oppo was to grow their clientele portfolio, so China would not be their sole “customer”. A dedicated to global sales department was launched as a first step. That department evolved into OnePlus at the end of 2014. OnePlus’s flagship-killer concept idea was an immediate hit. Six years later the company is known globally as a premium smartphone manufacturer.
Xiaomi’s fame and wealth in India impressed BBK. BBK is the group that owns and handles Oppo, Vivo, and by 2017 the eventually independent from Oppo, OnePlus. The three companies entered the subcontinent’s market, each one with its own strategy. Oppo decided to copy Xiaomi’s entry line Redmi – so Realme brand was born in 2018. Realme became the most successful company in the country for two continuous years while it was 8th globally in sheer growth this year. BBK made Realme independent, a decision that followed Xiaomi’s similar decision on Redmi, in 2018.
A “total war” between the two Groups was on, the moment BBK stepped in India. Xiaomi launched Pocophone, a company based in the country with flagship killer attitude same as the original “old” OnePlus. Redmi took the concept a huge step further in 2019 with the K20 series. The series was an immediate global success and it was followed by similar VFM killer-spec smartphones from BKK. OnePlus with their attention focused in India, launched OnePlus 7T. Oppo launched Reno Ace, an amazing device with 65W charger. Yet the surprise come from Realme!
Realme X2 Pro came as a huge shock to the smartphone industry, similar to the original OnePlus One series. It climbed directly to the throne as the ultimate flagship-killer and most VFM smartphone of 2019.
Global launch was immediate but without having Xiaomi’s or OnePlus’s fame, Realme hope it will spread using a mouth to mouth “technique” or through social media. Realme X2 Pro arrived in our offices a couple of weeks ago directly from Realme India and we’re very happy for this. This is the result of a 2 week review so… it may be a long way down… but at the end I promise that i will be worth it.
In my hands I have Realme X2 Pro Master Edition, in Brick Red colour and let’s get to know it better, shall we?
Realme X2 Pro – Specifications
- Dimensions: 161 x 75.7 x 8.7 mm
- Weight: 199 g
- Display: Super AMOLED 6.5” FHD+ (1080 x 2400), 402ppi, 85% screen-to-body ratio, 20:9 ratio, Gorilla Glass 5, DCI-P3, 1000 nits max brightness, 90Hz, HDR10+, DCI-P3 100%
- CPU: Qualcomm SM8150 Snapdragon 855+ (7 nm), Octa-core (1×2.96 GHz Kryo 485 & 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 485 & 4×1.8 GHz Kryo 485)
- GPU: Adreno 640 (700 MHz)
- RAM+ROM: 64GB 6GB RAM, 128GB 8GB RAM, 256GB 12GB RAM, UFS 3.0
- Battery: 2*(1950mAh min, 2000mAh typical), Equivalent 4000mah, Flash Charge 50W SuperVOOC
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot, 4*4 MIMO
- 4G:LTE FDD:B1/B2/B3/B4/B5/B7/B8/B12/B17/B18/B19/B20/B26/B28
- Speed: HSPA 42.2/11.5 Mbps, LTE-A
- Biometrics: Under display Fingerprint Sensor, Face Unlock
- Main Camera: Quad Camera, Dual-LED flash, HDR, panorama
- Samsung GW1 Sensor, 64 MP, f/1.8, 26mm (wide), 1/1.7″, 0.8µm, PDAF, P lens
- 13 MP, f/2.5, 52mm (telephoto), 1/3.4″, 1.0µm, PDAF, 2x optical zoom, 5X Hybrid Optical Zoom, 5P lens
- 8 MP, f/2.2, 16mm (ultrawide), 1/3.2″, 1.4µm, PDAF, 5P lens
- 2 MP, f/2.4, 1/5″, 1.75µm, depth sensor
- Selfie Camera: 2160p@30/60fps, 1080p@30/60/120fps, 720p@960fps, gyro-EIS, Ultra image stabilization, Super Wide-Angle Videos
- Video: 2160p@30fps, 1080p@30/60/120/240fps, 720p@960fps
- Selfie Video: 1080p@30fps, gyro-EIS
- Βluetooth:5.0, A2DP, LE
- GPS: dual-band A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO
- Ports: USB Type-C, 3.5mm jack
- Sound: Dolby Atmos Dual Stereo Speakers (2 dedicated amplifiers), Certified Hi-Res Sound Quality
- Sensors: NFC, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, FM radio
- Colors: Lunar White, Neptune Blue, Red Master Edition, Gray Master Edition
- Software: Android 9.0 (Pie), planned upgrade to Android 10.0; ColorOS 6.1
Realme X2 Pro – Retail Box
While being a Master Edition, the retail box comes as nothing special. Not only is not suitable for this designer-smartphone, but I have to say that it looks mediocre for any serious upper-medium range smartphone. Realme has to update its game in the way they’re promoting smartphones. My advice would be to… learn from Apple or Xiaomi’s Mi MIX series! A serious player needs a great retail package, don’t you agree?
Inside the box we can see the normal sum for most of the smartphones this year:
- Realme X2 Pro smartphone
- USB-C to USB-A data transfer / charging cable
- SuperVOOC 50W wall charger
- SIM tray ejection pin
- User manual, Quick Guide, Important Information Guide
- Silicone soft case
A plastic screen protection film is pre installed on the phone. The huge – huge – wall charger comes in white colour and it is the best gift I have ever seen in a retail box. I repeat, the package includes a free of charge, ultra fast 50W wall charger. The charging cable is quite… fat and works along the charger to provide the flash charge in… just a few minutes!
Realme X2 Pro – Design
Reame X2 Pro Master Edition is a special edition where the back panel is redesigned. As with Realme X, X2 was handled by the famous Japanese artist Naoto Fukasawa (https://naotofukasawa.com/). Fukasawa provided two urban designs with inspiration from modern cities. There is a Concrete edition and a Red Brick edition. The material used at the back panel is glass that has been transformed to feel like the real thing. The touch of the Red Brick model I got is amazing. To honour the designer, Realme has engraved the artist’s signature in the panel. Being different in touch from the usual glass or plastic panels, this Master Edition is really special to handle and feel. The color reminds of Burgundy Red and is an eye catcher. There is an advantage and a disadvantage to the non-smooth matte surface. There are no oily smudges but it is difficult to clean in case it gets a stain.
X2 Pro is an example that upper-mid range smartphones have reached the top levels of quality in 2019. The two glass panels are joined by an aluminium frame perfectly. There are no parts protruding. When feeling the device with your hands, the only edges are the sides of the camera bump and the large microphone in the top bezel. The back panel is designed to fuse into the frame with a beautiful curve near the sides. The top and bottom parts of the frame are not flat but curved a bit to the interior. Nice details, a proof that the design department was not bored to death by creating another clone.
In the front there is a big 6.6 inch display. Bezels on all sizes are extremely slim. The corners are rounded and a teardrop notch exists at the top center. A very wide earpiece is on the top bezel – perfectly designed to listen to your caller without having to center a smaller earpiece to your ear. There is nothing else in the front. On the right side we can see the SIM tray near the top and the power/lock button.
The button is gold coloured in all editions. On the left side there are two buttons for handling the volume. All buttons are exceptionally well made without rattling. There are four visible antenna bands, near the top and bottom in the frame sides, in dark grey color. The top has a noise-canceling microphone. The bottom has a 3.5mm audio jack, a second noise-canceling microphone, the USB-C port and the speaker grille.
The back panel has a vertical installation for a Quad camera. The bump is not the biggest, but is one of the slimmests in the market. This has as a result, a lot of wobble when the phone is on a table. The protective case stops this phenomena. Realme brand name is positioned vertically on the bottom right of the camera. We can read the “designed by (signature)” addon for this special edition.
For a modern 6.5 inch smartphone, weight is good at 200 grams. I believe that the non Master Edition phones are slippery, as with all glass panels. This unit has a lot of friction in the back panel that takes full care of the handling – there is no way this smartphone slips from your hands, you can be quite sure of this.
Realme X2 Pro – Hardware
The phone has a lot of common parts with the notorious OnePlus 7T. However, as with the latter, there is no IP certification unfortunately. Snapdragon 855+ was an update of the original 2019 flagship SoC, added in Qualcomm’s portfolio during the second semester. The update has to do with gaming, overclocking mostly the GPU Adreno 650. The combination is impressive, not only for gaming, but also for multitasking and all other needs you may have. It is ultra fast with excellent battery consumption and great graphics performance. In Geekbench and Antutu, X2 Pro scored a bit lower than the other SD855+ smartphones. I don’t know whether this is a software setback or the absence of heat dissipation device. I believe it is the second.
Master Edition comes with top RAM/ROM, 12 GB and 256 GB respectively of UFS 3.0 ultra fast standard. There is no expandable memory thus the SIM tray is not hybrid. We hope Realme buys from the same OnePlus supplier. OnePlus RAM sticks are amazing keeping top performance over the years.
The main selling point of X2 Pro is the 90Hz display. There is a setting included in the software to switch to 60Hz. 90Hz is the main reason you are going to buy this smartphone, so keep 90Hz mode on. It is amazing to the eye, and Realme is the first company that brings this characteristic to this medium price range.
Realme uses a 6.5 inch OLED panel with a FHD+ resolution. Is is quite long in size with 20:9 ratio. It is measured at 500 nits max brightness but Realme advertises 1000 nits. The latter is software enhanced using HDR+ mode. The shape, notch and dimensions are the same as OnePlus 7T, possibly this is a common panel for both. Colors and viewing angles are ok, but nothing to brag about.
X2 Pro has two loudspeakers. One is the earpiece and the other is the main loudspeaker in the bottom of the frame. There is excellent sound quality even when the volume is at its max (louder than most of the smartphones I have reviewed this year). There is Dolby Atmos tuning, while Realme has got a Hi-Res Sound Quality certification. Quality is not on the Galaxy Note10+ or Apple iPhone 11 Pro level, but very good – excellent – for the price of the phone. Call quality is excellent too, during any type of calls.
Connectivity is excellent. Full signal during call conditions. Bluetooth is top notch – I ‘ve used the smartphone with my wireless headphones daily without interruptions. GPS is instantaneous. There are two ways to unlock X2 Pro. Both are very fast. Face unlock is ultra fast. There is no IR light for unlocking during the night, so in total darkness this method does not work. A minimal light source is enough, even the display from your notebook, to unlock the device with your face shape.
The other way is the in-display fingerprint reader. It is the latest one from Goodix – used also in OnePlus 7T / 7T Pro. Very accurate and extremely fast. There are no complains from me. After I did a good setup there were no issues at all.
There is no need to use the face unlock – it is not 3D compatible and not very safe to be honest, so the in-display sensor will meet your needs in all day usage.
Realme X2 Pro – Software
By all means by now, some of you have guessed that this is a “cheap” OnePlus 7T. There is a major difference and the reason the latter is more expensive. Realme X2 Pro comes with, a custom for the Indian market, ColorOS skin. ColorOS is a mature operating system full of modes and functionalities. In Realme smartphones the perception is that of any Chinese ROM smartphone, this time created for another nation. There are applications that work only in India, regardless of the region you have set up the phone.
The good thing is that the extra software is removable. Even better news are the plans of Realme to provide all smartphones from 2020, with an Android 10 ColorOS version, that is almost stock. It will take a while to be stable from X2 Pro – scheduled for April, but there is a beta release for anyone who wants to try it. Hopefully there will be custom ROMs cooked for the handset – an OxygenOS would be lovely.
ColorOS is similar to MIUI in most things. There is a customizable Smart Assistant to the left of the main screen, gestures are almost the same – Realme adds an option to be exact same as MIUI, notifications, Quick search etc. There are advertisements on the main applications too, so… OK.
The Settings menu is huge, but not as huge or difficult to use as in Huawei’s EMUI for example. Display settings can alter 60/90 Hz, provide reading light, dc dimming etc. You can set the face or fingerprint lock and the animations of the latter. You can choose between Google, OnePlus or MIUI style gestures. There are screen gestures, like three fingers down for a screenshot. A Smart Sidebar and an Assistive ball have the same functionality as the dot in MIUI and provide quick reach to most needed applications. There are battery performance or saving modes, and a system-wide Dark mode.
ColorOS is extremely fast and the combination of SoC and RAM makes all transitions spontaneous. 90Hz excels is presenting the transitions with the best way possible. I am a long time user of Chinese ROM phones. I am used to all the clatter in the settings so I don’t mind it.
To be honest, I think that custom ROMs and the new almost custom ColorOS will update the experience for anyone who does not like this whole… “oriental” interface experience.
Realme X2 Pro – Camera
Realme got in a big mess when they tried to present «the first smartphone in the world with 64MP camera» one day before the official release of Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 8 Pro back in September.The so called release in front of a handful of journalists got extremely bad feedback in Social Media and Realme lost the chance to build a better brand name. People do not care whether a smartphone is first or second or last in the market, but whether the camera works without problems, as advertised.
The same 64MP camera presented then in X2, exists in X2 Pro now, It is the, famous by now, ISOCELL Bright GW1. There is a telephoto with 13MP sensor, an ultra wide camera at 8MP and a small (and possibly added to update the marketing game to «Quad-camera») 2MP sensor for depth information. The telephoto can magnify up to 2X and the ultra wide camera has autofocus. Up to this point, you can see that the three extra cameras are supportive to the main 64MP sensor and are not equal in quality to it. A 16MP camera is also nested inside the waterdrop notch.
The UI of the camera application in the ColorOS is not as “rich” as in MIUI or OneUI skins. It is not either light as in OxygenOS. It is something in between these two. A main menu near the usual selections found in all camera application is the main difference. It provides all the extra options for photography, leaving the main menu with only three options: Video, Photo and Portrait. The main menu has options for Ultra 64MP, Nightscape, Pano(-rama), Expert, Time-lapse and Slo-Mo (slow-motion). In this way someone who just wants simple usage out of the app, is not confused. The three options, and the selfie mode, are easy to use and alter, but there is a time-span of a couple of seconds for the next mode to focus and be functional, when altering.
ISOCELL Bright GW1 is a true champion in any way one uses it. It’s with no doubt one of the best sensors in the market, providing impressive images day or night. Realme provides a Chroma Boost option for more colorful images in case you like Huawei’s adoration on «card-postal» results. Using the Ultra 64MP mode provides mode details, but the image takes more time to process. The image size is huge and you might not want that in case you want to save them in the cloud or share them with your loved ones.
Portraits are simply excellent. Night shots can be enhanced using the Nightscape (night mode) but the result is a colorful mixture of details, nice to watch in the display of a smartphone, but not that good when viewing it in a large display. Too many things can go wrong there. So Nightshot mode should not be enabled by default when you need to capture subjects in low light. Use the mode only when the picture is for social media sharing.
The ultra wide camera is mostly a miss this year. A few companies managed to add a good sensor and fewer managed to get pictures to brag around. Realme’s try on the matter is mediocre but not bad. Autofocus is a plus here. Low light shots are bad, a bit better using the Nightscape.
The telephoto is at the same level of quality with the ultra wide mode. Nightscape is enhancing a bit the results. There is no stabilisation but at 2X zooming there is nothing to worry about. Macro photography, a result of the ultra wide sensor, is mediocre – similar to the results seen in the OnePlus 7T. Xiaomi’s Mi Note 10 is the champion in the specific area. I don’t know whether smartphone companies need to invest in macro photography. I would prefer better night shots or night video.
As mentioned earlier the 64MP camera is the main player – the other cameras are assistive and marketing focused. The selfie-cam is good but not perfect. Nightscape is included and does a great job in lighting up the subject even in total darkness. Video has all the modes available to the Snapdragon 855+. There is 4K video recording to 30 and 60 frames per second. There is slow motion with 240, 480 and 920 frames per second. 4K video is excellent. Top quality, with great stabilization, details and sound. Zooming and ultra wide video are mediocre – as seen in most of smartphones this year. Night video is great when the smartphone is still, but in movement – even with an amazing stabilizer – details get… lost around the corners.
Realme X2 Pro – Battery
Realme X2 Pro has a DUAL battery, of about 2000mAh each. This the way SuperVOOC charging technology works. A 4000mAh capacity in total, keeps the smartphone up all day, even with 90Hz mode always on. This is a great achievement from Realme! X2 Pro has an amazing 9 hours SoT, more than enough for daily usage.
Realme provides a 50W wall charger along with a fat charging cable. When plugged into the smartphone you are kicked forward into the future of smartphone charging. I timed various scenarios to check how good this method is:
- 0% to 40% in 13 minutes
- 0% to 50% in 18 minutes
- 30% to 80% (daily scenario) in 12 minutes
- 85% to 100% in 5 minutes
- 0% to 100% in 32 minutes!!!!
The smartphone gets immediately warm, but not hot. I don’t know whether Oppo / Realme have calculated the expected battery life. Will Realme X2 Pro be needing a battery replacement in 18-24 months from now? I will be here to let you know.
Using another cable immediately drops the flash charging and it becomes a regular one. You can charge it with another charger too. My idea is to night charge it with a slow method and use the flash charger in case of need. Unfortunately though, these is no wireless charging or reverse wireless charging.
Realme X2 Pro review – Conclusion
I ordered this phone as I was reviewing it. It is the second time I am doing so after Xiaomi’s Mi 8. Sixteen months have passed since I bought the latter and the smartphone industry has done amazing technological steps. At the same amount I bought then the Mi 8, I’ve got a far superior smartphone.
Speed is unparalleled. OnePlus was the champion, X2 Pro takes the pole position now. There is going to be a war inside the BBK Group next semester. OnePlus, Oppo, Vivo, Realme will try to outsmart each other to provide the snapier smartphone around.
90Hz display and the ultra flash charge are amazing. The second one is a risk – will the battery survive the next 2-3 years? I will use a Xiaomi 18W charger for the night charge just to be sure. Sound is excellent. Gaming is amazing. The in-display fingerprint sensor is so good that you can go outside Samsung offices and tease people around. Not a camera phone and not advertised as one, Realme X2 Pro is more than good for daily usage. You can find a better camera performance in Xiaomi’s Mi Note 10 at around the same amount of money, but X2 Pro is way a better phone in general. You will need triple the X2 Pro cost to reach the same performance, and a better camera. It this all worth it? That is your call to make. If you ask me, YES.
Master Edition comes at a price of ₹34,999 (Indian Rupees) but it is surely worth it. Not only you have the top specs of the line but the back panel is amazing in feel and looks. This is the smartphone to make your friends having Galaxies, Huawei phones and iPhones feel… a bit embarrased. It probably started as a cheap alternative of OnePlus 7T in India but managed to level up into a more expensive phone, that’s worth your attention.
Software… The reason I didn’t buy Mi 9 or Mi 9T Pro, was Xiaomi’s failure to improve the night camera (which I did by installing the Google Camera app) and the main notifications on my notched phone. Realme has a new customer – a European one. Realme can update to a stock skin and update the Nightscape or lose me to another company in a year or so. Simple as that. This is not 2010. We customers expect, and reward with a new purchase, the smartphone companies that provide after sales support and steady software updates. Lets see if Realme wants me to buy another phone from them 😉
Trust me when saying that Realme X2 Pro Master Edition is an amazing buy. Are you still reading? Just order it – when it becomes available :p
Alternatively, you can easily get the Realme X2 Pro 8GB+128GHB for a mere 449€ from its official page. In any case, my suggestion is to NOT miss the chance to see it up close and personal.