Realme 2 Pro review: winner, winner, chicken dinner

Rating: 8.3/10

Yay:

  • Premium looking design
  • Near bezel-less display 
  • Beefy hardware specifications

Nay:

  • Software needs optimization
  • Lacks Widevine L1

Realme launched their first smartphone in the market, expanded the portfolio with another consumer-centric phone, and now are here with a worthy-upgraded successor. It seems impossible to believe that all of this happened in the span of 5 months. Still, here I am reviewing the Realme 2 Pro, a smartphone that outgrows that shoes of the disruptive Realme 1, with an even more disruptive proposition. 

Realme 2 Pro Design

Coming to the design, Realme 2 pro is a departure from previous Realme phones primarily because of its looks. The materials used are still plastic, but they’ve been used in a very premium way. The back has this 2.5D curved glass finish and it looks stunning. The scratches are an indication of the fact that it is plastic, but it still manages to look better than most phones in its price range. 

Realme 2 Pro Design

It also produces a very unique pattern when the light hits it and this is a result of a very complex process that Realme follows with a 13-15 layer lamination. 

The sides are also made up of plastic with a matte finish very similar to the Realme 2, although here the lack of metal does make it feel a little on the less premium side. I would’ve definitely liked to see a metal frame, but that would’ve also rocketed the phone into a more premium segment. Plus, when you realize that the more expensive Oppo F9 pro too uses a plastic body and frame, you can’t really complain. 

Now, at the back, we do find a sizeable camera bump, but Realme has raised the borders slightly which means that the glass is protected against damages. 

The bottom has a headphone jack, a micro USB port, and a single speaker grill. Now the speaker grill is quite loud, the sound was crisp and I didn’t experience any noise either. It’s still a single speaker grill and I request manufacturers to at least to look for a better position so that it can’t be easily blocked. The sim tray in the Realme 2 pro is a three slot design. So one micro sd card and two sim cards. 

The headphone jack output is quite good. The volume levels are quite satisfying and the sound output is better than what I expected. It was able to resolve different instruments in a 16 piece jazz band and I was able to hear each and every instrument clearly. The sound is a bit warm when compared to audio power machines like the LG G7+ ThinQ and doesn’t sound as good as the Vivo Nex when compared, but the Realme 2 Pro sounds quite good for its price. 

The buttons are quite clicky and sturdy too, and I’ve had no problems with them whatsoever. 

You do get a case inside the box, which in-fact enhances the experience. It sure adds some bulk to the phone, but with that, you get a flush camera module, so now no worrying about the camera module scratching. The front side also has a lip, so with the case on you can keep the phone face down and still be sure that it won’t scratch. The buttons that are generally ignored in a case, become even more tactile here. The one thing I dislike is the flap at the bottom near the charging port, that can become annoying. 

So coming to design, Realme has done a good job on the Realme 2 Pro and has actually managed to make it look premium using not-so-premium materials. 

Realme 2 Pro Display

The Realme 2 pro is freaking beautiful as soon as you turn it on. That display is easily one of the best displays under 20,000, hell! it could stand head to head among phones under 30,000. What you get here is a 6.3-inch(16cm) FHD+ screen with a tiny notch up top which is responsible for a 90.8% screen-to-body ratio. Compared to other phones in its price range, it looks futuristic, for lack of a better word. Don’t get me wrong, I still hate the notch, so the smaller the better. The bottom chin has also been reduced to a great extent. 

Realme 2 Pro Display

Clearly, I am a fan here, I have seen others get it this good, but none of them cost even close to what the Realme 2 Pro does. The screen is covered with Corning Gorilla glass, although I can’t seem to find what version has been used. It does come pre-installed with a very high-quality screen protector and that, fortunately, doesn’t hinder the touch experience, so I’ll advise to keep that on.

The display also didn’t show any signs of light bleeding or color shift, and the color temperature is almost accurate. Well, I say this because while it isn’t exactly accurate out of the box, a slight change in color temperature and you have a very accurate color temperature. 

You also get some great viewing angles and good brightness levels, so when talking about the display, count me super impressed. 

Also read: Motorola One Power review: Moto’s best phone of 2018 is a battery beast

Realme 2 Pro Software

The software inside is called color OS and is one of the more subjective areas of the phone. I am not a big fan, let me put it out there. I want something with a Google stamp on it, or for god’s sake at least give me an app drawer. 

Putting all apps on the home screen triggers the stock android fan in me and the fact that I can do very little to make it look like mine forces me to resort to a launcher. This time though, I challenged myself to stick with it and not hide behind a launcher, and it wasn’t half bad. I like the universal search with a single swipe down, I like the clean clock widget that comes stock, and I see how lively looking it is compared to a dead looking stock android. The icons have been made cleaner and flatter too giving it a more modern feel. 

Surfing through the UI is smooth although, there are tiny stutters that I can’t seem to understand like whenever I pull down the notification panel, there is this stutter that makes me feel like the phone is slow. I bring that up because it isn’t slow. It’s just some parts of the UI that for some reason haven’t been optimized well. 

Oppo, Realme’s parent company, was one of the first Android manufacturers to bring in gestures, but it has stayed the same since. The good thing is that Oppo had gotten gesture navigation pretty fine since the beginning including a few variations that very few out there provide. I’m a big fan of the navigation gesture choices because I didn’t opt for the default one. the home and back gestures where fine, but I have never liked the swipe up and hold the thing, it’s just too much waiting. Well, one of the options in the Realme 2 pro is swiping up from the left and that just makes it much faster and easier for me. 

You have both fingerprint and face unlock. Both of them work just fine, I have been the Vivo Nex for quite some time as my secondary phone and it’s very satisfying to have a traditional fingerprint scanner in your phone. It’s a very fast fingerprint scanner too, and with that perfect a position, you will enjoy the experience. 

Going into settings you get a lot of different modes, there is an advanced DND mode called Quiet mode, you get a game mode for an uninterrupted gaming experience and there is a good number for gestures to do things faster on your phone. 

There still are a lot of problems too, for starters, the notification panel needs a lot of work. The panel itself needs to be optimized as a said earlier, the notification grouping works, but once you expand them you can’t really go back and it feels like an unfinished with things getting stuck. To remove notifications too you can’t just swipe them out, so it becomes a two-step process.

It sadly comes with widevine L3 certification, so no HD streaming on things like Netflix. 

Also read: Vivo V11 Pro review: has the chutzpah to take on the Poco F1 and Honor Play

You do get project treble support but again no seamless updates, which means that yes you manufacturer supports project treble which means your phone could get updated to the next version without having to change the color OS version, but since there is only one partition, that can’t happen seamlessly. 

Oppo has never been known for being good with updates, Realme is a new brand so maybe just maybe we can expect a change. Apart from that, in a recent interview Realme 2 Pro CEO Madhav Seth said that they want to open up opportunities to better suit developers. Now, Oppo devices in the past and even the earlier realme devices have been telling a different story, primarily because the Source codes for these phones haven’t been released, which makes it difficult for developers to build custom ROMs and custom ROMs is a stretch when we look at the fact that it’s almost impossible to unlock the bootloaders of most of these phones. So the first positive move from the Realme brand, if they want to stick to what they said, enables bootloader unlocking and release sources codes quicker so that the custom ROM community can go to war with that phone. 

Realme 2 Pro Performance

The Realme 2 “pro” is a name that would make zero sense with a below average processor, so with the Realme 2 Pro you get a very powerful Snapdragon 660 chipset with up to 8GB RAM which is insane at this price, and the fact that they used LPDDR4x RAM is even better. This is specifically why they need to support the developer community because the things you can do with this kind of hardware, there is just so much space. 

Realme 2 Pro performance

While most phones in this price range are powered by the Snapdragon 636 the Mi A2 is another phone in a similar bracket with obviously much lower hardware specs otherwise. That said, there is one other thing that Realme has done, the clock speed on the higher cores of the Mi A2’s Snapdragon 660 is 2.2GHz whereas the Realme 2 pro is capped at 2.0 GHz. This isn’t a big problem for big games, but for everyday usage, it does make sense to have a higher clock speed, plus the fact that this is a heavy color OS skin compared to the Stock Android on Mi A2, it wouldn’t have hurt. 

The Antutu score for the Realme 2 pro was 131,647 which is actually quite close to Mi A2’s 132k and is lower than the Realme 1’s Helio P60 with a 137k score. That said, we saw in our performance comparison that this score doesn’t really translate into real life and since the SD 660 has a much more powerful GPU, things like gaming are much better on the 660 hence the Realme 2 Pro. 

Here are the other scores and all of them tell the same story, good CPU scores, impressive GPU scores. Now, I have said this in the past, I’m not a big smartphone gamer, I only play FIFA and FIFA peeps know that you can’t do justice to FIFA on a smartphone. But recently, purely in the name of testing, I have started playing PUBG and kind of grown to like it and I’ve played hours and hours on this phone. I actually enjoyed the experience, it played on medium graphics, and there were barely any frame drops. The phone did get hot, but that was very similar to what any phone would get after 30 minutes of gaming. Yes, having a metal body clearly would’ve made the heat dissipation better. 

Inside you get a 128GB UFS 2.1 storage which basically offers better read and write speeds, the PC mark storage score at 6203 is also quite good for a phone at this price. Many people might not realise this, and even I didn’t know until I saw a recent video from Gary at Android authority in which he explains how a faster storage is majorly responsible for app lead times than a faster processor. So looking at the fact that the storage speeds are even higher than something like an Oppo F9 pro, I don’t think you should have a problem. 

I am quite content with the performance and I didn’t mind using it as my primary phone, the performance was A oK. I say that again, it wasn’t extremely good, it was just a reliable performer with very few lags and stutters. 

One issue I had was with my calls, but that’s not any call drops or call quality issues, because both of them were top notch. The problem I had was that the earpiece is like at the top of the bezel, which for some reason got me some time to get used to. In the middle of the call, my ear would shift and I could head nothing before realizing that the earpiece was out of my range. I experienced no call drops so this might not be a deal breaker, this is just something I experienced so I put it in front. 

Realme 2 Pro Camera

The Realme 2 pro has 16MP f/1.7 Sony IMX398 sensor, the front too is a 16MP sensor with a f/2.2 aperture. These are some good camera specs, especially for a phone at this price. I’m pretty sure there’s no other phone offering such a big f/1.7 aperture in this price bracket. I am happy to see that Realme did not go with a big MP number in order to impress people and actually went with a higher aperture that, at least on paper, should increase the low light performance of this phone. 

Realme 2 Pro camera

How do the pictures look right? Well, they look good, no doubt. Much better than the Realme 1. Now if you remember my camera comparison of the Realme 1 with the Redmi Note 5 Pro and the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1, the Realme 1 didn’t do all that bad. This camera though is much much better in almost every way. The pictures look crystal clear, and the details look fine, although zooming in, there have been mixed results, there have been times when pictures look soft and others where there is a lot of details. That soft focus though isn’t a frequent occurrence although it is there. So you might have to check after taking a picture if the focus is right.

When the details do come out right, it’s impressive, primarily because there isn’t much over sharpening in the pictures, and by default the camera has been able to take in a lot of details. 

Click to view more full quality photo and video samples

And the way all the different leaves and trees have been resolved is impressive, so clearly a much improved and capable camera. The skin tones too look good here and I myself hate the beauty modes, but realme has some very advanced beauty mode features so for the people who want it, can have fun with it. The low light performance is fine, it was supposed to be mind-blowing because of the wider aperture, but it was just above average. There was obviously more light going in, but it was just too soft for me.

The selfies also come out right more often than not. Again, the beauty mode was on by default and I had to turn them off. So here is me with the beauty mode on and here is the Realme. 

The video front is fine, there is EIS in the camera at 1080p but switch to 4K and you loose stabilization. Which is understandable for that processor. A snapdragon 835 barely handles EIS at 4k. So I have no complaints here. The video quality itself looks pretty good, crip, good colours. Shoot this entire part from the back camera of the Realme 2 Pro. 

Now, you’ve seen what the camera is capable of, but if you wanna know how it compares to other phones then don’t worry we’ll very soon come up with a detailed camera comparison of the Realme 2 pro with the Redmi Note 5 Pro and the Motorola One power. Until then, a blind test is already up on the channel so go ahead and check that out. 

Coming to the camera app, things are pretty standard here, you have all the modes laid out in an iPhone-ish way. Photo mode, video up to 4K 30fps, panorama, there is a pro mode too where you can tweak with whatever settings you want. There is background blur/portrait mode on both the front and back camera, and it has some interesting modes that you can use to change the way the light hits the subject. You also get stickers etc which I don’t use at all, but you can.

Realme 2 Pro Battery 

The battery inside is a 3500mAh battery and the Realme 2 pro doesn’t give screen on times so I don’t have that metric to give you. That said, the battery life has been pretty reliable, what that means is that neither did it blow my mind, but it didn’t disappoint either. You’ll be easily lasting a full day with this, the one thing that should’ve been better is the charging speed, it takes almost 2 hours and 2 mins to full charge. That is much longer than most flagships but is very similar to what other phones in its price range go. 

The Motorola One power has a much larger 5000mAh battery and charges in about the same time. That one comes with a turbocharger, this one comes with a standard 10W charger.  

It’s slightly bigger than the Realme 1 battery, but the fact that the Realme 2 pro has a bigger and brighter display, don’t expect battery life as good as the Realme 1. 

Conclusion:

Let’s finally summarise shall we, design – good looking, ergonomic, quite premium, display- great, bright, near bezel-less, software – hate or like, still stuffed with features, could make or break, performance – smooth everyday performance, good for gaming, not the best but good, cameras – much improved than the Realme 1, better details, dynamic range, colors, low light performance, battery – good reliable, charging could be faster. 

Wow, long summary right!

Now, these are the phones that are available around similar price tag including Nokia 6.1 Plus, Motorola one power, and Mi A2. The three biggest competitors for the Realme 2 Pro. 

The Nokia 6.1 Plus is for the Nokia fanatic someone who doesn’t want to compromise on feel and looks, it’s without a doubt more premium looking and feeling than any of these phones. The Motorola One Power is again not as powerful as the Realme, but comes with a big chunky body and huge battery, android one. For someone who wants a bigger battery than a good looking phone.

The Mi A2 is for someone who wants as good or even better performance than the Realme 2 pro, even better cameras in most areas. But the compromise here is bland unimpressive looks and a very unimpressive battery life. 

The Realme 2 pro is a better performer than most and performs very similar to the Mi A2, the software might be a subjective thing, but the rest of the phone is a whole feature packed deal and with the crazy RAM and storage configurations and the constant attempt to use high-quality parts all throughout the phone, the Realme 2 Pro could just be the best phone under Rs. 20,000. 

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Sreehari
sree.hari@u2opiamobile.com

Sreehari is in love; in love with technology. His enthusiasm for new gadgets can be seen in his videos. He single-handedly built Mr. Phone's YouTube channel and continues to persevere with Nitesh in making world-class tech videos. Sree - as everyone calls him affectionately - is also a big fan of Artificial Intelligence and Industrial Design. If he is not working on gadget reviews, Sree is a trained Carnatic singer. When you meet him, do to request for his rendition of Kabira by Arijit Singh.