Realme 2 review: you win some you lose some

Realme 2 - Realme 3

Rating: 7.7/10

Yay: 

  • Good looking design
  • Upgraded camera performance
  • Fingerprint scanner and face unlock
  • Big battery
  • Notched display

Nay:

  • Downgraded chipset
  • Display quality could’ve been better

A few months ago we saw Oppo launch a rather playfully named Realme series in India with the Realme 1. It’s only been a few months now, and we already seem to have a successor in the form of the all new Realme 2. The new smartphone compromises on the processor and display quality in order to accommodate dual cameras, a fingerprint scanner, and a modern looking notch display, but is it enough to get people to buy the new Realme 2. Well, here is our full review for you to find out the answer to that exact question. 

Realme 2 Design: like an equally good looking twin

The design on the Realme 1 was not bad and while they used plastic, it was designed quite sturdily. It hasn’t changed a lot, body wise, for the Realme 2. The bottom also looks very similar to the Realme 1, plus it looks and sounds like you get the exact same parts too. The diamond cut look we all loved on the Realme 1 is back on the Realme 2 and now is available in three colours including a Red and a Blue. 

Realme 2 design

The one small design change apart from the obvious dual cameras and the fingerprint scanner is the frame. The Realme 1’s frame is glossy plastic just like the back whereas the Realme 2 has a matte metal finish frame. I think this is a good design change. As I said in my previous review, glossy and matte surfaces are slippery or grippy depending on the skin type, this way we get the best of both worlds.

You still get the exact same positioning for the buttons and the sim tray also has three slots; two for sim cards and one for a micro SD card. 

Realme 2 ports

The oppo branding also has been removed and it just says Realme now. The first of many signs that Realme has made to indicate that it is a separate brand. 

It is still plenty wide and comfortable to hold with an almost perfectly placed fingerprint scanner. It’s also a different surface than the rest of the back which makes it easier to recognize.

I’d say it’s one of the very few devices in its price which sits at the sweet spot between solid design and good looks.

Realme 2 Display: #ANotchAbove

The display on the Realme 1 was actually quite impressive for the price, and apart from the fact that the brightness was slightly on the lower side, I really enjoyed using it. The Realme 2’s display, well, it has a notch, let’s get that out of the way.

Realme 2 display

Now, the thing that made Realme 1 good was that it was a Full HD+ screen, the Realme 2 has a lower resolution HD+ screen. Not just that, they have, according to me, used an inferior quality display, it just doesn’t feel like a good display compared to the Realme 1’s. That said, the Realme 1 has a cooler color temperature compared to the more color accurate whites on the Realme 2.

The bezels are smaller on the realme 2, not just on the top but also the bottom chin is bigger on the Realme 1. The Realme 2’s display also has an unappealing color shift which is one of the ways I realised the lower quality panel used.  To get the notch and smaller bezels and to keep the costs same, Realme chose to use a lower quality panel. That’s not entirely their fault. I think people really want a notched display bad enough to live with these compromises. That said, Realme 2 does have a slightly more saturated display and way better brightness. With the display, I do have certain complaints, but all in all, it is not a downgrade for most people. 

Realme 2 Software: there’s good in everyone

Talking about software the Realme 2 just like the Realme 1 runs Color OS 5.1. Although it does by default look slightly different than the Realme 1. For starters, the Home screen comes with a clock widget on top and the search bar on the bottom compared to what the Realme 1 looks like. The smart feed on the left also looks just a little different in terms of looks. And this is a theme you’ll see throughout the UI, the apps haven’t really changed on the inside, but they all just have refreshed icons, which honestly doesn’t make a difference for me, I think this change is probably been made to separate themselves from the Oppo phones that come with the same Color OS. 

Realme 2 software

They both also carry Android 8.1 below the Color OS skin, which actually makes both of them exactly the same in almost all cases when it comes to the software. Talking about the differences both of them have navigation gestures but when we turn to recents screen we see that the Realme 2 has the cards shaped according to the phone and the Realme 1 has more squared borders. The Realme 1, however, shows the RAM info while the Realme 2 doesn’t. 

The quick settings panel is also black on the Realme 1 compared to a white clad panel on the Realme 2, even the toggles also show active status in different ways. So all the changes we saw again were visual changes. Now getting into settings. Everything looks pretty much untouched, you have the option to change color temperatures in the settings, you also have nightshade or just eye protection built in. The Realme 2 seems to have opted out of lock screen magazine which is where you get new wallpapers every day and some text on it too. I don’t mind it, but I know a lot of people like to have that on their phone so this is something that isn’t present here. 

There is a dedicated DND mode called the Quiet time. Now there’s a security tab that I had never before delved deeply into and this time when I did, I must say I’m surprised. It is one of the most extensive and feature packed softwares. SO the first tab is permissions, here you obviously set permissions individually, and you can literally go and alter permissions for any of these things and they also can be done app wise, so you really have control here. 

Now there are a few features that Realme 2 has to take advantage of that notch, like the full-screen multitasking toggle where whenever you are in an app with full screen, you can quickly interact with apps in a floating window without disturbing whatever’s going on in the background. There are limited apps and features right now, but they mostly seem helpful. 

The next interesting thing is called Protect personal information, here what the software does is it provides empty or dummy info for call history or contacts or messages and events in order to that app to at least work. Because there are apps that just don’t really need them for proper functioning but make it necessary to get this information. So you can see just how handy and smart that is.

Arranging is easy and when you put apps in folders it detects the type in most cases. You can also rearrange anywhere on the screen which makes things easier and customizable

Next, we have payment protection, which basically makes sure that your payments are as secure as possible by making sure that the checklist is followed. The blacklist and whitelist sit under Anti-harassment/blocking which makes it sound more secure than it is. You also have Fake station blocking, fake base stations or Pseudo base stations. They are popularly known, basically as the name stations fake network hubs imitating your cellular towers and sending messages and calls which would not be allowed through your cellular tower. These are illegally used and are usually where you get those win an iPhone or 5 million in a day messages come from. Many of us know enough to delete or ignore them, but most out there don’t and this setting which is on by default helps them avoid falling into that trap. You also get in-built app lock, kids lock and Private space for your pictures, apps, documents etc. And you can also choose to turn fingerprint or face or both to unlock the private space. 

The Face Unlock is better on Realme 1, and even the screen opens up faster on it, for some odd reason both of them open even with eyes closed, but you have the option to turn that off. Which is weird (Improv). Other than that the Realme 1 has Oppo cloud which the Realme 2 lacks, again probably because they are trying to establish it as a completely different sub-brand. There’s also game acceleration rebranded as game space. So basically it’s just the same phones with different masks (improv) real shitty mask makers who can’t differentiate. 

Realme 2 Performance: not worth the price

The Realme 2 uses a snapdragon 450, well that is a bummer. This news has probably upset most of you people purely because you know how good the Helio P60 is and also because there are so many better processors at this price. Well, how bad is it? It’s not bad, I haven’t had many problems in day to day use, but clearly, the Realme 1 feels snappier to me, it opens up apps faster.

Realme 2 Performance

The UI since is feature packed also adds to the stutters. It’s neither been very bad or very good. Gaming again wasn’t a breeze, smaller games like Shadow fight, and Alto’s odyssey although took a long time to load, they played very smoothly. On the other hand, heavier games like PUBG only had stutters, it was just nowhere close to a good experience, buttons would take time to respond. The Realme 2 performance wasn’t enjoyable, but it wasn’t completely bad either. 

Antutu of Realme 1 is almost double of the Realme 2 which is not acceptable, I mean I understand that you had to downgrade to give space for other better parts, but when the downgrade is this significant it becomes difficult not to criticise. 

Talking about call quality here, all the calls I made with it sounded good, and while it has a slightly smaller earpiece than the Realme 1, it all sounds the same. You also get a standard headphone jack with not too great not too shabby audio.

Realme 2 Cameras: the power of two

Realme 2 cameras

The cameras are the second area where Realme 2 is an upgrade, this time around we have dual cameras which include a 13MP f/2.2 primary lens plus a 2MP f/2.4 lens for depth sensing, the front camera is an 8MP f/2.0.

Click to view full quality photo and video samples

The images do look sharper and also actually have more details in them. The dynamic range, the details the colours all look better on the Realme 2 for me. The low light still looks like a patchy game, where the Realme 1’s images look better, but the rest of the pictures are all better from the Realme 2.

So definitely there has been an upgrade here and it’s showing. There is a camera comparison that you can watch below, it shows the difference between the camera outputs of Realme 1 and 2 in a very real way. 

Realme 2 Battery: it’s bigger and it’s better

Battery life on this is awesome, I mean the Realme 1 already had a big 3410 mAh battery. Add about 800mAh to it at 4320mAh, which they’ve achieved without really making the phone feel heavier or thicker. And that I don’t know how, but I’m happy. The battery life looks good and not worrisome at all, the screen has definitely become larger but since the resolution has dropped so it should actually be an even longer battery life.  The charging time isn’t bad too, my Realme 2 charged from 0 to 100% in nearly 2 hours 30 minutes 15 minutes more or less. So coming to the battery, I think this is an upgrade in every way possible. 

Conclusion:

The Realme 2 clearly makes compromises on some of Realme 1’s greatest features. It does that to accommodate some important consumer-centric upgrades like a modern looking display with more accurate and good looking colours, a reliable fingerprint scanner, and clearly better-performing cameras. I know that most reviewers and consumers are just bashing Realme for including the downgraded processor, but the point is that the Realme 2 completely changes the market for itself and if you are someone who was expecting a Realme 1 successor then maybe the Realme 2 Pro might be the answer. Till that, I think It’s a good looking phone with features packed to the neck, cameras that seem very capable, and a battery life that seems too big for the form factor. 

You can buy the Realme 2 exclusively on flipkart starting September 4th.

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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.