Realme X2 Pro review: mastering the art of cutting very few corners

Rating: 8.9/10

Pros:

  • Charges from 0 to 100 in 30 minutes. That’s bonkers!
  • 90Hz refresh rate is smooth
  • Speedy performance
  • Excellent stereo speakers

Cons:

  • Too much bloatware
  • Color OS could benefit from a fresh coat of paint

Introduction

The Realme X2 Pro is one of the best – if not the best – value flagships you can buy today. No point burying the lede. You are here to find out the answer to that question. But to know why you will have to read on.

Realme X2 Pro battery performance: madness, this is madness

The main reason why I’d recommend the Realme X2 Pro to anyone or even buy one for myself is the incredulous charging speeds that our tests revealed. Realme claims that you can charge the 4000mAh battery from 0 to 100 in under 35 minutes. But you know what? We actually managed to do it in 30 mins flat! Super VOOC is a tech achievement that deserves its own chapter in smartphone history. And all credit goes to the incredible engineers at OPPO. Obviously, you will see faster-charging technology evolve in the near future but it all started here, in all honesty.

Now, the problem is that your phone does get slightly warm during charging as a result. And, if that worries you, here’s another cool fact: the Realme X2 Pro supports fast charging using any USB-PD 18W charger. This means you can control the speed of charging and save battery life. But, I am sure that there is no problem as such. Only thing, don’t use the phone while charging using the Super VOOC brick. As for the battery life, with 90Hz display turned on, I got around 5 hours and 45 minutes of SoT, which is not too bad. Yes, the K20 Pro will be better but that’s at 60Hz. And, you can squeeze out more life from the battery if you drop the refresh rate to 60Hz.

If you are into gaming, you’d know there are certain games like God of War for the PS4 or Gears for the Xbox One that are known to be system sellers. Similarly, Super VOOC charging tech is undoubtedly going to be a big system seller for Realme.

Realme X2 Pro display: pretty good but the OnePlus 7T is better

So, another USP of the X2 Pro is the 90Hz display on the phone which is not present even on the Redmi K20 Pro or the OnePlus 7. This makes the whole experience of using the phone super smooth. Plus, this is a 6.53-inch Super AMOLED panel with a 20:9 aspect ratio, which means the phone is taller now and easier to grip as well.

The bezels around the display are fairly slim and the only distraction is present in the form of a water-drop notch. This is where the Redmi K20 Pro has an advantage with its pop-out camera and no-notch display. As for Widevine L1, the Realme X2 Pro has that certification activated. Which means you can watch shows on Amazon Prime and Netflix in HD. Furthermore, there’s support for HDR10+ as well. But for some odd reason, the HDR shows are not available in HDR on Netflix.

As for the quality of the panel, the temperature is a little on the cooler side with the whites erring on the side of Blue. The Gentle mode does fix that problem a little, though. To sum it up, the X2 Pro has an attractive display with a max brightness of 1000 nits and punchy colors. However, I still think the OnePlus 7T has a better display overall.

Realme X2 Pro design: the special variants look damn good

If you want me to talk about the X2 Pro’s design, there’s not much to say apart from the fact that it is possibly Realme’s most polished Candybar-style phone. This Corning Gorilla Glass 5 and aluminum sandwich design is the most common one in the industry now. However, Realme does try to do a couple of things differently to stand out. Firstly, the contentious Realme logo placement has split opinions far and wide. I don’t like it per se, but after a point, I didn’t bother much.

Now, the other thing is that you get a couple of special edition variants: Cement and Brick. Trust me, these variants despite the plebeian design ideology, look pretty slick and distinctive. I’d take these any day over the White and Blue variants. The rest of the design is standard fare with a type-C port, headphone jack, and speaker grille at the bottom. A power button and dual-SIM card tray on the right edge, and the volume rocker on the left. These buttons offer great tactile feedback as well.

To secure lock the phone, you get an optical in-display fingerprint scanner and face unlock. I prefer the fingerprint scanner always and the in-display one on the Realme X2 Pro is blazing fast. However, the white light is so bright that it can shine through your fingers lighting up your skin tissues. It looks captivating but in the dark, the white light can get a bit much and could wake you up in an instant.

A couple of other problems I had with the design is the quad-camera module on the rear is slightly raised and it definitely wobbles on the table. Secondly, the earpiece cutout on the top has sharp corners. Here’s the thing though, these are extremely minor niggles and nothing worth making a fuss about.

Realme X2 Pro cameras: gets the job done but not the best

The Realme X2 Pro takes forward Realme’s quad-camera strategy with a 64MP primary camera, a 13MP wide-angle camera, an 8MP telephoto camera, and a 2MP depth sensor. We already have a full camera comparison with the OnePlus 7T and the Redmi K20 Pro. What I found after testing the cameras is the X2 Pro is better than the K20 Pro for most scenarios especially because it has a better dynamic range overall. But, it is the OnePlus 7T that is undoubtedly better and undeniably more expensive too.

Anyway, let me summarise the results of my testing in a few points.

  • Firstly, the Samsung GW1 64MP sensor is not any crisper than the Sony IMX586. And, Realme doesn’t do much to control the noise around the corners.
  • The dynamic range in most pictures is, however, phenomenal across the board.
  • The wide-angle camera can take fairly detailed shots but there is no parity in the dynamic range or the color science.
  • Now, you can go closer to a subject in Macro mode. You can go as close as 2.5cm of a subject and the macro shots look great.
  • Selfies are Realme’s strong suit. I got some incredibly well-detailed selfies in daylight and with Night mode on in the night.
    Realme X2 Pro Selfies (3)
    Realme X2 Pro Selfies (1)
    Realme X2 Pro Selfies (2)
  • Low light pictures look good enough with a fairly competent Nightscape mode but it is definitely not the best option out there. Not even in the same price range.
    Realme X2 Pro Night Photography (1)
    Realme X2 Pro Night Photography (3)
    Realme X2 Pro Night Photography (2)
  • Thanks to yet another OPPO innovation, you get up to 20x digital zoom with a 2x telephoto camera. We saw this first on the OPPO Reno 2. Now, Realme claims this is hybrid zoom and there is no way for me to tell if it is not, so I’ll take their word for it. That said, the quality of pictures even at 20x zoom is pretty good if you have stable hands.
  • One reason why the X2 Pro’s camera performance is going to excite a lot of buyers is the fact that you get stabilization even at 4K 60fps video recording.
  • I don’t see the need for a dedicated Depth Sensor on most phones. Regardless, you get a good portrait shot most of the time on the X2 Pro.

So yeah, there you have it, the Realme X2 Pro has a good set of cameras and it is better than the Redmi K20 Pro as well. But, is it the best? Definitely not.

Realme X2 Pro software: inoffensive but lacks the UI/UX flair

The X2 Pro has the latest version of Color OS running on top of Android 9 Pie. It would’ve been nice to see Android 10, but you get what you get. Anyway, Color OS is not my favorite Android skin by a stretch. Yes, it has improved by leaps and bounds but there are some finishing touches still pending. I hope Color OS 7 can change that. For example, when you hit the search bar the text magnifies and it looks damn odd. Some of the icons and buttons deserve a fresh coat of paint as well.

Having said all that, Color OS is feature-rich with stuff like dual apps, a fairly decent set of navigation gestures and the UI design is inching closer to near-stock experience with the app drawer as well. So, it’s not all bad. In fact, there’s also a dark mode available in beta mode. It is a system-wide dark mode that also converts all the apps to a dark palette. It definitely, looks interesting for an experiment.

Realme X2 Pro performance and call quality: maintaining the hygiene

As is the case with most flagships out there, you get Qualcomm’s latest SD855+ chipset. For India, Realme is importing only the 8GB/128GB and 12GB/256GB variants of the phone. Which is good news considering you will get faster UFS 3.0 storage on it. In fact, while we are at it, let’s take a look at the benchmark scores of the AnTuTu and Geekbench as well.

Realme X2 Pro Benchmarks (3)
Realme X2 Pro Benchmarks (2)
Realme X2 Pro Benchmarks (1)

Evidently, the Realme X2 Pro doesn’t top the charts or set it blazing but these numbers – at this level – don’t really mean much. In daily performance and gaming, the X2 Pro is a very dependable smartphone that does no wrong! I had raging sessions of COD one after the other on the phone, I was trying to get the medal for 400 kills using an Assault Rifle you see. The phone didn’t heat up or lag at any point.

What’s even more surprising is the stereo speaker setup on the X2 Pro is damn good. You get extremely loud sound with a focus on definition and clarity even in the low end. It is by far among the top five best sets of stereo speakers on a flagship phone. This is a distinction because this list includes phones such as the iPhone 11 Pro, Samsung Galaxy Note 10+, and other more expensive phones. Even the headphone jack performance is great but the Redmi K20 Pro is better thanks to the dedicated Hi-Res audio support.

The Realme X2 Pro’s earpiece is crystal clear for calls as well and the mics can also cut out a lot of noise.

Should you buy the Realme X2 Pro?

With the X2 Pro, I really like the fact that Realme has focussed on getting the basics right and add a few more flagship-grade features on top of it. This is why I sincerely think that Realme has mastered the art of cutting very few corners and the right ones too. For example, the Redmi K20 Pro decided to go all screen with a pop-out camera but the X2 Pro goes for a 90Hz display and the fastest charging technology among smartphones. If you put these special features on a weighing scale, evidently the X2 Pro seems like a better bet.

However, the base variant of the phone in India with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage is priced at Rs 29,999. This is higher than the base variant price of the K20 Pro. But the K20 Pro’s 8GB/256GB variant is priced at Rs 1,000 more than the Realme X2 Pro. So, the prices are in the same vicinity and therefore the X2 Pro continues to be a better bet. Evidently, the OnePlus 7T is more expensive but it does offer a better set of cameras and a far better software experience. As for the ASUS 6Z, clearly, the ROG phone II has taken all of its thunder away. You can watch our full review below to get a better idea of the device as well.

Overall, the X2 Pro has a lot going for it and I can see a lot of reasons why one would want to buy this phone.

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Ershad Kaleebullah
ershad.kaleebullah@u2opiamobile.com

When Ershad isn't writing, he spends time killing virtual zombies on his PS4. Having worked with a slew of renowned publications like PCWorld, Channelworld, CIO, NDTV Gadgets (now Gadgets360), MySmartPrice, The Inquistr, and 91Mobiles, Ershad brings a whole world of experience to Mr. Phone. He is trying hard to convert all the team members into Apple fans but is facing a lot of resistance. Is anyone willing to help?