Realme X2 review: Consolidating the mid-range with yet another winner

Rating: 8 / 10

Pros:

  • Pearl Green colour looks exquisite 
  • Long-lasting battery life
  • Capable performer
  • Cameras perform admirably

Cons:

  • Back smudges easily
  • Display doesn’t merge seamlessly into the frame
  • No stereo speaker setup

It’s been less than a month since the Realme X2 Pro (review) set the affordable flagship space on fire and in doing so, presumably made a number of OnePlus 7T (review) owners unhappy. Now, the company is hoping to cause an upset to Xiaomi’s undisputed run in the affordable space with the Realme X2, which will go up against the coveted Redmi K20. Well, does Realme’s X2 have what it takes to go up against the very best and become India’s next favourite affordable smartphone? Let’s find out in this review.

Design and Display

I feel that smartphone OEMs are having the most fun designing handsets in the affordable segment. Now, if you want any proof of that, then just look around. Be it the Redmi K20, or the Vivo Z1X, you no longer have to splurge all your bling to get a fancy-looking handset. The Realme X2 is no exception either and the smartphone had me entranced from the word go. Be it the handset’s mesmerizing gradient back, or its unique Pearl Green hue – a colour which I rarely ever see on smartphones – the X2 has what it takes to be the showstopper at a party.

Now, make no mistake – the smartphone is a carbon copy of its predecessor, the Realme XT which is why, the X2’s peppy green coat at least gives the impression of a new phone. The other two hues, namely Pearl White and Pearl Blue were available on the XT too, so if you want your phone to make a statement and stand out in the crowd, you’ll want the green shade. On a side note, the back of the X2 is coated with a layer of Corning’s Gorilla Glass v5 too, making it somewhat impervious to dings and scratches.


So, where could Realme do better? Don’t get me wrong, the design of the X2 is good but it’s not without its faults either.  For one, the back of the smartphone smudges very easily, so you’ll have to wipe it down a handful of times a day to keep it in pristine condition. Secondly, the handset features a chunky camera bump which not only makes it impossible to use the device when it’s laid flat on a table, but it also looks very unflattering. Lastly, I am not the biggest fan of the plastic trim which holds the display as it breaks away from the phone’s otherwise seamless design. On the contrary, I quite like the approach on phones like the Redmi K20, wherein the display merges into the frame of the phone.

Barring these minor knick-knacks though, the X2’s design is as good as they come. And, the same goes for the smartphone’s display too. The handset features a 6.4-inch full HD+ Super AMOLED panel which offers punchy colours and excellent contrast. What’s more, the panel comes with WideVine L1 certification, so you should be able to stream your favourite movies and shows from apps like Netflix in HD. And, in case you were wondering, the display gets plenty bright too, so sunlight legibility shouldn’t be a problem either.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to benefit from the growing library of HDR titles on video-streaming platforms as the X2’s display doesn’t come with support for HDR. In fact, barring the Redmi K20 and the Nokia 7.2, you’d be hard-pressed to find any smartphone in the affordable segment with an HDR-compliant panel.

Furthermore, unlike the aforementioned K20, the display on the Realme X2 ships with a notch. Now, the cutout is pretty tiny and it doesn’t feel as intrusive as say, the iPhone’s notch but I’d still choose the K20’s display over the X2’s screen in a heartbeat – it’s a tad bit more vibrant and is void of any holes of any sort.

As for the ports and buttons, the X2 features a USB Type-C port at the bottom, which utilizes the company’s 30W VOOC charging tech to refuel the battery. I’ll talk more about the smartphone’s battery life in the subsequent sections but rest assured, it’s much, much better than what you’d get with the Redmi K20. Moving on, the USB port is flanked on either side by a mono-speaker grill and a headphone jack. The speaker output is quite loud, but the unit gets easily muffled when I was gaming or watching a movie. The audio output from the headphone jack, however, is fantastic and I expected no less from a phone with hi-res audio certification.

For security, the smartphone offers an in-display fingerprint sensor and facial recognition. Both the unlocking mechanisms worked perfectly well during my testing, so no complaints here. And, if you make a lot of calls, then you’ll be happy to know that the X2’s microphone relayed my voice clearly over to the other end and I didn’t notice any distortion through the phone’s earpiece either.

Performance

The Realme X2 is the only phone under Rs 20K to ship with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 730G processor. The chip works alongside either 4GB, 6GB or 8GB of LPDDR4X memory. Correspondingly, the X2 offers either 64GB or 128GB of built-in, user-expandable UFS 2.1 storage. So, what do all these specs mean? Well, for one, you’re getting an extremely capable smartphone that can easily handle day to day tasks like browsing the web, multitasking between half a dozen apps, etc. You’re also going to get outstanding gaming performance for the price too and titles like PUBG Mobile and Call of Duty ran perfectly fine with the graphics setting set to medium. On PUBG, I could run the game at high frame rate with the graphics locked to HD, which is great.

Realme X2 Benchmark 1
Realme X2 Benchmark 2
Realme X2 Benchmark 3
Realme X2 Benchmark 4

And finally, you’ll get to flex on your friends who bought the XT with slightly higher benchmark scores. I ran a slurry of synthetic tests on the phone and unsurprisingly, the X2 beats the pants off any Snapdragon 710 / 712 SoC phone.

Software

The Realme X2 ships with ColourOS v6.1 which has been layered on top of Android Pie. Now, I would’ve liked to see the phone run the latest version of Android but Realme has announced plans to bring ColorOS v7 (which is based on Android 10) to its smartphones very soon. Personally, I can’t wait for the update because as things stand, the software onboard the X2 needs a lot of tweaks.

For one, it’s impossible to delete a folder without clearing out the apps within it. Secondly, the device ships with a ton of bloatware, which eats up into the phone’s built-in storage. Then, there are the push notifications from bundled apps like the theme store which will spam you until you take out the time and disable them from the settings altogether.

That’s not to say that the phone’s skin is outright unusable. In fact, there are a ton of handy utilities that you get with Color OS v6.1. Features like Game Space, gesture-based navigation, off-screen gestures, and Private safe are all extremely useful. I even like how holding the back gesture for a split second quickly lets you switch to the last used app. Moreover, the phone comes with support for Google’s Project Treble so theoretically, it should get quick updates down the line too. However, having used Colour OS v7 on the OPPO Reno 10x Zoom edition (review), the company’s current OS just doesn’t cut it for me.

Cameras

The Realme X2 employs the same rear camera setup as seen on the XT. Consequently, you’ll get a 64MP Samsung GW1 sensor as your primary shooter, which is accompanied by an 8MP wide-angle lens with a 119-degrees field of view, a 2MP Super Macro sensor, and a 2MP depth sensor. For selfies, the smartphone brings a brand new 32MP shooter to the mix.

Now, despite offering a slightly superior ISP in the form of the Spectra 350, the Realme X2 clicks similar photos to the XT. To that note, shots taken during the day look beautiful and have an abundance of details. You can add more information to the photos by switching to the 64MP mode, which undoubtedly ups the level of detailing you get in your pictures.

That being said, the sensor does struggle to keep the exposure under control at times, which is evident if you’re clicking a photo with the sun staring you down. However, this is a tricky shot for any smartphone and I’m quite content with what the X2 can do during the day with its main sensor.

Realme X2 daylight 2
Realme X2 daylight
Realme X2 64MP
Realme X2 daylight 4
Realme X2 daylight 6
Realme X2 rear portrait
Realme X2 macro 2
Realme X2 macro 1
Realme X2 lowlight
Realme X2 lowlight with night mode
Realme X2 daylight 3

Coming to the smartphone’s ultra-wide angle sensor, it works well, however, the edges of the images are noticeably blurry in almost all of my test shots. Moreover, when it comes to taking close-ups, the Realme X2 blotches the reds quite a bit too, which can be seen in the photos of my garden. However, point the camera to something not red and you’d be awestruck by how good the closeups can be. A word of advice – keep the chroma boost off for all the shots as the Realme X2’s AI scene recognition already amplifies the level of saturation in a photo.

As for selfies, the 32MP front-facing camera on the Realme X2 clicks fantastic photos with a lot of details. In fact, the X2 just might be the next best phone for selfie fanatics out there – the pictures are crisp, the exposure is almost always spot on and the skin tone looks natural.

I remember using Macro sensors on other smartphones but I never found the quality of the photos up to the mark. However, the X2’s macro sensor made me squat to click pictures of petals and ants more times than I can remember. The ultra close up images of flowers look brilliant and they will definitely spruce up your Instagram feed.

The night shots look just as good too. Under dimly light conditions, the pixel-binned shots from the 64MP sensor manage to retain a substantial amount of detail in the scene. However, should you come across a scene with little to no light, the smartphone’s built-in nightscape work will at least get you a share-worthy shot. Interestingly, Realme has implemented the nightscape mode to work with the front-facing camera as well, something you won’t find even on the Redmi K20. Correspondingly, the shots from the front-facing camera turn out great under lowlight even if you don’t use the screen-flash feature.

As for videos, the smartphone can record videos at 4K 30 fps without any fuss. The footage for the 4K clips turned out great, but I much preferred the smoother output from the 1080p 60fps clips. Moreover, if you’d like to slow things down, then you should know that the X2 goes toe to toe with the Redmi K20 and can record super slow-mo videos at 960fps in HD resolution. It even one-ups most premium flagship smartphones by offering bokeh video for the front, as well as the rear-facing camera.

I will be doing a full-fledged camera comparison between the Realme X2 and other devices in its price range. So, if you want to know just how good the phone’s cameras really are, stay tuned. Also, since a lot of you are interested in installing a google camera mod on the phone, you should know that the X2 comes with support for Camera2 api. Therefore, Gcam should work on this device just fine.

Battery life

The Realme X2 is fueled by a 4,000mAh battery which comfortably lasted me a full day on heavy usage. In fact, I was averaging close to 5.5-6 hours of screen on time with the phone, which is a fantastic number. Now, say you drain the phone within a day. Well, thankfully, the X2 features the company’s new and improved VOOC charging 4.0 which charges the phone to fifty percent in just half an hour and fills the battery entirely in just 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Verdict

So, where does that leave us? Well, the Realme X2 starts at Rs 16,999 for the 4GB RAM variant, however, goes all the way up to Rs 19,999 for the 8GB RAM and 128GB storage model. For its asking price, the Realme X2 brings a lot of enticing features to the table, including a good-looking design, capable cameras, and solid performance. Realistically, the only phone that offers similar specs to the X2 is the Redmi K20. Now, choosing between the two smartphones is no easy feat, however, here’s a quick breakdown of what separates one phone from the other. Firstly, the K20 offers a better full-screen display out of the box with support for HDR, along with a slightly more polished design. Now, the rear camera performance of the two phones is more or less on par with one another however, the X2’s selfie-camera is way better than what you’d get with the Redmi K20.

On the flip side, while the Redmi K20 already runs Android 10, the X2 is yet to get the latest update. At the same time, the X2 comes with support for a faster charging standard and has a slightly better SoC too, which offers around 15 percent improvement in graphics processing.

Ultimately, it’ll all boil down to your personal preference. As diplomatic as that might sound, there’s honestly no clear winner here. But, rest assured, you cannot go wrong with either of the two smartphones. 

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