Realme started the year off with a few refreshed models in the budget segment and a brand new 5G-enabled flagship. Now, the company has just launched upgrades to the Realme 5 series, called the Realme 6 and Realme 6 Pro. The more affordable of the two, the Realme 6, features a hole-punch display with a 90Hz refresh rate, both of which are firsts for a budget Realme device and unheard of in the budget segment before now. This phone also packs in the powerful MediaTek Helio G90T SoC, which was exclusive to the Redmi Note 8 Pro in India for quite some time now.
What has changed is the positioning as the Realme 6, as it now starts at Rs. 12,999. While the higher pricing will raise eyebrows, does it have the goods to justify this price? We review the Realme 6 to see if it's the best budget smartphone you can get right now.
Realme 6 design
Rather than the Sunrise design on its lowest-cost models, Realme has introduced a new Comet design. The Realme 6 has a gradient finish with multiple streaks running down the back, converging at the bottom centre where the charging port is. It shines when light hits it, giving this phone a premium look.
The Realme 6 sports a 6.5-inch display which is identical to what the Realme 5 (Review) had. However, the new phone doesn't have a notch. Instead, it has a hole-punch which isn't very common at this price point. The hole is in the top left corner. The display has thin bezels on the side, but the bottom chin is considerably thicker.
The corners of the Realme 6 are rounded so it does not dig into your palm while you are holding the device. The back is slightly curved at the sides which makes it comfortable to hold. As another first, Realme has opted for a side-mounted fingerprint scanner which is positioned on the right side of the device. We liked the placement since that is where the thumb naturally rests while holding the smartphone in the right hand. If you are left-handed, you might have to enrol your left index finger and thumb to unlock the smartphone.
The Realme 6 has a hole-punch display and slots for two Nano-SIMs as well as a microSD card
Realme has moved the volume buttons to the left and has positioned them slightly lower which makes them easy to hit. The SIM tray is right above the volume buttons and sits flush with the body. We did notice that the phone is a bit thick at 9.6mm and packs in a 4,300mAh battery. This phone weighs 191g which is manageable. Realme has finally moved to the USB Type-C standard, which was long overdue. Alongside the Type-C port are the 3.5mm headphone jack and the loudspeaker grille.
Just like most popular recently launched smartphones in the market, the Realme 6 packs a quad-camera setup at the back. The module protrudes slightly but has a metal trim around it which should prevent it from getting scratched. Speaking of which, you should note that the rear panel isn't glass, and could pick up minor scuffs and scratches. Realme has bundled a clear case in the box which we recommend that you use.
Realme 6 specifications and software
With the Realme 6, the company offers a full-HD+ display, something that was missing on the previous model. The display has a 90Hz refresh rate which helps the smartphone deliver a smooth experience. Realme has set the refresh rate to Auto which lets the phone decide between 60Hz and 90Hz, but you can override this. The display has a density of 405ppi and thanks to the hole-punch, the Realme 6 has a screen-to-body ratio of 90.5 percent. There's Gorilla Glass 3 on the front for protection.
Powering the Realme 6 is the MediaTek Helio G90T, a powerful SoC which we have used on the Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro (Review). This processor has two Cortex-A76 cores clocked at 2.05GHz and six cores clocked at 2.0GHz. Realme offers three variants: 4GB of RAM with 64GB of storage priced at Rs. 12,999; 6GB of RAM with 128GB of storage for Rs. 14,999; and 8GB of RAM with 128GB of storage for Rs. 15,999. The smartphone uses the UFS 2.1 storage standard. We had the top-of-the-line variant for our review.
In terms of connectivity, this phone offers Bluetooth 5, dual-band Wi-Fi ac, and three navigation systems. It is a dual-SIM device with support for 4G as well as VoLTE. It also has the usual sensors.
The Realme 6 runs Android 10 out of the box
Realme has made some changes when it comes to software. The company no longer ships ColorOS on its smartphones; instead there's its own Realme UI. The new Realme UI runs on top of Android 10 on the Realme 6. Our device was running the February security patch.
We found the UI to be easy to use with a look that's close to stock Android. The Settings app is well designed and we didn't have to struggle to get to what we were looking for. Realme UI also gets features such as Digital Wellbeing, Focus Mode, Dark Mode, and Riding Mode among others. Realme Dual-Mode Audio, which allows you to connect a Bluetooth and a wired headset to listed to music on the smartphone, is available but the feature is listed under Realme Lab.
We found quite a few preinstalled apps on the device, such as Facebook, Dailyhunt, Gaana, Helo, Opera News, UC Browser, WPS Office and a few Google apps. It also has a few apps from Realme such as Realme Store, Community, Game Center, Game Space and its own app store called App Market. Stock apps such as Browser would push notifications constantly, which we had to disable.
Realme 6 performance and battery life
The spec sheet of the Realme 6 looks interesting and it does translate to good performance in day-to-day use. The 90Hz refresh rate makes the interface very smooth. We found the display to be slightly reflective under sunlight, but the panel gets bright enough to watch content on. We found the viewing angles to be decent, and this phone does let you change the colour temperature of the panel.
The side-mounted fingerprint scanner on the Realme 6 is quick to unlock the smartphone and we had no issues with it. We also set up face recognition which uses the selfie camera. We found this to be super quick as well. Once the raise-to-wake feature is enabled, unlocking the smartphone requires very little effort.
Realme 6 has a side-mounted fingerprint scanner
We were happy with the performance of the Realme 6 as we never had to wait for long for it to load apps. With 8GB of RAM on our device, it could multitask easily without needing to terminate apps in the background. App load times were low as well.
We ran benchmarks on the Realme 6 to see where it stands compared to some of the other smartphones we have tested recently. In the AnTuTu benchmark, the Realme 6 managed to score 290,210 points which is surprisingly higher than the score the Poco X2 (Review) managed. In Geekbench 5's single-core and multi-core tests, the Realme 6 managed 467 and 1688 points respectively. The Realme 6 also scored 59fps and 25fps in GFXBench T-Rex and Manhattan 3.1.
Mediatek has positioned the Helio G90 series as gaming processors and we were curious to see how the Realme 6 would fare with gaming. We played PUBG Mobile on the smartphone and it defaulted to the High settings with graphics set to HD and frame rate set to High. We did not notice any lag or stutter while playing the game at these settings. After about 20 minutes we did notice that the smartphone got slightly warm to the touch.
Realme has finally switched to a USB Type C port
Battery life on the Realme 6 is quite good. It managed to go on for 19 hours, 26 minutes in our HD video loop test. With our usage, the Realme 6 managed to go on for over a day and a half before needing to be plugged in. A 30W fast charger is bundled in the box. Using this, the phone got to 65 percent in 30 minutes and took a little over an hour to charge completely.
Realme 6 cameras
The Realme 6 packs in a quad-camera setup at the back consisting of a 64-megapixel primary camera, an 8-megapixel wide-angle camera with a 119-degree field of view, a 2-megapixel monochrome camera, and a 2-megapixel macro camera. At the front, it has a 16-megapixel selfie shooter. The camera software is identical to what we have seen several other mid-range smartphones, and we had no issues going through the different shooting modes in the camera app. There are quick toggles for HDR, filters, and Chroma Boost. There is AI scene recognition and the smartphone is able to detect what it is pointed towards.
Realme 6 daylight sample (tap to see full-size image)
Realme 6 wide-angle sample (tap to see full-size image)
The Realme 6 was quick to focus and metered light properly in most scenarios. In daylight, the Realme 6 captured good shots, and details were visible on zooming in. In bright scenes, the Realme 6 enables HDR automatically. Photos are taken at 16 megapixels by default but you can take 64-megapixel shots if you like. These had significantly better detail thanks to the higher resolution.
The wide-angle camera on the Realme 6 is not as good as at dynamic range as the primary camera. Photos do offer a wide field of view but there is a noticeable reduction in terms of detail and the quality. The output was slightly distorted at the edges too.
Realme 6 close-up sample (tap to see full-size image)
Realme 6 portrait sample (tap to see full-size image)
For close-ups, the Realme 6 does a good job at separating subjects from backgrounds. It managed to focus quickly as well, resulting in good shots. Portrait Mode lets you select the level of blur before taking a shot. Edge detection was excellent, and the phone could distinguish between subjects and backgrounds correctly.
The macro camera lacks autofocus but lets you get close to a subject. It managed to take good shots when shooting indoors. The output is restricted to 2-megapixels in resolution.
Realme 6 low-light sample (tap to see full-size image)
Realme 6 night mode sample (tap to see full-size image)
In low light, the camera quality dips slightly. While you will still get good-looking shots, you will notice a lack of detail on zooming in. The Night Mode does a much better job in low light by stitching together multiple frames delivering a brighter overall result. Shots taken with Night Mode had significantly better details.
Realme 6 selfie sample (tap to see full-size image)
Selfies shot with the Realme 6 had good detail, and beautification is enabled by default. You can switch this off to get a natural-looking output. These photos are good enough to be shared on social media.
Video recording tops out at 4K for the primary shooter and 1080p for the selfie camera. You do have the option to shoot at 1080p 60fps using the primary camera. Footage shot at 1080p is stabilised, but not at 4K. We did notice a slight shimmer effect in low light.
Realme has once again delivered an impressive smartphone at a reasonable price with the Realme 6. This device packs in a powerful processor, delivers good battery life, and also comes with a 30W fast charger in the box. Realme's UI has improved but we do wish there was less bloatware. If you are looking for a value-for-money device priced at or around Rs. 15,000, you might want to wait just a little while for Xiaomi's Redmi Note 9 series to be launched. However, you will still be satisfied with this phone.