Realme introduced a new premium ‘X' model back in May, as its first proper flagship in the Chinese market. With the Realme X, the company has tried to incorporate many flagship-level features while still hitting that sub-Rs. 20,000 price segment, in which it currently has some pretty popular phones, such as the Realme 3 Pro (Review). The Realme X is now in India, and while it might lack a true flagship-level processor, it tries to balance that out with a modern, notch-free design, pop-up selfie camera, and in-display fingerprint sensor — all at a very affordable price.
We currently have some really good options under Rs. 20,000 such as the Samsung Galaxy M40 (Review), Redmi Note 7 Pro (Review), and Vivo Z1 Pro (Review), so the Realme X has some tough competition. On paper, it seems as though Realme has covered its bases pretty well, and now it's time to see if can deliver the kind of results we're expecting in day-to-day usage.
Realme X design
The Realme X scores well in terms of design, and apart from the striking looks, it even feels premium. This phone is available in Polar White and Space Blue trims, of which we reviewed the former. The off-white finish complements the chrome-plated sides well. The phone is a little thick at 9.33mm, but it doesn't feel too heavy, even at 191g.
Realme also launched the Realme X in special Onion and Garlic finishes in China, which will also be available to buy in India. There's also a special Spider-Man: Far From Home edition which comes with a Spider-Man themed case, special theme, and a commemorative box.
The Realme X has a large OLED display, which produces punchy and vivid colours
On the front of the Realme X, we have a large 6.53-inch, full-HD+ OLED display with Gorilla Glass 5. The bezels around the display are very slim, except for the slightly thick chin at the bottom. There's no notch or hole, which means there's no interruption to your content. The sides of the display aren't curved, but overall, this phone resembles the OnePlus 7 Pro (Review) quite a bit, which isn't a bad thing at all.
Colours are vivid and punchy, and the brightness gets satisfyingly high which makes it easy to view content under any kind of light. Our review unit had a screen protector pre-applied, but its edges felt rough to us when interacting with the display, so we got rid of it.
The Realme X has an in-display optical fingerprint sensor from Goodix, which is fast at authenticating your finger, and we had a good success rate during our review period. You also get five different animations to choose from. There is face recognition too, using the centre-mounted pop-up selfie camera.
Realme says the pop-up mechanism on the Realme X has been tested to withstand around 200,000 cycles, so hopefully, you shouldn't have any issues for as long as you own the phone. The material covering the front sensor is said to be sapphire glass, which is good for durability. There's also a motion-triggered safety mechanism, which automatically retracts the camera module when the phone detects that it is falling.
We finally get a USB Type-C port on a Realme phone
The shiny back of the Realme X looks like glass, but it's actually a polycarbonate layer. Thankfully, it didn't seem to pick up scuff marks, and smudges aren't easily visible on the white colour. The Realme logo is placed vertically in the centre this time, and above it, we have the dual cameras and LED flash. The physical volume and power buttons are placed ergonomically on either side of the phone.
At the bottom, we have the headphone jack, USB Type-C port, and a single speaker. It's nice to finally see Realme adopting the newer USB standard. The SIM tray is on the side, and only accepts two Nano-SIM cards. The Realme X is the company's first phone without expandable storage. In India, this shouldn't be a big issue since all variants have 128GB of storage.
In the box, you get a hard plastic case for the phone, a USB Type-C cable, a VOOC 3.0 fast charger, a SIM eject tool, and manuals.
Realme X specifications and software
The Realme X is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 SoC, which we recently saw in the less expensive Realme 3 Pro. Compared to the Snapdragon 675, which is also a popular choice in this segment, CPU performance is a little weaker but it has better integrated graphics capabilities and is slightly more power efficient thanks to its smaller 10nm fabrication.
In India, the Realme X is available in two variants — one with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage (Rs. 16,999), and the other with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage (Rs. 19,999), which is the one that we have. The type of RAM used is LPDDR4X and you also get decently quick UFS 2.1 storage.
Other specifications of the Realme. X include dual 4G with VoLTE, dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5, support for GPS, GLONASS, and Beidou navigation systems, and the usual suite of sensors. This phone doesn't have FM radio though.
The Realme X runs ColorOS 6, which is based on Android 9 Pie
The software is fairly up-to-date, with the Realme X running ColorOS 6 based on Android 9 Pie, along with the June Android security patch. The interface is similar to what we've recently seen on the Realme 3 Pro (Review), with no major changes. Thanks to the OLED panel, you can have an always-on display when the phone is in standby. However, it's limited to just showing the time, date, battery percentage, and missed alerts for SMSes and calls, but not notifications from any other app.
There are plenty of pre-installed apps, from Realme as well as third-party vendors. Some like NewsPoint are notorious for spamming you with notifications, but it can be uninstalled. Realme's App Market is another app that does this, but you can reduce the number of notifications you get by disabling alerts from within the app.
There's a Theme Store app for customising the wallpapers and icons; commuting aids such as Driving Mode and Riding Mode which silence notifications; and some motion and gesture shortcuts. ColorOS also lets you run two instances of certain apps, and there's a gesture for quickly enabling split-screen mode in compatible apps.
Game Centre is an app store which curates free games from the Play Store, but it's a little redundant when you already have the Google Play Store. Game Space organises all your games in one place and offers options to lock the brightness and prioritise system resources to the running game.
The unit that Realme sent us was only Widevine L3 certified, however the company says that retail units will carry the L1 certification, which allows video on-demand apps such as Netflix and Prime Video to stream video in HD resolutions and above.
Realme X performance and battery life
The Realme X is a big phone. It's not very wide, so getting a good grip isn't an issue, but it is tall, which makes reaching the top of the display with one hand virtually impossible. You can enable one-handed mode, which shrinks the entire interface. We didn't find the body to be slippery, but in case you do, the bundled case should provide additional grip.
The Realme X feels comfortable in the hand and is quite the attention grabber. A fun fact is that a lot of people mistook it for the OnePlus 7 Pro, since they both have a very similar design language.
The pop-up camera works well for face authentication
The Realme X also runs cool with regular use as well as when performing CPU-intensive tasks such as gaming. Realme says it has used a new type of gel cooling technique, which uses a copper foil, graphite flakes, and an aluminium alloy for better heat dissipation. The Snapdragon 710 SoC delivers good gaming performance, and heavy titles such as PUBG Mobile default to the ‘High' graphics preset. Gameplay was smooth, without any stutter even in intense battles. Other titles such as Asphalt 9: Legends also ran smoothly, with no visible frame drops.
The Realme X is also very good for media playback. This is Realme's first phone with Dolby Atmos support. It's enabled by default for the bottom speaker and cannot be turned off. However, if you're using headphones, you can switch it off. You can choose between different sound modes or leave it at ‘Smart' which will automatically pick the best effect for the type of content being consumed. Even though there's only a single audio channel, it doesn't sound one-sided. The volume also gets loud and the quality is quite good.
While the fingerprint sensor on the Realme X is quick at authentication, face recognition is also fast. You can engage this in two ways —either press the power button to wake the screen and pop the camera module up, or swipe up on the lock screen. In darkness, the screen flashes brightly for a brief moment, which is enough for the camera to authenticate you.
Even with heavy use of the camera, the Realme X is still able to deliver solid day-long battery life. The 3,765mAh battery lasted for 14 hours and 28 minutes in our battery loop test, which is a good sign. When using this phone regularly with a mix of video streaming, camera usage, gaming, and social apps, we easily managed to go a day and a half, on one charge.
The phone also supports VOOC 3.0 fast charging, and we managed to get from zero to about 93 percent in an hour.
Realme X cameras
The Realme X uses the Sony IMX 586 48-megapixel rear camera, with a 5-megapixel depth sensor. The main sensor has an aperture of f/1.7 and uses 4-in-1 pixel binning which treats four pixels as one to capture more light, and saves 12-megapixel photos. This is the same sensor used in the Redmi Note 7 Pro (Review) and the OnePlus 7 Pro (Review), which both showed good results when we reviewed them.
Tap too see full-sized Realme X camera sample
With landscapes shot under good light, the main camera on the Realme X does a good job with colours and detail. Distant objects have good definition and the overall image has good sharpness. The areas at the extreme edges of the frame have a bit of noise but it's not very noticeable, unless you zoom in all the way.
The Realme X does a good job with HDR, and dynamic range is good. The Chroma Boost toggle in the viewfinder helps boost colours and brightness, which helps when shooting objects against the light. You also get a ‘2x' button but this is only for digital zoom.
Close-up shot using Auto mode on the Realme X (Tap to see full-sized image)
Shot using Portrait mode on the Realme X (Tap to see full-sized image)
Close-up shots are also handled very well. The colour tone is slightly warm, but colours and details are reproduced well. Even close-ups shot indoors under artificial light pack in good amounts of detail, without a lot of noise.
The second sensor helps mapping the edges around objects and people fairly accurately, resulting in good-looking portrait shots. The background blur isn't adjustable but it looks natural.
Shot using Nightscape mode on the Realme X (Tap to see full-sized image)
Shot using Auto mode on the Realme X (Tap to see full-sized image)
Low-light performance is good. Photos lose their sharpness a bit and there is some visible noise in darker regions, but it's not very severe. In some instances, we were able to get pretty clean landscape shots with little to no visible noise. You can squeeze out more detail and better sharpness by using the phone's ‘Nightscape' mode. Here, the phone takes a few seconds longer to capture an image but the end result is brighter with better detail.
Tap to see full-sized Realme X camera samples
The Realme X has a 16-megapixel front camera, which also does pixel binning when shooting with portrait mode. This gives you an 8-megapixel portrait shot, but when shooting regular selfies, even at night, the phone saves a 16-megapixel image.
Selfies shot with the Realme X generally look pleasing, with good colours and sufficient detail. The AI isn't too aggressive in beautifying your skin. Even in low light, selfies have good brightness and colours. You can add a bokeh effect for selfies, which looks a little artificial, but edge detection is good.
The Realme X can shoot up to 4K video, but there's no image stabilisation. If you aren't moving about too much, then the footage will be usable as image quality is good. Even in low light, there's not a lot of visible noise and colours and details are preserved well.
At 1080p, the phone automatically stabilises video footage. This works well and there isn't a lot of distortion when shooting in low light either. There are some slow-motion modes to play with too, including a 960fps mode. The latter saves short clips but the slowed-down footage is choppy.
The Realme X is the company's attempt at building an ‘affordable flagship', and for a first try, we'd say it has done a very good job. Other than the lack of expandable storage — which isn't really a big issue considering you get 128GB of internal storage — it's hard to find any major fault with this phone. The Realme X is built well and looks good. It has a big and vivid display, good software, and a capable set of cameras.
Realme has also gone with a Type-C port, which is something we've been wanting for a long time. If we were to knock points off then we'd say the tall design of this phone might not suit everyone, especially if you have smaller hands. Also, we would have liked video stabilisation at 4K too.
The Realme X is an excellent addition to the sub-Rs. 20,000 segment and is high up on our list of recommendations, along with the Samsung Galaxy M40 (Review), Vivo Z1 Pro (Review), and Redmi Note 7 Pro (Review). Previously, the Vivo V15 Pro (Review) was the most affordable phone if you wanted an in-display fingerprint sensor as well as a pop-up selfie camera, but now, the Realme X offers you all that and more, at a lower price.
If you don't mind the large size of this phone, then the Realme X offers a healthy set of features and good performance, at an extremely competitive price.