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Realme X2 review: Beating Xiaomi at its own game
Realme Realme X2
What we like
What we don't like
2019 has been a big year for Realme. With a steady spate of well performing, and well received devices, the company has managed to grow its market share by leaps and bounds. Now, with the Realme X2, the company is ending the year with yet another blockbuster release. The phone takes direct aim at the Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro, and in many ways supersedes it as a mid-range champ.
In Android Authority’s Realme X2 review, we find out if it has what it takes to earn the crown of best mid-range phone around.
Update Feb. 3, 2020: Added fresh details about software additions and the upcoming Android 10 update.
Realme X2 review: The big picture
The Realme X2 faces off against great phones such as the Redmi Note 8 Pro, the Redmi K20, the Nokia 7.2, and others. While the X2 offers a potent mix of power, design, and imaging capabilities, Redmi’s phones are no slouches.
In fact, the Redmi K20 emphasizes fit and finish and build quality, while still retaining the other qualities for which Xiaomi’s mid-rangers are known.
Meanwhile, the Nokia 7.2 delivers a unique, stunning design and pairs it with a clean build of Android.
What’s in the box
- Realme X2
- 30W charger
- USB-C cable
- SIM-ejector tool
- TPU case
- Quick start guide
Realme provides all the essentials to get you up and running with your smartphone. The phone ships with a pre-applied screen protector, as well as a basic but functional TPU case in the box.
- 158.7 x 75.2 x 8.6mm
- Gorilla Glass 5 front and back
- Polycarbonate frame
- Waterdrop notch
- Headphone jack
The most eye-catching aspect of the phone has to be the rear. Realme sent us the new pearl green color variant and it looks absolutely fetching. There’s a high-gloss, metal-like finish with a subtle, yet beautiful gradient pattern that shifts based on how light strikes it. Unfortunately, the high gloss finish is a fingerprint magnet, and you’ll spend a fair amount of time keeping the phone clean if you chose not to use a case.
Realme branding rests in the bottom left corner, while the quad camera module sits at the top. A gold ring around the main lens further accentuates the design. The camera module protrudes from the body of the phone, which means the phone has a tendency to wobble when placed on a flat surface. It also makes for an awkward grip in the hand since your index finger will likely rest right on the camera assembly.
The button layout is standard with the split volume rockers on the left and a gold-accented power button on the right. A quick press of the power button activates Google Assistant and a long press brings up the standard power-off and reboot options. The frame of the Realme X2 is made of a polycarbonate material, a step back from the Realme X2 Pro. The port selection includes USB-C, headphone jack, and a speaker grille along the bottom edge.
The front of the phone is a standard affair. The large 6.4-inch display is surrounded by thin bezels. A water-drop notch up top doesn’t take up too much space. The display doesn’t quite curve into the frame, and you can feel it when you hold the phone in your hand. Personally, I felt it aided in improving the grip.
I found the under-display fingerprint scanner to be fast and reliable.
The phone sports a Goodie optical under-display fingerprint reader. I found it be fast and generally reliable with few misses in my time with the phone.
I really like what Realme has done with the hardware on the X2. The phone looks great, and, just as importantly, feels great. Weighing just 182g, you can comfortably hold it while out and about. My only gripe with the design, and this might be nitpicking, is the panel gap between the rear glass panel and the polycarbonate frame. No, the phone does not have an IP rating.
- 6.4-inch AMOLED
- 2,340 x 1,080 pixels
The Realme X2’s display is a beautiful canvas for media consumption. While there is a water drop notch, I didn’t find it to be a hindrance and got used to it quickly.
The screen skews towards cooler tones and isn’t very natural looking. It is possible to adjust it, but I didn’t observe a drastic difference. A bigger issue is that the peak brightness level tops off at about 418nits, which isn’t very good. If you plan to use the phone while out and about in the sun, visibility will be an issue.
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G
- Adreno 618 GPU
- 4/6/8GB RAM
- 64/128GB storage
The Realme X2’s processor is a souped up version of the standard Snapdragon 730 SoC. It packs the same Adreno 618 GPU, but it’s more finely tuned. Oppo uses the same chipset in its Reno 2.
The Snapdragon 730G is powerful enough to plow through almost any task or game you throw at it.
While the Snapdragon 730G is positioned as a mid-range chipset, it offers more than enough grunt to run almost anything you throw at it. I found the combination of hardware and software to be tuned well for gaming and everyday use. I did not notice any lags or stutters. Coming from the more powerful OnePlus 7T Pro, I barely noticed any dip in performance at all.
The higher-clocked GPU helps gaming. Long sessions in PUBG and Call of Duty Mobile were a cinch, and the phone was able to play the games with the graphics turned up to the max. I did not notice any frame drops, and while the phone did heat up, it never got to an uncomfortable degree of warmth.
Benchmark results show excellent performance for a mid-ranger. In the CPU-centric AnTuTu benchmark, the phone scores 260714 points, which puts it well ahead of the 228519 points scored by the Redmi Note 8 Pro. The Realme X2 also does well in the GPU-focussed 3D Mark benchmark, where it managed 2408 points.
- 30W fast charging
A 4,000mAh battery is now a standard in the segment and doesn’t really stand out on its own. Battery optimisation, however, plays a big role and Realme has done a very good job here. A full day of use is certainly not hard to get. Realistically, I was able to go a day and a half between charges.
30W charging is the fastest you can get in the segment.
When it comes to charging the phone, the Realme X2 is one of the fastest, if not the fastest in the mid-range space. The phone supports the VOOC 4.0 standard, which lets you top off the phone at 30W speeds. In my own tests, I was able to charge the phone from 0 to 100% in 72 minutes, which is incredibly fast for a battery of this size.
- Color OS 6.1
- Android Pie
The Realme X2 ships with Color OS 6.1 running on top of Android 9 Pie. Yes, an upgrade to Android 10 is in the offing. There isn’t much new that has been added to Color OS; this is still the same skin that you either love or hate. However, it is hard to ignore the wide variety of customisation options that Color OS provides to tweak it to your liking.
The default configuration places all icons on the home screen iPhone style. It is easy enough to switch to an app-drawer configuration. You can switch animations, as well as speed them up. Additionally, the notification shade has been themed up.
Color OS offers a wealth of customisation options.
I like that Color OS lets you adjust gestures exactly how you like them, but you can also switch back to a button-based navigation configuration. On the flip side, we’re starting to see an increasing number of preinstalled third-party apps, which isn’t ideal. A lot of them can be removed, but some cannot. While Xiaomi has taken it to the next level with interstitial ads, it is worrying to see Realme head in the same direction.
Realme issued a fresh software update to the phone in early January. The update adds the December 2019 security patch, bug fixes as well as a toggle to switch on dark mode akin to the addition made on the Realme XT. Additionally, beta testing has begun for the company’s upcoming custom UI. Predictably called Realme UI, the interface should be widely available in the coming months. Meanwhile, the Android 10 update is now confirmed to roll out around March 2020. As of February 25, the latest security patch has been rolled out to the phone as well as support for Airtel and Jio VoWiFI. Realme has also added a new sunset to sunrise dark mode feature that adjusts the display brightness, night mode according to the time of the day.
Another update followed through in January 2020, with the latest January security patches as well as fixes for a few known bugs.
- Rear cameras
- 64MP primary, f/1.8
- 8MP ultrawide, f/2.2
- 2MP macro, f/2.4
- 2MP depth sensor, f/2.4
- Front camera
- 32MP, f/2.0
- 4K, 30FPS video capture
Like most of Realme’s product line-up, the Realme X2 also ships with a quad-camera set up. The cameras cover a range of focal-lengths, which should let you capture an array of potential scenarios. The Samsung GW1 is the primary sensor. Curiously, the camera ditches the telephoto camera of the X2 Pro for a dedicated macro camera.
It’s been a cloudy few days here in Delhi, and the settings were hardly ideal for a proper camera test. However, the Realme X2 did better than I expected. Like every other Realme phone so far, the camera has a tendency to push blue tones. Details are reasonably good, but on an overcast day it is easy to see smudging when pixel-peeping. The camera relies on sharpening to achieve a crisper look.
The 119-degree ultra-wide angle camera is a step down from the primary module in terms of image quality. There’s a perceptible softness to wide-angle images, as well as significant distortion around the edges. Dynamic also range takes a step back, with lost detail in shadowy areas. It’ll serve in a pinch, but pure image quality isn’t close to what you get from the primary shooter.
The Realme X2’s camera is able to capture highly detailed shots when up close, and aside from the blue tint, colors look fairly true to life.
I’m not entirely convinced by this macro camera trend. The 2MP resolution is too low to be useful. However, if you do like to take close-up images, the Realme X2 can capture a sharp image at about 4cm from the subject. As you can see from the sample image, results look passable, but you certainly don’t want to put them on poster-sized prints.
Generally speaking, the Realme X2 delivers great imaging results that not only match the competition, but often punch above it. The selfie camera, in particular, takes excellent images. You can take a look at full resolution image samples here.
I think its worth mentioning the camera app on the Realme X2. While this is pretty much the same app that we’ve seen before on Color OS, I like how logically everything is arranged how easy the main feature are to access.
Video quality is very good for a mid-ranger and can easily hold up against competitors such as Xiaomi. You can shoot at up to 30fps in 4K and the footage looks crisp and detailed. Additionally, you can shoot at up to 960fps for ultra slow-motion, though the resolution is capped at 720p. Footage looks decent enough if you’ve got enough ambient light.
- Headphone jack
- No aptX support
The Realme X2 includes a headphone jack with average sounding audio. While I didn’t hear much low-end hiss, stereo separation wasn’t good when listening to music through a quality pair of headphones. Peak volume levels aren’t fantastic either, so if you like to crank up the volume or use headphones that require a decent amp, the Realme X2 won’t cut it. Bluetooth audio sounds fine, though you won’t get high-fidelity wireless playback due to the lack of support for aptX.
Speaker output is loud enough, and focuses on mids. It’ll certainly do the job for alarms or calls over the speakerphone. The position of the speaker means that there’s a good chance you’ll cover it while playing games.
6.4-inch, FHD+ SuperAMOLED
2,340 x 1,080 resolution
20:9 aspect ratio
91.7% screen-to-body ratio
Gorilla Glass 5
Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G
Up to 2.2GHz
64GB UFS 2.1
128GB UFS 2.1
30W VOOC Flash Charge 4.0
64MP main at f/1.8
8MP ultra-wide at f/2.2
2MP macro at f/2.4
2MP portrait camera /f2.4
32MP at f/2.0
UHD 4K at 30fps
Full HD at 60fps
HD at 60fps
Dual nano-SIM slots
Dual SIMs dual VoLTE 4G
Wi-Fi: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4/5Ghz
Positioning system: GPS, aGPS, GLONASS, Beidou navigation system
Supports Bluetooth 5.0 connections
Supports aptX, aptX HD, and LDAC
In-display fingerprint scanner
Pearl Green, Pearl White, Pearl Blue
158.7 x 75.2 x 8.6mm
Value for money
- Realme X2: 4GB RAM, 64GB storage — Rs. 16,999 (~$240)
- Realme X2: 6GB RAM, 128GB storage — Rs. 18,999 (~$267)
- Realme X2: 8GB RAM, 128GB storage — Rs. 19,999 (~$281)
There’s no doubt that the Realme X2 offers incredible value for money. There’s enough power here to appease most users, the cameras are some of the best in the mid-range segment, and the phone looks great to boot.
Straddling price segments, it faces competition from the Redmi Note 8 Pro as well as the Redmi K20. Both are excellent devices with a finer focus on fit and finish. I’d also venture that the K20 offers a better display and, depending on your preferences, the pop-up selfie camera might be an incentive to opt for it over the X2.
Now that the Poco X2 is official, there’s one more contender for the crown of the mid-range winner. There are some pros and cons, but the 120Hz display would certainly be enticing to a number of users. For my money though, I’d stick to the superior AMOLED display on the Realme X2.
Realme X2 review: The verdict
Realme is ending 2019 on a high note with the X2. There’s plenty to like about the phone, and real issues are few and far between. I’d have liked a fresher design on front, perhaps with a pop-up selfie camera and no notch, however at this price you can hardly complain.
I think the Realme X2 is a solid option for anyone seeking a powerful device. Between the rapid charging and customizable Color OS, the Realme X2 is a solid alternative to Xiaomi’s mid-range lineup. This is a phone that I’d be happy to recommend to anyone in the mid-range market.