Realme X2 Pro Review: The new benchmark for affordable flagships
No conversation about the smartphone brand Realme is complete without citing their phenomenal growth. Ever since it launched last year, Realme has skyrocketed and evolved from an underdog catering to the sub-$150 segment into a major threat to other brands. The company has recently announced a mesmerizing new smartphone – the Realme X2 Pro, which happens to be their first true flagship phone. After anchoring its position in lower price segments, Realme is hoping to solidify its name in the affordable flagship category by promising unchallenged performance for a highly competitive price.
The Realme X2 Pro, beyond any doubt, is currently the best priced flagship currently available. Previously, the spot was arguably held by the Redmi K20 Pro (Mi 9T Pro) and we even hailed it as the “reimagined” flagship killer in our review. But Realme X2 Pro snatches it away with an upgraded chipset, faster storage, better display, all-around superior camera setup, and the meteoric 50W charging – all at an astounding price. While the last one is the best part of the phone, the Realme X2 Pro still feels like one of the most well-equipped phones priced under $500.
In China, the Realme X2 Pro starts at the equivalent of $380 for the 6GB/64GB variant while the top model sells around $470. In Europe, the lowest and the highest variants are priced at €399 (~$440) and €499 (~$550). The smartphone was launched in India recently and the prices here are almost concurrent with those in China. In India, Realme only sells the 8GB and 12GB RAM variants, which are priced at ₹29,999 (~$415) and ₹33,999 (~$475), making it a close competitor to not only the Redmi K20 Pro but also the OnePlus 7T.
Realme X2 Pro Specifications
|Specifications||Realme X2 Pro|
|Dimensions & Weight||
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Plus
Overclocked Adreno 640 GPU
|Storage||64GB/128GB/256GB UFS 3.0
No microSD slot
|Battery||4000mAh, 50W SuperVOOC fast charging|
|Fingerprint Sensor||In-display fingerprint|
|Android Version||ColorOS 6.1 based on Android 9 Pie|
|Colors||Standard: Lunar White and Neptune Blue
Master Edition: Red Brick and Concrete
Design and Build Quality – Serene and Assuring
Realme goes beyond the classic multi-color gradients by consistently innovating via new 3D patterns with every new smartphone. With the Realme X2 Pro, the company opted for an even more abstract pattern than those featured on the Realme 3 Pro and on the Realme XT. While the design on the Realme X2 Pro appears riveting, it is not as much of a head-turner than what was offered on their previous devices.
The Realme 2 Pro comes in two colors – Lunar White and Neptune Blue – with both of these reflecting incoming light in their own unique ways. The white variants phases across different shades, from milky white to ivory with hints of baby pink and ice blue in between. The blue, on the other hand, swings between light and dark shades of blue. Strong sources of light like a lamp or the sun emboss multiple creases of arch-shaped patterns across the width of the back panel. When the light source is at an extreme angle, the back surface reflects in a hazy, mushy way, radiating the impression of a satiny surface.
For long, Realme bamboozled our perception of the materials they employed by using plastic sheathing that looked and felt like glass (at least until the plastic started getting scuffed). But with the Realme XT, they parkour onto the bandwagon of glass back smartphones. With their flagship device, the company is further improving the build by including a “dual-layer” aluminum alloy frame, which is perceivably more resistant than both – plastic and a single-layer anodized aluminum. Realme has even marketed that this design decision doubles the fabrication cost for the metal frame. Besides this, there is minimal use of plastic on or inside the chassis. A disadvantage of the aluminum alloy is that it tends to heat up easily while you’re gaming, and if you’re immersed for too long, the upper half the smartphone – especially the frame – is likely to get considerably hot. Over time, the heat transfers to the lower part of the frame much quicker than it does across the glass surface, resulting in perceptibly uneven heat distribution.
The in-hand feel of the Realme X2 Pro is quite compelling, especially for users who equate heft with quality. From the very first time you hold the smartphone in your palm, the Realme X2 Pro feels solid and chunky, but noticeably thicker as compared to the OnePlus 7T. It has a 3D curved glass on the back, which makes the phone feel slimmer along the edges and easier to grip. The curved glass, however, cannot mask how heavy and broad it feels in the hand. The smartphone weighs 199 grams, which is eight grams heavier than the primary competitor Redmi K20 Pro (or the Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro), which also happens to have a slightly smaller footprint due to a smaller display. The large size definitely forces you to use both hands to operate the phone, even when you’re not typing. Throughout my two-week affair with the smartphone, I could not escape feeling a bit anxious while using the phone with one hand due to its weight and glass back. Hence, I have mostly used this phone with two hands, even while swipe-typing, but users with bigger hands may not have the same plight.
The Realme X2 Pro is notably more convenient to hold in landscape mode, catering especially to those who plan to utilize the smartphone’s full gaming or camera capabilities. Coming back to the Realme X2 Pro’s aluminum frame, this surface is slightly curved along the longer edges and flattened along the shorter ones, in line with previous Realme phones. The intention behind this design choice is to prevent the speaker at the bottom from being blocked by fingers when the smartphone is held in landscape mode. Securing all bases, Realme hasn’t removed the headphone jack (yet) as it still remains a valuable prospect for anyone migrating from a mid-range smartphone. When you’re using the headphone jack, you’ll be compelled to spin the phone around – i.e. with the notch side in your right palm while the side with the headphone jack in your left. Between the headphone jack and the primary speaker, there’s a UBS-C port for 50W SuperVOOC charging, audio output via USB-C headsets, and MTP.
The rest of the buttons and controls are present along the other edges on the Realme X2 Pro. Alongside the USB-C port, the headphone jack, and the primary speaker grille, the Realme X2 Pro’s primary mic is also located at the bottom of the phone. The power button, accented with a stroke of golden paint, and the dual SIM tray lie on the right while separate buttons for volume up and down are laid on the left side of the frame. The top of the frame is almost blank except for a tiny cavity for the secondary noise-canceling microphone. Notably, the edges of these buttons have sharp ridges and this breaks the continuity of the smartphone’s predominantly curvy design. Similarly, the upper edge of the aluminum frame is also sharpened and angled. While these slanting surfaces will not abrade your finger, they certainly feel odd on an otherwise-rounded phone. You can avoid dealing with them either by using the TPU case that comes in the box or by buying another one based on your preferences.
Despite their edgy shape, the buttons feel very clicky and tactile. I wish the buttons were wider and at least placed along the center of the metal rail on the side, but this seems to have escaped the consideration of Realme’s design engineers. Another thing they missed is how incredibly slippery the phone is on slightly-uneven surfaces. This is crucial since the phone is majorly glass and one nasty fall can result in heartbreak. Once again, the included case can solve this slippery issue.
There’s a lot of interesting camera tech on the Realme X2 Pro and the plump camera module does not do a very good job at hiding it. The protruding camera bump makes it difficult for the smartphone to lie straight on a flat surface. Meanwhile, a metal ring surrounds the quad-camera module and is slightly taller than the surface of the camera glass, presumably to prevent scratches. While there’s Gorilla Glass 5 to protect the glass on the back, there’s no protective layer (at least, none that is mentioned explicitly by Realme) over the camera glass. It is thus essential that you use a protective case to shield the camera glass from being scratched or broken by accident. The camera is also placed along the center of the back panel and while that does not make the phone any less wobbly, it does make it oscillate along the center if that is something you care about.
While Realme X2 Pro is majorly bulky and thick because of the cameras crammed in the body, it feels rigid and durable. The phone doesn’t come with any official IP certifications for prevention against dust or water. While I’m not sure of the internals, the SIM tray has a rubber gasket in order to prevent any dust or moisture from reaching the motherboard. We can cut them some slack considering that even stalwarts in the flagship killer faction – such as OnePlus – are avoiding to pay for IP ratings. We might get to learn more in this respect following a teardown video from the likes of JerryRigEverything.
Besides the weight, I have no complaints about the design, especially since Realme has tried to allocate space for almost everything they could. The angled edges of the metal frame and the overhanging camera module are some hitches in the overall seamless design and are sadly only fixable if you use a cover or a skin. Overall, the Realme X2 Pro has all the essential design elements that a phone priced at ₹30,000 (~$420 ) should have and together these elements align to form a good-looking – wouldn’t call it the best – and durable flagship killer smartphone.
Realme X2 Pro Master Edition
While launching the Realme X, the company partnered with Japanese industrial design expert Naoto Fukasawa to design two special and limited edition variants of the smartphone. Fukasawa borrowed inspiration from objects we see in real life but ignore, and this is how the Onion and Garlic variants of the Realme X Master Edition were conceived. Realme has partnered with the master once again and this time, Fukasawa sought inspiration from the inanimate elements that surround us. The inspiration for the Realme X2 Pro Master Edition comes from construction materials such as red bricks and concrete. (Weird flex, but okay) The Concrete and Red Brick variants of the Realme X2 Pro feature a grainy matted surface over multiple layers of glass.
At the X2 Pro launch, Realme shared details of how four different layers have been stacked on top of the rear panel. Above the rear glass panel is a Gorilla Glass 5 protective glass, a layer of adhesive, a layer of color as per the variant, and lastly the lacquered glass with a layer of “transparent particles.” Collectively, these layers of glass and adhesive give the Realme X2 Pro Master Edition a kind of sandstone-like surface while the grainy finish gives you the impression that you’re actually brushing your fingers against concrete or bricks. Notably, the Realme logo and Naoto Fukasawa’s autograph have been engraved on the surface, giving it an exotic feel.
The Realme X2 Pro Master Edition variants will come only in 12GB/256GB configurations and will be available around the Christmas season. It will be priced ₹1,000 higher in India than the usual 12GB/256GB variant and I believe that’s a fair price for the extra time and effort the company has devoted to creating the special edition. Only time will tell how well users appreciate the Master Edition but Realme deserves full points for crafting something peculiar. I only got to spend a limited amount of time to fidget with the Master Edition units so I can’t ascertain if the extra layers impact heat dissipation or performance. Stay tuned for our future updates to know more about these special variants.
The Realme X2 Pro makes use of a Samsung-made Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 2400 x 1080 pixels and the resulting pixel density of this panel is 402ppi. The display is certified to play HDR10+, which means you’ll see a wide dynamic range and proper lighting across the display when viewing video content from production houses like 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., Viacom, etc and some OTT content on Amazon Prime Video. Besides this, the panel is also claimed to support 100% of the colors in the DCI-P3.
The display is considerably bright and while we have no equipment to verify the 1000-nits max brightness claims made by Realme, my subjective experience tells me that it is befittingly bright for most scenarios, ranging from daylight to bedtime usage. Being an AMOLED display, the reproduced colors are already pretty vibrant but the whites tend to be warmer and yellower as compared to an LCD or a better-calibrated display such as on the Google Pixel 3. You can select between the standard and the Vivid color modes or adjust the color temperature using the scrubber in the Display Settings.
Along with the color enhancement features, this display panel has a feature OSIE Vision Effect, which improves the color saturation in video-centric apps like Amazon Prime Video and TikTok. Unlike the demo animation for the feature, there’s only a minor boost to the saturation. While OSIE stands for “Object and Semantic Images and Eye-tracking” and that should suggest that it will prevent the display from going off while you’re looking at it, eye-tracking doesn’t at least work in Amazon Prime Video app (I didn’t try the other apps).