The 90Hz display refresh rate makes UI butter smooth.
The 65W fast charging tops up the 4,200mAh battery in 35 minutes.
Realme X50 Pro 5G offers good overall camera performance.
Realme had a series of successful launches in the mid-range segment since its debut in 2018. A year later, the company defied the global smartphone market slowdown to show a growth of 800% in 3Q 2019, albeit from a low base. This also made Realme the fastest growing brand in that quarter. Towards the end of the year, it entered the premium segment with the flagship “Realme X2 Pro” smartphone and captured a 2% market share. Kicking off 2020 with a bang, the company launched its first 5G smartphone in India, the Realme X50 Pro 5G. It is a flagship smartphone carrying a price tag of $525. Ready to compete with Xiaomi and OnePlus in the premium segment, is the smartphone any good? Here is my review after using it for a little over a month.
Stylish Design, Premium Build
Moving away from gradient designs and glossy back, the new Realme smartphone has a frosted glass (matte) finish. Available in Rust Red and Moss Green colors, the glass back does have some depth with shifting colors as light falls on it. The finish has another advantage – it is not a fingerprint or smudge magnet like the glossy ones.
The frame is made from metal and the overall build quality is good. Though, I would also like to point out that the smartphone feels a bit heavier. With a 6.4-inch screen, the smartphone is tall, due to which single-handed use is not easier. But I like that the power button and volume buttons are well placed, within the reach of your thumb and fingers.
Just like other smartphones, the Realme X50 Pro 5G also ditches the legacy 3.5mm audio jack and relies on USB Type-C for audio output. Sadly, the company does not sell USB Type-C based headphones, nor it has included one in the box. But it does sell Buds Air TWS, which has been one of the top-selling true wireless headphones as per our latest research on India Hearables (TWS) Market.
My colleague and Counterpoint Research Director Peter Richardson who is based out of Newbury, England, was also able to try out the X50 Pro. Peter has also shared some of his thoughts on what he feels about the smartphone.
“Like Ritesh, I too am impressed with the build quality of the X50 Pro. The phone feels extremely robust – perhaps largely because its weight and relatively compact size give it a feeling of extreme density. At 205g, it’s not heavy per se, but it feels solid. It is not bomb proof though, no IPX ratings for dust and water resistance are one of the few areas where it makes concessions to flagship devices costing several hundred dollars more,” Peter said.
Smooth 90Hz AMOLED Display
The 6.44-inch Super AMOLED display is one of the key selling points of the smartphone. The panel supports 1080×2400 pixel resolution and is HDR10+ certified to let you enjoy the content that you watch. I used the smartphone to watch Lost in Space on Netflix, and the screen is superb. The color reproduction is good and punchy, the blacks are deep, and while the whites have a minor bluish tint, the overall viewing experience is good.
A screen with a high refresh rate has become a norm for today’s flagship smartphones, and the X50 Pro features a 90Hz refresh rate with a touch sampling rate of 180Hz. Under settings, you can set it to 60Hz, 90Hz, or Automatic, depending on your needs. At 90Hz, the battery will likely drain a little faster. During my usage, I kept the screen refresh rate at 90Hz, and I could get a full day worth battery life, so it is not a big deal as such.
Having a high refresh rate offers a smoother visual experience, which you can notice when scrolling through the UI and webpages. It also helps in faster graphics rendering, especially when playing games, but sadly the popular games like PUBG and Fortnite do not support faster refresh rates, as they default at 60Hz. Yes, they cannot take full advantage of the display, but together with UI optimizations and touch sampling rate of 180Hz, gaming speed, and touch response is much smoother.
Stereo Speakers with Dolby Audio
Realme has ensured that the X50 Pro 5G serves as a multimedia device. It features stereo speakers – one at the bottom, and the other is the earpiece that doubles as a speaker when viewing videos or playing games. The output is loud and clear, which makes playing games even more enjoyable. There is also Dolby Audio where you can customize the audio settings based on your needs, or you can choose between Music, Gaming, or Movie modes.
Fluid Performance and Fast Charging Battery
Being a flagship smartphone, it features top-end hardware which includes a 7nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 SoC paired with up to 12GB RAM (LPDDR5) and up to 256GB onboard storage (UFS 3.0). The combination ensures and smooth overall performance be it gaming or web browsing. The latest RAM and storage also ensure faster read / write speeds while reducing power consumption.
Throughout my usage, I did not encounter any stutter or lag, even when playing games at extreme settings. Realme has also included a vapor cooling system to ensure thermal levels are at a low for long gaming hours. And the smartphone does not disappoint. Even after playing PUBG Mobile for over two hours, it was just marginally warm at the back.
Realme has also worked to fine-tune the Android 10 software with Realme OS skin to offer good battery life. I did not face any issues squeezing the battery through the working day and have some more. Even with two hours of PUBG sessions, the battery drain was merely 17%. Armed with a 4,200mAh battery, you get 65W charger in the box that can completely top-up from empty or full in flat 35 minutes, something that is impressive.
“I have also been using the Huawei Mate 20X 5G, a massive 7.2” screen device and built around the older HiSilicon Kirin 980 chipset. It connects to 5G just fine, but with cellular radioactive, the battery life is terrible, which is uncharacteristic for Huawei phones, known for lasting days. The X50 Pro by contrast has few battery performance issues. Even with intensive use, it is sufficient for a long day’s use,” Peter added.
Good Cameras with Hybrid Zoom
For shutterbugs, the smartphone includes a quad-camera setup at the back. It features a primary Samsung GW1 64MP sensor (f/1.8 aperture), paired with an 8MP ultra-wide-angle lens, which also doubles as a macro lens. Realme has also included a 12MP telephoto lens with 5x hybrid zoom support, and 20x digital zoom. There is also a fourth 2MP monochrome sensor for portrait mode. The primary camera supports 4K video recording at 30fps, HD and Full HD recording at 30/60fps. There is also support for UIS video stabilization.
Talking about camera performance, the primary 64MP camera uses 4×1 pixel binning tech to capture 16MP photos by default. If you want to capture photos in full resolution, the camera app has a separate mode for that. Do note, a 64MP photo takes about 14-16MB storage space, whereas a 16MP photo takes roughly about 5MB space.
I clicked a couple of photos in 64MP and 16MP resolution. When compared side by side, you will see that 64MP photo has marginally better sharpness and details as you zoom in. Colors are closer to real life, rather than the AI making them punchier in default mode, which is good.
64MP vs 16MP
Moving to performance, photos shot in bright outdoor conditions offer good details. I liked the dynamic range, sharpness, and color accuracy on the ultra-wide and standard photos that I shot.
Good Zooming Capabilities
Moving on, the telephoto lens offers 2x zooming capabilities, and the zoomed image looks good, without any loss of quality.
2X Optical Zoom
Realme has also included 5x hybrid zoom capabilities which uses a combination of the telephoto lens and the main 64MP camera sensor to enlarge the image without losing quality. And the quality is impressive, considering there is no periscope style zoom lens. You can further zoom to 10x and 20x digital levels, but the quality just tends to deteriorate, which is expected.
5X Hybrid Zoom
Impressive Low Light Mode
Realme’s Night mode has impressed me with its results. It clicks photos at different exposure levels and then combines it into one bright image. If you look at the below photos, the one on the left is what I could see with naked eyes. On the right, you can see the AI working its magic to offer a brighter image. It is not too sharp, but I am happy with the result.
Portrait and Macro Mode
Portrait mode photos shot on the Realme X50 Pro 5G offer a good depth of field while keeping the subject in focus. I also enjoyed clicking photos of pets, which offers good details and background blur.
As mentioned above, the ultra-wide-angle camera also doubles as a macro lens. You can get as close as 3cm to the subject, and the results are impressive as you can see below.
While the Realme X50 Pro 5G does a good job in bright lighting conditions, it struggles in difficult scenarios. “In most circumstances the smartphone takes acceptable pictures. However, it can have problems focusing on subjects that are in the foreground – preferentially focusing on background objects. This is most noticeable in difficult lighting conditions, for example when there’s a strong backlight to the subject. In the first picture, my dog’s face is somewhat out of focus, but the hair on her tail is quite sharp, as are some of the objects in the background. However, when shooting indoors, the camera resolves the subject more easily,” Peter added.
Selfies are Decent
On the front, you have dual front cameras in the hole-punch cutout. The setup includes a 32MP primary camera for high-resolution selfies and video calling. It is paired with a secondary 8MP ultra-wide-angle lens for group photographs.
The primary camera does a decent job, but even with beauty mode turned off some smudging on the face is visible. The edge detection with portrait mode works well. But I am not happy with the output when you switch to ultra-wide mode as the drop and resolution also affect the photo quality.
Future Proof 5G Connectivity
The Realme X50 Pro 5G is one of the most affordable smartphones in India with 5G connectivity. It relies on sub-6GHz 5G connectivity with support for SA and NSA bands, which means it will work in China, UK, and Europe. Sadly, I could not test 5G as India is still at least a year away from getting the next-gen network, but Peter was able to test 5G in the UK.
“I’ve been putting the X50 Pro 5G through its paces too. I like the phone. It does almost everything that I ask of it extremely well. So much so, that in the few areas that it is deficient to the current crop of premium flagships, I have to remind myself that it’s starting price is just $525, meaning I could buy one of these and a new Apple iPhone SE, with change to spare over the cost of, say, a Samsung Galaxy S20 5G,” Peter said.
“Testing 5G during the lockdown has been a little challenging. While I live in Newbury – home of Vodafone – 5G coverage has not reliably extended to my home. But it is available just down the road. Vodafone has limited 5G spectrum currently; just 50 MHz in the 3.4 GHz range, so achieving superfast data speeds is not possible. However, with close proximity to the base station, I was able to achieve download speeds of 240Mbps and upload speeds of 37Mbps, which is about as much as is possible over the current Vodafone network in the UK. This meant I could almost instantaneously start watching a streaming movie, jump to any point in the film with zero buffering. It’s also faster than almost all home fiber broadband provision currently available in the UK” he added.
If you, like me live in a country where there is no 5G network, you still get the assurance of having a future proof smartphone and may probably get to test-drive 5G when traveling abroad. The smartphone also comes with Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, which supports download speeds up to 9.6Gbps.
Verdict: Challenging the Flagship Killer
The Realme X50 Pro 5G is a solid flagship smartphone. It checks in the right boxes from 5G connectivity to super-fast charging and good cameras. The Chinese smartphone maker is also offering top of the line hardware along with fine-tuned software. Features like 90Hz refresh rate display, Dolby Atomos, and in-display fingerprint scanner add up to the flagship experience at its price point.
The Realme smartphone will give a tough challenge to the recently launched OnePlus 8. On paper, Realme has better cameras, fast charging capabilities, and aggressive pricing that could work in its favor. Though, OnePlus has a slight advantage when it comes to software with closer to stock Android experience.
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