After taking on the OnePlus 7T with the Realme X2 Pro, the company is now gunning for the budget-segment crown with its follow-up to the Realme XT, the recently launched Realme X2. This isn’t a watered-down Realme X2 Pro, but rather, a Realme XT on steroids.
It’s the last major phone launch of the decade, and it caps off a stellar 2019 for the brand — here’s what you need to know about the Realme X2.
The Realme X2 goes on sale on Flipkart and the Realme online store on December 20 in Pearl Green, Pearl White and Pearl Blue finishes, with three variants: 4GB RAM/ 64GB storage, 6GB/ 128GB, and 8GB/ 128GB; priced at Rs. 16,999, Rs. 18,999 and Rs. 19,999 respectively. All three variants pack in a Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G chip, 30W VOOC Flash Charge 4.0 and a 64MP quad camera setup.
If you loved the premium looks of the Realme XT, the Realme X2 looks equally fetching in its rather unique Pearl Green hue, but beyond that, there’s not a lot that has changed in the design department.
It has the same Gorilla Glass 5 front and rear, same crowded camera housing—with its not-insignificant bump—and an easily smudged rear panel. The green definitely stands out, but we liked the Pearl White finish the most.
The big upgrade with the Realme X2 is the move to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G chip, which shows big gains particularly while playing games when compared to Snapdragon 710/ 712-based smartphones. While you’re not getting the highest frame rates—a game like PUBG defaults to medium settings—you also won’t be hit by performance throttling on account of thermal management.
Daily workloads and multitasking were a cinch as well, but while the hardware delivers what you need, the same can’t be said for the phone’s software. The phone runs on the ageing Color OS 6.1, which is based on Android 9 Pie—but Realme will only move the Realme X2 to Android 10-based Color OS 7 by March 2020.
And, as is unfortunately becoming the norm with a number of device makers, the phone comes loaded with a ton of bloatware, and most of the system apps keep spamming notifications. Realme is an old offender in this respect, and this is something that is really overdue for change.
Realme nailed the brief when it comes to the display on its X-series smartphones, and the 6.4-inch full-HD+ AMOLED panel on the Realme X2 offers punchy colors, excellent contrast levels, and it’s bright enough to be comfortable even outdoors.
The front has a barely-there dewdrop notch that won’t get in the way of a Netflix binge, and with the WideVine L1 certification, you’ll be able to stream content in high-definition. The only thing missing is HDR support.
The Realme X2 uses the same 64MP Samsung GW1 sensor on the primary camera that the Realme XT has, and delivers very similar photographs. It takes clean and detailed daylight shots, with the option of switching to a full 64MP resolution, although the AI scene recognition does oversaturate shots.
Macros and night shots are serviceable, but the phone also comes with a 32MP selfie shooter and the pictures are detailed, well exposed, and the skin tone is spot-on.
Battery life and performance
The 4000mAh battery lasted more than a full day of intensive testing usage (taking photos, streaming videos, posting on social media, sending emails, and some gaming as well) with about 25% of the charge still left after all this.
That’s pretty good, but the Realme X2 is missing the 50W fast-charging option that is there in the Realme X2 Pro. Instead, it has the 30W VOOC 4.0 charging system, which brings it from 0 to 70% in around 30 minutes, which is still pretty good.
Realme has done well in 2019 with the shock and awe pricing approach that Xiaomi had perfected over the past five years. With the Realme X2, the company is going up against the Xiaomi Redmi K20. In terms of both display and design, the Xiaomi takes the lead, but having launched later in the year, the Realme X2 gets an edge in the hardware, making it the better phone for gaming, low-light photography, and even charging speed. The fact that Realme stuck with Color OS 6 is a disappointment, but the fact that an upgrade is expected in March is good news. Based on what comes out of the box though, it feels like the phone is being oddly dragged into the past.
Realme Buds Air
Launched alongside the Realme X2 were Realme’s AirPods clones, the Realme Buds Air (Rs. 3,999 in white, black and yellow). The company has completely taken its design cues from Apple’s wireless earbuds — there are small differences (the case is a little rounder, and the Buds Air are a little stockier) but this isn’t just “inspired by” AirPods.
This blatant copying is unusual for Realme, whose phones generally stand out. Worse yet, despite the similar design, the Buds Air kept falling out of the ears, an issue which wasn’t there with the AirPods.
But if you can look past the design, these headphones are actually pretty good value — pairing is like any other pair of bluetooth earphones, and the Buds Air connect over Bluetooth 5.0 and stay connected reliably.
Touch controls are responsive, whether you are hitting the pause button, taking calls, or using the voice assistant, and taking a ‘Bud’ out of your ear will pause the playback automatically. There’s also a low-latency mode for gaming, which cuts down audio lag.
Plus, these earphones sound surprisingly good, given the price tag. They have 12mm drivers inside, which get pretty loud, and deliver the bass-heavy sound that is popular here, with the treble sharp, and mids a little subdued.
They’re not audiophile grade, but that’s not what you’d expect for the price, and the earphones battery keeps them going for around 3-hours each, with about 16 hours of total use thanks to the recharging case—which, funnily enough, offers wireless charging, something that none of Realme’s phones have yet.