A very good affordable phone that outguns most of the opposition with its exemplary hardware, if not its software.
- Excellent performance
- Vibrant Super AMOLED display
- Strong all-round camera
- ColorOS is a little heavy-handed
- Macro camera feels superfluous
- Review Price: €299
- 6.4in Super AMOLED display
- Android 9.0 Pie with ColorOS 6
- Four cameras on the back
- Including 64-megapixel sensor
- Snapdragon 730G CPU with 8GB of RAM
- 158.7 x 75.2 x 8.6mm
- In-display fingerprint sensor
- Headphone port
While the Realme X2 Pro is attracting warranted attention for its OnePlus-baiting combination of price and performance, it’s worth remembering that there was a second Realme X2 announced back in October.
Available now in selected European markets for just €299 (around £260), the Realme X2 packs in some compellingly proficient components for a third of the price of a fully specced flagship. On paper at least, it’s a bit of a steal.
You’re looking at a phone that boasts a vibrant Super AMOLED display, a pixel-packed quad-camera, strong mid-range performance, and several design flourishes that mark it out from the affordable crowd.
And it really needs to stand out, with the likes of the Nokia 7.2, the Motorola One Vision and the Sony Xperia 10 all competing within the same aspirational sub-€300 bracket.
Realme X2 design – Tidily generic but for the fingerprint sensor
The low to middle section of the smartphone market is no place for design innovation, and it’s no surprise that the Realme X2 comes across as a mish-mash of a bunch of other phones.
From the front, it could be any smartphone from Xiaomi, Nokia, Motorola, or countless other brands. It has a familiar dewdrop notch and a dominant screen, with an impressive 91.9% screen-to-body ratio.
From the rear there are hints of Xiaomi and Honor from the X2’s tone-shifting blue and purple shiny finish, while the lozenge-shaped camera module is firmly in the iPhone X school.
This isn’t a criticism so much as an observation – almost everyone is drawing from the same limited design playbook at this end of the market. What’s important is that the X2 looks tidy – and that it feels good in the hand.
The Realme X2 is well balanced and solid, with minimal flex or creak despite its plastic frame. The shiny Gorilla Glass 5-coated rear and glossy plastic sides aren’t to my taste, and the former is a serial fingerprint offender. Nevertheless, there’s nothing here that deserves singling out for serious criticism.
In fact, there are a couple of inclusions that warrant praise. The provision of a headphone jack and a USB-C port aren’t especially noteworthy at this price, but they’re good things to tick off the list. More noteworthy is the inclusion of an in-display fingerprint sensor, rather than the usual rear-mounted component.
The remaining hardware buttons are nicely spread out and well positioned, with the power button sitting two-thirds of the way up the right-hand edge and the volume keys dead opposite. A lot of manufacturers cram all of them onto one edge, but I prefer this more evenly distributed approach.
There’s only get a single speaker on the bottom of the phone, but it’s plenty loud and clear enough. A full-on stereo setup would have been nice of course, but that’s well above the Realme X2’s pay grade.
Realme X2 display – Vibrant Super AMOLED at a bargain price
You can’t really afford to include a bad or even mediocre display if you’re asking people to pay €300 for a phone. The competition has grown too strong, even down here.
The likes of the Sony Xperia 10, the Motorola One Action and the Nokia 7.2 all come with large, crisp Full HD+ efforts. All have attention-grabbing features, too, whether it’s an ultra-wide 21:9 aspect ratio or claims of HDR compatibility.
Thankfully, the Realme X2 has something of a trump card in its 6.4in Super AMOLED display. The screen’s 1080 x 2340 resolution ensures that everything is sufficiently sharp, but it’s the provision of that Super AMOLED panel that really stands out. It provides an uncommonly vibrant picture, with the kind of alluringly deep blacks that those predominantly LCD rivals can’t hope to match.
You can currently get the Xiaomi Mi 9 SE with a Super AMOLED display for a similar amount of money, but that’s only due to the typical level of discounting from its £349 RRP.
I found the Realme X2 display to be perhaps a little cool by default, but there’s a no-nonsense slider in the Settings menu that lets you warm things up with minimum fuss.
All in all, this is an uncommonly rich, vibrant display for the money. Heavy video-watchers will have to put up with an intrusive dewdrop notch, but this isn’t unusual to find even further up the smartphone hierarchy. Otherwise, I can’t think of many phones that pack such a visual punch for the price.
Realme X2 performance – Punches well above its weight
Just as the Realme X2’s display feels like it’s been airlifted in from a slightly more expensive phone, so does its CPU and RAM combo. The Snapdragon 730G at the heart of the device is Qualcomm’s current mid-range provision, built to an efficient 8nm standard.
It’s the same chip that is in the Oppo Reno 2, a handset that costs around £200 more. We were impressed with that phone’s mid-range power, although there were better performers at the price. That caveat doesn’t apply here.
General navigation is fluid, while jumping between multiple open apps was notable for the absence of loading – something that’s no doubt helped by the generous provision of 8GB of RAM.
Even intensive 3D games such as Call of Duty Mobile and PUBG run fluidly on high settings – or even Very High in the case of CoD. Indeed, the Snapdragon 730G is specifically geared towards such gaming tasks, with a GPU that’s been clocked 15% higher than the Plain Snapdragon 730.
A Geekbench 4 multi-core score of 6833 drives home the point that the Realme X2 is a very good performer. Comparing that to its contemporaries, the Motorola One Action scored 5123 and the Nokia 7.2 scored 5889; not even close.
You’ll have ample storage for downloading those aforementioned games and apps, too, with 128GB and a microSD slot. This really is a very well-equipped phone.
Realme X2 software – ColorOS 6.1 has us pining for stock Android
The Realme X2 runs Android 9.0 Pie with Oppo’s ColorOS 6.1 interface layered over the top. It’s another of those custom UIs that seems a little over-eager to differentiate itself. File next to Huawei’s Emotion UI and Xiaomi’s MIUI.
On the face of it, this is a fairly typical derivation of Google’s popular mobile OS. The homescreens look roughly the same, as do the (mostly) circular app icons and the drag-up app tray.
But the notification menu looks quite different, with a more cluttered and confusing layout – although it’s nice to be able to access the screen brightness from the initial drag-down phase. I found the Settings menu to be equally jumbled, especially if you’re coming from a more stock-like Android experience.
Scrolling to the left of the main homescreen, meanwhile, brings up a custom Smart Assistant where you might hope to find Google’s ever-useful feed. Here you get a bunch of contextual widgets, including a calendar, a local weather readout, quick app and contact shortcuts, step trackers, and recently taken photos.
It isn’t entirely without use, although most Android users will already have their own ways of accessing this information in a jiffy. Android has had widget support for years, for example.
Perhaps most objectionable is the suite of preinstalled apps forced upon you. Do we really need Opera browser out of the box when Chrome is already installed? Do we need AquaMail when Gmail is already present? The answer is no and certainly no respectively.
ColorOS 6.1 is far from an unusable travesty. It has the good sense to go about its business speedily and without unnecessary animations. But after an impressive hardware showing, this is the one area where Android One rivals such as the Nokia 7.2 and Motorola One Vision claw back a significant victory.
Realme X2 camera – Generally accomplished results
If you’re an affordable phone pretending to be a higher grade of device then it’s usually with the camera that you’ll come unstuck. But the Realme X2 offers a pretty decent photographic package.
Claims that it’s a quad camera are ever so slightly disingenuous, if technically accurate. One of the lenses here is for a 2-megapixel macro camera for getting extremely up-close and personal (Realme says 4cm), while another is a dedicated depth sensor. That leaves just the two “proper” cameras.
They’re pretty well equipped, though. The main camera is a 64-megapixel unit with a large 1/1.72in sensor and a bright f/1.8 aperture. Most shots you take will actually be captured at 16 megapixels, but it’s possible to force the camera to use the full 64 if you intend to really blow up those images.
That’s backed by an 8-megapixel f/2.3 ultra wide-angle secondary, which offers a 119-degree field of view.
This quad setup combines effectively to capture pleasingly vibrant, balanced images for the most part. I was also impressed by the quality of the low-light indoors shots captured, which weren’t washed out in the way that results from many cheaper smartphone cameras tend to be. You can probably thank that large sensor.
There’s a dedicated Night mode (here called Super Nightscape 2.0), which forms the usual composite image of multiple frames. It’s far from the best example out there, but it does draw out a fair amount of extra detail in very dark situations – provided you can hold still for a second.
Meanwhile, the aforementioned depth sensor seems to justify its existence with a decent Portrait mode, which can really make a subject pop without looking too false or glitchy around the edges. Again, far from a given at this end of the market.
You may have noted the lack of a dedicated telephoto lens here, but Realme has combined the X2’s resources to produce usable – if far from perfect – 2x zoom shots. The ultra-cropped 5x option seems to be a step too far, though, with bags-full of noise.
There’s an unusually sharp 32-megapixel camera around front, whose results aren’t anything special. Realme is promising a Portrait Super Nightscape selfie mode in a future update, though.
Video shooters get the ability to capture 960fps slow-motion video, and there’s Ultra Image Stabilisation (UIS) that effectively steadies the picture electronically at the expense of a little cropping.
Realme X2 battery life – Top stamina, impressively rapid charging
The Realme X2 completes a clean sweep of impressive hardware with a sizable 4000mAh battery and impressively rapid 30W charging.
Not that you’ll find yourself needing to top up so urgently on many occasions. I found myself going through a long day of moderate to heavy usage with 35-40% left in the tank.
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It’s quite conceivable that light users will be able to go through two days in-between charges.
An hour of streamed Netflix, with the screen brightness cranked up to full, takes 7% off the battery. That’s pretty decent.
And when it does come time to recharge, there’s that 30W VOOC Flash Charge 4.0 charger. Realme claims it can carry the X2 to 67% in just 30 minutes.
In a testing scenario that’s possibly more reflective of real-life, I found I was able to get from 59% to 84% – an increase of 25% – in just 15 minutes. Impressive stuff.
Should you buy the Realme X2?
The Realme X2 offers a compelling package for less than €300. In particular, the phone’s hardware is uniformly strong, offering excellent performance, a vibrant Super AMOLED display and strong battery life.
You’re also getting a flexible camera that can take punchy, well-balanced shots in a range of lighting conditions. This isn’t something you always see at this end of the market.
The main thing that holds the Realme X2 back from an unqualified recommendation is its sub-par ColorOS custom UI – but even that’s pretty solid and possible to adapt to.
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