Realme has been on a ride this year.
After forking out from Oppo last year, to address the sub Rs 20,000 market in India, which was dominated by Xiaomi’s Redmi series at the time, the Oppo sub-brand has come a long way. This year alone, it has launched around nine devices... so far. With three months still to go and its never-ending competition with Xiaomi, god only knows how many more devices Realme has planned before 2020 begins.
The Realme XT was announced officially, out of the blue, just a day before the launch of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 series. The most likely explanation could simply be that Realme wanted that 'world's first 64 Mp camera' tag. Just when we thought that megapixel wars were history, the smartphone industry has brought them right back in the public consciousness. After all, for how long can one just compete on price, right?
Realme introduced the X-series lineup this year with the launch of the Realme X which is targeted at users who want something good looking to flash around, even as the standard Realme 5/5 Pro, Realme 3/3 Pro lineup continues to address the customer looking for a value for money proposition.
Speaking of money, Realme XT pricing is as follows:
- 4 GB RAM + 64 GB storage at Rs 15,999
- 6 GB RAM + 64 GB storage at Rs 16,999
- 8 GB RAM + 128 GB storage at Rs 18,999
Redmi is yet to announce a launch date for its 64 MP Redmi Note 8 series, so for all practical purposes, Realme XT is indeed the first phone in India with a 64 MP camera. To summarise, the Realme XT is a really good phone. The display is brilliant, battery life impresses and the camera performs decently well. But should you really get over-excited about the 64 MP camera tag and leave caution to the wind when getting this smartphone? Not really. While a 64 MP camera is good to have, also pay attention to other aspects of this phone. But first, let's check out the camera in detail.
Cameras impress in bright conditions; low light performance not so great
A major selling point of the Realme XT is the presence of the 64 MP primary camera on it. This is the 64 MP Samsung GW1 sensor with a size of 1/1.72-inches with 0.8-micron pixel size where the pixels are isolated from each other to prevent any light spill-off. This is the first time a smartphone with a 64 MP primary camera (with f/1.8 aperture) ably supported by an 8 MP ultra-wide-angle camera (f/2.2), a 2 MP macro lens and a 2 MP depth camera has been launched in India. By default, the Realme XT uses pixel binning, which combines four pixels into one large pixel to give you a 16 MP image. To shoot a 64 MP image, you will have to select the Ultra 64 MP mode.
For a smartphone with such a headlining feature as a 64 MP camera, the Realme XT has one of the clunkiest camera user interfaces I have ever seen. On getting inside the camera app, you are presented with three options: Video, Photo and Portrait. To shoot the ultra-wide photo, you will have to tap on the ultra-wide icon on top, between the HDR and Chroma Boost icons. To shoot a 64 MP image, you will have to tap on the hamburger icon beside Video which brings up a list that has Ultra 64 MP. Want to shoot a macro? Scroll down on the same list to the bottom to the Ultra Macro mode. Suffice to say, the camera user interface needs to be rebuilt from scratch.
Images shot from the primary camera during daytime turn out quite well with sharpness on point. You do get the Chroma boost option, in case you want to pump up the colours, but I kept that mode off as I found the oversaturation a bit too high for my liking. But Instagram addicts will like this, as it almost acts like a filter. The ultra-wide-angle camera wasn’t as great in comparison and the distortion around the edges is quite noticeable. So, if you are taking group photos with the ultra-wide mode, just ensure no one is placed around the edge of the frame. In indoor photography, noise is noticeable under fluorescent lights when using the ultrawide mode.
The @realmemobiles #RealmeXT has just been launched at a starting price of Rs 15,999 for the 4 GB RAM + 64 GB storage model. Let's check out some of the sample images shot using this. First some ultrawide angle shots pic.twitter.com/dEwvnYMh1b
— Tech2 (@tech2eets) September 13, 2019
On most occasions, you will be better off using the default 16 MP camera mode. The 64 MP Ultra mode is recommended only in case you want to make large prints of your photos, as otherwise, you are just filling up your storage with almost 10-15 MB per image. It’s worth noting that the 64 MP camera will also magnify noise in low-light situation. So it’s best avoided at night.
With the 64 MP camera, you do not get the option to zoom in, whereas the default camera mode offers 2x and 5x digital zooms. Image quality degrades progressively with zooming.
— Tech2 (@tech2eets) September 13, 2019
As is the case with the sub-Rs 20,000 camera category, the low light image quality is still lacking on the Realme XT. Noise and grain is easily visible post sundown. Yes, the Nightscape mode does manage to give you a much better quality image, but that’s if your hand is rock steady. The slightest shake will result in a blurry image. Night mode images are restricted to 12 MP. At dusk using the Nightscape mode can really give you a good dynamic range though.
The Ultra macro mode is strictly ok. I wasn’t too impressed with the details with the 2 MP 1600x1200 pixel images. I also noticed a colour cast when shooting macros indoors.
Talking about selfies, the Realme XT sports a 16 MP (Sony IMX471 sensor with f/2.0 aperture and a 2-micron pixel size) camera on the front which manages to take pleasing selfies. The beauty mode isn’t on by default (thank god for that) so photos look natural and not airbrushed. Selfies shot with the Portrait mode on are limited to 8 MP resolution, but managing to get the edge detection right is a hit or miss endeavour. The portrait mode did manage to work on objects as well, as seen in the case of the art installation.
— Tech2 (@tech2eets) September 13, 2019
The Realme XT supports 4K at 30 fps along with 1080p at 60/30 fps and 720p at 60/30 fps. The 4K video recording makes sense only if you know the phone is going to stay in one place (preferably on a tripod) as walking and shooting results in a horribly shaky video. The electronic image stabilisation does a much better job with Full HD resolution at 60 fps.
In terms of video quality, daylight videos came out detailed. Indoor videos come across as soft and you can notice a slightly waxy output. Low light video is fine only in emergency cases. Long story short, the Realme XT isn’t a great video camera unless you aren’t shooting in bright daylight. Panning doesn’t enhance the shutter rolling as much in FullHD mode as it does with 4K. It's best to avoid shooting in 4K unless you have a tripod on you.
Battery life impresses and VOOC 3.0 charging impresses even more
Realme XT comes with a 4,000 mAh battery which lasted a good two days of moderate usage. On heavy usage and on gaming, that time comes down to just over a day. Realme XT offers a lot of interesting battery modes. By default, the ‘Smart Power Saver’ mode is on, which offers some actionable insights to save more power. This is in addition to the Power Saving mode which shuts off some of the background apps and shuts off auto-sync and reduces screen brightness. Power Saver mode changes the battery icon to blue. The Smart Power Saver feature works best for most users. In case you want to boost the performance even further (to get a smoother PUBG Mobile experience, for instance) it will come at the cost of battery life. You need to head to the Battery > Performance Mode > High-Performance Mode and tap the radio button beside it.
Due to ColorOS v6, you don’t get an idea of the screen on time or battery drainage graph at a glance. But in my day to day usage, I could easily eke out over a day of battery life from the device which is quite decent for a large display device such as the Realme XT.
The phone comes with a 20 W VOOC Flash Charge 3.0 which charges the phone from 0-100 percent in under 90 minutes. This is quite good for a phone with such a large battery capacity.
Design is a mashup of Realme X and Realme 5 Pro
Considering Realme has launched so many phones this year, the designs are starting to look alike. So even though Realme XT is a different lineup, its design language is heavily borrowed from the Realme 5 Pro, instead of the Realme X. This is confusing for the consumer who may have thought that the X-series is all about premium design with no notch on the display. While the Realme XT does exude that premium air, one look at the device and it feels more at home with the Realme 5/5 Pro crowd than the Realme X. Barring the fingerprint scanner on the back, there’s barely anything that’s different. Even the camera placement is along the same top left-hand corner, in a vertical orientation.
The plastic frame is sandwiched between Gorilla Glass 5 on the back, which curves around the edges, and Gorilla Glass 5 on the display. Realme bundles the device with a protective screen covering which can be taken off. I got the Pearl Blue variant to review with a dual-tone colour on the back glass. It transitions nicely from blue to violet gradually. There’s nothing stand-out in the design if you have seen earlier Realme devices.
The device has a nice heft to it, but it’s certainly not meant for one-handed usage thanks to the 6.4-inch display. The back holds up impressively well when it comes to resisting fingerprint smudges, but it can be a tad slippery. The camera module protrudes out by quite a bit, so it won’t lie flat on the back. A transparent cover is bundled with the device, which when snapped on, is in line with the camera module protrusion. Either way, it isn’t the slimmest devices around.
Decent performance and it plays PUBG Mobile well
The Realme XT comes with Android 9 Pie with the July 2019 patch and Color OS 6.0. We have covered ColorOS 6.0 in detail in our Realme 5 Pro review, so I won't repeat things here. Bottom line: the OS is responsive, and does come with some bloat preloaded.
A Qualcomm Snapdragon 712 AIE SoC paired with 8 GB of RAM keeps things fast. Switching between apps is seamless, the gestures work without a glitch and there wasn't an issue with heavy apps either. PUBG Mobile performs well too and provides playable frame rates at Ultra settings. You can get even better performance by switching the battery to Performance mode. It scores a respectable 1,675 single-core score and 5,845 multi-core score on Geekbench 4, and 176,675 on AnTuTu. The graphics department is handled by Adreno 616, which scored 1,994 in the SlingShot Extreme - Vulkan 3DMark benchmark. These benchmark numbers are in line with phones with the Snapdragon 712 SoCs on other phones.
Call quality is great. In terms of the speaker's audio quality, while the volume can get loud, I didn't find the audio fidelity to be that great. Sure, there was no distortion of audio, but no richness either.
The in-display fingerprint scanner, is as expected, noticeably slow. With wet fingers, it becomes quite a task to login. I liked the animation though, which lights up the region on the display as you touch your finger to scan. You do get the option for face unlock, but it's not the most secure way to login so avoid it if possible. Pattern lock or pin lock are still the best options.
Superb AMOLED display
The Realme XT comes with a 6.4-inch FHD+ AMOLED display. It's a huge display and if you get rid of the soft buttons for navigation, you can take advantage of added screen real estate. The display is bright, has a great contrast ratio, and thanks to an AMOLED panel, great blacks too. If you love binge-watching your favourite shows and movies on your phone, the Realme XT will not disappoint at all. As compared to the Realme 5 Pro, the Realme XT display is far superior.
Realme XT Verdict and Price in India
The Realme XT is a good phone on most counts. But if you are going for this smartphone only and only for the 64 MP camera, here's some news - don't. The 64 MP resolution lets you shoot large images which let you crop in if you just want a part of the image. But unless the conditions are really bright, cropping any portion will always have noise. The 16 MP camera will be your go-to camera for most use-cases and it does a good job. The megapixel war with digital cameras was over a long time ago for a reason. Smartphones are just playing the numbers game with megapixels as it gives them an added thing to brag about. While it's good to have, understand that it won't improve your photography in any remarkable way. Unless you want to take large prints of the photos you shoot, 64 MP isn't going to add any major value.
The Realme XT starts at Rs 15,999 for the 4 GB RAM + 64 GB storage variant. The mid-tier variant having 6 GB RAM and 64 GB storage at Rs 16,999 offers a much better value proposition according to me. Since Realme XT offers a dedicated microSD card slot, in addition to a dual nano-SIM slot, you can add extra storage to the 64 GB default one. It's well known that 8 GB RAM is overkill, so 6 GB RAM will more than suffice for most users and you are also saving Rs 2,000 in the process.
The Realme XT has been launched in a price where it competes with the Vivo Z1X and could, in the near future, compete with the Redmi Note 8 series. If you are not too keen on the 64 MP camera proposition, then the 48 MP cameras on the Redmi Note 7 Pro (Review) and Realme 5 Pro (Review) are good enough for your needs. The Redmi Note 7 Pro with a dual camera may sound odd as a competitor to a quad camera phone, but honestly, the superior low light image quality of the Note 7 Pro makes up for the lack of two extra cameras. If a clean Android interface is what you are looking for, then the Xiaomi Mi A3 (Review) has you covered in the same price range.