A few months ago I was able to attend the launch of the Realme 5 Pro, X2 and X2 Pro in Madrid, these where the first Realme devices to properly launch globally and from the sales data I have read they have been quite successful in propelling the brand, so much so that the 5 series replacement is already here, with the Realme 6i, the Realme 6 and the Realme 6 Pro, and for the last 2 weeks I’ve been using the Realme 6 Pro as my daily driver, and oh boy, with mid-range devices like these, spending £800+ on a flagship looks even harder.
- 90Hz Screen
- Big battery
- Fast Charging
- Good performance
- Dual selfie cameras
- Telephoto & Ultrawide camera leave room for improvement
- Lots of overlap with Realme X2
- Unknown track record with updates.
- 6.6” IPS LCD
- 2400x1080p resolution
- 90Hz Refresh rate
- 120Hz touch sense rate
- 480 Nits max brightness
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G SoC
- 6x Kryo 465 Silver (Custom A55) @ 1.8Ghz
- 2x Kryo 465 Gold (Custom A76) @ 2.3Ghz
- Adreno 618 GPU @ 500Mhz
- Built on Samsung 8nm LPP
- 6GB/8GB LPDDR4x RAM
- 64GB/128GB UFS 2.1 storage
- MicroSD expansion
- 4300mAh Battery
- 30w VOOC charger in box
- Rear Cameras
- 64MP Samsung GW1 (main)
- 26mm effective focal distance
- 1/1,72” sensor size
- 12MP (Telephoto)
- 2x Zoom
- 54mm effective focal distance
- 1/ 3.4” sensor size
- 8MP (Ultrawide)
- 13mm effective focal distance
- 1/ 4.0” sensor size
- 2MP (Macro)
- 22mm effective focal distance
- 1/ 5.0” sensor size
- 64MP Samsung GW1 (main)
- Front Cameras
- 16MP (Main)
- 26mm effective focal distance
- 1/ 3.1” sensor size
- 8MP (Ultrawide)
- 17mm effective focal distance
- 1/ 4.0” sensor size
- 16MP (Main)
- 3.5mm audio jack
If you want a more in-depth spec sheet head on over to GSMArena for all the things I left out.
Building a cheaper device without making it feel cheap is something that many brands have struggled to do for a long time. Companies tried thin plastic, thick plastic, thin and thick metal, strange shapes and strange coverings on the glass etc. and it is only been in the last 2 years or so that I’d say it is hard to find a bad feeling phone, I bring all this up as the Realme 6 Pro feels gorgeous in the hand, it is hefty at 202g without feeling like a tank, it’s all plastic but doesn’t feel cheap, and this is a new company, Realme hasn’t existed for a very long time, and they were able to produce this when even companies like Samsung and Huawei were making £300 phones that felt like cheap toys.
As with most devices in the last year, Realme has tried to abolish as much of the bezel as possible and the time of the notch has gone, replaced with the hole punch display, but Realme has decided that a single selfie camera was not enough, and has instead dropped two in there, a standard wide Camera and an ultra-wide, a nice change in case once the quarantine is over you want to take selfies with multiple people again.
Once you look at the face of the phone, you see that a smidgen under 85% of it is taken up by the screen itself, and whilst the pill-shaped cutout in the top left isn’t very obtrusive (in my eyes) it does have the same inherent issues that LCD based hole-punch displays have, wherein it can’t be too close to the edge for structural reasons, and due to how LCD panels work with the backlight, the hole punch has to have a dark black border around the perimeter which feathers off making the actual aperture of the hole look much larger than the sensor actually is. The other slight issue because of this is that the hole punch sometimes doesn’t always fit inside the notification shade/status bar and sometimes overlaps, or forces the phone to produce an oddly deep status bar, nothing egregious but just different enough that it makes you take note.
The actual quality of the screen to is top-notch, it’s not a Samsung OLED or Apple’s (LG sourced) IPS screen, but this 1080p 90Hz LCD is actually quite lovely to look at, it doesn’t get all that bright at around 480 nits so bright sunshine isn’t going to be a great idea, but at the moment in the quarantine life, you likely won’t be going out much anyway. One thing I’m not too much of a fan of is the “OSIE Vision” it’s an on the fly content “enhancer” and uses ambient lighting to ramp up the screen and it just gives me bad flashbacks from the Galaxy S3 era of OLED displays.
What cannot be exaggerated as too important though is the significance of the 90hz screen and the 120hz polling rate for touch sensitivity? Whilst it makes a noticeable difference on higher-end phones with top of the line Kirin, Snapdragon or Exynos chips, how do you think it improves the experience of a cheaper device? Spoiler, you can’t, not until you’ve used one. Even the cheaper Realme 6, with a MediaTek Helio G90T, feels buttery smooth in everything it does even if it is not the fastest at everything it does, and that comes to the Realme 6 Pro as well with it is Snapdragon 720G chipset. It’s no slouch of a chipset, and a little over a year ago this would have been considered near the top of the class, but the extra fluidity of that 90hz screen paired with the doubled polling rate for touch makes a difference that is not measurable in a benchmark but in quality of life (of device usage), and yes, just like on higher-end phones it makes a difference to your battery life, but the benefit of using “only” a 1080p screen and a lower-end chipset means the battery goes further, and 4300mAh is a pretty beefy supply, can I kill it in a day, sure, but it wasn’t easy.
Taking a hardware tour around the device we get to see that this is the Lightning Blue variant. On the right-hand side, we have nothing but the combined power button/fingerprint reader, a trend that, as a left-handed person, I am really unhappy is returning. I understand under-display fingerprint readers currently are only shipping in OLED devices (yes, Redmi showed off a prototype one in an LCD device but it is not shipping) but even placing the fingerprint reader back on the rear in the comfortable place it resided for years would be preferable to the side. Flipping to the left-hand side we have the volume buttons as well as the SIM tray which has capacity for up to 2 NanoSIM cards and a MicroSD, most of the time to use the MicroSD slot you have to give up one of your SIM slots, but not here baby!. Up top is the secondary microphone used for noise cancellation in voice calls or when recording video. On the bottom is the USB-C port, the ever rarer 3.5mm headphone jack, and the other end has the loudspeaker
Lastly, we move to the rear, with the camera array in the top left, Realme Logo in the bottom left, and this very popular light refraction rear panel, the one of the Realme 6 Pro do actually create somewhat of a lightning bolt pattern which, in line with the naming, is a nice touch. Fading from darker blue at the edges to a much lighter blue in the centre, nice.
Realme goes to show that a plastic phone can feel great when made properly, and this definitely feels great in the hand.
This is where I was very surprised with the Realme 6 Pro, this is the first device (at least that I’ve used) to ship with the new Realme UI and Android 10. The fact that this mid-range phone ships with Android 10 warms the cold black hole where my heart should be, but also Realme UI is a nice departure from the ColorOS of old. To be clear, Realme UI is still based on ColorOS, ColorOS 7, but Realme has been able to tweak stuff to be more stock like and it is very nice, nothing at all like the experience I had with the Realme 5 a few months back, which was frustrating to many degrees, this is, to me at least, on the level of EMUI10 and Samsung OneUI 2.0, different from stock, but stock enough that you still know where everything is and how it works with little issue. My particular model is still running the February 2020 security patch which is coming up to 2 months out of date so I hope Realme can keep up with those.
One of the better things with RealmeUI is that it does incorporate some of the newer things in Android 10 that weren’t there at launch, such as supporting gestures with Third-party launchers, meaning that I can use Action Launcher with gestures to the full extent, unlike on my Huawei P30 Pro wherein swapping from the Huawei Launcher drops me back to Huawei’s old gestures, and on my Xiaomi Mi A2 where it throws me back completely to the 3 button navigation layout, this is very appreciated.
Speaking of Gestures, they work pretty much how they do on a Pixel, but are customisable, you can swipe in from the bottom corner of the screen to open Google Assistant, or you can map it to a 0.5-second press of the power button, or you can have both, or, you can activate my favourite gesture, swipe down from the navigation tab “ the little UI sliver in the middle of the bottom) to enter one-handed mode, something very useful when using a phone with a 6.6” screen, even if it is a 20:9 aspect ratio.
Realme hasn’t really been around long enough for us to have a concrete grip on where they stand with platform updates, so I’m hoping for the best, but former parent company Oppo is, shall we say, not the best for updates, so my fingers are very, very crossed.
I have been very happy with the performance of the Snapdragon 720G in the Realme 6 Pro, I wasn’t expecting Poor performance, but the 720G was one of those slight upgrade chipsets that was silently launched without much fanfare, so many people, even those paying attention to the tech industry may have missed it.
With two Kryo 465 Golds and 6 Kryo 465 Silvers, which are semi-custom Cortex A76’s and A55’s from ARM at respectable clocks of 2.3Ghz for the Gold and 1.8Ghz for the silver, this is very close to what a flagship SoC was about 18 months ago, and it’s made on Samsung’s 8nm process, which, which the naming makes it seem close to the 7nm manufacturing, this is just a hyper optimised version of Samsung 10nm node, which is not a bad thing, it is mature, it is well known and has capacity for days ,a nice choice for a nice chip.
I still include benchmark screenshots in these reviews not because I find them interesting, but because when I don’t I get emails and comments asking me what the AnTuTuscore is, so here are a few benchmark screenshots from 3DMark, PCMark, AnTuTu, Geekbench and Androbench. The annoying thing here though is that no matter how high or low these devices score, it won’t properly click how they feel until you use them, this is true for most devices but even more so for devices with high refresh rate screens, but as I said, if I don’t post these, there will be comments, so here we are.
This is the area that mid-range phones often still struggle to get right, and I won’t pretend that Realme has knocked it out of the park here because they haven’t, but what they have done is give the user a remarkably decent package with very few compromises.
The Main sensor used is the Samsung ISOCELL Bright GW1, it’s a 64MP camera that is designed in a way to take really great 16MP shots, you can still take those massive 64MP shots in the phone but it is a separate mode, but the sensor itself and the software from Realme is really geared at taking great16mp shots, and you know what, it does. Using what is known as a quad bayer filter each pixel (made up of smaller sub-pixels, a Red, two Green and a Blue) is instead made up of 4 pixels of each colour, so these “big pixels” as I call them, instead of being RGGB, it becomes RRGGRRGGGGBBGGBB, which sounds very confusing, so instead look at this photo or read this article
Teaming these pixels up makes the effective pixel larger, and a larger pixel can see more light, and capturing light is what cameras do, so the more light it can take in the better the photos will look, so whilst Realme (and most others for that matter) will tout their high megapixel cameras, whilst technically correct you are rarely going to be taking those high-resolution shots because the camera is actually designed to take photos at a quarter of that resolution that looks just as good or better.
The 2x Telephoto zoom we get here is nothing special, it’s useful, but I’d rather just crop in on the main sensor to get the 2x crop, or swap it out for a higher-end module with a larger sensor size. 2x Zoom isn’t all that useful, it’s why most companies switched to 3x or 5x zooms, a 2x Zoom is something that is usually close enough where you can just walk closer and use the better main camera, and the GW1 is indeed the better camera here.
The same cannot be said about the ultrawide though, Whilst arguably more useful than the Telephoto camera, the Quality of this one is just not on par with the main camera, or even the telephoto, which is a shame as I love taking wide-angle shots, the different perspective it gives you is fun, but when the quality of the sensor and processing makes it grainy or underexposed, you can’t fight the physics of a small sensor and this is a small sensor, and because it is a tertiary camera the main focus is not going to be on improving this, it will be on making the main camera as good as possible, which is sad as ultra-wide cameras are very cool.
The Macro camera doesn’t really deserve much screen time here, it’s not all that great. It’s a minuscule 1/5.0” sensor (the larger the second number the smaller it is) it’s a low resolution at 2MP, and even the relatively large pixels here don’t help, you can’t resolve detail in low light that you can’t capture in the first place. Other companies have found ways to remove the need for a separate macro camera by making the ultrawide camera pull double duty, but as I spoke about, the Ultra-wide camera would need a big update for that to happen.
The Front cameras are more positive though, with a 16MP main camera and an 8MP Ultrawide. The Utility of having two front cameras is really nice, though the smarter thing might have just been to have the ultrawide and just crop in in software,though that would likely cost more than just having the two separate cameras.
I’ll start with the Ultrawide camera here, because although the specs of the front camera are almost identical to the rear camera, maybe It is due to different processing, or the fact that I just have lower expectations for selfies, but the ultrawide camera on the front Is actually really quite nice. It’s not matched with the main camera very well, but colours are close enough that it is not too jarring.
The Main front camera is actually really nice as well, it’s not going to win awards against the Pixel or Samsung S20 series, but it’s a really decent front camera with the secret weapon of being able to swap out to wide if you need it. I would love to see Realme work more on matching the output of the main and ultrawide selfie cameras, get the colours closer together, making the processing more consistent and especially exposure, the Ultrawide front camera has more trouble with overcast skies than most I’ve seen.
Lastly Is video, Android phones struggle with Video, even high-end Android phones, so lower tier phones with lower-tier chipsets and lower-tier ISPs (Image signal processors) were never going to wow me, but the Realme 6 Pro was decent, I’m not going to be shooting a short film on this, but I can vlog with it, I can shoot Instagram stories, I could even probably use it to take some B-Roll when I’m out and about and forgot a spare battery, but I’m not sure if this is the Snapdragon ISPs problem, a Realme tuning problem, but the stabilisation of video in 60fps mode is abhorrent to the point of I want to show it off because of how bad it is. 1080p 30 is fine, and 4K30 is a bit choppy when on a tripod on the camera person is still these produce decent videos, but when the phone has to deal with a moving subject and a moving operator, it really starts to crap the bed a bit.
This is an easy section because this is great. The 4300mAh cell is huge, the 8nm SoC is power-sipping, the 1080p screen is easy for the GPU to push, and best of all, Realme included Oppo’s VOOC tech on this one. 30w of fast charging over the USB-C port is glorious.
VOOC is Oppo’s proprietary charging standard (VOOC stands for Voltage Open-Loop Multi-step constant-current charging) which means to use it you need a special charging block and cable, luckily both of those are included in the box. This does mean that if you lose one or the other you won’t be able to charge as fast, though you can buy replacements from Oppo and Realme. The Realme 6 Pro does also include support for the USB Power Delivery spec, meaning that if you have a newer USB-C charger you can charge up to 18w using that, not as fast as the VOOC 30w, but still plenty fast for most people and much easier to get a hold of.
Miscellaneous sections in my reviews are for this that needs to be spoken about but don’t need an entire section to themselves, for me this is about network connectivity, Realme Share and NFC.
Starting with NFC, despite what the original spec sheet says, my Realme 6 Pro definitely has NFC, not only have I set up NFC based Google Pay on it and written to my NFC tags with it, I’ve used Google Pay in the supermarket, so this definitely has NFC. Next is Realme share, much like AirDrop or Huawei Share, if there are multiple Realme devices near you, you can quickly send files to them, I believe this is done using WiFi direct, you have to manually accept the file transfer, so unlike AirDrop people can’t just prank you, but despite how similar it sounds and looks in the share sheet, it is not compatible with Huawei Share.
Lastly, Network connectivity, I have had no issues with mobile data on the Realme 6 Pro, been very steadily staying connected to my mobile masts around my house and near the shops I’ve been visiting, but WiFi does seem somewhat weak for me compared to other phones, this might be because I’m comparing it to Huawei Phones which have notoriously great WiFi, but something seems up.
The Realme 6 Pro is, without a shadow of a doubt, the king of the midrange for me is what I want to say here. But at the price of £299, it’s really close to the top end Realme 6, but also that is where the Realme X2 starts, yes it is slightly older, it’s Telephoto camera is a bit worse, but you get a gorgeous OLED display with in-display fingerprint scanner (albeit 60Hz) Realme needs to treat carefully here before it steps on it is own toes and stumbles barely out of the gate. The Realme 6 Pro Is a great phone, but I fear Realme is getting to a point where every £20 increment is a new phone or a new model of phone and we’ve seen time and time again, that never ends well.
Should you buy this over the Realme 6? well if you want the sleeker design and an ultrawide selfie camera, sure the £30 might be worth it, but should you buy this over the Realme X2, that’s a harder sell, but I’m edging closer to yes because 90Hz on a lower-end phone really does make a noticeable difference.