Realme X50 5G Review: a great entry if you need 5G

Ah yes, here I am again with another review from Realme, this time it’s the X50 5G, as the name implies it should be a slightly cut down version of the X50 Pro 5G that I gushed over a few months back, but is it? I’m not so sure.

Realme X50 5G
+ FOR
  • 120Hz Screen is Fluid
  • Snapdragon 765G is very performant
  • 765G sips power.
  • 30w Charging.
  • Nice Cameras
- AGAINST
  • Worse cameras than cheaper Realme 6 Pro
  • 5G not in majority of places yet.
  • SD765G more expensive than comparable chipsets

Buy on Amazon UK – £299

Disclaimer

Realme PR provided this X50 5G unit for review, they’re not seeing this before it goes live and they don’t get to ask me to change anything. No money has changed hands between either entity. The X50 5G was used on the Three UK network in the southeast of the UK, in testing I received two software updates, the last one bringing it up to release standard.

Realme X50 5G review

Specifications

  • 6.57” IPS LCD
    • 120Hz refresh rate
    • 2400x1080p
    • 90% screen to body
  • Qualcomm snapdragon 765G
    • 1x Kryo 475 Prime (Cortex A76) @ 2.4Ghz
    • 1x Kryo 475 Gold (Cortex A76) @ 2.2Ghz
    • 6x Kryo 475 Silver (Cortex A55) @ 1.8Ghz
    • Adreno 620 GPU
    • 7nm LPP Samsung Foundry
  • 6GB RAM/128GB UFS2.1 Storage
  • 4200mAh Battery
  • 30w Dart Charge
  • Cameras – rear
    • 48 MP, f/1.8, 25mm (wide), 1/2.0″, 0.8µm, PDAF
    • 8 MP, f/2.3, 16mm (ultrawide), 1/4.0″, 1.12µm
    • 2 MP, f/2.4, (macro)
    • 2 MP, f/2.4, (depth)
  • Cameras – front
    • 16 MP, f/2.0, 26mm (wide), 1/3.06″, 1.0µm
    • 2 MP, f/2.4, (depth)
  • 163.8 x 75.8 x 8.9 mm
  • 194g

For a more complete spec sheet head on over to the GSMArena page for the X50 5G here

Hardware

As with all recent Realme phones, the X50 5G is well built, like the X50 Pro 5G it is an aluminium frame with a glass front and back but for the longest time I had just assumed that the frame as a plastic due to the paint/anodization on it, it didn’t feel like metal, that is until I left it in my car and went to pick it up when the UK was having a heatwave, woo boy was it definitely metal.

Realme X50 5G review

The design here isn’t shocking, it is very much sticking to the Realme design aesthetic of punch-hole (either single or double) in the top left, little to no bezels on the left and right with a small chin,  power button with integrated fingerprint scanner (eurgh) on the left with volume buttons on the opposing side and on the rear is the vertical camera setup in the top left corner. None of this is bad, it is just consistent, but it is also kind of boring. Even the cool green colour and iridescent pearly back don’t really do much anymore, and I don’t think this is a problem with the X50 5G, but more that Realme is releasing so many phones so close together with such similar designs that they all kind of just bleed into one phone, which is a shame.

Realme X50 5G review

My aesthetic qualms aside, the X50 5G is pretty and it is well built. From the front, you have a face mostly covered by the screen, GSMArena says 84% but Realme say 90%, given that manufacturers like to stretch definitions I’m going with GSMArena here. In the top left is where we get the two cameras, but calling this 2 cameras seems insidious to me, it is a single 16MP camera with a secondary 2MP depth sensor as with them on the back, these low-resolution depth sensors take up space, provide little benefit in hardware and can be replicated in software as multiple companies at this point have shown and some have open-sourced for others to use. This is the crappy continuation of the megapixel or megahertz wars from the last decade or so and I cannot wait for these useless cameras to go. Just above these is the tiny sliver of an earpiece, and this is impressive as Realme calls this a “Super Linear Speaker”, what does that mean? Well, they’re using the same speaker module for the loudspeaker as they are for the earpiece, and whilst they don’t amplify the earpiece for stereo speakers, running this module at a lower amplitude allows for great clarity and quality. 

Realme X50 5G review

The screen itself is a 6.57” 1080p+ IPS LCD running at an insane 120Hz, and it is actually a nice screen, especially when you take into account the price of just £299. The screen is laminated, so the pixels appear to be painted on the screen, the touch response is likely being polled at 240hz so for every time the screen refreshes the ouch layer is refreshing twice to make touches even more impressive, the “problem” with this screen is that everything looks a bit flat colour-wise. Maybe it’s because I usually use OLED displays, but I’m also testing the TCL 10 5G at the same time as this, and that is a 1080p IPS at 60Hz and it is a much nicer screen than this, I had wondered if the Realme had been put in an sRGB mode, but nope, the Vivid mode was on, and even if I put the TCL in normal/sRGB mode everything just looked… better, greens had more depth, whites weren’t so blue. This is a nice display, but it seems that in the quest of getting a 120Hz IPS panel for a phone this cheap, they had to make sacrifices, and it was to the colours and brightness of this screen. Good screen, not a great screen.

Realme X50 5G review

On the left-hand side of the phone we have the volume button, they don’t excessively rattle, but they do require a smidgen more force to actuate than I was expecting coming from other Realme phones, and over the month or so I’ve been testing it this hasn’t loosened up yet. Flipping round to the right-hand side we see the combo power button with a capacitive fingerprint scanner. I hate these, I’ve made it known in my Realme 6, 6 Pro, X3 Superzoom and other reviews that side-mounted fingerprint scanners are bad, they cater more to right-handed people, and sure you can map your left index or middle finger but it isn’t as comfortable especially given how tall the phone is. A front or rear scanner is easily accessible by people with either dominant hand. Aside from that annoyance, the scanner worked fine when I used my right hand but after a while, I gave up using it and use face unlock instead. I know it is far less secure with this implementation (it is photo-based not 3D depth mapped) I don’t care, it was easier and more comfortable than using the capacitive scanner on my dominant (left) hand.

Realme X50 5G review

Up top there is a microphone hole, this secondary mic is for noise cancellation in phone calls and when recording video. And on the bottom we have the speaker, next to that is the USB-C port for charging and data transfer (albeit at USB2.0 speeds) the main microphone and then the dual nanoSIM card tray.

Lastly, we have the back, the cameras, from top to bottom there is the Black and White Portrait lens, the Macro lens, the main 48MP camera and lastly the 8MP Ultrawide camera. This is all in an elongated pill slightly raised from the surface, and the single LED flash module is to the left of this when viewed in portrait. In the bottom left is the Realme logo vertically. The rear is meant to be looked at horizontally though as if it were a camera so it all lines up that way. This rear panel is glass with a similar pearlescent aesthetic as we have seen in lots of phones lately, and my Jungle Green unit holds on to smudges and fingerprints like nothing else, so it might be with using the TPU case that comes in the box.

Realme X50 5G review

The X50 5G feels like a bit of a weird “parts bin” phone, it has a higher refresh rate screen and a better processor than the Realme 6 Pro, as well as 5G, but the camera setup is worse on front and back, and the 6 Pro has a MicroSD slot for those that care and it has a slightly smaller battery and is £50 more. Is 5G worth an extra £50? I can’t say just yet.

Software

This is pretty simple, it is the same Realme UI that you’ll find on any recent Realme phone. It’s based on Android 10 and ColorOS 7. Nice pastel colours and swift transitions without leaning too far into MIUI territory. My favourite feature though isn’t even a RealmeUI feature, it is that they used a new enough version of Android 10 as the base so that I can use gesture navigation with 3rd party launchers. Is this a problem for everyone? No, but it is nice knowing they’re using a modern build of Android 10, not one from early in the cycle.

Realme X50 5G review

Realme’s UI is somehow both visually distinct, but very easy to navigate and see as “android”. The notification shade works the same way as it does on Google’s version, as do quick settings. The settings app is logically laid out with search, and a great feature that is often taken for granted is how stable it is. I have had a single app crash in my month or so with the X50 5G, and it was because it was a beta app that had a buggy release, within a few hours the developer had pushed an update and it was right as rain.

Realme X50 5G review

This device, or at least my current build of software on the X50 5G supports HDR on YouTube but not on Netflix yet, I have sent Realme and email asking when this will be coming, but I haven’t received a response yet. 

Realme’s stock apps are actually quite nice and in some places preferable to the google ones such as the calculator, which also has a currency converter and a unit converter built into it. Or the  Camera app, which is clear, easy to use and fast, much faster than i was expecting, my guess is this is down to the newer GPU and ISP in the Snapdragon 765G, but I can’t say anything concrete yet.

Realme X50 5G review

I can’t comment on future upgrades because the only upgrades my unit has gotten so far were bugfixes and to bring it up to the release version. But given the other Realme devices, I have experience with they have been getting system updates with new features and security patches, so hopefully once Android 11 is released they aren’t far behind.

Camera

This is the secretion I’ve been least looking forward to writing, not because it is a bad camera system, for the most part at the price, t’s pretty good, it is just that I’m going to have to repeat myself once again, but I’m going to make it pretty this time:

Stop . Putting . Useless . Cameras . in . phones

The main 48MP Camera in this, almost certainly a Samsung ISOCELL Bright GM1, a pretty great camera sensor once an OEM tweaks it a bit, and Realme has, the main camera here produces bright vivid photos, which a nice depth of field, made possible by the relatively large sensor (for phones) and a large aperture on the lens, it still has the ISOCELL quirks of making greens and reds look like they’ve come from Chernobyl, but I actually kind of like the look.

Realme X50 5G review

In everything but low light, the focus was quick, exposure was impressively accurate and shutter lag was next to zero, just as it should be. Once we get to low light, things became a lot less rosy and a lot more, well, fuzzy. all the accolades I threw on that camera moment ago fall away in low light, even when you use the low light mode, it’s clear Realme didn’t port over the cool night more used on the X3 Superzoom here.

Realme X50 5G review

On a more positive note, the ultrawide was better than I expected and more consistent than I’ve seen on phones recently, it’s still softer than the main sensor, with different colours and a different perspective, but it sat least of decent/good quality, which isn’t something I can say about all ultrawide cameras lately. I’ll keep saying it until companies other than Apple do it, please at least try to match the colours between the cameras you are using. I can live with the shifting viewport in the camera app, but when I take a photo on wide, main and tele, and all three have different colours, that really throws me.

Next are the two cameras that are useless, I will continue to call useless and don’t care if Companies do not like it. The 2MP “portrait” camera and the 2MP macro cameras. They’re wastes of space, money and development time. They do not improve user experience, they do not provide better images than a single good sensor with good software, they only reason they exist is so companies can say “look how many cameras we have” and it’s crap, these cameras are crap, stop doing it.

Lastly, I want to talk about video. Android phones have typically not been great at recording video, especially when compared to the iPhone. Recently with newer chipsets from Huawei and Qualcomm, getting good video out of an Android phone has become easier and when paired with good sensors and decent software you get a video that doesn’t make you wish you hadn’t recorded it, and that’s what we have here, the ISOCELL GM1, paired with the Snapdragon 765G’s ISP (Image Signal Processor) produces surprisingly good videos. As we can see below.

 

 

 

Performance

As is common, I don’t really think benchmarks are the best way to talk about the performance of a device, but it is an easy number to share. The Snapdragon 765G is a chip that was created for one purpose, bring the premium experience to a lower price bracket. it is not as screaming fast as the Snapdragon 865  or 865+ if I’m honest it is not even as fast as the 855 or 855+, but the Snapdragon 765G on CPU performance is just above a Snapdragon 845 and just below an 855, GPU performance is significantly worse, being much closer to the 600 series than the 800 series, but the 765G is a 7nm chip made on Samsung Foundry’s 7nm LPP (low power plus) node which integrates EUV, without getting too deep in the weeds EUV is a process that is more precise at building complicated parts of the chip, so it is less likely to fail, this is what allowed Qualcomm to put the 5G X55 modem on the 765Gs die, instead of on-package like on the 865 and 865+, yes, this lower tier chip has something that the top tier one doesn’t.

If you just use the X50 5G you will not be upset with the performance, it is slick and buttery and every other word that describes a frictionless experience, it’s only when you try to do any GPU intensive compute where the 765G falls down, and even then it isn’t a horrid experience just not on the level of the flagship chips from the last year or so, not a bad compromise.

Once again, I don’t like benchmarks, but If I don’t post them people riot in my emails, so here you go.

 

Battery

This is a weird one. There were days at a time when testing the X50 5G that It would also refuse to go into a deep sleep mode, where I would lose 30% overnight, but there were also times where I’d go to bed with 48% and wake up with 44%. I don’t know if it is a Google Play services issue or a rogue application as I am seeing similar erratic battery behaviour on other devices, so I can’t comment properly.

Most of my time testing the X50 5G was on LTE/LTE-A (4G/4G+), but there was an 8-hour stint of one day wherein I was in Brighton for a friend’s socially distanced baby shower (it was in a park, we all wore masks) that I had 5G on Three, and boy was it fun. Sure it is an unburdened network currently, not many people have 5G phones, fewer people have 5G phones on Three, but we’re talking 527mbps download, and this is on mid-band Sub6 not the crazy fast but incredibly short-range mmWave technology. 

Realme X50 5G review

The reason I bring up this is that the battery life didn’t seem to change all that much maybe I lost an extra 5% over the day, but I think that might also be due to the extreme heat that day, consider me impressed.

The X50 5G comes in the box with a 30w VOOC/Dart charge adaptor with the required cable. I do like this charger, it is very fast, but I do not like the fact that in order to get the high speed you must use their charger and their cable, and if you have any other brick or cable it drops down to a paltry 10w charging, which when you’re trying to fill up a 4200mAh battery isn’t fun.

Miscellaneous

So, for those of you that are new, the Miscellaneous section of my reviews are for things that need to be spoken about but don’t require full sections, in the case of the X50 5G, that’s the 5G support, and NFC.

The quicker one to get out of the way is NFC. yes, the X50 5G has it, any phone above £150 without NFC is, in my opinion, unacceptable so I’m not surprised that this £300 has it, the reason it is being spoken about here is that this has one of the strongest NFC antennas I’ve used in recent memory, being able to be almost 4-5cm away from the terminal and it still read when using Google Pay or when using the NFC Tools app to read  RFID tokens I have such as my custom RFID sticker to connect to my Wifi, I felt like I wasn’t anywhere near the sticker and it triggered. For convenience this is great, but given there are already people scared about NFC, having one with a slightly broader range is going to scare some.

Next is 5G support, which is obvious, it is in the name, but I needed to say what types of 5G this supports. The X50 5G is a Sub6 only phone for 2 reasons, one the Snapdragon 765G only supports 5G, and most countries are only creating (at this point) Sub6 5G networks. The chipset and the phone are capable of NSA and SA operation (standalone SA and Non-standalone NSA) this means that carriers just getting their 5G network off the ground can use NSA software to roll it out relatively quickly, and then once at large switch to SA networks which increase speed, reduce latency and more. The bands the X50 5G supports are n77/78/38/40/41/1/3/5/7/8/20/28.

Conclusion

Now, how do I feel about the X50 5G? Well, I’m a bit torn. It’s far from a bad phone, the performance is great, the camera is surprisingly nice for this price, the screen is decent if not exceptional and it has 5G, the thing I’m having an issue with is whether it is worth buying this phone for that right now. I mentioned the Realme 6 Pro earlier, the Snapdragon 720G is obviously a weaker chip, but I barely noticed it. The 120Hz screen refreshes 50% faster, but I can’t say I felt the difference, and 5G is cool but the coverage here in the UK isn’t great on any carrier yet, and the camera experience is identical if not worse on the X50.

Realme X50 5G review

I feel like this phone should have been different. It should have been closer to the X50 Pro. an OLED screen at 90hz with an optical fingerprint scanner, the matte glass and frame and the same camera system. This doesn’t feel like it belongs in the X50 family, it feels like a Realme 6 Pro+, and I’m not sure that’s needed.

About Domenico Lamberti

Technology has been a big part of my life for years, whether it be ripping the family computer apart to see how it worked, playing with the new phones that Dad brought home from work. Senior Reviewer for MTT.

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