Realme XT Review: A Great Budget Phone and The Details

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Shortly after announcing two quad-camera phones last month, realme is back with another quad-camera phone that is the first phone in India to have a 64MP sensor: the realme XT. Along with the change in the primary sensor used, the XT has some other noticeable changes too that places it a notch above the realme 5 Pro. But more than anything else, it’s the 64MP sensor that has generated a lot of hype and curiosity. Is it worth the hype? Well, let’s find out in our full review of the realme XT.

realme XT Review: Design & Build Quality

The realme XT features a refined design that is characteristic of smooth edges and rounded corners. This XT is the first phone from realme’s stable to feature a glass back that is protected with Gorilla Glass 5. Unlike the back of the realme 5 Pro, the XT doesn’t opt for a diamond-cut pattern but instead goes for a classy sheen look which is further emphasized on the Pearl White variant. The other colour is Pearl Blue that is actually a mix of blue and purple. There’s no colour shift on either colour. Instead, the back of the phone reflects a hyperbola when the light hits it at a certain angle.

The XT has a 3.5mm headphone jack and a USB Type-C port that sit at the bottom. The power button sits on the right and has a gold streak running through it which is a sweet touch. The left side houses the volume buttons and the triple card slot that supports dual 4G SIM cards and a microSD card.

realme XT Review: Display

The realme XT has a 6.43-inch FullHD+ AMOLED display with Gorilla Glass 5 on top that doesn’t offer an uninterrupted view like the realme X does because of its dew-drop notch. The display itself is a great panel that is made by Samsung. Being an AMOLED screen, blacks are deep and colours are saturated, and it offers a great viewing experience overall.

The phone also has a Widevine L1 certification which means that you can stream shows in FullHD on platforms like Netflix & Prime video. The display gets plenty bright to be legible in sunlight and performs great on the other side of the spectrum too (gets dim enough at night). Unfortunately, ColorOS 6.0 misses out on a Dark Mode and hence, while browsing at night, whites can seem piercing at times. But a Night Shield mode is bundled in to block blue light and make using the phone in dark environments easier on your eyes.

realme XT Review: Performance

Internally, the XT is identical to the realme 5 Pro. The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 712 SoC with up to 8GB of RAM and 128GB of UFS 2.1 storage. For day-to-day tasks, the phone doesn’t hiccup and is pretty responsive to whatever you ask it to do. The plenty of RAM it has also ensures that apps stay in the memory for long.

It also handles gaming just fine. PUBG defaults to high settings, although plays with a few skipped frames here and there. Thermal management on the XT is quite good and I rarely ever found the phone to heat up to uncomfortable levels. In fact, I also tried playing PUBG while charging and the phone was surprisingly comfortable to hold.

The phone has a bottom-firing speaker that gets plenty loud without sounding tinny. Output via the 3.5mm headphone jack was good too. The phone employs an-display fingerprint scanner that works well. Additionally, face unlock is available too, and is rather quick at unlocking the phone.

realme XT Review: Software

Realme still ships with OPPO’s ColorOS 6.0 and we’ll have to wait longer for the anticipated realme OS. ColorOS is still the same old that we’ve seen on realme and OPPO phones before. The UI is characteristic of white backgrounds with subtle gradients on top which looks visually appealing. While ColorOS isn’t as clean as OxygenOS, it is much cleaner than UIs we’ve come to see on some other Chinese OEMs.

There’s plenty to customize here too. For gaming, there’s a dedicated Game Space that dedicates more resources to the game at hand and blocks incoming notifications and calls from taking up screen space. Another interesting feature is realme Share that quickly transfers files between realme phones with the help of WiFi direct.

Although it’s still running on Android Pie, ColorOS has navigation gestures that are similar to Android 10. You can swipe from either side of the display to go back, swipe up from the bottom to go home, and swipe up and hold to reveal the multitasking menu. While I’m not a huge fan of the colour-heavy UI, the only major gripe I had with the OS was the lack of a dark mode given that the phone employs an AMOLED display. And also, there’s plenty of bloatware and system apps too (some of which that can’t be uninstalled too).

realme XT Review: Camera

Before we dive into the camera review, let’s address the elephant in the room. The megapixel count of a camera is not the only factor that contributes to a better picture. There is a multitude of factors including but not limited to sensor size, quality of lens, and the image processing software. So, the inclusion of a 64MP sensor doesn’t necessarily make the phone better than a phone with a 48MP or even a 12MP sensor.

Having said that, let’s get to know how the camera actually performs. The XT sports a quad-camera that is similar to the one found on the recently unveiled realme 5 Pro. But instead of the primary 48MP sensor, the XT has Samsung’s 64MP ISOCELL GW1 sensor. The other three cameras include an 8MP ultrawide-angle sensor, a 2MP depth sensor and a 2MP macro sensor.

The realme XT’s versatile camera setup makes it one of the best camera phones you can get in this price segment. By default, the phone takes 16MP shots (quad pixel binning) that boast of great dynamic range and clarity (in daylight). But if you do want to take full advantage of the 64MP sensor, there is a 64MP mode that lets you capture 64MP shots. But don’t expect to be blown away. If you’re not pixel-peeping, you’ll have a hard time noticing the difference between the 64MP sensor used on the XT and the popular 48MP Sony IMX586 sensor that is present on the realme 5 Pro.

Top Images: realme XT, Bottom Images: realme 5 Pro

Don’t get me wrong, the 64MP shooter is really good and takes pictures that are more detailed too. I’d go the distance to say that it takes pictures that are comparable to phones that cost even 3 times as much. But it’s just that there’s no discernible difference between what the realme 5 Pro can achieve and the realme XT can, especially in daylight.

Left: Auto Mode, Right: Nighscape

The ultra-wide sensor on the realme XT is pretty good and produces images that are very similar to the image taken by the primary sensor in terms of colour reproduction and dynamic range. The 2MP depth sensor helps in accurate edge detection while taking portraits. There’s also an interesting addition in the form of a 2MP macro sensor that allows shots of subjects that are as close as 4cm from the phone. It does take some decent-looking shots in broad daylight and it offers an interesting perspective while taking pictures.

Shots from the Macro lens

The selfie camera of the phone is a 16MP sensor that also takes good pictures. Portrait mode is also pretty accurate with edge detection and the overall experience is rather satisfactory. There’s also a bunch of other software features like Beauty Mode, Chroma Boost (colour boost), Filters and so on, that you can use with both the front and the rear cameras.

You can check more image samples from the realme XT here.

For taking videos, there’s EIS but no OIS present on either camera. The rear camera can shoot up to 4K@30FPS whereas the selfie camera can shoot up to 1080p videos at 30FPS. There’s also a slo-mo mode that allows one to shoot at 960FPS 720p video for a short time burst. These videos are janky as this isn’t achieved with hardware alone and there’s some software optimization that’s present to make this possible.

realme XT Review: Battery & Charging

The realme XT has a 4,000mAh battery that supports VOOC 3.0 fast charging (20W) via its USB Type-C port. The battery performance was commendable and it can easily last most users for a day even with heavy usage. With my usage of social media, streaming music on Spotify via Bluetooth, an hour of PUBG gaming and plenty of instant messaging, I would end the day comfortably with a 15-20% charge (5.5-6 hours of SoT).

The fast charger that is bundled with the phone could charge the phone from 20% to 75% in about 40 minutes with WiFi being switched on. The last 25% would take an additional 40 minutes to take the total charging time to about an hour and 20 minutes. Interestingly, the phone doesn’t heat up as much when charging it while playing PUBG. It does get warm, but it’s still pretty manageable.

realme XT Review: Verdict

The realme XT is a good offering that banks on a versatile camera setup, a capable processor, a good build and a great battery life to offer a rather enjoyable experience. There’s nothing that this phone does terribly wrong, and hence, is an easy recommend for anyone looking for a phone in the sub-20k segment. With a starting price of INR 15,999, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a phone that offers as much value. The only major gripe I had with the phone was with its software. ColorOS doesn’t feel as slick as other UIs and its lack of Dark Mode is rather surprising.

In closing, I’d like to say that it’s good to see a 64MP sensor on a budget phone in 2019 but it isn’t as game-changing as you might think it to be. As I’ve mentioned before in the camera review, to an average set of eyes, pictures taken from the 48MP sensor on the realme 5 Pro and the 64MP sensor on the realme XT will appear to be largely the same (even though the latter is slightly better).

The phone is available in three variants of 4GB/64GB, 6GB/64GB and 8GB/128GB. The variants are priced at INR 15,999, INR 16,999 and INR 18,999 respectively.

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