Realme XT Review: Good Value in the Mid-Range!
Realme XT Review: Good Value in the Mid-Range! when mid-range phones have never been more exciting! It Still Manages to Stand Out in the Right Way.
By Tech Hunt
Realme XT Review
The realme XT comes into the market at a time when mid-range phones have never been more exciting, and it still manages to stand out in the right way.
It’s a sub-brand under the BBK umbrella, the Chinese firm that also owns Vivo, OnePlus and, most pertinently, Oppo locally.
You could be forgiven for thinking you were picking up an Oppo phone when you grab hold of the mid-range realme XT, and that’s not entirely accidental.
Oppo and realme share a lot of the same manufacturing facilities, the same launcher in ColorOS and even the same fast charging technology, VOOC.
The good Things
- Nice design for the price!
- Very fast VOOC charging!
- Good range of camera modes!
- In-display fingerprint sensor!
The bad Things
- Battery life a little low for a 4,000mAh battery phone!
- ColorOS is still a weird mix of Android and iOS
Asks for a lot of permissions for basic apps!
- Realme – sorry, realme, because capitalization isn’t a thing, is an entirely new brand in the Australian smartphone space.
However, what you get with realme is the essential Oppo experience at a lower price point generally. That raises the question about what’s not present to enable those kinds of price cuts.
That’s a question that’s more likely to apply to realme’s cheaper phones, such as the realme C2 because for the realme XT, there are very few real compromises to bear and a lot of value to enjoy.
Design of Realme XT
- Pearl white or pearl blue finish
- 6.1-inch FHD+ AMOLED display
- Simple teardrop notch
- Optical fingerprint sensor
The realme XT’s design is highly reminiscent of the Oppo phones that have come before it, most notably the Oppo R17 Pro. In many ways, it is an updated R17 Pro with the camera module shifted from the rear center to the side.
In Australia, realme sells the realme XT in either a pearl white or pearl blue finish.
I’ve tested with the pearl blue variant, which encompasses a range of color tones depending on position and ambient lighting. It’s a shifted color tone that moves from a light blue on the right-hand edge and around the back to the left where it’s a much darker purple hue.
Individual tastes always vary, but I’m a noted fan of phones in a blue hue. While it’s a good visual design, there’s no ignoring the fact that this kind of shifting color is something we’ve seen in phones back to the Huawei P20 Pro, so it’s not exactly unique.
As noted, the camera module sits on the rear left-hand side, and it forms a notable camera bump that means the realme XT will never sit flush on a table.
Volume controls and the dual SIM/microSD card slot sit on the left, while the power button is found on the right.
In a quite unusual step for a mid-range phone, the realme XT features an extra-long SIM card tray that allows it to run two Nano SIMs and a microSD card for storage expansion. That’s a feature you don’t see very often at all.
The front display is a 6.1-inch 1080×2340 pixel Super AMOLED screen. As is typical of most Chinese market phones, the default is for a very saturated color palette that I find a little garish.
Still, at this price point, when we still intermittently see just 1080p or worse screens, it’s a good option. The front display has a small teardrop notch at the top, with notification icons running to the left and right sides. If you’re a fan of blacking out the top bar entirely, there’s no way to do so.
Fingerprint sensors on mid-range phones are nothing new to speak of, but the realme XT brings in-display fingerprint sensors to one of the lowest price points we’ve seen yet.
Once again, it’s using the same software and technology as you’ll find in Oppo phones that use it, right down to the same glowing green animation that sparkles up when the phone correctly identifies your thumbprint.
Camera of Realme XT
- Quad cameras are a welcome addition at this price point
- Not worth shooting directly to the 64MP lens
- Macro lens struggles to focus
Ask realme, and they’ll extoll the realme XT’s camera virtues and the fact that it’s a mid-priced phone with a 64MP primary rear camera sensor.
That’s a big number that may well bowl some folks over, but as we’ve pointed out on many occasions, you shouldn’t just fixate on the megapixel count.
That’s especially true for the realme XT, as by default you don’t shoot 64MP pictures.
Instead, it combines groups of four pixels into one to enable brighter shots, even in lower light; what this means is that by default it takes 16MP pictures.
You can take shots with the 64MP lens, but they’re very noisy and only useful for specific cropping purposes.
Alongside that 64MP primary lens, realme packs in an 8MP ultra-wide, a 2MP macro and a 2MP dedicated depth sensor at the rear.
Around the front, there’s a 16MP sensor along with the requisite beauty modes that can quickly devolve into a plastic farce if you’re not careful. I don’t look quite this plastic, folks!
The default camera app is a very simple one, and if you didn’t tap around its hamburger menu, you might think that it only does video, photo and portrait modes.
The hamburger model hides further options for panoramas, time-lapse, slow motion, macro, and expert modes, but this is still a fairly rudimentary app.
You might expect a quad-camera phone to include a telephoto lens, but that’s notably absent. The realme XT will offer you 2x and 5x zoom, cropping down that 64MP lens each time, and if you push it, it’ll do up to 10x zoom.
Predictably, you get shots that look a little worse each time.
The realme XT’s low-light performance also isn’t great, but that’s almost a given for a mid-range phone.
Shooting at the same time I was testing out the Google Pixel 4XL late at night in a park, the realme XT struggled to get any detail at all.
What it does offer is a solid argument that most folks don’t need to pay premium prices for a generally good camera experience.
There are some raw edges here, and I don’t love the default camera app all that much, but I can’t argue with the results.
Performance of Realme XT
- Good app performance for a mid-range phone
- ColorOS sits weirdly between iOS and Android now
- Many default apps want a lot of permissions
- Updates are tied to Oppo’s calendar, not realme’s
The realme XT runs on a Snapdragon 712 processor with 8GB of storage, which is a decent enough recipe for a mid-range Android handset.
It’s only an Android 9 handset, not Android 10, but realme is notably stuck in an upgrade schedule it can’t quite control.
That’s because it’s using the heavily modified ColorOS launcher that Oppo uses on its phones, and it’s stuck in a lockstep position with Oppo when it comes to updates as a result.
To its credit, during my review period, the realme XT did run an update for security upgrades, so there’s intended to provide software improvements over the life of the handset.
In benchmark terms, the recent switch to Geekbench 5 doesn’t give us a lot of data to compare to at this price point.
Predictably, the Google Pixel 3a outpaces the realme XT, but this is still a good mid-range device for most everyday computing tasks.
The realme XT fares much better in 3D visuals comparison, although again it’s not an Android gaming powerhouse:
ColorOS started its life as a rather shameless iOS homage, but over the years, Oppo has slowly shifted to a feeling that’s just a bit more like pure Android.
ColorOS 6, which is what the realme XT is running at launch, includes a full app drawer where previous versions were stuck with an iOS-style page-style app experience, but there’s still plenty of iOS-style controlled app behavior here too.
There are also a lot of permissions you’ll have to agree to if you choose to use realme’s default applications.
I appreciate being told what an app is going to use, and there’s little doubt that some of this behavior stems from the firm’s Chinese background.
Still, it’s downright weird to be told that the Clock app wants to read phone state, write to external storage and read data on the storage card while in use.
I have no idea why a clock application would need those kinds of permissions, but if you don’t accept them, the clock app simply won’t launch.
Realme XT: Battery life
- 4000mAh battery is good at this price range
- Wired VOOC charging, but no wireless charging
- Cheaper phones used to rely heavily on cutting costs by providing sub-par batteries, but in 2019, we’ve seen a lot of phones pack in serious battery capacity despite costing less than $500.
The realme XT only just squeaks in under that definition, but the inclusion of a 4,000mAh battery does give it the prospect of a very good battery life.
However, the experience of using it a day today, as well as the results from our tests, suggest that it’s a power-hungry little beast.
Geekbench no longer includes a battery testing mechanism, so we’ve switched to testing with a YouTube video running at full brightness and moderate volume for an hour to get a picture of relative performance.
So far, we’ve only got a few samples within the range of the realme XT’s price to compare with. Here’s how it stacked up after an hour’s testing:
My experience with phones that drop to that level is that a full day’s usage is quite feasible, but more than this can be a stretch.
Like so many of its Chinese counterparts, the realme XT tries to eke out a little more power by very aggressively culling any apps it thinks it can get away with.
Just like its counterparts, this can stretch out battery life, but at the cost of you getting notifications later than you’d like.
To get around this, you have to actively lock apps down to tell the realme XT that it’s important for you to keep them running.
There’s no wireless charging capability on the realme XT, but it does support Oppo’s VOOC fast charging to top up the battery. This is very quick indeed, although I did find that the realme XT was notably warm after a fast top-up.
Should you buy the realme XT?
- Very good value in the sub-$500 segment!
They say that first impressions count, and for a first effective “flagship” in the Australian market, there’s quite a lot to like about the realme XT. It’s a nicely built device that’s enjoyable to hold and use, even if you don’t like larger phones.
The cameras are better than you might think possible at this price point, even if some of them don’t quite live up to their promises.
Application performance is swift, and being Android you can largely sidestep the included apps if you’re uncomfortable with their heavy permissions seeking activity.
Realme XT: Pricing and availability
- The realme XT sells outright with 128GB of storage for $499 in pearl white or pearl blue finishes.
Realme XT: Alternatives
- Within the realme family, you could save yourself $100 and opt for the Realme 5 Pro. It’s an interesting step down from the realme XT, with a slightly larger display but lower camera specifications for $399 outright. Stay tuned for our full review.
- That kind of money could buy you the Mint UltraMintt Y3 or the Oppo A9 2020 if you wanted ColorOS specifically.
- Motorola’s just launched its latest G series phone in Australia, the Motorola G8 Plus, and we’re busy testing that too. It retails for the same price as the realme XT.
Realme XT Specifications
- Display size 6.4 inches
- Resolution 1080 x 2340
- Pixels per inch (PPI) 402
- Rear camera megapixels 64MP + 8MP
- Rear camera aperture size f/1.8 + f/2.25
- Video recording 4K
- Front camera megapixels 16MP
- Front camera aperture size N/A
- Dimensions 158.7mm x 75.2mm x 8.6mm
- Weight 183g
- NFC No
- Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
- Network category speed N/A
- Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 712
- RAM 8GB
- Operating system Android 9
- Internal storage128GB
- External storage support Up to 256GB
- Battery capacity 4,000mAh
- Headphone jack Yes
- Fingerprint sensor Yes
- Water-resistance N/A
- Wireless charging No
*… Thank You …*
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