I’ve been reviewing more phones than usual lately, but most of them are lower-cost devices. Today that changes with the Realme X50 Pro 5G; a top of the line, Snapdragon 865, 5G enabled 90Hz AMOLED toting device all for £569.
- Snapdragon 865 is stupid fast
- 90Hz OLED is lovely
- 64MP Main camera is good
- 65w charging is insane
- Secondary and tertiary cameras need work
- - Optical FP scanner temperamental
- 6.44” S-AMOLED Screen, 2400×1080, 19.5:9, HDR10+ Certified, 90Hz Refresh Rate, 180Hz Touch poling
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 SoC
- 1x Kryo 585 Gold Prime (Cortex A77) @ 2.84Ghz
- 3x Kryo 585 Gold Performance (Cortex A77) @ 2.42Ghz
- 4x Kryo 585 Silver efficiency (Cortex A55) @ 1.8Ghz
- Adreno 650 GPU @600Mhz
- TSMC 7nm node
- X55 5G Modem
- Android 10, RealmeUI 1.0
- 4200mAh Battery with 65w SuperDART charge
- Rear 64MP Main camera
- F1.8 1/1.7” sensor size, 26mm effective focal distance
- Rear 12MP Telephoto
- Rear 2x telephoto
- F2.5 54mm effective focal distance
- Rear 8MP Ultrawide/Macro
- 119 degree FoV F2.3 15mm effective focal distance, 3cm macro focusing
- Rear 2MP Depth sensor
- F2.4 Black and White
- Front 32MP Main Camera
- 80 degree FoV F2.5, IMX616
- 8MP Ultrawide
- 105 degree FoV F2.2
For a more complete spec sheet head on over to GSMArena
Let’s get this out of the way, the X50 Pro 5G is a chonk. At a smidge under 9mm this it isn’t too bad until you pair it with the 205g mass. The device does curve the edge which does alleviate some of the thicc-ness, but that is instantly offset by the gorgeous to look at and feel soft-touch glass.it is super smooth and slippery until it catches your fingerprint and somehow gains a bit of grip. On other high-end phones, we’ve seen companies do acid or laser etching of the glass to add grip and fingerprint resistance, and I’m sad Realme didn’t do that this time, though I fear that would have increased prices or cut already slim margins.
It’s a very well built phone though, no creaks or flexes, the buttons are all nicely held in their place with no excess wobble. If I were to niggle there are things like the antenna bands not being completely flush with the metal frame in one area, but when devices from Samsung Apple and Huawei also occasionally have those issues in batches, I can’t really chastise Realme here. This is an attractive if somewhat boring design for the most part. All-black front, metal body, multi-camera array stacked vertically on the left of the rear, but that doesn’t stop Realme having some fun with this by colouring the main camera lens with some orange/yellow rings and the colours of the phones themselves, my unit is the Moss Green variant, but there is also a Rust Red. whilst the names leave something to be desired, the colours do not.
Doing a hardware tour we start at the front which is dominated by that 6.44” Super AMOLED screen from Samsung which whilst gorgeous still doesn’t quite feel top tier. In comparison with my Huawei P30 Pro, the colours seem more muted (not more accurate) and in the vivid mode it just throws everything out of the pram to just turn everything fluorescent. Whilst this is still a very pretty OLED panel, it is important to note it’s not an amazing panel. In the top left, we have the pill-shaped cutout for the 2 cameras the main 32MP one and the 8MP ultrawide, whilst I don’t mind the Hole punch cut out, with 2 cameras it does seem a bit odd and I even imagined what this would look like if the two sensors were split, one hole punch in either corner, though the people I spoke to were less enthusiastic about that idea. Under that screen, Literally under it, is the Optical fingerprint scanner from Goodix, Realme claim something like 0.27s for unlocking due to the high brightness the screen is able to reach, but in my experience, this also seems to be somewhat of a hindrance as it feels a bit too quick leading to some errors. Also, this sensor seems to require a bit more pressure than others I’ve used.
Having a look around the rest of the phone, the left-hand sides have nothing but the volume buttons, flipping to the right have the power button which has its own yellow highlight, an ode to the brand’s yellow theme on the boxes and imaging. Up top, we have the secondary microphone used for noise cancelling when on phone calls or when recording video, and lastly, going to the bottom we have the loudspeaker, then the USB-C port, with the main microphone, and lastly the NanoSIM tray, this is a Dual NanoSIM tray as well.
On the rear, we have the now normal layout of camera cluster in the top left (if viewing vertically) company branding in the lower left, and regulatory information in the bottom right. This is where you get the see the lovely Moss Green glass back which is somehow most metallic and pearlescent and amazing until it gets all fingerprint-y
As I’ve spoken about in my Realme 6 and 6 Pro review, I went into this hesitant, ColorOS was one of my least favourite android skins of all time, but RealmeUI, based off of the new ColorOS 7 (which you can still find references to in software) is actually really nice to use. It’s not stock, but in many ways, it is not too far from it. It’s cohesive, doesn’t have many duplicate applications and doesn’t seem overly aggressive with killing background processes.
RealmeUI 1.0 is built upon Android 10, which is great because you’re launching on an up to date version of Android, and it is not the base version of Android 10 either as this build supports using native android 10 gestures with different launchers, so I can use Action Launcher with the Android 10 gestures and be happy as Larry. Using a great application called Inware, we can see that the X50 Pro 5G does have Treble support but it does not support Seamless updates, wherein there is a secondary partition on the storage that updates are applied to in the background and once you reboot you are seamlessly switched to the new partition, hence the name. It is a shame to see that seamless updates aren’t supported here, but I hope Realme change this in the future.
One thing I’ve become very fond of recently is OEMs attempts to create a seamless sharing platform between their ecosystem, much like Apple AirDrop and Handoff. Huawei has it with Huawei Share and OneHop, and Realme has Realme share, and it works the same, make sure it is enabled in the settings (or the quick settings) and when you need to share something it is the top of the share sheet. it is a WiFi Direct file transfer as far as I know and the device beacons are Bluetooth LE. Sadly Realme share isn’t interoperable with Huawei Share, but that is to be sadly expected, though it would be very nice to see a windows desktop application for Realme share so I don’t have t cable up or use Bluetooth to file transfer to my PC, especially as the USB-C on the X50 Pro 5G is just USB2.0 speeds
As I said, Realme UI is a relatively light skin, Icons are different, there is a slightly skinned notification shade, and the settings app has had an overhaul, those are the main ones I think people would notice, there are obviously things like the Realme Calculator app, or contacts app, or the file manager, but those are all ones that can be easily replaced if you really don’t like what Realme has done, and of course most of the Google applications are available in the Play Store.
It’s too early to praise Realme on their support of their phones, but I will say that given how many updates the 6 and 6 Pro has had in my testing, and the update I got on the X50 Pro 5G, I’m hoping that Realme keep this up and don’t fall into the trap of releasing so many phones they can’t update them all.
The Cameras on the X50 Pro 5G are interesting, in the sense that they are almost identical to the Cameras in the Realme 6 Pro that I recently reviewed, except the 2MP depth camera has been swapped for an equally useless 2MP depth-sensing camera, this puts us in an interesting position wherein any differences between these two comes down to the ISP in the Snapdragon 865 versus the one in the Snapdragon 720G, and we know the one in the 865 is better, but how much? Turns out, a fair bit.
The main camera here is the Samsung ISOCELL Bright GW1, a 64MP camera designed to take great 16mp shots and once a phone manufacturer has put the effort in they really can take good photos, Samsung ISOCELL sensors aren’t just the cheaper versions of Sony sensors they once were. Despite the typical ISOCELL issues of not knowing how to make greens look real and not nuclear, I was really happy with how the photos here turned out. Realme’s picture processing and scene optimisations aren’t as developed as Huawei’s for instance, so it’s “ChromaBoost” function tries to amp up things to make them look more appealing, but all it does is make everything look like it was drawn with a highlighter, exacerbating the issues ISOCELL sensors have with chroma anyway.
The Ultrawide snapper here is nice too, at only 8MP I’d like a smidge more resolution if only so all three cameras could be used for 4K video recording, but otherwise the output is better than I was expecting. It’s softer than I’d like, but not to the point wherein it looks like an oil painting, and they have done a pretty great job at removing chromatic aberration in the edges and the fisheye effect when shooting with wide lenses, which is a nice inclusion.
The 12MP Zoom camera is nice, but at 2x I feel like these are mostly pointless, and at the point wherein you could do a digital crop on the main 64MP sensor and achieve similar results. If you are going to have a dedicated Zoom lens, I think 3x is the perfect one. 2x is still in a place you could likely walk closer to, and 5x like on the Huawei P30 Pro is often time too much and you just end up zooming on the main sensor. A 3x zoom lens is a nice midpoint. But the pictures coming out of this are really quite surprising in that the Realme has done very little to match the colours between the 3 sensors, this is obviously most apparent in the Greens and Reds as ISOCELL again does something wacky with those, but as you can see in the photos below, look at the colour of the blue van the silver convertible and the wall, all are different colours.
Moving on to the front cameras, much like the 6 Pro we have dual shooters here as well, a 32MP Sony IMX616, and an unnamed 8MP, likely an Omnivision one, and they’re fine, they have some real issues with exposure control in daylight, they’ll blow out the background to get you exposed somewhat correctly, but it still struggles. They still haven’t colour matched the two cameras either, a mistake in my book, but the trade-off is that you actually get two fields of view. Once people are able to go out again and people go out and meet friends group selfies are going to be a thing again and this is going to be better at them.
The Video performance of the X50 Pro 5G is better than I expected, it seems that this is where the majority of the ISP grunt in the SD865 has gone this time and it shows. At up to 4K60 the X50 can shoot nicely detailed at a silky smooth (too smooth) framerate, if you don’t like that you can drop it down to 30fps, and both 60 and 30fps are supported at 720p and 1080p as well, also present is H.265/HEVC video encoding the more efficient and space-saving video codec, so if your video editor can edit HEVC, I’d recommend switching the settings over just for the space savings alone.
As I mentioned earlier, you cannot use the Ultrawide lens in 4K mode and that’s purely because there is no enough resolution. 4K UHD which works out to 3840×2160 is 8,294,400 pixels or just under 8.3 million pixels, 8.3MP there physically is not enough pixels on a standard 8MP camera to capture 4K video, so it is left out. I do feel like on its flagship phone Realme should have upped the Ultrawide to 12MP so it would have 4K between wide to zoom, feature parity with other flagships, but I understand this was likely a cost-saving measure to keep the price as low as it is here, just reuse the cameras from a previous phone.
This is an area I was quite looking forward to, the Realme X50 Pro 5G is the first Snapdragon 865 device I’ve been able to try, and you know what? It’s bloody fast. There isn’t hesitation in any of the movements. This is aided by the potent UFS 3.0 storage with a Pseudo SLC mode to speed it up even more, and on top of that, brand new low power high-speed LPDDR5 RAM, and of course the high refresh rate 90hz screen.
Performance, and more importantly, perceived performance isn’t just about the processor. You can still mess up having the best processor in the world, and Realme didn’t, they didn’t cheap out on eMMC storage or slower LPDDR4(X) RAM in order to get the 865. These products when paired together mean that very rarely is a component waiting on something from another. The bottleneck in the system will likely still be the UFS 3.0 storage, even with the TurboWrite SLC cache, faster storage will always improve things, but what’s important is to not spend your budget frivolously. Realme could have gone all out and used an SSD much as Apple does, but would that performance difference have been noticeable? Unlikely, but it would have drastically increased the cost and the package size is larger meaning stuff on the mainboard would need to be switched around.
One of the things people forget about though is not peak performance but sustained performance. How long can I play this game for before the phone gets too hot and slows it itself down to save itself? How long will this video take to export now that I’ve been editing it for the last 45 minutes and the phone is warmer? People don’t think about this but they feel the effect when phones throttle down. Realme, like many others, is working on ways to combat this, and they took inspiration from the gaming phones, how about you just slap a giant (in a phone sense) vapour chamber over the heat-producing components and use a carbon (graphene) film to transfer the heat to the frame, that in partnership with the normal copper tape and thermal pads/goop solution, the Realme X50 Pro 5G does indeed get warm, but the performance doesn’t appear to throttle in a meaningful way unless you are playing a few hours of whatever popular RPG game is being shilled on YouTube right now.
Whilst I don’t think benchmarks are a useful metric in 2020 for phones, especially with higher refresh rate screens skewing how fast phones feel, but alas if I don’t post these I’ll get emails asking why I didn’t include them, so here you go.
With a 4200mAh and 865 with a 1080p display, I expected the battery life of the X50 Pro 5G to be great, and it was… fine. it is definitely more than a single day phone, even when forced to 90Hz all the time, but much more than that is a chore. Another issue aside from the just okay battery life is the somewhat subpar idle battery drain. I went to bed with 35% one night and woke up 9 hours later with 22%. I don’t know if my phone was somehow working for Folding@home or mining bitcoin without consent but it is not great on idle drainage, something I hope can be fixed with a future software update.
For the hardware reasons, I think one of the reasons is, of course, the 90Hz refresh rate of the screen, we’ve seen and understood how these draw more power, which is why most phones are set to 60Hz or an adaptive mode out of the box wherein it’ll only boost the 90hz when the content or experience would benefit, and I tried that for a few days, but the gain for me wasn’t much worth it, it still didn’t make the phone a 2-day battery champ, and seeing as forced 90Hz was still able to get me through a full day, I left it at that after the test. The other one I think is the panel itself. I think the OLED screen itself is using a rather inefficient emissive component, likely and older style from a generation or two ago, which could also go to explain some of the colour issues I was having.
Something that is absolutely awesome though is charging. Whilst I’m not the biggest fan of proprietary charging standards, such as this SuperDART charge (based on Oppo’s VOOC) but this phone does also support 18w USB-PD charging. I would have preferred higher but the way the USB-PD spec goes, the voltage goes up after limit instead of boosting the Amperage/current, whereas VOOC/ DART charge keeping Voltage around 10v and instead raise the amperage to an insane 6.5a in this case. This is why you can’t just use any USB-C cable on these devices.
But you know what 65w gets you? 0% to 100% in about 38 minutes. This is one of the reasons that I wasn’t ever too bothered by the not amazing battery of the X50 Pro because the recharge speed was insane, on that day where I woke up with 22%, by the time I had made my coffee the phone was already in the 60% range. We don’t know about the longevity of this, but this is also one of the reasons that Realme uses 2 battery cells in parallel, 2 2100mAh cells getting 32.5w each is much more reasonable than a single cell getting blasted with 65w, so once again we will have to see how this turns out, but given VOOC based charging has been around for over half a decade, if there were any serious issues, I feel like we would have seen them by now. Lastly, there is no wireless charging, which is annoying, but once again would be an extra cost and I would rather have this insane wired charging, at least for now.
The Miscellaneous section of my reviews are for things that need to be spoken about but don’t require an entire section to themselves. For the X50 Pro 5G, that is the 90Hz screen and the experience of using that, as well as the absence of 5G in this review.
For the last few years, we’ve found the easiest way to make a device faster is by adding better stuff to it, then we found by smartly upgrading thing like RAM and storage you can eliminate certain bottlenecks and make the phone feel faster, but none of those has been as game-changing as the move to higher refresh rate screens. This is such a change that when I reviewed the Realme 6 and 6 Pro, I didn’t care at the lower specs, because the phone felt smooth. It didn’t matter that they weren’t top of the line chips and that they may have dropped a few frames when you drop 6 fps at 90hz it is a lot less noticeable than at 60Hz. So on the X50 Pro, despite it having those high-end specs and the benchmark numbers to prove it until you use the phone, it’s hard to explain what a high refresh rate feels like. So whilst not that important for the X50 Pro 5G which has the fastest currently available components, when in future you see a phone with a 60hz screen and a top tier processor and another with a 90Hz screen but a step-down processor, consider the second one, as it may, in the end, feel faster.
This has been fun as I can wholeheartedly recommend the X50 Pro 5G. It isn’t the perfect phone, it’s display isn’t accurate, the battery is just okay, the cameras outside of the main one sometimes feel like an afterthought, but in the same way that the Pocophone F1 a few years ago was so popular because it gave top tier features at mid-range prices, the X50 Pro 5G is doing that as well.5G is still expensive, and the 865 requires a 5G modem but still, this is a lot cheaper than other high refresh, 5G, SD865 phones, and I commend that.
Right now, you can get the 8GB/128GB model for just £569, and the 12GB/256GB is £699! And with both, you get a pair of Realme Buds wireless (neckbuds) a great deal. I look forward to seeing more from Realme, and I hope they keep up with the updates.