Realme made a real statement with the launch of the 6 series in March making their first official foray into the UK. It was obvious who the new brand are after: the likes of Xiaomi and Oneplus and considering Oneplus seems to have gone up in cost, Realme are now aiming for the “flagship killer” market. Two months later, the Chinese firm is back with its most powerful smartphone to date: the Realme X50 Pro 5G. With a top-shelf Snapdragon 865 SoC, 8GB or 12GB RAM, a high-refresh-rate display, and 5G connectivity, Realme is creating its own niche within the market. Until now, no other affordable flagship has sported 5G connectivity. That all changes with the X50 Pro 5G. Is this phone too good to be true? Or are you better off purchasing from a well-established brand such as OnePlus or Xiaomi? Lets take a look.
DESIGN The glass-sandwich design has been played out an awful lot, and this phone does not differ too much to the usual slabs you see in 2020 and perhaps looks too much like other Realme phones. The main design carryover is the camera module on the back. It’s positioned almost identically across Realme phones. This means that, from a distance, the X50 Pro 5G doesn’t look much different from a Realme 6 Pro aside from the colour and finish. It does, however, feel far better in the hand than previous efforts. The rear glass curves into the metal frame, which itself helps you grip the phone due to the plain finish. A couple of subtle features have been switched up to make the device feel more unique. To start, the rear glass is an understated, matte affair with some interesting color options coming in Rust Red or Moss Green. I have the Moss Green variant and these colors change shades depending on how the light catches the phone. It’s really rather nice. The downside is that the finish is rather slippery, which is something to watch out for.
What impressed me most is the build quality of the X50 Pro 5G. I’ve not used a Realme phone that’s felt this solid before. Coming off the 6 series, the 6i, 6 and 6 Pro felt good but not premium and that changes here. There aren’t any rattles or creaks, and the buttons are clicky and tactile. At 207g, the device feels hefty and solid. That said, there isn’t any kind of IP certification, meaning that you’ll have to be careful with the device near liquids.
The bottom features a USB-C port, a microphone, the main speaker (there’s another speaker in the earpiece at the top providing dual stereo speakers), and the dual-SIM card slot. At the top, there’s a microphone. On the left, there are separate volume buttons. On the right, there’s a color-accented power button. It has a gold-colored insert for added flare.
Realme introduced its first 90Hz display in the Realme X2 Pro last year. Then they hit the mid range market with the 6 series and now the X50 Pro 5G continues the 90Hz movement with its 6.44-inch Full HD+ Super AMOLED display, sourced from Samsung. This panel also has a 180Hz sample rate, to aid with touch-response.
I found the display to be pretty good, which is to say that it wasn’t bad, nor was it exceptional. It got pretty bright at 495 nits sustained, which is a touch higher than most. Colors were a little muted, even when in Vivid mode. Perhaps I’m used to a more vibrant display using the iPhone 11 Pro Max as my other daily driver, its not as punchy but still passable.
There is also an in display fingerprint sensor which is as about as fast as the Oneplus 8 and pretty accurate so you should be all set for security. You also have face unlock available but this will be less secure then the Face ID you get from Apple.
PERFORMANCE & BATTERY
The main reason you might be persuaded to buy the X50 Pro 5G is the spec sheet. With a Snapdragon 865, this is one of the most powerful smartphones at the moment. You’re offered 8, or 12GB RAM and either 128 or 256GB of UFS 3.0 storage.
All of this grunt results in effortless speed and usability. Similar to the build quality, I’ve not encountered a Realme device that feels this smooth and runs this well. Gaming is a great experience on this phone thanks to the processor and 90Hz display. And with 128GB base storage, there’s plenty of room for even the biggest mobile titles.
The one problem to note here is that relatively few games support the 90Hz display. This isn’t Realme’s fault. There are still mobile game developers that refuse to develop for high refresh rate displays. Fortnite and PUBG Mobile are particularly annoying in this respect. The phone defaults to 60Hz for these games.
I noticed just one performance issue with the X50 Pro 5G: the camera app would crash and restart every so often. It wasn’t every time that I used the camera. This is something that could presumably be fixed in a software update.
The Realme X50 Pro 5G relies on sub-6GHz for 5G connectivity, which means it works in both the U.K. and Europe. Having a 5G phone with these specs priced under €600 is remarkable, and the X50 Pro 5G is the first of its kind. WiFi 6 is also available on the phone, which can support download speeds of up to 9.6Gbps.
The X50 Pro 5G didn’t seem to give me more battery life compared to the X2 Pro despite the slightly larger battery. If anything, both phones exhibited similar battery life. The 4,200mAh cell managed a day and a half after setting everything up and downloading my apps. I would fully expect at least a full day’s worth of usage at high brightness.
What is worth noting is how 65W SuperDart charges the phone vs. 50W SuperVOOC. This new SuperDart charger was slightly slower to 90%, but then much slower from 90% to 100%. The full 0% to 100% charge took 40 minutes, whilst 0 to 90% took just 30. This is very likely a battery-health saving measure. It seems to trickle charge the last 10% to maintain battery health.
Realme started out using ColorOS on its phones, which did not provide the best user experience. For example, it saddled users with non-removable bloatware and a less-than-mature design aesthetic.
It’s safe to say that Realme has found its footing with RealmeUI. This user experience is based on Android 10, making it up-to-date and current. That modern feeling is obvious throughout the system. The notification shade, the settings menu, and the app drawer, for example, all feel closer to stock.
But the best bit, by a country mile, is the reduction of pre-installed bloatware — specifically the infamous Hot Apps folder. It’s gone. RealmeUI is now at a point where I could compare this to Samsung’s OneUI, which is to say that this UI is pretty damn good.
Flagship killers have a universal Achilles heel: their cameras. The X50 Pro 5G aims to alleviate that with a stout set of hardware. Namely, there’s a 64MP GW1 main camera, an 8MP wide-angle, a 12MP 2x telephoto, and a 2MP monochrome depth camera on the back.
With the caveat that the software on my Realme X50 Pro review unit was not final, the images from this camera setup are definitely not flagship-level. In good lighting, you get some good dynamic range, suprisingly good color accuracy, and sharpness. However, as soon as conditions become sub-par, you’re left with equally sub-par photographs.
There’s a lot of noise-reduction going on here, and that means some images look closer to oil paintings than to photos. This noise reduction can kick in unexpectedly even in good lighting.
Realme says the X50 Pro 5G is capable of 20X zoom on its website, but I couldn’t even manage to capture a clean looking 5X image. As you can see, there is a lot of artificial sharpening and digital artifacts in places. The X50 Pro 5G can shoot 20X zoom photos, though only via digital cropping. What this means is that your final 20X images look like they’ve had a cheap cartoon filter applied to them. There is little to no detail whatsoever, meaning many users will find the 20X zoom feature useless. Also, the app only shows zoom buttons up to 5X. From then on, you have to pinch to get the full 20X. Around the front, you’ll find a 32MP IMX616 selfie camera and an 8MP wide-angle selfie camera. These cameras can produce some decent selfies, but I have two concerns. The first is that the phone finds it hard to nail focus, and so you may have to retake the photo. The second is that, even with HDR on, dynamic range is unexceptional. There’s also a significant drop-off in quality when switching from the standard to the ultra-wide selfie camera. The second shooter introduces a lot of noise and throws dynamic range out the window. The phone can shoot 4K video at up to 30fps on the main camera. Neither this resolution nor Full HD 60fps supports the ultra-wide camera. In Full HD at 30fps, the ultra-wide is then supported alongside the primary shooter. Up front, we have Full HD 30fps support across both front-facing cameras. The slow-motion offered is 1080p at both 240fps and 480fps. The video footage looks okay. There is a heavy crop in the viewfinder at 4K 30fps, but the footage comes out without said crop. This hinders framing. There’s a lot of contrast, a lot of processed sharpness, and some frame drops that you’ll easily notice. Slow-motion is not captured in 1080p — which is what the camera app tells me. It’s soft and pixelated, but the motion does look smooth.
When you consider that the only real rivals to this device are the OnePlus 8 and maybe the iPhone SE with the Google Pixel 4a also on the horizon, the X50 Pro 5G starts to look like a pretty good option. You’re getting 5G connectivity, a more premium build, and the latest silicon.