Realme X50 Pro full review
Top-of-the-line processor, up to 12GB of RAM, the fastest charging on the market, a high refresh-rate display, a total of six cameras, 5G - the spec sheet reads just as you'd expect from any 2020 flagship worth its salt and as such, you'd also expect to pay through the nose for the privilege of owning such hardware, but this is Realme and they play by different rules.
Building on its first foray into the high-end market at the end of last year with the X2 Pro, the Realme X50 Pro is the company's debut 5G flagship and packs in an astounding amount of premium hardware, considering it costs almost half as much as some of its most like-minded rivals.
Realme has a habit of bringing premium smartphone features down into devices at a much lower price point. The company has only been operating since 2018, but it's already making waves and climbing smartphone sales rankings with ease in markets including its native China, India and now Europe.
The X50 Pro offers the best that the company can muster and as such, should give the creators of more costly rivals real cause for concern, particularly as it moves into more markets worldwide.
Premium feel with affordable undertones
The X50 Pro is by no means an ugly phone, it features a curved glass back that blends nicely into its rounded aluminium frame. Add in details like metal hardware keys, alongside precision-cut chamfers and high-grade surface treatments all over the place and there's no denying that this phone feels high-end. That said, there are a couple of signs that let on to its more affordable nature.
The handset feels pleasingly sturdy, not least because of its 205g weight and its notable thickness, at 8.9mm (for comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S20+ is 7.8mm thick). The display's black bezel accounts for some of the phone's profile thickness and also dresses the flat 20:9 screen in broader borders than you'd see on anything from the LG V60 ThinQ 5G to the Huawei P40.
The reflective pattern rendered within the phone's glass back diffuses light with a pleasing gradient that's far more subtle and understated compared to the likes of the lightning bolt design found on the new Realme 6 Pro. The phone comes in two colourways, Moss Green and Rust Red - both unorthodox shades based on what else is on the market - but given the choice, we'd opt for the latter.
Two other omissions of note are the lack of a headphone jack - pushing you to rely on the phone's sole Type-C USB port or its Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity - and no formal IP-certification, meaning you expose the phone to excessive dust or water at your own risk.
The 6.44in panel at play actually comes courtesy of Samsung. This Full HD+ HDR 10+ Super AMOLED doles out great vivacity, viewing angles and contrast, plus Realme has opted for a 90Hz refresh rate (just as on the Google Pixel 4 Series) and 180Hz touch sampling rate, giving the user experience a pleasing fluidity and responsiveness that's hard to find on more affordable handsets.
There's also an optical in-display fingerprint sensor that offers an impressive 0.27 response time and in practice, it rivals the capacitive readers used by phones from just a couple of years ago. Like those sensors, however, mucky or wet fingers will give the sensor a tough time, meaning entering your PIN or turning to face unlock are your next best options.
Realme grants you control over the display's refresh rate (60Hz, 90Hz or automatic), colour profile (100% DCI-P3 'Vivid' or sRGB 'Gentle') and eye care mode - with a choice between varying the colour temperature and swapping to monochrome visuals, which can be scheduled or automated to turn on and off.
The display is also bookended by a pair of stereo speakers - one sequestered behind the earpiece set into the top bezel, the other firing downwards out of the grille in the base of the phone's frame.
While there is some variation between the two speakers, with slightly more bass coming from the grille at the bottom, they offer a relatively balanced sound, although distortion is all too prevalent when you push up the volume, so they're not particularly well-suited to music playback.
Plenty of power and exceptional speed
As you might expect, Qualcomm's 2020 flagship Snapdragon 865 chip paired with heaps memory and UFS 3.0 storage guarantees you impressively-fast performance. The phone benchmarks almost identically with the LG V60 and in some cases outpaces devices like the Oppo Find X2 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S20.
In real-world use, I did encounter the odd app crash but such instability was rare at best, leading me to believe that subsequent software updates is all that's needed will nail down any wobbles in performance such as these.
While 5G is a wholly worthwhile and exciting inclusion (promising theoretical maximum download speeds of up to 3.45Gbps and uploads of up to 900Mbps, in the case of the X50 Pro), nowhere is the rapidity that this phone offers (or Realme's ties to Oppo) more prevalent than with its recharging abilities.
As if lifted directly from the Oppo Find X2, the X50 Pro utilises a 4200mAh dual-cell battery and in much the same fashion as Oppo's SuperVOOC 2.0 technology, delivers outlandish 65W 'SuperDart' charging.
In testing, Realme's claims ring true, with a full charge possible in around 35 minutes (between 37 and 39 in our tests), however, you need only 15 minutes to get the battery past 60% - more than enough for a work day's worth of use. This is great if you're short on time and low on battery, because, by the time you've packed your bag or put your coat on, you'll have enough charge for several hours use without worry.
Phones with such insane fast-charging speeds haven't been on the market long enough to grant us insight into the long-term effects such technology might have on battery health, but in weeks we've spent with the X50 Pro, it consistently delivered around seven hours of screen-on usage (scoring 10 hours of screen-on time in artificial testing).
All the cameras
Realme likes putting cameras on its phones, lots of them. Most of the devices it pushed in last year sported at least four cameras and the X50 Pro totals six; with a quad-camera array on the back and a dual-sensor setup on the front, set into a pill-shaped hole punch in the top left corner of the display.
The main 64Mp snapper boasts a respectably large 1/1.72in sensor, there's a 12Mp telephoto sensor with 2x optical zoom, an 8Mp 119° ultra-wide that doubles as a macro lens and lastly a 2Mp monochrome sensor that's primarily used for depth perception.
That front-facing hole punch houses a respectable 32Mp primary sensor and another 8Mp ultra-wide sensor - this time with a 105° field of view.
In general usage, while it's hard to dispute the sheer versatility so many sensors afford your mobile photography, as we learn time and again, not all sensors are created equal. The manifests on the Pro's rear camera setup most prominently as a disparity in dynamic range.
The jump from the capable 64Mp sensor to any of the others, results in a notable loss of colour depth and contrast, with bright scenarios usually appearing over-exposed. A flat even natural light, as found on a bright overcast day, is going to ensure the best results across all of the X50 Pro's cameras.
As for general shooting, the 64Mp captures photos with pleasing colour, contrast and detail. Switching to portrait mode, Realme's imaging engineers should be commended for their work on the phone's depth perception and natural-looking bokeh, however, be aware that colour science varies quite dramatically when shooting a conventional shot, versus a portrait.
The ability to push out to the ultra-wide or in with the phone's zoom capabilities is nice, allowing you to jump from 2x optical to 5x hybrid to a maximum 20x all-digital zoom.
With only electronic-based image stabilisation on-hand, however, fine detail tends to get lost all too quickly when zooming in, while low-light shooting also suffers from grain and a lack of detail unless there's still a prominent light source on hand.
As for selfies, the 32Mp front snapper retains tons of detail and colour, enough to satiate most users' expectations. The 8Mp secondary sensor, meanwhile, loses some of that contrast and colour depth and also processes images more heavily but at least there's an impressively robust beauty mode on hand.
I found more value in the fast face unlocking that front cameras allow for but overall, their selfie game is strong too.
Learning from past mistakes
The Android 10-based user experience on the X50 Pro is one of the first of the company's to sport the 'Realme UI' branding. In truth, if you've used a recent Oppo phone, you'll be able to pick out many similarities on the X50 Pro.
Based on Color OS 7 - a relative renaissance for Oppo's own user experience - the Realme X50 Pro has a distinct look and feel but doesn't suffer from excessive amounts of additional features or an overtly complicated settings menu. As with Color OS 7, Realme UI is more respectful to the underlying Android experience and as such, should prove approachable to most users.
It features a number of great assistive tools like a dedicated dark mode, the 'smart sidebar', which is similar to Samsung's Edge Screens, and a one-handed mode, which makes wielding a device as large and as thick as this that little bit easier.
There's also heaps of optional customisation that doesn't get in the way if you don't want to bother with it. You can move between three different navigation styles (buttons, Android swiping and Realme swiping), use gestures for everything from screenshots to call handling and there's an inbuilt 'Game Space' app that lets you manage performance and notifications when gaming.
A tip of the hat also goes to Realme's eye-catching live wallpapers, which complement the phone's colourways and play well with that 90Hz refresh rate display.
Price and availability
The Realme X50 Pro was already available in some European markets but as of an announcement on 5 May is also available in the UK (and Germany). The base 8GB RAM/128GB SKU costs £569, while the beefier 12GB RAM/256GB option pushes closer to traditional flagship territory at £699.
The Realme X50 Pro may not be what the brand is known for but still holds onto the company's core values, bringing affordability and premium features together expertly.
While you can see where the company has had to cut corners, in this market, it's about which corners you cut that make the difference between good and bad value for money.
I'd prefer having a phone with a Snapdragon 865 and 5G at the expense of water resistance and thinness - a choice Realme agrees on.
Better still, features like its 65W SuperDart charging help it stand out against its far costlier competitors - not to mention the only other phones currently with this technology are the Oppo Find X2 and X2 Pro (the Xiaomi Mi 10/10 Pro aren't yet available to buy in the UK) both of which straddle the £1000-mark.
If you don't need the additional storage, swing for the cheaper 8GB/128GB variant and you'll be nabbing yourself a real bargain.
Realme X50 Pro: Specs
- Main cameras: 64Mp wide, 12Mp 2x tele, 8Mp ultra-wide/macro, 2Mp B&W portrait
- Front cameras: 32Mp wide + 8Mp ultra-wide
- 6.44in 90Hz Full HD+ AMOLED display
- In-display optical fingerprint sensor
- Dual stereo speakers w/ Hi-Res Audio + Dolby Atmos
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor w/ vapor cooling
- 6GB, 8GB, 12GB RAM (LPDDR5)
- 128GB, 256GB UFS 3.0 storage
- 4200mAh battery
- 65W SuperDart Charge fast charging
- Android 10 w/ Realme UI
- 5G, WiFi 6
- 205 grams