This is real: the realme (spelt without capitalized “R”) is the fastest emerging smartphone brand in the world and is already ranked 7th in the world by Counterpoint for total smartphone shipments in 2019. In Q3 alone, realme achieved a year-on-year growth of 808 percent. This sub-brand spin-off from OPPO is targeting the lower- and mid-tier market, and recently launched in Singapore with the the latest realme XT, which could possibly appeal to the premium segment.
While keeping it on a budget, the realme XT has the appearance of a premium smartphone, with a plastic frame that holds both front display and back curved glass panels. The 6.4-inch Corning Gorilla Glass 3+ Super AMOLED FHD+ display is factory-fitted with a screen protector that has a tiny notch at the top and the high 91.9% screen-to-body and features an in-display fingerprint sensor for sufficiently fast unlock and face recognisation for the lazy owners who are not too concerned with complete security. For memory and storage, you get 8GB DDR4 RAM and 128GB ROM with dedicated expandable micro SD slot.
Running on ColorOS UI, OPPO owners should be quite familiar since they are both based on the same UI design. The pull-down notification bar is littered with well-spaced coloured icons, though not to my liking. You can download themes to change the wallpaper and default app icons, but no font changes. One of my favourite features on the ColorOS is the numerous options for navigation keys. Personally, I like the new Android gesture navigation but still preferred a dedicated back button instead of doing an inward swipe.
NFC and 3.5mm audio jack are also available on the realme XT. To add to the icing, 4 rear cameras are available, making the smartphone one of the most well-featured for the price. The photos turn up with pleasing colour vibrancy, the HDR works well to keep exposures tight when the frame consists of mixed indoor and outdoor details. The white balance is not the most accurate, and selfie portraits appear too pink for my liking, but the realme XT veers towards the warm tone which is more acceptable than the cool spectrum. There isn’t a lot of shooting modes to play around, and while the main lens is 64MP, you can only shoot in that resolution with a specific “Ultra 64MP” mode. It is also annoying that I need to tap a separate icon to shoot in ultra-wide angle instead of just pinching the frame. There are compromises when it comes to special shooting modes like nightscape and ultra macro, but for general photography like scenery and portraits, the realme XT is more than adequate in delivering delightful images for instant sharing.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 712 AIE is a newer mid-range processor that delivers respectable performance for value. Supported by a large 4000 mAh battery capacity, you get good mileage from day-to-day browsing to intensive gaming. Full charge takes only 80 minutes with the included VOOC Flash Charger 3.0. The UI feels less snappy compared to the premium models, but it appears to be due to slow animation.
These days, you can get quite a smartphone performer for less than S$500. The realme XT gets you the daily necessities you need and the style that you seek without breaking the bank.