If early smartphone market trends are anything to go by, 2021 is going to be the year of 5G smartphones. In the midrange segment, Xiaomi and OPPO have already taken the early lead with the launch of the Mi 10i 5G (review) and the Reno 5 Pro 5G (review), respectively. Next in line is another Chinese smartphone brand, Realme, which has recently launched not one but two 5G smartphones under its X-series line-up. Named the Realme X7 and Realme X7 Pro, the former is price-wise more accessible and the latter a premium-midrange smartphone.
Business Standard took the Realme X7 Pro out for a spin to test the phone’s performance in real-life scenarios. Here is how it fared on key parameters:
The Realme X7 Pro looks similar to the Realme 7 Pro (review) in more ways than one. But it has new colour themes, including a special edition (review unit) named ‘Fantasy’ with ‘Dare to Leap’ subtly engraved on its reflective back cover. If not up to your liking, you can ditch the Fantasy colour variant for the regular version available in mystic black colour. Both colour variants feature a frosted finish on the back cover to aid the phone’s in-hand feel and protects it against scratches and smudges. The Realme X7 Pro is thin (8.5mm), lightweight (184g) and compact, something that Realme’s previous-generation premium midrange smartphones lacked. Even outside the Realme circles, there are only a handful of premium-midrange smartphones that match the comfortable ergonomics of the Realme X7 Pro. That said, the phone offers a good in-hand feel and it is easy to hold and operate.
Realme X7 Pro – Fantasy Colour
Display and audio
The Realme X7 Pro has a 6.55-inch super AMOLED screen of the fullHD+ resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, 240Hz touch sampling rate, and up to 1200 nits of peak brightness level. The screen has Gorilla Glass 5 layered on top for protection against scratches and smudges. It is a flat display with top-left-aligned punch-hole for the front camera.
The screen has thin bezels around it and the otherwise prominent one on the chin is fairly slim too. The punch-hole on the screen is neither small nor too big. Interestingly, the front camera module seems tiny but the black ring around it to filter screen light is thick, stretching the screen punch-hole wide. Nevertheless, the screen is bright, vivid and responsive. It can be set to refresh at 60Hz and 120Hz rate. There is also an auto mode, which automatically switches between 60Hz and 120Hz based on the on-screen content requirement. However, when set to auto setting for refresh rate, the screen tends to stutter in some apps (Gmail, Google News, Twitter, Instagram).
On the positive side, the auto setting for refresh rate ups the on-battery life by a lot. Speaking of battery efficiency, you get the best on-battery time with the screen set to 60Hz refresh rate. At 120Hz refresh rate, the battery efficiency drops, but not significantly. In both the available refresh rates, however, the experience is smooth. From smooth UI movements to swift transition and quick scrolling, there is no way one finds it wanting in smoothness. Complementing the display is its always-on mode, which shows time, date and other relevant information on the phone’s locked screen. The screen boasts an in-display fingerprint sensor, which is slow and inaccurate. Besides, it fails to register fingerprints sometimes. It seems to be a software glitch that the company might like to fix through subsequent updates.
Complementing the competent display is the Dolby Atmos-powered dual speakers with Hi-Res audio certification. The speakers are loud and clear. They have a good depth with a balanced output. The stereo speakers make the Realme X7 Pro a suitable smartphone for gaming and entertainment.
The Realme X7 Pro has a quad-camera array on the back, featuring a 64-megapixel (Sony IMX 686) primary sensor of an f/1.8 aperture, an 8MP ultra-wide-angle sensor of an f/2.25 aperture and 119-degree field-of-view (FoV), a 2MP depth sensor and a 2MP macro sensor. On the front the phone has a 32MP sensor of an f/2.45 aperture and 80-degree FoV.
The Realme X7 Pro’s camera performance is good but not class-leading. The primary sensor works well in good light conditions. It captures detailed frames with a good amount of dynamic range. This sensor is tuned to capture saturated colours which might impress some but not those who prefer natural colours. Though the phone lacks a dedicated zoom lens, the 64MP primary sensor is good for up to 2x zoom shots without any significant loss in detail. However, the digital zoom works fine only in daylight conditions. The phone’s ultra-wide-angle sensor is a mixed bag of hits and misses. In terms of output, it captures satisfactory shots with a decent detail but struggles with colours. Photos taken with the ultra-wide-angle sensor look washed out and there is a visible noise spread across the frame, too. The macro sensor is mediocre at best and has little to write home about.
In low-light conditions, all the rear camera sensors struggle to produce a decent image. There is a dedicated night mode to aid the phone’s low-light imaging capability but it also seems inadequate to lift the sensors’ low-light performance.
The Realme X7 Pro’s rear camera might not be versatile but it is loaded with value-added features, both for stills and videography. For stills, there is an ultra 64MP mode for detailed photography in good light conditions. Besides, there is a 64MP Pro mode, which is like a regular Pro mode or manual mode but utilises the primary sensor’s native resolution instead of applying pixel-binning. Speaking of the manual mode, it is named Expert Mode in the Realme X7 Pro. Interestingly, the expert mode has a provision to save image file in RAW format, which would impress content creators.
As for videography, the phone can record up to 4K resolution videos at 60 frames per second. However, the 4K resolution video recording is limited to primary camera only. The ultra-wide-angle camera does not even support 1080p 60fps videos. Among value-added features, there are Ultra Nightscape Video, AI color portrait video, cinema mode, UIS video stabilisation, and UIS Max video stabilisation. The Nightscape Video is for low-light videography and it works only if there is some light to brighten up the frame recording. In real life, the feature works but results in frame chopping and increased noise.
The AI Color portrait video is part of the video filters. It retains the colours on the subject while turning the entire background into monochrome. This feature works only with human subjects and nothing else. The Cinema Mode lets you record videos in a wide 21:9 aspect ratio. All the camera sensors lack optical image stabilisation but there is UIS and UIS Max video stabilisation modes, both using the digital frame stabilisation technology, commonly known as EIS. The regular UIS video stabilisation is limited to ultra-wide-angle sensor, whereas the UIS Max video stabilisation works only with the primary sensor.
The front camera is good for selfies and video calls. However, it is not best suited for group selfies due to a narrow FoV. Though it applies the beauty filter, the output looks balanced with neutral colours. For lowlight selfies, the Realme X7 Pro has a selfie night mode that works well but requires stable hands for a finer output.
The Realme X7 Pro is powered by MediaTek Dimensity 1000+ system-on-chip, paired with 8GB RAM (LPDDR4x four-channel) and 128GB on-board storage (UFS 2.1+Turbo Write). The phone lacks a storage expansion slot, and there is no higher on-board storage variant here. Therefore, all you have got here is 128 GB which might not be enough if you are a power user. The lack of higher on-board storage is not the only issue to pay attention to, the phone ships with the dated Android 10 operating system-based Realme UI. Realme has promised a Realme UI 2.0 upgrade based on Android 11 OS. But it would have been better if it was part of the package.
The UI is good overall, but full of bloatware. As for performance, the phone handles every task with ease. It works fine as a daily driver for most tasks and handles processor- and-graphic-intensive jobs well. There are no thermal issues here. The Realme X7 Pro is a 5G smartphone and it supports 5G dualSIM dual stand-by. However, the phone’s 5G network capability could not be tested due to lack of a 5G network at present.
The Realme X7 Pro ships with a 4,500mAh battery, supported by the company’s USB-C-based 65W SuperDart charger. The phone easily sails through a day even if the screen is set to 120Hz refresh rate. Charging time is quick and it takes about 40 minutes to charge the battery fully from zero per cent. In times when other smartphone makers are taking away the charging adaptor as an in-box accessory, it is good to see Realme bundling a charging adaptor, and a capable one at that.
Priced at Rs 29,999, the Realme X7 Pro is the smartphone to look out for in the premium-midrange segment. It has a good display complemented by even better stereo speakers, compact and practical design, competent cameras with tons of value-added feature, sleek performance, and decent on-battery time supported by an industry-leading fast-charge technology. It also happens to be a 5G smartphone, so it future-proofs you for the time 5G services roll out in India. The limited on-board storage capacity, lack of zoom lens and underwhelming low-light imaging capability, and dated Android 10 operating system set it back a few notches in comparison to other premium-midrange smartphones. However, despite these compromises, the Realme X7 Pro makes for a good value-for-money proposition in its segment.