Realme is adding a new ‘expert’ member to its smartphone family, called the Realme XT. The main highlight of the Realme XT its 64-megapixel sensor, which is a big step up from the 48-megapixel sensors we’ve been seeing of late. The name ‘XT’ would lead you to believe that this phone is a successor or at least part of the Realme X line, but it’s more of a souped-up version of the Realme 5 Pro. The Realme XT is positioned between the Realme 5 Pro and Realme X, thereby plugging in whatever price gaps exist between those two models.
As for competition, there isn’t any at the moment, if you consider the phone’s main selling point. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro, which is another 64-megapixel camera phone, is yet to launch in India. This gives the Realme XT free reign in its price segment and a ripe opportunity for Realme to make the most of it, until the true competition arrives. So, is that 64-megapixel camera everything its hyped out to be? It’s time to put the Realme XT to the test and find out.
Realme XT design
First, let’s a talk a bit about the design. Realme had sent us the Pearl Blue version back in August but that was a preview device. We now have the final retail unit, in Pearl White, and not much has changed since our first impressions of the XT. On the surface, the Realme XT looks very similar to the Realme 5 Pro (Review), with some key differences. The back panel ditches the diamond pattern for multi-coloured streaks, which is visible when light reflects off it at certain angles.
The second big change is the use of Gorilla Glass 5 for the back panel instead of polycarbonate, which doesn’t scratch easily. The white finish looks really nice and does a good job hiding fingerprints. The body is still built from polycarbonate but silver paint job gives it the appearance of aluminium.
The 6.4-inch Super AMOLED full-HD+ display on the Realme XT also has Gorilla Glass 5 for protection with an in-display fingerprint sensor underneath, which is quick at authentication and we didn’t face any misreads during our usage. The phone has a dewdrop notch on the top, which houses the 16-megapixel selfie camera. This is also used for face unlock, which, just like previous offerings, works very well in the daytime and at night. However, since there’s no infrared camera, authentication will fail if you have sunglasses on.
The buttons on the Realme XT are ergonomically placed and we have a triple slot for two nano-SIM cards and a microSD card on the left side. The USB Type-C port and a headphone jack are at the bottom, which also houses a Dolby Atmos capable loud speaker.
The camera layout on the back is identical to the Realme 5 series, except for the main sensor, which has been swapped for the new 64-megapixel one. There’s also some ‘AI Camera’ text with symbols of four lenses engraved near the LED flash. The camera module protrudes outwards quite a bit, but thankfully, you get a case in the box which helps even out the bump. Also in the box is a Type-C cable, a 20W VOOC 3.0 fast charger, SIM eject tool and manuals.
Overall, the Realme XT feels premium, is comfortable to carry around and isn’t very heavy at 183g.
Realme XT specifications and software
The Realme XT is powered by the Snapdragon 712 SoC and is available in three RAM and storage configurations — 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage (Rs. 15,999); 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage (Rs. 16,999); and 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage (Rs. 18,999), which is the version we have. The flash storage used is UFS 2.1. The Realme XT also has dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5, dual 4G VoLTE, GPS, FM radio and the usual suite of sensors.
The phone runs on ColorOS 6.0.1, based on Android 9 Pie with the July 2019 security patch. As for the Android experience itself, nothing has changed since we reviewed the Realme 5 (Review) and Realme 5 Pro (Review). The new version of the skin gets a cleaner look and you still get a host of pre-installed apps. Most of the third-party ones like Facebook, UC Browser, and others can be uninstalled.
The display menu also has something called ‘OSIE Vision Effect’, which from the instructions seems to be a visual enhancer when viewing things like photos. However, this didn’t seem to be working with any of the apps we tried.
We didn’t encounter any ads or unwanted notifications from the stock apps either. Realme’s app store tends to push notifications but you can opt out of this from the app’s settings menu. We’ve detailed all the features and customisations in our Realme 5 Pro review.
Google’s Digital Wellbeing is still absent but Realme tells Gadgets360 that this will be coming to the Realme XT (and possibly other phones) via a future OTA update. At the launch event, Realme also talked about other upcoming features such as a system-wide dark mode and the ability to change the font style.
Realme XT performance and battery life
The day to day experience of the Realme XT isn’t very different from the Realme 5 Pro (Review), and that’s a good thing. The phone is a bit too tall for one-handed use, but you can enable one-handed mode for more convenience. The display is bright, with good sunlight legibility and colours are punchy. The pre-applied screen guard is useful, but the edges don’t sit flush with the side of the display so it tends to rub against your fingers when performing gestures, which is annoying.
We used the 8GB RAM version of the Realme XT, which ran Android smoothly without any hiccups. Multitasking was speedy and app loading times were quick. Heavy games ran just fine too. PUBG Mobile ran at the ‘High’ preset by default and gameplay was smooth. The back of the phone got a little warm after extended gameplay but not too hot. Battery drain was quite acceptable too, as even after a full 30 minute match, we noted about a five percent drop in battery level.
Benchmark numbers were pretty good too. We got 7836 points in PCMark Work and 28,621 points in 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited. Audio from the bottom speaker got quite loud too, thanks to Dolby Atmos. The surround effect wasn’t very noticeable but it didn’t sound tinny and there was good amount of audible detail in music tracks.
The Realme XT features a 4000mAh battery, which fared very well in our battery loop test, lasting for 20 hours and 36 minutes. With actual usage, we easily managed to go a full day with heavy usage and about a day and half with medium to light usage. During our testing period, we noticed that the phone would easily last an entire day even after a lot of camera use, gaming tests and running benchmarks. Fast charging helps top up the battery quickly. We were able to reach a 46 percent charge in half an hour; 88 percent in an hour; and it took around half an hour more to fully charge the Realme XT.
Realme XT cameras
We now come to the main reason one would pick this phone over the Realme 5 Pro (Review) or even the Realme X (Review) — that 64-megapixel sensor. This is the first phone in India to feature Samsung’s GW1 image sensor, which boasts of a 1/1.72-inch sensor and 4-in-1 pixel binning, which saves a 16-megapixel resultant image. You can shoot at the full 64-megapixel resolution too, if needed.
We were expecting some new additions to the camera app on the Realme XT, considering this is Realme’s ‘expert’ camera phone, but sadly there aren’t any. You still can’t shoot videos using the wide-angle camera; and there’s no way to adjust the level of background blur in Portrait mode. One piece of good news is that Nightscape will be available for the selfie camera too in a future update, according to Realme.
The main 64-megapixel sensor captures detailed, pixel-binned shots. HDR works well, colours have good saturation and autofocus is quick. We noticed a slight dip in framerate in the viewfinder at times, which made framing a little tricky but this wasn’t a consistent issue. Distant objects in landscapes look good, although a little over-sharpened. Shooting at the full 64-megapixel resolution allows you to zoom in really close to objects and its able to resolve very good detail.
Compared to pixel-binned images, the full-resolution photos captured using the Realme XT have a slightly cooler colour tone and there’s slightly less noise in shadow areas, but textures are also softer. In low light, the sensor captures good colours and details are fairly good. Slight grain is visible in shadow regions but this is only noticeable when you zoom in all the way.
Comparing full 64-megapixel images captured using the Realme XT to competing 48-megapixel camera phones, the former has a slight edge as not only do you a higher degree of zoom due to the extra resolution, but details are a bit more legible as well.
Close ups have good detail and there’s a good helping of natural bokeh. Focusing speed is quick and the built-in AI does a good job at identifying objects. In low light, focus speed continues to be quick and the XT manages good colours and detail, with barely any visible noise. The camera app tends to boost colours a bit at times, which make the scene or object look vivid and dramatic, but it’s not always the most accurate representation.
The other cameras are the same as what we’ve seen before in the Realme 5 Pro. The 8-megapixel wide-angle camera lets you capture interesting perspectives. Details are decent in daylight, if you don’t mind the slight skewing of objects on the sides of the frame, but colours aren’t too accurate. The 2-megapixel macro camera is also useful when shooting extreme close-ups, but it’s best done with ample light around.
The Realme XT also does a good job when using Portrait mode. Edge detection is excellent thanks to the dedicated 2-megapixel depth sensor and details are crisp. Nightscape is present, which also works for the wide-angle camera. The camera crops the frame a little to compensate for handshakes but the end result is brighter images. Finer textures are suppressed a bit in the attempt to reduce noise, which can make surface of objects look a little flat, but as long you’re not going to crop the image too much, you should be okay.
The 16-megapixel front camera on the Realme XT does a decent job with selfies. The beauty mode isn’t too aggressive and HDR works well. Details are also quite good. In low light, the phone captures usable images with decent skin tones. The screen flash works decently well too. There’s Portrait mode here too, which is okay but not great. Just like the Realme 5 Pro, the videos from the selfie camera are also stabilised.
Video recoding tops out at 4K resolution and 30fps, but once again, without stabilisation. Image quality is good, but colours are slightly boosted. Low light video at 4K needs some work as there’s a visible purplish tint in the bottom left corner. You can shoot 1080p video at both 30fps or 60fps. Image quality is better as colours aren’t boosted too much and stabilisation works well in daylight. In low light, the electronic stabilisation causes some mild jitter in the video when you move about, but the image isn’t too noisy.
The Realme XT is yet another solid addition to the company’s smartphone lineup and now, buyers have even more choice in this segment. Choosing between the Realme XT, Realme 5 Pro (Review), and Realme X (Review) really depends on what you’re looking for in a smartphone as you can’t go wrong with any of them. The Realme 5 Pro and the Realme XT are very close in terms of specifications and features and between the two, we’d be inclined to recommend the Realme XT, if budget permits. With it, you get the newer higher resolution sensor and a glass back, which makes it feel a bit more premium.
The top-end version of the Realme XT, priced at Rs. 18,999, sits smack in the middle of the two variants of the Realme X. Between theses two, it all boils down to what you’re looking for — style versus cameras. If you absolutely detest display notches and want a high-end look, then the Realme X makes sense. If it’s cameras you’re after, then the Realme XT’s versatile set of four cameras will be lot more useful.
The Realme XT packs in a lot of features for the price. Having said that, it would have been nice to have a more feature-rich camera app considering the phone’s primary focus area and low-light video at 4K needs a bit of work. But other than this, there’s not much to complain about. It’s now Xiaomi’s turn to show us what it’s got with the Redmi Note 8 Pro, which should make things a lot more interesting.