India

Realme X review: Bang for the buck

Very little compromises

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Realme X is the phone that half of India has been talking about. The other half? They’re preoccupied with its competitor, Xiaomi’s Redmi K20, but that’s a topic for another day.

This phone from Realme is a lot of things. It’s the most premium smartphone they’ve made so far. There’s an OLED notchless 6.53” FullHD+ display, with a popup selfie cam tucked into the top frame. There’s also an in-display fingerprint sensor, a 48MP camera on the back, and more premium specs that are usually well out of this price range.

Gorgeous design

Despite its plastic back and frame, the Realme X is gorgeous. It’s not a small phone but it’s still pretty compact and comfortable enough to hold, though there’s no way you’ll be able to reach all corners of that gorgeous screen one-handed.

It comes also in two colors: Space Blue and Polar White, which is the same color as the limited Spider-Man edition we unboxed.

It’s one of the nicest displays in this price range, both outdoors and indoors. Because it’s an OLED screen, it boasts deep blacks with punchy saturated colors and as you’d expect, you can tweak it to be warmer or colder in the settings menu.

There is a bit of a chin but it’s not something that would bother anyone. It does help with an area to rest your thumb, with a slightly higher point to initiate those navigation gestures. So while it’s not truly bezel-less, it is still pretty darn gorgeous.

The back panel makes an S-shape reflection depending on how light hits it, similar to what we’ve seen on higher-end OPPO phones. This little detail helps it look way more expensive a device than it actually is.

High end features for not much money

The Realme X an under-display optical fingerprint scanner. It works and it’s fast. The scanner is placed a comfortable distance above the bottom of the display, and there’s a “lift to activate” feature that works well enough that the sensor is always ready for you when you pick up the phone. The phone unlocks quick enough, so no complaints here.

It’s worth mentioning that you can also set up face unlock instead of the fingerprint scanning, but I would advise against this. It’s fast but that would mean the pop-up selfie camera will have to keep popping up. The screen lights up to help in dim conditions, and you can set it to require your eyes to be open for the phone to unlock.

The pop-up camera module used to be exclusive to more expensive smartphones so it’s refreshing to see this feature in a phone of this price range. The module pops up whenever you open the camera app or trigger face unlock, and it is promised to be good for at least 200,000 actuation. Realme says the selfie camera is covered with sapphire glass as well for better durability.

The entire module will automatically retract when a fall is detected or if it senses you’re trying to manually push it in. 

The Realme X has a much-appreciated headphone jack, next to a USB-C port, a speaker grill for the loudspeaker, and a microphone. The down-firing speaker sounds decent but just as any phone with a similar placement you have to be careful not to block it when holding the phone. Sound output out of the headphone jack is also actually really, really good.

The Realme X is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 710, and comes in either 4GB, 6GB, or 8GB RAM variants, with either 64GB or 128GB of storage. For those who need more than that, there is, unfortunately, no microSD card slot.

The Realme X runs OPPO’s latest ColorOS 6.0 on top of Android 9.0 Pie. There are a few pre-installed apps out of the box, but you can uninstall them all if you don’t need them.

ColorOS 6.0 is similar to a lot of other skins we’ve seen, with an ever-changing magazine-type lock screen, that you can disable to a normal lock screen instead. Unlike previous versions, it also has a much-appreciated app drawer. The split-screen multitasking also gets an update: you can now swipe in from the side, and hold to switch between your two recently opened apps, which is a cool new gesture.

Realme X’s 3765 mAh battery can survive a day’s worth of medium-to-heavy usage. It also supports 20W VOOC 3.0, which charges the phone up to 50 percent in 30 minutes, or full in about an hour and 20.

Pretty good cameras

The main camera of the Realme X gives you a bunch of shooting modes to choose from. There’s an expert mode which consists of manual settings, as well as slo-mo, nightscape for low light shots, timelapse, and pano, for panoramic shots.

Nightscape works pretty well and is a long-exposure handheld mode for night photos, similar to Pixel’s Night Sight. 

The phone shoots photos at 12MP by default, but you can switch to 48MP in the settings menu. This will give you finer details, but I’d only advise doing this in good lighting.

There’s also AI scene recognition, which adjusts camera settings depending on what you’re taking a photo of — blue skies get bluer, plants and trees get greener.

Realme also gives you the option to toggle 2x zoom, but this essentially crops your photo since there’s no telephoto lens on the phone.

Another thing to note is the Chroma Boost toggle on one end of the viewfinder, next to flash and HDR settings. It’s an advanced HDR mode that takes a combination of images and offers further improvements in dynamic range and color reproduction.

Daytime photos taken with the Realme X can do no wrong, with a nice wide dynamic range, vivid colors, and high contrasts as well. Images retain a lot of detail, but I mostly left Chroma Boost and HDR modes switched off. The AI mode also does a good job detecting scenes and adjusting settings.

Take a look at these samples:

I wish I could say the same thing when it comes to low light performance. The phone tends to underexpose images every so often, but with nightscape, highlights and shadows become more manageable. This is, of course, understandable for a phone in this price range.

Portrait mode, however, is a different story. Realme X takes excellent portraits. Subject detection is one of the best in the price range, with subjects isolated with great precision, for very pleasing and impressive results overall.

Selfies taken on the Realme X are pretty good, although dimmer lighting results to a drop in sharpness and aggressive noise reduction. Even though the selfie camera has no depth sensor like the rear setup, it still does a good job isolating the subject and blurring the background. 

Is this your GadgetMatch?

Its competition includes the Vivo V15 Pro which has an ultrawide angle camera but costs more. And then there’s Xiaomi’s Redmi K20, but that phone has pros and cons of its own and is also priced a little higher than the Realme X. Realme also recently announced the Realme XT, which is equally equipped at the same price. 

There are a lot of reasons the Realme X is one of the most talked-about phones this year — a really nice notch-less display, solid battery life, and good cameras. The USB-C and audio ports are definitely a plus, too. With very little compromises starting at INR 16,999, this is simply one of the best value-for-money phones you can buy today. 

India

How to identify counterfeit Xiaomi products

Always purchase via official channels

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Xiaomi is most popular for its smartphones, but the brand makes a wide range of other products that range from lifestyle to smart home. It has also invested in a lot of companies like Yee Light, Amazfit, Huami, and more.

Most of the quirky products are sold exclusively in its home market of China, though the brand is slowly trying to get them to other markets. Accessories like power banks and earphones are among the fastest-selling and Xiaomi is often unable to match the demand.

This has created a huge vacuum for counterfeit products. Recently, fake Xiaomi products worth INR 13 lakh (US$ 18,200) were seized by the local police in New Delhi, India. Even in Mumbai, counterfeit copies are sold widely on the streets as well as reputed offline stores.

These counterfeit products are not trust-worthy because they barely have any quality norms. Using fake copies can also be hazardous in case of powerbanks or charging bricks.

If you’ve recently purchased a Xiaomi product or intend to buy something in the future, follow these steps to ensure you’ve received a genuine offering.

  • Mi Powerbanks come with a security code that can be used to verify its authenticity. Just enter the code on Xiaomi’s website here.
  • Ensure that the packaging is original. Makers of counterfeit products are trying to replicate the original packaging, but often fail.
  • Mi Band will have no compatibility issue and will seamlessly connect to Mi Fit app.
  • Lastly, purchase products via authorised channels only. These include Mi.com, Mi Stores, and Mi Partner Stores.

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India

Vivo V17 launches with quad-cameras and Snapdragon 675

But is it better than Xiaomi or Realme’s offering?

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Vivo’s V-series has been a top-seller for a few years and the brand has positioned it perfectly in the midrange segment. The brand unveiled the phone in India today and it’ll be going up against the Redmi Note 8 Pro, Realme XT, and Nokia 7.2.

The phone’s unique selling point is its quad-camera setup on the rear, a punch-hole camera on the front, and 4500mAh battery. It’s elder sibling — the Vivo V17 Pro, has already been launched in the Philippines and we expect it to come to India soon.

On the front is a 6.4-inch AMOLED display with better screen-to-body ratio thanks to a punch-hole cutout. Other additions include a blue-light filter and a wide color gamut.

Powering the phone is a Snapdragon 675 processor with 8GB RAM and 128GB internal storage. Similar to other phones in the segment, it also gets a microSD card slot and dual SIM support.

The rear sports a quad-camera setup consisting of a 48-megapixel primary lens, an 8-megapixel wide-angle sensor, a 2-megapixel macro lens, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. The punch-hole cutout houses a 32-megapixel selfie camera. Night mode is now supported on the front as well as the rear and other additions include AR stickers and portrait mode.

Backing these internals is a 4500mAh battery with Vivo’s proprietary dual-engine fast charge technology. For gaming, a dedicated mode has been provided that optimises the system and controls heating.

The phone is priced at INR 22,990 (US$ 320) and will be available for purchase from December 17 via all major online as well as offline retailers.

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India

WhatsApp could go under a government audit

1,400+ users were affected worldwide

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A few weeks ago it came to light that spyware named Pegasus had hacked more than 1,400 users worldwide via a WhatsApp vulnerability. A huge chunk of the users were from India and included prominent journalists as well as activists.

Following the revelation, the Indian government wants to conduct a security audit of WhatsApp. The government has also sent a notice to Israeli technology firm NSO Group, which had created the Pegasus spyware.

In response, WhatsApp last month sued Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group, accusing it of helping clients break into the phones. NSO has previously denied snooping allegations and said it sells technology to governments for counter-terrorism.

The Indian Computer Emergency Team (CERT-In) “sought submission of information from WhatsApp on November 9, 2019, including a need to conduct an audit and inspection of WhatsApp’s security systems and processes,” Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Electronics and IT, told parliament in a statement.

WhatsApp has responded to CERT-In’s queries and patched the vulnerability. However, the government requires further clarification.

According to a report, officials close to the matter said that the government believes that if WhatsApp’s data is stored in the country, it would have helped the authorities to carry out their own investigation related to Pegasus snooping case.

The minister said the government plans to introduce the Data Protection Bill soon, and warned companies of action if they fail to provide cybersecurity to their users.

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