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

Samsung Galaxy F22 goes official with 48MP camera, 6000mAh battery

Also gets an AMOLED display with 90Hz refresh rate

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Galaxy F22

The affordable segment has been a very competitive price segment for the last few years, and its demand is never-ending in the developing markets. Samsung has launched the Galaxy F22 in India, and its unique selling point is a massive battery, quad cameras, and an AMOLED display.

It has a signature Samsung design that we’ve seen on a lot of other F-branded phones. While the looks are conventional, it aims to cover up by offering as many features as possible. Despite intense competition from players like Xiaomi, realme, and vivo, Samsung has managed to hold onto its fort, unbudged.

On the front is a 6.4-inch AMOLED screen with HD+ resolution, a 90Hz refresh rate, and a waterdrop notch. The Galaxy F22 is powered by a MediaTek Helio G80 SoC with up to 6GB RAM and 128GB internal storage. There’s a microSD card slot for storage expansion.

The rear sports a 48-megapixel primary camera, an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, a 2-megapixel macro sensor, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. The front features a 13-megapixel selfie camera.

Backing these internals is a 6000mAh battery with 25W fast charging. Although the charging brick included with the phone is rated for 15W only, so you’ll have to buy a faster charger adapter separately. The fingerprint scanner is located on the side for authentication. It ships with Android 11-based One UI 3.1 out-of-the-box.

The Samsung Galaxy F22 is priced at INR 12,499 (US$ 167) for the 64GB+4GB storage and INR 14,499 (US$ 195) for the 128GB+6GB option. It’ll be available in Denim Blue and Denim Black color options, and sales start from July 13. Online sale partner includes Flipkart and Samsung’s in-house online website.

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India

Mi Watch Revolve Active is a premium fitness tracker with 14 days battery

Has more than 100 workout modes

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Mi Watch Revolve Active A

The Mi Watch Revolve was launched last year, and it sits in a comfortable spot — not too expensive, but loaded. Now, the brand’s expanding its offering and bringing in a much more fitness-oriented product dubbed the Mi Watch Revolve Active.

As the name suggests, the watch is designed to keep you outdoors as much as possible. Or in the new normal, as active and fit as possible. It has a far more sturdy build and continues the premium design language.

It has a 1.4-inch AMOLED display with an always-on display, eliminating the need to touch the screen just to view the time or other essential details. In addition, the screen is protected by Gorilla Glass 3 and weighs just 32 grams.

The fitness front comes equipped with LifeQ Health algorithm, which analyzes more than 30 key data points like blood oxygen, stress, heart rate, sleep quality, energy levels, calories burned, and more. All these data points are leveraged to process your lifestyle, fitness regime, and overall performance.

Together, these data points deliver more accurate blood oxygen levels (SpO2), sleep cycles, real-time heart rate, stress levels, body’s oxygen consumption (Vo2 Max), and calories burned. In addition, more than 117 workout modes are supported, including triathlons, swimming, HIIT, Boxing, Water sports, and Yoga.

GPS tracking features an Airoha GPS chip that supports GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and BDS navigation systems.  Simple operations will be far simpler when you summon Alexa, as the watch supports the voice assistant for reminders, alarms, and other instructions.

The Mi Watch Revolve Active is water-resistant up to 50 meters and comes pre-installed with basic apps like alarm, timer, stopwatch, weather, find my phone, flashlight. It connects to the phone via Xiaomi’s Wear App and has a mini-store for watch faces, which has more than 100 options right now.

Lastly, Xiaomi says the watch can deliver up to 14 days of battery life on a single charge. If you toggle the long battery mode, it can stretch up to 22 days. While these numbers may seem inflated, Xiaomi has an irrefutable history of delivering solid numbers in the real world.

Price and availability:

The Mi Watch Revolve Active is priced at INR 9,999, and sales start from June 25. It’ll be up for purchase via Amazon, Mi.com, and other partner stores. It comes in Beige, Black, and Navy Blue watch case options, with six strap color options, including Black, Blue, Green, White, and Purple.

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India

Mi 11 Lite launches with Snapdragon 732G, triple-rear cameras

The lightest phone to launch in 2021 so far

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The second wave of Coronavirus has eased in India, and the country is gradually opening up. A few brands decided to avoid any new launches amid the raging pandemic, creating a vacuum in an otherwise fast-paced industry. Thankfully, Xiaomi has returned with a new offering, and it’s called the Mi 11 Lite.

The Mi 11 series is designed to offer a more premium experience without making a huge dent in your pocket. It follows the same design language as the Mi 11X but is far more thinner and light. At just 6.8mm thickness and 157g weight, it’s touted to be the lightest phone of 2021 so far.

On the front, its got a 6.5-inch AMOLED screen with Full HD+ resolution, a 90Hz refresh rate, and Gorilla Glass 5 protection. In addition, to make the phone lighter, Xiaomi incorporated a “flat flexible OLED” and a redesigned circuit board that is 35 percent smaller than conventional ones.

Powering the Mi 11 Lite is a Snapdragon 732G processor with up to 8GB RAM and expandable storage. A side-mounted physical fingerprint scanner is included for authentication, and there are dual speakers with Hi-Res Audio support.

The rear sports a triple camera setup consisting of a 64-megapixel primary sensor, an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, and a 5-megapixel telephoto sensor. There’s a 16-megapixel selfie camera that is housed in a punch-hole cut-out. The software supports AI Beautify, Night mode, Time burst, and much more.

Backing these internals is a 4250mAh battery with 33W fast charging. The brand claims the battery has an endurance rating of more than 100 hours, and the compatible fast charger is bundled along. The Mi 11 Lite is IP53-certified for minor dust and water splashes.

The Mi 11 Lite is priced at INR 21,999 (US$ 300) for the 6GB+128GB option and INR 23,999 (US$ 325) for 8GB+256GB. It’s available in three color options — Jazz Blue, Tuscany Coral, and Vinyl Black. Pre-orders start from June 25, and the sale starts from June 28 via Flipkart, Mi.com, and partner physical stores.

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