Realme 6 & Realme 6 Pro Review


Since the world has currently come to a standstill, new product launches have slowed down so new reviews have been in short supply. Luckily, Chinese smartphone manufacture Realme has launched the Realme 6 series in the UK.

Realme are a part of the BBK Group who also own Oppo, Oneplus and Vivo and focus on the mid-high tier of smartphones whilst keeping the price as low as possible. This means you will pay less for smartphones that some would consider as having flagship specs and although other manufacturers have been doing this for a number of years, Realme are a company that are growing fast.

So here we are with the Realme 6 and the Realme 6 Pro. They are both mid tier handsets although the Pro version will give you a better processor, telephoto camera and additional selfie camera. The price to spec ratio is pretty great as expected so lets take a deeper look.



HARDWARE & SPECS

These phones keep up the big screen trend. The Realme 6 comes in with a 6.5 inch IPS LCD Display and a resolution of 1080x2400 alongside a 90hz refresh rate. The 6 Pro has the same except with a slightly bigger screen coming in at 6.6 inches. The LCD display makes sense as these are mid-tier and low cost phones but AMOLED would definitely have been a better addition. You do however get Gorilla Glass 5 on both sides of both devices which will help with scuffs and scratches.
Both displays also have punch outs with a single selfie camera for the 6 and a dual camera option for the 6 Pro. 
The bezels are slightly bigger than desired on both phones although you will see an even thicker chin as is the standard for the lower priced devices.

So powering these displays are two different processors. 
For the Realme 6 you get an Octacore Mediatek Helio G90T and for the 6 Pro, the Snapdragon 720G (which makes its world debut with the Realme 6 Pro) will take care of proceedings. Both devices come in a variety of RAM and storage options and it seems in the UK you will get 6GB/64GB or 8GB/128GB options on both phones which is pretty standard for the mid range but a good choice none the less. 

You'll need a decent battery for all of the above and both phones come packed with the same one, a 4300 mAh battery which is ample for these phones but may struggle in the longer term if you are looking to use the 90hz refresh rate locked in permanently. There's no wireless charging but you do get 30w VOOC flash charge which can charge from 0 - 100% in an hour which is incredibly impressive.

Turning to the back, you have a new camera set up. On both phones you get 4 lenses but with some differences depending on the device. One of Realme's selling points is the 64 megapixel wide main camera which you will get on both phones and on both, the video recording allows you to record up to 4K at 30 frames per second. The other camera differences you'll find on these phones are at the front. The Realme 6 comes with a single 16 megapixel hole punch camera where as the 6 Pro comes with an additional 8 megapixel wide angle selfie camera.

The power/standby key is on the right and doubles as a fingerprint sensor and the volume rocker is on the left. At the bottom of the phone you'll find the usual speaker grill, mic, USB-C charging port and, miraculously,  yes thats right, both phones actually have a 3.5mm headphone jack! The backs on both phones have been ingrained with a fractal light pattern so when you throw light on it, you'll get a cool effect with the 6 Pro straight up just showing a thunderbolt pattern. I have the white version for the 6 and the blue version for the 6 Pro and although fingerprints are unavoidable, they are more subtle than a lot of other glass backed phones.


SOFTWARE AND PERFORMANCE

Out of their respective boxes, both phones come with a skinned version of Android 10. Now skinned versions of Android are always hit and miss but Realme UI has been toned down from their previous phones and you do get a lot more control with how the UI looks and behaves and a lot of it is close to vanilla already so kudos to Realme for keeping this light. 

The processors on both phones do an ample job of keeping the software smooth and fluid although the 90hz display definitely does its part in ensuring any lag or jittery-ness is kept to a minimum. The improvement in your smartphone experience with a high refresh rate is so great that I will guarantee you, once you use a 90hz refresh display, you will never and probably wont ever go back to standard 60hz phone again. I was given the 8GB RAM versions of both devices to review and throughout my time using these, I never came across any issues with memory or slowdown whilst using the phones in general or in any apps.


One thing to note is that the fingerprint sensor is on the side power button so there's no under display tech here. The sensor is pretty fast and being on the power button, when you grip the phone, your thumb naturally rests on it anyway so unlocking is a breeze and usually the device is on the home screen ready for you to start using before you have even consciously thought about the unlock. You do get the optical face unlock as well but this is no where near as secure as something like Apples Face ID.

In general, both phones are fast, pretty fluid and overall very smooth considering the mid range spec. Over the years good phones have become cheaper and features such as 90hz refresh rates in displays and 30w charging have become more widely available which means the average consumer who isn't into top tier specs and just needs a every day smartphone gets to experience top tier features without paying over the odds.

Talking of that 30w charging, these phones do not come with wireless charging which is increasingly becoming a deal breaker for some. To alleviate that omission, Realme have added 30w VOOC Flash Charge. Its a long name for what is essentially, fast charging but this promises to charge your phone to full in an hour and in practice it works fantastically well. Whether you need a top up or your phone is empty on juice, the charge times are ridiculously fast on these devices. 


To be honest, I didn't find myself needing the flash charge too much throughout my time using both devices. Your mileage may vary depending on how you set the refresh rate on the phones and Realme do give you the option to keep the refresh rate variable but even on the locked 90hz setting, the battery does not take as much of a hit as expected which may be due to it sporting an LCD display rather than OLED. On days where I consumed a lot of media and heavily used the phone for gaming, social browsing and video, I was topping up the battery at around 9pm but on days where my use was lighter, I easily made it to bedtime with plenty of battery to spare. That is just above average for the mid range and the batteries get even better if you stick the standard 60hz refresh rate.

If you are a gamer, you'll also see some standard drainage on the battery which is par for the course but surprisingly, the performance does not suffer given the mid range processors and playing the likes of Call Of Duty Mobile was a breeze even on the highest setting.  Every game I tried was pretty smooth and only on the odd occasions did I see any frame rate problems. The display also helps the gaming experience with decent blacks juxtaposed against strong, vibrant colours. It is an LCD display rather than an OLED so you wont find Samsung Galaxy levels of sharpness and saturation but it is perfectly good for what it does and that 90hz refresh rate makes it pop even more.  


CAMERAS


Just as I said before regarding good phones getting cheaper, the same applies to cameras. With the advent of machine learning and software optimisation, smartphone cameras have made strides forwards when it comes to an accurate shot, dynamic range and low light photography. That means as phones are getting cheaper, cheaper phones are getting better cameras.  Now this is by no means on par with the likes of the iPhone 11 Pro and the Pixel 4 but with the Realme 6 series, you get all the lens options you could expect and more with a reasonably good image quality.

The camera array on the Realme 6 goes as follows: 


  • 64 megapixel main wide angle lens with a f/1.8 aperture.
  • 8 megapixel ultra-wide lens with a f/2.3 aperture
  • 2 megapixel macro lens with a f/2.4 aperture.
  • 2 megapixel depth sensor
  • 16 megapixel front facing selfie camera with a f/2.0 aperture.


The Realme 6 Pro has almost the same set of cameras but with 2 key differences: instead of the depth sensor, you get a 12 megapixel telephoto lens with a f/2.5 aperture and at the front you get an additional 8 megapixel ultra-wide selfie lens.

That's a lot of cameras! But that's also the industry standard in 2020 especially where flagships are concerned so its good to see a healthy variety of lenses available here on a mid range phone. You also get the software features expected of flagship devices such as a night mode, HDR and an AI mode.

Now as I received the review units just before the start of the UK lock down due to the Coronavirus, I wasn't able to get out as much to fully test the dynamic range and colour accuracy of the cameras, you can see a couple of indoor shots below. 

Taken on the Realme 6 Pro main 64mp camera


Overall, I was happy with the results with the photos i did take. Distant objects had fairly good details, colours were well represented, and HDR worked well. Shooting at the full 64-megapixel resolution didn't always yield better results, and I noticed that the exposure was hit or miss when the camera was trying to capture a particularly bright area but you do get the additional option of zooming in without loss of quality if you need to crop something out of the image.

The wide-angle camera is fun just like any other wide angle but details are a lot more muted, which is evident upon zooming in. I also noticed a lot of noise around some objects but hey, if these images are staying on the phone and not being used for printing on massive posters, the wide angle and its resulting images are perfectly fine.

The telephoto camera fared much better. Portrait shots and the outline of the subject were crisp sometimes to a fault but very good none the less. Auto-focus is also quick and fairly accurate but it can take a full second to switch between any of the cameras, which isn't ideal. 


The Realme 6 Pro can get you up to 20x hybrid zoom but, just like the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra's 100x zoom, its a nifty party trick and nothing more due to the incredible loss of quality as you zoom in. In low light, you can use Night mode with all three sensors, which offers brighter pictures with slightly better details. The Night mode also lets you toggle a tripod mode that keeps the shutter open for up to 30 seconds. I found close-ups taken in low light a bit of a hit or miss, as the 6 Pro can mess up colours quite badly.



With the front facing cameras, I was actually very impressed with the quality and detail in photos. The wide-angle camera is great for taking a group selfie and you can even shoot videos with it, but Night mode only works on the main selfie camera. The 6 Pro also supports slow-motion selfies with the primary selfie camera.

Both phones can shoot videos at up to 4K, but only at 30fps. At this resolution, you can't switch to the wide-angle camera, there's no stabilisation and any zooming you do will only be digital. At 1080p, you can choose 30 or 60fps and shoot with any of the rear cameras. However, you need to make the choice before you hit record, as you can't switch while recording, which is a bit limiting. 


The 6 Pro boasts of a new Ultra Steady Max mode, in addition to the Ultra Steady mode. It's limited to 1080p and uses the wide-angle camera to record. Image quality is a little inferior to simply using the Ultra Steady mode, but the footage is better stabilised. Video quality is generally good at 4K but if you're moving about, then it's best to stick to 1080p, since footage is stabilised. In low light, there's some noticeable distortion, check out the video review below for more on that.



The 6 and 6 pro are the first Realme phones I have ever used and to be honest, they aren't that much different to other Android devices out there at this price point and that's a great thing. 


    

Realme are massive and growing fast outside of the UK but in the UK, they are new and buyers will want a phone that is familiar, well priced and has some flagship features as a bonus so it is incredibly refreshing to know that if you use a Realme phone, you wont have any janky UI issues or poorly translated tutorial messages or bloatware that seems impossible to get rid of. This means the 6 series is reliable and a good bet for anyone looking at a new smartphone


A relative new comer to UK shores, Realme have served up some very good mid-range devices with a handful of flagship specs and good cameras to boot. With pricing set to be between £200 and £300, these phones are definitely worth looking at if you don't want to spend big but also want to experience flagship features, most noticeably the super smooth 90hz refresh display

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