The mid-range smartphone segment, especially in price-sensitive Southeast Asia, is a sweet spot for consumers. It’s a segment where every smartphone maker (perhaps aside from Apple) go out with guns a-blazing. It’s the most competitive, though certainly not the most lucrative. This is the segment where the likes of Xiaomi, honor, and ASUS, just to name a few, dominate the ranks, usually with feature-packed devices sold for a song.
Well, here comes a little surprise. Just five months ago, OPPO, one of the top smartphone makers in the world, decided it wanted a piece of the value pie. The Chinese smartphone maker has a commanding lead in the premium mid-range smartphone segment but it looks like it doesn’t want to lose out in the value segment, too. And so, Realme is born, much like how honor is to Huawei, and POCOPHONE is to Xiaomi.
The sub-brand launched a couple of devices recently in Indonesia – the Realme 2, Realme 2 Pro and Realme C1. Like honor, Realme is targeted at the tech-savyy, digital-first youth – with a range of devices that offer best-in-class performance and contemporary design.
Thanks to Realme Malaysia, I’ve had the opportunity to get an early hands-on to the brand’s current flagship – the Realme 2 Pro (RMX1807).
Here’s a quick unboxing and first impressions of the device.
The packaging is pretty no-frills, unlike the more premium feel of the Realme’s motherbrand OPPO. Inside you’ll find the Realme 2 Pro unit, manual and warranty information, a transparent silicone case, SIM ejector tool, OPPO 5V/2A power brick and USB Type-A to micro-USB cable.
The Realme 2 Pro rocks an octa-core Snapdragon 660AIE chip paired to a generous 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM and 128GB of UFS 2.1 onboard storage. So, it’s no slouch. If the bundled storage isn’t sufficient, you can easily expand via microSD (up to 256GB). The device comes with triple slot SIM tray so there’s no compromise when it comes to storage expansion or connectivity.
The device sports a 6.3-inch Full HD+ IPS display (2340×1920) with super slim bezels, boasting an impressive 90.8 percent screen-to-body ratio, unsurprisingly like its cousin the OPPO F9. In fact, it’s quite easy to mistake the Realme 2 Pro for an OPPO. Realme calls it a Dewdrop Full Screen, by the way, featuring a neat and tiny notch on the front.
You’ll find a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor and on the front supports Face Unlock.
There’s a fairly large 3,500mAh battery which should get you going throughout the day. With an AI sleep mode that employs intelligence power-saving methods to prolong battery life, Realme claims you’ll get up to 10 hours of continuous playback.
Like the OPPO F9, the Realme 2 Pro is all about the camera. It comes with a 16MP f/1.7 + 2MP f/2.4 (depth) dual-lens rear camera system, using the Sony IMX398 sensor coupled with a 6P lens. It’s a pretty strong camera, integrated with AI recognition, Dual Pixel autofocus and electronic image stabilization (EIS) for video.
The device runs ColorOS 5.2 based on Android 8.1 Oreo. Based on its retail price in Indonesia of IDR3,699,000, the Realme 2 Pro may be priced between MYR999-MYR1,099 in Malaysia.
Right off the bat, the Realme 2 Pro is premium-built and not-bad looking. It has a metal frame sandwiched with glass on both sides. It feels good in the hand although it tends to be slippery. I’d highly recommend using it with the bundled silicone case. And with all-glass back phones, it’s a fingerprint magnet. There’s also a solid weight to it, so it doesn’t feel cheap at all.
I’m glad to see an unobtrusive notch at the front, a similar approach employed by the Essential Phone and Wiko View2 Pro. That of course comes at the expense of any fancy 3D camera but let’s also not forget the price point of this device.
The display itself is bright and sharp and offers good colour reproduction. Whether you’re reading, browsing the web, watching videos or playing games, the expansive edge-to-edge screen can’t be faulted in any way.
Audio is average through its bottom-firing single speaker – sufficiently loud for videos, music and games. There’s a 3.5mm headphone jack, so good news for those who haven’t “unwired.”
Running ColorOS, it will feel familiar to anyone using an OPPO phone. I found it’s a little snappier than the OPPO F9, which runs a MediaTek Helio P60. You’ll notice the Smart Sidebar ala Samsung Galaxy S and Note series that’s turned on by default. This time-saving shortcut can be pinned on the left or right, or can be set to only appear in horizontal orientation. It’s useful, but I personally don’t use it.
ColorOS in general, isn’t the prettiest OS out there, but it’s responsive and works quite well.
What I’m not a fan of much is the bloatware that comes with the device. This includes obscure apps like J&T Express, oRoaming, BABE, iReader, Lazada, UC Browser and Kwai Go. Note that these may differ from market to market. My review unit happens to be an Indonesian unit, so the official Malaysian retail unit may feature different apps.
GPS performance, something that we take for granted on our phones these days, is up to expectations. Over the weekend, I used the Realme 2 Pro to wayfind to and from Gemas, a sleepy town in Negeri Sembilan. It was quick to latch on to the satellite signal, and performed without issues throughout. One of the pain points of value smartphones and even some higher up the value chain, is poor GPS radios. I’m happy to report that the Realme 2 Pro delivers in this respect.
The Realme 2 Pro may not have the top of the line Snapdragon 845 in its chassis but the Snapdragon 660AIE performs respectably in gaming performance. I fired up my favourite game Real Racing 3, which can be pretty taxing on hardware, and the Realme 2 Pro ran lag-free and without noticeable frame drops. The device has a game optimised mode called Game Space that can block out notifications and lock brightness levels so you’ll have an interruption-free gaming experience.
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Portrait mode works well too, and because it doesn’t use a secondary telephoto lens to work, you get the benefits of a faster main lens.
The 16MP front camera is what you’d expect from an OPPO selfie-camera – Beauty mode! This can be turned off of course, but by default it has Smart Beauty enabled. Look out for a separate post on the Realme 2 Pro’s cameras and sample photos.
Overall, the Realme 2 Pro is a good package. Likely to be priced around the MYR1,000 mark, it will give excellent value phones like the honor 8X, Redmi Note 5, ASUS ZenFone Max Pro and Huawei nova 3i a run for the money.
The phone is launching on Wednesday, 7 November, so stay tuned for pricing and availability details.
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