Realme 2 Pro review — great bang-for-buck!

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Introduction

The Realme 2 Pro is an amazing value for money proposition, finally offering some competition to a market leader we know all too well in the bang-for-buck scene. We know it has a lot of great features for its price, but today we will scrutinize it further. Did Realme cut one too many corners in making to make the Realme 2 Pro as affordable as it is?

Unboxing

The Realme 2 Pro has a very simple packaging. White with red text and accents help it stand out among the crowd, and the large font just helps make identifying it easier. In the box, is the Realme 2 Pro itself and a pretty standard 10W charger, as well as a case.

Appearance

The front of the device is pretty cool for its price. It opts for a waterdrop notch which does offer a lot of usable screen area, while it has a chin that’s noticeable. Of course, none of that is visible when the screen is off.

Over on the back is a pretty shimmery finish, which looks pretty good especially if you move it around under light. Unfortunately it is still entirely made of plastic though, which isn’t the most premium material out there. It will also pick up scratches quite prodigally, so do take care of this device.

The sides are matte and curved. They almost fooled me into thinking they are metal, until I picked up the Realme 2 Pro and realized they do not have the cool-to-the-touch sensation which metal will offer. It looks pretty good, and the matte finishing should be more durable, but it is still plastic.

Realme also opted for a microUSB port here. Not exactly a good move since Realme is really on a quest to annihilate the mid-range market. There is also a 3.5mm jack here for those of you who still has yet to move on to wireless headsets. The primary loudspeaker here is lonely, as the earpiece does not double as a secondary speaker.

Specifications

CPU/Chipset: Snapdragon 660 AIE (4 x Kryo 260 @ 1.95 GHz + 4 x Kryo 260 @ 1.8 GHz)
GPU: Adreno 512
RAM: 8GB LPDDR4X
Display: 6.3″ FHD+ (1080p) IPS display
Storage: 128GB UFS 2.1 (expandable via microSD card up to 256GB)
Camera: Main Camera(s)
16MP f/1.7 + 2MP f/2.4
LED flash, Dual PDAF, HDR, EIS, AI photography, Portrait mode, Aperture mode, Pro mode, [email protected] video, AR Sticker, Filters, Beautify
Front Camera
16MP f/2.0
AR Sticker, Filters, Beautify, Panorama, [email protected]
OS: ColorOS 5.2 based on Android 8.1 Oreo
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 GHz + 5 GHz)
Bluetooth 5.0
LTE-FDD: Band 1/3/5/7/8/20
LTE-TDD: Band 38/40/41
SIM: Dual nanoSIM
Battery: Li-ion 3500 mAh (non-removable)
10W charging
Dimensions: 156.7 x 74.0 x 8.5 mm
Weight: 174 g

Specifications wise, the Realme 2 Pro is quite the perfect phone for its price. You get a beefy Snapdragon 660 AIE, mated to 8GB RAM and 128GB of UFS 2.1 storage. There is also a dedicated dual SIM tray, which makes it suitable for those who want to use both expandable storage and two SIM cards. There are more devices than you think that offers hybrid dual SIM slots.

Performance

Jumping straight in to the benchmarks, we see the Realme 2 Pro perform quite well in Antutu. It comes up short against the OPPO F9 with the Helio P60, but trounces all other Snapdragon 660 devices we have tested.

As expected with the lower-clocked cores, we see the Realme 2 Pro fall behind the other Snapdragon 660 smartphones. It makes a come back with its multi-core scores though, which is surprising. It doesn’t come up above the Helio P60-packing OPPO F9, which seems to be the trend here.

And we were wrong about the trend. The GPU performance is where Snapdragon chipsets usually shine, and it shows. It is a bit slower than the other Snapdragon 660 smartphones though, probably due to the lower-clocked CPUs.

Performance in PCMark is also great. It’s actually a lot better than the other Snapdragon 660 smartphones.

Interestingly, the Realme 2 Pro delivers worse battery life than the other two Snapdragon 660 devices. It does come up better than the OPPO F9 though, which points at the better efficiency of Qualcomm’s mid-range chipset. In real world usage, the battery around a day and a half before it hits 15%. There is no fast charging here, so charging takes a good while.

Now with Realme really emphasizing on the UFS 2.1 storage in the highest end Realme 2 Pro we have here today, we definitely had to test it. Interestingly, the speeds we see here are not nearly as high as the ones we have seen in flagships with UFS 2.1. It peaks out at around 440MB/s read and 191MB/s write. Putting that into perspective, eMMC 5.1 tops out at around 200MB/s both ways. So now we are seeing more than double the read speeds, and that’s a major win in our books. All without spending more than you would on any of the eMMC 5.1-packing devices. Nice.

User Experience

The Realme 2 Pro won’t win any awards for the most solidly built smartphone, but it does fit pretty well in hand. The curved sides and matte finish gave me a lot more confidence wielding the Realme 2 Pro rather than its glossier half-brother. The display here has slightly muted colors, but brightness is still top notch.

Speaking of the top-notch, it is absolutely unacceptable that ColorOS 5.2 doesn’t show any notifications in the status bar. There is almost no reason for a smaller notch if you aren’t going to use the extra viewing area to display notifications.

ColorOS 5.2 has yet to undergo any transformations from the time we reviewed the OPPO F9, so we are looking at essentially the same UI. It’s actually pretty outdated, and lacks the polish that most modern Android skins have. It’s serviceable, but ColorOS still has a long way to go to match the latest Android skins out there. There is nary a stutter throughout my usage of the Realme 2 Pro, and I am really happy with the experience, especially once I factor in the price.

Moving on, the camera. Realme has used the same hardware found on the OPPO F9, which means a 16MP Sony IMX398 sensor for the primary rear camera. The sensor has seen a few years of use in OPPO’s lineup, but it’s still a pretty solid shooter. Now that the software touts some AI chops, the results should be better, or so we hope. The secondary camera is just there for portrait mode, so we can count that out.

Speaking of the software, the camera UI on the Realme 2 Pro is all too familiar for anyone who has used an OPPO in recent times. Or probably any decent Chinese-made phone, as the UI is pretty derivative. The shutter button is very easy to find, flanked by a shortcut to switch to the front camera and a shortcut to the gallery. Realme threw in AR Stickers and also cool lighting effects, but once again, nothing we haven’t seen on the OPPO F9 we used a couple of weeks back. Despite the lack of a telephoto camera setup, there is a toggle to zoom. I have no idea why it’s there. The Vivid mode is gone from the Realme 2 Pro, but the settings are just as obscure. You literally have to dig in the Settings menu for it. The camera settings should be in the camera app, my friend.

The results are pretty good, a respectable result from a device at this price range. In good lighting, the dynamic range and colors are great. Details are somewhat smudgy, but you won’t notice them unless you zoom in to take a closer look. The 2x zoom is honestly quite useless as it is just digital zoom, so avoid using it. Low light photography is just passable. The portrait mode is pretty usable though, so go ahead and use it to add some blur to your portraits. You can check out the full-sized samples here.

Conclusion

Now after using it as my daily driver, do I still recommend the Realme 2 Pro? Absolutely. Aside from the software and the plastic body, there really is nothing lacking from the device. You get a powerful chipset, more RAM than you can get even from flagships that cost upwards of RM3000, and also a lot of fast storage, faster and more capacious than any mid-range device out there.

For RM1099, the Realme 2 Pro is a real steal, and finally apply some pressure on the mid-range smartphone market. With devices like the ASUS ZenFone 5z and POCOPHONE F1 to prove just how overpriced recent flagships have become, it’s high time for the mid-range to get something like that too. And we got it, in the form of the Realme 2 Pro. The Realme 2 Pro isn’t perfect, but for its price, it doesn’t have to be.

Our thanks to Realme Malaysia for providing us with the Realme 2 Pro for review purposes. Also, don’t forget that the Realme 2 Pro will be available on Shopee at RM999 on 28th November!