Realme 6 Pro Review – A Budget Phone That Lives Up To Its Branding

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Realme 6 Pro lives up to its branding with great performance and top tier features at under $250, with some caveats

Realme 6 Pro
$248.35
Rating
Pros
  • Gorgeous design, solid build quality
  • Affordable
  • 90Hz, FHD+ display
  • 4,300mAh battery, 7+ hours screen-on time
  • Under 1-hour to charge
  • High-performance mid-range chipset
  • Realme UI is well-optimized Android 10
  • Tripod mode trades time for stellar night shots
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
Cons
  • Speaker audio is underwhelming
  • Night mode camera shots are blurry, pixelated
  • Clear Night Mode shots take almost a minute to shoot
  • Punch Hole cameras create a shadow effect on the display

Realme built its 6 Pro to be a step above most other devices in the upper reaches of the Android budget bracket. In fact, a quick review of the Realme 6 Pro is really all that's required to drive that point home.

To begin with, this is a smartphone that has Realme putting its best foot forward on design. It may not be built of the best available materials and it certainly won't stand up to top flagships. But it stands apart with beautiful coloration, great in-hand feel, and solid design for under $250. That's setting aside the fact that Realme continues to offer a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Realme has also packed powerful hardware under a well-built display panel here. That delivers top-tier features, a responsive experience, and very few caveats. The underlying hardware couple with Realme UI, offering near-flawless Android 10 and the latest apps.

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Over seven hours of screen-on time and a battery that recharges in under an hour top all of that off.

The shortcuts that have been taken to reach that end, conversely, center on the camera. Those aren't overwhelming here either, as they are with the most affordable of the Realme 6-series. This may not be the phone for a serious photographer but it's going to be serviceable for most and is definitely deserving of a closer look.

Realme 6 Pro hardware delivers style in droves

Realme 6 Pro is a gorgeous smartphone with minor design caveats

Realme's 6-series handsets are each designed to provide a similar experience but that doesn't mean they deliver an identical build. The top entry in the series is by far the most premium of the set. It features the same rounded corner and gently-curved back panel. It also borrows the quick-firing button-based fingerprint scanner found in the Realme 6 — rather than a pad mounted in the glass-feel plastic back panel.

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Also borrowed from cheaper entries in the series, the Realme 6 packs four cameras in vertical alignment on the top-left-hand side. That led to an awkward slope when the device was placed screen-side up on any surface. The materials used are the same too. So it still collects dust and particulates like a magnet attracts metal.

But the gradients used for the Realme 6 Pro are decidedly more pronounced and deliver a holographic effect. That takes a shape somewhat reminiscent of a lightning bolt placed dead center in the back and stretching from top to bottom. That varies in size and stretch depending on the lighting and the viewing angle.

Realme delivers its Realme Pro 6 in a few different colorations, including Lighting Blue and Lightning Orange, but my review unit was a red hue that shifts toward purple at the top. It is, for those who are fans of those colors, stunning to look at. That holds true with the included slim-fit case installed too, although the smoky-clear color does dampen the holographic effect.

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Unlike its cheaper brethren, the Realme 6 Pro case also does a good job protecting the protruding cameras.

In terms of build quality, the only button or port that shows any signs of wiggle is the power button. But that, like those other external features, snaps through with a satisfactory click too. So there's little chance it's going to wear out. It's only disconcerting when compared to the build quality elsewhere, including that click-through.

For another example, although the button wiggles a bit, there aren't any sharp edges to be found here. Instead, the slightly-embedded power button is smooth to the touch, as are all of the ports and speaker grilles. As a result, this device feels great in-hand, up until that button wiggles. It's not a dealbreaker, or it shouldn't be, but it does remind users that this is a budget-friendly smartphone and not a flagship.

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The other big drawback, for a handset bearing a "Pro" monicker, is that this is only water and splash resistant. There's no IP rating associated with this handset.

But, for under $300, this smartphone has a near-perfect balance in terms of weight and overall hand feel. So, if that's what matters, this is going to be a great option for users anywhere it is sold and the radios work.

The display here is great, except for one small annoyance

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Realme 6 Pro packs a comparatively good display but that isn't without one minor issue

The display packed over top of the Realme 6 Pro's internals is great. That's not just because it's responsive and lag-free either. Even under extraneous circumstances, with heavy app use and in intensive games, that holds true. Realme also designed the Realme 6 Pro display with a high enough brightness that I didn't struggle to see the 6.6-inch Gorilla Glass 5 panel at any time during my review.

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Building over top of that, this panel features a 90Hz refresh rate. That offers a buttery smooth visual experience in videos and in games. When viewing movies or TV shows, that's helped along by a higher-than-average 90.6-percent screen-to-body ratio.

While the display ratio here does mean that I had to pinch-to-zoom in some applications, cutting off some elements of the screen, the details more than compensate for that. Realme obviously spent a good deal of effort on this FHD+ rated display. It even includes both an eye care mode and a grayscale mode right in the pull-down menu or Quick Settings. That's in addition to another adaptive mode — called OSIE Vision Effect. That's with one glaring caveat.

For the front-facing cameras, Realme went with a single, oval-shaped punch hole. It surrounded that with display software to light up the camera ring when that's active. That lets users see when the camera is being used, which is useful for privacy and just to draw attention to the hardware. But the company seems to have paid less attention to the quality of the display with regard to that feature too.

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The ring around the cameras is also surrounded by a darkened area, creating a shadowy effect around the snappers.

It's not immediately clear whether that was deliberate or not. When darker tones are displayed at the top-right-hand side, it's not an issue at all. But I found that shaded area to be somewhat annoying where lighter colors are intended in media or wallpapers. It takes away from what would otherwise feel like a premium experience.

Realme 6 Pro battery life is great and charging is exceptional

Realme 6 Pro battery life isn't as stellar as the rest of the series but also isn't bad

For its price, the 4300mAh battery found in the Realme 6 Pro isn't necessarily impressive but the way that's been executed was one of the most impressive aspects in this review. To begin with, this phone lasted a whopping 24-hours and 27-minutes during my battery test. It also recharges in under an hour.

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A significant number of devices with "fast charging" take more than an hour and a half to charge. Those often deliver smaller batteries too. But with 30W VOOC charging, I saw this handset hit 35-percent in just 15-minutes. In just 30 minutes, that jumped to 64-percent. And in 45 minutes, the gauge read 90-percent while 56-minutes charged the battery completely.

With a price tag of under $250, that's beyond impressive.

Battery life was similarly impressive, if subjective. That's especially true since I left battery savings settings in their out-of-box state. Brightness was kept at 100-percent and I turned auto-brightness off but no battery-saving adjustments also meant that power was being optimized for performance. That's via "Smart Performance Mode."

Of the just short of 24.5-hours this phone stayed active, 16 hours 30 min were spent on standby, including an hour of music streaming with the screen off. Six of those hours were spent in a deeper standby, without any interaction to gauge the battery drop overnight. With six hours of inactivity, the battery dropped by two percent.

Now, around 3 hours of the overall screen-on time were in short interactions — messaging for the most part, but also making calls and downloading or exploring apps. But 20-minutes of my battery test was spent streaming music and I spent two hours longer than that streaming video. A full hour was dedicated to gaming in a mix of titles. Finally, 37-minutes of my battery test consisted of camera usage and a full 30-minutes was dedicated to the screen and the flashlight simultaneously.

Overall, that equated to around 7-hours and 57-minutes of screen-on time with the Realme 6 Pro.

Realme 6 Pro performance is on point

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For gaming and intensive apps, Realme 6 Pro ticks all the boxes

As with the other devices in the Realme 6-series, the Realme 6 Pro is absolutely a great device for gaming in the budget segment. It runs apps intensive apps and games without lag at a reasonable resolution and settings, without hiccups. Realme also includes a "High Performance Mode" in the Settings app to improve matters further and various other battery-killing settings to take that further still.

I didn't use those for long periods throughout my review of the Realme 6 Pro due to battery strain the extra features create. Regardless, I didn't notice any lag or latency at all. That's a testament to both the 90Hz display panel in use here but also to the company's decision on internal hardware.

This handset comes with a few different RAM and storage configurations. For instance, it can be purchased with 6GB RAM coupled with either 64GB or 128GB storage. My review unit was the 8GB RAM variant. So it's the most capable of the bunch. But that's also backing up a Snapdragon 720G SoC. The 8nm processor in question is more than capable, placing the performance closer to on par with an upper-mid-range smartphone.

Building on that, Realme's new realme UI Android 10 overlay provides extra benefits despite stepping away from OPPO's ColorOS. Not least of those is the inclusion of Game Space game optimization software. The AI-driven software tool allows users to adjust the ratio for performance and battery life. But it also allows for resolution adaptability adjustments and even screen brightness locking.

Game Space additionally delivers when it comes to interruptions, making it possible to game without annoyance in difficult or online titles.

Of course, heavy processing associated with apps for photo and video formatting or editing is slowed down for this phone. Especially compared to a flagship. 5G networking isn't present either, as a result. Similarly, this phone doesn't always present textures in titles at their best available quality. Some titles are obviously going to be a bit slower to load up.

Setting that aside, however, the Realme 6 Pro is effectively a masterclass in how a budget-friendly smartphone should perform in 2020. That is, it performs much closer to a budget-friendly flagship or top-tier mid-ranger than its pricing betrays.

The cameras found on the Realme 6 Pro aren't perfect but they are beyond acceptable and packed with features

Realme didn't quite nail down the Realme 6 Pro cameras but they aren't the worst either

Now, the overwhelming majority of smartphones in the budget Android segment — or, in this case, the affordable end of the mid-range — aren't great when it comes to cameras. A quick review of the camera capabilities of the Realme 6 Pro shows that is where the biggest drawback is here too. But this camera isn't the worst in its price bracket by any stretch of the imagination.

In fact, with ample lighting, the camera capabilities of the Realme 6 Pro are exceptional for the price. Color is accurate and details are captured in clarity for both the selfie camera and primary quad-camera snapper.

On the selfie front, the dual-camera array — comprised of a 16-megapixel primary camera and a 105-degree ultra-wide-angle lens — is great. It packs HDR, a screen-driven "flash" feature, and color filters. Video quality is better than average and beautification features are extensive, including 3D adjustments. Night Mode works in selfie snaps too, although that's not always going to be great as we'll see in a moment.

Gestures can be used to capture a selfie too, which isn't a feature that's common in budget-minded smartphones.

The primary external camera array is led by a 64-megapixel AI camera with all of the bells and whistles. It can shoot in RAW format at 9280 x 6944 resolution when placed in expert mode. And video can capture at 240fps slow-motion. An ultra-wide lens, 20-times zoom, and dedicated macro lens are part of the package. The latter of those performs best at 4cm distance, capturing details well beyond what most mobile cameras are capable of.

However, Macro shots taken outside of the optimal range aren't great. They're blurry and pixelated. As shown in our sample gallery on Flickr, Night Mode shots aren't exceptional either. They capture better than the overwhelming majority of the competition in the Realme 6 Pro's bracket. But they don't compare to flagship phones or mid-range phones at all. They aren't consistent with the high quality of daylight shots either.

Under low lighting, details are lost to a large extent. The shots, unless pinched in or placed on a larger format display and zoomed in, are acceptable. But colors aren't always well represented and the appearance of small artifacts isn't out-of-the-question.

The exception to that is a new mode called Super Nightscape 3.0. Tucked under a tripod-shaped icon in the Night Mode UI, the AI-driven mode required the camera to remain unmoving during the shot for up to 45-seconds in my test. But the resulting images are some of the best night shots around thanks to the sensitivity of the camera in that mode. It can detect light and shoot in circumstances down to a single lumen in brightness.

That means that, even in an unlit room, photos can be put out with a daylight-like result.

Under good lighting, with the exception of 10-times and 20-times zoom, details are captured nicely. All of the included features work as expected.

All of the caveats here could also almost certainly be improved via a software update and aren't necessarily dealbreakers. But this phone, like its slightly cheaper counterparts, isn't going to be the best option for the best photos in its price range.

Connectivity is great across the board

Realme 6 Pro was just as blistering fast on Google Fi 4G LTE as any other smartphone I've tested

I fully expected connectivity to fall short during a review of the Realme 6 Pro. That's primarily because even though this handset does ship with a three-slot SIM configuration — two SIM cards and one additional space for storage expansion via microSD card — I didn't expect it to work in the US.

My SIM card operates via T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular towers on Google Fi. And this phone worked without any additional adjustments once I downloaded the associated app just as with any US smartphone. So, unlike the Realme 6i, it didn't just show a connection to a network. It gave me ready access to 4G LTE, complete with texting, MMS, and mobile data — with hotspots and tethering to boot.

Messaging and calls went through clearly the first time, without a hitch. Voice in both speaker and earpiece calls was clear.

Bluetooth connections, presumably Bluetooth 5.0 as with the Realme 6, were solid throughout my test. I didn't notice any drops or interference that wouldn't have also been present on my daily driver — a flagship Samsung handset.

Stacking atop that connectivity, Realme included NFC as part of the package for tap-to-pay. It also built Realme Share, Android Beam, and Screen mirroring into the experience. VPN options are available in the networking settings in the Settings app too. So users can have a bit more privacy in their connections.

The new Realme 6 Pro brings a sleek new Realme UI OS

Realme 6 Pro packs a brand new Realme OS, and it feels almost perfect

Realme packages its Realme 6 Pro with a brand new OS overlay called 'realme UI' and that will undoubtedly get better over time. This is, after all, the first time Realme has released its own Android skin instead of relying on OPPO's ColorOS. That doesn't mean it necessarily needs a lot of improvement though.

Realme UI is built over top of Android 10, to begin with, and that means it delivers all of the expected Digital Wellbeing features. That also equates to consistency in navigation, available gesture controls in settings, and more. All of that isn't quite as cleanly laid out as stock Android or Google's own launcher. But it comes pretty close and was intuitive to use over the course of my Realme 6 Pro review.

Summarily, Realme did a great job with its take on Android. Not only is it smooth and highly optimized for performance and battery. Users gain a plethora of theme options and some of the best features from ColorOS are still present and accounted for.

For instance, Game Space is present to provide one of the best, least interrupted gaming experiences. That includes resolution and brightness locking, as well as adjustable performance. OPPO's App Cloner, HeyTap Cloud, and other baked-in apps such as Theme Store, FM Radio, Audio Recorder, and more are present as well as the expected Google apps.

Bloatware is present, including Yandex and Opera as alternative browsers. But that's mostly limited to Facebook and a couple of utility apps users should find useful. All of the bloatware, including secondary browsers, can be removed entirely.

Audio quality isn't brilliant from the speakers but a 3.5mm audio jack is part of the build

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Realme put forward more effort with the Realme 6 Pro audio than other 6-series phones, plus a 3.5mm jack

As with nearly every smartphone on the market, the Realme 6 Pro fell well short of 'great' with its single bottom-firing speaker. That's not to say the audio was unclear, distorted, or unacceptable. But this phone severely underrepresents bass tones in music playback. The result was a slightly tinny-sound that wasn't too obnoxious by comparison to the competition in the sub-$300 price bracket.

Now, the audio for notifications, movies, ringtones, and the like is clear. The speakers do blast audio loud enough to be heard across a small two-story home with the volume turned all the way up. So Realme didn't completely drop the ball here in terms of expectations. But it wasn't good enough to ever be my primary listening method.

Instead, it's going to be best for buyers to stick to Bluetooth and the included 3.5mm audio jack. On that front, the quality of the audio is consistent and balanced. That's made even better by the inclusion of an equalizer in Settings dubbed "Real Sound Technology."

Realme developed Real Sound Technology in collaboration with Dirac Research AB. The feature improves matters significantly for real HD audio with plenty of EQ options, including across-the-board customization.

It's a nice touch that makes the audio experience here far better than might otherwise be expected. And it helps this phone stack up well with other handsets on Hi-Res headphone audio. That's further assisted by this phone's support for Dolby Atmos.

Conversely, the bezel-mounted earpiece was clear and call audio came through as expected either via the standard calls or speakerphone during my review of the Realme 6 Pro.

The Realme 6 Pro is stunning for its price and imperfections

Realme 6 Pro is a great device in its price bracket

The Realme 6 Pro is, arguably, not going to be the best phone for photographers. For those who listen to their music aloud via built-in speakers, it's not going to be great either. But setting those to caveats aside, as a review of the Realme 6 Pro shows, this is a brilliant device.

In fact, with consideration for the level of performance delivered via this phone's 2400 x 1080 resolution 90Hz display, this is going to be among the best phones for its cost. At just under $250, the Realme 6 Pro offers all of the best Android titles without jitter or lag, with RAM and storage to spare.

That might eat up a significant amount of battery, especially if users turn on performance-enhancing features. But the battery isn't going to take hours to charge up either. Despite that more than 7-hours of screen time was easily attainable, just under one-hour charges this device to full.

Realme UI, meanwhile, gives users a familiar and intuitive way to access Android 10.

All of that and more make this handset well worth consideration for anybody making a new smartphone purchase in the budget margins of the Android spectrum.