Home >Technology >Tech-reviews >Realme 2 quick review: More of a variant, less of an upgrade

When the Realme 1 was launched, it garnered praised from a lot of critics for offering a great design and even better specifications at a starting price of 8,990. However, it did cut a few corners to get everything in a rather well rounded package. For instance, the only biometric option available on the Realme 1 is face-unlocking, as it skips the fingerprint scanner. Face-unlocking, as we are all warned, isn’t the most secure way of unlocking your device. The second area it left us hoping for more was the dual camera setup, which allows for better portrait imagery.

However, its successor — the Realme 2 — has got us thinking about the whole point of letting out an “upgrade" and that too, in such a hurry. Most phone upgrades are offered in an attempt to end a product’s life cycle, which ranges between a year and two. For instance, the Xiaomi’s Note and Samsung’s Galaxy S series are given a refresh after nearly every 12 months. A new upgrade is also announced when a product is not selling well.

The Realme 1 was launched three months ago, it is still selling particularly well and it is still not obsolete in any sense. So what has the now-independent brand packed in the Realme 2, that justifies such a quick succession?

To begin with, the design has remained largely unchanged – it features the same diamond cut back with a plastic coating and glossy metal railings on the side. The tendency of the phone to catch scratches on the back will make you put on a case or skin, which ultimately renders that rather unique diamond cut back useless.

The front of the Realme 2 features a notched display unlike its predecessor, which still provided an 18:9 display. The display size also received a bump, from 6-inches diagonally on the Realme 1 to 6.2-inches on the Realme 2. However, the overall resolution and hence the pixel density takes a hit here – the Realme 2 featuring a 1520x720 screen with a pixel density of ~241 ppi as compared to the 2160x1080 screen with a pixel density of ~402 ppi on the Realme 1. This means the Realme 1 has a superior screen overall, keeping aside the size part of the equation.

The same story follows in the chipset area, which also happens to be my biggest annoyance. The refreshed Realme 2 features a Snapdragon 450, which is a step back from the Mediatek Helio P60 on the Realme 1. The P60 on the Realme 1 offered a higher clock speed and a higher RAM speed than the Snapdragon 450. To offer a worthy “upgrade", the Realme 2 should have at least featured a Snapdragon 625, which still wouldn’t be enough to beat the P60.

You wouldn’t notice the difference while performing casual tasks like web browsing, but as soon as you hit a snag on Facebook or Instagram, you’ll notice some serious lag. This also holds true for the gaming experience. I tried Asphalt 9 on the handset and I could immediately notice frame drops, which made handling my car extremely difficult. And to add insult to injury, this wasn’t even the highest graphics setting. Couple that with the RAM woes, and you’ve a couple of seconds of suspended animation while switching apps from the multi tasking window. It is important to notice that a model with higher RAM and internal storage might be on its way — at the end of the launch event it was announced that Realme has a surprise for us. Realme 1’s top-of-the-line model featuring 6GB RAM and 128GB variant was also launched this way.

The camera is package is an upgrade from the previous model though. It now features a secondary 2MP depth sensor alongside the 13MP primary sensor, something that the previous variant lacked. I could only try the camera indoors on inanimate objects, but you can see that the portrait mode did a pretty decent job of defocusing the background from my pair of headphones. The selfies are also good for a phone this price. They are adequately bright and don’t have a lot of noise, even when clicking photos indoors.

Realme 2’s camera sample with portrait mode.
Realme 2’s camera sample with portrait mode.

The camera app, however, has quite a bit of lag. It takes a hiccup or two to get me to the photo gallery after I am done clicking a picture.

The new fingerprint scanner is great. It never misses a fingerprint and unlocks the phone in a jiffy.

Realme has skipped the USB Type-C port on this phone and I think it is not a decision that people might mind, as Micro-USB ports are nearly ubiquitous. It also comes with the headphone jack.

The Realme 2 costs nearly the same as the Realme 1 — starting at 8,990 for the 3GB RAM/32GB ROM version and going up to 10,990 for the 4GB RAM/64GB ROM version.

We feel that Realme 2 should be considered as a variant of the Realme 1, featuring a better camera, a fingerprint reader and a Snapdragon chipset which suits people who want those features instead of a faster chipset and a single way to unlock the phone.

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