Realme 7 Pro Review: Competition beware, Realme is coming for your customers

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This year has seen a fierce battle in the mid-range as people hunt for a better deal. Realme is once showing the world it means business.

With the launch of the Realme 7 Pro, the company has brought a high-quality screen, with stereo audio, super-fast battery charging and a great camera to the masses with this highly affordable phone.

It launched on the same day as the cheaper Realme 7 but here I am reviewing the ‘flagship’, although don’t let that fool you into thinking this phone is flagship money.

It is in fact just under £280. Yes, that’s right.

So far in 2020, Realme has introduced two affordable 5G phones in the form of the Realme X50 5G and X50 Pro 5G, as well as a powerful cameraphone in the form of the 4G-only X3 SuperZoom.

Now it is offering perhaps one of the most affordable devices ever, with a series of specs that really up the game for the newcomer to the UK. For those who want to consume media content and games with the best possible screen and sound, the Realme 7 Pro is going to be tough to beat.

So let’s take a look at what is, and isn’t, on offer to see if the phone really is a serious contender that the competition should be getting nightmares over.

Design & Build

The first thing to note about the Realme 7 Pro is the use of plastic on the back. Don’t let that put you off though, as Samsung is now using plastic on one of its top-end phones, and plastic is arguably more durable. A case is also included in the box so you won’t actually be feeling the back anyway.

There has to be some cost cutting measures to keep the phone at just £279 and I think such a change is preferable to using an inferior display or other components. I can sort of see why Samsung customers might be a little peeved when shelling out for a flagship Note 20, but here plastic is fine.

Even with plastic, the phone (in this review the mist blue colour) has a nice level of shimmer when you twist and turn the device, although the smoked case does dilute the effect a little.

The pattern makes for a horizontal line that goes through the camera array, which from some angles can look a little like a crack, but I soon got used to it (especially as the rear of the phone isn’t something you look at much anyway).

Everything else about the phone looks and feels nice.

For one, at 8.7mm thick, it’s pretty thin and it isn’t too heavy either. With a 6.4-inch AMOLED display with up to 600 nits peak brightness, and extremely vivid colours (but more on that below), you’ll also find stereo speakers to further improve the experience when watching video or playing games.

There’s also a rather unexpected 3.5mm headphone jack and the usual positioning of power and volume keys on opposite sides.

On the left hand side you’ll find a SIM tray that allows for both two nano SIM cards and also a microSDXC card that’s separate to the SIMs. That’s a real rarity these days (having a card slot is rare, but being able to have both a SIM and memory card is even rarer).

For unlocking the phone, the display has an integrated fingerprint sensor rather than one mounted within the power button as on the cheaper Realme 7.

In addition to a bundled case, there’s also a factory fitted screen protector. This means that after laying down your £279, you won’t need to spend a penny more to protect against bumps and scrapes.

Screen and Audio

This is the first budget Realme phone I’ve reviewed with an AMOLED display, and while it has a slightly larger chin than more premium models, it is very bright as already mentioned, and the cut-out for the 32-megapixel selfie camera is much smaller than the standard. It is positioned on the left, so it can be nicely hidden by your fingers when held in landscape mode.

The only disappointment is the refresh rate being limited to 60Hz, although the touch sampling rate is decent enough at 180Hz.

The LCD-clad Realme 7 gets the higher refresh rate, but a recent survey carried out by Android Authority found that overwhelmingly people voted to have a 60Hz AMOLED panel over a 90 or 120Hz LCD panel.

Of course this is personal preference, and if you want the higher refresh rate then there are phones like the OnePlus Nord or Oppo Find X2 Neo or Reno 4 (and many more) but all of these come at a higher price and may also lack some of the other things present here.

The screen is accompanied by twin stereo speakers, which are loud but lack the same level of bass as found on the OnePlus 8, X50 Pro 5G and Oppo Find X2 Pro or Neo. But not so much that it ruins the experience of music watching, or listening to music.

Again, there have to be some cost savings made, but if you’re into watching TV or movies on your phone, stereo is always going to sound better than a single downward firing mono speaker.

Camera

This isn’t the first phone with a 64-megapixel primary camera, but this time the sensor isn’t from Samsung. The Sony IMX682 sensor produces less saturated pictures by default than Samsung sensors.

Where the Sony also excels is in low-light, and while the weather during my time with the phone has been nothing short of terrible, I have managed to get some photos to show off the clarity.

When it comes to checking where costs have been cut, none of the four cameras (or the one at the front) come with any form of image stabilisation (although there is electronic stabilisation for video), and there’s no telephoto camera either.

Camera Samples

Fortunately, when you have a decent sensor with so many pixels on tap, you can afford to sacrifice some resolution to create a 2x zoom image with minimal detail loss.

If you push to 5x then it does get somewhat grainy, but not as bad as I expected when taking a night shot. The longer exposure time helps, as you can see below – with the view from the viewfinder and the actual photo that is saved.

The phone tops out at 10x digital zoom, but the results then are really not worth the effort, unless you desperately want to save time over editing and cropping a standard image.

4K video tops out at 30 frames per second, and the ultrawide camera is ruled out of 4K capture entirely. For 1080p video, you’ll be limited to 30fps on the ultrawide, and 30fps or 60fps on the main camera.

Realme’s camera interface has matured nicely and is both simple to use, or as detailed as you’d expect in the professional mode. There’s electronically stabilised video recording, and the starry mode feature that saw its debut on the X3 SuperZoom.

I didn’t get a single night with clear sky, but I’ve used this mode on the X3 SuperZoom with some impressive results. It’s clearly a novelty and not something you’d use frequently, just like slow motion and many other modes smartphone cameras offer up.

More useful features include document scanning (when it detects a sign, menu etc), a decent and quick panoramic mode, plus various colour profiles and manual or automatic HDR capturing.

For day-to-day usage, the ultra wide camera is probably more useful than a telephoto if you had to choose one over another.

It would have been great to see one of the two remaining cameras replaced with a telephoto sensor (the 2-megapixel macro camera is pretty pointless) but – once again – there had to be some savings made.

What Realme has done is ensured the quality of the things that matter most once more.

Performance

The Snapdragon 720G chipset is newer than the 730G that featured in many devices in late 2019 and early 2020 (such as the Oppo Reno 2), and Qualcomm states the overall performance of 720G is about 10% higher than 730G.

Both are 8nm chipsets with eight cores, but whereas the 730G chip has six Kyro 470 Silver cores at 1.8GHz and two Kyro 470 Gold cores at 2.2GHz, the 720G has six Kyro 465 Silver cores at 1.8GHz and two Kyro 465 Gold cores at a higher clock rate of 2.3GHz.

There’s 8GB of DDR4 RAM and 128GB of UFS2.1 storage, plus that memory card expandability.

The Realme 7 Pro also comes with a X15 4G modem, with Cat 15 down and Cat 13 up, which means a maximum LTE download speed of 800Mbps down and 150Mbps up. There’s no 5G support at all, but the phone does support 4G+ with carrier aggregation, but not to the level of carriers enjoyed by phones with higher spec modems.

The Wi-Fi performance is also limited to 433Mbps, which isn’t likely to be much of an issue for most users. If you are after higher speeds, you’ll likely need to look at a 5G handset and be prepared to pay more for the privilege.

The phone comes with support for VoLTE (4G Voice Calls), ViLTE and VoWiFi (Wi-Fi Calling) on all the major UK networks, and it’s nice to see a dual SIM capability (Dual SIM Dual Standby) that can operate with a memory card inserted at the same time.

I benchmarked the Realme 7 Pro with 3DMark and you can see the results below.

Battery

A 4,500mAh battery in itself should sound impressive enough, but Realme has gone a step further by including support for its 65W Super Dart charging system (a fully compatible rebadge of Oppo’s Super VOOC 2.0 charging tech, as well as OnePlus’ forthcoming 65W Warp equivalent).

With the power adapter included in the box, a charge from 0-100% takes just under 35 minutes. It was impressive enough when Oppo introduced this on the Find X2 Pro back in March, and given that was a £1200 phone, the fact it’s now on a £280 phone shows just how much of a bargain this phone is.

There’s no wireless charging (come on, remember the price here!), but with such rapid charging and a decent size battery to begin with, there will simply be no battery anxiety issues here.

Screen on times of over 7 hours are attainable, but if you do get carried away with heavy CPU/GPU usage to sap the power faster, you can get to over half full in around 15 minutes.

Even a short charge while making a cup of tea will buy you a decent boost, and you’ll also get a wealth of power management options to configure as you see fit.

You can choose to restrict background data usage for some or all apps, or reduce screen brightness, or conversely you might wish to turn on the performance mode to crank the power up to 11 for the best possible gaming experience. Why worry about any power management if you’re never more than 30-odd minutes away from a full recharge?

A new Super Power Saving Mode turns off even more features should you know you’re going to be away from a power source for some time, and the Realme Labs settings menu (where you can opt in to features still being tested) gets you a new Super nighttime standby setting that promises to further reduce power consumption when left idle overnight.

All of this is part of the Realme UI that sits upon Android 10, although Realme UI 2 is on the way with Android 11 – and this phone, amongst other Realme phones, should get access to Google’s new OS before the end of 2020 or early 2021. Betas are already available in selected markets on the Realme X50 Pro 5G initially.

You can find out more about some of the other features of Realme UI, based on ColorOS 7, in reviews of other Realme and Oppo phones linked above in this review.

The standard Realme 7 comes with a larger battery still (5,000mAh) and the same power management features, but charging is reduced to 30W – although that’s still impressive given how many other devices still charge at far slower speeds.

If you prefer to leave your 65W charger at home or work, the Realme 7 Pro is also compatible with Qualcomm’s QC2.0 and USB Power Delivery at 18W should you need to charge with other power adapters.

Conclusion

This year has seen all manufacturers fighting it out in the mid-range market, and that’s perhaps not surprising given how out of control flagship phone pricing has become.

As people try and get through 2020 with their sanity intact, and hopefully hang on to their job, the thought of dropping £1000 or more on a phone is a luxury too far for a lot of people right now.

Plus, there’s a feeling that some manufacturers have simply become too greedy. You can perhaps expect a high retail price for something like one of the Samsung or Motorola folding phones, but when you see what is on offer for £500 or less, it’s hard not to feel as if manufacturers are upping prices to compensate for reduced sales.

Realme has worked hard to offer a choice of devices that focus on specific areas, knowing it cannot offer absolutely everything on one single device for such a low price.

This enables the customer to choose a phone based on their key priorities, like camera, screen or performance.

The Realme 7 Pro propels itself to the top of the tree for anyone who wants a quality AMOLED screen, excellent audio, impressive camera and an incredible battery, but with a few small compromises.

If 5G or a separate telephoto lens isn’t a deal breaker, the Realme 7 Pro ticks all the boxes for someone wanting to enjoy Netflix, YouTube or a session of COD Mobile without compromise (the Snapdragon 720G does a fine job with games), and whatever you decide to do with it, you’ll be back up and going in no time with the Super Dart charging.

That it comes with a case, screen protector and the 65W power adapter in the box (rather than sold separately) just adds to the value proposition.

One thing I have to add is that if the loss of 5G is too much of a compromise, there is a strong possibility that the X7 Pro, with a Snapdragon 765G 5G chipset, may be brought to the UK in the near future. It will of course cost a bit more, but you still get all of the other features seen here.

In conclusion, Realme is proving itself to be quite the friend for frugal buyers who, to quote Realme’s marketing, ‘dare to leap’.

Like many, I can’t wait to see what they come up with next to keep bringing premium features to the mass market.

Realme 7
Also consider: Realme 7 (£179-£239)

The younger sibling of the Pro model is the standard Realme 7, and as is now becoming a trend, it’s this entry-level model (at least until Realme announces a 7i model) that has the bigger display and battery.

There’s no stereo sound, plus an LCD display with an even larger chin and camera cut-out, but it gets a 90Hz refresh rate. There’s also a slower chipset and 4G modem, but it still has a respectable 30W charge speed and the adapter included in the box (as well as the obligatory case and screen protector).

In terms of money saved, you can opt for the entry level 4GB RAM model that will set you back just £179 and save you £100 over the 7 Pro, but as you go up the range adding RAM and storage the price differential reduces until the 8GB/128GB Realme 7 at £239 and the Realme 7 Pro has just £40 between the two.

At this point, there’s really no reason to go for the standard 7 unless you really want a bigger screen (and the difference isn’t that great), or the larger battery or screen refresh rate.

In my opinion in just about every area, it’s inferior to the 7 Pro – and I’m not sure I’d recommend a phone with 4GB to anyone these days.

64GB of storage for the cheaper models is also likely to prove a bit of a limiting factor for anyone who wants to download content for offline viewing, or download games with lots of graphic and audio data. That said, the memory card slot is a great way to compensate for the loss of integrated storage.

As I’ve said many times before, at least it’s good to have the choice but I would firmly recommend the extra investment in the Pro.

Key Specifications

Realme 7Realme 7 Pro (Reviewed)
Size/Weight162.3 x 75.4 x 9.4mm / 196.5g160.9 x 74.3 x 8.7mm / 182g
Screen6.5-inch LCD
FHD+ 1080×2400 pixels
90Hz refresh rate
20:9 aspect ratio
120Hz touch sampling
480 nits
6.4-inch Samsung AMOLED
FHD+ 1080×2400 pixels
60Hz refresh rate
20:9 aspect ratio
180Hz touch sampling
430nits (600nits maximum)
AudioMono speaker (down firing)Stereo speakers (right side and upper middle in landscape mode)
ChipsetMediaTek G95 (12nm)
Max freq 2.05GHz
ARM Mali G76 MP4 GPU
Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G (8nm)
Max freq 2.3GHz
Adreno 618 GPU
RAM4GB, 6GB or 8GB LPDDR4X8GB LPDDR4X
Storage64GB or 128GB UFS 2.1 Single Channel + microSDXC (max 256GB)128GB UFS2.1 Dual Channel
+ microSDXC (max 256GB)
Camera (front)Punch-hole 16MP Sony IMX471 Fixed Focus
(f/2.1 79 degree Field-of-View)
Video: 1080p 30fps with EIS
Punch-hole 32MP camera Omnivision OV32A1Q Fixed Focus
(f/2.5 85 degree Field-of-View)
Video: 1080p 30fps with EIS
Camera (rear)Primary: 48MP Samsung S5KGM1ST PDAF
(f/1.8)
Ultra-wide: 8MP OV88556 Fixed Focus
(f/2.3 119 degree Field-of-View)
Macro: 2MP OV02B10
(f/2.4)
B&W Portrait: 2MP OV02B1B
(f/2.4)
Video: 4K/30 1080p/60 with EIS
Primary: 64MP Sony IMX682 PDAF
(f/1.8 78.6 degree Field-of-View)
Ultra-wide: 8MP Hynix Hi846 Fixed Focus
(f/2.3 119 degree FoV)
Macro: 2MP GC02K0 Fixed Focus
(f/2.4 83.5 degree FoV)
Portrait: 2MP OV02B1B Fixed Focus
(f/2.4 88.8 degree FoV)
Video: 4K/30 1080p/60 with EIS
ConnectivityDual band Wi-Fi 5 SISO
4G+ with VoLTE, ViLTE and VoWiFi
Bluetooth 5.0
NFC
USB-C 2.0
Dual band Wi-Fi 5 (1×1 MU-MIMO)
4G+ with VoLTE, ViLTE and VoWiFi
Bluetooth 5.0
NFC
USB-C 2.0
Battery5,000mAh
Dart 30W + USB-PD 15W
4,500mAh
65W Super Dart charging + QC 2.0 + USB-PD 18W
0-100% 34 minutes with 65W
Other3.5mm headphone socket
Protective case (clear)
Factory fitted screen protector
Dual-mic noise cancellation
Graphite heat dissipation
3.5mm headphone socket
Protective case (clear)
Factory fitted screen protector

Price and Availability

Realme 7

The Realme 7 is available from October 21st at realme.com/uk and Amazon.

Colours: Mirror White or Mirror Blue.

  • 4GB+64GB £179
  • 6GB+64GB £199
  • 8GB+128GB £239
Realme 7 Pro

The Realme 7 Pro is available from October 13th at realme.com/uk and Amazon.

Colours: Mist White or Mist Blue (the model reviewed here).

  • 8GB+128GB £279
More information
Also available in white

Realme 7 Pro

£279
9.4

Features

9.5/10

Performance

9.0/10

Camera

9.2/10

Value

9.7/10

Pros

  • Gorgeous, bright, vivid AMOLED display
  • Stereo sound; a feature often left out of budget devices
  • A large battery and superfast charging? Yes please.
  • Excellent performance from the Sony 64MP camera come day or night
  • 3.5mm headphone jack + memory card slot

Cons

  • No 5G, so not ideal for future proofing
  • No telephoto camera
  • Plastic back

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