For S$399 and S$499, the Realme 6 and Realme 6 Pro offer high refresh rate displays on the cheap. But is there more to these phones than just smooth displays? We find out in our Realme 6 and Realme 6 Pro review.

A friend of mine asked me for my thoughts on the Realme 6 as a potential successor to his dying OnePlus 5T. He was dismayed by the high prices of the newly launched OnePlus 8 series, and wanted a cheap alternative that still had most if not all of the OnePlus perks, namely Warp Charge (previously Dash Charge).

If you’re not familiar, as I’ve mentioned in my Oppo Reno3 Pro review, OnePlus, Realme, Oppo, and Vivo all share the same parent company, and so they all share the same underlying technologies. For all intents and purposes, VOOC Charge == Warp Charge, and you can use their chargers and phones interchangeably without a hitch.

The similarities don’t stop there of course, and I’ll be going through some of these later on in the review. The point is that the Realme 6 series is of particular interest to me — perhaps more so than any other device I’ve reviewed recently — because it presents an intriguing alternative to the now premium OnePlus.

And yes, I know that OnePlus is working on a cheaper entry to its lineup. But it’s still interesting to know the answer to the question: can OnePlus fans find a cheap yet excellent alternative in Realme?

More on that after the specs.

Realme 6 Specifications

  • Body: 162.1 x 74.8 x 8.9 mm, 191g; Front glass, plastic body, splash-proof
  • Screen: 6.5″ IPS LCD, FHD+ (1080 x 2400px) resolution, 90Hz refresh rate, 405 ppi
  • Camera: Primary: 64MP Quad-Bayer, f/1.8 aperture, 0.8µm pixel size, 1/1.72″ sensor size; Ultra-wide: 8MP, f/2.3 aperture, 1.12µm pixel size, 1/4″ sensor size; Macro: 2MP f/2.4, 1.75µm pixel size, 1/5″ sensor size; Depth sensor: 2MP mono camera
  • Front camera: 16MP f/2.0 aperture
  • Chipset: Mediatek Helio G90T (12nm): octa-core (2×2.05 GHz Cortex-A76 & 6×2.0 GHz Cortex-A55), Mali-G76 MC4 GPU
  • Memory: 8GB/128GB, expandable via microSD card
  • OS: Android 10, Realme UI
  • Battery: 4,300 mAh, 30W VOOC Flash Charge 4.0
  • Connectivity: 4G LTE; Dual SIM; Dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.1, GPS, USB Type-C 2.0
  • Misc: Side-mounted fingerprint reader, 3.5mm audio jack

Realme 6 Pro Specifications

  • Body: 163.8 x 75.8 x 8.9mm, 202g; Gorilla Glass 5 on the front, glass back, plastic frame.
  • Screen: 6.6″ IPS LCD, FHD+ (1080x2400px) resolution, 90Hz refresh rate, 399 ppi.
  • Camera: Primary: 64MP Quad-Bayer, 0.8µm pixel size, 1/1.72″ sensor size, 26mm equivalent focal length, f/1.8 aperture, PDAF; Ultra-wide: 8MP, 1.12µm, 1/4.0″, 13mm, f/2.5, fixed focus; Telephoto: 12MP, 1.0µm, 1/3.4″, 54mm, f/2.5, PDAF; Macro: 2MP, 1.75µm, 1/5.0″, 22mm, f/2.4, fixed focus.
  • Front camera: Primary: 16MP, 1.0µm, 1/3.1″, 26mm, f/2.1, fixed focus; Ultra-wide: 8MP, 1.12µm, 1/4.0″, 17mm, f/2.2, fixed focus.
  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G (8 nm): Octa-core (2×2.3 GHz Kryo 465 Gold & 6×1.8 GHz Kryo 465 Silver) CPU, Adreno 618 GPU.
  • Memory: 8GB/128GB, expandable via microSD card (dedicated slot).
  • OS: Android 10, Realme UI.
  • Battery: 4,300mAh, 30W VOOC Flash Charge 4.0.
  • Connectivity: 4G LTE; Dual SIM; Dual-band Wi-Fi, Buetooth 5.1, NFC, GPS, USB Type-C 2.0.
  • Misc: Side-mounted fingerprint sensor, 3.5mm audio jack

I chose to review both the regular and Pro versions of the Realme 6 in the same article because of how similar they are; if you’re in the market for the Realme 6 you should be considering the Pro as well. I’ll be highlighting the differences in the relevant sections, but I’ll just summarise the main points here:

  • The Pro has NFC, the regular doesn’t (in Singapore)
  • The Pro uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G, the regular uses a Mediatek Helio G90T (we shall see later that they are nearly identical in performance)
  • The Pro has a second ultra-wide front facing camera, the regular doesn’t
  • The Pro has a rear telephoto camera, the regular has a depth camera instead
  • The Pro has a slightly larger screen (6.6″ vs 6.5″), but resolution is the same

That’s it. Other than the points above, the phones are identical. In fact, in Singapore both phones come in a single, exact-same 8/128GB memory configuration. Whether or not you should spring for the Pro hence depends solely on whether the points above are worth the extra S$100 to you.

Without further ado, let’s carry on with the review.

Design and build quality

Both phones come with basically identical designs. The glass-sandwich look is now a staple of the smartphone industry, which I personally find stale and dull, but I guess this is just where the market is now.

Worth noting is that while these phones aim to mimic glass-sandwich, they are actually using cheaper materials to keep the cost down. Both phones have a plastic frame instead of a metal one, and while the back of the Pro is indeed glass, that of the regular is plastic.

You can tell the difference when having them side by side, but I think it’s subtle and the regular doesn’t feel worse or cheaper in any way. In fact, I might prefer the regular because the plastic makes it 11g lighter and hence slightly more comfortable to hold. It’s also 1mm less wide, which doesn’t sound like much but does contribute to the phone feeling smaller in the hand.

That being said, both of these phones are heavy. At 191g and 202g respectively, it can be quite tiring to hold these phones for prolonged periods of time, especially if you support the bottom of the phone with your pinky. I have no idea why these phones are so heavy, especially since the regular one is made entirely of plastic.

They are also large phones. My OnePlus 6T is by no means a small phone, but both Realmes dwarf it. If you’re looking for a smaller phone, these may not be for you. Still, I personally think that they feel fine in the hand, and I believe you’ll quickly get used to them; this size is quite standard in the market now.

realme 6 vs oneplus 6t
(left to right) OnePlus 6T, Realme 6, Realme 6 Pro. The Realme phones are large phones.

Despite the plastic, build quality on these devices are superb. There are no noticeable creaks, and the devices feel very solid overall. Notably, the buttons in the plastic frame are solid and tactile, none of that cheap-feeling wobble present on the Oppo Reno3 Pro.

In Singapore, the Realme 6 comes in just one colour: Comet Blue. The Realme 6 Pro comes in Lightning Red and Lighting Blue. I think they both look very nice from the back, but they do pick up fingerprints easily.

Display

The highlight feature of the Realme 6 series: the 90Hz display. They are unfortunately not OLED, as that would probably have increased the price even further. No matter, IPS LCDs are still good in their own right, and the displays are still at a sharp FHD+ resolution.

These particular LCD panels, however, aren’t of very high quality. They don’t get very bright — about 400 nits maximum brightness, which means that you might struggle to view the screen outdoors under direct Singaporean sunlight.

Colour accuracy isn’t very good either. Out of the box, both phones have a blueish tint to their displays. On the Pro, you get the option to target the sRGB and P3 colour spaces, but even so, colours appear inaccurate. If you don’t care about colour accuracy though, you’d probably get by fine by moving the colour temperature slider to “warm” to get rid of some of the blue tint.

Viewing angles also aren’t particularly good. When tilted to the side colours will start to become washed out. This gets worse the higher your brightness, since it is a result of the backlight inherent in LCDs. But this is a minor issue.

Also noticeable is the dimming of the pixels surrounding the camera cutouts on both displays. It’s once again not a major issue but it’s worth pointing out. You might notice some of it in the image below.

realme 6 hole punch

Another thing that is worth pointing out is that since this is an LCD, there is unfortunately no option for an always-on display like on the Oppo Reno3 Pro. Neither is there any ambient display like on OnePlus phones. You do have the option to wake the entire screen when a notification comes in, which is not as subtle. There is no notification LED either (remember those?)

So, the displays aren’t particularly bright or colour accurate. But that’s not the point of these displays. The point is the 90Hz refresh rate. And it is excellent in that regard. Out of the box, the “auto select” refresh rate option is chosen, but you can opt to have this permanently set at 90Hz or 60Hz.

At 90Hz everything just feels faster. Animations are smoother. Scrolling is silky. Heck, even games like Pokemon GO (which is usually a stuttery mess) run incredibly smoothly. These phones may have mid-range chipsets, but with a high refresh rate display, they feel much faster than some other high-end flagships that run on conventional 60Hz displays.

If you’re on a budget and you want a smooth display and don’t care too much about the LCD shortcomings, you’d be delighted by this display.

Performance

Performance is an area which has improved steadily in the budget segment, and this year I think it has reached a point where you’d be hard-pressed to justify spending more on a top-of-the-line Snapdragon.

These phones do not feel sluggish no matter what I do with them. There are hardly any lags or stutters, even in 3D games. With 8GB of RAM, multitasking is not an issue either.

Let’s go through some synthetic benchmarks. The Realme 6 scored 515 on single-core and 1657 on multi-core, while the Pro scored 571 and 1788 respectively; slightly better, but not by much. For comparison, my OnePlus 6T (a 2-year-old flagship with a Snapdragon 845) scored 516 and 2348 respectively.

In 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme (OpenGL), the Realme 6 scored 2549 overall, with 2380 on graphics and 3393 on physics. The Pro scored 2532, 2385, and 3231 respectively. Again, a close fight. According to 3DMark, these scores are better than 60% of all other devices tested. Not bad for a S$400 device. For comparison, my OnePlus 6T scored 4817, 5244, and 3748.

Perhaps the one area that falls short slightly compared to flagships is graphics. Despite the 90Hz screen refresh rate, the game 3D game Sky: Children of the Light was unable to push the game beyond 30fps. The 60fps “high performance mode” option which is available on my OnePlus 6T is not available on the Realme 6 nor the Realme 6 Pro.

That being said, the games still run fine, and there are none of the visual glitches or frame drops that I got on the more expensive Oppo Reno3 Pro. If you want high refresh rate gaming for more intense titles, you will have to look to devices with flagship chipsets. But for the vast majority of us, performance is more than decent, and you get the added benefit of the 90Hz display in everyday tasks.

Software, audio, battery life

When I booted up the Realme 6 I was surprised to see that Realme UI was basically identical to Oppo’s ColorOS. Everything about it is exactly the same, other than the fact that they changed the accent colour from green to dark blue. I wonder why they didn’t go with bright yellow like on their boxes. That would have been interesting.

Anyway, this means that you get a lot of the software features that are shared across Oppo, Realme, Vivo and OnePlus devices. You get the super fast VOOC charge. The screen-off gestures such as drawing a V to turn on the flashlight. Quick gestures to screenshots and multi-window.

And in terms of software support, I think Realme is on the ball here. Since receiving the review devices, I have received software updates for the both of them that included the latest Android security patches and other bug fixes and features. I think it’s safe to say that you will get fairly regular software patches, and I am quite confident that these will receive at least the Android 11 update when that drops later in the year.

In terms of audio, I will once again lament the single bottom firing mono speaker that is a staple of budget phones. These get decently loud, but they do distort a bit at maximum volume. And also, it’s way too easy to cover up the speaker by accident.

There is a 3.5mm headphone jack though!

Battery life on both these devices is excellent and basically identical. You would think that the Qualcomm chipset would be more energy efficient with its 8nm process compared to the Mediatek’s 12nm, but that it intriguingly not the case.

I haven’t been using the devices much but on certain days I was able to achieve 5-6 hours of screen on time. In any case. you certainly don’t have to worry about the battery dying on you before the end of the day. And even if you do have a fairly intense day of gaming or GPS navigation, the ridiculously fast VOOC Charge will get your phone back up to basically full in just half an hour.

Cameras

Both the Realme 6 and Realme 6 Pro feature quad cameras on the back, which to me is one camera too many. Three of the cameras in common are the 64MP main, 8MP ultrawide, and 2MP macro. While the regular has a fourth, useless depth camera, the Pro swaps that out for a more useful telephoto (i.e. zoom).

Let’s get this out of the way first: the 2MP macro camera doesn’t have a lot of detail and only works well when there is a lot of light present. I doubt anyone will use it often and I just wished manufacturers would spend this money elsewhere.

On top of the regular 16MP selfie camera common to both phones, the Realme 6 Pro comes with an additional 8MP ultra wide angle camera. This takes the total number of cameras up to six. And while I have previously berated the inclusion of a second useless selfie camera like on the Oppo Reno3 Pro or the Huawei P40, I feel like it is justified on the Realme 6 Pro.

Ultrawide angle selfie cameras are rare. The only other phone I can think of with this feature was the Pixel 3, and it was widely praised for it. The one on the Realme 6 Pro is even wider than the one on the Pixel 3 (17mm vs 19mm), so you can fit even more people or scenery into the shot. Unlike useless depth cameras, this is actually extremely useful to have, whether you want to take a selfie with the scenery or to fit more people into the shot.

Anyway, let’s talk about the quality of the main camera, which defaults to quad pixel binning to produce 16MP shots. In daylight, both of these phones have decent image quality, though dynamic range can be improved. It seems that the image processing will choose to lift the shadows and blow out the highlights. Colour reproduction and detail are good, though I did notice more contrast and sharpness in the regular Realme 6 compared to the Pro.

As usual, image quality takes a hit when switching to the ultrawide or telephoto cameras. The ultrawide is common to both phones, so let’s talk about it first.

As with most ultrawide cameras, there is noticeable softening near the fringes of the image. Dynamic range is also slightly poorer than the main camera. I noticed the same increase in contrast and sharpness going from the Pro to the regular as I did with the main camera, leading me to believe that there are some differences in the image processing software between the two. At the end of the day, the ultrawide camera is decent and gets the job done.

For the extra S$100 you’ll be getting a dedicated 2x telephoto camera on the Pro. It performs well and is certainly better than digital zoom from the main camera.

At night, it is clear that the Pro is the superior camera. Its main camera produces images with far less noise and superior dynamic range, making for a much cleaner image. Both ultrawides are equally horrendous at night though. The telephoto on the Pro is not as bad as the ultrawide, but there is noticeably more noise than the main camera.

Both phones have an ultra night mode that involves holding your phone steady for a couple of seconds, but the results are actually worse than just using the main camera.

Overall, the cameras on the Realme 6 are decent while those on the Realme 6 Pro are a noticeable step up. If the cameras are important for you, definitely go Pro.

Pricing and conclusion

Pros

  • Big 90Hz high refresh rate FHD+ screens
  • Great cameras on the Pro, decent cameras on the regular
  • Ultrawide selfie camera on the Pro is a rare joy
  • Excellent battery life
  • Clean software with useful added features and good software support
  • Excellent, smooth performance

Cons

  • Screen could be brighter and more colour accurate
  • Heavy and large bodies
  • Useless macro camera on both, useless depth camera on the regular

The Realme 6 and Realme 6 Pro are terribly easy to recommend. At S$399 and S$499 respectively, they are solid offerings in the mid-range segment. If you want high refresh rate, good performance, decent and flexible cameras, and excellent battery life, look no further.

As for whether or not you should shell out the extra S$100 for the Pro, it all depends on how much you value the additional features that the Pro offers. For one, the Pro has a ultra-wide angle selfie camera and a telephoto camera, and those alone may be enough to justify the additional money. But in Singapore, the Pro also offers NFC, which means that you can use it for Google Pay, unlike the regular Realme 6.

Do not choose the Pro over the regular because you think that it will perform better. Performance and battery life are identical. So are storage and RAM.

What alternatives are there to the Realme 6? Not much to be honest. The Oppo Reno3 and Reno3 Pro are more expensive at S$549 and S$749 respectively, but have worse performance and no high refresh rate in their displays. Their displays are OLEDs rather than LCDs though.

The main alternative I can think of is the Xiaomi Redmi K30 aka Poco X2, which has an even higher refresh rate of 120Hz. But as far as I know it is not officially sold in Singapore, and costs more at around S$500-600 if you import it.

My friend eventually fixed his OnePlus 5T, and so did not have to get a new phone. But if he did have to, I’d recommend the Realme 6 series in a heartbeat. Realme has picked up what OnePlus has left behind, and has provided us with excellent hardware and software at a reasonable price.

I can safely say that I personally would enjoy using the Realme 6 Pro as my daily driver. And that’s something that I haven’t said about a sub-S$500 in a long time.

You can purchase the Realme 6 and Realme 6 Pro on Lazada. As always, when purchasing on Lazada, you can get additional cashback on your purchase with ShopBack. You can also check out our deals page for more Singapore deals.


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