A few months ago in 2020, it would have been quite easy for us to recommend the Realme 7 Pro as it was the best budget smartphone in the sub-Rs 20,000 segments. The only smartphone that offered better value for money was the 5G-enabled mid-range OnePlus Nord, which offered buyers better hardware at a competitive base price of Rs 24,999.
However, in late 2020, a budget 5G smartphone appeared in the Indian market with Motorola launching its Moto G 5G at Rs 20,999. A few months later in 2021, we had the Mi 10i 5G and now we have the Realme X7 5G from Realme at a competitive price.
The very first thing that struck me about the Realme X7 5G is its size. It’s a shade smaller than the last two smartphones I’ve reviewed – (Mi10i and the Poco M3) and is among the smaller smartphones that you typically get in this price range. And being used to slightly larger phones, it took me a while to get used to the Realme X7 5G (slightly) smaller dimensions. It’s also fairly light at 176 grams. The compactness isn’t an issue, though, and could make the phone appealing to people who prefer smaller smartphones. Note, however, that the phone is not small enough for comfortable one-handed operation.
Space Silver and Nebula. As you can see from the product photos, I have the Space Silver variant with me. I found the “Nebula” color option to be a bit garish on the eye, and the fact that it has massive “Dare to Leap” text on the back is unlikely to please anyone.
Having said that, I am aware that this is just my own taste. Namely, I’ve seen many people who bought the smartphone and posted photos of it on social media, choosing the “Nebula” color option. It’s also noticeable that this color option is the more premium of the two and is only available with the 8/128GB model. Note that even the more subtle silver colorway gets Realme branding on the back that’s hard to miss.
The Realme X7 is a relatively snazzy device, but there’s nothing that really stands out about the design. While in the silver color option, the phone looks snazzy and tries to convey a premium, “metallic” look. The case is made of plastic – albeit of very good quality, and the panel isn’t too prone to smudges or fingerprints. I found the “chin” of the Realme X7 to be a bit too big – but this is also the case with the Xiaomi Mi10i. The buttons for the volume rocker and the power button are on the left and right sides respectively. While the phone has a USB Type-C port, it lacks stereo speakers, a microSD card slot, and even a 3.5mm jack – the Mi10i offers all of that.
Overall build quality is what I would expect from a phone in this price range. But like I said, other than the eye-catching color option on the Nebula variant, there’s nothing in the design that would set the phone apart from the current squad of budget and mid-range smartphones.
The Realme X7 5G gets a 6.4-inch AMOLED panel that supports a 180Hz touch sampling rate – but offers the standard 60Hz refresh rate. The peak brightness of 600 nits is also low by AMOLED standards – but sufficient for a phone in this class. While I personally have nothing against a 60Hz AMOLED, there’s no denying that the competition offers 90Hz and 120Hz panels in the same price range. But then most of these panels are IPS LCDs.
I would still prefer a 60Hz AMOLED to the LCDs mentioned above, so I wouldn’t really call the Realme X7 5G’s lack of a high refresh rate a major downside. The Realme X7 has an in-display fingerprint scanner, which I found to be quite fast and reliable.
Coming from two IPS LCD panels on my last two review units, the switch to AMOLED on the Realme X7 5G was, well, smooth. I liked the rich, saturated colors of the Realme X7 5G compared to those of the Mi10i, which mind you offer a really good LCD panel for the price.
Even with the limited calibration settings, the Realme X7 5G’s panel was able to match my old Pixel 3’s display — albeit not in terms of overall brightness. However, note that I was able to use the Mi10i’s color wheel to achieve the tones offered by the Realme X7. Unfortunately, the Realme X7 lacks this option, and you’re only allowed to play around with the “Warm”, “Neutral” and “Cool” color options.
I preferred to adjust the display towards the warmer end as the “Standard” option was too cool for my liking. Realme also gives you limited always-on display options, but it doesn’t match the fancier options you get with ColorOS 11. Maybe an update to Realme UI 2 could fix that?
Not once during my usage did I miss the Realme X7 5G high refresh rate option. And I think Realme made the right decision here by forgoing a 120Hz LCD in favor of a 60Hz AMOLED. However, this could be the last Realme phone in this price range to get a 60Hz AMOLED panel.
I say this because a few weeks after the launch of this phone, arch-rival Xiaomi announced the Redmi Note 10 Pro, which features a 120Hz AMOLED panel with a 240Hz touch-sampling rate. Needless to say, the Realme X7 5G already feels dated when you look at what the competition has to offer. But that can be excused considering this is basically a 7-month-old device that was launched in China back in September 2020.
As expected from a Realme device, the Realme X7 5G comes with Realme UI 1.0 which is based on Android 10. Realme has confirmed that the phone will receive an official update to Realme UI 2.0, which will then update the device to Android 11. However, Realme has not yet told us how quickly this update will be rolled out for the X7.
There is little to complain about the software of the Realme X7 5G. Yes, the phone comes with a few pre-installed apps, but most of them can be easily uninstalled. A major annoyance was Realme’s own browser, which is notorious for randomly popping up notifications. But you can just block them and enjoy a much cleaner, tidier interface.
Unlike the Mi10i, which I don’t think is as well optimized for the hardware, the overall software experience on the Realme X7 5G was much smoother and cleaner. The Realme UI is basically a slightly customized version of ColorOS, and the latter, as you may know, has gone through a lot of changes in the recent past. I would even go so far as to say that I consider ColorOS (and therefore the Realme UI) to be my personal favorite among the competing UIs from other competing Chinese brands, with the possible exception of OxygenOS.
If I had to be really picky, it’s the fact that the phone is still running Android 10 – but we can assume that this issue will be fixed in the near future.
The Realme X7 5G is powered by the MediaTek Dimensity-U chipset, a mid-range SoC that offers very good performance. This SoC houses an octa-core processor with two Cortex-A76 cores that clock up to 2.4 GHz and six Cortex-A55 cores that can reach up to 2 GHz. The Dimensity U performs similarly to the Snapdragon 750G used in the MI10i and delivered quite a similar experience when I used it.
With the Dimensity U, most of the latest graphics-intensive mobile games can be played without lag and even everyday tasks can be completed with ease. The Realme X7 5G felt noticeably faster than the Mi10i, which was due to the software, which I felt was better optimized for the hardware. In the two weeks, I’ve owned the phone, I haven’t had any UI issues or lag.
One major issue I have with the Realme X7 5G is that even though the phone supports 5G networks on both SIM cards, Realme decided not to offer something as basic (and useful) as LTE carrier aggregation on this Indian variant to support. That makes a huge difference in data throughput speeds. When I compared the data speeds I got using the Mi10i on the same network in the same location, the speed difference was too big to ignore.
What makes this decision even more confusing is the fact that Realme made a conscious decision not to support carrier aggregation – a technology that would be useful to buyers at the moment – and instead opted for 5G, which is still in this market at least two years away. Another thing that speaks against Realme is the fact that there are several cheaper smartphones (POCO M3, for example) that support carrier aggregation.
The Realme X7 5G performed well on calls and the earpiece is loud enough. VoLTE and VoWi-Fi performance were on par with most other phones in this segment. However, the speaker could have been a bit louder. But then I was spoiled by the stereo speakers of both the Mi10i and the POCO M3.
While the 4,310mAh battery seems small compared to what most rivals have to offer, the Realme X7 5G can still easily deliver a day’s use on a single charge. I always set the brightness levels to 60% and was mostly able to end the day with at least a 20% charge. Realme includes a 65W charger with the phone, despite the fact that the phone supports 50W fast charging. I was able to charge the Realme X7 5G from 0 to 100 percent in about an hour.
The Realme X7 5G features a triple camera array on the rear with a 64MP primary sensor paired with an f/1.8 lens and phase-detect AF support. The phone also features an 8MP wide-angle camera that offers a 119-degree field of view. the third camera on the rear is a 2MP macro camera. The 16MP selfie camera on the front is placed in a small punch hole and uses a Sony IMX 471 sensor and an f/2.5 lens.
Realme’s camera UI is easy to use, and everything is neat and accessible. Users are also given the option to snap images in the full 64MP resolution. The most commonly used camera modes are either a swipe or a click away.
I took several photos a day with the Realme X7 5G, and the main camera’s 16 MP pixel photos turned out well for social media sharing. However, the sensor struggled with resolving finer details – particularly of objects at close range. Sometimes the phone showed signs of too much over-sharpening.
But this isn’t an issue unique to the Realme X7 5G and affects most other phones in this price range. Also, note that the phone’s AMOLED display oversaturates the colors and the photos may look “dull” on a notebook monitor.
The phone’s dedicated night mode is quite good, capturing usable images in situations where there’s a decent amount of ambient light. There is noticeable noise in the darker areas, but the software controls the noise well in really dark areas – the sky, for example.
The ultra-wide-angle camera is best used in daylight and delivers good images with a wide dynamic range. However, you should avoid taking low-light photos with this camera. Note that you can also use the dedicated night mode with the ultra-wide lens, but the images are nowhere near the quality of the main lens – as expected!
Photos were taken with this camera also suffer from subject distortion towards the edges. As for the front camera, the 16 MP camera is capable of taking good pictures, but as is usually the case with Chinese smartphone brands, the enhancement is enabled by default and is rather aggressive. The phone supports 4K video recording at 30 frames per second with the main camera. Realme has also built-in support for slow-motion videos at 120FPS.
At first glance, the Realme X7 5G looks like a solid offering for a smartphone at this price point. In fact, I wouldn’t be wrong to say that Realme launched this phone specifically to counter the Xiaomi Mi10i (known as Mi10T-Lite in Europe). If you are from India and considering buying this device instead of the Mi10i, I would advise you to reconsider your decision.
While it’s a solid phone, the lack of support for LTE carrier aggregation is one of Realme’s main drawbacks. It’s not a simple lack of a feature, but something that will affect your user experience with lower data transfer speeds. And it’s not that the Dimensiy 800U can’t support carrier aggregation.
It was also surprising to find that Realme decided not to include a 3.5mm jack, which is standard on most rival phones. At the very least, the box includes a USB-C to 3.5mm adaptor. Then there’s the confusing decision not to give users the option to expand storage with microSD cards. Yes, we know that even Samsung flagships like the Galaxy S21 Ultra lack storage expansion – but that’s definitely not the case with almost all of the Realme X7 5G’s competitors.
The Realme 7 also faces competition from the recently launched Redmi Note 10 Pro Max (the Indian variant of the Redmi Note 10 Pro), which is admittedly a very competitive offering for around the same price. This phone not only offers you a 120 Hz Super AMOLED panel, but also forgoes 5G in favor of 4G LTE with carrier aggregation support. But if you’re not a big fan of MIUI, other smartphones in this price range are worth considering. The Samsung Galaxy M51 and Galaxy F62 (India only), as well as the OnePlus Nord and Moto G 5G.
So should you buy the Realme X7 5G right now? To be honest, I would rather say “no”. With Realme itself coming out with the Realme 8 series in a few weeks, the Realme X7 5G will most likely be overshadowed by its own siblings, and I don’t see any way this 7-month-old smartphone (based on its China launch date) able to compete against its newer, better-equipped rivals.