If you bought a Realme X7 Pro 5G when it launched in February this year, you're going to be quite upset that it is already being superseded. On the other hand, if you waited before making your purchase decision, you might be delighted. The new Realme X7 Max 5G offers better specifications than its sibling, but what's most surprising is its considerably lower official starting price. Realme is clearly worried about competition, which is suddenly hot in the sub-Rs. 30,000 space thanks to several recent and upcoming launches. This rapid pace of launches certainly keeps things interesting, and we're going to find out whether the company's latest premium model can keep up.
The base variant of the Realme X7 Max 5G, priced at Rs. 26,999, has 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. There's also a 256GB storage version priced at Rs. 29,999. Interestingly, the Realme X7 Pro 5G (Review) is still available in only one configuration, with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, but priced the same as the higher-end X7 Max 5G. It continues to remain on sale without an official price cut, but is currently discounted.
Realme says it developed this new model based on consumer feedback, and is trying to offer the latest specs at affordable prices. A company spokesperson declined to clarify why the older X7 Pro 5G is still officially on the market at its original price, so as a buyer, you'll have to be aware of what's going on – the newer model has far better specifications despite this disparity.
In terms of competition, the Realme X7 Max 5G looks set to take on the heavily rumoured and leaked OnePlus Nord successor. It will also challenge the Mi 11X (Review) and upcoming Poco F3 GT from Xiaomi, the Samsung Galaxy A52 (Review), iQoo 7, Vivo V21, and quite a few others.
We really did not appreciate Realme emblazoning its brand slogan in huge letters across the back of the Realme X7 5G (Review) and X7 Pro 5G, and it looks like we weren't alone. Realme says that customer feedback prompted it to come up with a new design – a much smaller box with both the Realme logo and slogan as one unit. This is still quite attention-grabbing since it's highly reflective with an iridescent finish, but it's an improvement.
Construction quality is one area in which Realme seems to have cut back in order to achieve a lower price point. The rear panel of the X7 Max 5G is all plastic and frankly doesn't feel very premium at all. It has a textured matte finish except for a thick, glossy off-centre stripe that encloses the camera module and the new boxed logo. While most of the back remains free of fingerprints and smudges, the stripe picks them up very easily, and that actually makes them more noticeable. Realme has also gone with a simple camera module design – it only just barely protrudes, and is flat with no attention called to the individual lenses.
The rear panel looks and feels more like what we'd expect from Realme's entry-level C-series and Narzo series phones than a premium model. It even flexes a little when pressed near the centre. You won't notice or be bothered by any of this if you use the X7 Max 5G with a case, but I would buy an opaque one rather than use the smoky translucent one that comes in the retail box.
The 6.43-inch screen is smaller than the 6.55-inch screen of the X7 Pro 5G. It has relatively narrow borders, and a protective film is pre-applied. There's a camera hole in the top-left corner which is thankfully not too distracting. You also get an embedded fingerprint sensor near the bottom, and this worked quite well throughout the review period.
Many people will be pleased to see that there's a 3.5mm jack on the bottom, which is a feature that the X7 Pro 5G does not have. The power and volume buttons are on the right and left respectively, and are placed conveniently enough. The tray on the left has two Nano-SIM slots but there's no provision for microSD storage expansion.
At 179g in weight and 8.4mm in thickness, the Realme X7 Max 5G is quite convenient to carry around and use. The dual textures on the rear feel a little awkward when holding this phone to talk or even when using it in the hand, but at least it isn't slippery at all. The body is rated IPX4 splash-resistant but there's no official mention of screen reinforcement.
In addition to the Asteroid Black of the unit you see here, this phone is also available in Mercury Silver and Milky Way. The latter option is hard to describe, even according to Realme itself – it looks like a purplish gradient with a much more prominent stripe.
The main reason for launching a new model is that it uses the MediaTek Dimensity 1200 SoC, rather than the Dimensity 1000+ that's in the X7 Pro 5G. This SoC is said to be significantly more powerful as well as power efficient thanks to a new 6nm manufacturing process and a more modern mix of CPU cores. There are four high-performance Cortex-A78 cores, one of which runs at up to 3GHz while the other three run at 2.6GHz, and another four 2GHz Cortex-A55 efficiency cores. The integrated Mali-G77 GPU is unchanged, but the image signal processor is improved.
The Dimensity 1200 also has integrated 5G capabilties, and Realme boasts of support for seven 5G bands while many other companies advertise one or two – there aren't any 5G service providers in India yet, but this might be a factor if you travel a lot. There's also dual-SIM dual-standby, 5G carrier aggregation, VoNR (Voice over New Radio).
Performance should also said be snappy thanks to the use of dual-channel UFS 2.1 storage and Wi-Fi 6. There's a 4500mAh battery and support for 50W fast charging. Just like with the rest of the X7 series, you get a 65W charger in the box which is great for multi-device flexibility, though it doesn't seem to be USB-PD compliant at 65W.
The X7 Max has a 6.43-inch Super AMOLED panel with a 1080x2400 pixel resolution, 120Hz maximum refresh rate and up to 360Hz touch sampling rate. Other specs worth noting are the stereo speakers, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1, NFC, and GPS.
My review unit was running Realme UI 2.0 on top of Android 11 on arrival, with the March 2021 security patch, but it received an update with the May 2021 patch at the time of this review. Realme UI does have a number of preloaded Realme apps plus third-party bloatware. Not all these unnecessary apps can be removed, and some of them including Theme Store, Browser, and Heyfun throw up tonnes of spammy, clickbait notifications. At least ads on the lockscreen are disabled by default.
Realme UI does have some neat features, though. You can enable or disable an app drawer, or choose a simple mode with enlarged icons instead. There's an always-on display option, which goes off automatically when the phone is stationary for a while to save power. You can override this so it is truly always on, or even set up a schedule. Within the Settings app you'll find an “experimental” sleep mode that's intended to help reduce distractions, as well as shortcuts and gestures for things like call handling and taking screenshots. There are also various navigation shortcuts and tools.
The ‘Quick Return Bubble' lets you minimise games while waiting for rounds to begin and then jump back in. Swiping in from the left of the screen pulls up Realme UI's Game Assistant panel, which shows CPU and GPU usage as well as a handy frame counter. There are toggles for call handling, screen recording, touch sensitivity, and “4D vibration” in supported games. Note that the ‘Game Focus' mode will disable alarms and all notifications, so use this with caution.
With such a powerful processor, it comes as no surprise that the Realme X7 Max 5G is exceptionally smooth and responsive in everyday use. Realme UI doesn't bog down the hardware at all, and you shouldn't have any trouble multitasking even between multiple heavy apps. The screen is crisp and while not the most vibrant, it's fine for entertainment. Stereo speakers are always nice to have, and the X7 Max 5G can get quite loud without sound distorting.
The Realme X7 Max is recognised by many diagnostic apps and tests as ‘Realme GT Neo', which isn't too surprising considering that based on specifications, the company has simply brought the same phone to India and marketed it differently.
If you're curious about just how well the Dimensity 1200 SoC stacks up against its competition, it scored 704,855 in AnTuTu as well as 972 and 3,301 in Geekbench's single-core and multi-core tests. That's a significant step up from the Realme X7 Pro's scores. These figures indicate slightly higher CPU performance than what we saw on the OnePlus 9R, which is powered by the Snapdragon 870. Qualcomm's Snapdragon 888 still maintains a comfortable performance lead. Even so, the performance that Realme offers here is especially noteworthy considering the price of the X7 Max 5G.
As for graphics performance, this phone scored 1,284 in 3DMark's Wild Life Extreme test, and ran GFXBench's Car Chase and Manhattan 3.1 scenes at 44fps and 59fps respectively. Games including Call of Duty: Mobile and Asphalt 9: Legends were enjoyable even at high graphics quality. Stereo speakers always noticeably improve immersion when gaming. The upper rear of the phone got only mildly warm after 15 minutes or so of gaming at the default high quality settings, and pushing that up to Max did make things feel a bit toastier.
The Realme X7 Max will easily last through a full day of use, even if you stream media, play games, and use the camera. Our HD video loop test lasted for a superb 22 hours, 55 minutes. Charging is also impressively quick – the phone managed to get up to 65 percent in 30 minutes, and it took just under an hour to fill the battery completely using the supplied charger.
Most value offerings in the Rs. 30,000 – 40,000 price band boast of high-end processors as well as cameras. While the Realme X7 Max 5G does offer the former, compromises in the latter area allow it to achieve its low price. You don't get any extraordinarily high-resolution sensor, optical stabilisation, telephoto lens, or even the versatility of multiple good sensors. There's a 64-megapixel primary camera with a Sony IMX682 sensor and f/1.8 aperture, but the others are quite basic. The 8-megapixel f/2.3 ultra-wide camera and 2-megapixel macro camera are what you might expect on a budget segment phone these days. The Realme X7 Pro had a fourth B&W portrait camera, but not many people will miss this.
Realme's camera app is laid out well for the most part, with most modes and options close at hand. Switching video resolutions takes multiple steps and there isn't necessarily consistency on where options are found when you switch between modes. Other than Slo-Mo and Dual View video, there aren't a lot of creative modes to play with.
Photos taken with the primary camera in the daytime turned out quite good, with crisp details and accurate exposures. Textures came out looking natural, and there was decent natural depth of field. Photos taken at the default 12-megapixel resolution had slightly better exposure than native 64-megapixel shots, but the level of detail was comparable which means you can magnify and crop shots after taking them to simulate optical zoom, if you don't mind saving much larger files.
Portrait shots were quite decent. Daytime macros were low-res and it's hard to find the ideal distance to shoot your subject from to ensure that focus is crisp. With a lot of ambient light, these shots are usable. There's a bit of perspective distortion with the ultra-wide camera. Daytime shots tended to be overexposed, with far less detail in distant objects.
Night mode does make a difference, but sadly the camera app defaults to the primary camera as soon as you enable it, so if you were shooting with the ultra-wide camera and then realised you need to be in Night mode, you'll have to manually re-select the zoom level. This is annoying, since Night mode makes the biggest difference when using the weaker camera with its far less forgiving aperture. Low-light shots taken with the default Photo mode were generally disappointing – some had slight motion blur or the autofocus seems to have not been able to lock on to the subject properly. Night mode did deliver more tightly focused shots with better contrast, but they weren't necessarily better in terms of detail. The macro camera is virtually useless at night.
Beautification is on by default when you switch to the front camera, and it not only smoothens skin and tones down blemishes, but also slightly makes faces narrower and pinches facial features. This feels like a bit of overreaching and it should have been possible to change the default or make this an opt-in feature. Selfies did look quite artificial, though background blurring in Portrait mode is nicely done. At night, you have to position yourself so your face isn't entirely in shadows, but quality is good overall.
Video seemed to have overblown colours and a very warm tone which is even more pronounced in 4K cliips. Footage shot with the main camera at 1080p was stabilised, but ultra-wide and 4K video was quite shaky. Video is crisp at both resolutions and is usable enough. However at night, the ultra-wide camera is much less useful and the warm tone is even more evident in 4K video. You might not want to depend on this phone to capture and preserve your most important memories.
The Realme X7 Max 5G is exceptionally powerful for a sub-Rs. 30,000 phone, but that doesn't mean it's a perfect all-rounder. It's best suited to gamers and heavy multi-taskers who aren't too concerned about camera quality. The processor, display, speakers, and battery all work together to make this a great entertainment device, and 5G support potentially means your streaming and multiplayer experiences will improve during the useful life of this device.
On the downside, the cameras are disappointing for all but basic use cases. Daytime stills with the main camera come out looking good, but low-light performance and video quality are weak, and the macro camera is really only there to fill in a blank on the spec sheet. The look and feel of this phone are also not up to the standard that many will expect at this price level. If you can live with these compromises, you'll get a great phone for gaming at a low cost. What's absolutely certain though, is if you've been considering the Realme X7 Pro 5G, you should buy this phone instead.