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Realme’s ‘Pro’ series is back after nine months of gestation. Like last year, two smartphones grace the market, the Realme 10 Pro and Realme 10 Pro+. However, while the latter is grabbing the headlines for being the first smartphone under Rs 24,000 to boast a curved display, the Realme 10 Pro is enjoying more of a silent promotion.

Only so much can be done within this segment to keep things looking new. As we head towards the end of the year, there aren’t many new cost-effective-yet-powerful processor options available from MediaTek and Qualcomm at the moment, so it becomes a tricky time to launch a smartphone. Still, Realme has played on the design and camera front to repackage the phone to make it more contemporary looking and wrapped it in a box with a lucrative starting price tag of Rs 17,999 for the 6GB RAM + 128GB Storage variant with the 8GB RAM + 128GB storage variant priced at Rs 19,999.

Its primary contender is the category favourite Redmi Note 11 Pro+, packing similar firepower but an AMOLED display and vastly superior charging. But with its own advantages, can Realme take the cake? Find out in our review.

Realme 10 Pro Review: Design

Realme has made the Realme 10 Pro as flat as they possibly could in an attempt to make it visually different from the Plus variant. There isn’t a single curve on the phone from the front to the back and side to side. You may think this makes the Realme 10 Pro super-slippery and difficult to pick up, but thanks to a clever choice of plastics, it proves you wrong. The rear panel has a matte texture with a pearlescent finish which yields the phone ample friction to make sure it sticks within your palm. The railings, too, have a matte texture. Despite having a plastic build, the Realme 10 Pro feels relatively premium in hand.

The Realme 10 Pro is a tad more comfortable to hold compared to its predecessor. This is because it has lost 5 grams and has a taller and slimmer silhouette. Its well-distributed weight makes it an easy phone to use for long hours.

There’s no special island for the cameras, and they protrude out significantly. Wobble police may whine at this, but the protrusion also makes the phone easy to pick up from a resting state.

The Realme 10 Pro is available in three colour variants – Nebula Blue, which we received, Dark Matter and Hyperspace. Our variant has a base coat of blue with a shimmer of yellow and red. The Hyperspace colour is similar to the Pro+ variant as it boasts distinct prismatic cuts, but it is also itsy-bitsy thicker and heavier.

Coming down to physical features, the left railing is nearly clean except for a hybrid-SIM slot, whereas the right hosts the volume rocker and the lock button, which doubles up as a fingerprint scanner. The bottom of the phone has a 3.5mm headphone jack, a mic hole, a USB Type-C port and a speaker grille, whereas the top has a lonely secondary mic hole, and that’s that. The earpiece lies on the top chamfer, yielding the front a nice, clean look.

We can’t speak much on the durability front because Realme is not claiming an IP rating of any sort. So, you’re pretty much on your own if you ding it, dent it or drop it in water. There’s a silicone stopper on the SIM tray to keep water at bay, but it is not immediately visible to the eye because it doesn’t have a contrasting colour.

Realme is also using a unique solution (with a not-so-unique name) to attach the display to the chassis of the phone called ‘Razr Technology’. This eliminates adhesion using a resin or glue and instead relies on a push-fit mechanism to keep the display sealed from the inside. This makes the top and side bezels evenly thin at 1mm.

Realme proudly claims that the 10 Pro beats Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra, but there’s a catch here. The three narrow bezels have the side effect of making the average-sized chin look massive in comparison, giving Hrithik Roshan a run for his money. It grows on you quickly, though.

The lack of a proper adhesive also makes us wonder about what happens during the unfortunate incident of dropping the phone – does the display crack, or does it disintegrate and come apart from the chassis? What about screen replacement? We can’t help but have constructive scepticism about this.

Realme 10 Pro Review: Display

The so-called smartphone purists have a strong stance on AMOLED displays, especially as they are starting to pick up in this particular segment. The Realme 10 Pro’s immediate rival, the Redmi Note 11 Pro+, has a 6.67-inch AMOLED display adorning its front. But Realme has made a bold gamble by going with a 6.72-inch LCD display which is brighter and better than before. It has a centrally placed camera cutout, instead of a left-handed one, and a peak brightness of 600 nits. It’s bright, vivid and smooth enough for a smartphone at this price.

It was bright enough outdoors, too, although our sunlight legibility experience should be taken with a grain of salt for now, as winters have arrived in Delhi NCR and spotting the Sun on a typical day is a rare event. If you think the display is too cool for you, you can always change the colour balance by diving down into the settings.

Viewing angles were worse than the Redmi 11 Pro+’s AMOLED display, mainly because of the light bleeding from the selfie camera module. This becomes very obvious when using the phone in dark environments. Speaking of which, because of the thin bezels, the ambient light sensor had to be miniaturised in order to fit within the chamfer of the frame. As a result, it acts dazed 90% of the time and never changes the brightness to the right levels. Imagine waking up in the middle of the night to check your phone, only for it to blind you by the light. You’ll have to get used to adjusting it manually, which may not be as difficult if you’re upgrading from a budget phone launched a few years ago, but it’s definitely a quality-of-life issue.

As usual, Realme has also included the O1 Ultra Vision Engine in the software to enhance the colours while watching SDR content supposedly. We didn’t really see much of a difference keeping it turned on, it seems to be a placebo-effect thing.

Accompanying the display, we have dual stereo speakers that Realme lovingly calls the ‘200% UltraBoom Speaker System’. The output is genuinely loud, although, at the highest volume, we noticed some crackling. There’s not a lot we can expect in terms of punchiness or depth at this price, but it goes shoulder-to-shoulder with the Redmi 11 Pro+.

Realme 10 Pro Review: Hardware, software and 5G experience

It’s fair to call the Realme 10 Pro solely a cosmetic upgrade. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 keeps the pot boiling, and the RAM and storage variants also remain more or less the same, with up to 128GB of UFS 2.2 storage and 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM. We aren’t irked at all by the presence of the year-old SoC because it’s currently the best chip in the segment in terms of performance and efficiency.

Nevertheless, gimmicks are present in the hardware department, boasting up to 8GB of virtual memory, which Realme calls ‘Dynamic RAM’. We haven’t seen any meaningful improvement in performance with the virtual RAM turned on because the 8GB of physical memory is already more than sufficient to keep up with daily tasks.

To keep things relatively new, the Realme 10 Pro comes with Android 13 running Realme UI 4. Mostly cosmetic changes here. You have a new theme called Aquamorphic, so you’ll spot a blue and white colour palette out of the box. Other than this, you have live-updating widgets, new media controls and, of course, enhanced security. Oh, and lest we forget, an endless barrage of bloatware. This is easily more than the iQOOs and Xiaomis of the world, so they are the segment leaders in that.

Many of these can be disabled easily, and others require some effort. In fact, we were lost at sea for the first couple of days, trying to resolve permission notifications for the bloat. After a while, we entirely lost track of which app was asking for what permission. Further, the notifications pushed by some of these apps can be questionable, hitting the user experience negatively. It’s unfair to assume everybody buying a smartphone will have the know-how to disable them.

Moving on, the synthetic benchmarks were similar, and in some cases better, than the Redmi Note 11 Pro+. In AnTuTu v9, the Realme 10 Pro managed 417782, whereas the Redmi Note 11 Pro+ posted a significantly lower score of 307019. In 3DMark’s SlingShot Extreme OpenGL and Vulkan tests, the Realme 10 Pro secured 2942 and 2746, respectively. Finally, the phone returned with single-core and multi-core scores of 687 and 2013, respectively, in GeekBench v5.

In day-to-day use, the Realme 10 Pro provides a smooth experience in most scenarios, including while navigating. We aren’t going to comment much on the thermals because we tested it in the chilly Delhi winters, and even in the most extreme conditions, the surface temperature of the phone went up to 35 degrees Celsius. Instagram was one particularly heavy app for the phone to tackle, and we noticed stuttering while scrolling through the app. App switching was smooth, however, even while gaming.

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