Max – the word holds authority. You put it on an iPhone and you get an exquisite combination of luxury and cutting-edge tech. You put it in Formula 1 and you witness a relentless champion-grade driver. You put it on a Boeing 737 airplane and you get… erm… let’s leave that for now. The point is that the term “Max” holds a lot of power and someone using it on a phone needs to ensure they deliver well. After Redmi using the same for its Redmi Note series, it was time for Realme to put it on its flagship X7 series – the Realme X7 Max. Also Read - Realme Y6 expected to kickstart new budget series in India, suggests latest leak
Unlike Apple using “Max” to depict the size and Redmi to refer to the 108MP camera, Realme uses it to honor the flagship MediaTek chipset. The X7 Max uses the newest and very powerful Dimensity 1200 chip, one that guarantees a lot of performance overhead. Paired to a tried-and-tested recipe that was the Realme X7 Pro and we have got ourselves a phone that could, in theory, make the competition worry. Also Read - Realme C25s just got expensive in India: Here's how much you will need to pay now
Is that the case? To find out, I have been using an Asteroid Black Realme X7 Max for two weeks and I list my observations after some rigorous usage. Also Read - Realme X9 series could launch soon in India as Realme hints itself with latest tweet
|Features||Realme X7 Max 5G|
|Price||Starts from Rs 26,999|
|Chipset||MediaTek Dimensity 1200|
|OS||RealmeUI 2.0 with Android 11|
|Display||6.5-inch FHD+ 120Hz AMOLED|
|Charging tech||50W wired|
I like to think of Realme’s design team as a bunch of enthusiastic kids who always allowed to do what they want but, in the end, a guardian figure tones it down. Look at the X7 Max – it has a distinct identity with its matte surface cut across by a glamourous glossy strip running down its entire length. On my Asteroid Black colour variant (I love the ambitious colour names), this finish gives rise to emotions that would be inappropriate to describe here. It would be criminal to put this in a protective case.
But then the guardian figure steps in with a sane-looking camera hump. We have seen this camera hump on numerous Realme and Oppo phones, and on the X7 Max, it could have given way to something exciting – something more akin to how the iQOO 7 Legend decorates its cameras. Also, the bold Realme logo and “Dare to Leap” inscription are subtly hidden in the glossy strip – it lights up only at certain angles. The bold design elements from the X7 Pro are gone.
The front has nothing exciting going on but it is good to see the bezels pushed to the utmost limits of a flat display. Hold it and you will welcome the 179 grams of weight that’s well balanced. I haven’t held a phone with such spot-on ergonomics in a while.
Those of you with X-Men-like senses may have a strong opinion about plastic as the choice of material for construction. While I am not here to change that, I can assure you of a top-notch fit and finish on the X7 Max. This is high-grade plastic that Realme tells me is similar to the ones used in the Nokia Lumia phones of yesteryears. Apart from the creaking volume keys, there are no faults to be found here. If plastic phones are built as well as this, I say bring it on!
Since it is 2021, let’s talk about the extras. You get a 3.5mm headphone jack (Oooooooo) and stereo speakers (earpiece embedded). The phone comes with a 65W charging adapter in the box and a screen protector pre-installed.
AMOLED displays have gone mainstream this year, that too with high refresh rate counts. Realme has used a 6.4-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display with a max-rated refresh rate of 120Hz. The presence of a 100 percent DCI-P3 colour gamut translates to a lively display – whether it’s social media or your artistic wallpapers on the homescreen, it all looks vibrant and high-contrasty. Watching YouTube videos and browsing through Instagram is a pleasant experience. Unless you are looking for professional-grade displays with immaculate colour accuracy, this display is sufficient for gamers and commoners alike.
Both gamers and commoners will also appreciate the 360Hz touch sampling rate that comes into its own while gaming. Whether swiping through camera controls or playing Call of Duty: Mobile, it is a joy to interact with the display as the movements are registered precisely. There are two ambient light sensors that avoid the awkward dips in brightness while you are busy shooting around.
On the whole, no complaints from the display for a phone of its price category.
Performance is the game in the sub-Rs 30,000 category and Realme is playing that close to its chest. The Realme X7 Pro used the older Dimensity 1000+ chip and that alone was reasonably fast by today’s standards. The Dimensity 1200 on the X7 Max takes the performance on par with the Snapdragon 870-equipped phones of the world. Not the absolute benchmark in smartphone performance but high enough to keep from any present insecurities.
The Dimensity 1200 is a smartly designed chip with a dedicated 3GHz Cortex-A78 performance core and Realme has optimized it well to extract the best out of it. Paired with up to 12GB RAM and 256GB storage of the UFS 3.1 type, this phone flies through the generic smartphone tasks and some serious gaming.
I play Call of Duty: Mobile in “High” graphics and “Max” frame rate settings for an hour at a stretch every day (Very High graphics is disabled by MediaTek to avoid overheating). The phone keeps its cool while doing so, holding the average frame rates between 55-60 fps. The “Stainless Steel” vapour cooling system that Realme advertises seems to be working as the phone does not heat up uncomfortably – a 15-minute session of COD Mobile on a OnePlus 9R and iQOO 7 Legend toasts the fingers.
A similar performance holds for Asphalt 9: Legends at “High Quality” and “60 fps” settings combo. The phone does not exhibit frame drops even during the destruction sequences in between races. Shadow Legends 4: Arena also runs at its best at the highest graphics settings with no frame drops or stutters. Genshin Impact can run at the highest of settings but it heats up the top-half of the phone and starts dropping frames after 20-30 minutes of gameplay (that’s the case even with Snapdragon 888 phones).
Enough of gaming, let’s dig into the generic smartphone stuff. There’s RealmeUI 2.0 onboard based on Android 11 responsible for managing all tasks. RealmeUI is more akin to ColorOS in nature and easily comes across as one of the most polished custom Android experiences today. I can brave the politics to suggest that this trumps OxygenOS 11 in terms of fluidity and interface design.
RealmeUI 2.0 is aesthetically pleasing and has everything laid out in a simple fashion. It still continues to get the Oppo/Realme first-party apps (Music, Theme Store, Game Space, HeyFun, SoLoop and more) but these aren’t in-your-face intrusive. Certain third-party apps are pre-installed such as Netflix, Facebook, Amazon and Snapchat. Except for the first-party web browser, none of these bother, unless you use them with your own accounts. All the extras from previous years (sidebar, gestures) are there but hidden out of sight – you can enable them from settings if you want.
The OS is well optimized and I haven’t seen disturbing lags or unnatural loading times. Even on the busiest of days with frequent texting, tweeting, mailing, taking calls, and streaming music, the phone swallowed everything and was ready to take on more. Of course, part of this has to do with the mighty Dimensity 1200 chip at the helm.
That Dimensity 1200 chip isn’t there only for raw performance. Those interested in future-proofing the phone will be glad to learn of the Dual 5G SIM standby, dual 5G carrier aggregation, and VoNR (Voice over New Radio). Also note that the supported NSA 5G bands include N1, N28A, N40, N41, N77, N78, and N79. There’s support for Wi-Fi 6 too. I couldn’t test any of these owing to the lack of these technologies in India we have right now but it’s nice to know that this phone supports these when required.
Audio out of the 3.5mm headphone jack was good (tested with Sony MDR-XB55AP earphones) while wireless audio supports AAC codec. The stereo speaker output is borderline tinny but it lacks the punch and low-end you witness from an iPhone SE’s speakers. I used the phone with a Jio 4G VoLTE SIM card and never found the phone to drop connection or suffer from poor signal coverage.
Realme isn’t the favourite when it comes to camera performance and the Realme X7 Max does not do enough to change that. The phone gets a crippled triple camera setup – crippled in the sense that there’s only a single useable camera while the others act as fillers. The main 64-megapixel camera is using a Sony IMX682 sensor that is capable enough for decent photography. In daylight, photos turn out with a vast amount of details, sharpness, high contrast colours, and increased saturation.
In fact, as long as the AI scene enhancement is turned off, most enthusiasts would be satisfied with the output. When light levels drop, the photo quality drops too, especially in terms of details. There’s aggressive noise reduction that spoils an otherwise pleasant scenery. At night, the auto mode bumps up the exposures and ISO to bring up bright photos.
Weirdly, the Night Mode does worse than the auto mode. Instead of taking long exposures, it makes photos look darker – I have witnessed the same on the Moto G60. This has apparently something to do with the new Night Mode algorithms that emphasize lower noise and natural colours over brighter images, and Realme says it wants to fix this.
The ultra-wide camera churns out decent pictures as long as daylight is present but it completely misses out on details, lacks the dynamic range of the main camera, and is barely able to hold itself at night. The macro camera repeats the same narrative, producing blurry macro photos but ones that look colourful.
The video performance is decent at both 4K at 30 fps and 4K at 60 fps, with the footage exhibiting bright colours and high contrasts but softer details. Video at 1080p at 30 fps retains good colours but brings in noise under indoor lighting. With the lack of OIS, stability is dependent on how stable your hands are. 60 fps videos look terrifyingly shaky.
The 16-megapixel front camera is biased towards making subjects brighter and pinkish. With the beauty mode turned off, it retains the “manliness” of my face but still softens the skin slightly. The portrait mode has excellent subject separation from the background and the blur levels by default don’t look artificial.
MediaTek-equipped phones tend to have sub-par battery lives but the Realme X7 Max with its Dimesnity 1200 brings about some change in that. With a 4500mAh battery, the combination of this chip and RealmeUI brings around a good battery life — at least a full day and then some. On the busiest of days involving lots of calls, texting, emails, and music streaming, the phone ended the day with 55 percent to juice to spare. Throwing gaming into the mix dips it faster but you still have a phone that can hold on to its stamina when required.
I still question Realme’s choice of opting for the slower 50W charging solution instead of its class-leading 65W solution. It takes over 40 minutes for a full charge from under 10 percent, which is still fine by commoners but slower for gamers. Getting the 65W solution with a slight bump in price won’t hurt many wallets (I guess?).
The Realme X7 Max is one of those phones that leave a lasting impression, especially for what the entire package offers and costs. Make no mistake, it is largely a derivative of the Realme X7 Pro but despite all the alterations, it delivers a great smartphone experience. Here are all the pros and cons summed up.
– Solid performance
– Spot-on ergonomics
– Good battery life
– Future-proof (lots of 5G bands support, dual 5G SIM)
– Looks striking
– Sub-par cameras
Does it justify the “Max” moniker? Realme may have gone too ambitious with the naming and it seems more of a Realme X7 Pro Plus. Frankly, our expectations involved Realme going all out for once, complete with a glass-metal construction, larger 10-bit display, better and versatile cameras, and fat battery with the fastest 65W charging. Then again, we critics always want everything without taking into account the market dynamics.
Is the Realme X7 Max worth buying, especially at a starting price of Rs 26,999? The only competition at this price comes from the Xiaomi Mi 11X and that one also has compromises written all over it. The Mi 11X with its Snapdragon 870 offers equally good performance, but is so-so elsewhere.
That sums it up. Realme has finally come up with a strong offering in this sub-Rs 30,000 segment, building on its positives while smoothening out the cons. I would pick it up over the Mi 11X owing to its comfy ergonomics, solid performance, and “proper” future-proofing with 5G.