Xiaomi entered the Indian market playing the “value for money” card. The brand offered relatively high-end specs at comparatively (often spectacularly) low prices. The strategy worked so well that over the years, the Chinese company bagged the number one position on the smartphone scoreboard. But just when it seemed like it was invincible, Realme came along, with a similar strategy and after a long time, we saw a brand ruffle some of Xiaomi’s feathers – not just on Twitter, but also in the marketplace. No, it poses no threat to Xiaomi’s number one status in the Indian market, but it has managed to get its devices right in the face of Xiaomi’s best, sparking some of the most feisty confrontations we have seen in the market. Oh, and on Twitter too.

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Now, Xiaomi is trying to move up the price ladder with the help of its sister brand Redmi with the launch of Redmi K20 and the K20 Pro. But while the K20 Pro is taking the flagships (and claiming to be the new Flagship Killer), head-on, the K20 is still trying to shake off the budget segment devices trying to take it down with their price anchors tied around its ankle. The heaviest one comes from Realme, the Realme X. Positioned as Realme’s own attempt to add a touch of premium to the mid-segment, the phone is being seen by many as the biggest challenger to the K20. It has some great specs up its sleeve too and a lower price tag as well. But is that enough to give the ‘Red’ a ‘Real’ taste of defeat?

Design: Red flames Real!

Both the phones look exceptionally good, especially for the price. Both the Realme X and the Redmi K20 have tall, uninterrupted displays on the front, thanks to the absence of the notch. The two phones bring shiny, reflective backs to the table which look really beautiful. That said, the Redmi K20 has a slight edge in the design department as it offers a real glass back as opposed to a polycarbonate back that the Realme X sports. In no way does the Realme X looks anything less than premium but the Redmi feels just a tad bit more high-end, thanks to the glass. The flame-like pattern around the sides also adds a slight edge to the looks of the Redmi K20.

Winner: Redmi K20

Display: A very slight, but Real edge to Me!

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It was a rare thing to see AMOLED displays in the sub Rs. 20,000 price bracket, but what has changed this year and one of the devices to have changed this is the Realme X. The smartphone comes with big and beautiful 6.53-inch AMOLED full HD+ display. While Redmi has also thrown in an AMOLED display in the K20 mix, the company offers a slightly smaller one as compared to the Realme X – the K20 sports a 6.39-inch full HD+ AMOLED display. Both displays reproduce good color contrast and are bright enough to be used under a harsh sun. And while the size difference between thee two displays is not staggering (0.14 inch), we are just going to give this one to the Realme X, for the ever so slight edge.

Winner: Realme X

Processor: The new Dragon Snaps off the old one!

The K20 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 730 processor paired with Adreno 618 GPU. It is the first phone in the country to feature the 730 processor. It comes with 6 GB RAM and 128 GB storage, with a 6 GB/ 64 GB variant of the phone available as well. The Realme X, on the other hand, runs on the older Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 paired with Adreno 616 processor. It brings 8 GB RAM to the table with 128 GB storage and is also available in a 4GB/ 128 GB variant.

None of the two phones come with expandable memory option which means you have to make do with the storage you have on board. The Realme X here has a slight edge as even the base model of the device offers 128 GB storage while the Redmi K20’s base variant comes with 64 GB storage. Being the newer one of the two, the 730 processor on the Redmi K20 is supposed to be about 41 percent faster than the Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 processor. Indeed, there are some who claim that the 730 is only behind the flagship-level Snapdragon 845 and 855 in terms of performance, which makes the Redmi K20 much stronger in the processing department.

Winner: Redmi K20

General Performance: ‘Real’ly, you are in the Red!

Both the phones did well in this segment. Basic multitasking, app hopping, social media scrolling were handled quite smoothly by both the devices. While there was no discernible difference in the general performance, the Redmi K20 felt just a little zippier as compared to the Realme X.

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The loudspeaker on the K20 was slightly louder and produced clear audio as compared to the Realme X but the Realme X performs better over headphones thanks to Dolby Atmos support. The two devices come with in-display fingerprint scanner along with face unlock feature. Both the phones need to work on their fingerprint scanners as they often took multiple attempts to unlock the phones and the face unlock feature on the two, although often accurate, was not too secure. We are handing it to the K20 for the slightly faster experience.

Winner: Redmi K20

Gaming: Red storm rising, thanks to that Dragon

Of the two phones, the Redmi K20 comes with a more powerful processor and that reflects in the gaming performance of the device. Both Realme X and the Redmi K20 handle casual gaming well. We tried games like Subway Surfer and Temple Run 2 and the two devices sailed smoothly through them. But the story was not the same in the high-end gaming zone for both the phones. The K20 was visibly faster to load and launch the high-end games like PUBG and Asphalt Xtreme as compared to the Realme X. We also experienced more lags on the Realme X while trying these games as compared to the K20. That processor makes a big difference here.

Winner: Redmi K20

Rear Camera: Real colors and details score for Me

While most of the battles between these two phones have turned out to be exactly as we expected them to be, Realme X surprised us in the camera department. On paper, the Redmi K20 with a triple primary camera setup on the back consisting of a 48 megapixel Sony IMX 582 sensor with f/ 1.75 aperture, an 8 megapixel telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom and f/2.4 aperture and a 13 megapixel ultrawide lens with 124.8 degree wide view and f/ 2.4 aperture, seemed superior as compared to the dual-camera setup on the Realme X comprising a 48 megapixel Sony IMX586 main sensor with f/ 1.7 aperture and 5 megapixel supporting camera with f/ 2.4 aperture.

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But the story turned out to be slightly different in camera performance as the Realme X was a step ahead of the Redmi K20 Pro in both color and detail department. The Realme X especially did well in terms of color. Blame it on the slightly inferior Sony IMX 582 sensor but the Redmi did not match the Realme X standards here. Yes, the K20’s camera is more versatile, thanks to the telephoto lens and the ultra-wide lens that allows you to do more with your camera, but in terms of sheer image quality and consistency, the Realme had the X factor here. Pun intended.

Winner: Realme X

Front camera: Rising really for Me

When it comes to sheer numbers, the K20 wins this battle. It comes with a 20-megapixel front-facing camera with f/2.2 aperture that pops out from the top of the frame with LED lights on the sides while the Realme X comes with a 16-megapixel pop-up camera with f/2.0 aperture.

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In terms of camera performance, both the selfie cameras are good but not great. Both take pictures good enough for social media platforms but do not expect a lot of detail as the result is often very smoothened and even-toned, even with beauty mode off. That said, the pop up camera on the K20 was visibly slower to rise out of the frame as compared to the Realme X. We also found the device heating up slightly when the front camera was used too frequently and were also warned about the same on the K20 (which never happened on the Realme X). It is close but the Realme X wins this round.

Winner: Realme X

Battery: Gimme Red, as Eveready said!

The Redmi K20 is powered by a 4,000 mAh battery whereas the Realme X comes with a 3,765 mAh battery. There are no surprises hidden the battery department as the bigger one of the two performs better. Although there is not a huge difference in terms of numbers here, the battery of the K20 lasted us longer than the battery of the Realme X. The K20 easily saw us through more than a day on a single charge while the Realme X could only see off a day. Perhaps the ever-so-slightly bigger display, the battery management powers of the 710 processor bundled with the slightly smaller figure makes the difference here. The two phones come with support for fast charging. The Redmi K20 comes with an 18W charger in the box to charge the phone while the Realme X offers VOOC charge 3.0 at 20W with charger bundled in the box. We are scoring this for the K20, easily.

Winner: Redmi K20

UI: When Ads subtract

Both the Redmi K20 and the Realme X run on Android 9 (Pie) out of the box but are topped with their respective in-house UIs. The K20 comes with a layer of MIUI 10 with Poco Launcher on top (giving you an app drawer) while the Realme X brings ColorOS 6 to the table. Both interfaces are very easy to use and uncomplicated. They do come with a few third-party apps pre-installed and have features that make these phones very different from basic stock Android experience, but the good thing about both is that they do not overwhelm you or confuse you. While we think they are on par with each other in most cases, the fact that MIUI comes with ads (notifications) takes away a few points from the Redmi K20’s scoreboard, giving the Realme X the lead here. Yes, we know they can be turned off, but the Realme X does not have them altogether, which is a definite positive for us.

Winner: Realme X

Price: Real-ity bites in Rupee terms

This is a no brainer. The Realme X wins the round with ease as the phone is much more affordable than the Redmi K20. The Realme X comes with a starting price of Rs. 16,999 for 4 GB/128 GB variant while the 8 GB/ 128 GB model is priced at Rs. 19,999. The Realme X also has a few other more premium looking variants like the Onion and Garlic editions that are available in only 8 GB/ 128 GB variants, priced at Rs. 19,999 and a Spider-Man model with 8GB/ 128 GB for Rs. 20,999. All of which are below the starting price of the Redmi K20. The Redmi K20, on the other hand, comes with a starting price of Rs. 21,999 for the base model with 6 GB RAM and 64 GB storage while the high-end variant with 6 GB/128 GB specs is priced at Rs. 23,999.

Winner: Realme X

Verdict: Keep it Real? Or get into the Red?

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It is a tie between these two phones if you go specifically by the numbers as the Redmi K20 has won five out of ten rounds while the Realme X has won the other five. However, that is just in terms of flat out numbers. It would be naive to assume that all rounds have the same weightage. For instance, the Redmi device scores in departments that many would consider very important indeed – design, processor, general performance, gaming, and battery. The Realme, on the other hand, scores a clear win on cameras and price, while edging things out on UI (thanks to MIUI’s ads) and a larger display.

Now, which phone is the one for you? Well, that depends on what you are looking for, and what you consider to be important. If you want gaming muscle, a good battery, and premium design, then perhaps the Redmi K20 is the phone for you. But if your budget is tight and you want a phone with a good camera and great display then perhaps the Realme X is the way to go. In terms of pure overall performance, the Redmi K20 has a very clear edge thanks to its superior processor, but bring price into the equation (and in this segment, the price IS important), and the Realme’s much lower price tag, blended with its camera edge, makes it a real contender.

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Which actually boils it down to a very simple equation:

  • If you can stretch your budget to accommodate the Redmi K20, then that is the phone for you.
  • If you are on a tight budget and saving every penny counts, the Realme X is a very good option.

Both phones punch well above their price weight. Neither is likely to disappoint.

Stuck between the Redmi K20 and the Realme X? Congratulations, this is a good problem to have.

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