First impressions of the Realme UI: Realme phones look premium now

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    Realme has started rolling out the Realme UI update to a few phones in India.

    When one thing is centered a lot by phone manufacturers these days, the user experience will be right. A year ago Samsung overhauled it with OneUI for her phones and now other Chinese brands are following. Realme, which is comparatively a baby to the industry’s grown-up, has relied for its software on Oppo’s parent company, but this year it is going forward with its own UI. Madhav Sheth, CEO of the company, spoke a while back about it, and it is finally here as the Realme UI.

    It sounds like a big deal for Realme users, given that the company has been talking about it a lot on social media. However, it’s essentially an Android skin that Realme has pasted on top of Oppo’s ColorOS 7. Realme says it has made a couple of changes in its skin to suit the Indian users more. The biggest change is stated to be a stock Android-inspired UI design while others involve some bits inspired by what Samsung and Xiaomi have been doing so far. Samsung overhauled it for its OneUI phones a year ago, and now other Chinese brands are following it.

    Realme, which is comparatively a baby to the industry’s grown-up, has relied for its software on Oppo’s parent company, but this year it is going forward with its own UI. Madhav Sheth, CEO of the company, spoke a while back about it, and it is finally here as the Realme UI.

    Realme has just started rolling out the Realme UI update and since I happened to have a Realme XT lying around, I got a chance to experience it. Is it something you should be excited about? Read on to find out.

    Does the Realme UI make your old Realme phone look pretty good?

    That’s the question I’ve been asked by many Realme users since it was revealed. As I said, the Realme UI is basically skin on top of ColorOS 7 and, in the main, it makes old Realme phones look fine.
    The last time I used the Realme phone was the Realme X2 and while the phone was good, the ColorOS 6 UI made it hard to live with, particularly with all the bloat and weird iOS-inspired UI elements.
    Realme UI doesn’t get rid of the bloat (oh come on, do you think the Chinese are going to change that way?) but it manages to get the bulk of it out of your sight.

    Let’s start with your home screen. References to stock Android are noticeable here, particularly with the rounded icons and the Google search bar under the dock. If you don’t like it, you can get the hell out of there. Weirdly, the default home screen settings feature a different Google Search bar at the top— I can’t see the point of it.

    The Quick Action button on each app icon (long-press on the app icon) has also been updated to enable you to use it even more. The UI layout looks a lot like Android stock, too. The default icon set is far from what you see on the stock with Android, but it’s tasteful compared to ColorOS 6. Realme also offers Google Pi’s’ At a Glance’-inspired widget from the Google Pixel devices. All this clubbed with the new and more colorful wallpapers means you have a home screen that doesn’t feel hastily done anymore.

    The app drawer itself has the app icons spread out. The app icon itself is now bigger, and the new layout makes it much easier for the eyes than before. There’s a local search bar on the top to quickly type and search for the app you want. The quick action button on phones (long-press on the app icon) is also present here, which is a nice touch.

    The updated tray is getting a major overhaul. Gone are the squarish icons, and they lie circular icons in their place. The concept of the notification tray seems heavily inspired (or may I say copied) by Xiaomi’s MIUI 11 and Samsung’s one UI. But, it’s done tastefully and it helps to make life easier on the run. The notification now changes to the Dark Mode button that you can use to switch to the all-black UI- no more diving deep into the Settings menu.

    The Settings menu in itself has been redesigned to look more like MIUI 11, Samsung’s OneUI and the stock Android interface. The layout remains similar to ColorOS 6 bit it is now a more pleasant area to hang out.

    Most of the Realme additions have had big changes in design and all of them on Samsung phones seem to have taken scoops of inspiration from One UI. The Game Space app now looks cleaner and easier to use than before. The Dialler app gets Realme UI keys and loses the Favorites list. The camera app also gets a major overhaul and feels more like the iOS camera app than before. Is that easier

    Realme finally adds customizable Always-On Display widgets to talk about inspiration, and if you have a Realme phone with an AMOLED display, you can easily use it. Realme has also introduced a few new animations for the fingerprint unlock feature, but I believe these are reserved only for the phones that support the fingerprint scanner technology in-display.

    Is Realme UI having the phone faster?

    Theoretically, as it’s based on Android 10, it should improve performance over the long run.
    My Realme XT is my secondary phone at the moment and I don’t have a dozen of my highly useful apps on it, so the phone feels good for now but there aren’t enough apps on it to put the load on. However, even with a few apps, I noticed a considerable amount of battery drain and if you switch on the Always On Display, the battery drops at an alarming rate and on the Realme XT, it is difficult to make it to the end of the day if you are browsing social media or websites.

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    Realme UI first impressions

    The Realme UI is what Realme should have introduced ever since it launched its first phone. It’s great to see that you get a different user experience on Realme phones from another similarly priced Oppo phone for the first time. The UI has been done tastefully and even though it takes massive inspiration from Samsung’s OneUI, Xiaomi’s MIUI and Google’s Pixel UI, it ends up delivering an experience that’s certainly better than what it was with ColorOS 6. There’s still room for improvement- I still wish Realme finds a way to get rid of all the bloat as well as the unnecessary stuff from the OS and make it lighter. Realme also needs to optimize the OS for power efficiency. That said, as a first step towards building its own ecosystem of services, the Realme UI is highly impressive.

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