If you’ve been following realme’s stellar track record for 2023, you’ve probably been wondering how they’d kick off the new year. From two variants in their numbered series to an affordable tablet among others, it’s safe to say that they’ve definitely put the competition on notice. Just a few weeks into 2024, they unleash the realme Note 50–an absolute wild card in a sea of increasingly pricey smartphones.
The prices of true budget and midrange phones have shifted in the past half-decade with the incorporation of better materials and innovations. We’ve even seen the rise of upper-midrange devices that justify the price hike with more premium features that you’d otherwise only find in flagships. The realme Note 50 ignores most of the frills and instead focuses on the bare essentials.
But what exactly does one need in a daily driver? Does a smartphone need to completely forego all the flair and relegate itself to being a boring brick? Well, after spending some quality time with the Note 50, we’re pleased to inform you that it definitely encapsulates a lot of things, and boring isn’t one of them.
Make no mistake here, this is a simple phone. But going minimalist just might have been the right choice. Coming in Midnight Black and Sky Blue, we unboxed the latter and were pleasantly surprised by how hefty it is. Weighing 186 grams, it’s not a flimsy phone. Sporting a dual-tone finish, you’re guaranteed fewer fingerprints unless you decide to tinker around the cameras. Despite its heft, it sports a 7.99mm ultra-slim design that’s pretty nice to find in a budget smartphone.
You get the usual assortment of buttons along with a side-mounted fingerprint scanner. Down south we have an always welcome 3.5mm headphone jack aligned with a USB-C port, and mono speakers. Up top, we can find a triple card slotted SIM tray for two nano-SIM cards and one micro-SD card. This is quite helpful, as the Note 50 doesn’t pack much storage. Having an extra 1TB wouldn’t hurt. Towards the posterior, we get a familiar camera setup akin to last year’s C53–which works, in terms of looking pretty damn good. It’s a two-lens shooter that delivers well within its weight class when it comes to snapshots. More on that later.
Aside from the usual frosted TP case, 10W charger, and cable, you pretty much get a complete set to get up and running. It’s a no-nonsense deal, but you still get the realme experience. For an affordable smartphone, they didn’t cut any corners in the aesthetics department.
Now, let’s flip that pretty phone around. The realme Note 50 comes in packing a 6.7-inch, 90Hz HD+ display–a display slightly larger and snappier than those it will be competing against. While it packs less of a punch, we need to remember that it’s a fraction of the price of smartphones sporting more premium screens. With a 720X1600 resolution and 90.3% Screen-to-Body Ratio, you can still get a good viewing experience even if you’re limited to 1080p on Facebook, and 720p on YouTube.
Also, let’s talk about that refresh rate. We get an adaptive 90Hz for smooth scrolling and an even higher touch sampling rate at 180Hz. While you can’t set it to 90 for good, you’re at least guaranteed that it’ll crank up the speed when it needs to. This somewhat makes up for the limited resolution on streaming sites, as the videos being watched appear less laggy, and don’t blow up into a pixelated mess. Thank goodness.
For those night owls who like to browse in bed, you get a comfy 450 Nits of brightness which peaks at 560 Nits on High Brightness Mode. You don’t get any flashbangs in the dark, and you don’t have to squint under the afternoon sun. Now, the overall resolution for streaming might not be the best news for those who prioritize their viewing pleasure. However, if that would be the case, you’re better off shelling out just a bit more.
We’re going to keep things a hundred percent with you here. The realme Note 50 checks a lot of boxes, but high-end gaming isn’t one of them. It’s not a gaming phone, and that’s fine–because it never set out to be one. That being said, nothing stopped us from giving its gaming capabilities a fair shake. Equipped with a Unisoc T612 Processor and coupled with a modest 8GB of total RAM thanks to dynamic RAM expansion, it can still fire up most of your mobile fan favorites, for as long as you’re willing to tinker with the settings a bit.
Mobile Legends, Call of Duty Mobile, and Farlight 84 are all good to go–with the former even being able to run at high settings. Even Asphalt 9 works well if you don’t go off the rails. Pun definitely intended. It’s safe to say that any game that shares these system requirements or less will fare quite well. Most games limit how much you can crank the graphics anyway, so you can rest easy. So, you’re probably asking why there’s any cause for concern, right? Well, there isn’t any–unless you’re a HoYoverse aficionado.
First off, you can’t install Genshin Impact. Sadly, 64GB of storage isn’t enough to carry Teyvat’s growing number of continents. Honestly, this isn’t even the phone’s fault, as higher-end devices are starting to struggle with the exorbitant amount of files necessary just to play the game. As for Honkai Star Rail, you’re in luck. For as long as the game stays well within 20 to 30GBs, you can enjoy some sweet turn-based combat and interstellar exploration on low settings at 30fps. It might not be the best experience as a Trailblazer, but the fact that you can install and play the game with little to no issue is a great thing.
Geek Photoshoot Capabilities
So, you’re probably wondering about the cameras on this bad boy, right? Being marketed as a budget smartphone, your expectations may not be through the roof. It’s time to curb those expectations yet again–but opposite how you did in gaming. The Note 50 packs a 13MP AI Camera with a secondary B&W portrait lens that takes decent shots under proper lighting, and surprisingly serviceable snaps even under dimmer circumstances. You’ll get a teensy bit of noise, and the lack of EIS/OIS requires a rocksteady hand, but the shots we got weren’t half bad.
When it comes to portrait mode, you might struggle a bit when it comes to getting that sweet bokeh. Unlike the usual point-and-shoot method, you might have to tinker a bit with the aperture and find the proper distance. All things considered, you still get some clear images with each snap
The selfies–actually came out pretty nicely. Since we’re rocking a 5MP Front Camera, going too dark might not yield the best results. But once you find the proper lighting, it won’t matter as much. Whether it be portrait or the normal shooter, you get some decent face photos. The AI wasn’t as aggressive as we thought it would be.
When it comes to videos and potential vlogging, you get 1080p/30fps for the main camera and 720p/30fps for the front shooter. These are decent enough for conference calls, online classes, and even for live streaming to some extent. However, if you’re looking to create high-end, aesthetically pleasing content, you might find the video capabilities just a bit lacking. But if you’re just starting, and want to focus mainly on taking photos, then this is a great way to test the waters.
This is undoubtedly where the Realme Note 50 shines the brightest. When it comes to rough, tough, daily drivers that can survive the hardest of days and keep going even when you can’t, the Note 50 stands tall. Aside from a powerful battery, it’s deceivingly pretty exterior distracts you from the fact that it can take also a beating. As for just how optimized and smooth the apps install and work, you can thank the phone’s realme UI T Edition coupled with Android 13. A combination that makes full use of the device’s chipset.
The brand’s Real Quality encompasses all of their devices, and the Note 50 is no different. Sporting IP54 Dust & Water Resistance and TÜV Rheinland certification, you don’t have to worry about splashes, smudges, or even scratches getting in the way of your day-to-day. During the review process, this phone was dropped and accidentally hurled into the air several times (much to our, and the bystanders’ embarrassment), and aside from a very small scratch on the edge, the phone just kept going. Of course, we don’t recommend you willfully bludgeon anyone just for science.
As part of the day-to-day experience, we tried our hardest to put the 5000 mAh massive battery to the test–both by leaving it for most of the day and applying stress tests via gaming. For browsing and video streaming we got more or less a day’s worth of battery life each time, and never had any urgent need to reach for the charger. As for continuous gaming on Honkai Star Rail and Asphalt 9, the Note 50 can still run for several under heavy gaming punishment. If you’re the type to mix things up, browse a bit, watch a few videos, and maybe play games for a couple of hours, you need not worry about charging. Because with just 10 watts of power, it will take a while to top up.
We also have a few bells and whistles to talk about, like themed icons and the dynamic island. Realme’s T Edition UI suits the Note 50’s minimalist look. With the themed icons feature being in its beta stages, it works quite well–giving your home screen some added customizability to suit your personality. As for the dynamic island, which found its way into realme’s C series, makes a nice comeback. While it can’t be used with other apps (just yet), it’s a cool feature that pops up whenever you start charging, and when your phone reaches 100%. It’s still a nice thing worth mentioning.
Final Geek Lifestyle Verdict
The realme Note 50 came in as quite the surprise for 2024–and a welcome one, to say the least. Finishing strong last year was enough to keep everyone’s interest piqued. Kicking off the year with a budget smartphone that punches above its weight class made sure to keep everyone’s attention. While the realme Note 50 doesn’t have many of the luxuries that other, more expensive smartphones sport nowadays, it comes complete with everything you would need from a reliable daily driver. A decent display, a capable shooter, a serviceable chipset, and a sturdy body all make for a phone that arguably costs more than its selling price–and looks pretty damn good, too.
Speaking of selling price, it’s one of the qualities that garnered a lot of buzz before the launch. Past the early bird promo period, you can snag the realme Note 50 for only PHP 3,599 in the Philippines, making it one of the most affordable smartphones that you can buy. Shopee users can still avail of a Mega Discount Voucher worth PHP 1,071 that can be claimed upon checkout to purchase the device for only PHP 2,499.
realme Note 50 Specs:
- 6.7” 90Hz HD+ (720X1600 ) Display
- Unisoc Tiger T612 (12 nm)
- Mali-G57 GPU
- 13 MP, 0.08 MP (auxiliary lens)
- 5MP Front-facing Camera
- 4GB RAM (4GB Dynamic)
- 64GB internal storage (expandable to 1TB)
- Accelerometer, proximity
- Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot/ LTE
- USB Type-C
- 5000 mAh Battery, supports 10W wired charging
- Android 13
- realme UI T Edition
- Midnight Black, Sky Blue