| On 2 years ago

Not Your Usual Phone Review—How I Created Music On The realme XT

I couldn’t pass up the chance to review the realme XT when the opportunity arose. Not to say that I’m an uber tech nerd, but I’m in-the-know enough to make an informed purchase when the chance presents itself. Like any other casual smartphone aficionado, the appeal is real.

There’s the butterflies-in-your-stomach feeling you get upon receiving a shiny new gadget, ripping off the shrink wrap but ever so so that your experience doesn’t end up like the fail videos you’ve seen online. And then there’s the first whiff of that fresh-out-the-factory smell. The last part might just be me; I’m an old fashioned olfaction kind of guy.

Phone Specs

Having launched in September this year, the realme XT runs on Qualcomm Snapdragon 712 AIE, and is loaded with the OPPO ColorOS 6.1 Realme edition, which is based on Android 9.0 Pie. The super AMOLED display boasts a full HD+ resolution of 2340p x 1080p on a 6.4-inch display.

What will be new for me to experience is the on-screen fingerprint scanner. I don’t doubt the capabilities of it; just more of the responsiveness of the feature and being able to unlock my phone as fast as I expect it to.

Here’s what I’m impressed with for its price point–the camera. The device has a 4 lens set-up which includes a 64MP lens, an 8MP ultra-wide, a 2MP macro, and a 2MP depth sensor.

The Pearl White colour option looks good against any backdrop

The 16MP front-facing camera is paired with beautification enhancement options like skin smoothing, adjusting nose, and eye sizes. Which, of course, when cranked to its maximum settings, can make you look like a real-life anime character. For video recording, you’ll be able to record in 4K video at 30 fps, and 1080p HD video at 30 or 60fps.

The realme XT has a huge 4,000 mAh battery, and it comes with the OPPO VOOC 3.0 flash charging. That means you’re able to fully charge the device in just 80 minutes!

USB type C port along with the ever-reliable headphone jack

I did feel a little disappointed when I opened the box to find that the phone did not come with a pair of earphones. Prior to the unboxing, I perused their website in the hopes that I would get to try their Realme Buds, wired or otherwise. Despite this, I wouldn’t let this factor be a definitive hindrance in my review.

Review Plan

A comfortable size for one-handed use

As much as I would love to take this phone apart and do all the cool test things that tech review websites usually do with their gadgets, I would be hopelessly out of my element. While the documentation of my impending failure would be a pretty good read in itself, I have a better idea—I’m going to use the realme XT to compose a song, record it, and shoot a music video all in a timeline of one week.

Apart from being a freelance writer and all-around humorist, I am indeed a musician; a hobbyist at most, unfortunately, but a musician nonetheless. I have had the opportunity to share my journey with several bands in the music scene for over ten years, two of which I’m currently active in still.

Music Editing

I opted to use a proper music recording app rather than the pre-installed Recorder as I needed to layer my vocals and instruments. My app of choice is Bandlab. Bandlab is a social music platform that enables and encourages music collaboration. It has its own cross-platform DAW (digital audio workstation), so on top of it being easy to use on any phone, I’ll be able to fine-tune certain aspects of my project on a laptop or desktop browser.

Doing a little music arrangement in the MRT

Audio Recording

After getting over the missing earphones in the box, I turned to my daily music feeder; the Pamu Slides. They’re TWS (true wireless stereo) Bluetooth earphones, and I got them while they were still in Indiegogo for about SGD$80+. They were indeed a steal as they are now off the fundraising platform and at almost double the price!

Also, note that if you’re going to attempt music production with Bluetooth earphones/headphones, there will most definitely be a degree of latency (lag) when recording. This is where using Bandlab proved useful; recording each element of your song separately allows you to be able to do micro-adjustments on the timeline when needed.

Video Recording

Open Camera was my video recording app of choice. It is a fully-featured open source camera app for Android. Because of my limited knowledge of music video production, I did a quick online search to find out that 24fps (to which this app provides) is the ideal frame rate for my music video.

Video Mixing

Editing with the PowerDirector app

I have prior experience in video editing thanks to my short vlogging stint in 2009. While looking for a good video editor app, I have a list of requirements that it needs to fulfil; being able to add in the recorded song into my video, add text, basic fade in and out transitions, and slapping a nice filter after. PowerDirector checks all those boxes.

Day-to-day Progress

Day 1 of 7:
I dedicated day one to figure out what song I would like to create. Although I do have my repertoire of originals that I could have used, I ended up choosing to remix Changing of the Tides by Tacit Aria—a band I’m currently active in.

Tacit Aria’s Changing of the Tides from the Safe Space EP on Spotify

Day 2 – 4 of 7:
The huge plus point of recording a song entirely on the phone is the portability—almost all of the instrumentation work and vocals were recorded in Bandlab mobile. I managed to get most of them done during my lunch break (yes, I do have a full-time job) and even during my commute. The plan for the song arrangement was a little blurry; I initially wanted to record a whole song but decided that the final piece would be a shorter demo version instead.

My recording booth; the closet

Day 5 of 7:
I’ve added a few more elements and did some basic mixing so that the whole track sounds fuller. All week I have been thinking about how to shoot the video and, as simple as my idea was, I realised it might not be feasible. I remembered Birdy had a music video for Skinny Love, and it was just a tight shot of her face throughout, so I aimed to emulate that.

Plenty of downtime at the laundromat to work on my track

Day 6 of 7:
My partner and I were up early on a Saturday morning. She was my camera person for today. . We did a couple of test-runs filming the video with the Realme XT. I also managed to borrow a smartphone gimbal from a friend of ours as well, so that was a lot of help with video stability.

An hour later, the video was done. It was simple, but I felt it encapsulated the emotion of the song quite heroically. Finally, the anxiety I’ve been feeling the whole week has subsided..

Day 7 of 7:
Video edit day. Personally, this was the easiest part because I’m merely putting together finished work. I added the titles and credits and the last minute, decided to add the lyrics as subtitles. The final video gets uploaded into my band’s YouTube channel.

The watermark can be removed in the 7-day free trial

Presenting: A World Premiere shot on the realme XT

There were times where I thought parts of the video weren’t good enough, or I could have recorded my vocals a lot better. But I constantly reminded myself that quality output was not the top priority; completing it was. In a span of one week, I went from having an idea to materialising it into a music video for the world to consume. And here it is. Presenting the world premiere of Changing of the Tides (remix) recorded, edited, and recorded entirely on the realme XT.

Shoutout to my band Tacit Aria! Check us out and follow us on music streaming (Spotify, Deezer, YouTube, Apple Music and iTunes) and social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter).

Test Results

The realme XT definitely passed

Throughout the week of usage of the realme XT, not once have I encountered an issue with performance even when the workload required a fair bit of RAM (random access memory). In comparison, there were specific points where even my Macbook’s responsiveness faltered due to the multiple track streams that I was editing in Bandlab. Thankfully, the realme XT managed to handle the load with ease. I didn’t even notice it getting hot at any point!

I also realised that the absence of a physical home button proved to be very useful; having a little more screen real estate helps because you have a better overview when using apps that have a lot of intricate functions (which was almost all of the apps that I worked with).

I had very little laptop intervention as the realme XT is considerably capable of handling everything I throw at it. And when I did use a laptop, it was because of the limitations of the mobile app version of Bandlab, not due to the performance of the smartphone.

The Real Test

A reliable musician’s tool

I wanted to review the realme XT this way to show upcoming musicians and creators that you don’t have to rely on expensive equipment to get your content out into the world. I have gone through that struggle; being stuck on an idea because I didn’t have the means to document it as I was too hung up on output quality.

Fortunately, we’re living in a time where technology makes it possible for anyone with a zest for their craft to compose their work as effortlessly as possible. In Hans Zimmer’s Masterclass, he declares that ideas are not limited by budget; that the creative process takes place in your head. He goes on to say that the most interesting ideas can come from some kid in a garage in the Bronx—you just need to dispel the myth that you can’t create a great Hollywood blockbuster on a mobile device.

The realme XT comes in Pearl White and Pearl Blue with 8GB RAM and 128GB ROM at S$469. The smartphone will be available for purchase from authorised realme retailers and official online store on Lazada, Qoo10 and Shopee

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