I have been using the Realme GT 2 5G for a few weeks now and now is my time to pass judgement on this mid to high-end contender. It is a device that presents a very compelling argument as to the question of do you need an expensive high-end flagship? After having used the device for a few weeks I would say that for the most part the answer would be no. I have a lot of reasons for this which I will go into further during the process of the review.
You can buy the phone now from Realme direct for £399 of the 128GB Storage and 8Gb RAM variant with the 256GB Storage and 12GB RAM version being £100 more. This on special early bird offer until the 21st of March when the prices will go up to £499 and £549 respectively
However, before we get into that, let’s take a tour of the device.
First up is the unboxing video that was posted a few weeks back.
If we start from the top we have got very little on the top end of the phone but we do have a pinhole microphone. and the edge of the phone is slightly inset making it feel quite comfortable in the hand.
Moving down to the right-hand side we find the power key which has some nice texture on it making it a bit easier to find by feel.
On the base of the phone which shares the same slight inset as can be found at the top. There is a lot going on here and it is quite busy. Down here we also find the bottom-firing speaker which does produce pretty good sound. Next, we have got a USB Type C port which allows very fast charging via the Superdart Charger technology more on this later though. Next up is another Pichole microphone for voice pickup which works well. Lastly, we have got the dual nano sim cardholder which does have a waterproof gasket around it for some waterproofing.
The left-hand side has the individually mounted volume buttons which have a nice positive clicking action and fall nicely below the thumb when being used in the right hand, it might be a bit more awkward to use if you are left-handed but I like the separation of the buttons as it avoids you mistaking the volume for the power button.
Around the front at the top, we have got the front earpiece/speaker which is clear and gives the effect of stereo separation the volume of this speaker is a bit lower than the one found on the base but this is normal for this sort of setup as my Oneplus Nord 2 5G uses the exact same setup. The speaker is hidden behind a very small and skinny grill and it is situated between the top of the phone and the top of the screen.
We also have the front-facing camera which is a 16 MP, f/2.5, 26mm (wide), 1/3″, 1.0µm unit so works well for selfies whilst also not obliterating the background due to it being a wideish angle. It can also work at 1080p at 30fps for video recording so would be fine for using for video calls on Zoom etc.
Moving down from the speaker and camera we have the display which is a 6.62 inch AMOLED panel with a resolution of 1080 x 2400 and a PPI of 398. The aspect ratio is 20:9 which is a nice size not being too skinny but still having enough width to display content. Lastly, this screen can have a refresh rate that will dynamically switch between 60HZ and 120HZ. you can leave this to be adaptive which is what I did or you can manually set it at either mode depending on your requirements. I found the refresh rate to be satisfactory in normal use and it was plenty fast enough for my liking. The last thing of note is the brightness for the screen will purportedly reach 1300 nits, whilst I have not been able to confirm this as I don’t have the correct equipment to test, I can confirm that the screen does get really bright, I had no issues reading the screen under direct sunlight!
Around the back, we have got two main points of interest for the phone. The first is the way the back has been made and then the second is the camera module that has been used. I want to quickly discuss the back panel which makes it somewhat unique in the current phone market. Realme have been on a major push when it comes to sustainability this year which has meant that instead of using just a normal plastic rear panel it developed a new material called a”biopolymer”. This allows the phone to have a solid back from renewable resources such as paper pulp, this allows a carbon reduction of 35.5% when manufacturing the back panel. It also gives the panel a “paper-like” feel, which actually works well and feels nice under the fingers. I have also been able to use the phone without a case which is nice as I haven’t been too worried about it getting scratched up which has been nice as most phones I use always need to have a case slapped on it straight out of the box. I was also lucky enough to get the Paper Green colour which really pops. As an aside if Green isn’t your thing then you can get this in Paper White. You can also get the Steel Black edition employs a new AG glass chemical etching technique, creating a more frosted look, and a more tactile feel.
The next bit for the back panel is the other big selling point that you can see the Camera modules. On the back panel, we have got a module made up of three lenses that have the following sensors: 50MP main, 8MP ultrawide and 2MP macro. I will cover these cameras in a bit more detail further down in the review.
So with the external design all taken care of now to look a little below the skin and there are a few areas i wish to cover here; the Battery, the processor and memory and the antennae. These are really the key hardware points for the phone as far as I am concerned. Let’s have a look at the battery first.
Inside the phone, we have got a great battery which is actually composed of two separate packs each measuring in at 2500mah to give a total of 5000mah. This is now becoming more and more commonplace for phones as it has the benefit of allowing the battery to be charged faster if you instigate the correct charging technology. Being that Realme exists under a parent company that shares technology with OnePlus and Oppo it is hardly a surprise to see that this phone is capable of very fast charging. In this case, the phone is capable of charging at 65W which will allow the phone to be charged from 0 to full within 33 minutes when paired with the included SuperDart 65W charger. It also works fine with the Oneplus WarpCharge 65 Charger that comes with the OnePlus Nord 2 (they are essentially the same).
As for battery life, I could regularly get through a day and a half with light to moderate use and if used more intensively then the pack would last me for a day. This is in line with what I experienced on other rival devices from this price point.
It is a shame that there is no wireless charging to be found here but at this price point it is hardly a surprise either. With the ability to charge so fast via the cable it was not really something I missed either. The nice thing about the way that the charging has been implemented is that the heat from charging the battery is not transferred to the pack. The downside is that the charger will not work on other devices as it is proprietary. I tried to charge my Chromebook which uses Power delivery via USB Type C and it didn’t want to work as it was identified as a low powered charger. The same was true with my Pixel 6 Pro.
Next up is the processor which is the brilliant Snapdragon 888 5G processor. This is a great processor and has been proven in multiple other devices including a lot of recent flagships. It is great to see this is a low priced device especially as it brings integrated 5g into a very efficient and powerful chip. I have not seen any slowdowns in the UI and games load quickly and are responsive with good framerates. I am not the heaviest of gamers but I have found that my staples of World of Warships and Alto’s Oddessy ran smoothly without any perceivable glitching. The AI elements used in the camera work quickly and as expected.
Of course, the processor is very ably supported by the speedy 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM which again is great to see at this price point. Memory usage never really reached the full 12GB’s in my usage so there is plenty of breathing room. Having multiple apps working at the same time did not present any issues and when things do get a bit too busy it is really easy to close the apps from the multitasking menus which rather handily it will show how much memory has been freed up by doing so. The phone also packs 256Gb of UFS 3.1 storage which is very speedy and efficient. I found that when transferring content to the phone from my computer it was speedy with very good transfer rates. I also found that when moving files in the internal memory it was very quick.
Next up are the antennas and this is something that Realme are very proud of and rightly so as this is an area that I feel more focus may need to be applied by some of the bigger players (I’m looking at you Google). The design allows for several specifically place antennas to allow the phone to maximise signal strength regardless of what orientation you are holding it in. For example, if you are in a particularly intense gaming session whilst on the bus to work/college the last thing you need is for your network to drop when n you are trying to make that critical kill shot or overtake that annoying competitor to get into the pole position. It is for this reason that Realme has positioned antennas on all the sides of the phones as pictured here.
As you can see from the images above this means that whichever way you hold the phone you will always get a good signal be it on one of the 4 $G and %G antennas or one of the two Wifi Antennas. This is of course made a lot easier as the side rails of the phone are made of plastic instead of the higher-end metal which would be expected to be found on a full flagship. Does it work though? Well if using the phone and comparing it against my current daily whip is anything to go by then yes as I was able to perceive at least one bar more signal when compare against each other. in terms of Wifi Signal I was getting a marginally better signal from the Realme GT 2 5G over the Pixel 6 Pro.
If you look at the Plusnet network then you will see that on the Realme we have got a 7dbm improvement on the signal strength (When testing signal strength the lower the dbm number the better). The difference isn’t has marked on the Ext network which is my extended network but there is still a significant difference. As I don’t currently have two sims on the same network I could not do a side by side mobile data test but there is an appreciable difference on the mobile network side as well. I found this out when i was speaking to my father one evening and he kept losing my call when i was on the Pixel* so I chucked the sim into the Realme and i was able to carry on the call.
It is things like this that make the hardware a little bit nicer than a normal mid-tier offering and that also makes it a bit harder to go back to the full flagships i am fortunate enough to have at my disposal. Even going back to the OnePlus Nord 2 5G which is a great competitor to this phone was a bit weird as they are so similar but just subtle different enough o make you appreciate it.
With the rest of the phone being your normal sort of mid to high-end range fare we will move on. But not before I cover a late entry into the category which plays a big part in the next section. I am of course talking about performance and this is where need to blur the lines between hardware and software a bit, hence why I wanted to mention it now. The Realme GT 5G can pack a good size punch here in terms of performance. As I mentioned the phone will not have any issue handling games as well as multitasking like a beast. This is all down to the excellent memory management that is core to Android 12 and is enhanced by Realme’s development and tweaking that can be seen all the way through the software. Howver software alone cannot make for a great performing phone you have to keep it cool and this is another area where Realme wanted to make a bold statement. They have done this by implementing what they call the “Stainless Steel Vapor Cooling System Plus”. This is essentially a very long-winded way of saying that this has a big vapour chamber on board. just check the images below to try and get an appreciation of the size of this thing.
With a vapour chamber that big it is no surprise that apart from a slight bit of heat building after charging I was never found to have a phone that got too hot. This great news for gamers and media users.
Next, we need to address the software.
This I perhaps the easiest section to complete as for once we have a mid to high-end phone from a Chinese manufacturer that is not absolutely riddled with bloatwarey crap. It is not a hidden fact that I was not a massive fan of the previous iteration of Realme UI. The good news is that things have made a nice change in the newest version of the UI, Realme UI 3.0. The boffins at Realme have addressed the main thing that got on my nerves and made the last phone practically unusable for me, we can now use the same widget tool more than once. For me, this was a big limitation on the previous generation but now that it is resolved I could actually use this software. If I am honest it was one of the only things I disliked from the Realme 8 Pro in terms of the software. The rest of the software feels very Oxygen OS like which is hardly surprising as the similarities across software between Oneplus Realme and Oppo are not that much. Now Oxygen OS is one of my favourite UI’s over even the svelt cleanness of Google Pixel UI which is great.
I have however found a few peaves that could be addressed if the developer wished to. The first is the way that notifications react on the lock screen. Dont get me wrong they look good but to actually interact with them is via a tap and then this will select the notification so that you interact with it. This is different enough from other Ui’s that I had to actually think about. Another one was the way that some of the apps require additional permission prompts to appear when using for the first time which was annoying but quickly overcome.
Other than those two relatively minor issues i was generally pretty happy with the phone’s UI and the way it worked Realme’s Magic UI 3.0 is now completely usable as a day to day phone and I could see myself using it for the long run if i had the review unit for longer. Given where things were even six months ago with regard to the way the software was presented and for me at least the inherent limitation presented by the widget issue I am impressed. Credit is due to the developers here as although the changes are subtle they do make a difference.
I only hope that they can improve on the software updates for the device as in the whole time i have been using the Realme 8 Pro ( it is now being used by my wife) it has only been updated as far as Android 11 which is not bad for that side of things and is normal at the price but the security version is still the 5 Decmber 2021 version which isn’t greatgiven that we are now in March 2022. It has in fact only ever received one update to the software which was that security update nothing else was changed. I do not expect that it will ever get Android 12.
Next up is perhaps one of the headline-grabbing features, the camera.
This is a big aspect of the phone and is a really difficult one to call. On the most part, it is a step down from the Realme’s of previous generations however it is also a very competent sensor that has been used as the main component. I am of course talking about the much-lauded Sony IMX766. This sensor has been used on many of the best mid to high-end devices over the course of the year. In some devices it has been great however in some it has been merely average. In the Realme GT 2 it sits in the middle ground between the two it is not bad by any means and it will serve most users well. However, it is not one for camera phone fans as there are better options out there. When you consider the price of the phones then you can get a better camera for not a massive amount more, especially if you look at the Pixel lineup from Google.
The main sensor is not too bad and produces pretty good quality images from the 50mp Sensor with vibrant colours and good levels of contrast. The night mode works well and does create some good photos in tricky conditions.
Things take a slight turn for the worse when you start using the 8mp ultrawide camera as things start to get a bit noisy with some strange distortion around the edges of the subjects. I can only surmise that this is down to the software being used as the aperture has been increased up to f/2.3 but it doesn’t make a massive difference to things.
The zoom works exactly as expected as can be seen below.
The 2mp macro is really not that worth mentioning and I wish they had used this space for a time of flight sensor to add to the overall performance of the camera. Instead, we get a 2mp macro shooter which takes photos that are just a bit meh.
Now if you stick with the main camera which let’s be honest most people will then you will be happy with the results and it is nice to see that the software has been tweaked to dial down the AI in some of the features which is great news as I did find it a bit intrusive in certain scenarios.
As for the video, I can’t really find much to fault it as it ticks all the boxes, I really don’t tend to dive into the video aspects of most phone’s that I use these days as I am not attending many tradeshows anymore (thanks COVID) it is fine for recording silly impromptu shots when the moment strikes which is again what most people will use this for.
In essence, as long as you don’t try to push the camera too hard then you should be happy with its performance but once you start pushing the envelope then you start to see it unfold. Please see the below galleries for some sample images taken on the phone so you can form your own opinions.
This is a great phone and it punches above weight its weight. However, it is a bit late to the party as this segment of the market is becoming more and more crowded in the last six months. There are some great devices now on the market including the Onplus in the form of the Oneplus Nord 2 5G. If you are able to pick this phone up before the 21st of March then it is a compelling offer for the spec at the cheap price of £499 for the top version or a bargain for the 128GB model as you do get a phone with great features and for well below what you could be expected to pay for a more well-known brand. Just be aware that it may not be supported as well in terms of Software support as the bigger names,
You can buy the phone now from Realme direct for £399 of the 128GB Storage and 8Gb RAM variant with the 256GB Storage and 12GB RAM version being £100 more. This on special early bird offer until the 21st of March when the prices will go up to £499 and £549 respectively.