Realme GT review: a traditional flagship killer


The Breakdown

At half the price of modern flagships you can buy Realme GT and use it as a powerhouse for gaming or multitasking or image/video editing. Looking at its price and the offered characteristics we are happy to see again in the market a REAL flagship-killer. From us it is a GO!
Performance
Battery
Software
Camera
Value for money

Time has passed since I had Realme X2 Pro in my hands back in 2019. I just could not believe the sheer power of the device. And that was not the most unbelievable part of that amazing smartphone. The part that left people with an open mouth was the price. Realme tried to do the same act again and again trying to reach the same level of awesomeness. That is until now. Realme launched a smartphone with a “racing alias”. Gran Turismo is a tag added only to special cars and “GT” wants to do the same to this new product. In my hands I have the new Realme GT – I got it days before the global launch – and I have been using it as my main Android device for two weeks now.

I want to add something here. During the last two years there was a strange effect in the market. Chinese OEMs in the past made a name for themselves by launching powerful smartphones at very low prices. These were called flagship-killers in general, after the successful campaign of the OnePlus One smartphone. But OnePlus was not the first manufacturer out there.

But…

Xiaomi was already the king of that specific mid-range price category of smartphones that had a generous part of flagship specifications. Xiaomi and OnePlus evolved over the years to become premium device sellers and the VFM flagship was lost in sub-brands, lesser underpriced smartphones and some weird experiments from Samsung. These devices – OnePlus non-pro series, Redmi K series, Samsung Galaxy S FE series – had a common characteristic. Their price was still expensive compared to previous year premium flagships. This was the reason people preferred to buy Mi 9 Pro or a OnePlus 7 Pro or a Galaxy S20 Pro instead of a 2021 flagship killer.

With that in mind Realme GT is the cheapest smartphone with Snapdragon 888 in the market and immediately becomes an REAL VFM flagship killer. It costs HALF and less than many premium – non Ultra – smartphones. It sells at one third of the Ultra premium smartphones price. Realme GT packs a 120Hz Super AMOLED display, a 64-megapixel triple-camera, a 4500mAh battery and Snapdragon 888 5G SoC for €450. With that in mind, Realme GT is the cheapest smartphone with SD 888 in the market and immediately becomes a REAL VFM flagship killer! It costs HALF or even less than many premium smartphones.

Knowing that, the task of this review was to find IF – this potentially massive hit in the market – has any flaws…

Realme GT – Specifications

  • Dimensions: 158.5 x 173.3 x 9.1 mm
  • Weight: 186 g
  • Display: Super AMOLED, 120Hz, 6.43 inches, 99.8 cm2 (~85.9% screen-to-body ratio), 1080 x 2400 pixels, 20:9 ratio (~409 ppi)
  • CPU: Qualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 5G (5 nm), Octa-core (1×2.84 GHz Kryo 680 & 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 680 & 4×1.80 GHz Kryo 680
  • GPU: Adreno 660
  • RAM+ROM: 128GB 8GB RAM, 256GB 12GB RAM, UFS 3.1
  • Battery: Li-Po 4500 mAh, non-removable, Fast charging 65W, 100% in 35 min
  • Connectivity: HSPA 42.2/5.76 Mbps, LTE-A, 5G
    • 2G: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 – SIM 1 & SIM 2, CDMA 800
    • 3G: HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1700(AWS) / 1900 / 2100, CDMA2000 1xEV-DO
    • 4G: LTE FDD: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 17, 18, 19, 20, 26, 34, 38, 39, 40, 41
    • 5G: 1, 3, 28, 41, 77, 78, 79 SA/NSA
    • Speed: HSPA 42.2/5.76 Mbps, LTE-A, 5G
  • Biometrics: Under display Fingerprint Sensor, Face Unlock
  • Main Camera: Triple Camera, Dual-LED dual-tone flash, HDR, panorama
    • 64 MP, f/1.8, 26mm (wide), 1/1.73″, 0.8µm, PDAF
    • 8 MP, f/2.3, 16mm, 119˚ (ultrawide), 1/4.0″, 1.12µm
    • 2 MP, f/2.4, (macro)
  • Selfie Camera: 16 MP, f/2.5, 26mm (wide), 1/3.0″, 1.0µm
  • Video: 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30/60/240fps, gyro-EIS
  • Selfie Video: 1080p@30fps
  • Βluetooth:5.2, A2DP, LE, aptX HD
  • GPS: dual-band A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO
  • Ports: USB Type-C 2.0
  • Sound: Dolby Atmos Dual Stereo Speakers (2 dedicated amplifiers), Certified Hi-Res Sound Quality
  • Sensors: accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
  • Colors: Gold/Black, Blue, Silver
  • Software: Android 11, Realme UI 2.0

Realme GT – Retail Box

The phone comes in a black box that has white huge font for the brand logo and smaller for the phone model. The black color is striped by brown lines in an effort to bring something of a polycarbonate texture in mind. Inside the box we can see the normal sum of accessories for most of the Chinese smartphones this year:

  • Realme GT smartphone
  • USB-C to USB-C data transfer / charging cable
  • SuperDART 65W wall charger
  • SIM tray ejection pin
  • User manual, Quick Guide, Important Information Guide
  • Silicone soft case

A plastic screen protection film is pre-installed on the phone. The wall charger comes in white colour and is smaller than the previous 50W chargers Realme included in the retail boxes. The charging cable is fat and works along the charger to provide the flash charge. As most cables in 2021, it is USB-C to USB-C.

The silicon case is semi-hard and does a good job protecting the phone from small height drops. I especially like the corners where soft plastic is added, since the corners are amongst the first parts to be broken after a fall.

Realme GT – Design

Realme GT is in terms a slim and lightweight phone at 158.5 x 173.3 x 9.1 mm and 186 grams, which is not bad for a 6.43 inch display device. We can find the typical all around small bezels, a horizontal microphone included in the upper side and a smal camera hole in the top left of the display – the hole looks big because of the plastic film. There is nothing else in the front.

On the left side of the panel we can see the SIM tray near the top and two buttons for handling the volume. On the right side there is only a power/lock button. The three buttons are exceptionally made without rattling – same quality is applied on the panel. The joint of the silver shiny panel to the front and back panels is exceptional. In the top we can find a noise-canceling microphone. The bottom has a 3.5mm audio jack, a second noise-canceling microphone, the USB-C port and the speaker grille.

But…

The back panel is very modern and a major selling point. There is a faux leather (vegan leather, don’t worry) dual-tone design panel – in my sample in Racing Yellow color. In the lower right part we can see a “realme” logo in shiny silver – in the same tone as the sides. On the left top side we can see the camera installation, in a shiny black rectangular shape. From the camera installation – which has one of the smallest “humps” in the market – protrudes a shiny metal band that ends in the bottom “breaking” the yellow colored panel.

The faux leather is amazing in keeping fingerprints off. In comparison, the shiny black band does exactly the opposite. A nice touch in the band are the details on it. Small dark lines make a continuous V sign, reminding us of polycarbonate material in modern racing cars.

The phone also comes in Dashing Silver and Dashing Blue, all named in GT racing themes. A very nice design that immediately catches the eye.

Realme GT – Hardware

The main selling point of GT is the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC, the most powerful processor available to Android phones up to this period of time. There are not many phones in the market that are more powerful than this. It is paired with 8GB of RAM and 128 GB of ROM of latest technology, guaranteeing amazing performance in all scenarios. Games or multitasking as heavy as they can be are handled easily by Realme’s GT. Geekbench proves the amazing performance with scores the same as the Ultra versions of flagships or exclusive gaming smartphones that are on top of the scoring list.

This is basically the cheapest phone to play 3D intensive games or do some video rendering in the market right now. This does not come without a catch however. GT does a mediocre job in heating dissipation. While throttling is not a major issue after a while, the phone gets hot and uncomfortable to handle after prolonged use.

Realme GT is not stopping at the SoC but offers a SUPER AMOLED 120Hz display. Colors are amazing, black is perfect, angles of view are exceptional. Unfortunately brightness is not top notch – the display can be seen with difficulty under bright sun. 120Hz is top frame rate and gaming is excellent to see. The motion is smooth in all scenarios. There is also a 60Hz and a variable frame rate to save battery if you are on a journey or away from the ultra fast charger. At this price the display is simply amazing.

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Special characteristics

GT has two loudspeakers. One is the earpiece and the other is the main loudspeaker in the bottom of the frame. There is excellent sound quality but the sound is not as loud as I would like. For listening to music or a podcast I recommend headphones or an external Bluetooth loudspeaker.

Connectivity is excellent. Full signal under call conditions. Bluetooth is top notch – I’ve used the smartphone with my wireless headphones daily without interruptions. GPS is instantaneous as well.

There are two ways to unlock GT. Both are very fast. “Face unlock” is ultra fast. There is no IR light for unlocking during the night, so in total darkness this method does not work. A minimal light source is enough, even the display from your notebook, to unlock the device with your face shape.

The other way is the in-display fingerprint reader. Very accurate and extremely fast. There are no complaints from me. After I did a good setup there were no issues at all.

There is no need to use the face unlock – it is not 3D and not very safe, the in-display sensor will meet your needs in all day usage.

Software

Realme uses RealmeUI 2.0 over Android 11. RealmeUI started as a fork of ColorOS (from Oppo) back when the latter was a mess. These days ColorOS is really amazing with a plethora of functionalities and is really close to the top of User Experience. We must not oversee that OnePlus in China uses it and possibly, will use it for global users too. This version of RealmeUI is very very close to the latest ColorOS version and I don’t think Realme will stay far from fully adopting it.

RealmeUI is a beautiful and rich skin, it has nothing to do with the version of the OS I saw for the first time back in X2 Pro (2019). There is full customization in user experience from wallpapers to animations. Unfortunately there is also a lot of bloatware, either the company’s own software (not user removable because of Google applications) or some third-party apps (selection depending on the area probably). Luckily all these apps can be uninstalled. Minor bugs were found like streaming where the film would pause-start all time making viewing it impossible.

Settings menu is ultra rich – I thought I was browsing MIUI – with many many options for all user needs. A lot of viewing, battery, personalization, privacy etc. settings. Excellent job really. I think OPPO with ColorOS is playing on the top spots for Android skins this year and RealmeUI has taken its best characteristics.

Fully absorption of ColorOS would solve all minor bugs or any future issues with updates. We will see how OnePlus will react in the following months about it and if Realme will follow closely on its example.

Camera

Realme has added a 64MP camera in the phone, three years after its adoption, during a controversial announcement for X2 in China and one day after a real announcement from Xiaomi. During that time 64MP sensors matured and along with the software that handles them. Realme had done a great job here. Software wise and sencor wise the result from the main camera is really really good.

Don’t forget that this is not a camera smartphone but a powerhouse with a 120Hz display. Realme was very very close I think to keep this sensor only on the phone but market pseudo-needs pushed them to add two more minor side-task sensors. A small 8MP ultra wide one and an almost useless macro one. Companies tried for years to sell multi-sensor phones at the time when the main one was 8-12MP. Now that the main sensors are large 64-128MP they don’t have the courage to remove all side sensors – ok, maybe keep an ultra wide one for sceneries. At the front we can find a simple 16MP camera, not bad for its specs.

Quality of photos/videos

Daylight pics with the main camera are really bright and good, a pit overprocessed – you can remove the AI enhancement for realistic pictures. If we check the details we can see signs of overexposure, but generally this is a nice shooter. The small 8 MP ultra wide lens is not bad at all. Good pics, without weird angles and the corners. Marco is almost useless, I never managed to take a nice shot with it, maybe you have more patience than me. There is no telephone lens, you can zoom using the main camera up to x10, but after x2 the results are blurry and miss details.

Night shots are not as good as in day photography. The main sensor is ok, better with Night Mode. Ultra wide can be used only when a bit of light is available, macro is not to be considered.

Portraits and selfies are good. A lot of functionalities are added like beautification or a special video set where a single color is kept but all rest are BW.

Video is good, it has anti-shake enhancement and wide and zoom shots. It can record up to 4K at 30/60fps. I am not complaining at all, it provides nice results during day or night.

Realme GT – Battery

Realme GT has a 4500 mAh battery and this is the Achilles heel of this smartphone. It barely makes the day and if you play games a lot, it barely reaches the afternoon. This is not bad considering the SoC and the 120Hz so by making this choice of smartphone keep in mind that you must use battery reserved settings in the software or bring your wall charger together in case of need.

What Realme did great in the battery department is the charging. The 65W wall charger has been used by BBK Group in Oppo, Realme and OnePlus for two years now and is amazing in all aspects. The phone is topped up from 0% to 100% in half an hour (85% at 20 minutes). A few minutes every morning can keep the phone filled up, in case you forgot to charge it overnight. The smartphone gets immediately warm, but not hot, during charging.

I have a complaint here. I let the phone go “dry” to see how long it can charge from 0% to 100%. The phone needed some time to understand it was on charge. I got stressed and changed various cables and adaptors. Suddenly it understood it was connected to electricity and started to pump up energy. The place from 0% to 1% must be looked up by the company because it is really bad for user experience.

There is no wireless charging or reverse wireless charging capability.

Conclusion

At half the price of modern flagships you can buy Realme GT and use it as a powerhouse for gaming or multitasking or image/video editing. It gets a bit hot and the battery lasts a day max BUT at this money the VFM factor is amazing. The battery consumption is levered by an amazing fast charger at 65W but the heat dissipation is not and this phone is not an option for long session gamers.

The design is top notch – I got the article pictures in a cafe, all people around me turned and looked at it, most of them asked me the model and price. RealmeUI has some minor bugs and it has a lot of bloatware but you can delete whatever you want and take advantage of this new ColorOS branch. Camera wise you will not get disappointed with daily life scenarios but this is not a camera phone, there is no telephoto or ultra clear night pictures.

Looking at its price and the offered characteristics we are happy to see again in the market a REAL flagship-killer. From us it is a GO. Enjoy your new Realme GT!

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