If you like your phones bright like the sun, then the Realme GT won’t disappoint. The yellow, vegan leather back cover certainly stands out in a sea of black and gray phones, and it has been commented on more than other phones I’ve used recently, but don’t pass the phone by because you think it’s all show and no go. It has got plenty of that, too. Realme has repeatedly used the term flagship, or flagship killer, for the new wasp-like phone, but does it earn that moniker?
I’ve been using the Realme GT for five days at the time of this writing, but because Realme has not told us how much the phone will cost yet, it’s impossible to give it a final rating in a complete review. Realme is known for its reasonable prices, but the GT has far higher specifications than most of its previous devices, and that will affect which phones it’s judged against. And with any claim of it being a flagship phone, comes concern about a flagship phone price. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the phone in more detail.
A design that’s the bee’s knees
If Bumblebee used a smartphone, it would be the “Racing Yellow” Realme GT. The yellow vegan leather is softly textured, and so far hasn’t gathered marks from either my sunscreen- and moisturizer-covered hands, or from being placed in pockets and bags. It’s matched to a strip of what looks like glass but could very well be plastic that runs down the left side of the rear panel and contains the camera module.
Initially it appears to be jet black, but on closer examination, it has a very faint V-shape motif, complete with a slight blue hue, running down it. It’s actually a bit too faint, and would look better if it was more apparent more of the time. Lovely though I think the Realme GT looks, these two primary design features elevate it far beyond what it actually is — a rehash of a familiar Realme and Oppo design we’ve seen a lot recently.
Paint the Realme GT black and it’ll look very, very similar to the Realme 8 5G, the Oppo A54 5G, and other phones released over the last few months. The lens layout may change inside the camera module a little, but otherwise on closer inspection, the crossover in Oppo and Realme’s phones is painfully obvious. They are both part of the BBK Electronics empire, along with OnePlus, Vivo, and IQOO, but operate independently.
Does this diminish the GT’s appeal? Not really. If you’re going to reuse a dreary design, the best thing to do is obfuscate it in a crazy, in-your-face yellow-and-black color scheme. The Realme GT is pleasingly light at 186 grams, fairly thick at 9.1mm for the leather model, but sensibly proportioned overall to make it easy to live with.
Does it take good photos?
There are three cameras inside the module on the back — a 64-megapixel Sony IMX682 main camera, an 8MP wide-angle camera, and a 2MP macro camera. In a hole-punch cutout is a 16MP selfie camera. Realme calls the GT a flagship phone, but this isn’t really a flagship camera setup. The IMX682 is used on the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G, for example.
So far, the camera has been inconsistent, taking some very nice photos and some poor ones, too, a situation made worse by an irritating software decision. The main camera does oversaturate and doesn’t always set the white balance correctly. In more complex lighting conditions, when using the wide-angle camera, it destroys the mood with dark shadows and a lack of detail.
Other times it can take well-balanced, highly detailed photos that I’d be happy to share with minimal editing. It tended to do this when taking general photos of people, pets, and food. It struggled with scenes that required more nuance to capture effectively. The selfie camera has a beauty mode active by default, which smooths skin out considerably.
Although the camera doesn’t have an optical zoom feature, Realme irritatingly adds a 2x and a 5x option in the camera app. Unsurprisingly the photos aren’t very good. The 2x digital zoom can be passable but the 5x is poor, and by providing it as an option, Realme confuses people about the camera’s actual ability. This will result in people ruining photos they rightly expected to turn out better.
I’ve not spent much time with the Realme GT’s camera but based on what I’ve seen so far, it’s an average performer, and won’t be worrying the best from OnePlus, Samsung, Google, or Apple.
What’s it like to use?
If the Realme GT’s design is reminiscent of an Oppo phone, the software is even more similar. Realme UI 2.0 based on Android 11 is barely any different from Oppo’s Color OS V11, to the point where you can select the same icon shape and size, as well as the same font, to achieve exactly the same look, all from identical Settings pages.
The Realme GT’s flagship credentials come from the use of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor, along with 8GB of RAM, in my review model. The chip is monstrously powerful, and I’ve had no problem playing Asphalt 9: Legends and Genshin Impact for hours without any noticeable slowdown or increase in heat. It’s a serious gaming machine. Realme talks about an adaptive 360Hz touch sampling rate, but I didn’t notice any difference playing on the GT compared to other phones. When using the phone more generally, it’s fast, and the 120GHz refresh rate, 6.4-inch screen looks good when using apps and watching video.
I do find the keyboard is set very low on the screen, which has led to more typing errors than usual. Notifications have been delivered mostly without a problem, although some apps don’t always notify you of a new message until you unlock the phone. These aren’t issues unique to the Realme GT, though, and unashamed rebranding of the software aside, the phone is easy and friendly to use and has remained reliable so far.
Face unlock is very effective, while the fingerprint sensor — also set low on the screen — often needs a firmer press than expected to make it work. Inside is a 4,500mAh battery that has enough energy to last almost two days, but only under normal usage conditions. Make a video call and play some games, and the battery will be out of power by the middle of day two. It’s recharged using Realme’s 50-watt SuperDart Charge, which should recharge the battery in about 45 minutes, but it’s unfortunate that this flagship phone doesn’t use Realme’s fastest 65W SuperDart charger.
Is it a flagship?
It’s the first Realme phone to use a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888, which is a flagship processor, but the rest of the phone doesn’t quite meet what we’d usually call flagship spec. The camera is average so far, the screen may have a 120Hz refresh rate but it’s flat rather than curved, and the colorful design hides a derivative overall look. And the software doesn’t offer anything over and above any other Realme or Oppo phone.
Without a final price at the time of writing, it’s impossible to say if the Realme GT offers the all-important value we have seen from the company before. The Snapdragon 888 is inevitably going to push the price up, but the rest of the specifications are modest and not breaking any new ground. If having the top processor matters to you, or if you’re really keen on high-level gaming, and if the Realme GT’s price is considerably less than the Asus Zenfone 8 or a Xiaomi Mi 11 — both around 650 British pounds, or around $920 — it may turn out to be a great deal.
Otherwise, there are more complete phones that do most things very well and cost less, like the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G and the Google Pixel 4a, or phones like the OnePlus 9 Pro that cost more but are considerably better performers. Realme says the GT will be released in Europe in June, and we will update this story when the price and availability are confirmed.