If you like phones as bright as the sun, the Realme GT will not disappoint. The yellow vegan leather back cover certainly stands out in a sea of black and gray phones, and it gets commented on more often than other phones I’ve used lately, but don’t walk past the phone because you think it’s all show and nothing happens. There’s plenty of that in it, too. Realme has repeatedly used the term flagship or flagship killer for the new wasp-like phone, but does it deserve that moniker?
As of this writing, I’ve been using the Realme GT for five days, but since Realme hasn’t yet told us how much the phone will cost, it’s impossible to give it a definitive assessment in a full review. Realme is known for its reasonable prices, but the GT has much higher specs than most of its previous devices, and that will affect what phones it will be priced against. And with any claim that this is a flagship phone, comes the concern about the price of a flagship phone. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the phone.
A design that everyone likes.
If Bumblebee were to use a smartphone, it would be the Realme GT “Racing Yellow.” The yellow vegan leather has a soft texture and so far has not collected marks from my hands covered in sunscreen and moisturizer, nor from placing it in pockets and bags. It is matched with a strip that looks like glass, but is quite possibly plastic, which runs along the left side of the back panel and contains the camera module.
Initially it appears to be black, but upon closer inspection it shows a faint V-shaped pattern with a slight blue tint. It’s actually too faint, and would look better if it were more visible most of the time. While I think the Realme GT looks great, these two major design features elevate it far above what it really is-a repeat of the familiar Realme and Oppo designs we’ve seen a lot lately.
Paint the Realme GT black and it looks very, very similar to the Realme 8 5G, the Oppo A54 5G and other phones released in the last few months. The positioning of the lens may change slightly inside the camera module, but otherwise, upon closer inspection, the overlap in the Oppo and Realme phones is painfully obvious. They are both part of the BBK Electronics empire, along with OnePlus, Vivo, and IQOO, but operate independently.
Does this reduce the appeal of the GT? Not really. If you’re going to replicate the dull design, it’s best to disguise it in a crazy yellow and black color scheme. The Realme GT is pleasantly light at 186 grams, quite thick at 9.1 mm for a leather-trimmed model, but it has reasonable proportions overall, making it livable.
Does it take good pictures?
There are three cameras inside the module on the back – a 64-megapixel Sony IMX682 main camera, an 8 MP wide-angle camera and a 2 MP macro camera. In the cutout with a hole is a 16MP selfie camera. Realme calls the GT a flagship phone, but it’s not really a flagship camera. The IMX682 is used in the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G, for example.
So far, the camera has been inconsistent, taking some very good photos and some bad ones, a situation made worse by an annoying software solution. The main camera takes over-saturated pictures and does not always set the white balance correctly. In more difficult lighting conditions, with the wide-angle camera, it ruins the mood with dark shadows and lack of detail.
In other cases, the camera can take well-balanced, detailed photos, which I’m happy to share with minimal editing. This is usually the case when taking general photos of people, pets and food. When shooting scenes that require more nuance, the camera struggled. The selfie camera has beauty mode active by default, which flattens the skin considerably.
Although the camera has no optical zoom, Realme annoyingly adds 2x and 5x options to the camera app. Unsurprisingly, the photos don’t turn out very well. The 2x digital zoom may be passable, but the 5x is bad, and by providing it as an option, Realme is misleading people about the camera’s actual capabilities. This will lead to people screwing up photos they rightly expected to get better.
I haven’t spent much time with the Realme GT camera, but from what I’ve seen so far, it’s an average performer, and it won’t bother the best of OnePlus, Samsung, Google or Apple.
What’s it like in use?
If the design of the Realme GT is reminiscent of Oppo phones, the software is even more so. Realme UI 2.0 powered by Android 11 is almost identical to Oppo Color OS V11, right down to the fact that you can choose the same icon shape and size as well as the same font to achieve exactly the same look and feel, all on identical settings pages.
The Realme GT’s flagship powers come from the use of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor, as well as 8GB of RAM in my model. The chip is monstrously powerful, and I played Asphalt 9: Legends and Genshin Impact for hours with no noticeable slowdown or increase in heat. This is a serious gaming machine. Realme talks about an adaptive 360 Hz touch sampling rate, but I didn’t notice any difference when playing on the GT compared to other phones. When using the phone as a whole, it’s fast, and the 6.4-inch screen with a 120Hz refresh rate looks good when working with apps and watching videos.
I found that the keyboard is very low to the screen, which led to more typing errors than usual. Notifications are delivered mostly without problems, although some apps don’t always notify you of a new message until you unlock the phone. However, these problems are not unique to the Realme GT, and despite the immodest rebranding of the software, the phone is simple and easy to use and is still reliable.
Face unlocking is very effective, while the fingerprint sensor — also located low on the screen — often requires more pressure than expected for it to work. Inside is a 4,500 mAh battery that will last almost two days, but only under normal usage conditions. Make video calls and play games, and the battery will run out by the middle of the second day. It charges with Realme’s 65-watt SuperDart Charge.
Is it a flagship?
This is Realme’s first phone to use the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888, which is a flagship processor, but the rest of the phone doesn’t quite match what we usually call flagship specs. 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 beyond what other Realme or Oppo phones have.
Before the announcement, we didn’t know the price of the Realme GT, which is now known: €449 for the 8GB/128GB version, or about $550, and €599/$725 for the 12GB/256GB model. That’s less than the OnePlus 9 and Xiaomi Mi 11, but about the same as the Asus Zenfone 8. Realme is offering the phone cheaper as part of its “Early Bird” promotion, where the base version costs 369 euros/$450 or 499 euros/$605 for the top model.
That’s certainly a great price for an “early bird,” and even if you don’t make it, it’s still a very good deal. Don’t shell out money for the 12GB/256GB model unless you expect to fill all the extra storage, as the extra RAM won’t make much difference in performance, and the camera isn’t as good as other phones available at a slightly higher price point, including the Apple iPhone 12.
Realme says the GT will be released in Europe through Amazon and AliExpress on June 21.