Realme GT 5G review: Need for speed
Let’s take the GT out for a spin, shall we?
Not every car can earn the Grand Tourer (GT) moniker. It’s reserved for certain sports cars that not only go fast, but also those that do so even over long distances. To slap that badging onto a phone is to lend it the same performance and luxury attributes, so it stands to reason not every phone can carry off the GT branding. The recently launched Realme GT is the company’s attempt to switch gears and race into the ‘flagship killer’ market that was recently dominated by OnePlus and has seen the likes of Vivo, iQoo and Xiaomi show up with strong offerings. Let’s take the GT out for a spin, shall we?
The racecar aesthetic is immediately visible in the GT, particularly in the ‘Racing Yellow’ colorway I had on hand for the review. Talk of racing stripes – the GT has an unapologetically yellow vegan leather along with a black strip of glass that ends in a cleverly disguised camera module! The effect is striking, and the GT attracts the same kind of ‘sportscar’ attention in public. The textured back offers excellent grip too – combined with the 186g weight and mid-sized screen, the GT has a great in-hand feel. Keep in mind though that the Racing Yellow variant is only available in the top-spec 12GB variant, so you’re going to have pay a bit extra for that.
Over to the front, where a 6.43-inch Full HD+ Super AMOLED display pulls its weight with punchy if oftentimes oversaturated colors, adequate peak brightness and a 120Hz screen refresh rate. What works well is the automatic brightness calibration, courtesy the dual ambient light sensors. The display is a nice middle-of-the-road size, good for content consumption but keeping the overall form factor handy. The touch sampling rate of 360Hz is good for gaming response, and the dual speakers offer competent sound and a sense of stereo separation at times when you haven’t plugged in your earphones. Yep, a headphone jack is still around in the GT, the likes of which have all but vanished in other competitors. Oddly though, Netflix doesn’t play HDR10 content on this screen, but Prime Video did - something for Realme to address. The phone has Asahi's Dragontrail glass for screen protection.
The Realme GT’s other distinction is that it’s the most affordable Snapdragon 888-powered device around, and that means there’s plenty of grunt under the hood. Whether you pick the 8GB/128GB or the 12GB/256GB variant, the top-shelf nature of the chip and the Adreno 660 graphics shines through in daily tasks and while gaming. Thermals are excellent, with a stainless steeling cooling system letting games like COD Mobile take the phone to ‘warm’ and not ‘hot levels’. Realme UI is slick and super customizable, but its long-standing issues with bloatware and notification spam continue. Many of the pre-installed apps can be uninstalled, but their presence on Realme’s flagship device takes the shine off the experience. Battery capacity (4500mAh) and screen-on-time stats (between 5-6 hours) are par for the course but it’s the battery optimization and the 65W fast charging that’ll avoid the range anxiety on this one. Splash and dash for 45 minutes and you’re fully charged and ready to go. No wireless charging, for what it’s worth.
You’re reading this far and must be wondering – where’s the compromise that allows Realme to nail that impossibly low price point on the GT? The camera setup is often what separates the contenders from the champions, so I went in cautious when testing the camera on the GT. The relatively modest setup – a 64MP Sony IMX682, an 8MP ultrawide and a 2MP macro, no telephoto – is top heavy, with all the heavy hitting being done by the primary 64MP sensor. Images in good light were detailed yet pleasing and with that color pop that does well on social media (if not the most color accurate for purists). The phone struggled a bit while shooting HDR images in tricky lighting. The ultra-wide shot well-exposed images but the lower resolution levels meant you could only expect so much detail from the final shot. The macro was rather forgettable. Low light shots with the primary camera were acceptable, though I found those shot with the Mi 11x Pro and the iQOO Legend a bit better.
Realme’s not held back when it came to ensuring the GT grabs pole position in its segment, and the combination of good design and powerful internals will certainly help its cause. If anything needs work, it’s the bloatware and the perfectly-acceptable-if-not-stellar camera output. However, if it’s performance and good looks you crave, you’ll be sorted with the Realme GT, a phone that one can safely say earns its Grand Tourer name.
Realme GT 5G
Pros: Unique stylish design, good performance and thermal optimization, pleasing screen and form factor, decent primary camera, fast charging, stereo speakers
Cons: Lacks IP rating, middling secondary cameras, pre-installed bloatware
Price: Rs. 37,999 (8GB/128GB) and Rs. 41,999 (12GB/256GB) in Dashing Blue, Dashing Silver and Racing Yellow
Tushar Kanwar is a tech columnist and commentator, and tweets @2shar