Unboxing and Hands-on with the Realme GT Neo 2 Dragonball Edition: An affordable collector’s item for fans of the iconic anime
Asian phone brands have a habit of releasing “special” themed variants of existing smartphones. The old and cynical, like me, would dismiss these releases as gimmicky cash grabs, but there’s no denying there are indeed fans who eat these things up. And so in the past few years we’ve seen Blackpink edition Samsung Galaxy A80, Gundam Wing themed OPPO Reno Ace 2, OnePlus 8T Cyberpunk 2077 Edition, and now, a Realme GT Neo 2 themed after arguably the most famous Japanese manga of all time: Dragonball Z.
The reason I’m cynical about these themed phones is that they are often just a new coat of paint on an existing phone. Yes, there’s usually fancy-themed packaging and accessories, but beyond that, the second you turn on the phone, the experience is exactly the same as using the standard version of that same device.
The one exception is the Cyberpunk 2077 OnePlus 8T, which actually got a completely new body design that offered a different in-hand feel and, in my opinion, looks better than the generic-looking standard 8T. OnePlus also gave that device a heavily skinned UI with custom icons, wallpapers, and sound effects that feel noticeably different from standard OxygenOS.
This new Realme device, officially named Realme GT Neo 2 Dragonball Limited Edition, is a bit more than just a new paint job, in that Realme gave the phone a custom homescreen and app icon design, but it doesn’t go nearly as far as what OnePlus did. Let’s take a look at the packaging and UI.
Realme GT Neo 2 Dragonball Limited Edition: Specifications
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About this hands-on: Realme sent me the device for testing and review. Realme did not have any inputs in this article.
The Realme GT Neo 2 has a packaging that should excite most Dragonball Z fans. It has a splashy design with three versions of the main character Son Goku in various stages of his Super Saiyan transformation, and the artwork has a matte texture that is slightly elevated over the cardboard box slightly. If you run your finger through, say, Goku’s hair or fist, you can feel it protrude from the box very slightly.
The side of the box cover has more Goku artwork, plastered over Realme’s “Dare to Leap” slogan.
On another side of the box is a Dragonball scouter, which the characters use to seek out the mythical balls that can grant wishes.
Open up the box cover and we’re greeted with more artwork inside the box. This one is a comic book panel showing Goku battling four of his biggest foes: Vegeta, Frieza, Cell, and Majin Buu.
As per usual with Realme/OnePlus/OPPO phones, once you open the top cover there is still another cardboard flap that covers the phone. Usually, it is inside this flap where you’d find the papers no one bothers to read like packaging and warranty info. In OnePlus devices, this is also where you find those Never Settle stickers. Here, in this Dragonball edition packaging, you get a “collector’s card” with Shenlong (at least in my package, I’m not sure if there are other versions), and four sheets of stickers with Dragonball characters.
It’s worth noting that all the characters here are from the Dragonball Z version of the manga/anime, with no references to the newer Dragonball Super or Dragonball GT. It’s a bit ironic that a phone named GT does not reference the GT series, but as most Dragonball fans know, Dragonball GT is not considered canon, as it wasn’t written by series creator Akira Toriyama.
The sleeve also has artwork on both sides.
Finally, we get to the phone, which is wrapped in the usual plastic sleeve in a plastic casing. Below that is a soft TPU phone case that, sadly, isn’t themed at all, it’s just a genetic grey case, along with a 65W fast charging brick, USB-C cable, and a SIM ejector tool that has a four-star Dragonball design.
The phone’s front side looks like any other recent Android smartphone: it has a 6.6-inch curved OLED screen with a small hole-punch housing a 16MP selfie camera. Around the back though, we get that new paint job.
The coating over the glass back gives the phone a matte in-hand feel. The two vertical accents that you see running down the phone, along with the Kanji character (it’s the “Go” part of the name Goku) are just different color coating, there is no texture difference. In the hand, this phone feels just like the standard Realme GT Neo 2.
Booting up the phone, I was disappointed to see the start-up process looked like just any other generic Realme devices — the OnePlus 8T Cyberpunk 2077 Edition I mentioned earlier had a custom bootup animation. But once we get to the homescreen, we do see that the phone has a custom wallpaper and app icon themes.
There are only three Dragonball wallpaper to choose from, and all three feature the main character Goku. It’s puzzling why the phone did not include more artwork or wallpaper. The app icon skin has this heavily cartoonish aesthetics with a bit of 3D effect — so it’s the opposite of Google’s “flat” design philosophy. For third-party apps, the phone will add an orange border around with a bit of 3D effect too, as can be seen in the Google Drive and Google Chrome app icons, which I sideloaded as the phone does not ship with Google apps out of the box (which is normal for devices shipping in China).
Here is a better look at the three Dragonball Z wallpapers:
But really, that’s about it as far as Dragonball-themed customization goes. Once you jump beyond the homescreen, all the first-party Realme apps open to resemble how they’ve always looked. And the settings panel looks like any other recent Realme phone’s settings panel. I was disappointed to see that the phone doesn’t even include custom sound effects. I thought for sure there’d be audio taken from the anime for ring tones and notification tones, but nope, all the sound effects here are just the standard ones from Realme UI.
So like I said, this is a bit more than just a lazy paint job, but it isn’t nearly as full-on themed as what OnePlus did with its Cyberpunk 2077 device.
But I suppose this is fine because unlike, say, Samsung’s custom-themed phones which see a significant uptick in price, the Realme GT Neo 2 Dragonball Limited Edition is still very affordable. In China, it retails for 2699 yuan, which converts to around $420. For this price, you’re getting a 120Hz OLED screen, a Snapdragon 870 SoC, 12GB of RAM, 256 GB of storage, stereo speakers, and a large 5,000 mAh battery. The standard Realme GT Neo 2 retails for 2499 yuan, which converts to ~$393, so you aren’t paying a heavy premium, making it a rather viable option for a color variant in case you disliked the standard colors.
The camera system is decent for the price (but mediocre if judged by my flagship-using standards): it’s headlined by a 64MP main camera, an 8MP ultra-wide, and a 2MP macro sensor. I am currently stuck in quarantine so I can’t really take the camera out for real testing, but from what I’ve seen so far, I wouldn’t expect much. It’s a serviceable camera.
But ultimately, the Realme GT Neo 2 Dragonball Limited Edition will have major appeal because Dragonball Z is one of the most beloved manga/anime in pop culture. So this device has value as a collector’s item. The device is currently available only in China, but word on the street is that it might see a limited release in some other regions like India too. We’ll be taking a closer look at the Realme GT Neo 2 in the coming future, so stay tuned for that.