Realme GT Neo 3 (150W) Review: Once you fast-charge, you can never go back
When you talk about fast charging on a smartphone, a good chunk of the world still experiences it at a maximum of 18W-25W, thanks to Apple, Samsung, and the budget market sticking to these numbers. Move over to Asia though, and you’d find that even 25W barely qualifies as what one can consider fast charging. We’ve long moved on to 33W, 45W, 65W, and even 80W and 120W charging solutions on consumer-ready smartphones. At MWC 2022, OPPO showed off its 150W fast charging solution, and now, both Realme and OnePlus are out with their takes on 150W smartphones with the Realme GT Neo 3 and the OnePlus 10R respectively. In this article, we’ll take a look at the Realme GT Neo 3 (150W) and see what the hype behind super-fast charging is — and whether you should care enough to base your next smartphone purchase decision on the basis of it.
Realme GT Neo 3: Specifications
|Specification||Realme GT Neo 3|
|Dimensions & Weight||
|RAM & Storage||
|Battery & Charging||
|Security||In-display fingerprint scanner|
|Front Camera(s)||16MP, f/2.45|
|Software||Realme UI 3.0 based on Android 12|
About this review: Realme India sent us the Realme GT Neo 3 (150W) for review. Realme did not have any input in this article.
Realme GT Neo 3: Design and Display
Realme makes bold color, material, and finish (CMF) choices on its smartphones, and the Realme GT Neo 3 continues on that path. We have the Sprint White color variant for review, and it’s relatively muted with a cooler white color when compared to the Nitro Blue which is loud with its blue color. Both of these colors have a contrasting color stripe running offset on the back. The stripe skips the camera module and the big “realme” logo on the back, and it gives the phone a nice identity. The back is made of glass with a matte texture over it except for the camera module, which has a shiny finish. The end result is that there are no fingerprint smudges on the device, so you aren’t constantly worried about the back looking dirty.
If you’d prefer an even more muted look, Realme has a pretty simple Black color variant that skips out on the stripe for a more generic smartphone look. While I like the stripe design overall, I would have preferred a smaller branding on the back of the device.
Curiously, the Realme GT Neo 3 has a polycarbonate mid-frame. While polycarbonate mid-frames have their place in the smartphone market, it does feel out of place on a device targeting the price range that the Realme GT Neo 3 does. I would have preferred a more premium-feeling glass-metal sandwich at this price. There’s also no IP rating on the device, so it’s probably best to keep it away from dust and rain. Two very surprising shortcomings indeed.
Beyond this, there’s nothing inherently wrong with the Realme GT Neo 3’s design, and most users will like what they’re holding in their hands. The fingerprint sensor is located pretty close to the bottom of the display as we’ve seen in many other recent smartphones, but you get used to the positioning after a bit. The volume rocker is present on the left side and the ridged “side button” on the right side. Realme is following the recent trend where the power button is being referred to as the side button, and a default press and hold triggers Google Assistant instead of the power menu — you can change this in the Settings though.
On the front of the Realme GT Neo 3 is a 6.7-inch 120Hz FHD+ AMOLED display with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 for protection. This is a good display that supports HDR10+ and up to 1000 nits of peak brightness. It’s also a flat display with no curved edges, and I count that as a plus for practicality. However, note that this is not an LTPO display, so while you can choose between 60Hz and 120Hz for your refresh rate, it’s not going to drop really low to conserve power when other phones (such as the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra) may have been able to.
Realme also mentions that the phone has a dedicated display processor, but it only kicks in for frame interpolation when gaming, so you’re not going to be seeing its advantages beyond that use case, if at all. During my time with the phone, I had no complaints regarding the display, and it served my needs for social media and content consumption pretty well.
Realme GT Neo 3: Battery and Charging
We’ll talk about performance in a bit, but before that, it makes sense to approach the main highlight of this device: its fast charging experience. The Realme GT Neo 3 comes in two variants with different battery and charging speed combinations:
- 4,500 mAh battery with 150W fast charging; 160W charger in the box.
- 5,000 mAh battery with 80W fast charging; 80W charger in the box.
The 150W fast charging option only comes in the highest RAM and storage SKU, so you’ll need to get the 12GB RAM and 256GB storage option to also get the 150W fast charging variant with the 160W charging brick (no, that’s not a typo).
Getting to the meat of the discussion, Realme makes some lofty claims about the 150W version. The company claims that the phone is capable of reaching from 0% to 50% in about 5 minutes, and from 0% to 100% of the 4,500 mAh battery in just 17 minutes with the Rapid Charging setting turned on. How true are these claims? Not absolutely, but you’re still bound to remain impressed with the actual charging performance. From our testing with the Rapid Charging setting on, the phone reaches 50% charge in under 10 minutes, and a full charge in under 20 minutes. We’re off of both claims by a few minutes, but India’s ambient temperature during these tests was a toasty 34° C — you should be able to shave some more seconds off if you have cooler ambient temperatures.
The phone does heat up when you use the Rapid Charging setting. The hottest temperature I observed was 42° C (when the ambient room temperature was 34° C), and this was on the right side of the back at the same level as the bottom edge of the camera module. The coolest point on the back of the device was 35.4° C in the same run, which sounds about right considering the ambient temperature. 42° C is what I would consider noticeably hot to the touch — it will cause you some discomfort if you keep holding it for more than a minute. Realme says the phone has a large vapor chamber setup that is designed to dissipate heat, with the idea being that it’s better to have the heat generated moved out as quickly as possible, instead of letting it stay trapped. However, I can’t be the only person finding these temperatures uncomfortable and rather impractical.
We don’t have access to the 80W version of the Realme GT Neo 3, nor of the OnePlus 10R, but we do have access to the OnePlus 10 Pro in its 80W, 5,000 mAh battery form factor. As we noted in our OnePlus 10 Pro review, we could get a full charge in 33 minutes with 80W SuperVOOC. Both Realme and OnePlus share the underlying technology of OPPO’s SuperVOOC, so we can take the findings from the OnePlus 10 Pro as a rough estimate of the same charging technology performance on the 80W versions of the Realme GT Neo 3 and the OnePlus 10R. With either 150W or 80W numbers (or even 65W charging for that matter), I can confidently assert that anyone who gets used to this fast charging will find it jarring to go back to a slower charging device, and they’d specifically feel the limitation if the device was a flagship that cost 2x-3x of this phone. You know what I’m talking about.
With great power comes great responsibility. So, Realme’s parent company OPPO emphasizes the safety of its 150W fast charging tech, and Realme reiterates all of the same. There is a Battery Health Engine at play that claims to help your phone retain up to 80% of its charging capacity up until the 1600 charging cycle mark versus the conventional 800 charging cycles. There is no way for us to verify these claims, so we’ll leave you to be the judge of them. Note that you don’t get the Battery Health Engine feature in the standard 80W charging variant.
An additional point goes to the Realme GT Neo 3 in that Realme packs the charger in the box for both variants. The 80W variant gets a USB Type-A charger and a USB Type-A to Type-C cable. The 150W version gets a 160W charging brick with a Type-C port and a C to C cable. Both the charging brick and the cable are thick. The brick supports a higher wattage than what the phone does, but it only supports up to 45W USB Power Delivery. In essence, while you can use it to charge your other devices like your laptop, laptops that need more power than 45W will not benefit from this brick. It’s a bit curious to see OPPO/Realme pack an extra 10W of room on the charger even when the device can’t make use of it: maybe something else is coming in the future?
The counterpoint to a super-fast charging setup is that your battery shrinks to accommodate the circuitry needed to enable such super fast charging. This means that you will just about last through a day with the 4,500 mAh battery on the Realme GT Neo 3. This is again pretty good, but nothing that will blow you away. The 80W version of the device with a 5,000 mAh battery would get you there with a lot more headroom to spare.
Given the situation outlined above with regard to charging speeds, the resultant temperatures, and the battery life, I would personally choose the 80W version of the device with its 5,000 mAh battery over the 150W version of the device with its 4,500 mAh battery.
Realme GT Neo 3: Camera
The camera on the Realme GT Neo 3 isn’t its best talking point, but it gets the job done. The rear camera setup comprises the 50MP Sony IMX766 sensor with OIS, an 8MP ultrawide angle camera, and a 2MP macro camera that can focus up to 4cm close. I’m not going to be spending too much time on this aspect of the device, because we’ve seen the primary sensor on a wide range of devices so far: ranging from the Realme 9 Pro Plus, Realme GT 2, Realme GT 2 Pro, OnePlus Nord 2, OnePlus 9RT, and of course the OnePlus 10R, and more. The key takeaway with the primary camera remains the same as you see on devices like the Realme 9 Pro Plus and Realme GT 2 Pro: you will get some excellent photos during the day, and fairly decent photos during the night.
What isn’t that great are the non-primary cameras. The quality falls off with the ultrawide camera, and the macro camera is just okay too. There is no optical zoom on the device, but the camera app offers you digital zoom, which you should avoid. Selfie duties are handled by a 16MP camera, and it will serve your social media needs just fine.
Overall, this isn’t a phone you buy for the camera in particular, and that’s fine since Realme has many other camera-focused devices that you could purchase instead. Even still, if you did get this phone and used the camera, the main shooter will keep you happy while the others will just about let you coast by.
Realme GT Neo 3: Software and Performance
The Realme GT Neo 3 comes with the MediaTek Dimensity 8100 5G SoC, which sits around the same levels as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G SoC. The Dimensity 8100 has 4x ARM Cortex-A78 cores @2.85GHz plus 4x ARM Cortex-A55 cores @2GHz. GPU duties are handled by the Mali-G610 MC6.
In day-to-day usage, the Realme GT Neo 3 does not break a sweat. I’ve been a firm believer in flagship MediaTek SoCs as an alternative to Snapdragon flagship SoCs, and the Dimensity 8100 works great in that regard, giving you performance that will not have you question the SoC in the device. Zipping around the UI in Realme UI (based on ColorOS) is fluid, and there’s nothing out of the ordinary to notice in general performance. There’s a small bit of thermal throttling that happens during intensive tasks at about the 4-5 minute mark, but the minor drop is only noticeable in benchmarking apps and not in daily usage, apps, and games alike.
I played a few hours of Genshin Impact too, and I have nothing to complain about on that end either. This phone should work out if you’re into casual gaming, but I would avoid it for more hardcore gaming scenarios where you would need to charge the phone while gaming for longer hours. The quick battery top-ups generate a lot of heat, and if the phone is fairly hot itself from a gaming session, it won’t charge as quickly — thereby leaving behind its selling point.
A major point of contention is the bloatware situation on the Realme GT Neo 3. The phone runs on Realme UI 3.0, which in itself is based on ColorOS 12 based on Android 12. While I have seen this UX on several phones by now, this is the most bloated experience so far. There are a ton of pre-installed applications on the device, including Realme’s own apps and third-party apps:
- Third-Party Apps:
- MX TakaTak
- Realme Apps:
- Clone Phone
- Realme Community
- Finshell Pay
- Hot Apps
- Realme Link
- Realme Store
- Soloop Cut
- Theme Store
Keep in mind that Google apps are also present on this device, so you can see how populated the phone feels right after the first boot and setup (screenshots above) before you even restore your data from your older device. Add your own apps to the mix, and you just end up with a ton of apps, making it difficult to locate apps that you actually need to use. I did end up deleting all of the pre-installed third-party apps, so I didn’t face any notification spam issues, but the ingredients are present for it to become a problem. I’d much rather we never reach that stage.
Beyond bloatware, Realme UI is great to use. There are a ton of features on the device, including the ability to clone apps to run a simultaneous second account, app vaults, a theme store, and more. A lot of average users appreciate these features, and they will not be disappointed. For downsides, Realme only promises two Android version updates, and Realme devices generally do not support bootloader unlocking.
Realme GT Neo 3: Conclusion
The Realme GT Neo 3 is a good device, and the headlining 150W charging feature is indeed insane. However, it’s clear that the device is making some compromises to achieve that one thing it absolutely excels at. The question then remains if those compromises work for your use cases.
The Realme GT Neo 3 (150W) excels at charging, but this excellence occurs within the narrow confines of ideal conditions. In real life — and with India’s ambient temperatures — you’re unlikely to keep using the Rapid Charging feature every day, and you’d end up with charging times that are closer to the 80W numbers. In such a situation, you’d be better off trading the 150W charging for the 80W charging, simply because you get a bigger battery that lasts more confidently through the day. One thing is for sure, whether it be 80W or 150W, once you go fast charging, you can never go back to using smartphones with 18W-25W charging (like the iPhones and the Samsungs of the world) and not feel chained to the wall.
For other pros with the Realme GT Neo 3, the display is excellent, and the lighter weight means it’s comfortable to hold for a longer period of time. The primary camera also works well. Realme also has a few good bank offers, which can help bring the price of the device down — but count this as a positive only if they are available at the time of your purchase and you can take advantage of it.
Beyond that, there are things you may not like about the phone. The camera setup may feel rather limiting, considering how much you’re paying. The bloat situation is also rather worrisome since this isn’t exactly an early-budget smartphone: why so many preloaded apps, Realme? Realme has also made devices that come off more premium in the hand — this device has a bit more of a subdued characteristic to it, and that may be a good or bad thing subjectively.
You should buy the Realme GT Neo 3 (150W) if:
- You want very fast charging. Like, really fast.
- You want a smartphone that works great for daily usage.
You should not buy the Realme GT Neo 3 (150W) if:
- You want more versatility in the camera setup.
- You want a clean, bloatware-free smartphone.
- You want a device that feels more premium in the hand.
- You care about smartphone heat.
For a starting price of ₹36,999 for the 80W 8GB/128GB version and ₹42,999 for the 150W 12GB/256GB version, the Realme GT Neo 3 qualifies to be considered within the affordable flagship segment, and it managed to get a good podium finish. Despite that, a few of the compromises in tow keep the device from getting the top position. Realme themselves sell devices that make better sense than this: the Realme GT 2 starts at ₹34,999 and has a much better feel in the hand. In India, you can also get devices like the OnePlus 9 at around ₹37,999, though one can argue whether that’s a better choice over this considering the software update situation there. Then there’s the iQOO 9 and the iQOO 9 SE, both of which come out as much better products depending on how wide your budget is.
All in all, the Realme GT Neo 3 is a good choice for its 80W version, but the sell becomes harder for the more expensive yet not-necessarily-better 150W version. If you’ve decided you want this phone, I would recommend buying the 80W version and saving yourself some money against experiences you may not be able to notice all the time.