Realme GT Review: Glaringly typical from Realme in all the right ways
Realme, in just three years of its existence, has launched many, many products, especially in the Indian market. They’ve competed against well-established brands, expanded to multiple categories like AIoT and laptops, and given consumers multiple options to choose from. One of their recent offerings for Europe and India is the Realme GT which launched globally some time back.
It’s Realme’s performance flagship that gives you the best SoC on the Android side of things along with other components, including the moniker focused on speed. The Realme GT starts at ₹37,999 in India, £399 in the UK, and €499 in Europe, making it one of the cheapest phones with the Snapdragon 888 in these regions.
The compelling price tag along with an impressive spec sheet might interest a lot of consumers, especially mobile gamers. However, numbers often don’t tell you the complete story. I used the Realme GT for an extended period to help you decide whether or not you should invest your money in this phone. After extensive testing, I arrived at the conclusion that the Realme GT is a typical Realme phone. Let me explain.
Realme GT: Specifications. Click to expand.
Realme GT: Specifications
|Dimensions & Weight|
|RAM & Storage|
|Battery & Charging|
|Security||In-display fingerprint scanner|
|Front Camera(s)||16MP f/2.5|
|Port(s)||USB 2.0 Type-C|
|Software||Realme UI V2.0|
About this review: Realme India sent us the Realme GT and the device was used for a period of three weeks before writing this review. The global version of the phone was sent to our editor-in-chief Mishaal Rahman whose inputs have also been included in the review. The brand did not have any input into the contents of this review.
Design: Light, handy, and sporty!
The fact that Realme named this phone GT should indicate the fact that they’re going for a race car vibe. When you look at the rear of the device, that notion is only emphasized further. Realme has opted for a faux-leather back with the Racing Yellow variant with a glossy black stripe running down from the camera module to the bottom edge of the phone.
Design is subjective so I’ll leave it to you to decide what you think of this bold design from Realme. Personally, I like the yellow color with the soft-touch feel of the leatherette back. The black stripe however, seems a little out of place for my taste.
The yellow-colored back looks vibrant and is sure to turn heads when used without a case. It’s a nice departure from typical glossy backs that we’re used to seeing on most other phones. The texture adds a nice grip to the device and makes you feel like using the phone without a case. I’m someone who slaps a case onto every device but throughout the review period, I used the Realme GT naked and loved how it felt in my hands.
While the texture on the back is partially responsible for the good in-hand feel, Realme has to be credited for making the phone feel both slimmer and lighter than it actually is. When I say this phone is typical, one of the aspects I’m taking into account is how the phone feels in the hand. Realme has been doing a great job at making phones feel comfortable to hold and they’ve managed to do that with the Realme GT as well. The device isn’t compact by any means but is still sufficiently handy. I didn’t face any sort of hand or finger fatigue while using the phone one-handed. This phone is built like a typical Realme device.
That also means the frame is plastic which might be a let-down for some people, considering the price. However, the plastic frame also contributes to the reduced weight, a trade-off I’m willing to make. It’s worth noting the Realme GT doesn’t have any sort of water resistance or IP rating, so keep it away from the pool. The buttons are fairly tactile and the power button has a slight ridge with a yellow accent that looks cool. Overall, I’m quite pleased with how the Realme GT looks and feels. If the racing-oriented exterior isn’t your jam, Realme also sells a generic glass-back variant of the device.
Display: It’s all about speed
As mentioned earlier, the entire theme of this device is speed. The display is a 120Hz Full HD+ AMOLED panel and that high refresh rate surely makes its presence felt. Everything just flies on the Realme GT and while that’s mainly due to the Snapdragon 888 SoC under the hood which we’ll talk about in a bit, the smooth animations and high refresh rate display also give a major contribution. Scrolling feels smooth as ever and playing games that support 120fps is a treat to the eyes.
It’s not just about the refresh rate, though. Even in terms of content consumption, the Realme GT’s display doesn’t fall short. The color reproduction is good, and so are the viewing angles. Being an AMOLED panel, the blacks are truly black since the pixels turn off which also allows you to use the Always-on display feature.
In its Gentle profile, the color reproduction is decently accurate, and the Vivid profile which targets the P3 space is still under control. The display doesn’t have any offensive issues at 200 nits brightness.
If there’s one complaint I have regarding the display, it’s the outdoor brightness. The panel just doesn’t get bright enough under harsh sunlight which makes it difficult to view the display when you’re outdoors. In our measurements, the minimum luminance of the display is ~2 nits at 100%APL, while the maximum luminance of the display when manually raising the brightness in software to 100% is ~422 nits (again, at 100%APL). When bringing the phone outdoors and turning on auto-brightness, the maximum luminance of the display once high-brightness mode kicks in ~608 nits, which pales in comparison to what other displays can achieve. The display can get a bit brighter, but only when viewing HDR content (after manually enabling the “bright HDR mode” toggle which is off by default)—the maximum luminance we measured, in this case, is ~737 nits (at 20% APL), which is acceptable for viewing HDR.
This low brightness problem has been plaguing Realme devices for some time, and there’s not much the company has done to address it. Again, the Realme GT display is what we’ve come to expect from a Realme phone.
Realme GT: Performance
Alright, this is one area where I have absolutely nothing to complain about. The Realme GT with the Snapdragon 888 mobile platform under the hood performs as well as any other top-tier flagship with the same chip. When I said the phone flies through literally everything in the display section, you’d realize what I’m saying when you use the Realme GT yourself. Be it in terms of app opening speeds or switching between multiple open apps, the phone does everything in a split second.
Be it scrolling, typing, or viewing images, the Realme GT rarely fails to maintain its 144Hz refresh rate.Heavy titles like PUBG Mobile (AKA BGMI in India) can run at a constant frame rate of 60fps even with continuous gameplay. While the game has an option to enable a 90fps frame rate, the option doesn’t seem to work as of writing this review. Hopefully with an update, this issue will be addressed. While playing Genshin Impact, which is one of the most demanding games on mobile, we observed a frame rate of around 40-45fps.
The Snapdragon 888 is infamous for getting a little too hot with extended usage, but thankfully, we didn’t observe any sort of excessive overheating or throttling on the Realme GT. Realme has done a great job to control the thermals on the device and even after an hour of stressing the device, it didn’t get uncomfortably hot to hold. Our unit has 12GB of RAM, and you can get either the 128GB or 256GB variant, but there’s no SD card slot for expansion.
Software: Realme UI 2.0 based on Android 11
Just like all phones from the brand, the Realme GT runs Realme UI which is a modified version of ColorOS based on top of Android 11. You get the usual Realme UI features like dual apps, game space, a new GT Mode for better gaming optimization, and all the customization options we’re used to seeing in almost every custom skin. You also get a ton of stock Realme apps, including a Calculator, Camera, Clock, Compass, File Manager, Game Manager, Hey Fun, Hey Tap, Music, Soloop, Themes, Phone Manager, Photos, Realme Link, Recorder, Screen Lock, Videos, and Weather, so you can skip going to the Play Store for many basic functions. Some of these apps have a ton of features, while others — like Recorder — are rather basic.
Realme UI has improved over time and is fast and responsive with smooth animations. However, I found a lot of pre-installed apps on the Indian variant along with folders like Hot Apps that are essentially ads for you to install third-party applications. In the global version, apps like Agoda, Booking, Facebook, WPS Office, and Netflix were preinstalled, while the Google Phone and Messages apps were set as the default dialer and text messaging apps respectively.
Most of these apps can be uninstalled, and you should do it as soon as you get the phone since they keep sending annoying notifications. We also recommend that you turn off ads under Settings > Additional settings > Get recommendations and Settings > Privacy > Device ID & Ads. While one may argue that the added bloatware and ads aren’t an issue since they can be uninstalled/disabled, these aren’t something I would like to see on a flagship phone that isn’t really cheap per se.
While we generally like ColorOS 11 — and by extension, Realme UI 2.0 — using the software once again on the Realme GT reminds us of its many annoyances and odd design decisions. Here’s a laundry list of things we noted when using the software:
Nitpicking Realme UI 2.0 on the Realme GT
- Even after you turn off the “Hold for Assistant” power button gesture, you still have to wait for 3 seconds to see the power menu.
- Every single settings page has a “you might be looking for” suggestion at the bottom. Why not just put a shortcut to those settings then?
- Realme UI provides no explanation for what some of its features do until after setting them up.
- Why does launching the “Gestures & motions” settings menu ask you for access to your contacts and phone number before you can even see what features are available?
- Realme UI has a lot of different background management features strewn in Settings, many of which are enabled by default. After installing all of your favorite apps, you need to go through all of these settings to make sure they’re disabled for any apps that you want to see real-time notifications from. Realme recognizes how aggressive these features can be, so they’ve even added some of the most popular messaging and social media apps to an internal allowlist by default.
- Opening the keyboard app in landscape mode doesn’t make it go full screen, and there’s no button to minimize the keyboard.
- The notification to change the active USB mode from charging to data transfer disappears really quickly. To change it, we had to go into Developer options > select USB configuration.
- The media player isn’t “integrated” into the Quick Settings panel like on stock Android 11, it’s just a notification pinned to the top.
- Bubbles don’t stash to the side, so they take up more space on screen than they do on other devices.
- You can’t go to the app settings page from the recent apps menu, a feature available in stock Android. This makes it tedious to manage an app’s data/permissions/install status.
- Split screen mode has a distracting green line separating the two views even though there’s already a visible bar separating things.
- The power menu supports Android 11’s device controls feature but not its Quick Wallet Access feature, so you have to open the Google Pay app to switch your default card.
- The share option in the context menu of apps in the app drawer is outdated as it only shares the base APK and not the entire batch of apps.
- Music app shows a persistent notification even when it’s not playing anything.
- AOD shows icons for silent notifications like Google weather updates.
- Apps with WebViews like Reddit is Fun and Feedly default to 60Hz refresh rate. This also happens in Discord, making for an unpleasant scrolling experience.
- Changing the volume through an app like MX Player will briefly show the system volume panel changing, which seems like a bug.
- Sometimes, while listening to content with wired or wireless earphones, the audio would seemingly switch on a virtual surround sound effect, which was possibly caused by Dolby Atmos and its smart mode.
- Useful notification Assistant features like smart replies and sorting are turned off by default.
- You can only swipe to show a notification’s actions (like snooze, settings, and delete) in one direction (right to left).
- You have to toggle “disable permission monitoring” in Settings > Developer options just to run many ADB commands.
- Why are screenshots still stored under the DCIM folder? Thankfully, this will be fixed in Android 12.
Coming from Pixel software, it’s clear that Realme UI could do with a bit of polishing. Hopefully, many of these issues are addressed with the upcoming Realme UI 3.0 update, which will be based on ColorOS 12 set to be unveiled this week. To be fair, there are many useful additions on top of stock Android 11 that we’d like to point out, including:
Useful additions to Realme UI 2.0 on the Realme GT
- The ability to raise the keyboard and prevent back swipes is neat.
- Realme Labs has some neat features, including DC dimming, smooth scrolling, Bluetooth dual audio, and “Sleep Capsule”, which is basically Bedtime Mode in Digital Wellbeing. Smooth scrolling seems to significantly reduce the scrolling friction.
- Bluetooth settings shows the supported audio codecs of a headset, so you don’t have to dive into developer options.
- Some Quick Settings tiles can be expanded like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth!
- From the recent apps menu, many apps can be opened in a floating or mini window.
- Mini window is basically a PiP window but for any app. They can be launched from the recent apps overview or from the smart sidebar tool. Floating window is actually different from the AOSP implementation as it’s basically the expanded version of the mini window. Only one app can be opened as a mini or floating window at a time.
- Split screen mode has an option to swap the positions of two apps when you tap on the bar.
- AI features in the camera app are turned off by default!
- You can choose to collapse notifications by default.
- You can hide the gesture bar when using navigation gestures, a feature not available in stock Android.
- Realme makes beautiful use of gaussian blur throughout the system, such as for the notification background or when bubbles are open.
For a more thorough rundown of the software on the Realme GT, we recommend you read our ColorOS 11 review, which goes over all of the major and minor features, behavior changes from stock Android 11, etc.
This takes me back to the same point again — even in this aspect, the Realme GT is a typical Realme phone. You get a great chipset with solid performance, but the software experience is where Realme should have opted to be atypical, at least on a flagship like this.
Cameras: Nothing new
At this point, I’m pretty sure I’m boring you with how many times I’ve mentioned the word typical, but here it goes again — the camera performance of the Realme GT is — no points for guessing — typical. The Realme GT has a 64MP primary camera that the brand has used on several of its phones in the past. The Realme GT produces good quality images in daylight with ample amounts of detail and the right amounts of highlights and shadows. At times, the colors do look slightly boosted but that’s how Realme’s camera processing works — the saturation is slightly on the higher side.
In low-light situations, shots from the Realme GT look soft and noisy. The phone does manage to capture a good amount of light with Night Mode enabled, but the images certainly could have been sharper. When capturing human subjects, the Realme GT tends to get the skin tone wrong and goes for a slightly reddish tint. The same can be said about selfies too. The 8MP ultra-wide camera is average and can only be used when there’s ample light. The 2MP macro camera — well, it’s just there.
I would have loved to see a telephoto lens in place of the macro camera or even a better wide-angle camera, especially at this price point. To be fair though, this is Realme’s performance-oriented flagship targeted towards a demographic that’s big on gaming and productivity. Realme had announced earlier that they’re going to adopt a two-flagship strategy every year with one flagship aimed at performance enthusiasts and one for photographers, so we’re not really expecting this one to blow us away with its camera performance.
Battery and Charging: SuperDart is back!
65W charging on Realme phones isn’t new. In fact, the Narzo 20 Pro which is a mid-range phone also had support for this crazy fast-charging tech. However, Realme limited the charging speed to 50W on some of its previous phones. Thankfully, to keep up with the racing theme, Realme has brought back 65W charging support on the Realme GT, and boy is it fast. We were able to charge the 4,500mAh battery on the Realme GT in just 32 minutes. There’s no wireless charging, though, which doesn’t really come as a surprise.
It’s not just about fast charging, though. The battery life on the Realme GT is great and is something you can rely on to last you an entire day. With moderate usage, you can expect about seven hours of screen-on time when used at 120Hz. By moderate usage, I mean scrolling through social media, watching videos on YouTube, making a few video calls on Duo, streaming music through YouTube Music, and using the camera to take a few pictures.
The Realme GT has support for Carrier Aggregation as tested with my Jio network in Bengaluru, Karnataka. We’ve also tested the phone with Google Fi in the U.S., and while VoLTE was available, 5G connectivity wasn’t. The Realme GT is not officially sold in the States anyway, so it isn’t recommended to purchase it there.
The phone has a decent vibration motor which is better than most budget phones but is certainly not as good as flagships. In fact, I feel some of Realme’s cheaper phones in the past had better haptic feedback than the Realme GT. You get Widevine L1 certification so you’ll be able to enjoy watching movies and shows in HD on your favorite streaming platforms.
Realme has not been very developer-friendly, but if you’re looking forward to unlocking the bootloader on the device to gain root access or to flash a custom ROM/kernel, it is possible to do so.
Verdict: Should you buy the Realme GT?
probably surely understood the theme of the article by now. The Realme GT feels like a typical phone from Realme, and that’s not really a bad thing. It’s just that there’s nothing really unique about the Realme GT, and that says more about Realme as a company than it does about the phone in specific. The design is nice, the phone feels good to hold in the hand, the display is good but could’ve been brighter, performance is top-notch but the UI has some bloatware, the cameras are average, and the charging is really fast.
For a price of ₹37,999 in India, £399 in the UK, or €499 in the rest of Europe, the package you’re getting is quite nice, but spending a little extra and waiting for deals and offers will fetch you a much better deal—at least in India—in the form of the iQOO 7 Legend. The iQOO 7 Legend has the exact same performance with better cameras, making it a better option overall that gives you a slightly more flagship-like experience. The Mi 11X Pro is also a good option if you like MIUI and want a 108MP camera.
In my opinion, Realme should have priced the Realme GT slightly more aggressively to undercut the competition and we would have had a winner. For now, it’s yet another Realme phone that’s pretty good, but just not great enough to outdo the competition.