This is a performance-oriented phone from the get-go, and it does bring back a bit of excitement and déjà vu long lost in the industry after OnePlus moved on to a different trajectory.
While the jury is still out on its exact origins, there’s absolutely no doubt that the moniker ‘flagship killer’ picked up steam in 2014 with OnePlus entering the market with its first product, the OnePlus One. The idea was to offer an experience akin to a high-end Samsung Galaxy or a premium iPhone at a fraction of the cost. A few things were a given. Like say for instance, you’d always expect a OnePlus phone to pack the latest and greatest mobile processor from Qualcomm, available at that point in time. You’d expect it to have clean software. These phones were no slouch in other areas either. Barring a few omissions like an IP-rating or wireless charging, OnePlus would give you an offer, you just couldn’t refuse.
Over the course of time, the flagship killer made way for the flagship. I won’t go so much into the nitty-gritties, but the moniker was eventually laid to rest. Until today when Realme, a OnePlus sister brand, jumpstarted the category with the launch of the Realme GT 5G.
The phone’s being marketed as a ‘flagship killer 2021.’ At least that’s what the reviewer’s guide tells me. It is following hot on the heels of the Realme X7 Max and Realme X7 Pro, both flagship killer phones in their own right. Realme is basically adopting a ‘Dual-platform Dual-flagship’ strategy where it will have two series of mid-to-high-end segment products, one based on Qualcomm’s high-end 8 series processors and focus on the performance aspect, the other will be powered by MediaTek’s Dimensity processors and focus on camera technology.
The big USP of the Realme GT is that it comes with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor. It may not be the latest and greatest hardware right now, as Qualcomm has already released the Snapdragon 888 Plus, but the Realme GT first broke cover in March (Qualcomm announced the chipset in late June). It has taken Realme a lot of time to bring the phone to India, though, which is the real bummer.
Realme is pairing the Snapdragon 888 with up to 12 gigs of LPDDR5 RAM and up to 256GB of UFS3.1 storage. There is also a dynamic RAM expansion feature in the phone which is essentially virtual memory for smartphones that uses your internal storage to bump up the RAM when you need it. To that effect, Realme’s tech will let you allocate 7GB additional memory, theoretically making the Realme GT a 19GB RAM phone. The feature needs to be enabled from the phone’s settings. The Realme GT does not support expandable storage. You do get dual SIM and support for 5G and Wi-Fi 6. Software inside the phone is Android 11-based Realme UI 2.0.
Like a lot of other Snapdragon 888-powered phones in the market today, the Realme GT also has a tendency to get hot when stressed. And, it has a tendency to throttle. Like the Realme X7 Max, the Realme GT also has a stainless-steel vapour cooling system but so far, it has not been able to keep up with anything and everything I have been throwing at it. The Dimensity 1200-powered Realme X7 Max handles the thermals better, as far as I can tell from using both these phones.
The Realme X7 Max/Pro will figure a lot in Realme GT reviews and comparisons because there are a lot of similarities between these phones aside from the core hardware and even the design to an extent. That’s not a bad thing at all, because both the Realme X7 Max and Realme X7 Pro are terrific value for money. The Realme GT is trying to build on that and take that experience to another level.
Take the screen for instance. It is 6.43-inch 1080p Super AMOLED with fast 120Hz refresh rate, punchy colours and good viewing angles. Brightness tops out at 1000 nits like the Realme X7 Max. There is no HDR support. The in-display fingerprint reader isn’t the most accurate and there is no screen protection, at least none that is advertised.
The cameras are being carried forward from the Realme X7 Max as well which means that the phone comes with three cameras on the rear and only one of them—the primary—is usable. This is 64MP Sony IMX682 sensor. The other two cameras – 8MP ultra-wide-angle and 2MP macro – are barely serviceable. On the front, the Realme GT has a 16MP camera, again like the Realme X7 Max.
Fuelling the package is a 4,500mAh battery with 65W fast charging support. In my experience, the phone can go from 0-100% in just 45 minutes which is really good. The phone also comes with dual stereo speakers with Hi-Res audio support plus a headphone jack.
One of the variants of the Realme GT (which we have for review) comes with a dual-tone vegan leather design. It uses two different kinds of materials on the backplate to highlight its ‘sports car’ aesthetic. A large part of the phone is yellow. This is interrupted by a black glossy vertical stripe – this also houses the phone’s triple cameras. The phone will also come in silver and blue colourways.
Realme GT 5G first impressions
The Realme GT is essentially a turbo charged Realme X7 Max/Pro. It looks like it too. The combination of vegan leather and Realme’s signature yellow colourway (and minimal branding) makes the phone stand out from the crowd and feel good in the hands. But despite those very compelling credentials, it’s the price that Realme has launched the phone, that makes it hard to resist. The base 8GB/128GB model has been launched at Rs 37,999 while the top-end 12GB/256GB version will set you back by Rs 41,999.
This is a performance-oriented phone from the get-go, and it does bring back a bit of excitement and déjà vu long lost in the industry after OnePlus moved on to a different trajectory. There have been attempts from other brands, like Poco and Xiaomi for instance, but again, they’ve been just one-off attempts. Realme says the GT is a series of smartphones so we’re hoping there will be more incoming in the future. As for whether or not the Realme GT 5G is in fact, a flagship killer, watch this space for our full review dropping soon.