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Realme 5 review

The new budget king on the block?

(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

Realme 5 looks a pretty sweet and a versatile deal. However, its a bummer that the company couldn’t fit in a Full HD screen to make it a great all-round package under the Rs 10,000 price bracket.

For

  • Decent performer
  • Versatile quad-camera setup
  • Long-lasting 5,000mAh battery
  • Comfortable in the hand

Against

  • Misses out on Full HD screen
  • Underwhelming ColorOS
  • Has considerable weight

Realme 5 is out and out a budget smartphone in the company’s 5-series lineup and succeeds the Realme 3 which was introduced earlier this year in India. Since then, Realme has expanded into the Indian smartphone market with phones like the Realme C2, Realme 3i and Realme X, to name a few. 

For three quarters now, the OPPO-spinoff has retained the number four spot in the Indian phone market with a 9% share. Realme is also the fastest brand to ship 8 million phones in just a year of its existence.

With Realme 5, the brand has updated its six-month-old budget offering with a new processor, quad-camera setup and a huge battery. Not to forget the sweet spot pricing of the Realme 5. But is that enough to rile up the competition and lure the users to its side? We find out in this review of the Realme 5.

Having said that if you want something better and more powerful, you might want to have a look at our review of the Realme 5 Pro, the elder brother to the budget offering.

Realme 5 price and availability

Realme 5 hits the sweet spot with its pricing as it starts from Rs 9,999 for the base variant with 3GB + 32GB storage and Rs 10,999 for the model with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage. There’s a 128GB variant as well, which is priced at Rs 11,999.

The phone comes in two colour, Crystal Blue and Crystal Purple to choose from.

Realme 5 is available with online retailers and can be purchased from Flipkart, Paytm and Realme India online store. It will also be available in offline markets starting mid-September.

Design and Display

(Image credit: Future)

Realme 5 has a polycarbonate chassis with a glossy back and a 6.5-inch screen on the front with a waterdrop notch. The back panel curves gently towards the edges attaching itself to the middle frame in a seamless finish. While the display module has sharp edges that are noticeable if you run your fingers along the edges of the phone. 

The back panel has a glossy coating which the company calls Crystal design, as it flaunts crystal-like patterns when subjected to light at different angles. Needless to say, you will have a hard time keeping the back of the phone free of smudges and fingerprints.

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There’s a vertical camera module on the top-left rear corner of the phone accompanied by an LED flash on its side. A fingerprint sensor is also situated in the same vicinity while the word “realme” is positioned vertically at the bottom corner. The right and left side edge is home to a power button, volume controls and a SIM card slot, respectively. 

On the bottom side, there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack, microUSB port along with speaker and microphone grills. A small area above the notch cutout has been given to a speaker unit.

The phone feels pretty solid in the hand and has considerable weight to it thanks to the big battery inside. It measures 9.3mm at the thickest point and weighs 198g, making it one of the heftiest phone made by the company. 

Realme 5 has a larger footprint than its Pro variant which has a slightly smaller, 6.3-inch display. It also gives way to a three-layer splash resistance solution on the phone making it withstand usual splashes of water.

The display on the Realme 5 measures 6.5-inch with an HD+ (1600 x 720 pixels) resolution. This gives it a 20:9 aspect ratio which is slightly wider than the standard 19:5 aspect ratio. It is further topped with a layer of Gorilla Glass 3+ for added protection against drops and scratches.

The waterdrop notch design on the top of the screen has been tweaked to be 30.9% smaller than the cutout on the Realme 3. It’s a minimal tweak to the design and a pretty unnoticeable one at that. What’s noticeable to the eye is the wide chin area along with side bezels. Instead, we would have loved to see a Full HD panel on the Realme 5, as lower pixel density doesn’t really do justice to the 89% large screen estate.

Performance-wise, the display on the Realme 5 is decent to watch videos and play games. Using the phone outdoors, we found that it has a fair amount of sunlight legibility but the brightness levels need to be over 80% for it to withstand harsh sunlight. The phone doesn’t have support for Widevine L1 which means that you cannot watch HD content from OTT providers.

Overall, the design of the Realme 5 builds upon the fundamentals laid down by the Realme 3 but fail to impress us. This is something that’s been overdone by smartphone manufacturers now and just tweaking the design process to expect different results does not qualify as a new design language. If the back of the phone is subjected to daily wear and tear, one can easily notice scuff marks around the rear panel and most buyers will be hard-pressed to put on a case. Thankfully, Realme bundles a transparent case in-the-box but it only makes the phone bulkier.

As for the display, if you’re someone who does not consume or rather casually consumes visual content on your phone, you wouldn’t find any issues with the display in general. Realme 5 provides a satisfactory viewing experience but we’ve just seen better and know for a fact that a full HD panel would have increased this experience by a four-fold, especially when it comes to gaming.

Cameras

Realme 5 brings a quad-camera setup to the budget segment, a first for phones under Rs 10,000. The four sensors on the back consist of a 12MP primary camera with an f/1.8, an 8MP ultra-wide angle lens with 119-degree field of view, 2MP macro lens with a 4cm focusing distance and a fourth, 2MP depth sensor.

The primary camera supports EIS (electronic image stabilization) while the ultra-wide camera uses edge calibration techniques to remove the edge distortion that’s common with a wide-angle lens. The macro lens offers a closer perspective to view objects, especially for budget phone users.

The camera app on the Realme 5 also offers Nightscape and ChromaBoost mode along with support for 4K recording at 30fps and 240fps slow-motion videos at 720p.

On the front, there’s a 13MP selfie camera housed within the waterdrop notch with features like AI beautification and HDR support.

Realme has made a phone with a versatile camera array system, something that will definitely woo a lot of photography enthusiasts. Sadly though, these additional sensors don’t make way for better pictures that you won’t already expect from budget phones. 

The ultra-wide-angle camera and macro lens on the Realme 5 aren’t well optimized and generally result in less-detailed, noise-filled pictures. The same holds to be true for pictures shot in low-lit environments across all its sensors.

The primary camera does produce some good looking pictures of landscapes, objects and people. Here again, the camera fails to retain details which is visible if you zoom in a little. However, it is able to produce close to natural-looking colours in pictures which is at least half a decent job. Even pictures shot in portrait mode came out with a good looking bokeh effect which is a result of the camera having accurately been able to identify and separate the foreground from the background.

Overall, we’d say that Realme 5 is a good performer when it comes to its camera capabilities. However, the addition of ultra-wide and macro sensors does little to uplift its status as a great camera phone under budget.

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