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iPhone 12 Pro vs Realme GT: Apple’s sportscar takes on Realme’s muscle car

iPhone 12 Pro vs Realme GT
iPhone 12 Pro (left) vs Realme GT (Image credit: Apple, Realme )

The Realme GT is the latest in a line of largely unrelated phones that punch well above their weight, giving much larger brands a bloody nose in the process.

With top notch performance at a low price tag and a shamelessly gaudy design, it’s practically giving the iPhone 12 Pro the finger. The cheeky thing.

But how does the Realme GT actually compare to Apple’s current flagship model? Do we really think that the iPhone 12 Pro is more than twice the phone, or should we all start reconsidering what we pay for our pocket computers? Let’s take a closer look at this fascinating face-off.

iPhone 12 Pro vs Realme GT price and availability

The iPhone 12 Pro landed in shops on October 23, 2020. Prices start from $999 / £999 / AU$1,699 for the 128GB model, before moving up to $1,099 / £1,099 / AU$1,899 for 256GB and $1,299 / £1,299 / AU$2,219 512GB.

In the opposite corner, the Realme GT was officially released in March 2021 at a price of €449. That works out to roughly $550 / £390 / AU$710.

These facts and figures highlight two things. One is that the Realme GT is about half the price of the iPhone 12 Pro. The other is that the Realme GT isn’t universally available, and that you may have to go through an importer if you’re in the UK, US, or Australia.

Early points scored by both sides, then.

Design

These two phones come from very different places when it comes to design. Apple’s take is suave, classy, understated, and to borrow a popular advertising slogan, ‘reassuringly expensive’. Realme’s is big, bold, and in your face.

The iPhone 12 Pro measures 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.4mm, which makes it considerably smaller than the Realme GT on 158.5 x 73.3 x 8.4mm. Despite this, the iPhone is also fractionally heavier at 189g versus the GT’s 186g.

It’s not hard to see why the iPhone 12 Pro is so comparatively dense. Its body consists of a stainless steel frame, which is a notoriously heavy material. The Realme GT, by comparison, has a plastic frame and a glass or eco leather back.

Both devices have glass rear panels, but the iPhone 12 Pro is heavier to the core.

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iPhone 12 Pro Max

iPhone 12 Pro (Image credit: Apple)
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Realme GT

Realme GT (Image credit: Future)

In terms of looks, the iPhone 12 Pro is flat and angular, with sober color options that include Silver, Graphite, Gold, and Pacific Blue. The Realme GT is rounded, and comes in a garish gold finish, as well as silver and black alternatives.

Around front, Realme goes with the tried and tested hole punch selfie camera approach, while Apple sticks with its display notch. The latter is more intrusive, but it also enables Face ID authentication. The Realme GT has to rely on an in-display fingerprint sensor, which is less advanced.

The design differences continue, with the iPhone 12 Pro packing IP68 water and dust resistance. The Realme has nothing to compare.

What the cheaper phone does have on its side is a 3.5mm headphone jack. With the iPhone, it’s Bluetooth, a Lightning port adaptor, or nothing. Both phones pack stereo speakers, though, which is good to see.

Display

Realme GT

Realme GT (Image credit: Future)

Neither of these phones packs the best screen in the business, and both have their strengths and weaknesses.

The iPhone 12 Pro’s 6.1-inch OLED is smaller than the Realme GT’s 6.43-inch Super AMOLED, and it only stretches to a 60Hz refresh rate to its rival’s 120Hz.

However, the iPhone’s screen gets brighter (1,200 nits to 1,000 nits) and sharper (1170 x 2532 versus 1080 x 2400). It’s also simply one of the best-calibrated and just plain pleasant to behold displays on the market.

Besides refreshing faster, the Realme GT also boasts a faster 360Hz touch sampling rate. By comparison, the iPhone 12 Pro only has a 120Hz touch sampling rate.

Pick your display poison: size and responsiveness for the Realme GT, or brightness, sharpness, and color accuracy for the iPhone 12 Pro.

Camera

iPhone 12 Pro

iPhone 12 Pro (Image credit: TechRadar)

If you were to name just one area where the iPhone 12 Pro’s extra cost really shows, it’s in the camera department. It absolutely blows the Realme GT’s photographic offering out of the water.

Both are triple-camera systems, but that’s just about where the comparisons end.

The iPhone 12 Pro goes with three 12MP sensors for wide, ultra-wide, and 2X telephoto. The Realme GT goes with a 64MP wide, an 8MP ultra-wide, and a 2MP macro. There is no telephoto lens.

Apple’s image processing wizardry is legendary these days, and the iPhone 12 Pro turns out sharp, balanced shots in all lighting conditions. AI tricks like Smart HDR 3 and Deep Fusion provide outstanding contrast in demanding lighting, while ProRAW combines the information-rich benefits of the RAW format with JPEG’s auto-correction potential.

Meanwhile, Apple’s Night Mode is pretty much the best around at capturing bright, crisp, and balanced low light shots. This mode works across each of its cameras too.

Don’t get us wrong, the Realme GT takes decent shots, but it simply doesn’t get anywhere near the quality of the iPhone. While these shots are bright and crisp enough, they also betray signs of over-sharpening and over-exposure. Our reviewer also found that the GT can struggle to focus on close-up subjects.

Night shots with the Realme GT are instantly hampered by the lack of OIS, which is vital to keeping cameras steady during extended shutter times.

And the less said about the Realme GT’s 2MP macro camera the better. It’s high time manufacturers ditched this pointless inclusion.

Both phones shoot 4K video at 60fps, but the quality is worlds apart. The iPhone 12 Pro is pretty much the best in the business at capturing footage, alongside its fellow Apple flagships.

Specs and performance

Both of these phones are just about as fast as they could be within their own ecosystems. But the iPhone 12 Pro has the undoubted edge.

Apple’s custom A-series chips have been dominating their Android equivalents for a number of years now. The iPhone 12 Pro’s A14 Bionic is measurably more powerful than the Realme GT’s Snapdragon 888.

In the cross-format Geekbench 5 multi-core test, the iPhone 12 Pro scored 4100, while the Realme GT scored 3508. Apple’s chip does better when it comes to GPU benchmarks, too.

Of course, in practical terms that doesn’t really make a difference. Both phones run all the latest games well on top settings, and of course the Realme GT makes certain games feel faster thanks to its more fluid 120Hz display.

Apple strikes back with the simple fact that the iPhone 12 Pro will feel faster for longer. Apple’s level of ongoing support is unparalleled, whereas Android manufacturers typically only continue to update their phones for a couple of years at best.

In terms of storage, the iPhone 12 Pro gives you a choice of 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB. The Realme GT comes in 128GB and 256GB variations.

Going back to those inherent platform differences, and we have to hand Apple the win when it comes to software. While you might justifiably prefer Android to iOS, Realme UI 2.0 isn’t Google’s mobile OS at its finest. There’s loads of bloatware, and the style of it all feels rather overbearing - especially compared to the clean, crisp iOS 14.

Battery

The iPhone 12 Pro packs a 2815mAh, which seems tiny next to the Realme GT’s 4500mAh equivalent. However, iOS is proven to be more energy efficient than Android, so size alone is not a sufficient comparison. Especially when you factor in a less fluid display.

Both of these phones are good for a full day of usage. We found that we could easily get to midnight with the iPhone 12 Pro with more than half the battery remaining, though only with light use and a stable Wi-Fi connection.

With more intensive and mobile usage, that figure will drop. We found that we lost between 10–15% per hour whilst out and about on unfamiliar networks, even without constant use.

We’d describe the Realme GT’s battery life as similarly average. It would generally last a full day between charges, though with heavier use it could drop to single-digit percentages by night time.

Where the Realme GT wins out clearly is with its wired charging solution. You get a rapid 65W brick in the box, whereas the iPhone 12 Pro doesn’t give you one at all. And even then, it doesn’t support more than 20W charging.

Back in the iPhone’s favor is the fact that it supports 15 wireless charging. The Realme GT doesn’t support anything of the sort.

Takeaway

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iPhone 12 Pro

iPhone 12 Pro (Image credit: TechRadar)
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Realme GT

Realme GT (Image credit: Future)

The Realme GT makes a strong case that we’re all crazy for spending so much money on flagship phones. It’s got a great display that refreshes twice as fast as the iPhone 12 Pro’s. It’s fast enough to run anything at top what, and it recharges at a much faster rate than the iPhone.

If you’re looking for a fast performer for half the price of a top iPhone, the Realme GT is a great pick.

Conversely, the iPhone 12 Pro does a pretty good job at demonstrating why we do like to spend that extra cash on our phones. It’s in the little things, such as a premium design, classy software, wireless charging, and the fastest and most future-proof performance around.

It’s occasionally in the not-so-little things too, such as an awesome all-round camera system that the Realme GT simply can’t hope to compete with.

Ultimately it really does all come down to budget. Within their separate price categories, both of these phones make a case to be the best you can buy.