You may know Realme for its cheap phones and low-cost earbuds and smartwatches, but the company has just made its most eye-catching phone yet in the shape of the mid-range Realme GT.
Named after the grand tourer type of sports car, with its connotations of sleek looks and high performance, the Realme GT is the first in a new series from the Chinese tech brand.
While Realme has put out mid-ranged handsets before, with its X series sometimes putting feet tentatively over the line, this is the company’s first concerted effort to hit the low-cost/high-spec market with one distinctive line – and for the most part, the Realme GT is a roaring success as a phone that offers impressive specs at a low price.
In terms of processing power the Realme GT laps its competitors, as it’s one of the most affordable phones to pack the Snapdragon 888 chipset. This top-end processor ensures the phone is super-fast to use, perfect for gaming and editing, but you’ll notice the speeds in day-to-day use too.
Talking of speed, the Realme GT has incredibly fast charging, going from full to empty in just over 30 minutes. That’s some real speed, especially for a low-cost phone.
The screen looks great – it’s an AMOLED display with a smooth 120Hz refresh rate – and the phone’s body isn’t too big, so it’s easy to use one-handed.
We can’t go without commending the Realme GT’s design either, as it’s certainly distinctive. The main version of the phone comes in a vibrant yellow, which is contrasted with a jet-black stripe. It gives the phone a real ‘Ford Mustang GT’ vibe, and is way more eye-catching than your standard black / white / muted finish (though silver or blue versions are also available, without this stripe).
We’re going to have to take a pit-stop from this list of positives, though, to highlight a few small issues with the phone. We’ve found that it heats up quite easily if you’re gaming or doing an intensive process, and it misses a trick in not having a telephoto lens for optical-zoom shots, especially as the macro snapper isn’t anything to write home about.
We also had a recurring problem when streaming media on apps like Spotify and Netflix, where the media would repeatedly stutter and freeze. This seemed to be a connection issue, though it’s possible that this isn’t a common bug.
These are relatively small concerns, though, and overall it’s easy to recommend the Realme GT as a fantastic mid-range phone. With Realme launching the phone just a few months after the great Realme 8 Pro, it seems as if the Chinese tech company is really taking a victory lap at the moment.
Oh, and don’t worry – we’re all out of racing puns now.
Realme GT price and availability
The Realme GT availability is a tricky one – it’s technically on sale in the UK, but it’s via AliExpress, an import retailer. It’s not available in Australia or the US yet, and Realme’s precedent suggests that a release in the former is likely but the latter is not.
If you order the phone via AliExpress, since you’re importing it it’ll probably take quite a while to get to you, and you’ll have to look out for non-official and fake listings. You can’t buy the Realme GT from more trusted retailers like Amazon or any official carriers.
Pricing also isn’t straightforward, because AliExpress only uses euro pricing, and you’ll be shown a UK equivalent depending on the current exchange rate when you look to buy the phone. The official euro price starts at €449, which converts to about $550, £390 or AU$710 at time of launch, and we’ve treated these conversions like official figures for the purposes of this review.
For those in India, the phone is now on sale with the 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage model costing Rs 37,999. The 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage variant costs Rs 41,999, and you'll find both of those available on Flipkart.
The Realme GT has a distinctive design, with (on the phone we reviewed) a yellow faux-leather rear broken up by a black glass strip that trails down from the camera bump. This feels like the biggest ‘grand tourer’ influence on the phone, evoking the idea of racing stripes, and it’s certainly an eye-catching look.
There’s also a non-leather version of the phone which comes in silver or blue, which won't turn heads as much. And if you're not a fan of leather phones for ethical reasons, don't worry – the 'faux' leather of the Realme GT is vegan.
Beyond its appearance, the Realme GT is a little more by-the-books in terms of smartphone design, but there are still some things to like. It’s a little on the small side compared to the myriad super-size Android phones that line store shelves nowadays, with dimensions of 158.5 x 73.3 x 8.4mm and a weight of 186g. It’s not tiny, but it’s below average.
We found the Realme GT fairly comfortable to use due to this size, with all the side buttons, and much of the screen, easy to reach. On the back, the camera bump barely rises above the rest of the rear, adding to the phone’s sleek appeal.
The right edge of the phone houses the power button, with the volume rocker on the opposite edge. The phone also has a 3.5mm headphone jack, which wired-headphone fans will be glad to see, and a USB-C port.
The Realme GT has a 6.43-inch screen that’s broken up by a ‘punch-hole’ cutout for the front camera at the top-left. There’s very little bezel, so the screen takes up most of the front of the device.
This screen uses Super AMOLED tech, so colors are bright and bold, with good contrast, although this type of screen can be harder to see in direct sunlight (an issue we encountered). The screen resolution is 1080 x 2400, which is pretty average for a smartphone, and it’ll suit you just fine for streaming, gaming, or scrolling through social media.
Something you don’t always see at this price point is the Realme GT’s 120Hz display, which means the screen image updates 120 times per second. The standard used to be 60Hz, and plenty of phones still stick to it, but the upgrade here means you’ll see motion looking smooth and slick (though you can downgrade to 60Hz or use a variable refresh rate, both of which will save on battery life, if you prefer).
The Realme GT’s screen is good for the phone’s price, and is more than fit for purpose for anything you’ll be using the device for.
The Realme GT has three rear cameras and one front one: on the back you’ve got 64MP main, 8MP ultra-wide and 2MP macro snappers, and round the front is a 16MP camera for selfies and video calls.
We found pictures taken with the front camera appeared very bright, thanks to the post-processing beauty tools – perhaps a little too much so, in fact, as snaps looked a bit artificial at times. You can tweak the beauty settings to remedy this to a certain degree, but if you’re just snapping selfies to share on social media it’s fine.
Photos taken with the main camera look good, but fall short of being great. They’re full of detail, and shots taken in good lighting looked nice and bright, but some photos showed distinct signs of oversharpening, while highlights were overexposed in others, and we sometimes found the camera struggled to focus on close subjects.
Ultra-wide pictures were fairly impressive, with very little distortion compared to snaps we’ve taken on other phones at this price. These shots were fairly bright, and thanks to the 119-degree angle of the lens, the field of view was much wider than in snaps taken on the main camera.
We were less impressed by the macro camera. The best close-up shots we took with this were never any better than similar snaps we took with the main camera. As with most 2MP macro snappers on phones, its inclusion here seems designed more to expand the specs list than to enhance the photography experience.
There’s no telephoto lens here for zoom photography, which is a shame, as we’d likely be much more positive about the camera performance with one of those instead of the macro lens. You can zoom digitally, up to 10x, but past 2x pictures become too blurry to be worth it.
The Realme GT lets you record video up to 4K at 30fps or 60fps. There’s also a mode that uses AI to recognize colors, so you can film in monochrome but with one color still present – think the girl in the red coat in Schindler’s List – which was fun to play around with, and which could make for some interesting videos for the ‘Gram.
Specs and performance
You won’t find many phones at the Realme GT’s price that are as powerful – the phone boasts the top-end Snapdragon 888 chipset, which is the most powerful processor available to Android phones as of its release.
This is paired with 8GB or 12GB of RAM – our review handset had 8GB – and 128GB of storage.
Thanks to this top-end chipset, the Realme GT blasts through games with ease – we barely saw any stuttering or lag when playing top titles – and apps loaded swiftly. This is one of the best low-cost phones out there for gaming.
Using the Geekbench 5 testing platform, we found the phone returned a multi-core score of 3508 – that’s exactly the same as the Asus Zenfone 8, and just a hair shy of the Xiaomi Mi 11 at 3569, the OnePlus 9 at 3654, and the Nubia Red Magic 6 at 3606, all of which use the same chipset but cost more.
We did find that the device could sometimes heat up when playing games, or indeed when being put through the benchmark test – it was never enough to have a detrimental effect on performance, but enough to be wary of.
The Realme GT’s speakers are… well, they’re fit for purpose. They’ll do for listening to a podcast in the shower, or if you need to put a call on loudspeaker, but using them for music or streaming isn’t recommended – they’re a little tinny.
Like all Realme phones, the GT runs Realme UI, a fork of standard Android, which is basically a re-skinned version of Android 11 that’s very similar to Oppo’s ColorOS.
Like ColorOS, Realme UI comes with loads of personalizations. As well as changing the wallpaper and app layout, as you can on all phones, you can design your own always-on display, pick from a selection of animations that appear when you press the fingerprint scanner, change the color of icons across the phone, design your own app icons by picking from different sizes and shapes, and change the system font.
Oppo and Realme are owned by the same parent company, which also has Vivo and OnePlus under its belt, so similarities between the phones and their software is common. Still, Realme UI is near-identical to ColorOS.
We did find that when we fired up the Realme GT for the first time there was quite a bit of bloatware installed. This included Realme’s own apps like Phone Manager, Realme Link, and a theme store, and an odd mix of third-party apps like Booking.com, Agoda and LinkedIn (a selection which is probably dependent on region). Below you can see a screenshot of the home screens, before we embarked on a tidy-up – it’s quite an intimidating spread to see on your ‘clean’ new phone.
Navigation-wise, the Realme GT is a treat to use. Its processor and 120Hz screen make swiping around the user interface quick and effortless.
This is probably the best place to mention a small issue we encountered when streaming music from Spotify and TV from Netflix – the playback would often stutter, as though we were repeatedly pressing ‘play’ and ‘pause‘. This wasn’t tied to problems with headphones or poor data connection, and we experienced the problem regularly, enough to highlight in this review.
It’s possible that this bug isn’t widespread, so if you buy this phone it might not affect you, but we wouldn’t be doing our job if we failed to mention it.
The Realme GT packs a 4,500mAh battery, which is about average for a phone at this price, and that’s the exact word we’d use to describe the device’s battery life: ‘average’.
We found the Realme GT handily lasted a full day between charges, whether we were only checking social media now and then, or streaming Netflix, playing a quick game of Call of Duty: Mobile and listening to music throughout the day.
With heavier use we sometimes saw the battery life drop to single-digit percentages by night-time, but we never needed to power up the phone during the day; a second full day of use was generally out of the question though.
A full day of battery life is about average for a smartphone, but what’s not-so-average is the handset’s charging speed: at 65W, the Realme GT laps its competitors in this department.
At this speed the phone goes from empty to full in just over half an hour, so you don’t need to worry about remembering to plug the device in overnight, as you can easily keep it topped with just a few minutes every morning.
Should I buy the Realme GT?
Buy it if...
You want a powerful smartphone
With the Snapdragon 888 chipset and 8GB or 12GB RAM on board, this is a super-powerful phone, especially compared to similarly-priced rivals.
You don’t want to worry about battery life
Able to go from empty to full in half an hour or less, the Realme GT is perfect if your daily routine doesn’t include much time for powering up the device.
You like how it looks
The Realme GT design is certainly eye-catching, and if you like how it looks, you’re certainly not alone. Is that enough to make you want to buy the phone? We wouldn’t blame you.
Don't buy it if...
You like a big smartphone
Some people like their smartphones to be chunky phablets, with bigger screens that let you see more when streaming movies or playing games, and which are better for productivity. This is a phone that's easy to use one-handed, but you're losing out on screen space.
You want a clean UI
We found the Realme UI was packing a lot of bloatware when we booted it up, so if you’re not keen on having to delete loads of third-party and first-party apps, you might want to look elsewhere.
You're a fan of zoom photography
The Realme GT lacks a telephoto camera, instead offering ultra-wide and macro shooters, so if you like taking zoomed shots you'll have to rely on digital zoom, and the results aren't impressive.
- First reviewed June 2021