Realme has tried to use a bit of a semantic sleight of hand here, because the Realme GT Master Edition is actually a less powerful, cheaper version of the Realme GT that we've already reviewed – which perhaps isn't what you'd expect from the name. We very much liked the original though, and this variation impresses in most departments too.
While the chipset is a step down from the very best processors of the moment, it's still more than capable, and will handle all your day-to-day smartphone tasks very well indeed. You won't notice any lag or slowdown with this device – well, not for the first couple of weeks anyway – and it has the specs to run the most demanding apps and games without any trouble.
As for the highlights of the Realme GT Master Edition, the 6.43-inch screen supplied by Samsung certainly stands out, and so does the 65W super-fast charging that Realme has installed here. It can get your battery from empty all the way up to full in the space of just 33 minutes, which is fantastic. Battery life proved really good in our testing too, and you might even be able to squeeze two days of use out of it in some situations.
There's no wireless charging though, and no waterproofing – two of the features that are very often cut as phone manufacturers try to reach cheaper price points. The design of the phone is fine, though rather ordinary, and it's mostly the same story with the triple-lens rear camera: perfectly adequate for the price but you're not necessarily going to get shots that wow you (especially at night).
Based on the pricing of the Realme GT Master Edition in the US, it's up against some strong competition in this very crowded segment of the market: the likes of the iPhone SE, the OnePlus Nord 2 and the Google Pixel 5a, for example.
Those are all really good buys, and they make it tougher to wholeheartedly recommend this handset from Realme – as always, check out the alternatives closely before making a purchase.
If you're shopping around at this price point then the Realme GT Master Edition is absolutely a handset worth considering and weighing up – it just might not have enough to outshine some of the other phones that cost similar amounts of money.
Realme GT Master Edition price and availability
- Rolling out slowly
- From $399 in the US
- No UK pricing yet
Chinese phone makers, Realme included, like to keep us guessing a lot of the time when it comes to international pricing and availability. At the time of writing, what we know for sure is the Realme GT Master Edition will cost $399 in the US (about £290 / AU$550) for a configuration with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and $449 (about £325 / AU$620) for an 8GB+256GB model.
What we don't know is exactly when the phone will go on sale in the US, or what the pricing and launch date might be in the UK and Australia – though it is expected to come to these markets in due course.
- Choice of colors and designs
- Thin and lightweight
- Includes a headphone jack
Realme usually delivers the goods when it comes to smartphone design and build quality, and that's again the case with the Realme GT Master Edition: it's a well made, slim, nice-looking phone that feels more compact in the hand than you might expect from its 6.43-inch screen size: perhaps that's due to the thin bezels, the tall 20:9 aspect ratio, and the lightweight construction.
There is a Voyager Grey version of this phone that has a ridged vegan leather back, apparently inspired by the look of hard shell suitcases – it looks rather cool, but our Luna White review model has a more ordinary flat back. The other color option you've got is Cosmos Black, which again just has the standard flat back to it.
The phone measures 159.2 x 73.5 x 8mm (that's 6.27 x 2.89 x 0.31 inches), and weighs 174 grams (0.38 pounds). As you look at it, the power button is on the right, the volume controls are on the left, and you've got a single speaker, a USB-C port, and even a headphone jack on the bottom – you don't have to go hunting for a dongle if you want to plug in your wired headphones.
Pick up the Realme GT Master Edition and it feels like a phone that's towards the more premium end of the spectrum: we liked the matte plastic back on our white review unit, and the camera bump up in the top left corner of the rear isn't offensively large (and nor is the small silver Realme logo on the back).
Around the edges there's a familiar metal banding, which looks perfectly fine, and the slight curves around the corners and the edges add to the overall appeal.
As befits the mid-range-to-budget price of the Realme GT Master Edition, there's no water resistance or IP rating here – you might not get your phone back in a functional state if it falls in the sink or the bath, so that's one design corner that's been cut.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder of course, but we think we prefer the suitcase-style grey version of this phone. The white and black finishes aren't quite as appealing in terms of their aesthetics, though overall we've got no complaints with the Realme GT Master Edition's design.
- Bright, sharp 6.43-inch screen
- No support for HDR
- Manual screen color adjustments
The Realme GT Master Edition comes fitted with a rather impressive 6.43-inch Super AMOLED display made by Samsung: you get a high 120Hz refresh rate and a resolution of 1080 x 2400 (that's 409 pixels per inch). There's 1,000 nits of peak brightness, a 5,000,000:1 contrast ratio, and 100% coverage of the DCI-P3 wide color gamut.
What all of those specs mean is that this phone has a very impressive display indeed – it's undoubtedly one of the handset's best features. At the highest brightness settings, colors pop, photos and videos really shine, and you'll have no problems seeing the screen in broad daylight.
Dig into the settings, and you've got three screen color modes to pick from, as well as a screen color temperature slider going from cooler to warmer.
There's no support for HDR (High Dynamic Range) on this phone though – pretty standard for handsets at this price point – which means darker and lighter areas of screen won't be as well balanced as they are on more expensive phones.
We didn't really have a problem with it however, and it doesn't really detract too much from the experience of using the screen. Animations are fluid, text is sharp, and no matter what you're doing with your phone, the display will serve you well.
Realme has managed to get the display bezels nice and small (the phone apparently has a 91.7% screen-to-body ratio), and the only interruption is a little punch-hole in the top left corner.
Viewing angles are great too, so you can keep reading or watching whatever your phone is showing from relatively tight angles. It's definitely a better display than you might expect given the price of the Realme GT Master Edition.
- Triple-lens 64MP+8MP+2MP rear camera
- Respectable low light performance
- Plenty of software modes and features
We've largely been impressed by what the camera on the Realme GT Master Edition has to offer – it's certainly respectable for this price point.
The rear camera setup is exactly the same as it is on the standard Realme GT, so you've got a triple-lens 64MP wide + 8MP ultra-wide + 2MP macro setup – there's no optical zoom here, and to be honest we didn't make much use of the macro mode either, because the standard mode is fine for any close-up shots you need.
Photos are captured quickly, with accurate autofocus, plenty of vibrancy and sharpness, and decent HDR processing that stops the darkest and lightest parts of a picture from losing detail. Colors are perhaps a little too bright in places and images can get over-sharpened, but these aren't major problems, and can be quite easily corrected in your photo editing software of choice.
You can also take some reasonable-looking low light shots with the Realme GT Master Edition, which isn't always a given with a mid-range phone.
With a steady hand as you take the photo and some extra processing on the software side, the phone is able to return decent results in very dim conditions, though you definitely shouldn't expect miracles – we're not talking Pixel-level night time photography here (see the images we've posted below for a few examples).
An ultra-wide mode is always handy to have, and the one on offer here works well: it's able to fit a whole lot more into a particular scene without any of the distortion or blurring that can creep in when ultra-wide mode is utilized. On the video front, the rear camera is capable of recording up to a 4K resolution at 30 frames per second.
The single-lens, front-facing selfie camera gets a significant resolution boost compared to the standard Realme GT – 32MP instead of 16MP – and it's also worth mentioning the plethora of different filters and editing options that the Realme camera software gives you. Everything from white balance to ISO can be adjusted, and there are dedicated modes for night sky photography and shooting photos on the street.
While we didn't play around with these extra features and modes too much – and we doubt other people will want to bother either – they are there if you need them. Bokeh shots, time lapses, and ultra-long exposures can all be configured as well, so this is a good choice for the serious mobile photographers out there.
Specs and performance
- Runs the Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G
- Snappy and responsive performance
- Comes with 5G on board
The Realme GT Master Edition runs the mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G processor, which is a step down from the Snapdragon 888 inside the standard Realme GT.
It's still a very capable chipset, but you're not going to get the sort of top-end performance that you do in the expensive flagship phones currently on the market – this will be most noticeable in demanding games and intense tasks like video editing.
The chipset is paired with 6GB or 8GB of RAM, and either 128GB or 256GB of internal storage – which you can't expand, as there isn't a memory slot. Our review model came with the top spec, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage, of which you'll get around 231GB free after a clean install. It's a very decent configuration, and we didn't notice any problems in terms of slowdown or lag while we were using it.
Benchmarks don't tell the whole story when it comes to smartphone performance, but if you want an easy way of comparing the Realme GT Master Edition with other handsets, it scored 2,798 (multi-core), 769 (single-core) and 2,214 (OpenCL) in our Geekbench 5 tests. In terms of the multi-core score, Snapdragon 888-equipped phones like the Realme GT and the Xiaomi Mi 11 are up in the 3500s.
Testing out the Realme GT Master Edition with Asphalt 9: Legends and Alto's Odyssey, the phone kept up a smooth and fluid frame rate throughout – we didn't see any performance blips or issues. The same goes for running multiple apps and browser tabs at once and switching between them, which was all handled very capably by the device.
After just a few days with the phone we can't comment on how drastically it's going to slow down over time, but our initial impressions were good.
Software duties are handled by the latest Android 11 with the usual Realme UI on top – it's not the worst Android skin we've ever come across, but like a lot of Chinese companies, Realme tends to make its software a bit too fiddly and bloated for our liking. Facebook and LinkedIn come pre-installed for some reason, alongside apps like Realme Link and Phone Manager that we don't really get the purpose of.
There's 5G on board here, which is now par for the course on all but the cheapest smartphones – you won't have any problems connecting to the next-generation networks when they finally roll out in your area. Whereas smartphone manufacturers once saved money by leaving 5G off the specs sheet, it's now become more or less ubiquitous.
Perhaps the only other feature worth mentioning is the single speaker down at the bottom of the smartphone – it's decent enough, but it can become muffled if you're holding the phone in landscape mode, with one of your hands placed directly over it. That's by no means a problem exclusive to the Realme GT Master Edition though, and in general you'll get respectable sound for your games, movies and music.
- 4,300mAh capacity
- Decent battery life
- 65W fast charging
The 4,300mAh capacity battery on the Realme GT Master Edition holds up rather well – after a day of standard smartphone use that started with a full charge, we usually found that at least a third of that was remaining by the evening (though it obviously depends on what you're doing on your phone, the screen brightness you've set, and so on). New batteries in new phones always perform pretty well, but the battery life here definitely seems to be above average.
Some lightweight gaming pushed the battery level down by about 12% an hour, while video streaming over Wi-Fi caused the battery level to drop by about 7% per hour based on our experience with the handset.
In both cases the screen was set to the maximum possible brightness, so if you're prepared to put up with something a little dimmer then you'll be able to improve on that.
The phone sports what Realme calls SuperDart Charge fast charging technology, which is rated up to 65W – that should be enough to get the battery from zero to 100% in a little over half an hour with the supplied charger (and our testing backed this up). With charging that fast, battery life becomes less important as long as you can fit in some quick top ups from the mains power supply.
What you don't get with the Realme GT Master Edition is the convenience of wireless charging – it's wired all the way when it comes to charging up this phone.
Wireless charging is a feature that often gets cut at this price point in the smartphone market, and while you can manage perfectly well without it, if you do like to have the option then you might want to consider going for a more expensive handset.
Should you buy the Realme GT Master Edition?
Buy it if...
You want a camera you can rely on
While the Realme GT Master Edition doesn't have the best camera we've ever seen, it's decent for the price of the phone, and there are plenty of settings to play around with.
Battery life is a priority
The 4,300mAh capacity of the battery inside the Realme GT Master Edition isn't huge, but it seems to hold its charge well, whether you're gaming or streaming videos over the web.
You'd like a phone that looks good
We like the polished lines and general aesthetic that Realme has come up with here, and the big and bright 6.43-inch Super AMOLED display is a definite highlight of the phone.
Don't buy it if...
You want top performance
The Snapdragon 778G processor inside this handset will do everything that you need it to do, but it doesn't have the power of the Snapdragon 888 or Snapdragon 888 Plus.
You often drop your phone
One of the corners that has been cut here is waterproofing: the Realme GT Master Edition doesn't offer an IP rating, so you'll have to be extra careful while you're using the phone.
You need the convenience of wireless charging
There's no wireless charging available on this Realme handset – though the 65W wired charging is impressive, you don't get the convenience of the wire-free option.
First reviewed: August 2021