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Realme GT 2 Pro review: Great phone, reasonable price

Realme GT 2 Pro seen from the back.
Realme GT 2 Pro review: Great phone, reasonable price
MSRP $789.00
“The excellent Realme GT 2 Pro takes instantly shareable photos, has masses of performance, super-fast charging, and a pretty design, yet is cheaper than most flagship phones.”
Pros
  • Pretty design
  • Camera takes highly shareable photos
  • 150-degree wide-angle mode is fun
  • Fast battery charging
  • Latest Qualcomm processor
Cons
  • No optical zoom
  • No water resistance
  • No wireless charging

“This is the greatest smartphone we’ve ever made,” writes Realme on the splash page for the Realme GT 2 Pro smartphone. It’s a proclamation we hear, in one form or another, from many phone makers talking up newly launched phones, but as Realme is a relative newcomer, this statement really needs to be attached to a great phone if it’s to carry any weight.

Good news, Realme has definitely picked the right phone to make this claim. I’ve used it for a few weeks now, and this is what it’s like.

Design

Once again, Realme has partnered with Japanese industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa, and this time the chosen theme for the design is paper. Made from a bio-based polymer, the rear panel has been laser engraved with a fine zigzag pattern, and it instantly reminds you of really high-quality letter-writing paper.

A close-up view of the Realme GT 2 Pro camera module.
Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

It feels lovely, with a really subtle texture and a warmth you won’t get from glass or metal. The matte finish means it has stayed free from fingerprints and marks, while the color — Paper Green in our photos — is minty fresh, and a great choice for the arrival of springtime. Together, the texture and color elevate the Realme GT 2 Pro’s design from rather ordinary to something special.

At 195 grams, the phone is light by modern standards, but the flat screen does make it feel like less of a premium-level smartphone than Realme says it is. Alongside the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and the Oppo Find X5 Pro, for example, it doesn’t have quite the same degree of class, whether it’s the curved screen or the more precise and expensive-feeling motion of the buttons. There’s a good reason though, as the Realme GT 2 Pro costs less than half of both.

The Realme GT 2 Pro held in one hand and seen from the back.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

You do get a very nice case for the phone in the box, which copies the block with Naoto Fukasawa’s signature on it, making it something you may want to actually use. However, I would have rather had a transparent case to show the color and design of the phone. Realme continues to make fun and interesting-looking smartphones, and I really have fallen for the GT 2 Pro’s combination of quirky design and convenient size and weight.

Camera

On the back is a 50-megapixel Sony IMX766 camera with an f/1.8 aperture and optical image stabilization, along with a second 50MP camera for wide-angle shots with a 150-degree field of view. The third camera is a Micro-Lens camera, which we’ll come back to shortly. On the front is a 32MP selfie camera that can shoot up to 1080p video. Use the rear cameras for video and you can shoot either 4K video at up to 60 frames per second (fps) or 8K video at 24fps.

The .Realme GT 2 Pro laying in the grass next to flowers
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

I’ve taken nearly 200 photos with the Realme GT 2 Pro and have been pleased with the overwhelming majority of them, whether it’s with the main camera, the wide-angle, the 150-degree wide-angle mode, or at night. It consistently hits the sweet spot of just the right amount of visual pop without oversaturation, ensuring the photos are immediately shareable. Sunny day photos are full of life and excitement, while in lowlight, detail is revealed and colors are accurately captured.

Where it falls down is with the 2x digital zoom, where the look is not consistent with the main camera and pictures lack some detail due to overprocessing. While I’m a fan of the way it colors photos, others may not be, and it’s certainly not going to please anyone who wants a natural color palette and tones. That’s arguably where Hasselblad steps in with its work on the Oppo Find X5 Pro. It may depend on what you want from your camera as to how much you enjoy the Realme GT 2 Pro. You should understand that it’s not a “pro” camera, but a fun camera, which is further proven when we look at the additional features.

Most wide-angle phone cameras have a 120-degree field of view, helping capture the glory of a landscape or wide-open area more effectively. In addition to this, Realme has added an even wider view, taking it to 150-degrees. It may sound like a gimmick, but it’s actually rather fun. The results can be startling. It’s not just that you see more, but because Realme has added a very strong HDR effect, there’s a hyper-real look to them, but in a pleasing, eye-catching way.

The 150-degree wide-angle photos are highly shareable, which means I want to go out and take them. So many gimmicky features don’t enhance the experience or boost creativity, and end up being used once in a very specific situation. I think the 150-degree mode neatly sidesteps that trap. Sadly, Realme has also added a Fisheye mode that is a gimmick. The circular photos it takes are presented in a square box with an ugly black border that doesn’t lend itself to social media or viewing on a big screen. I doubt I’ll ever use it.

Remember the Oppo Find X3 Pro’s unusual microscope camera? It has disappeared from the Oppo Find X5 Pro, but reappeared here and uses the phone’s Micro-Lens camera. It takes super close-up images as if you were looking through a microscope, with a 20x or 40x magnification. It’s odd, quirky, and very different. I certainly won’t use it often, but the photos it takes are actually quite good and more shareable than those taken by the Find X3 Pro, due to having a normal 3:2 aspect ratio instead of a 1:1. I’m very pleased it has returned, even if it is a bit silly.

I have been using the Realme GT 2 Pro directly after the Oppo Find X5 Pro, and prefer the photos it takes over the much more expensive device. They’re bright, colorful, eye-catching, and instantly shareable. Non-tech people have repeatedly commented on how great they look. The Realme GT 2 Pro’s camera is a real highlight, although the lack of an optical telephoto mode is unfortunate.

Screen and performance

The 6.7-inch AMOLED screen has all the right credentials, but is let down by tight viewing angles and the flat glass. It has a dynamic 120Hz screen with LPTO 2.0 technology, which means it alters refresh rates faster than ever before to provide greater efficiency. It has a 3216 x 1440 pixel resolution, 10-bit color, and up to 1,400 nits peak brightness.

A hand holds the Realme GT 2 Pro with the screen visible.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

As you’d expect with these specs, video looks fantastic. Watching Woyshnis Media’s AMG GTR night run video shows off the screen’s ability to expose detail in shadowy areas while emphasizing strong colors and deep contrast. The two speakers mean the phone is seriously loud, and although there isn’t much distortion, the sound is exceptionally tinny, so it’s not especially pleasant to listen to.

Despite the high brightness, the screen isn’t always very easy to see in sunlight, mainly due to a tight viewing angle and the reflectiveness of the flat glass over it. The auto-brightness has also caused trouble. It’s slow and stupid, rarely selecting the correct brightness for my environment, and I ended up turning it off.

Power is delivered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor and either 8GB or 12GB of RAM, depending on whether you choose to have 128GB or 256GB of storage space, respectively. My review phone has 12GB of RAM and has performed faultlessly, no matter whether I’m playing games, watching videos, or multitasking. It’s the same for the 4G LTE and 5G connection, with the GT 2 Pro working some antenna magic to pull in the best signal. It supports Wi-Fi 6 and I’ve found the range to be better than average when connected to Wi-Fi 5.

The Realme GT 2 Pro seen from the side while held in one hand.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Special mention should also go to the face unlock system, which almost always beats my finger to the fingerprint sensor. The sensor itself is fast and I’ve had no problem with reliability either. The performance, screen, and security all make the Realme GT 2 Pro very easy to live with on a daily basis.

Software

It’s Android 12 installed with Realme UI 3.0, which is very similar to Oppo’s ColorOS 12. On the positive side, the Settings menu is logically laid out and works quickly, and I like the uniform look with its circular icons and simple color scheme. Overall, I prefer the default design to the one Oppo selects for ColorOS and find it’s easier on the eye. Realme’s default settings are mostly acceptable too, and my review model does not have quite so many preinstalled apps as the Find X5 Pro did.

That said, you still have to plow through menus to activate features like the always-on screen, and the amount of customization can be overwhelming. The haptic engine is subtle but not very strong and I often didn’t notice it buzzing in my pocket.

However, its biggest crime is that it’s not always absolutely reliable. On several days I have not received notifications from Line or WhatsApp, and Outlook has failed to pull new messages too. These are intermittent problems, but are not ones I experience on any other device, so I’m assuming it’s a Realme UI problem. It’s a frustrating one, as no one wants to miss messages. There’s a good chance these bugs will be fixed through a software update, and also may not affect everyone.

I don’t really connect with Realme UI or ColorOS, but I’ve found the default settings on the GT 2 Pro less intrusive and more usable than I did with ColorOS on the Oppo Find X5 Pro. The software isn’t as clean as Android on the Pixel 6, as intuitive or friendly as Samsung’s OneUI, or as natural and convenient as Apple’s iOS. However, I expect I would adjust to it over time, but I’d only be prepared to do so if the reliability improved.

Battery and charging

The Realme GT 2 Pro has a 5,000mAh battery and is equipped with Realme’s SuperDart 65-watt fast-charging system. The charging block and USB Type-C cable are required to make this operate and both are included in the box. Plugging the phone in when it has less than 5% charge sees it reach at least 60% after 15 minutes, and 100% after about 35 minutes.

Battery life has been very strong. I’ve used it moderately, which means not really playing games but doing most other things, with a screen time of around three hours each day, and it has solidly lasted two days if I turn it off overnight. Hard use with gaming during a single day still leaves 20% remaining at midnight in my experience.

There’s no wireless charging here, which has become a standard feature across most flagship-level and high midrange smartphones. I personally haven’t missed it, and accept that its absence makes it easier for Realme to reach its target price for the phone, but getting the most features on your new phone, whether you need to use them immediately or not, does help with longevity.

Price and availability

The Realme GT 2 Pro is available in the U.K. now for 599 British pounds, which is about $800. It’s unlikely the phone will be officially released in the U.S., but it could be imported. To put the price into perspective, it puts the phone in direct competition with the Google Pixel 6.

What’s really good about this price is you’re getting a better phone in terms of camera performance and features than the Oppo Find X5 Pro, with otherwise very similar technology, for 450 pounds less. Both phones come from companies under the BBK Electronics umbrella and use almost identical software. A lot of the features will also appear on the OnePlus 10 Pro, the price for which we expect to sit somewhere in-between these two phones.

Our take

Realme likes to promote the GT 2 Pro as a flagship phone, but don’t be fooled. It has a flagship processor, but it’s missing features like water resistance, wireless charging, a curved screen, and an optical zoom camera. Flagship phones have a “kitchen sink” approach to the feature list, and the Realme GT 2 Pro strips this back too much for it to be considered a rival to phones like the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and iPhone 13 Pro.

But the thing is, if those features don’t really attract you and value is more important, the Realme GT 2 Pro should be right at the top of your shopping list. The design is fun, the camera is excellent, the performance superb, and you get some nice additional features including very fast charging — all for the same reasonable price as a Google Pixel 6.

It’s a familiar Realme recipe, but because the camera has been vastly improved over the Realme GT, the GT 2 Pro is recommended. It’s also capable of worrying the Oppo Find X5 Pro, which costs a lot more money, and the OnePlus 10 Pro needs to really perform if it’s going to be worth the extra money over it too. What all this says about the bizarre relationship between these three companies is a story for a different time, but for now, consider the Realme GT 2 Pro the best Realme phone yet, a great alternative to high-price kitchen-sink flagship phones and well worth your money.

Is there a better alternative?

The Realme GT 2 Pro’s natural competition comes from the Google Pixel 6, the Apple iPhone 13 Mini, and the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE. All cost around the same and have desirable features. The Pixel 6’s camera is excellent, the iPhone 13 Mini’s software is great, and the Galaxy S21 FE follows the same formula as the GT 2 Pro overall with its top processor and decent surrounding specs. If you’re set on Android, we’d say the Google Pixel 6 is the best alternative as it does provide long software support, has a cool design, and the camera is superb.

How long will it last?

Realme promises three years of major Android version updates and four years of security updates on the GT 2 Pro, which means the phone should last for a sensible amount of time. However, the GT 2 Pro is not especially tough and it does not have an IP water resistance rating, so you’ll have to be careful with it. The lack of wireless charging may not be an issue today, but it may frustrate in the future. You should still see at least two years of use from the phone even if you’re a serial device updater.

Should you buy it?

Yes. From the design to the battery life, the performance, and the camera, the Realme GT 2 Pro is an excellent phone at a reasonable price.

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