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Realme’s Naruto special-edition phone is absolutely glorious

It’s not often a technology brand nails a special edition product, but Realme has managed to do so with its Realme x Naruto version of the GT Neo 3 smartphone. Naruto, in case you’re not familiar with the name, is a well-known fantasy manga series from Japan that also became a popular anime series, and it follows the adventures of a young ninja named Naruto Uzumaki. Realme is a relatively young smartphone brand, having been formed in 2018, and it’s part of the same family as Oppo, Vivo, and OnePlus.

The back of the Realme x Naruto GT Neo 3.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

It’s an unexpected partnership, and although Realme has some experience in creating interesting special edition smartphones, this goes way beyond what it has done before. You know when a company gets it right because the words “lovingly created,” come to mind when you open the packaging and explore it more deeply. The moment you see the Realme x Naruto GT Neo 3, that’s exactly what you’ll say about it.

The Realme x Naruto GT Neo 3's screen showing the wallpaper.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

It arrives in a large cardboard container with some simple branding on the outside, and it’s a subtle introduction to the kit that’s inside. Realme says it chose cardboard so it’s more easily recycled, but it’s doubtful this will ever end up in the trash. Open the box and the wow moment arrives, as within a foam compartment nestles a recreation of a Ninja Scroll from the series.

Made from synthetic leather in green and burgundy colors with Realme x Naruto branding stamped on it, it makes a huge impression when you first see it. Lift it out and you’re immediately struck by the size. It’s a 13-inch by 5-inch cylinder and has considerable weight, so it feels really substantial. The immediate temptation is to unravel the scroll using the straps, but don’t. They’re purely for decoration and the way you actually get into the scroll is to pull off an end cap.

The felt-lined interior has a slide-out tray, and it’s in here you’ll find the GT Neo 3. Don’t ignore the documentation though, as inside it you’ll find a custom SIM removal tool in the shape of Naruto’s home village of Konohagakure’s Hidden Leaf symbol. At this point, you get to the star of the show — the phone itself.

While the phone is the same as any other GT Neo 3 technically, the outside has been given the full Naruto treatment. The camera module is styled on Naruto’s headband, again with the Hidden Leaf symbol along with more Realme x Naruto branding, while the main body is a fantastic bright orange color with the red swirl taken from the back of Naruto’s outfit in the center.

What’s most impressive is the mix of textures and finishes. The metal camera module’s rivets look like you should be able to feel them, but it’s actually a clever 3D effect because the surface is completely smooth. The shiny orange section catches the light and really stands out against the matte black body, while the three polished lines under the camera module stand slightly proud of the case. It all comes together perfectly and is both beautifully fashioned and instantly recognizable as a Naruto-inspired device.

The Realme x Naruto GT Neo 3's camera module.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Return to the box and inside is a TPU case with a slightly tinted finish to protect the phone, and a custom version of Realme’s 150W SuperDart charging block in orange and black. Turn the phone on and there’s a choice of three specially designed Naruto wallpapers, plus the user interface is packed with Naruto icons. Put the phone on charge and the accompanying on-screen animation has been given the Naruto treatment too. It’s a comprehensive, and yes, lovingly created special edition smartphone celebrating a very well-known manga character.

What about the GT Neo 3? The phone has a 6.7-inch AMOLED screen, a MediaTek Dimensity 8100 processor and 12GB of RAM, plus a triple-lens camera on the back. The module contains a 50-megapixel main camera, an 8MP wide-angle camera, and a 2MP macro camera. The battery is charged using Realme’s fast SuperDart charging, and in our recent test goes from zero to 100% capacity in an incredible 14 minutes.

Sounds great, right? Any keen Naruto fan will already be wondering how to get one of these beautiful phones, but unfortunately, it’s not going to be easy. The Realme x Naruto GT Neo 3 is only being released in China so you’d have to rely on an import service to get one. Locally it costs the equivalent of $415, and only 5,000 will be produced.

Out of the box the phone does not have Google Mobile Services installed, and while there are ways around this, the hardware differences may mean it won’t connect to your local 4G or 5G networks as effectively as a phone bought locally.

What does this mean? Anyone not in China should consider this a cool collectible for display and bragging rights, rather than a replacement for their existing phone. Realme’s outstanding efforts on the Naruto special edition GT Neo 3 make us look forward to any future special edition phone from the brand, and hope that should one come it’ll get a wider release.

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Andy Boxall
Andy is a Senior Writer at Digital Trends, where he concentrates on mobile technology, a subject he has written about for…
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