As part of Qualcomm’s annual Tech Summit in late 2020, we were introduced to its next flagship-tier mobile chip: the Snapdragon 888, and manufacturers – including Realme – clamoured to shout about their upcoming phones powered by this hot new silicon.
Xiaomi took the lead, with the Xiaomi Mi 11, followed by Samsung and its S21 series; all boasting the 888 (in select markets). Not to be outdone, Realme also stepped up with the March release of its new performance flagship phone, the Realme GT.
When does the Realme GT launch?
On 18 February, Realme’s Weibo account confirmed a Chinese launch for the Realme GT of 4 March.
The phone was formally unveiled via a streamed event (hosted on Weibo), which you can rewatch (by heading to our dedicated article on the subject) – so long as you speak Mandarin and read Chinese. The GT then went on sale in China locally on 10 March.
As for availability elsewhere, at the phone’s Chinese launch Realme made no mention of a release in markets further afield. Fast-forward to mid-May, however, and moments after Google I/O 2021 gave us our first look at Android 12 (set to launch in September), Realme announced that it would be seeding the Realme GT globally.
Realme UK’s cited the phone as “coming soon” (in a tweet posted on 18 May) and also revealed that the GT would be among the first devices outside of Google’s own compatible Pixel phones to gain access to Android 12 beta firmware – which was made available directly following I/O 2021.
Android 12 Beta 1 is coming and it’s heading straight for #realmeGT.
Stay tuned for all the juicy details – coming soon. pic.twitter.com/frMfyg6doM
— realme UK (@realmeUK)
May 18, 2021
As a result, the Realme GT will also serve as the first device to debut the next iteration of the company’s own users experience – Realme UI 3.0.
How much is the Realme GT?
In the run-up to the GT’s Chinese launch, Realme’s Xu Qi Chase alluded to the fact that the phone would come in at around the same price as the company’s 2020 flagship – the Realme X50 Pro – somewhere in the region of CNY¥2,999 (approximately £335, €385 or US$465).
While this was already a promisingly-low price bracket to hit, rendering the GT the most affordable Snapdragon 888-powered phone so far in the process, in actuality, the phone launched with an opening price of just ¥2,799 (approximately £310, €360 or $435), which moved up to ¥2,899, following release.
That’s for the 8GB RAM/128GB storage SKU, while the higher capacity 12GB RAM/256GB model comes in at ¥3,299 (approximately £365, €425 or $510).
When the phone releases in the UK, we expect it to cost somewhere in the region of £450 to £500 – based on the price conversion and import of previous Realme phones.
What specs and features does the Realme GT offer?
At the same time as revealing the date of the Realme GT’s initial launch, the company also announced its new “Dual-platform Dual-flagship” release strategy, which promises one top-tier device line focusing on speed and performance, and one centred around photography (with the Realme 8 Pro serving as the follow-up to last year’s X3 SuperZoom), destined for market each year.
If the name wasn’t enough of a clue, the GT’s focus is undoubtedly speed; with 5G, the latest WiFi 6E, LPDDR5 RAM, UFS 3.1 storage, Bluetooth 5.2, 65W fast charging and a 120Hz high refresh rate display.
Most of the phone’s spec sheet leaked ahead of launch but the complete, official picture is as follows:
- 6.43in 20:9 120Hz Full HD+ AMOLED display w/ front & rear ambient light sensors
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor w/ stainless steel & copper vapour chamber cooling
- 8GB or 12GB LPDDR5 RAM
- 128GB or 256GB UFS 3.1 storage
- Rear cameras:
- 64Mp f/1.8 Sony IMX682 sensor
- 8Mp f/2.3 119° ultrawide sensor
- 2Mp f/2.4 macro sensor
- 16Mp f/2.5 front-facing camera
- Stereo speakers w/ Dolby Atmos
- Hi-Res Audio support
- Under-display fingerprint sensor
- ‘4D Tactile Engine’ haptics
- Realme UI 2.0 atop Android 11
- Bluetooth 5.2
- 3.5mm headphone jack
- 4500mAh battery
- 65W flash charging
- 158.5mm x 73.3mm x 9.1mm (glass-backed), 158.5mm x 73.3mm x 8.4mm (leather-backed)
- 186 grams (glass-backed), 186.5 grams (leather-backed)
As shown in the press imagery, there are three colourways to choose from – two glass-backed variants with either a silver or dark blue finish, or the ‘Racing Yellow’ version, which features black-on-yellow vegan leather.
This third model weighs fractionally more and measures marginally thicker than its glass-backed counterparts and can only be had with the higher-capacity 12GB RAM/256GB storage.
Ahead of the phone’s official release, AnTuTu scores, again shared by the company’s Xu Qi Chase, suggested that the GT’s hardware handily outclasses the likes of Samsung’s Snapdragon 888-powered reference device, with a record score of over 770K, almost 100K more than the figure AnTuTu itself had on-record for the GT – something Realme subsequently brushed off as having been related to an early R&D unit.
AnTuTu has since tested a retail version of the Realme GT and discovered that it isn’t performing some of the benchmarking processes as expected, which accounts for what it considers to be an inflated score. As such, the device is currently undergoing a three-month ban (as of March 2021) from AnTuTu, giving Realme a chance to rectify the unusual behaviour unearthed by the benchmarking organisation.
Realme denies any wrongdoing but if it doesn’t tackle the issues AnTuTu has raised, the phone could experience a permanent ban from the benchmarking tool altogether.
Just three days prior to its Chinese launch, Geekbench 5 scores appeared, clocking in at 1138 in single-core performance a 3572 in multi-core testing. For comparison, our review of the Exynos 2100-based Samsung Galaxy S21+ produced a multi-core score of 3589, one of our highest on record.
What about the Realme GT Neo?
No sooner had Xu Qi Chase finished celebrating the newly-unveiled Realme GT on stage did he turn to tease the next entry in the GT family: the GT Neo.
The phone officially launched in China on 31 March and sports a near-identical spec sheet to its sibling, save for one principal difference – its chipset.
The Realme GT Neo switches out the standard GT’s fundamental selling point – its powerful Snapdragon 888 SoC – for MediaTek’s fresh-faced Dimensity 1200 silicon.
According to the Taiwanese chipmaker, its latest 5G-capable flagship 6nm chip serves as the successor to the Dimensity 1000+ and sports 1 + 3 + 4 octa-core architecture with support for up to 168Hz high refresh rate displays.
To bolster the phone’s gaming abilities, Realme has also integrated dual graphite plates and a liquid cooling system to keep the GT Neo frosty under load.
The other key differences between the standard GT and the GT Neo are the chip’s use of Bluetooth standard 5.1 in place of 5.2, slower 50W wired charging (despite still shipping with a 65W adapter) and an assortment of different colours.
The 64Mp Sony IMX682 lead camera sensor uses “multi-frame synthesis” (machine translated) to improve detail in shots and reduce quality degradation when zooming in; which sounds similar to the process used by the Realme 8 Pro when zooming to 3x magnification.
As for the design, it’s similar in style to the standard GT, featuring a contrasting strip running down the phone’s back from the triple camera sensor. There’s also a headphone jack and USB-C port.
Realme UI 2 atop Android 11 makes up the user experience, while on the front resides a 6.43in 120Hz Full HD+ AMOLED display, a dual-cell 4500mAh battery, dimensions of 158.5mm x 73.3mm x 8.4mm (identical measurements to the standard glass-backed version of the GT) and 5G support.
The big driving force behind choosing the GT Neo over the standard GT comes down to price. While there are a lot of similarities between the two devices, opting for the phone that relies on MediaTek’s hardware costs ¥1,799 (for the 6GB RAM/128GB model), ¥1,899 for 8GB of RAM instead of 6GB or ¥2,399 for the top-spec 12GB RAM/256GB SKU; with a direct pricing conversion working out to £200/€235/$275, £210/€250/$290 and £265/€310/$365, respectively
The GT Neo is available from Realme’s own website and major Chinese online retailers from 7 April.
What about the Realme GT Pro?
One of the earliest expected features of the GT was blisteringly-fast 125W ‘UltraDart’ fast charging, so when it was discovered that the GT’s fast charging only topped out at 65W, many were left wondering which devices would debut Realme’s UltraDart charging tech.
Following on from the above-leaked image, which was originally thought to be a first look at the standard Realme GT, well-known tipster IceUniverse served up a leaked document, claiming that the ‘Realme Race Pro’ (‘Race’ being the GT’s original codename) will instead be the device to feature the 125W charging tech, along with a 5000mAh battery, 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM and will run on Realme UI 2.0 (based on Oppo’s ColorOS 11), which means it too will run on top of Android 11.
Here’s the Realme Race/GT Pro’s rumoured spec sheet, as it stands:
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
- 6.8in 20:9 160Hz 3200×1400 OLED display
- (Up to) 12GB RAM
- 128GB/256GB/512GB storage
- Triple rear camera setup w/ xenon flash
- 64Mp primary + two unknown 13Mp sensors
- Curved glass back
- Metal frame
- Android 11 w/ Realme UI 2.0
- 5G (Sub-6 + mmWave)
- 5000mAh battery
- 125W UltraDart fast charging
Previously, it was thought that the Race/GT Pro would top out at 256GB of storage, however, the latest specs promise up to 512GB of internal space, along with an OLED display boasting an unusual 160Hz high refresh rate and three cameras on the back, instead of four – fronted, again, by a 64Mp sensor.
There’s still more to learn about the standard Realme GT’s release outside of China and whether the GT Pro will ever see the light of day, but we’ll update this feature whenever relevant information comes to light.