Realme launched its new flagship, the Realme GT 2 Pro, on Monday, February 28th at MWC 2022 in Barcelona. I was there to bring you my initial opinion about Realme's first real high-end smartphone in this hands-on story.
The Realme GT 2 Pro in a nutshell
The Realme GT 2 Pro will be available on March 11, 2022, and is available in two versions: 8 GB RAM/128 GB and 12 GB RAM/256 GB, respectively, where they are priced from €749 to €849 depending on which configuration you settle for (approximately $840 to $950). Realme marks the Realme GT 2 Pro as its first real flagship, citing this as a fully-fledged high-end smartphone that does not make any compromises this time around based on its technical specifications that we would normally expect from a device of its stature.
As usual for the many Chinese brands on the MWC 2022 show floor, Realme currently doesn't have plans on selling the GT 2 Pro in North America.
I was able to play with it for about an hour and the first thing I noticed is how Realme has started ticking off a long list of checkboxes. AMOLED LTPO 2.0 screen with a 120 Hz refresh rate and with a maximum brightness of 1,400 nits? Check. A triple camera module with a 50 MP Sony IMX766 sensor and OIS? Check. Minimalist and eco-friendly design made in collaboration with a renowned designer? Check. Snapdragon 8 Gen1 SoC? Check. Massive 5,000 mAh battery with 65 watts fast charging support? Check. Huh, what? An upgrade policy that has been extended to 4 years? The more the merrier!
In short, Realme's goal is not to release yet another flagship killer. The Realme GT 2 Pro was designed from the ground up to compete in the big league. And after this short hands-on, I wonder if Realme will succeed where OnePlus failed?
Design: Looks fragile but is actually solid
The Realme GT 2 Pro adopts a paper-like coating made in collaboration with a Japanese industrial designer, Naoto Fukasawa, from bio-sourced and sustainable materials.
What I liked:
- The textured, paper effect is very successful and original.
- Effort to integrate eco-friendly materials.
- Very good grip.
What I disliked:
- Lacks IP certification.
When you mention a high-end product, you would inevitably use the word 'collaboration' with an artist who is more or less well-known in selected circles. I think everyone understands the principle of the hype economy. But for the time being, I really like the idea of the Realme GT 2 Pro.
The back is made of an organic polymer material that is lighter than the plastic or the 'glasstic' backs found in other manufacturers. The design is known as "Paper Tech Master" which mimics the grain on a sheet of paper, and it's quite nice to feel the rough texture, which is reminiscent of a somewhat luxurious piece of stationery. These roughnesses of the coating also allow a good grip when holding the smartphone even with sweaty palms. The Realme GT 2 Pro does not slip from the hands and is certainly not a fingerprint magnet.
The smartphone comes in three colors: Paper White, Paper Green, and Titanium Blue. The first two, off-white and sage green, really have a Google Pixel vibe that I like. The last one, a black shade with bluish reflections and a shiny glittery texture, proved to be less appealing.
The camera module at the back is rather classic in its styling but I find it nice that Naoto Fukusawa's signature style is silk-screened like an artist would do on a pair of Nike or other fashion industry collabs. On the other hand, there is no IP rating for water and dust resistance Whether you like it (or need it) or not, IP68 is a must for any Android flagship.
Screen: AMOLED LTPO 2.0 panel in 120 Hz
The Realme GT 2 Pro relies heavily on its new Super Reality display technology with a 6.7-inch LTPO 2.0 AMOLED panel that features an adaptive refresh rate from 1 to 120 Hz, touch sampling rate up to 1000 Hz, 10-bit color, and max brightness of 1400 nits.
What I liked:
- Very bright screen.
- GT 3.0 mode to boost touch sampling to 1000 Hz.
What I disliked:
I will not dwell on the screen since giving you my impressions - that were gleaned on the fly by holding it in my hands for barely an hour and in poor lighting conditions, all without any benchmarks, would carry very little meaning.
Quite simply, I noticed that the screen of the Realme GT 2 Pro was very bright and very smooth. The GT 3.0 mode increases the touch sampling rate (the number of times per second that the screen registers a touch) all the way to 1000 Hz. That's a totally insane number on paper, far exceeding the best smartphones - even gaming models - that are in the market.
When I picked it up, I couldn't run any games on the Realme GT 2 Pro, but simply by navigating the interface, the responsiveness of the screen was noticeable (placebo effect?). The adaptive refresh rate from 1 to 120 Hz is also good news for the battery life, at least on paper.
A word about the screen resolution, my colleague Rubens had noted that the name "2K" on the marketing materials was rather strange.
"2K" defines resolutions of about 2000 pixels in height (in landscape), which is 1920 x 1080p, while "4k" applies to the resolution of about 4000 pixels in height like 3840 x 2160p.
Realme does talk about a 2K or WQHD+ resolution of 3216 x 1440, but this is in a specific mode. By default, the Realme GT 2 Pro limits the definition displayed by its screen to 2412 x 1080 pixels. I'll wait until I get my hands on the smartphone in a full review before I can comment further about its colorimetry, brightness, or refresh rate in a more precise and concrete manner.
Interface: Realme UI 3.0 on Android 12 and 4 years of updates
The Realme GT 2 Pro runs on the Realme UI 3.0 skin that is based on Android 12, and good news: The manufacturer has also extended its update policy. I'm not going to say anything more about this part since I plan on writing a full Realme UI 3.0 review if you're interested. You can also check my Realme 9 Pro+ review in which I talk more about Realme's skin.
On a positive note, Realme has decided to extend its update policy and promises three major Android versions and four years of security updates for the Realme GT 2 Pro. This is pretty good news when you consider that the manufacturer normally sticks to the bare minimum of what is done on Android One, namely 2 Android versions and 3 years of security patches.
It's really interesting to see how manufacturers like Realme, known for mainly targeting the price/specifications ratio, begin to change their approach to accommodate software longevity on their smartphones.
Performance: Snapdragon 8 Gen1
There is nothing much to say in this section since I didn't run any benchmark and I couldn't play games on the Realme GT 2 Pro. Just take note that it is powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen1 SoC, Qualcomm's latest high-end mobile processor. As my colleague Ben found out in his full review of the Oppo Find X5 Pro, the performance of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 marks a clear step up in terms of power compared to its predecessor.
When you mention Snapdragon, overheating is never too far behind. In order to remedy this, the Realme GT 2 Pro features a vapor chamber cooling system that is made of 9 layers of stainless steel to bring the temperature down by 3 degrees Celsius. I'll have to see in use how the smartphone performs and whether it manages to limit thermal throttling or not.
Camera: 150° FOV and microscope mode
The Realme GT 2 Pro features a triple camera module on the back with a 50 MP Sony IMX766 wide-angle main lens, a 50 MP Samsung JN1 ultra-wide-angle lens with a 150° field of view and a 40x micro lens.
Once again, it is difficult for me to provide an opinion without having been able to really test the camera module out. On paper, I find it interesting that the ultra-wide-angle lens offers a field of view of 150° while we are normally limited to 120 on most other smartphones. Realme has even implemented a "fish-eye" mode to take full advantage of this wide FOV (10 years from now, it would have been perfect for YouTubers).
On the other hand, I still think it's a shame to miss out on a dedicated telephoto lens on an Android flagship, even if Realme doesn't include a traditional 2 MP macro sensor. Instead, the manufacturer offers us a microscopic lens capable of achieving 40x magnification at very close range. Personally, I think it's a gimmick but I know my colleague Ben loved this microscope feature on the Oppo Find X3 Pro last year.
Anyway, in this price range, the Realme GT 2 Pro has serious competitors in the camera smartphone market.
Battery life: 5,000 mAh battery and 65-watts fast charge
The Realme packs a 5,000 mAh battery that accepts 65-watt SuperDart Charge wired fast charging. 5,000 mAh, for an Android flagship in 2022, is very good. It remains to be seen how much the 2K display and Snapdragon 8 Gen1 affect battery life.
As for charging, Realme's proposal is pretty standard with 65-watts wired charging, and should be more than enough for 99% of users. But the manufacturer could have pushed the envelope a little bit more to include wireless charging support which is normally present on a flagship.
I was also quite disappointed that the Realme GT 2 Pro does not feature Realme's new charging technology. Known as UltraDart Charge, it delivers 150 watts of power and can charge your smartphone from 0 to 50% in just 5 minutes! Realme has announced that this technology will be launched on the Realme GT 3 Neo, the manufacturer's mid-range flagship.
I've dedicated a detailed article to this technology if you're interested, but I would have thought it more logical that Realme would roll it out on its most premium model first.
Conclusion: My first opinion
After this initial runout with the Realme GT 2 Pro for an hour, my first feeling is rather positive. I totally resonate with the design, although I need to look more into this biobased composite material and its alleged durability. But in terms of looks, grip, and feel, the Paper Tech Master design is a success in my opinion, as well as the color choices.
In any case, we have the impression of having a different, unique product in our hands, which should be the case with a flagship anyway. On the other hand, the promise of a no-nonsense technical sheet is not totally true in my opinion. The lack of IP rating, wireless charging, or telephoto lens remain details that are important to have in this price range.
On the other hand, I didn't really understand why some reviewers reproached it for its price. At €749 (around $840), the Realme GT 2 Pro is cheaper than the Google Pixel 6 or the Samsung Galaxy S22. In terms of price/performance ratio, I find that Realme is positioning itself very well. However, it is the camera performance that will really make the difference. On this point alone, Google and Samsung are very strong contenders and Realme doesn't seem to have given itself all the possible weapons to come out on top.
But that's just pure speculation based on technical specifications. I'll have to review it in real-world conditions to decide if Realme has succeeded with the GT 2 Pro or not.