If you haven't heard of Realme, this Realme GT 2 Pro review should give you a handle on who this Chinese brand is, and whether its flagship GT 2 Pro could be right for you. It's a brand that's starting to get a lot of attention, particularly due to this phone in particular.
Starting with the brand itself, Realme began life launching low-cost phones with impressive specs, and its been upping it game, with recent releases featuring world-first innovations like 150W fast charging on the Realme GT Neo 3. The brand is part of a wider group that owns Oppo and OnePlus – something that should inspire some confidence, with the excellent OnePlus 10 Pro and Oppo Find X5 Pro representing the GT 2 Pro's extended family.
The brand has also partnered with Japanese designer, Naoto Fukasawa, to create a more ecological alternative to plastic. Fukasawa, who featured in A Smile in the Mind, and more recently, partnered with Kanye West to reimagine McDonald's packaging has his name etched into the back of the Realme GT Master Edition and GT 2 Pro – both made of this material.
All this wave-making has helped Realme become one of the fastest-growing smartphone makers in Europe, and the GT 2 Pro represents the best of the brand. But costing £699 (approximately $850), the GT 2 Pro is also the priciest Realme phone to date. So is that price too much when you could get an iPhone SE or Pixel 6 for less?
Realme GT 2 Pro: design and screen
On Realme's website, the GT 2 product page features a quote from Naoto Fukasawa: "It all started with a question: how do we make a product which is environmentally friendly, aesthetically pleasing, and durable?"
This is a reference to the SABIC biopolymer used on the back of the phone, which is derived from renewable resources including paper pulp. It's definitely the most interesting design highlight of the device, feeling like matte, textured plastic. With a molded herringbone pattern texture, the Realme GT 2 Pro's back panel also enjoys extra grip compared to untextured alternatives and it diffuses light with an almost denim-style cross-stitch effect.
The phone is available with the SABIC biopolymer back in Paper White and Paper Green. The matte, light colours of the SABIC models might make you worry about staining, but I've been using the GT 2 Pro for over a month, and the phone still looks pristine. If you prefer a more traditional-looking smartphone, the GT 2 Pro's also available in Steele Black with a frosted glass back and without Fukasawa's signature.
The phone's metal frame is also matte, and is color-matched to the back panel, so there's a pleasing cohesiveness to the in-hand feel. At the base of the GT 2 Pro is a USB-C port for data and charging, a SIM tray, and a speaker. On the right side is a power button, and on the left is a volume rocker. It's also worth noting that in the box, the Realme GT 2 Pro ships with a more premium, matte case than we're used to seeing bundled in with phones. There's also a fast-charging power brick and a charging cable too.
All things considered, I applaud Realme for experimenting with design, and with an ecological goal no less. That said, I have to take the green angle with a pinch of salt. While the phone does have more ecological materials, Apple, Google, Samsung, and Sony have made more strides when it comes to packaging than Realme, shrinking down their phone boxes, and zapping elements like charging cables and power plugs. It all feeds into shaping a more sustainable future, but it's instantly clear that there's more Realme could do if it really wanted to be a champion of sustainable design.
The Realme GT 2 Pro's large 6.7-inch display offers exceptional quality, making it a great phone to watch content on. With a QHD+ resolution, it's one of the sharpest screens around for the price, and climbing all the way up to 1400 nits brightness, it shines boldly, making it easy to view even in bright outdoor environments.
AMOLED is the screen tech you should be expecting on a flagship like this, and that's what you get. The result is inky, deep, endless blacks and zingy, punchy colours. While the default colour profile is pleasingly saturated, if you want to dial things back for a more muted, natural look, activate dark mode, or fire up a blue light filter, there are plenty of options in the settings.
The 10-bit display showcases over a billion colors and is colour accurate too, with 100 percent DCI-P3 coverage and a JNCD of 0.5. Add to the mix an iPhone 13 Pro Max-matching 120Hz refresh rate, and menus float as you swipe through them, Instagram feeds glide smoothly, and everything just looks great, from movies to games.
While there's no official waterproofing rating, the Realme GT 2 Pro does feature Gorilla Glass Victus on the front, so its screen should be relatively hardy, and with an under-display fingerprint scanner, unlocking your phone is a quick, seamless experience.
Realme GT 2 Pro review: camera
One thing you're probably very interested in learning about in this Realme GT 2 Pro review is the camera. Traditional flagship smartphones now feature primary, ultra-wide, and telephoto (hybrid zoom) cameras. The Realme GT 2 Pro bucks this trend in a very interesting way.
While there's a primary camera that features a quality IMX 766 sensor as found on the OPPO Find X3 Pro, the ultra-wide camera's swapped out for an extreme ultra-wide camera with an expansive 150-degree focal length, for some GoPro Hero10 Black style capture. There's also a microscope camera with 20 times optical magnification that takes eerily up-close-and-personal shots. That means there's no telephoto, but for anyone who finds smartphone telephotos of limited use, that's not going to be a concern.
The result is a system that takes great pictures and stands out from the crowd. While in the past, Realme phones have over-processed images making them too bright or too saturated, the GT 2 Pro's photos are actually relatively balanced. Realme is pretty liberal with contrast, so photos can look a bit dark for some, but there's plenty of information to grab detail from the shadows in an edit.
Packed with shooting modes, the Realme GT 2 Pro's 50MP main camera can capture downsampled 12MP images or 50MP full-res images. The super ultra-wide camera can shoot with a standard ultra-wide field of view, or a full 150º field of view, and the microscope camera can capture with either 20 times optical magnification or 40 times hybrid magnification.
That microscope camera is most probably the one you'll lose least, but it's still a fun and novel addition. It actually helped me identify a flour mite infestation – the mites are very small to see with the naked eye. The sample photo below shows a leaf at 20 times magnification.
Photos taken on all of the cameras pack loads of detail, and, for the Realme GT 2 Pro's price, the cameras are near best-in-class, alongside the Pixel 6, which captures more balanced photos but offers less range owing to fewer camera modules.
Nighttime photography is also impressive with the GT 2 Pro firing up a long exposure automatically and benefiting from a dedicated Night Mode. With lots of manual overrides, 10-bit, and RAW photo capture, there's plenty here for photography enthusiasts, and even video fans get a decent package, with manual control over video capture and LOG mode to capture footage that's perfect for editing.
While there's room for improvement when it comes to zoom range and nighttime video, but Realme GT 2 Pro is a great camera phone for the price and should be applauded for doing things a bit differently.
Realme GT 2 Pro review: performance and interface
I found that the GT 2 Pro, running Android 12 with Realme UI 3.0 over the top, offers excellent app support and a relatively simple interface to get to grips with. It should be instantly familiar for anyone coming from an Android phone, and with Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 power under the hood, the phone's also pretty zippy too.
You shouldn't encounter too much slowdown video editing or gaming, and the Realme GT 2 Pro also manages heat better than its glass and metal competition, another possible benefit of the polymer back panel. The on-board 256GB storage is plenty for all your apps, games, and files, and with a huge 12GB RAM and up to 7GB dynamic RAM, multi-tasking is handled brilliantly.
Realme GT 2 Pro review: battery life and charging
I found that the large 5000mAh got me through from morning to night comfortably. The phone drained 80 per cent in 12 hours and 35 minutes with the screen on doing standard tasks, beating the Galaxy S22 Ultra by a couple of hours but falling short of the Oppo Find X5 Pro.
With the phone's 65W fast charging, the GT 2 Pro also powers up very quickly – in a little over 30 minutes. That said, it isn't a winner across the board when it comes to battery, with the phone missing out on wireless charging, which is making its way onto more and more midrange phones now, including the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G.
Realme GT 2 Pro review: should you buy it?
For anyone looking for an Android upgrade without a phone contract, the Realme GT 2 Pro is a great option. Whether you're a photography or video enthusiast, a gamer, a movie lover or just have a keen interest in the novel design and materials used in its construction, it's a great experience across the board and has earned a place in our pick of the best camera phones.
It's heartening to see Realme embark on a more ecological journey than many of its counterparts, focusing on design innovation. If the materials used in the GT 2 Pro's construction carry forward to future lines, we'll be delighted. We're also excited to see if the brand takes things further – possibly offering retail packages with no chargers and cables as alternatives to reduce shipping carbon emissions, while still giving customers the option to enjoy its phones' fast charging speeds without a separate purchase.
In short, if you hadn't heard of Realme before reading this review, the GT 2 Pro strongly suggests that you'll be hearing a lot more about the brand and its phones in the future. And if you're in the market for a new phone, you might well want to give it a try.