It seems Realme is set out to defy the age-old adage that says “slow and steady wins the race“. How else would you define the brand’s rapid ascension in the Indian smartphone market? It has launched devices at an unprecedented pace this year. In the first seven months of the year, it has launched 17 smartphone models (including storage and RAM variants) in the subcontinent, and the list has now received two new additions – the Realme 5 (review) and Realme 5 Pro. Yes, these devices come within just a few months after the launch of the Realme 3 (review) and 3 Pro (review), so it’d be interesting to see what upgrades the new phones bring to the table. Well, I’ve been using the Realme 5 Pro for the past few days putting me in a better position to answer this question. Read on to find out what I think.
Specs at a glance
|Resolution||1080 x 2340 pixels|
|CPU||Dual core, 2.3 GHz + Hexa Core, 1.7 GHz, Snapdragon 712|
|Internal memory||64 GB|
|External memory||Up to 256 GB|
|Capacity||4035 mAH, Li-ion, Non removable|
|Primary camera||48 MP|
|Secondary camera||16 MP|
|Network support||Dual SIM 4G|
|Other options||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS|
|Operating system||Android 9.0 Pie|
In India’s ever-changing smartphone market, it’s evident that just ticking the checkboxes is no longer enough. In fact, all new smartphones are expected to offer a good display, attractive design, powerful internals, stunning cameras and great battery life. So how do you make a mark? Well, if you’re Realme, then you take an already popular product – the Realme 3 Pro in this case – and go all out in terms of camera capabilities while improving on some other aspects, and keeping the starting price the same – Rs 13,990 for the base model. Enter the Realme 5 Pro which brings the quad-camera setup to a sub-Rs 15k price point. Thanks to the Snapdragon 710 inside, its predecessor is among the fastest phones in the segment, and that’s why the Realme 5 Pro has gone for its iterative upgrade in the form of the Snapdragon 712 SoC. All this makes it a compelling offering in the affordable segment, as our review would prove…
Primary camera: 48 MP
Flash: LED Flash
Secondary camera: 16 MP
Starting with the highlight of the Realme 5 Pro – its camera array. At the back of the handset, you’ll find not one, not two, but four cameras aligned vertically. The primary shooter is a 48-megapixel Sony IMX 586 unit which comes with an aperture of f/1.7. It’s accompanied by an 8MP f/2.25 ultra wide-angle lens, a 2MP module which is an ultra-macro snapper with an opening of f/2.4, and a 2MP f/2.4 depth shooter. Interestingly, the Realme handset is among the rare few that offers a macro lens, and hence its setup is quite similar to the Honor 20 (review) and Honor 20 Pro (first impressions), which are priced more than double. Selfie lovers will enjoy the 16-megapixel f/2.0 Sony IMX 471 shooter present inside the waterdrop notch on the fascia.
If you’ve used a Realme phone before, then you know what to expect from the camera interface on the Realme 5 Pro. All the options are nicely laid out up front, with the shutter button at the bottom sandwiched between the toggle for the selfie camera and a preview gallery. Above it, you’ll find various modes like photo, video, portrait, slow-mo, etc. Something that I’ve always found odd in the handsets from the brand, including the 5 Pro, is the availability of 2x zoom (the Realme 5 Pro also has 5x zoom), even though the devices don’t feature a telephoto lens. This means the zoom is of the digital variety. Beside it, there are other modes such as the ability to click 48MP shots, enable nightscape mode, and record time-lapse and slow-mo videos among others. Now here’s what’s interesting: while the ultra-macro sensor is one of the highlights of the phone, the control to use it is hidden deep inside the menu, though the company spokesperson did suggest that they’re contemplating its placement in the main screen itself. Up top, you’ll find the switches for HDR, flash, ultra wide-angle mode, the company’s Chromaboost mode, real-time filters, and last but not the least, the settings gear.
While I had certain issues with the camera app of the Realme 5 Pro, all those went away once I started shooting with it. The device simply mesmerises you with its photos and videos. To expound that, I’ve summarised the camera quality in bullet points:
1) In landscape images, the primary snapper does full justice to the scene, offering a well-detailed output while reproducing vibrant colours. Even at full size, the sharpness levels remain intact.
2) Worth noting that Realme’s camera output is tuned towards oversaturation just like Samsung, which is all the more evident while you capture close-ups. That said, the result is pleasing with the faux-bokeh effect with clean edges of the subject adding to the charm.
3) Portrait shots also take advantage of a dedicated bokeh sensor which ensures that the Realme 5 Pro can deliver shots with well-defined edges, though the images may not be tuned to accuracy if the Chromaboost mode is enabled.
4) The 48MP shot without a doubt offers a higher level of details, but you lost out on the colour science offered by Realme’s Chromaboost mode.
5) In low-light environments, the quad-pixel tech ensures that the Realme 5 Pro ensures lower levels of noise. However, when you view the original resolution, you’ll notice that sharpness takes a dip and light sources are also not handled well either. Having said that, the nightscape mode is really impressive as it improves the shot by night and day (pun intended), though the overexposure issues when you look at street lights continue in this case too.
6) Coming to the ultra wide-angle camera that offers a 119-degree field-of-view, you do get a larger frame from the same position. While you could notice that details aren’t as good as the primary sensor while viewing the image in its actual size, the good thing is that colour reproduction is similar and there’s no barrel distortion in case of long shots.
7) Sadly, the 2MP macro sensor fails to impress. While it could have opened up a lot of creative possibilities, the output seems quite blurry and you’ve to try multiple times to be able to focus properly.
8) Thanks to EIS, the Realme 5 Pro camera ensures relatively smooth footage. You can record up to 4k videos at 30fps.
9) Similar to the Realme 3 Pro, its successor can capture super slow-mo videos at up to 960fps, although the output isn’t what I’d consider as the best.
10) The Realme 5 Pro selfie camera is also quite good, ensuring that the face remains natural.
11) You can also get software-based bokeh effect for selfies, which works quite well along with getting features like AI Beauty. The brand is also working on bringing the Nightscape mode to the front camera, which can be expected via an update next month.
Of course, it’s easier if you’ve some reference to compare the Realme 5 Pro with. So here are some camera samples from the Redmi Note 7 Pro and Vivo Z1 Pro. Realme’s offering comes out ahead by offering punchier colours, though the level of details is almost at par. The same remains the case in poorly-lit conditions as the Realme 5 Pro’s image processing keeps the noise to the minimum, and I haven’t even talked about the Nightscape mode yet which brings in more details to the shot. Upon comparing the device with its predecessor, you’ll notice a significant upgrade, with the newer device offering crisper shots with better colour reproduction. In terms of selfies however, the Z1 Pro edges the Realme 5 Pro as the latter amps up the saturation levels to the extent that the shot looks quite artificial.
Design and display
Dimensions: 157 x 74.2 x 8.9 mm
Weight: 184 grams
Realme has always put special attention on the patterns and colours of its smartphones – right from its debut Realme 1 which came with the unique diamond pattern. And with the Realme 5 Pro, the brand has again offered a similar pattern, but with a twist. The cuts are larger this time around, and thanks to a glossy finish, they reflect unique colours depending upon the angle at which the light hits the surface. Add to it the unique green and blue hues, and the handset easily comes across as the best-looking option, priced below Rs 15k.
While at first glance, the Realme 5 Pro’s fascia may not seem much different from the Realme 3 Pro, the company claims that the dewdrop notch is 30 percent smaller. In fact, it’s referring to that as a “Minidrop” notch, and while it’s difficult to make out that difference with naked eyes, there’s no doubt that the 5 Pro offers an impressive screen-to-body ratio of 90.8 percent, with slight bezels only present at the bottom.
Realme 3 Pro (left) and Realme 5 Pro (right)
Other than that, the device follows the conventional placement for ports and buttons. The keys offer good tactile feedback when pressed, though the positioning of speaker means that you’d get muffled output while using the phone in landscape mode.
As mentioned in the previous section, the rear panel will draw your attention with quad cameras. You also get a fingerprint sensor, which is placed right where your finger will rest to unlock the handset quickly. Of course, with the face unlock being quite reliable, except for dim settings, you may not need to resort to using the FPS much. The glossy finish means that the device loves fingerprints and is also prone to slippage, and hence it’s appreciable that you get a transparent case bundled with it. That said, it’s quite odd to see a flap covering the Type-C port, which needs to be opened every time you need to juice up the phone or transfer data.
Similar to the Realme 3 Pro, the new smartphone features a 6.3-inch display, which is large enough to enjoy content on, and yet keep the size handy enough for one-hand usage. With full HD+ resolution, the panel offers good visuals and crisp text. The Gorilla Glass 3-protected screen on the 3 Pro offers ample brightness levels and I didn’t struggle while using it outdoors. Sadly, unlike the Realme X, the 5 Pro ships with an IPS panel, which means you’d miss the punchy output of AMOLED displays.
While the latest from Realme’s stables is quite thin at 8.9mm, it does have a slight heft as it tips the scales at 184g. The device is also splash-resistant.
Hardware and software
CPU: Dual core, 2.3 GHz + Hexa Cor…
GPU: Adreno 616
RAM: 4 GB
Memory: 64 GB + Up to 256 GB
SIM Slots: Dual SIM , GSM+GSM
Battery: 4035 mAH
Now hardware is a department where the Realme 5 Pro comes across as an iterative upgrade over its previous iteration. It draws power from the Snapdragon 712 chipset, which is 10 percent faster than the SD710 SoC which fuelled the Realme 3 Pro. The 10nm octa-core processor is paired with up to 8GB RAM, which will certainly appease multitasking enthusiasts. Worth noting that the 3 Pro maxed out at 6GB RAM. Depending upon the RAM variant you opt for, you could get the latest offering from Realme with up to 128GB storage. Thanks to the presence of a dedicated microSD card slot, you could expand it further up to 512GB.
Now I don’t have to tell you what these internals can do… the Realme 5 Pro flies through anything thrown at it. This remains true even while playing graphics-intensive games such as PUBG Mobile and Unkilled. Even after a long session, the performance remained smooth. The heating is also kept in check with the gel heat-dissipating process, which works in conjunction with copper foil, graphite sheet and a layer of aluminium with high thermal conductivity.
One common gripe with all the Realme devices has been its operating system, and the Realme 5 Pro does nothing to change that. Running ColorOS v6.0 atop Android 9.0 Pie, the device comes with a lot of preloaded apps in the form of Facebook, Opera News, and UC Browser among others . But my issue is garrish-looking icons, old-school interface and exclusion of features like Dark Mode. Of course, all this could be tackled by installing a third-party launcher. I also didn’t like the aggressive background app management on the handset which closed quite a few apps running while the phone is on standby. There were also times when I’d receive a barrage of notifications as soon as I awoke the display.
The Realme 5 Pro continues with a single speaker at the bottom, but it does manage to offer loud output. The audio delivered is crisp too and doesn’t shrill even at the highest volume.
Fuelling the Realme 5 Pro is a 4,035mAh battery, which is almost same as the 4,045mAh cell inside its predecessor. You’d easily be able to use the handset for a day and then some more. No matter how many battery-guzzling tasks I put the device through, including Wi-Fi tethering, GPS, and gaming, the device ensured that I didn’t need to look for the adapter before the end of the day (which is probably where the background app management, mentioned above, also deserves credit). In our battery loop test wherein we run a 720p video, the device was able to go on for more than 20 hours, which is quite good. Thanks to support for VOOC 3.0 technology, the device juices up in about 77 minutes using the bundled adapter.
The Realme 5 Pro finds itself at an interesting place. Not only does it compete with offerings from other brands, but there’s a lot of sibling rivalry at play too…
Realme 5 Pro vs Vivo Z1 Pro
The Z1 Pro (review) is a direct rival to the Realme 5 Pro for the simple reason that both the handsets are powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 712 chipset. Otherwise as well, both phones are almost neck to neck with Realme’s smartphones coming out ahead in the camera department, while the Vivo handset promises a better battery life with a 5,000mAh cell.
Realme 5 Pro vs Redmi Note 7 Pro
The rivalry between Redmi and Realme has been there since the inception of the latter, and hence it’s important to pit the brand’s latest against the fan-favourite Redmi Note 7 Pro (review). Having said that, we were already biased towards the Realme 3 Pro while comparing it to the Redmi Note 7 Pro, so it’s not a surprise that we’ll pick the Realme 5 Pro in this battle.
Realme 5 Pro vs Realme 3 Pro
The predecessor to the Realme 5 Pro is just five months old, and hence if you already own the 3 Pro, then you may not have to upgrade to the latest offering. And considering it’s still available to buy, it should be available at a lower and more attractive price, so if you don’t necessarily need the quad-camera capabilities of the Realme 5 Pro, then its predecessor should also serve you well.
Realme 5 Pro vs Realme X
While it’s priced slightly higher than the Realme 5 Pro, if you are looking for an immersive visual experience, then the Realme X (review) is for you. However, you’d be missing out on the ultra wide-angle and macro lens as well as slight performance uplift offered by the Snapdragon 712 chip, on paper at least.
You could also check out the OPPO K3 (review), which is quite similar to the Realme X except that is ships with 16MP primary camera at the back, and is available for around Rs 15k as part of the introductory offer.
Well I might sound like a broken record, there’s no denying the fact that the Realme 5 Pro is a compelling handset, especially considering its starting price of Rs 13,990. While you may not like ColorOS, and the ultra macro sensor could’ve been better, the Realme 5 Pro sets a new benchmark for the competition for the months to come.
Editor’s rating: 4 / 5
- Capable display
- Loaded innards
- Powerful and versatile cameras
- Long-lasting battery with VOOC 3.0 charging support
- Design isn’t too different from the Realme 3 Pro
- ColorOS needs a refresh
- Ultra macro sensor doesn’t offer the best quality
Photos by Raj Rout