The Realme GT (review) series has been a success story for the former OPPO sub-brand as an affordable flagship offering to rival products from iQOO, Xiaomi, and to some extent OnePlus as well. My colleague recently reviewed the Realme GT 2 Pro (review) and classified it as a fantastic entrant into the premium tier of smartphones. I have with me the regular version that comes in the form of the Realme GT 2, priced starting Rs 34,999 and making it an affordable flagship. The smartphone borrows a few specs from last year’s Realme GT and adds a few more key hardware functionalities to round it all off. In terms of competition, the GT 2 is facing off against its own sibling GT Neo 3 (review), the iQOO 9 SE (review), and even the OnePlus 10R. It’s time to put the Realme GT 2 through its paces to find out if this is the affordable flagship for you or not.
The Realme GT 2 redefines the budget flagship space with excellent performance, capable cameras, and a vivid display. Its unique design and in-hand feel are bonus points along with the fast charging speeds. I do miss a headphone jack, and feel that there’s some bloatware that could be reduced, but these are just small niggles.
- As an overall package from the outside, the Realme GT 2 has a unique textured finish resembling the vegan leather back panel seen on the OPPO F21 Pro (review). Like the Pro version, Realme has worked with Japanese designer Naoto Fukusawa for the signature ‘biopolymer’ design style that has a paper-like feeling to it. In my opinion, it does appear premium to the touch and gives a rather elegant in-hand feel with the added benefit of not cracking during accidental falls. For me, the main benefit is the lack of fingerprints and smudges on the pearl white back although Realme is one of the few brands left that provide a case in the box for added protection.
- The camera layout is exactly like the GT 2 Pro with two lenses arranged vertically and a third macro shooter present on the side flanked by a couple of LED flash modules. Realme has abstained from adding in a 3.5mm headphone jack and compensates instead with stereo sound output. The phone uses an in-display fingerprint sensor of the optical variety and has tactically sound volume rocker buttons along with a textured power button on the opposite side. With polished silver edges, balanced weight, and smooth curves on the sides, the Realme GT 2 is a masterfully constructed device that will appeal to a lot of Gen-Z users.
- The AMOLED display employed on the Realme GT 2 measures 6.6-inch diagonally, has a punch hole on the top-right, and refreshes at 120Hz. Unlike its Pro sibling, the panel does not use LTPO technology to bring down the refresh rate dramatically when not in use. Even so, the normal user is hardly going to notice a difference since the GT 2 gets all the major benefits of an OLED screen, ie. excellent colour reproduction, flawless viewing angles, and deeper blacks.
- The phone is also HDR10+ capable although neither Netflix nor Amazon Prime have certified it on their platforms. 1,300nits is the peak brightness on offer from the device which I feel is plenty, especially while operating on extreme sunny afternoons. There is a Bright HDR video mode toggle that amplifies the screen luminosity while playing HDR content and works quite well. Bezels surrounding the display are quite trim and provide an expansive viewing experience. For gamers, the device offers a 1,000Hz touch sampling rate which seems a bit overkill.
- Looking at the phone’s image-taking capabilities, there is a 50MP Sony IMX766 shooter that is the primary sensor and is supported by an 8MP ultra-wide and a 2MP macro sensor. It didn’t come as too much of a surprise that combining the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888’s ISP and Sony’s flagship image sensor provides impeccable photography results. I generally remained very impressed with the clear-cut detailing on offer during bright sunny outdoor conditions.
- Colours were a bit oversaturated in typical Realme fashion, although the dynamic range was very wide. Exposure-wise the sensor allowed tons of light to enter but metered the resulting image quite amicably such that highlights were not blown up. Of course, I kept the AI-mode disabled for preserving natural colour tones. Sharpness levels remained impeccable at the centre of the frame but did tend to taper off towards the edges. Focusing speeds were lightning fast as was the shutter speed allowing a very detailed capture of fast-moving objects. OIS on the lens definitely does help in this regard and compensates well for any shake encountered.
- As for the low-light capabilities, the large sensor size does help in keeping the scenario relatively well-lit during the night. Details are quite sharp when assistive street lighting is present in the vicinity. I particularly enjoyed the responsiveness of the dedicated Night mode which gave the images a twirl of extra sharpness and more defined shadows. Oversharpening is kept at a minimum for the most part which prohibits excessive noise from seeping into the inky black sky. I can assure you that the Realme GT 2 takes much better low-light shots than any other device in its price range except perhaps the GT Neo 3 which uses the same primary shooter as the GT 2. The 8MP ultra-wide is not too shabby with details and matches colour temperatures with the main sensor.
- The macro shooter is rather poor in low-light conditions and its 2MP resolution means that images are only serviceable when viewed on a smartphone screen. In terms of video shooting, the camera is capable of 4K @ 60fps with the footage coming out quite stabilised but with slower focusing speeds. The 16MP selfie camera is a run-of-the-mill sensor that Realme has employed on so many of its budget and mid-range phones. Very basically it overprocesses the facial details, gets matching skin tones, and does a decent job with the portrait mode.
- Like last year, the Realme GT 2 also utilises the services of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 platform. If 2021 flagships are any testament to the performance levels, it can be safely assumed that the GT 2 is capable of powering through any kind of processor-intensive work. Benchmark numbers can quantitatively indicate the reliability of any silicone and with an Antutu V9.3 score of 812,162, I can assure you that very few phones, if any, can dethrone the Realme GT 2 in its price range.
- My more pressing concern revolved around how well the chipset kept its peak performance levels. On the CPU Throttle benchmark, the device did throttle down to 79 percent of its maximum processing capabilities which I feel is slightly low. However, during my day-to-day usage of the GT 2, there was hardly an instance wherein I experienced even the slightest of jitters.
- This translated even to BGMI gaming even though I set the graphics quality to HDR and frame rate settings to Extreme (60fps). I do believe that this is partly due to the rather large vapour cooling chamber housed inside the phone which helps in running the device substantially cooler than previous Snapdragon 888 phones I have encountered. To top off the performance metrics, the GT 2 has up to 12GB of LDDDR5 RAM paired with 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage.
- The GT 2’s audio department has left me impressed particularly with how good the stereo speakers sound. The quality is quite good for the price and with Dolby Atmos and Hi-res certification, audiophiles are bound to enjoy sound output from the device. I was happy with the GT 2’s in-display fingerprint authentication speeds along with the face unlock. 5G services are present on the device and in the future, perhaps by this year’s end, Indian telecom infrastructure will be able to support it as well. For the time being, the GT 2’s 4G LTE speeds on Jio’s Noida circle are quite good as is the call reception.
- Software-wise, the Realme GT 2 runs on the Android 12-based Realme UI 3.0 which I have seen on several smartphones from the company this year. You can read my Realme 9 Pro Plus review here for a more detailed understanding.
- Moving on to the battery life, the 5,000mAh battery present on the GT 2 is capable of lasting easily the entire day without a hitch. The 5nm chipset does increase power efficiency thereby letting the phone operate more freely while using less battery. I played BGMI for a couple of hours on the device and saw a decline of about 35 percent in battery. For less processor-intensive tasks like Netflix and social media browsing, the GT 2 provides upwards of 6 hours of screen-on time. On PCMark’s Battery test, the smartphone got a score of 14 hours 35 minutes which I consider decent enough. The phone does have excellent charging speeds of 65W which juice up the phone in about 35 minutes.
As a performance-oriented device, the Realme GT 2 has only a few devices that can match it and when talking about image-taking prowess, the list gets even shorter. I’m a fan of this biopolymer design language and also of how good the display is. However, if you like to view HDR10 content on OTT platforms, that facility has, as of now, not been extended to the device. Also, the software skin is quite intuitive in terms of customisability but Realme’s familiar bloatware problems persist. Overall, the Realme GT 2 is a solid processing powerhouse and gamers with Rs 35,000 in their budget should definitely give it a closer look.
Editor’s rating: 4 / 5
- Unique design
- Superb performance for the price
- Excellent primary camera
- Great display
- Ships with bloatware
- Could use a headphone jack