Realme’s on a smartphone launching spree and it’s no secret that the company’s locked it crosshairs on Xiaomi — a company that’s been dominating the budget smartphone space in India for a few years now. Being a manufacturer that’s existed for as little as 15 months, the sheer ability to match Xiaomi blow-for-blow, should tell you a lot about Realme’s larger plans for the Indian market.
It has been barely Four months since the launch of the Realme 3 series, but Realme clearly thinks that it’s a good time to launch its next crop of budget powerhouses — the Realme 5 and Realme 5 Pro. The main highlight of the Realme 5 Series is the move to quad rear cameras from dual camera setup and slightly better internals. The Realme 5 Pro has a 48MP Sony IMX586 sensor as the primary shooter along with an ultrawide lens and even a dedicated macro lens. On the inside, Realme replaced the Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 with an ever so slightly better Snapdragon 712 chipset and replaced the aging microUSB port for a USB-C port.
The Realme 5 series is essentially a mid-cycle refresh for the Realme 3 and 3 Pro, and if you’re wondering why there isn’t a Realme 4, the number four is considered unlucky in China, so that also likely played a part in either device’s branding. But does the Realme 5 Pro finally beat the coveted Redmi Note 7 Pro? Read on to find out.
Build, Design and Display
With just four months between them, the Realme 5 Pro doesn’t look a great deal different from the Realme 3 Pro from the front. The phone features a 6.3-inch FHD+ LCD display with a water drop cutout — the same as its predecessor — and the chin at the bottom of the display is relatively slim. The panel here’s protected by a layer of Gorilla Glass 3 which is a tad disappointing since the 3 Pro came with Gorilla Glass 6 shielding.
The back of the Realme 5 Pro is far more intriguing though. The rear polycarbonate housing isn’t very good at resisting scratches or smudges, but will definitely catch eyeballs. The reflective diamond-like pattern underneath the exterior is reminiscent of last year’s Realme 1 smartphone and it’s brilliant to look at.
The Crystal Blue unit we had for review definitely stands out compared to the other phone with gradient finishes that have swarmed the budget smartphone market. Realme also has a nice little yellowish ring outlining the primary 48MP camera, which stands out every time you turn the phone. The Realme 5 Pro’s sturdy metal rails have also been painted with a purple and blue gradient finsh to match the colors on the back, showing just how much thought the company’s designers put into this.
Tipping the scale at 184 grams, at no point did the phone feel unwieldy during my time with it. The curved back edges also go a long way in helping you grip the phone well. One minor gripe: the quad-camera setup on the back does have a considerable bump and the protective metal ring around it can also feel a tad sharp.
As for the display, there’s nothing really to complain about here. The colours are crisp, the viewing angles are great the notch up top isn’t much of a bother. Compared to the Realme 3 Pro, the panels on both phones are almost identical. Peak brightness levels could have been a tad higher for better daylight visibility but that certainly won’t be a deal-breaker if your considering this phone.
Talking about competition, I personally still prefer the display on the Vivo Z1 Pro, but the panel on the Realme 5 Pro is definitely at par with the Redmi Note 7 Pro.
Great for gaming, but ColorOS 6 still needs some polishing
For a smartphone that’s start at a price of INR 13,999, the Realme 5 Pro is a heady performer. The Snapdragon 712 SoC used here provides great speed and energy efficiency, enabling a smooth gaming experience, even at the highest settings in titles such as Asphalt 9 and PUBG Mobile. The unit we received for review packed 8GB of RAM and not once did the phone have to drop an app from memory.
When generally using the phone, there weren’t many hiccups to speak of. The animations on ColosOS 6 have also been sped up, making tasks like unlocking the phone or even launching the camera app feel fast. ColosOS still does need a little more refining though as certain functions (like switching between apps) still made the Realme 5 Pro drop frames every once in a while. Again, definitely not a major issue but there is room for minor improvements.
If you have your apprehensions with ColorOS being a deterrent to your experience, I can vouch that it not much of an issue.
Definitely among the best camera phones under INR 13,999
The Realme 5 Pro has the distinction of being the brand’s first quad camera device. The reason why that’s a little odd is because we saw Realme’s CEO Madhav Sheth take a jab at Xiaomi for trying to market a 48MP camera (on the Redmi Note 7 Pro) while launching the Realme 3 Pro back in May. Sheth back then spoke a lot about how more megapixels don’t always mean better photos — well, here we are.
The primary lens on the Realme 5 Pro is a 48MP Sony IMX586, and it’s joined by an 8MP wide-angle module with a 119-degree field of view, a 2MP macro lens that shoots objects just 4cm away, and finally a depth sensor for creating a background blur effect when shooting in portrait mode. The main camera shoots at 12MP (using pixel binning — a tech we’ve seen on a number of phones using the IMX856 sensor), but you do get the option to take images at the full 48MP resolution as well.
Aside from the 48MP sensor, the other three sensors are standard across both the Realme 5 Pro and the standard Realme 5. I’m not quite sure why Realme went with a macro lens instead of an optical zoom module, but it definitely does a good job for close subjects like food or even flowers.
Shooting in the default auto mode there was very little to complain about as the camera delivers quality photos in most lighting conditions. There is a separate Ultra 48 MP mode in the camera application, which should take a more detailed photo, but in most cases, there were no significant differences between this mode and the normal mode (in fact, pixel binning results in better colors using the auto mode).
The camera UI is rather simple to get your head around, but there are certain issues which could do with some work. For one, I’d really like a simpler way to switch between the choice of lenses (something like what Samsung’s done with the camera app with OneUI). There is only a single toggle available for using the ultra-wide lens while the macro mode needs to be found in the camera menu.
Where the Realme 5 Pro really shines though, is in low-light. The phone does struggle with details in dimly-lit conditions but it does bring in good exposure to its photos. It has a dedicated night mode called Nightscape which does an even better job at enhancing highlights, but your hands do need to be extremely steady to get good shots. Images are grainy and lacking in detail but overall the phone gets the job done and are good enough for a phone in this price range.
The ultra macro lens also works well under sufficient lighting, giving good close-up shots. We also get a Chroma boost feature on the Realme 5 Pro which basically just turns the saturation levels up in a photo.
The Realme 5 Pro takes great selfies as well. The photos here are detailed and color accurate with decent dynamic range. The front-facing portrait mode on the phone also worked well enough with good background separation, even when you have multiple people in the frame.
Video output is identical to the Realme 3 Pro and there’s nothing new to talk about there.
All-in-all I’m more than happy with the Realme 5 Pro’s camera, although features such as ultra-wide-angle and macro are not going to be used every day. The phone definitely matches up to the Redmi Note 7 Pro’s camera prowess and also beats it in some areas with more options on offer.
Battery life’s at par with the competition
Battery capacity (4000mah) remains unchanged from the Realme 3 Pro but that’s not a bad thing. This phone can easily last you a day and a half if your usage is moderate.
With heavy usage which involved hours of binging on Netflix, YouTube and a hour of PUBG Mobile, I was easily getting about 6 hours of screen-on-time. I started my day with a full 100 percent battery and by the end of the day, there was about 20-25 percent left, which, keeping my usage in mind, is quite good.
The phone’s VOOC 3.0 charging can juice up your device from 0 to 100 in about 90 minutes and the first 50 percent gets done in nearly 30 minutes.
Price and Verdict
The Realme 5 Pro starts at INR 13,999 for the base variant with 4GB RAM and 64GB of storage (which is expandable) and goes all the way up to INR 16,999 for the top-end 8GB RAM variant, meaning that it’s got a lot to offer for the money.
With arguably the best cameras at this price, a fantastic fingerprint scanner, great screen, and powerful performance, all for this price, it makes you wonder if Realme’s finally cracked the code at beating Xiaomi at its own value game.
The device features many more features than its competition, but if you are willing to stretch your budget a wee bit further, you may want to pick up the Realme XT, which just launched.