Realme GT Master Edition: “cute” flagship killer focused on camera and design


Not that long time ago, we had in our hands Realme’s newest flagship-killer, Realme GT, and we really enjoyed the all around experience it offered. Today – and starting from those days of Realme X, the innovative company adds a Master Edition model to its portfolio with certain improvements under the hood. As Realme is a mostly online brand focused on young people, the Realme GT Master Edition comes as an upgrade focused on design, as a way to catch the eye of a more mature audience.


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To do so, the company collaborates with special product design director and world-renowned industrial designer, Naoto Fukasawa. Fukasawa provides amazing designs based on daily experiences. The onion/garlic design or the concrete/red brick of previous Realme Master Edition smartphones were highly praised and accepted from the market as a fresh way to design smartphones. This time the Japanese designer gave us a suitcase design – a real magnet for surrounding looks – and a luxurious matte plastic design. Both are less fancy / sporty than the vanilla Realme GT series.

The suitcase design is focused on people who want the extra artistic touch – according to the designer himself the “Travel Suitcase” look and feel tries to evoke memories of traveling, something that the young people have missed in the pandemic era. The matte plastic design is for people that are attracted to luxury / premium style smartphones and want some added elegance. While the suitcase design is a clear identity – no other phone exists like that, the matte plastic design has nothing to add in the plethora of similar designs that exist in the market.

Suitcase Design

For the first time, Realme did not stay in the external design but tried to separate the Master for the vanilla edition of its annual flagships. Remember the “more mature” audience of the Master series? Well, Realme possibly discovered that a “Gran Tourismo” themed series boosting specifications is not the first choice for people aged 30-50+. They usually don’t play 3D games, they don’t care about super multitasking BUT they take a lot of pictures and videos and want style and a pit of posh. Based on this, this year’s Master edition comes in two models:

  • the vanilla model, that is the GT model aesthetically upgraded, with a more powerful selfie camera and Snapdragon 778G SoC in Voyager Grey, Luna White and Cosmos Black colors, and
  • a higher specification model, “Master Explorer Edition”, with more powerful cameras all around and Snapdragon 870 SoC in Gray and Apricot colors.

In both cases the Realme GT Master Series are a design / camera focused series and not an extreme flagship killer – after all the supreme Snapdragon 888 SoC is gone.

We believe the naming of the basically NEW smartphone series was not successful. “GT” should have gone, leaving the “Master”-”Master Explorer” naming alone. This way, people of different age groups and needs would not get confused.

In our hands we have the vanilla Realme GT Master Edition. We reviewed the phone for a period of two weeks. Below you will read our impressions along with the pros and cons of this new series.

Realme GT Master – Specifications (in RED the differences from GT)

  • Dimensions: 159.2 mm x 73.5 mm x 8.0/8.7 mm (depending on color)
  • Weight: 174-180 g (depending on color)
  • Display: Super AMOLED, 120Hz, 6.43 inches, 99.8 cm2 (~85.3% screen-to-body ratio), 1080 x 2400 pixels, 20:9 ratio (~409 ppi)
  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G 5G (6 nm), Octa-core (1×2.4 GHz Kryo 670 Prime & 3×2.2 GHz Kryo 670 Gold & 4×1.9 GHz Kryo 670 Silver)
  • GPU: Adreno 642L
  • RAM+ROM: 128GB 8GB RAM, 256GB 12GB RAM, UFS 3.1
  • Battery: Li-Po 4300 mAh, non-removable, Fast charging 65W, 100% in 35 min
  • Connectivity: HSPA 42.2/5.76 Mbps, LTE-A, 5G
    • 2G: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 – SIM 1 & SIM 2, CDMA 800
    • 3G: HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1700(AWS) / 1900 / 2100, CDMA2000 1xEV-DO
    • 4G: LTE FDD: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 17, 18, 19, 20, 26, 34, 38, 39, 40, 41
    • 5G: 1, 3, 28, 41, 77, 78, 79 SA/NSA
    • Speed: HSPA 42.2/5.76 Mbps, LTE-A, 5G
  • Biometrics: Under display Fingerprint Sensor, Face Unlock
  • Main Camera: Triple Camera, Dual-LED dual-tone flash, HDR, panorama
    • 64 MP, f/2.2, 26mm (wide), 1/1.73″, 0.8µm, PDAF
    • 8 MP, f/2.3, 16mm, 119˚ (ultrawide), 1/4.0″, 1.12µm
    • 2 MP, f/2.4, (macro)
  • Selfie Camera: 32 MP, f/2.5, 26mm (wide), 1/2.74″
  • Video: [email protected]/60fps, [email protected]/60/240fps, gyro-EIS
  • Selfie Video: [email protected]
  • Βluetooth:5.2, A2DP, LE, aptX HD
  • GPS: dual-band A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO
  • Ports: USB Type-C 2.0
  • Sound: 1 Speaker
  • Sensors: accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
  • Colors: Gold/Black, Blue, Silver
  • Software: Android 11, Realme UI 2.0

Realme GT Master Edition – Retail Box

The phone comes in the same Racing themed box as GT did. We have a black box that has white huge font for the brand logo and smaller for the phone model. The black color is striped by brown lines in an effort to bring something of a polycarbonate texture in mind. Inside the box we can see the normal sum of accessories for most of the Chinese smartphones this year:

  • Realme GT Master Edition smartphone in Luna White color
  • USB-C to USB-C data transfer / charging cable
  • SuperDART 65W wall charger
  • SIM tray ejection pin
  • Silicone soft case

A plastic screen protection film is pre-installed on the phone. The wall charger comes in white colour and is smaller than the previous 50W chargers Realme included in the retail boxes. The charging cable is quite fat and works along the charger to provide the flash charge. As most cables in 2021, it is USB-C to USB-C.

Main package

There are no guides in the box, which is a very weird thing for me. Companies add some small guarantee leaflets or a quick guide in the retail boxes. Nothing here. Is this a new paperless nature friendly approach?

The silicon case is soft and does a good job protecting the phone from small drops. I especially like the corners where more plastic is added, the corners being the most easy part to be broken in a fall. The case is not hard enough for drops for taller heights, please buy a new semi-hard (or hard) case if you are prone to accidents. What I don’t like is the color. It came in cement grey! Possibly the most uninteresting color I have seen in a case. Why buy this amazing Luna White smartphone and put it on a dull ugly grey case? Realme failed miserably on this. A transparent case would be the obvious choice.

Realme GT Master Edition – Design

Realme GT in front, is the usual smartphone seen in the stores for the past two years. It is a slim and lightweight phone at 159.2 mm x 73.5 mm x 8.0/8.7 mm (depending on color – the suitcase design is a bit wider). This is similar to GT’s dimensions: 158.5 x 173.3 x 9.1 mm and 186 grams. We can find the typical all around small bezels, a horizontal microphone included in the upper one and a smal camera hole in the top left of the display – the hole looks big because of the plastic film on the display panel.  There is nothing else in the front.

On the left side of the panel we can see the SIM tray near the top and two buttons for handling the volume. On the right side there is only a power/lock button. The three buttons are exceptionally made without rattling – same quality is applied on the panel. The join of the silver shiny panel to the front and back panels is exceptional. In the top we can find a noise-canceling microphone. The bottom has a 3.5mm audio jack, a second noise-canceling microphone, the USB-C port and the speaker grille.

Elegant design

The version we have is not the suitcase design – but the more elegant matte plastic one. In Luna White, it has a matte perly color that looks excellent to the eye. The matte finish means that the phone is fingerprint smudge proof. The camera installation looks like a piece of glass is added on top of the back panel, surrounding the camera lenses. The sum is very pleasant to the eye. The camera lenses themselves are black and the small LED light in a yellowish white that I don’t like. The branding is on the bottom left of the panel, placed vertically, “looking” at the interior.

It is a nice minimalistic design that I like a lot. The worst possible thing to do is to cover it with the horrible Realme grey case. Please order a transparent case when buying this gem.

Realme GT Master Edition – Hardware

The main selling point of GT is the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC. This SoC is removed and altered with the Snapdragon 778G. This is not bad. The SoC is behind SD870 (the upgraded SD865+ of 2020) in speed. It is more powerful than MediaTek’s recent SoCs in the middle category. You will not see any stutters, any laging or any other issue whatsoever in daily use. The cost-efficient 6nm Snapdragon 778G 5G is assisted by 8GB of RAM and 128 GB of ROM of latest technology, guaranteeing smooth performance in all scenarios. Ok, this is not a 3D gaming machine but you will play any other games and handle daily multitasking with ease. Don’t forget this is a 5G SoC.

Special Design

GT Master Edition retains the same 6.43-inch 120Hz OLED screen with 1080 x 2400px resolution. This is an amazing display as we described it to you on the Realme GT review. Colors are amazing, black is perfect, angles of view are exceptional, bezels are small. 120Hz is top frame rate and gaming is excellent to see. The motion is smooth in all scenarios. There is also a 60Hz and a variable frame rate to save battery if you are on a journey or away from the ultra fast charger. There’s 1,000 nits of peak brightness, a 5,000,000:1 contrast ratio, and 100% coverage of the DCI-P3 wide color gamut. This is the best part of the smartphone.

Sound features

GT has two loudspeakers used in Stereo more. One is the earpiece and the other is the main loudspeaker in the bottom of the frame. GT Master Edition loses the Stereo mode, when listening to music or watching a film only the main loudspeaker works. Really I have no idea why they degraded this part. The good thing is the 3.5mm headphone jack! I really miss this on most phones, not everybody has a Bluetooth headset and sometimes the latter is uncharged. A 3.5mm option is always good to have.

The rest of the hardware is the same as in the GT version.

Connectivity is excellent. Full signal in call conditions. Bluetooth is top notch – I ‘ve used the smartphone with my wireless headphones daily without interruptions. GPS is excellent under any conditions.

There are two ways to unlock the phone. Both are very fast. “Face unlock” is ultra fast. There is no IR light for unlocking during the night, so in total darkness this method does not work. A minimal light source is enough, even the display from your notebook, to unlock the device with your face shape. The other way is the in-display fingerprint reader. Very accurate and extremely fast. There are no complaints from me. After I did a good setup there were no issues at all.

There is no need to use the face unlock – it is not 3D and not very safe, the in-display sensor will meet your needs in all day usage. There is no heat in any usage scenarios. I am happy with the SoC myself and I think it is a good solution concerning the market audience this phone is intended for. There’s no water resistance or IP rating here so don’t drop your phone in water.

Realme GT Master – Software

Software wise we have the exact same version of software as in GT models. Realme uses RealmeUI 2.0 over Android 11. RealmeUI started as a fork of ColorOS (from Oppo) back when the latter was a mess. These days ColorOS is really amazing with a plethora of functionalities and is really close to the top of User Experience. We must not oversee that OnePlus in China uses it and possibly, will use it for global users too. This version of RealmeUI is very very close to the latest ColorOS version and I don’t think Realme will stay far from fully adopting it.

RealmeUI is a beautiful and rich skin, it has nothing to do with the version of OS I saw for the first time back in X2 Pro. There is full optimisation in user experience from wallpapers to animations. Unfortunately there is also a lot of bloatware, either the company’s own software (not user because of Google applications) or some third-party apps ( selection depending on the area? ). Luckily all these apps can be uninstalled. Minor bugs were found like streaming where the film would pause-start all time making viewing it impossible.

Settings menu is ultra rich – I thought I was browsing MIUI – with many many options for all user needs. A lot of viewing, battery, personalization, privacy et settings. Excellent job really. I think OPPO with ColorOS is playing on the top spots for Android skins this year and RealmeUI has taken its best characteristics.  Fully absorption of ColorOS would solve all minor bugs or any future issues with updates. We will see how OnePlus will react in the coming months about it and if Realme will follow closely on its example.

Camera specs and features

With the first look the camera setup is the exact same with GT model. However to distinguish the two Master models the camera in the basic model, is a bit cheaper version of the hardware used in GT. The 64MP sensor is smaller in size compared to the one found on the GT – 1/2″ vs. 1/1.73″ and uses smaller pixels too – 0.7µm vs. 0.8µm pixels. The ultrawide camera has a smaller aperture – f/2.3 vs. f/2.2 – a paper difference in real world. I don’t think you will understand any difference with GT’s setup samples. I checked side by side, same themed pics and I can’t find any difference. The only difference is the upgrade of the selfie camera with a 32MP f/2.5, 1/2.74″ sensor. Quality is better, especially in night shots. The general feeling I have is the same as the one I had when I used the Realme GT

​Photos and videos

Daylight pics with the main camera are bright and good, a pit overprocessed – you can remove the AI enhancement for realistic pictures. If we check the details we can see signs of overexposure, but generally this is a nice sensor. The small 8 MP ultra wide lens is not bad at all. Good pics, without weird angles and the corners. Macro is almost useless, I never managed to take a nice shot with it – a waste of money in the shake of advertisement. There is no telephone lens, you can zoom using the main camera up to x10, but after x2 the results are blurry and you will miss the details.

Night shots are not as good as in day photography. The main sensor is ok, better with Night Mode. Ultra wide can be used only when a bit of light is available, macro is not to be considered. Portraits and selfies are good. A lot of functionalities are added like beautification or a special video set where a single color is kept but all rest are BW.

Video is good, it has anti-shake enhancement and wide and zoom shots. It can record up to 4K at 30/60fps. I am not complaining, it provides nice results day or night.

 

Realme GT Master – Battery

Realme GT has a 4500 mAh battery and Master Edition reduces this already small sized battery to 4300mAh. The difference is not different in daily life because the SD778G is not as hungry for energy as the SD888 of the vanilla GT. In both cases I feel that a 5000 mAh should have been the proper choice. The phone with a normal usage will get through the day but not more and not if you decide to see a film or play a game.

Realme kept the 65W wall charger from the Realme GT model in the retail box to compensate for the mediocre battery size. This wall charger has been used by BBK Group in Oppo, Realme and OnePlus for two years now and is amazing in all aspects. The phone is topped up from 0% to 100% in less than half an hour (85% at 18 minutes). A few minutes every morning can keep the phone topped up, in case you forgot to charge it overnight. The smartphone gets immediately warm, but not hot, during charging. Similar thermal behavior we face at the wall charger: warm but not hot.

There is no wireless charging or reverse wireless charging.

Conclusion

Realme GT Master edition tries to balance between good specs and excellent design. The price is good, the smartphone is more than good to use and the sum is a good buy. That is of course IF you care about the design – nice to have the suitcase option but what about the matte plastic option? Unfortunately there are some nice smartphones in the market that offer more capable hardware so I don’t think someone will easily choose the plastic option. My opinion is to go for the suitcase design or add some extra money to buy the Master Explorer edition that offers SD870 and better camera package.

Pros:

  • Design
  • Display
  • Main camera
  • Fast Charge

Cons:

  • Ordinary design
  • Bad secondary cameras
  • Small battery

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