With devices now flooding every segment, Realme's certainly been keeping everyone busy with its incessant launches. We saw the launch of the Realme 3 and 3 Pro, Realme X, Realme 5 and 5 Pro, and most recently, the Realme XT. Cutthroat competition from the likes of Vivo, Oppo and of course Xiaomi, have forced Realme’s hand in delivering value for money products at very short intervals, which is, in a way, a win for the consumer.
The Realme 5 Pro comes just a month after Realme unveiled the Realme X smartphone in India, and while the company calls the latter its flagship device, in my opinion, it is really the former that you should have your eyes on. While it's true that the Realme X enjoys a big, bezel-less display, there is nothing else that the phone offers which the Realme 5 Pro cannot trump. Apart from having a quad-camera setup, which by the way makes it the only phone below Rs 20,000 to have one, it also has a higher RAM variant along with a better Snapdragon 712 SoC. The real competition for the Realme 5 Pro comes from the Vivo Z1 Pro and the Redmi Note 7 Pro (Review).
Should you buy the Realme 5 Pro? For its price and its incredible value for money offering, the device should definitely be on your wishlist. For a more detailed explanation on why you should buy this phone, read on.
Designed to impress
Like the Realme X before it, the Realme 5 Pro also focuses quite a lot on the general aesthetics of the device. As with most phones in this price range, you get a glossy back, and it's also quite light. However, amongst all the phones that I have handled in this price range, including the likes of the Redmi Note 7 Pro and Vivo Z1 Pro, the Realme 5 Pro has the best in-hand feel. Realme has opted for the diamond-design that it had introduced way back in Realme 1 and it certainly does score some brownie points from me. Having such a shiny back made from polycarbonate does have its drawbacks, the biggest one being that the device happens to be a fingerprint magnet and that it gets scratched quite easily.
Realme has included a Type-C port on the bottom, which is something that the Realme 3 Pro did not have. This is flanked on either side by the speaker grill and the headphone jack. The sides feature volume rockers and a power button along with a dual-SIM slot. The phone is comfortable to hold, and even with the 6.3-inch display on the phone, I had no problems in operating it with one hand. People with smaller hands might struggle, though. The phone is also splash-proof and the company has said that it has added three splash-resistant layers from the inside to the outside. While dipping your phone in water would not be a great idea, you should be fine if some amount of water is splashed on the device.
The DewDrop notch housing for the front-facing camera on the front is quite small, as is the chin at the bottom, although I will say that I’ve seen smaller chins on competing smartphones. Overall, I really love this design of the phone and it will be hard to come up with something in this price range that looks better.
Quad-cameras are the real deal!
Who would’ve thought a year ago that mid-range smartphones will start getting not just three, but even four cameras? Realme is looking to hit it out of the ballpark in terms of value for money with its 48 MP sensor supported by an 8 MP ultra-wide sensor, 2 MP depth sensor and a 2 MP macro lens. No phone is giving such an extensive array of cameras at such a price point, and long story short, these are some really good cameras.
Let’s talk about the primary 48 MP sensor first, which uses pixel binning to give high resolution 14 MP photos. This is the same technique used by Redmi Note 7 Pro and other smartphones with the Sony IMX 586 sensor. The photos are crisp, clear, with lots of details and good colour reproduction. The Realme 3 Pro camera was also quite capable, but with this new 48 MP sensor, Realme is taking Xiaomi head-on in the camera game.
While shooting in the 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.
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The camera UI appears to be polished, but there are still a few problems which I found. The Realme 5 Pro touts quad-cameras but there appears to be no easy way to switch between these lenses. 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.
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Like most mid-range smartphones, the Realme 5 Pro struggles with details in low-light conditions but it does bring in good exposure to its photos. It has a dedicated night mode called Nightscape which does bring in more detail, but your hand needs 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.
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The phone has an ultra-wide sensor as well which provides the user with a bigger field of view while taking snaps, although the detailing isn't too great. The phone allows you to shoot at 5x digital zoom and while details do get washed out, I still think that for its price the phone is doing a commendable job.
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The ultra macro lens also works well under sufficient lighting, giving good close-up shots, but again, don’t expect the 2 MP camera to deliver a lot of detail. Suffice to say, fancy features in a camera are a definite bonus but the implementation needs a bit of working on.
We also get a Chroma boost feature on the Realme 5 Pro which basically just pumps up the colours in a photo. If you want an Instagram-ready picture you can keep Chroma boost on while users who prefer natural colours should keep it off.
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Talking now of the selfie camera, I expected the 16 MP lens on the phone’s front to be up to the mark as it is the same sensor as seen on the OnePlus 7 (Review) and 7 Pro. The selfies clicked by the Realme 5 Pro were detailed and colour accurate. The focus was not an issue although dynamic range could see an improvement. The front-facing portrait mode on the phone also worked well enough with good background separation.
The Realme 5 Pro can take videos in HD, FHD and 4K. There is an option to record 60 fps video in FHD while you can also shoot slow-mo 960 fps video as well, although the results of the latter aren't that great. Overall, the phone can capture some very good videos with good detail, especially those captured at 60 fps.
All-in-all I’m quite satisfied with the Realme 5 Pro’s camera, although features such as ultra-wide-angle and macro are not going to be used every day. I’m still waiting on the Redmi Note 8 Pro’s 64 MP quad-camera setup which should be an ideal competitor to the Realme 5 Pro.
A great display, but it's not the best
The Realme 5 Pro has opted for a 6.3-inch FHD+ IPS LCD panel with a DewDrop notch on the top. The phone has a good and vibrant display and the notch at the top becomes less obtrusive as you keep using the phone. There is nothing out of the ordinary with the Realme 5 Pro's display, although the company claims of a 90.6 percent screen-to-body ratio.
The one detail I did have a problem with was the brightness of the panel. It was quite difficult to decipher what's on the display if you are holding it under bright sunlight. The display does get quite dim at night and offers a Night Shield mode to protect your eyes while you read at night. Is this a great display? Yes. Is it the best out there? I think you would be more satisfied with the Vivo Z1 Pro, which has one of the best displays in the segment.
Happy with the software
Before Oppo and Realme phones made a tectonic shift to ColorOS 6.0, I have to say that it was perhaps the worst custom skin on a smartphone. But with the Android Pie-based ColorOS 6.0, my ill will for the skin has diminished significantly. It is one of the cleaner custom skins for Android out there with very little bloat and navigation that is easy to understand. There is also an app drawer, which means applications are not scattered around as you would find in, say, Vivo’s FunTouchOS.
I have heard rumours about a custom Realme skin for all its devices, but until then, the software experience on the device has been quite satisfying. Even so, for the umpteenth time, I will plead to both Realme and Oppo to remove the irritating ‘Sign-In to Oppo’ bar every time I open the settings app.
Can Realme try their hand at stock Android like the Mi A-series and Asus ZenFone Max Pro M2? I hope they do.
I had earlier asked Realme why the Snapdragon 712 chipset was not introduced on the Realme X, which was the company’s flagship phone. I was told that the company would surely be introducing the SoC in due time and introduce it did in the Realme 5 Pro. While it is the same platform that the Z1 Pro was running on, I could tell that the Realme 5 Pro was indeed a shade faster although that could be attributed to a better software experience on the latter.
This is also the only phone in its category to come with an 8 GB RAM variant along with 128 GB storage. There is an option for expandable storage on the phone up to 256 GB, so in my opinion, you would be satisfied with a 6 GB RAM + 64 GB storage option. Benchmarking results on the Realme 5 Pro showed that the device had scores of 1,564 and 5,922 in Geekbench's single- and multi-core tests, while on AnTuTu, the overall score for the device was 180,007. For more GPU-intensive tasks I also ran the 3D Mark SlingShot Extreme test showing a score of 3,101. All these scores are in-line with smartphones having the Snapdragon 712 SoC, such as the Vivo Z1 Pro. Heavy apps such as Instagram, Facebook and more were a breeze to scroll through and so was switching between apps.
The phone does come with the option to unlock using your fingerprint sensor, which works lightning-fast and is much better than the unrefined in-display fingerprint readers coming in many smartphones as of late including the Realme X. If fingerprint authentication is not to your taste then the phone can also be unlocked using facial data although it is a tad bit slow and doesn't work well at night.
In today’s day and age, one of the sure-shot metrics of truly testing a phone’s performance is by playing some PUBG Mobile on it. The game defaulted to highest settings but I did notice that there was no option to increase the frame rate to Ultra and Extreme. In any case, this was not a deterrent for my playing experience, which was as smooth as it can get for a smartphone starting at Rs 13,990. Other games such as Free Fire and Asphalt 9 Legends also ran buttery smooth on the device.
Talking about sound quality, I did feel that the single bottom-firing speaker sounded a bit tinny, although it was sufficiently loud. Call quality and mic were up to the standards as expected and so was audio quality on the 3.5 mm headphone jack. While I wait on the Redmi Note 8 Pro to show its face, I’m sufficiently convinced that users will have no complaints with the performance of the Realme 5 Pro.
Not a battery powerhouse, but it gets the job done
The Realme 5 has a massive 5,000 mAh powerhouse backing it, however, the Realme 5 Pro has a smaller 4,000 mAh battery. Now, on-paper that seems like a big difference, but the truth happens to be that the Realme 5 Pro is quite the battery champion. This phone can last one and a half days if your usage is moderate. I often have a lot of social media accounts active on my device, play a lot of PUBG and watch a lot of YouTube content.
Even with that, 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. In a nutshell, the battery is not something that will worry you on this device.
Should you buy the Realme 5 Pro?
The Realme 5 Pro is definitely a no-brainer for the best value-for-money proposition in the mid-range price segment right now. It has a capable processor, offers a good software experience and the quad-camera setup thrown in is just a cherry on the top. The Realme 5 Pro is a wholesome package which makes its mark in a very crowded smartphone market. I would recommend going for the 6 GB RAM + 64 GB storage variant, which in my opinion should be good enough for the average consumer since 8 GB RAM can be a bit excessive and unnecessary. The option of a microSD card expansion also negates the need to buy a variant with higher storage.
However, before you purchase the Realme 5 Pro, keep in mind that Xiaomi is soon going to unveil the Redmi Note 8 Pro in India around November. Launched at a price starting at CNY 1,399 (about Rs 14,000), you can bet that this will be a device giving the Realme 5 Pro a serious run for its money thanks to a 64 MP quad-camera setup and the all-new MediaTek G90T chipset.
The Realme 5 Pro is available on Flipkart for a starting price of Rs 13,990.
Images: Suraj Choudhary