Realme GT Neo 3 Review: A true testament to why flagship devices don’t have to be so expensive
Could this be the most value-for-money device we've ever tested?
If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past few years and something tech bloggers like MKBHD have quite correctly pointed out, cheaper phones are getting better and expensive phones are getting cheaper. I’ve had a chance to play around with the Realme GT Neo 3 for the past few weeks, and there’s only one word I can use to describe this phone: phenomenal.
6.7 Inch AMOLED Display with 120Hz Refresh Rate and dedicated display processor
Dimensity 8100 Octa-Core Processor with 5G Connectivity
12GB RAM and 256 GB Storage
50 Megapixel Sony IMX766 OIS Camera with 8MP Ultra-wide and 2MP Macro Lens + 16MP In-Display Selfie Camera
In-Display Fingerprint Sensor with Heart Rate Detection
150W SuperDart Charging (0-100% in 18 Minutes achieved in our own independent testing)
5000mAh battery capacity
Stainless steel vapor cooling system for advanced thermal management
Realme UI 4.0 with Android 13
What we liked
Phenomenal battery life
Very competitively priced
Device performance is at par with industry flagships
Solid display with great color accuracy
Great cameras for the given price point
Already running Google’s latest Android 13 Operating System
What we didn’t like
No official IP rating for Water Resistance
Camera performance in low light can be improved
The macro lens seems a little gimmicky in terms of functionality
Lack of third-party accessories in the market
RealmeUI could use some fine-tuning overall and a reduction in bloatware
Two words. Racing stripes. It’s not easy to pull off an iconic race stripe design that many of us grew up watching on some of the fastest cars in the world. You shouldn’t be surprised given the phone does contain ‘GT’ in it. Huge fan of the anti-glare glass back with this nice matte finish, making it super comfortable to hold in your hand.
However, something most folks won’t realize is that this also adds to the overall thermal management of the phone because the surface feels very cool to the touch. The phone is sleek and isn’t too heavy to use for extended periods of time. To the extent that I’ve used it to watch multiple episodes of Shark Tank and damn do these speakers impress. Kind of what happens when these speakers also happen to be Dolby Atmos certified. The Phone is available in three colors: Nitro Blue, Sprint White, and Asphalt Black.
The problem with most mid-range devices today is that OEMs cut costs by integrating a severely underperforming processor. This isn’t the case with the GT Neo 3 though. The Mediatek Dimensity 8100 octal-core processor is an absolute beast of a performer. In our benchmark tests, it is pretty much at par with Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 888. But benchmarking tests are never an indication of real-world usage. In our tests, the GT Neo 3 performed flawlessly. Apps loaded up quickly without any issues. We were able to multitask with multiple apps in the background and there was still no lag whatsoever thanks to its 12GB of RAM. But where the GT Neo 3 shines is in gaming. The dedicated GT Mode packs quite the punch. When playing games like PUBG, Fortnite, and Call of Duty, frame drops seem like a thing of the past. Solid graphics and touch response means you’re getting some next-to-console-level gaming experiences here.
There are a couple of things Realme really nails in this area. Firstly the GT Neo 3 contains a screen-to-body ratio of approximately 95% so bezels are virtually non-existent. But the real star here is the dedicated display processor. When it comes to gaming on smartphones, there are two very important features for gamers. We’re talking about the display refresh and touch sampling rate.
In fast-moving games, even a single drop in frames can cause you to lose a round especially when it comes to things like Battle Royale. Whether it is color accuracy or protection by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5, you can be rest assured you’re getting a quality viewing experience. However, I did notice that some colors did seem a little washed out when watching HDR content but not a dealbreaker at all, especially at this price point. The AMOLED display with an FHD+ resolution is amazing at viewing blacks and colors really seem to pop out in regular day-to-day usage.
The display is bright enough to view outside in broad daylight achieving a commendable 800nits of brightness.
Charging and Battery
Normally when I test out devices, I only cover the battery life in this part of the review. However, that isn’t going to be the case today. Two words. UltraDart Charge. As a tech reviewer, I have tested hundreds of flagship and midrange devices over the years. This is the first time I’m testing a device that can be charged at a whopping 150W. In comparison, the review I am writing this on is a MacBook Pro laptop. And that charges at 100W. So a small smartphone using a more powerful charger than what my laptop does is just unfathomable.
Realme claims that you can charge the phone up to 50% in 5 minutes. In our own independent testing, we were able to charge the device to 100% in a mere 18 minutes.
A little dive into the technology shows that Realme has opted for a dual-cell/ UDC battery architecture. Realme first unveiled the UDC architecture at MWC Barcelona last year. Basically, you have a chipset inside the phone that regulates the charging speed at a high conversion rate. For the GT Neo 3, that conversion sticks at an industry-leading 98.5%. But it’s one thing to achieve fast charging speeds but it’s also a challenge to ensure optimum thermal management and that is what the UltraDart Adaptive Dual chipset ensures. Maximum charging speeds at minimal thermal variation.
Realme has achieved TUV Rheinland Fast Charging system certification and all kinds of mechanisms to prevent over-discharging, short circuits, and other issues providing a 360 degree of protection for the battery as well as the phone itself. The phone battery is designed to hold 80% of its charge-holding capacity even after 1600 charge cycles. That’s about 4.5 years of usage before you begin to see any noticeable difference. Battery life in general is great because even with heavy usage, we were able to get about 12 hours of display on time whether you’re watching videos or simply browsing the web so you can pretty much say this is an all-day battery life device. But as soon as you’re reaching single-digit battery percentage figures, just connect your UltraDart Fast Charger and you should be good to go in a matter of minutes.
The Realme GT Neo 3 is equipped with a Sony IMX766 OIS Camera system. A flagship sensor found on some flagship devices like the Huawei Mate 50 Pro, OnePlus 10T, Asus ZenFone 9, Nothing Phone 1, and more. When you integrate a sensor that has been thoroughly tested not just by you but other OEMs in the industry, you can’t really go wrong here. But this is also the same camera setup that Realme uses in their GT2 device.
With features like Multi-directional Phase Detection Autofocus (PDAF) and OIS, you can expect some decent photos and videos. The Realme GT Neo 3 is equipped with a 50 Megapixel Primary Camera, 8 Megapixel Ultra-Wide lens, And a 2 Megapixel Macro-lens for close-up shots. There are a ton of in-built functions for both photography and videography like Super Nightscape, Street Photography Mode, AI Scene Recognition, Slow-Motion, Time-Lapse, and more.
To test the camera system, I decided to take our review unit on a hiking trip in Hatta, UAE to evaluate the level of detail it captures, and damn were they impressive. Where the sensor shines is color accuracy and sharpness. Most mid-range devices tend to over-process the images giving them an unrealistic look. Not the GT Neo 3. The dynamic range is pretty wide because on one side there’s a great spectrum of colors it captures with no issues with shadows or overexposure but on the other side there it does seem a little softer depending on what you are capturing. The primary sensor even works great in low light with plenty of detail and great contrast. The main sensor is capable of recording 4K at 60FPS and Realme has a lot of different modes built into the camera app that you can pick depending on the situation like Movie Mode which allows you to record in a 21:9 ratio and play around with the manual settings. But when you talk about the ultra-wide and macro lens, performance might seem a little underwhelming as the camera really struggles in low light with a lot of visible noise both in picture and video modes. Portrait shots are good enough but not necessarily the best because in our testing a lot of the times we felt that images could be a little sharper and the edge detection of the subject itself is a hit or miss. The front camera of the Realme GT Neo 3 is brilliant. Really good exposure, and great sharpness and even in low light, there wasn’t much degradation in the quality of the image itself. You can be assured that you’re going to look great in your Snapchats.
I’ve always been a fan of Realme UI because of its simplistic vanilla approach to the Android operating system. The device comes with Android 12 out of the box but with the recent launch of Realme 4.0 based on Android 13, the phone can be upgraded to Google’s latest operating system right away.
Realme claims that there are more than 260 updates to this year’s Realme UI 4.0 update with a perfect balance of fun, performance, and privacy protection. Overall the user interface is pretty fluid with no noticeable performance issues. Realme UI 4 brings Android 13’s color palette function where the entire user interface can adopt a selected color based on choice or wallpaper thanks to its Smart Theming Engine. There’s also the new Smart Music AOD which allows you to control apps like Spotify from the lock screen without turning on the device.
My only concern with Realme UI is the abundance of bloatware that comes pre-installed with the device and it isn’t just restricted to that. Even using functionalities like searching from the main home screen results in a few ads here and there. This is something Samsung was criticized for in their built-in apps like Samsung Health where they would advertise Samsung products and services. It’s one thing to show ads in built-in apps but showing ads in the search functionality is a red flag.
That being said, Realme UI is a bliss to use, and every day I’ve discovered some new feature or the other. Take for instance the fingerprint sensor. Not only can you use it to unlock the phone but you can also use it to measure your heart rate. There’s also lock screen gesture support while the device is in sleep stage. Simply draw an O and you’ve got the Camera App up and running or a V if you want to quickly toggle the flashlight.
The Realme GT Neo 3 is officially our favorite mid-ranger from 2022. With a great display, camera, Flagship Performance, and industry-leading 150W fast charging capabilities, you really can’t go wrong at this pricing. We’ve also seen a recent trend of Realme seeding OS updates much faster than before with the GT Neo 3 already running the latest Android 13 Operating System. The device looks and feels great in hand. Build quality is superior with no cheap finishes. The device is currently available in all leading retailers and online marketplaces at a retail price of AED 1449 and comes in three different colors to choose from. You’ve got Nitro Blue, Sprint White and Asphalt Black. All amazing colors that are going to grab a lot of attention. A little icing on the cake, Realme also includes a pre-installed screen protector and a TPU case in the box. You simply cannot add more value than that.