Realme finishes 2021 with the last edition to its GT (performance) lineup, and it represents the best overall choice of the series.
The Realme GT series has comprised a few different models this year, from the flagship GT 5G to the GT Master Edition released in the autumn. Now we have an additional variant that sits exactly in-between the current two models. Could this be the perfect sweet spot?
Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 SoC, and including a larger 5,000mAh capacity battery, things already start off pretty well for the GT Neo 2. Despite this and the Master Edition not featuring 5G in their names, all three come with 5G support – as well as WiFi 6 (802.11ax).
The Snapdragon 870 offers a higher clockspeed than last year’s flagship 865 SoC, which brings it closer to the performance of the 888. Even the Snapdragon 778G chip in the GT Master Edition performs extremely well, but the 870 offers near flagship-level performance, but with even less heat and throttling.
Design & Build
One standout feature of the GT 5G and GT Master Edition were their faux leather back options, which enabled users to have more faith in going without the factory-supplied case. The GT Neo 2 only has a plastic back, and on the Neo Black version of the phone that I reviewed, I found a matte black casing included in the box instead of the usual clear affair.
I am not sure, but I’d expect the brighter Neo Green and Neo Blue colours to have a clear plastic case. In any case, like most phones with protruding cameras, you’ll be best advised to use the supplied case or invest in a different one of your choice.
One feature lacking on this model over the other two is no 3.5mm headphone socket. That’s either going to be a massive dealbreaker, or prompt you to shrug your shoulders Alan Partridge style.
Screen wise, the phone has a larger 6.62-inch AMOLED display than its counterparts, with a 120Hz refresh rate, putting it ahead of both the GT 5G and GT Master Edition that tops out at 6.43-inches. Like the GT 5G, there’s stereo audio too. It’s loud and punchy, and makes the phone great for media consumption.
The GT Neo 2 screen is very bright too, with a peak brightness of 1300 nits (it will get brighter automatically when displaying HDR content). The phone can also enhance photos and video, along with many other options to get the most from the display.
At the top left is a small punch-hole selfie camera, and the screen itself is flat with a narrow bezel all around, including a reasonable sized one at the base of the screen.
The camera setup on the GT Neo 2 is identical to the flagship GT 5G, with a primary 64-megapixel wide angle camera (f/1.8), 8-megapixel ultra-wide (f/2.3) and a 2-megapixel macro (f/2.4). Video recording tops out at 4K 60fps, complete with electronic image stabilisation (the camera does not offer any form of stabilisation for stills).
Everything is the same as per my GT 5G review, with the exception of the GT Neo 2 having the excellent street photography feature that was added to the GT Master Edition. As a result, this phone has the best overall photography package of the three models. The street mode is an excellent addition to the camera interface, allowing you to capture fast-moving action a lot more reliably than any other camera mode bar Pro (which is unnecessarily fiddly for when you just want to point-and-shoot).
You can also set the phone to automatically fire up the camera in this mode with a double tap of the volume down key. Useful, given there’s no actual fast-start for the main camera itself.
Whereas the GT Master Edition has a 32-megapixel selfie camera, the GT Neo 2 only has a 16-megapixel one, also the same as the GT 5G, but the image sensor has larger pixels (1.0µm) than the 0.8µm sized pixels on the 32-megapixel sensor.
The main camera works well in all lighting conditions, but the ultra-wide lacks a fair amount of detail and the less said about the 2-megapixel camera the better. You will get great photos from the main camera (as you can see below) but it isn’t the best camera setup on the market, and Realme itself would seek to point you to the Realme 8 Pro instead.
There was also a Realme GT Explorer Master Edition variant, but this was never released globally. That had an improved primary camera and a 13-megapixel ultra-wide sensor (but still the same 2MP macro) but I won’t mention this again as it will just add unnecessary confusion.
- You can view the photos at 100% from within the gallery view.
Performance & Battery
As you can see from the AnTuTu benchmark scores, there’s very little difference in performance between the GT Neo 2 and the premier GT 5G.
With its larger display, gamers and movie watchers will likely feel it acceptable to take a minor hit in the processing department in favour of larger screen real estate.
In addition, the 5,000mAh battery (over 4,500 and 4,300mAh respectively for the GT 5G and GT Master Edition) makes this a wiser choice for anyone using the phone a lot – especially for battery hungry tasks like playing a game or watching HDR content at high levels of brightness.
Fortunately all three variants come with 65W fast charging (and a power adapter included in the boxes), which for this larger battery means you’ll get back to fully charged in around 36 minutes, or less, from zero.
Realme advertised the GT Neo 2 as one of the first devices to get Realme UI 3.0 (Android 12) but my review device shipped with Realme UI 2.0 (Android 11) and so too do the retail units in Europe, but all three GT series models are due to start receiving updates from this month onwards.
Even without the newest OS build, Realme UI (based on Oppo’s ColorOS) is a very decent, and highly customisable, build of Android. There are many power management options to squeeze every last second out of the battery, and the user interface is extremely smooth – helped along by the high refresh rate display.
The Realme GT Neo 2 is my personal pick of the three GT models currently available, with the larger screen and bigger battery more than making up for a very slight deficit in performance.
The only thing to throw a spanner in the works is the usual problem of older models now being cheaper on account of their age. The GT 5G came out in June, which means you may be able to get it for around the same price as the GT Neo 2, or possibly even less.
‘On paper’ the more powerful phone and may seem more appealing, but I do think the GT Neo 2 is the better choice because of the above mentioned benefits.
However, all three models are excellent choices and worth considering if you can take advantage of any special offers.
- As I conclude the review, I feel it important to state that before Christmas, Realme will be holding an event to announce next year’s GT range – which will include a phone powered by Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset. It should be noted that this is likely going to be at a much higher cost than today’s models – but you may wish to wait until the announcement on December 20th.
Pricing and Availability
The Realme GT Neo 2 is not officially available from Realme’s UK store but can be purchased from Europe (including via Amazon UK), or via AliExpress (with free shipping and tax collected at time of purchase).
Two variants are offered for the European models:
- 8GB+128GB – €449.99
- 12GB+256GB – €549.99
|Realme GT Neo 2|
|Size/Weight||162.9 x 75.8 x 9mm|
FHD+ 1080×2400 pixels
120Hz refresh rate, 360Hz touch sampling rate
|Audio||Dolby Atmos Stereo Sound|
|Chipset||Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 (7nm)|
Max freq 3.2GHz
Adreno 650 GPU
|RAM||8GB or 12GB LPDDR5 Quad Chanel|
|Storage||128GB or 256GB UFS 3.1|
|Camera (front)||Punch-hole 16MP Fixed Focus|
(f/2.5 78 degree Field-of-View)
Video: 1080p 30fps with EIS
|Camera (rear)||Primary: 64MP (f/1.8) Sony IMX682 (1 – 5x Zoom)|
Ultra-wide: 8MP (f/2.3) 119 degree FoV
Macro: 2MP (f/2.4)
Video: 4K/60 Primary Camera
Video: 1080p/30 Ultra-Wide
|Connectivity||Dual band Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)|
5G NR (SA & NSA) Sub 6
4G+ with VoLTE, ViLTE and VoWiFi
65W fast-charging (0-100% 36 minutes)
|Other||Protective case (matte)|
Factory fitted screen protector
Dual SIM (Dual Standby)
Stainless Steel Vapour Cooling
Pricing based on Euro prices and subject to change
This review took far longer than intended, as before I could finish the review I contracted Covid and was too unwell to finish it, as well having to isolate for 10 days that stopped me going out to take more photos and video. As a result the review is shorter than normal, but given the similarities with the other GT series phones it should still be possible to form an opinion based on the content of this review and the other two reviews.
Realme GT Neo 2£380-£470 (Approx)
- Almost the same performance as the GT 5G
- Even bigger battery and screen than other GT series models
- Android 12 update imminent from time of release
- Extremely bright display and punchy stereo audio
- Lack of telephoto camera and lacklustre 2-megapixel macro sensor
- Not officially available in UK, so must be purchased from Europe or China/Hong Kong