Realme 5 Pro: A Beast of a Phone at an Unbeatable Price
The Realme Story and Rise
Realme is known for its design prowess and renders (IP67 and 56 layers) show us phones that appear to be almost impossible to put together. The products aim for a unique experience, one that separates it from the mainstream — and they all seem to land just about right. We were originally introduced to the brand when we reviewed the Realme 1 (Review) in March, and while its camera quality and low price were excellent, the mediocre specifications and mediocre battery life kept it from shining at that time. The Realme 2 Pro (Review) didn’t make much of an impact because the Snapdragon 660 and 13-megapixel dual cameras were not quite enough for a phone in its price range.
What is the Realme 5 Pro?
The Realme 5 Pro (Review) and Realme 5 are almost identical to each other save for a few minor differences. One is the use of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor instead of the newer and more powerful Snapdragon 636, the other the inclusion of a dual-camera system. The specification of the two handsets doesn’t mean much to anyone who hasn’t been paying attention, but the difference in camera system is. The Realme 5 has a single rear lens while the Realme 5 Pro has a dual-camera one. Other key differences are that the Realme 5 Pro has 6GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage, and runs on Android 8.1 with ColorOS 5.2 over the top. The Realme 5 has 4GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, with the option to expand further via microSD card. Both handsets have a 6.
Design, Hardware, and Display
One of the Realme 5 Pro’s strongest points is its design. It’s got a stunning bezel-less 6.3-inch display that fills most of the front panel and has an 81.8 percent screen-to-body ratio. The finish is ceramic black, and even the logo at the bottom gets a glossy coat of black paint. To us, this isn’t a bad thing at all, as it makes for a bolder and more premium look than a glass back would. The body is made of plastic, but it feels very solid to the touch, given the hardware it houses. On the back, the phone has a slightly different texture, with the glossy black matte finish. A single set of antenna lines runs around the phone, although they are well hidden behind the paintwork. This is not an edgeless phone, and although the 6.3-inch screen is only a bit narrower than the 7.
Realme phones have always been mid-range in terms of hardware and software, but the Realme 5 Pro makes the most of its modest specs and offers one of the best cameras in the business. The notch is gone, and Realme has once again moved the fingerprint sensor to the back of the phone, following a trend started by Oppo in its Find X. The phone’s new formula helps Realme stand out in the crowded mid-range segment. The Realme 5 Pro has a remarkable 24-megapixel and 2-megapixel dual camera setup on the back. The two sensors are horizontally aligned and make for a better, more uniform light experience for taking pictures. The rear camera is supplemented by a 16-megapixel sensor, and the front camera features a 16-megapixel sensor, both of which have an f/2.2 aperture.
Let’s start with the battery life on the Realme 5 Pro (Review). We were able to get over a day’s use on a single charge with around 30-40 percent of the battery left over. We tried the handset for an extended period of time on a work day, in lieu of the iPhone XS Max (Review) and Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (Review), which I’ve used as our primary smartphones for the past four months. For the vast majority of the time, it was possible to maintain a steady connection and browse the web, make phone calls, and watch videos on YouTube. Of course, the Realme 5 Pro is not as powerful as its more expensive sibling, but its choice of two high-density AMOLED panels gives it a slight edge over its competition. It also gets a better display performance.
Pros and Cons of the Phone
While the Realme 5 Pro represents Realme’s greatest achievements to date, it’s also a budget phone with all the weaknesses that entails. It doesn’t have the most powerful processor, and even the 6GB RAM model costs as much as the Oppo F9 Pro (Review) does. It has the one of the most interesting colour combinations of the year, a model we’d gladly be seen with, but there aren’t many on offer. And while it looks fine, the fact is it’s a thick and heavy phone, with a fingerprint scanner on the back which requires you to hold it sideways in order to use it.
Who Should Buy This Phone?
If you’re a die-hard Oppo fan or own the Oppo F7 (Review) or the Realme 2 (Review), then the Realme 5 is for you. Of course, you won’t be able to buy the Realme 5 in India because Realme doesn’t sell directly in India. If you can live without an 18:9 display and/or stock Android, there are also the Realme 2 and Realme C1 (Review), which are the closest we have to pure Android alternatives. We like both phones and would recommend the Realme 2 over the Realme C1 if you want a cheaper phone with a longer battery life, a dual-camera setup, and more memory. The Realme 5 is the flagship phone for the budget smartphone category, and we’ll talk more about it when we review the phone in detail. In the meantime, here’s our quick impression based on three days of use.
With its balance of value, performance, and good looks, the Realme 5 proves you can buy a brand new phone that’s both affordable and fast — even if the competition is fierce. Realme also managed to build a whole new series out of its previous three models, which means its phones are now visually distinct. We love the Realme 3, but it has become an old and tired design in 2019, and the same cannot be said for the Realme 5. The new red color of the Realme 5 Pro is also a very pretty shade.