Realme 5 Review: The Budget Smartphone You Were Waiting For
Ah, Realme 5. How old is it – five years? Three? It’s only been a year, and RealMe is releasing its fifth generation of smartphones. The manufacturer is trying to meet every imagined need of the customers and very successfully. So, let’s meet the camera-centric RealMe 5, following Realme X, which brought us a fantastic AMOLED experience.
It may have been just over a year, but we’re happy to say that Realme has found its MO – attractive designs, breezy performance and good camera skills. Since then, it has been delivering great devices at incredibly low prices. Realme 5 does not lose focus on the important ones – the signature is dazzling.
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Price in India, Variants, Availability
The realme 5 starts at a mere INR ₹8,999 for the 3GB RAM 32GB Storage variant, ₹9,999 for the 4GB RAM 64GB Storage and ₹10,999 for the 4GB RAM and 128GB storage variant. There are two colour options available Crystal Blue and Crystal Purple and are available on realme.in.
- Realme 5
- Micro-USB cable
- Phone protection case
- SIM card ejection tool
- Quick start guide
- Essential product information (including the Warranty Card)
Specs at a Glance
Here’s what the device has to offer:
- Display: 6.5-inch (16.5cm) mini-drop fullscreen,1600-by-720-pixel resolution
- CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 AIE Octa-core CPU
- GPU: Adreno 610
- Capacity: 3GB + 32GB, 4GB + 64GB, 4GB + 128GB, Up to 256GB external memory
- Rear Camera: 12MP main camera, 8MP wide-angle camera, 2MP portrait camera, 2MP macro camera
- Selfie Camera: 13MP front camera
- Battery: 5000mAh, 10W charging power
- Security: Physical Fingerprint sensor at the back along with Face-unlock
Design and Build Quality
Realme has updated its design language with RealMe5. The phone uses a polycarbonate body with a laminated plastic back, but it is longer than the RealMe 3 and has a larger display. The diamond pattern design on the back has been updated to a more crystalline pattern, which looks beautiful and helps the phone stand out. The Crystal Blue finish we have is pretty amazing, but if you’re looking for subtlety, the Crystal Purple option is the right choice. Also, small scuffs from everyday use are visible less in purple colour than in the blue Realme 5.
The size of this phone makes it very cumbersome to use with one hand, and even with large hands, I was struggling to press anywhere on the top of the display. Thankfully, ColorOS provides a one-handed mode to help solve this problem. The Realme 5 may be bulky for some, weighing about 200g. The button placement and touch feedback of the volume and power buttons are good, and at the bottom, we have a single speaker, headphone socket and micro-USB charging port.
The Realme 5 is one of the first Realme phones to be packed with four cameras on the back, but we’ll see more about that later.
Last but not least, Realme says the phone has multi-layer moisture protection for SIM slots, gaps, battery cover, and it can withstand light splashes.
The Realme 5 packs a 6.3“ IPS LCD screen with a droplet-shaped notch for selfie camera which should be the same panel we saw in Realme 3 Pro four months ago.
There is no auto-brightness boost under direct sunlight, but the screen works well even on days thanks to high brightness and average reflection.
Display settings include the Color Temperature Adjustment Slider, which is set to ‘Default’ initially. You can also choose between ‘Cooler’ and ‘Warm’. Setting this slider to a warmer option yields better results – an average delta of 3.7 and a maximum of 6.7. If you’re concerned about accuracy, this is the place to go.
An important thing to note is that you do not get the Widevine L1 support on Realme 5, so you cannot watch HD content on Netflix and Amazon Prime, which may be a deal-breaker for some of you.
The Snapdragon 665 in Realme 5 is an interesting beast. Built on the 11nm process (compared to the 14nm process of the Redmi Note 7S’s Snapdragon 660) you can see some benefits in battery life. On the other hand, the maximum clock speed has dropped slightly, which means that the performance is not as good as the 660 in the CPU benchmarks. Improved GPU can let you see a boost in gaming applications. To be precise, the Snapdragon 665 isn’t quite a performance leap forward, and you should keep your expectations very limited.
RealMe has traditionally done a great job of optimizing its software for hardware at hand, and RealMe 5 is no different. Daily use presents no problems, and most users should be happy with the general fluidity of the phone. Hardware isn’t necessarily intended for performance-seekers or gamers, but it does the trick in a pinch. We had no problems playing PUBG in the medium setting, but anything more than that was missing in the Realme 5.
Like it or hate it, Color OS is what you get in Realme software. I think it is strange that the company rotates between different visual styles for notification shadow toggles and iconography. The software makes extensive use of white in its interface, which looks quite appealing.
The biggest gripe with budget devices, in general, is the boatloads of pre-installed apps. While some can be uninstalled, for the most part, the Hot Apps folder and its list of regularly refreshed apps are not possible. It comes with the standard customization options, including gestures, a floating convenience key and a magazine-style lock screen that continually refreshes the wallpaper.
This is where the Realme 5 gets interesting. At a price tag of Rs. 10,000 in India, this might be the only phone offering a quad-camera setup at the back, and the company runs this point home. Apart from the basic 12-megapixel primary sensor and the 2-megapixel depth sensor, RealMe gave the phone an 8-megapixel wide-angle camera with 119 degrees of field view and a 2-megapixel macro camera for closeup shots. The primary camera has an f/1.8 aperture and PDAF, so the focus is quick.
The ultra-wide-angle camera doesn’t have autofocus, but you can use Nightscape with it. The gross lens has a very narrow aperture of f / 2.8, so it is not useful in low light. During the day, however, you can get really detailed closeups.
Closeups are an area where Realme 5 is ahead of its competition. Shots of individuals have beautiful skin tones, and edge detection is better when shooting in portrait mode. You can still adjust the background opacity before or after taking the shot, but the opacity looks very natural. If you want to take on super macros, switching to ultra-macro mode will bring some good results. There is no autofocus and the ultra-macro works well but only when placed correctly on a subject.
Realme 5 struggles a bit in low light. Autofocus speed is still good, but landscapes usually have weak details, and grain can be found in very dark scenarios. Nightscape mode helps brighten up the scene and improve detail, but it also adds a little crop to compensate for the handshake.
There is a 13-megapixel selfie camera that captures selfies that look good in the daytime. The camera also has HDR, and it works well when shooting against bright light. The portrait shots still seemed a little fake and were not very good at spotting the edge. We were able to shoot stabilized selfie videos up to 1080p, which is handy and not something we see very often in this section. It worked well in the daytime, but in low light, every time we took a step, there was a visible distortion due to electronic stabilization.
Speaking of video, RealMe can shoot up to 4K, but without stabilization. This is not a big deal, because none of the other phones at this price can stabilize video at 4K. The colours seemed a little overpowering, but apart from that, the details are great when shooting in the daytime. The footage shot in low light, however, looks grainy.
The 1080p video has been stabilized, although we did notice a light focus hunt while moving around. Video quality suffers most in low light due to the soft details and slight blinking due to electronic stabilization.
Even with heavy usage, you can expect the Realme 5’s battery to last more than a day of regular use. The phone has a 5,000 mAh battery that lasts for around 22 hours in HD video loop battery testing.
It may take some time to charge the battery, which can be a problem when you rush. From zero, it takes more than 3 hours to charge the phone using a bundled adapter entirely. There is no fast charging support, which is a little frustrating. The phone can juice up to 24 per cent in half an hour and to 43 per cent in an hour, which is a bit low. If you have a habit of plugging your phone in to charge every night, regardless of battery level, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Audio, Connectivity, Biometrics
Audio from the bottom speaker feels a bit small, but at least the placement isn’t easily blocked when holding the phone. Realme continues its partnership with Dirac, which powers Real Sound Technology. Unlike Dolby Atmos Mobile, it only works when you plug in headphones.
The display does not have a fingerprint sensor. The fingerprint sensor is in the middle of the back, which works well and also has facial recognition. As with previous RealMe offerings, facial recognition is quick. In low light, the screen’s brightness compensates for the lack of light so you can unlock your phone in the dark.
Pros & Cons
- Diamond-cut design is attractive
- Versatile cameras with decent image quality
- 5,000mAh battery lasts two days
- 10W charging takes forever to refill the battery
- Camera tuning errs towards a saturated look
- HD+ display is a miss
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