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Realme GT and GT Master Edition, hands on: A pair of affordable mid-range 5G phones

sandra-vogel.jpg
Written by Sandra Vogel on
realme-gt-gt-master-edition-header.jpg

Realme GT and GT Master Edition

Realme is best known for producing good-quality low-cost smartphones, but the Realme GT is something different: a self-styled 'flagship killer' sporting a top-end Snapdragon 888 5G processor and selling in the UK for just £399. 

This handset has a stablemate, the Realme GT Master Edition, which is expected to become available in the UK, but it isn't here yet. In the US Master Edition is available in two configurations: 6GB/128GB for $399 and 8GB/256GB for $449. It isn't clear whether one or both will come to the UK.

I was sent both handsets, including the 8GB/256GB version of GT Master Edition, and took the opportunity to look at them side by side. Here's a summary of their key features: 

Realme GT

Realme GT Master Edition

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Screen size

6.43 inches   

6.43 inches   

Screen technology  

Super AMOLED (120Hz)   

Super AMOLED (120Hz)   

Dimensions   

158.5mm x 73.3mm x 8.4 / 9.1mm (Racing Yellow)   

159.2mm x 73.5mm x 8.0 / 8.7mm (Voyager Grey)   

Weight   

186g / 186.5g (Racing Yellow)   

174g / 180g (Voyager Grey)   

Networks   

3G / 4G / 5G   

3G / 4G / 5G   

SIMs   

2x Nano SIM   

2x Nano SIM   

Chipset   

Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G   

Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G 5G  

RAM

8GB / 12GB

6GB / 8GB

Storage

128GB / 256GB

128GB / 256GB  

MicroSD card slot   

no

no

Front camera   

16MP, f/2.5 (78° FoV)

32MP, f/2.5 (85° FoV)

Rear cameras   

64MP, f/1.8 wide / 8MP, f/2.3 ultra-wide (119˚) / 2MP, f/2.4 macro (4cm)   

64MP, f/1.8 wide / 8MP, f/2.3 ultra-wide (119˚) / 2MP, f/2.4 macro (4cm)   

Speakers   

stereo

stereo

3.5mm audio jack   

yes

yes

Wi-fi

802.11ac   

802.11ac   

Bluetooth

5.2

5.2

GPS

GPS, GLONSS, BEIDOU, GALILEO, QZSS   

GPS, GLONSS, BEIDOU, GALILEO, QZSS   

NFC

yes

yes

USB

USB-C

USB-C

Battery   

4500mAh

4300mAh

Charging

65W SuperDart fast charging   

65W SuperDart fast charging  

Colours   

Racing Yellow, Dashing Blue, Dashing Silver   

Voyager Grey, Luna White, Cosmos Black   

Price

£399 (8GB/128GB)  

TBA

realme-gt-gt-master-edition-main.jpg

Left: Realme GT Master Edition (Luna White). Right: Realme GT (Dashing Blue).

Images: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Outwardly both handsets are strikingly similar with a consistent basic chassis construction. USB-C and 3.5mm headset slots sit on the bottom along with a speaker grille. The power button is on the right, while the volume rocker and (dual) SIM caddy are on the left.

realme-gt-colours.jpg

Realme GT colours: Racing Yellow, Dashing Blue, Dashing Silver.

Images: Realme

My Realme GT Master Edition had an eye-catching matte white plastic back which I found rather pleasing. Realme calls it Luna White. There are two other colour options: Comsos Black and Voyager Grey, the latter looking as though it has some sort of banded patterning. My Realme GT was Dashing Blue in colour, its deep blue plastic reflecting light when held at certain angles. Other options are Dashing Silver, which has the same reflective properties, and Racing Yellow, which uses vegan leather and highlights the camera lozenge in a vertical strip of black.  

realme-gt-master-edition-colours.jpg

Realme GT Master Edition colours: Voyager Grey, Luna White, Cosmos Black

Images: Realme

Both phones share the same 6.43-inch, 2,400-by-1,080 (409ppi) AMOLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate and a 360Hz touch sampling rate. Realme claims a 91.7% screen-to-body ratio for both handsets, although we calculate it to be 86.1% for the GT and 85.4% for the GT Master Edition. Both screens have a hole-punch selfie camera located unobtrusively in the top left corner. 

The screens on both handsets are pleasant to use -- clear, sharp, bright, responsive and highly readable. Assuming the Realme GT Master Edition hits the UK at a price fairly close to the GT, then in terms of the screen, either would be great value for money. 

Both handsets support 5G and will accommodate two SIMs, but there's no MicroSD card for expanding the internal storage. The Realme GT runs on Qualcomm's top-end Snapdragon 888 5G chipset, with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage; 22GB was used out of the box, leaving 106GB free. The Realme GT Master Edition runs on the less powerful Snapdragon 778G 5G, and my 8GB/256GB handset used 20GB out of the box, leaving 236GB free. 

I ran the Geekbench 5 benchmarks on both phones, and found, as you might expect, that the GT Master Edition with its mid-range chipset lagged behind its stablemate: 

Geekbench 5

Single core

Multi core

Realme GT (Snapdragon 888)

697

3462

Realme GT Master Edition (Snapdragon 778G)

789

2943

Still, benchmarks are not everything, and in general use both handsets performed well. Unless you're looking for top-notch performance, you may be happy enough with the Master Edition.  

Both handsets have a triple rear camera array plus a selfie camera. The GT Master Edition has a 32MP f/2.5 selfie camera with an 85° field of view, while the GT's front camera is 16MP f/2.5 unit with a 78° field of view. The rear camera arrays are the same: 64MP f/1.8 wide angle, 8MP f/2.3 ultra-wide angle (119°field of view); and 2MP f/2.4  macro (4cm focus distance).  

I took a few point-and-shoot photos with each handset, and they were all fine -- certainly good enough for social media use. Just don't expect too much of the macro cameras: with a fixed focus, they aren't as useful as they could be.  

Both handsets run Android 11 and the Realme UI 2.0 overlay. Both phones include a lot of extra apps, although these can for the most part be removed or thrown into a folder and forgotten about.  

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There are minor differences in the batteries. The Realme GT has a 4,500mAh battery, while the GT Master Edition has a 4,300mAh battery -- the former presumably requiring more juice to power its high-end Snapdragon 888 chipset. Both handsets support 65W SuperDart charging. 

I was able to get a day's use out of both handsets easily enough, but keen gamers might struggle. Access to a power point with the supplied charge brick should provide quick energy bursts, with Realme claiming to get you from zero to 100% in 35 minutes.  

In many ways, the Realme GT and Realme GT Master Edition are similar handsets. The Master Edition has a less powerful chipset and a smaller battery, but the selfie camera is better. Calling it the 'Master Edition' is arguably confusing, but if it hits the UK at a lower price point than the GT, buyers may find it the more appealing of the two.

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