In just about a year’s time, China’s Realme became one of the top five smartphone brands in India. One of the main propellers for its meteoric rise have been its budget and midrange smartphones, with timely upgrades for new features and technologies. In keeping with its practice, the company recently launched the Realme 5 Pro, whose name might make it seem a successor to the Realme 3 Pro (review), launched in India only a month earlier (July 2019). But it is indeed an altogether a new device with a quad-camera set-up.
We reviewed the Realme 5 Pro to assess how it fares on key parameters:
Gradient reflective back seems to have become a preferred design philosophy for smartphone makers these days. Everyone uses it, so all iterations look similar — and therefore boring. Realme’s diamond-cut design is refreshing. The design has been improved in the Realme 5 Pro and looks better — with bigger portions of shattered glass pieces put together in an artistic fashion, each reflecting a different hue. Complementing the back design is a dual-tone coloured chassis, which accentuates the phone’s overall design language.
Unfortunately, the phone’s polycarbonate build fails to do justice to its mesmerising design. Its glossy back is a fingerprint magnet, and in the absence of a protection covering the back also gets scratches easily. The chassis is sturdy, but its longevity could be suspect.
This is one area where the Realme 5 Pro does not bring any major upgrade over the Realme 3 Pro. The phone has an identical 6.3-inch fullHD+ IPS LCD screen stretched in a tall 19:9 aspect ratio. It has on top a dewdrop-shaped notch accommodating the phone’s selfie camera. The display’s unconventional aspect ratio propels the notification area and on-screen navigation buttons to two extreme ends, making it difficult to operate the phone with one hand. But the device supports gesture-based navigations; that provides some respite. In terms of output, the screen looks vivid and has a good contrast, with favourable outdoor visibility at all hours. This makes it one of the better screens in the segment. The phone has Widevine L1 certification to confirm its ability to play content from over-the-top platforms like Amazon Prime and Netflix in high definition.
The Realme 5 Pro is one of the two devices that the company has launched under its new quad-camera category of smartphones. The phone boasts a 48-megapixel primary camera with a Sony IMX586 sensor of f/1.8 aperture, an 8MP ultra-wide sensor of 119-degree field of view (FoV), a 2MP depth sensor and a 2MP macro lens. On the front, the phone has a 16MP selfie camera featuring a Sony IMX471 sensor (it is the same sensor that was used in the company’s flagship Realme X smartphone).
Considering the fact that the depth sensor is there practically only to provide depth information to the primary sensor, the phone’s other three sensors have independent utility, and they deliver consistent results. The phone’s 48MP primary sensor captures detailed shots in all light conditions, the ultra-wide angle lens is good for landscape photography and the macro lens completes the package by providing an option to capture detailed close-up shots (4cm). Additionally, the phone has a dedicated mode (nightscape) for lowlight photography; it works with both primary camera and ultra-wide sensor. Like the Realme 3 Pro, the phone has a slow-mo video recording feature, which records ultra-slow motion videos in up to 960 frames per second. Speaking of the selfie camera, it takes satisfactory shots in good light conditions. However, unlike the rear camera, it struggles in lowlight conditions.
While the Realme 5 Pro camera modules cover a wide spectrum of optics, its user interface is confusing and not optimised for easy user experience. Ideally, in a multi-optic camera set-up, icons representing different optics and their utilities should be grouped together at one place for ease of use. But in the Realme 5 Pro, the optics options are randomly scattered — the macro mode option is hidden inside the bottom option menu where most other camera modes are available, and the ultra-wide camera option is placed on the top bar.
Powering the phone is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 712 system-on-chip, paired with up to 128 GB of internal storage and up to 8 GB of RAM. The phone boots the Android Pie operating system-based ColorOS 6.0 user interface, which is a customised skin layered above the default operating system.
The phone’s swift and sleek performance, however, is somewhat marred by the heavily customised user interface that comes pre-installed with a lot of bloatware. The phone delivers a consistently good performance, even after prolonged heavy usage, but the same cannot be said for user experience (UI) — the UI is sluggish, confusing and unoptimised. Thankfully, Realme has acknowledged the UI limitations and promised to release an update in future to address this flaw. The company has said that all Realme smartphones will get a new software upgrade of the ColorOS 6.0 with a new design, hotspot management function and support for Google AR Core functions. Importantly, the company has confirmed that the new UI will look close to stock Android.
Except for the current UI design flaws, there is nothing where the phone would seem wanting. It handles everyday tasks with ease and renders graphic-intensive gaming titles without lags or glitches.
The phone has a 4,035 mAh battery, supported by Oppo’s proprietary VOOC 3.0 20W fast-charge. The phone’s on-battery time is satisfactory. It easily sails through a day on regular usage without draining battery excessively. Charging time is also quick and the VOOC 3.0 fast charge replenishes the battery power in around an hour.
At Rs 13,999 (for the base model with 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage), the Realme 5 Pro makes a complete package that thrills with its all-round performance. The phone’s plastic body might seem unimpressive to some, but that might be the only weak point; it could be overlooked considering the value that the phone offers at its price.