There is a general progression in prices for phone brands. Most companies start at a cheaper note to attract buyers, and then they graduate to higher prices as time passes and ultimately end up asking customers in thousands for their flagship products. OnePlus has followed this strategy brilliantly and created a niche for itself. It has also prodded the likes of Xiaomi to test the waters in the premium market. But while moving up the ladder, OnePlus and others realised that there was a large mid-price segment that needed companies to cater to its demands. And, for this segment of entry-level gamers and buyers to graduate from low-cost phones, a bit of everything was required.
All brands are catering to this market and the competition is hotting up. Realme, which is going gung-ho in this segment with its GT series, has launched a new series to compete with the likes of the OnePlus Nord and Pixel 4a. The master edition is unique as it offers a bit of everything, but will that appeal to phone buyers? Let’s find out.
Samsung’s camera placement has found a buying among most mobile phone makers, but then most smartphones nowadays look the same from afar. The GT Master Edition (ME) is no exception. The phone has round edges and is nearly bezel-less. There is a power button on the right side and two volume buttons on the left, which are placed a bit low making one-handed operation a bit difficult at times. The punch-hole camera is on the left side instead of the middle and, quite frankly, looks better there than in the middle. The phone comes with a headphone jack and a USB-C type port. The back is where the real change is visible. The master edition comes with a nice plastic leathery feel, which gives the phone a unique look and has a good grip.
Screen and speakers
The screen is one of the better features in this phone. Given the 120hz display and high brightness, the screen looks amazing at all points of time. Although I would like it to be less reflective, the screen performance is good overall. The fingerprint scanner works very well and is quick to respond. One of the criticisms of in-screen fingerprint readers has been slow speed, but Realme responds pretty quickly to the touch. The speakers, however, are a disappointment. The sound is not loud enough and most of the times unidirectional. In a gaming phone, one expects more and multidimensional sound for an immersive experience. Most of the times, the clarity is also missing which makes the screen redundant. A good screen needs to be complemented by good speakers.
Performance and battery life
The handset tested for this review was the 8GB RAM and 256GB storage version. The Snapdragon 778G processor is the best in this category and, supported by RAM and storage, it does perform well. But game play isn’t as smooth as you would expect. There are lags at times, but you cannot expect much more at this price point. Realme is also giving an option to extract more out of RAM (up to 5GB) with enough storage available. While the phone still does not perform like a 13GB RAM phone, there is only a slight difference in performance. It may as well be the placebo effect. For everyday tasks like browsing and YouTube, the phone performs very well at high refresh rate settings and full brightness. The battery life is certainly a plus for the phone, given that you can easily get more than a day and a half on moderate usage, and a day on heavy usage. GPS and gaming do tend to eat into the battery too fast, but still the phone survives a day without any hitch. The GT mode while gaming does provide a good amp to the phone.
High mega pixels and triple-camera setups have become common in most phones, but they often don’t deliver the performance you expect. The GT ME also lags competition in camera performance. Although the bokeh and focus modes work well in the camera, the colours are too saturated and there is a lot of touch-up from the phone itself. The real colours get lost as the reds are enhanced. The low-light mode is also disappointing. For some reason, middle-category and low-cost phones haven’t been able to get the low-light mode right. The front camera, even though with colour saturation, performs better and is good for selfies and Zoom calls.
The 8GB, 256GB variant is priced at Rs 29,999, but the 6GB version starts from Rs 4,000 less. At this price point, Realme is a good entry-level gaming phone for PUBG-type enthusiasts. The battery life and screen give it the edge, but it lags in sound and camera quality.