Realme 5 Review: sub-10k king?


realme made its debut in the Indian smartphone market with realme 1 more than a year ago, realme number series has gone through 4 iterations in this duration. realme decided to skip number 4 for its number series and as a result, we have realme 5, as a successor to realme 3. realme 5 packs some great specifications including rear Quad-camera setup, and seems like the best value for money offering in its price segment, we have used device extensively for past few weeks and here is what we think of it. Read on our realme 5 review and do share your thought about the smartphone with us and our readers in the comment section below.

Unboxing

We recently unboxed the smartphone, check out the unboxing and first impressions.

Box Contents

  • realme 5 smartphone in Crystal Blue color
  • 2-pin charger (5V-2A)
  • Micro USB Cable
  • SIM Ejector tool
  • Clear protective case
  • User Guide and Warranty information

Design and Build

realme 5 features a 6.5-inch modern bezel-less mini-drop display with a 20:9 aspect ratio and Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection. The phone has a large screen and can’t be used single-handedly even if you have big plams. Similar to other smartphones in this price range, there is a bezel below the display resulting in an 89% screen to body ratio.

Talking about the placement, the right side of the mobile houses the power button only. Volume rockers, microSD and dual SIM slot can be found on the left, this is a dedicated slot for Micro SD, so you can use 2 Sim cards and a Micro SD card (up to 256 GB) simultaneously.

The top of the device is clean, the 3.5 mm headphone jack, charging port (dated Micro-USB), speaker grill can be found at the bottom. Between the 3.5 mm jack and charging port, there is a small grill with two holes, seems like one of these is the primary microphone, while the other one might be secondary noise cancellation microphone.

realme 5 features a plastic back similar to its predecessor but realme has introduced crystal design that offers a combination of a glossy surface and nano-scale texture and manages to look unique from other devices. The phone has a plastic finish on the sides, so there are no issues for the signal reception. realme 5 feels thicker and heavier at a thickness of 9.3 mm and 198 grams weight. The width of the phone is 75 .6 mm and the height is 164.4 mm.

realme 5 features a Quad-cameras arranged in a vertical array, the LED flash can be found along-side the camera array. There is a thick camera bump at the back, that makes phone wobble when placed on a flat surface. realme has also bundled a good quality TPU case with the phone, that protects the phone well and hides the camera bump as well.

The plastic back panel of the phone is prone to scratches, so it is advised to put a case on the phone. The camera lens doesn’t get scratched easily, seems like it has some kind of scratch-resistant glass. Overall, the phone is well-built, the weight distribution is even and the buttons have tactile feedback, but the big form-factor might not be preferred by everyone. Even though it is made of up plastic, the pattern on the back makes it stand out from the competition at this price point.

Display

realme 5 has a large 6.5-inch HD+ display with a resolution of  1600 × 720 pixels resulting in a pixel density of 269 PPI. It features a mini-drop 20:9 aspect ratio 2.5D curved glass screen with rounded corners. The display is bright even in sunlight, thanks to the 480 nits brightness and 1200:1 contrast ratio. The display has Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection but realme ships all the units with a pre-applied screen protector. We removed the pre-applied screen protector, and during our usage, the display has picked up minor scratches, so it’s better to use it with the pre-applied screen protector.

Similar to all other devices with drop notch, there is an earpiece on the top edge above the display. The usual set of the proximity sensor and ambient light sensors are present on the right side of the earpiece but these are hardly visible. There is also a 13-megapixel front camera with an f/2.0 aperture.

We couldn’t find the option to hide the notch on the realme 5, but the screen color temperature can be adjusted as per user preference. ColorOS offers Night Shield with three different display effects, the comfortable nighttime reading mode turns entire background grey to make it easier on eyes. To sum it up, the display is bright but the content doesn’t look sharp because of the HD+ panel and it might be a deal-breaker for some.

Cameras

realme 5 packs 5 cameras in total, 4 at the back and 1 at the front, the quad cameras at the back are arranged in a vertical array. An LED flash can be found next to the camera array. realme 5 packs

  •  8-megapixel 119° ultra wide-angle sensor with 1.12μm pixel size, f/2.25 aperture
  • 12-megapixel primary Sony IMX 386 sensor with f/1.8 aperture
  • 2-megapixel depth sensor with 1.75μm pixel size and f/2.4 aperture
  • 2-megapixel macro lens with 1.75μm pixel size, f/2.4 aperture and fixed focus distance of 4cm
  • 13-megapixel front camera featuring Samsung ISOCELL S5K3L6 sensor with an f/2.0 aperture

realme 5 offers Nightscape, Chroma boost, HDR, Panorama and Expert mode, Nightscape and Chroma boost work even with ultra wide angle lens. The shots are decent in daylight, HDR shots look better and Chroma boost changes the photo dramatically sometimes which I liked in some cases. realme has enabled Cam2API out of the box, so users can side load GCam apk mods. Check out the camera samples below,

Macro and Ultra-wide lenses are good to have, especially at this price point realme 5 offers the most versatile camera setup. But I really wish realme had used a bigger sensor for macro lens since text in images captured with macro lens doesn’t look sharp. In our realme 5 Pro review Vignesh mentioned,

When we tried closeup with the primary camera, the AI detected the ‘Macro’ scene. In this case, one might get confused about whether to switch to the Macro mode or settings changed accordingly.

Furthermore, it would have been great had they kept any sign to know the optimal distance to shoot in ultra macro mode, considering the suggestion it shows “Best quality at 4cm”.

I couldn’t agree more on this as I was confused and took me a while to figure out Macro mode when using the realme 5 camera app for the first time. Some users may get confused between the macro scene and macro mode. In terms of videos, the Realme 5 records at 1080p at 30fps by default, but it can go up to 4K at 30fps as well. You can also record slo-mo and time lapse videos as well. There is EIS support for video.

Software, UI, and Apps

realme 5 runs on Android 9.0 (Pie) based ColorOS 6.0 realme edition with September 2019 security patch as of now. realme has already confirmed that it will get Android 10 update in Q2 2020, but the company has plans to roll out system-wide dark mode by November this year. realme rolls out updates frequently for its devices, you can also keep an eye on our realme 5 software updater post to stay updated.

Out of 4GB RAM, around 2GB of RAM is free when default apps are running in the background. Out of 128GB, you get about 112GB of free storage.

Apart from the usual set of utility apps, realme has pre-installed some bloatware, like UC Browser, Dailyhunt, Opera News, and Helo but all these apps can be uninstalled easily. You can also uninstall apps like App Market, Hot Apps, Hot Games by following the procedure here without rooting the phone.

Color Os also offers features like Clone Apps that creates a clone of the selected app to let you run two accounts, Game Space that enhances gaming performance and Convenience Aid.

Color OS also offers various ways for navigation including gestures, but during our usage, I felt the Swipe gestures from both sides need more polishing. realme has already confirmed that it is working on a realme OS, and we hope that the company takes a bloat-free approach for its OS.

Fingerprint Sensor and Face unlock

The phone has a fingerprint sensor on the back, we found it fast, accurate and reliable during our time with the device. The phone can be unlocked by even a short tap on the fingerprint sensor. Users can add up to 5 fingerprints which can also be used for app lock and private safe.

The phone also has face unlock which is slower if you compare it with the fingerprint unlock method, it is also not as secure as fingerprint since it can be unlocked with a photo. The face unlock feature can also be used to access the locked apps.

Music Player, FM Radio and Multimedia

ColorOS offers music and video player which gets the job done, there is also a real HD sound mode that lets you adjust sound output via 3.5 mm jack as per your preference. realme 5 lacks Widevine L1 support, so you can not watch HD content on Netflix and Amazon Prime, it is a con for realme 5 since some smartphone in this segment offer Widevine L1 certification. The sound output via single bottom-firing is decent, and the audio doesn’t get muffled even when you place it on a flat surface.

Dual SIM and Connectivity

realme 5 supports both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi bands, comes with Bluetooth 5.0 support and GPS/ GLONASS. Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 features an integrated X12 LTE modem that has support for 4G connectivity and also has Voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) support for Reliance Jio, Airtel and supports Dual 4G VoLTE, so you can use 4G on both the SIMs on realme 5. Also, Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi hotspot can not be used at the same time on realme 5.

The dialer and messaging UI is similar to other realme devices running color OS 6.0, you get a prompt to choose sim card while making a call and sending text messages. We didn’t face any network drops and call drops while using the device.

Performance and Benchmarks

Coming to the performance, realme 5 packs an Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 64-bit 11nm mobile platform based on FinFET technology with Adreno 610 GPU. Snapdragon 665 packs 4 Kryo 260 cores (performance A73-based) clocked at 2 GHz along with 4 Kryo 260 cores (efficiency A53-based) clocked at 1.8GHz. Check out the benchmark comparisons below,

We would like to mention that benchmark scores don’t always reflect real-world performance, and you shouldn’t be making a choice purely on the basis of benchmarks. Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 performs well in day-to-day tasks, especially at this price point, it looks like the most appropriate choice.

Battery life

realme 5 packs a huge 5000 mAh (typical) non-removable battery under the hood. During our testing, the device easily lasted two days with moderate usage and more than a day with heavy usage. The phone doesn’t support fast charge, so you need to rely on bundled 5V/2A charger. It takes about 1 hour 15 minutes to charge from 0 to 50%, 2 hours 25 minutes to charge from 0 to 90% and 3 hours 5 minutes to charge the realme 5 from 0 to 100%. Lack of fast charging is a bummer considering some phones in this price range already offer 18W fast charging.

It achieved FoneArena One Charge rating of 19 hours and 43 minutes, which is good for a phone with a 5000mAh battery.

Conclusion

So, who is realme 5 for, do we recommend it at a starting price of Rs. 9,999? If you’re in the market for a smartphone with a big display, huge battery, good performance, and versatile camera setup, realme 5 is the smartphone to go for. You can grab it with some discount in ongoing festive season sale on Flipkart, including a one-year extra warranty on realme store. If you need a smartphone with versatile camera setup and stock Android, you may consider Motorola One Macro, or you can also wait for Redmi Note 8 which is expected to be launched alongside Redmi Note 8 Pro today.

Pros

  • Large ‘Dot Notch’ screen with good sunlight legibility
  • Good battery life
  • Smooth day-to-day performance
  • Dedicated SD card slot
  • Crystal design
  • Versatile camera setup that offers a wide-angle and macro lens
  • One year extra warranty (on realme.com during ongoing festive sales)

Cons

  • Only HD+ display
  • Lack of fast charging
  • Micro-USB charging port
  • Plastic back is prone to scratches

Siva Bharani contributed to camera samples.


Author: Arpit Porwal

Coming from the Mathematics research background, Arpit keeps an eye on MIUI and Xiaomi products and uses Redmi K20 Pro as his daily driver. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.