Realme has blurred the lines between mid-range and flagship phone segments with its Realme GT series, bringing plenty of performance, fast wired charging, and a sleek design for the price. Now, the brand has released a new entry in the GT line at MWC 2023 in the form of the $649 Realme GT 3. But is the Realme GT 3 worth considering for your next upgrade? We went hands-on to find out.
Design: Goodbye to fingerprints
Unbox the Realme GT 3 and one of the first things you’ll notice is how light it feels, coming in at 199 grams. It’s not the lightest phone by any measure, but it’s still in the same ballpark as the regular Pixel 7 and Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus.
It also helps that you’ve got a rear cover that gently curves at the edges into a plastic frame. This, combined with the relatively lightweight, curved back, makes for a very pleasant phone to hold. Best of all, the rear cover is made out of glass (Realme hasn’t stated the brand) with a matte finish, so fingerprints aren’t an issue here.
Staying with the back, Realme channeled HTC and Xiaomi by adding fake circuitry in a transparent window next to the camera housing. Realme calls it “chipset deco,” and it’s bound to be a polarizing decision. In this transparent section, you’ll also notice tiny “Dare to Leap” branding. Realme just had to put its tagline somewhere.
The Realme GT 3 is one of the more ergonomic phones on the market.
Interestingly enough, Realme is also channeling gaming phones by adding an RGB “breathing” light in the window, wrapping around the dummy chip. This light makes itself known when charging, when your battery is low, or for calls and notifications. It’s of questionable utility for calls and notifications unless your routinely leave your phone screen-down, but it’s a pleasant touch that helps to differentiate the phone from others on the market.
Otherwise, the phone brings a single center-mounted punch-hole cutout, a flat screen, and a triple rear camera system.
Charging: Blisteringly quick
The biggest selling point for the Realme GT 3 is the 240W wired charging speed, with the company touting a zero to 100% charging time of only nine and a half minutes. The firm even says you can charge the 4,600mAh battery to 20% in just 80 seconds.
We put the phone through its paces by charging it from empty, and we didn’t hit 20% at the 80 second mark nor a 100% charge in under 10 minutes. Instead, the phone took just over two minutes and just under 15 minutes to hit each respective milestone. That’s still incredibly impressive.
For what it’s worth, Realme added that these figures required ideal conditions such as an ambient temperature of 25°C (77°F) and turning on the screen as few times as possible. However, the device still topped up at an extremely brisk pace, although the charger certainly gets warmer than my typical 65W PPS charger.
Performance: Plenty of power on a budget
The Realme GT 3 makes use of Qualcomm’s 2021 flagship Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chipset, which is rapidly surpassing the Snapdragon 870 as the SoC of choice for upper mid-range handsets. This isn’t a bad thing by any measure, as the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 is still a very powerful, very efficient processor in 2023.
Fortunately, performance held up in testing. Basic tasks like scrolling, multitasking, using the camera, and launching apps were all accomplished seamlessly. Gaming should also be a cinch for this handset, and we indeed found that a demanding title like Wreckfest ran smoothly out-of-the-box with some headroom for better graphical fidelity (e.g. higher frame rate).
Realme is also touting a 144Hz FHD+ OLED screen. We can’t say for sure that this makes for a perceptible difference over a 120Hz panel, but it’s a smooth experience nonetheless. The display is set to automatically adjust refresh rates out of the box depending on the scenario, but you can also choose between a forced 60Hz or a forced 144Hz. In saying so, the phone seems to stick to 120Hz most of the time. Other notable screen settings include MEMC video frame interpolation, SDR-to-HDR tech, and your choice of vivid, natural, or “pro” screen color profiles.
Cameras: Getting up close and personal
The Realme GT series isn’t exactly known for challenging the best camera phones, and the GT 3 doesn’t seem to differ in this regard.
The 50MP IMX890 main camera is the most capable shooter of the lot. Image quality is solid enough, with saturated colors and a good level of detail, though images can look a little over-sharpened for our tastes. Low-light situations predictably see a major step down in detail and a big step up in noise, although the Realme GT 3 can automatically switch to night mode to improve matters.
You might want to look elsewhere if you want great cameras in a value smartphone.
You’ve also got a budget-tier 8MP ultrawide lens on the back, and it’s a clear step down from the main shooter. You don’t have to look too hard to find muddy textures near the edges of some ultrawide shots, while purple fringing and reduced detail levels also make appearances here. The ultrawide camera is also significantly softer than the primary shooter in low-light situations.
Realme’s handset also follows the GT 2 Pro by offering a 2MP microscope camera. This camera can get much closer to subjects than a typical macro lens, allowing you to see individual pixels on a screen, the textures of a napkin, and much more. It’s a lot of fun to find subjects for microscope shots, but the low resolution means you’re definitely not going to be using these for wallpapers. The focusing is quite finicky too, with even light hand movement resulting in a very soft shot. Still, it beats a 2MP macro lens for the sheer novelty factor alone.
Realme UI: Color OS with a fake mustache
The Realme GT3 ships with Realme UI 4.0 atop Android 13. But this is basically Oppo’s Color OS skin with a few tweaks. That’s not a bad thing, though, as Color OS has become one of the better Android skins in recent years.
Nevertheless, the Realme GT 3’s software overlay made for a fast and smooth experience in our time with it. You’ve also got plenty of scope for customization here, such as changing icon shapes, tweaking system colors, and making the always-on display your own.
Realme also told us that the GT 3 will be receiving three major OS updates and four years of security patches. This isn’t quite as good as the likes of Samsung and OnePlus in 2023, but it’s still a respectable update policy.
The software isn’t perfect though, as the phone ships with a fair amount of bloatware. But at least you’ve got a highly customizable experience on tap.
Realme GT 3 specs
|Realme GT 3|
2,772 x 1,240 resolution
1,400 nits (peak)
|Chipset||Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1|
240W SuperVOOC charging
(240W charger in box)
No wireless charging
50MP f/1.88 Sony IMX890, OIS
8MP f/2.2 ultrawide (112-degree)
2MP f/3.3, microscope lens with 40x magnification
|Audio||Dual stereo speakers|
No headphone jack
Dual nano-SIM slots
|Security||In-display fingerprint sensor|
Camera-based face unlock
realme UI 4.0
|Dimensions||163.9 x 75.8 x 8.9mm|
Realme GT 3 hands-on impressions: Is it worth it?
The Realme GT 3 is entering a fiercely competitive mid-range market in Europe and India, but the phone does tick a few boxes at its $649 price point. Powerful processor and good quality screen? Yep. Ultra-fast charging? Indeed. Ergonomic design? Certainly.
The camera system and lack of water resistance certainly make for two significant downers. So those who value a high-quality camera experience and increased durability might want to look to devices like the Pixel 6a (
) and Samsung Galaxy A53 5G (
But if you’re looking for flagship-tier power and stupidly fast charging above all else, the Realme GT 3 looks ready to deliver.
At the time of this writing, Realme has not confirmed availability or a retail release date for the Realme GT 3. Despite being priced in dollars, it is also not expected to launch in the US.