Realme phones of the past have been plagued with bloat and heavy software skins, which have left many, including myself, with a sour taste after using a Realme device. Is the Realme 5 Pro an exception to this pattern, or does it continue the trend of good hardware with poor software?
Well, in Android Authority’s Realme 5 pro review, we find out!
I wrote the Realme 5 Pro review after spending 12 days with the device as my primary phone. Realme supplied the review unit, which was running Android Pie with ColorOS 6 on board. The software version at the time of testing was RMX1971EX_11_A.07.Show More
Realme 5 Pro review: The big picture
Realme is coming after the Xiaomi Mi A3, Honor 20 Lite, and Galaxy M20 with the Realme 5 Pro, and that’s some stiff competition for any company, let alone one whose software has never really been highly rated. With mid-range hardware installed, an FHD+ IPS display, and a quad-camera setup on the back, on paper, the Realme 5 Pro seems to compete.
- 157 x 74.2 x 8.9mm
- Plastic and metal build
- Capacitive fingerprint scanner
- Water-droplet notch
- USB-C, headphone port
The rear plastic housing is, whilst not incredibly scratch resistant, very pretty, with a reflective-fragment pattern underneath the exterior shell. The Crystal Green version that I have here definitely stands out compared to the flat and gradient finishes that have swarmed the budget smartphone market. The Realme 5 Pro’s sturdy metal rails have been painted to match the rear finish, and with some sharp-looking yet comfortable chamfers, the phone starts to feel rather premium.
You certainly get the sense that Realme have focused on build quality, here. The right-placed lock button and opposing separate volume buttons feel tactile and tight to the shell, the bottom-firing ports and speaker look well-milled to line up with the narrow chamfer, and the rear camera housing, along with the fingerprint scanner, feel plenty ergonomic.
Up front there are some rather slim bezels, along with that water droplet notch which fits in nicely here. The rear-placed fingerprint scanner is rapid, and is a true testament to the speed and reliability of physical capacitive scanners.
- 6.3-inch Full HD+ display
- 2,340 x 1080 resolution
- 19.5:9 aspect ratio
- IPS panel
- Gorilla Glass 3
Realme has opted to put an LCD in the Realme 5 Pro, despite the current trend to have AMOLED displays, and that was the correct decision. The Mi A3 proves that AMOLEDs aren’t everything and the IPS in the 5 Pro is great. It’s sharp, punchy, and responsive. I wouldn’t call it a reason to go out and buy a Realme 5 Pro, but considering the price, it’s a great deal.
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Viewing angles are pretty great, making viewing multimedia on this phone a pleasant experience. Though, saying that, some games still suffer from UI elements cut off by the rounded corners of the panel — so life isn’t perfect.
The results of our thorough display testing reveal that brightness is a standout quality, boasting a slightly over 500nit peak brightness. For comparison’s sake, the Mi A3’s panel hits only ~350nits at its highest setting.
Also read: The best near-bezel-less smartphones
- Snapdragon 712
- 2 x 2.3GHz Kryo 360 Gold, 6 x 1.7GHz Kryo 360 Silver
- Adreno 616
- 4/6/8GB RAM
- 64/128GB ROM
- MicroSD card
For a budget smartphone, the Realme 5 Pro has some serious performance chops. The mid-range SoC used here provides great speed and energy efficiency, enabling a smooth gaming experience, even at the highest settings in titles such as Fortnite and PUBG Mobile.
When generally using the phone, there weren’t many hiccups to speak of. What made the phone feel quicker were the speedy animations, especially when unlocking the phone — an area in which many phones feel sluggish, purely due to slow animations.
There was a noticeable lag in the camera app, particularly when using portrait mode. This is something that I’ve noticed among many affordable smartphones, but here it felt odd due to the fact that, otherwise, it’s a great overall experience.
- VOOC 3.0 (20W)
The regular Realme 5 trumps the Realme 5 pro in battery life, leaving this phone looking a bit underwhelming. Although, during my time with it, only once did it fail to give me a full day of usage — the first day, when I set up the phone and installed my applications.
Oppo’s VOOC 3.0 is the charging tech of choice here, which is plenty fast at 20W through the USB-C port. Wireless charging is an omission that I’m willing to accept for the price, especially since the competition lacks such tech, too.
- 48MP at f/1.8 (Main)
- 8MP at f/2.2 (Ultra-wide)
- 2MP f/2.4 (Macro)
- 2MP f/2.4 (Depth)
- 16MP at f/2.0
Daylight photos look pretty average — Realme does add a bit of saturation that can be visible in this shot of the beach, but there’s softness in the very foreground. This is easily replicated on every shot with the ultra-wide-angle lens.
It’s a similar story in low-light with that ultra-wide lens. Colors look fairly close to real life, if a little bit over-done, perhaps to add character. Softness is the biggest issue here though and that’s easily seen in the walkway grips to the left of the image. The small humps are smoothed over due to the noise-reduction going on in the low-light image and it leads to a poor looking photo.
The standard 48MP sensor captures far better detail and sharpness, however, the colors here are a little bit too much for me. This scene was far less colorful than the image represents and it makes the whole camera feel a little bit cheap, almost like a toy. Dynamic range is brilliant, capturing as much detail in shadows and highlights as possible. It gives off a more professional-looking image, and you can always tone-down the colors in editing if you really wanted to.
I love the versatility of ultra-wide-angle cameras, even if there is noticeable softness like in this photo of cones on a bridge. Again, the dynamic range captured is impressive and I’m impressed because the cost of the phone is pretty low for what it can do with its camera.
Portrait mode worked better than expected. Edge detection is one of the Realme 5 Pro’s strong suits, but depth and focus roll-off are missing from the portrait images. You’ll notice that the blur is no stronger further down the path than it is just behind me on the leaves. Few smartphone cameras pull this off well, but this doesn’t seem to try at all.
Also read: What is Night Mode and how does it work?
Selfies are good, and I feel like almost all smartphone selfie cameras take good photos these days thanks in part to the processing done by our smartphones, and also due to the crazy high-resolution sensors that are packed into them. The Realme 5 Pro carries on with this trend of good selfies, with good sharpness, and detail to go along with its fairly accurate colors.
Overall, I found the Realme 5 Pro’s camera to be a good decent value for money. It offers a good primary sensor, wide-angle setup, a good selfie camera, and a decent camera app, all in a fairly affordable smartphone. It’s not a reason to go out and buy the 5 Pro, but it’s definitely up to the rest of the phone’s standard.
- Android 9 Pie
- ColorOS 6
Here comes trouble — ColorOS is known to be full of extra, unwanted software, with a heavy change in aesthetic direction. ColorOS 6 is no different, here, and it’s what made me both heavily dislike the Realme 5 Pro, and further appreciate the Xiaomi Mi A3 with its Android One platform.
The difference in looks between ColorOS and stock Android is purely subjective, but the heaps of extra apps that come installed, on top of the un-removable ones, are just too much. A launcher could change things up enough for some, but the underlying software problem still exists.
- 3.5mm audio jack
- Bluetooth 5
Realme devices are known for their sub-par audio solutions, and the Realme 5 Pro follows this trend. The headphone port showed a huge lack of bass, along with a generally poor speaker. It’s great to see that the phone has the port in the first place, but its inclusion is soon questioned when you realize that the quality is so bad. This is more easily illustrated in our charts where you can see a huge drop off at just above 100Hz.
Click here to learn about the importance of frequency response!
|Display||6.3-inch, FHD+ IPS LCD
2,340 x 1,080 resolution
19.5:9 aspect ratio
83.6% screen-to-body ratio
Gorilla Glass 3+
|Chipset||Qualcomm Snapdragon 712
2x 2.3GHz Kyro 360 Gold
6x 1.7GHz Kyro 360 Silver
|RAM||4, 6, 8GB RAM|
VOOC 3.0 (20W)
Video: UHD4K at 30fps, 1080P at 120fps, 720p at 960fps
|Connectivity||Dual nano-SIM slots
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2.4/5GHz
Positioning system: GPS, aGPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, BDS
Supports Bluetooth 5 connections
Supports aptX, aptX HD, and LDAC
|Software||Android 9.0 Pie
|Colors||Crystal Blue, Crystal Green|
|Dimensions||157 x 74.2 x 8.9mm|
Value for the money
The Realme 5 Pro starts at 13,999 rupees, meaning that it’s got a lot to offer for the money. With a great set of ports, a fantastic fingerprint scanner, great screen, and many cameras, all for this price, it makes you wonder how Realme are able to make a profit. The device features many more features than its competition but is challenged on the quality of those features by Nokia, Xiaomi, and Samsung.
Also read: The best smartphones under £500 in the UK
Realme’s approach to the 5 Pro is muddy: It’s a budget smartphone with good build quality, good cameras, a good screen, and good performance, all of which are on par with competition. However, the questionable audio quality, poor software experience, and underwhelming battery-life add up to take a significant hit to my recommendation of the Realme 5 Pro.
Buy the Realme 5 Pro