Saturday, July 20, 2024

A much-missed Android phone maker is back with a real winner

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A person holding the Realme GT 6.Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Welcome back, Realme. After disappearing from the global market for two years, Realme is back with the Realme GT 6 — a strong midrange smartphone that does what the brand was always best-known for by giving you more than you expect for the price.

Contents

  • A really special design
  • Have fun with the camera
  • Software and performance
  • Welcome back, Realme

I’ve been testing the Realme GT 6 for a few days and it has reminded me why I’ve missed this fun, interesting phone maker.

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A really special design

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

You instantly know the Realme GT 6 is something special when you see the rear panel. Mixing different finishes in a single panel is a challenge, and Realme claims this is the first “nano-mirror” rear cover. The camera module is surrounded by a reflective, chromed panel, while the remainder of the panel has a metal-like matte finish. It comes in the silver color shown in the accompanying photos or a brighter green, and it looks superb.

Realme doesn’t say what the rear panel is made from. It’s definitely not metal, and I’m not convinced it’s glass either, but for once, it may not matter as the phone passes for both. At 199 grams, it’s suitably lightweight for such a big, 8.6mm-thick smartphone, and the 6.78-inch AMOLED screen looks great. It’s suitably bright, with a 1,600-nit brightness under normal circumstances and a maximum brightness of 6,000 nits, which sounds insane, but this has not kicked in for me.

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

It’s an LTPO screen with a 1Hz to 120Hz refresh rate, 10-bit color, 2160Hz dimming, and Gorilla Glass Victus 2 for protection. The design and screen technology are decidedly high-end smartphone features, so it’s welcome to find them on a phone that starts at 600 euros, or about $640. It’s also one of the main reasons why Realme is once again selling its phones outside China, which is good news for buyers.

Have fun with the camera

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Three cameras are set inside the shiny, reflective section of the GT 6’s rear panel, with a 50-megapixel Sony LYT-808 leading a 50MP Samsung JN5 telephoto camera and a simple 8MP wide-angle camera. The main camera has optical image stabilization (OIS), and the telephoto provides a 2x optical zoom and assistance for the portrait mode. For video, the phone shoots up to 4K resolution with Dolby Vision, while on the front is a 32MP selfie camera.

The main camera is where the action is, and I love its high-saturation, exciting tone on bright days, but there’s no escaping from its vibrancy. Despite its exuberance, photos are decently balanced with good dynamic range, and the detail is very sharp. It’s enjoyable to use, and the photos you take are ideal to share online. The lens does introduce quite a lot of distortion around the edges when you get in close, which can detract from the image.


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A photo taken with the Realme GT 6's wide-angle camera.

Wide-angle Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

A photo taken with the Realme GT 6's main camera.

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

A photo taken with the Realme GT 6's main camera.

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

A photo taken with the Realme GT 6's wide-angle camera.

Wide-angle Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

A photo taken with the Realme GT 6's 2x zoom mode.

2x zoom Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

A photo taken with the Realme GT 6's main camera.

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

A photo taken with the Realme GT 6's main camera.

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

A photo taken with the Realme GT 6's main camera.

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

A photo taken with the Realme GT 6's 2x zoom mode.

2x zoom Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

I can live with this effect, but not with the wide-angle camera. Its low megapixel count robs images of detail and there’s so much blur introduced over the entire image that most wide-angle shots end up unusable. It’s so bad that you can see the photos are poor quality, even in thumbnail examples.

The 8MP wide-angle camera is a token effort, but the 2x optical zoom is much better. Although it won’t get you that close to a subject, the telephoto images have plenty of color, and I like that it’s an optical rather than a digital zoom. Ignore the wide-angle camera, and there’s plenty of fun to be had with the Realme GT 6’s camera.

Software and performance

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The Realme GT 6 has Android 14 with Realme UI 5 installed, along with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8s Gen 3 processor and 12GB of RAM. Realme UI closely mirrors Oppo’s ColorOS, and therefore OnePlus’ OxygenOS too, as the three are owned by the same umbrella company.

In the time I’ve used it, the software is fast, and the animations are smooth — to the point where they can appear too slick. It really takes a while to get used to the smoothed-out visuals. Realme claims it will update the software for the next four years.

The Snapdragon 8s Gen 3 is shaping up to be a seriously desirable mobile chip, providing plenty of performance and great efficiency, as we’ve already seen in the Poco F6 Pro and the Honor 200 Pro. A 5,500mAh battery adds to the longevity of the Realme GT 6, and the 120-watt wired SuperVOOC charging means the phone has very little downtime. I recharged the battery from almost flat to full in just under 30 minutes.

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

I used the ray-tracing gaming performance test in the 3DMark benchmarking app, which showed no obvious slowdown or issues for most of the test and the expected level of heat buildup. It gets hot under this much stress, but not so you can’t hold it. However, longer gaming sessions may result in slow down or performance problems. For most people and for general use, you probably won’t notice any issues.

Welcome back, Realme

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The Realme GT 6 does everything you expect a more expensive phone to do. It doesn’t hold back on desirable features that are useful on a daily basis, and both the battery and charging ensure it’s almost always ready to use. Realme’s GT phones have impressed in the past, as have its amazing special-edition models. While it did lose its way right before it left the global market, it’s great to see it return with this new GT model.

Realme’s steps back into the international market are tentative, though, and are reminiscent of the brand’s original strategy. The Realme GT 6 is available to buy in India now, and it will apparently launch in Europe too, but Realme’s global online store has not been updated since the launch of the GT Neo 3 and GT Neo 3T in 2022. It’s not immediately clear where or when you’ll be able to buy the Realme GT 6 outside of India at the time of writing.

The GT 6 is the ideal device for the company to show its renewed global intentions. It reminds me why I’ve enjoyed so many of the brand’s devices since the very beginning of 2018. It’s one to seek out, and it competes well with the Google Pixel 8, Nothing Phone 2, Samsung Galaxy S23 FE, and the OnePlus 12R.

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