Realme's spree of populating the budget segment of smartphones continues, this time with the Realme 5-series. The Realme 5 Pro succeeds the Realme 3 Pro in just four months, yet manages to bring in significant updates without pushing the price tag by a lot.
The most notable upgrade comes with the camera, as the Realme 5 Pro is the first of many devices to sport a quad-camera setup and will be a trend in followed by most Realme devices going forward. Secondly, the processor gets a slight boost with the Snapdragon 712 instead of the 710. Lastly, the back panel gets a facelift with a new design.
With all of that, Realme has managed to make a device that is one of the best for its price, and gives much needed competition to the Redmi Note 7 Pro in India.
Realme 5 Pro price and availability
In India, the Realme 5 Pro is available in three configurations. There's a base 4+64GB variant which is priced at Rs 13,999, followed by the 6+64GB variant at Rs 14,999 and the top variant with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage is priced at Rs 16,999.
The Realme 5 Pro aspires to look a lot more premium than its price tag would suggest. More evidently because of its “Crystal design” on the back which almost looks like facets of a diamond. It looks cool but is a little overdone currently as almost every smartphone manufacturer has some form of a gradient blue finish available.
However, it is still a plastic back and will be susceptible to scratches over time. Thankfully, my unit has had none till now, and the included case adds a little more peace of mind.
It definitely doesn’t feel very premium in the hand and attracts ample smudges too. Overall, it’s a functional design that isn’t too slippery or bulky, but is unlikely to blow you away. It looks more interesting than your regular plastic back phone and doesn't feel flimsy.
Smartphone displays in this budget are usually pretty basic, and the Realme 5 Pro is no exception. Spread across 6.3-inches, we get an IPS LCD panel with a resolution of 2340 x 1080. Eating into that screen, there’s a small waterdrop notch housing the front camera. Realme states that this “minidrop” notch is smaller than the previous generation, and by the looks of it, it definitely seems small.
The panel itself is pretty color accurate but lacks the oomph inherently present on OLED displays. But considering the price of the Realme 5 Pro, that is a reasonable trade-off. Unless you compare it to an AMOLED panel, the colors and contrast won't disappoint.
Maximum brightness levels are pretty adequate too, bringing serviceable sunlight legibility. Similarly, the minimum brightness was also pretty ow for use in dark scenarios.
As for protection, we get Gorilla Glass 3+. There's a simple plastic screen protector pre-applied with the phone which is always appreciated.
Thanks to companies like Xiaomi, India has grown to be a very processor-centric market, and Realme has carefully powered the 5 Pro with the Snapdragon 712 AIE chipset. This chipset has been fabricated at 10nm, bringing in higher efficiency and raw processing power than any other phone in this price segment. Interestingly, the SD 712 is supposed to be 10% more powerful than the SD 710 which powers the much more expensive Realme X.
For regular use including social media, multi-tasking, calling and texting, etc., the Realme 5 Pro never broke a sweat. Every action was usually snappy, just slightly bogged down by not-so-fluid animations. The Snapdragon 712 is paired with up to 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM and UFS 2.1 storage which work in tandem to increase performance and reduce app opening times.
Another increasingly common use case in this segment is gaming. The processor always held its own for even heavy 3D games such as PUBG while providing a consistent and stable frame-rate throughout, with minimal heating. We've seen this same chipset perform a lot worse in other phones, so Realme must have done some solid optimising.
The Realme 5 Pro runs on ColorOS 6.0.1 built atop Android 9 Pie. ColorOS is not a light skin by any means, and brings a lot of cosmetic and functional changes over stock Android. Everything from the icons to the notification shade is very different and can overwhelm those coming from stock-ish Android interfaces. Customization are limited to visual changes such as the wallpaper and icons, but most other elements remain intact.
Having said that, it does bring in some useful features such as a private space for sensitive content, hotspot management to limit the data by each user and downloadable themes.
Realme left no stone unturned in letting everyone know that the Realme 5 series will be the first to bring quad-cameras to this budget segment. The Realme 5 Pro has a 48MP f/1.7 primary camera, an 8MP ultra-wide lens, a 2MP macro lens and a 2MP “portrait” lens which is actually just a depth sensor. While it’s a great bragging right to sport four cameras, I had some doubts over how useful all of these will be.
The primary camera was generally really snappy with no discernable shutter lag while shooting on the go, which is essential to not miss the shot you may have on mind. The dynamic range was usually pretty high with occasionally blown-out highlights while shooting in low-light conditions.
The ultrawide lens not only brought a much wider field-of-view, but managed to retain the colour parity with the primary camera. Of course, the focusing and dynamic range were a notch lower than the primary, but that is expected with the f/2.25 aperture. In low light, the resultant images were significantly darker and called for a much more stables handling.
The third macro lens has a fixed focus distance of 4cm. That is a first for this segment, but a fixed focus distance meant that I would have to be at that specific range from the subject to get a sharp picture. This will take some getting used to. Moreover, the f/2.4 nature of the lens called for ample light to get usable results. It's a fun feature to have, but not one I would rely on a lot.
The 2MP portrait lens is practically just a depth sensor for better portrait mode images. It did its job for the most part, and helped get a clean background separation even in low light.
The primary camera has EIS (Electronic Image stabilisation) for lesser shaky shots and the ultrawide lens smartly reduces the edge distortion by slightly cropping in. Realme staples such as Nightscape and Chroma Boost are also present here. The macro lens has a fixed focus distance of 4cm and an aperture of f/2.4.
Early observations include a very fast and lag-free shutter, vibrant images and a pretty quick night mode.
The Realme 5 Pro houses a 4,035mAh battery which should provide a great battery life when combined with ColorOS’s optimizations. Thankfully, VOOC 3.0 Flash Charge is also present here which charges the phone at 20W, taking it from 0 to over 50% in just 30 minutes. Unlike its predecessor, the Realme 3 Pro, charging takes place over USB Type-C.
The Realme 5 Pro houses a 4,035 mAh battery which is on par with most other phones in this segment. Combined with ColorOS's optimizations, the phone would easily last me through a day of light to medium usage. I could get 6-7 hours of screen-on-time with light use. Adding an hour of gaming to the mix would bring that figure down by a bit, but nothing too bad.
Overall, I was pretty impressed with the battery backup on this device. For instances when it was not sufficient, the VOOC 3.0 Flash Charging was of great help, refueling the majority of battery in about an hour. Thankfully, the charging takes place over USB Type-C, making this the cheapest Realme device to do so.Verdict
The Realme 5 Pro is a genuine contender for the best budget smartphone, thanks to its consistent performance, above-average battery life and dependable cameras. There are barely any devices that can offer similar raw performance in this segment, which has been one of the constants in Realme's offerings.
The build could have been a little sturdier and ColorOS can take some getting used to, but if those aren’t your top preferences, the Realme 5 Pro deserves to be on your consideration list.
We also need to address the fact that Realme has really speeded up its launch cycles, bringing new devices in less than 6 months now. Basically, if you can wait for a few months, you are almost guaranteed to get a more competitive budget smartphone, thanks to how crazy the competition in India has gotten. Realme's favourite rival Redmi is soon going to bring the Redmi Note 8 series to India, some time in October, which is sure to give Realme a run for its money. But for anyone who needs a phone in this segment right now, the 5 Pro is probably your best bet.
OPPO Realme 5 Pro 4G Smartphone 6.3 inch FHD+ Android 9.0 Snapdragon 712 AIE Octa Core 4GB RAM 128GB ROM 4 Rear Camera 4035mAh Battery Global Version