review

Realme 5 Pro Review: A headache for Me and Mi, Really and Re(a)d-ily!

Competition for friends and foes alike

Realme added a new chapter to its rivalry with Redmi with the launch of the Realme 5 Pro. The launch of the device was a surprise to some, coming as it did barely a few months after its predecessor, the Realme 3 Pro (in April 2019), which was targeted at the Redmi Note 7 Pro – incidentally, Realme skipped the number 4 in the series, keeping with a trend that is particularly Chinese. And unlike the Realme 3 Pro which squarely had the Note 7 Pro in its sights, the 5 Pro has a much wider target – yes, it still takes on the Note 7 Pro but also has the recently released Mi A3 and the Vivo Z1 Pro in its sights. Rather interestingly, it is also making those thinking of purchasing a Realme X just think a little.

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That is because the Realme 3 Pro sticks to the Realme formula of combining distinct design and good hardware with a pretty compelling price tag. With good reason! I mean, why abandon a formula that has got you in the top five smartphone players in a market as big as India. So, the Realme 5 Pro gets off the ground at a price of Rs 13,999 – right in the middle of the highly competitive mid-segment of the Indian smartphone market.

Bringing them diamond cut looks

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For those bucks, it certainly brings a lot to the table. We have talked about the design at length in our first cut of the device last week (https://techpp.com/2019/08/20/realme-5-pro-first-impressions/), but suffice to repeat: it looks very distinct, with its diamond etchings on the back, reflecting light in different patterns. Yes, it is plastic, but we strongly suspect far too many would be more busy staring at the design to notice the material, and anyway, most people are going to slap a cover on it (Realme has included a transparent one in the box).

Unlike its non-Pro avatar (read the review here), the Realme 5 Pro comes with a much more compact and lighter body, which will make it blend into most hands more easily. There are also a few premium touches like the gold borders around the fingerprint sensor on the back. No, we do not think it is as classy as the more subtle Redmi Note 7 Pro or its own sibling, the Realme X, but it definitely will turn heads and those who like a slightly more blingy design will definitely like it.

Some Really good hardware

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The reason for that more compact and lighter body than the Realme 5 is mainly down to two factors – a smaller display (6.3 inches) as well as a relatively smaller battery (4035 mAh). But do not get fooled by those numbers – although smaller, the display on the Realme 5 Pro is a full HD one, and that 4035 mAh battery comes with VOOC charge support as well as a 20W charger in the box. The phone also boasts perhaps the most powerful processor in any Realme device in the country – a Qualcomm Snapdragon 712 chip, which is a step ahead of the Snapdragon 710 seen on the Realme 3 Pro and even the flagship Realme X. And it comes paired with RAM and storage aplenty – there are 4 GB/ 64 GB, 6 GB/ 64 GB and 8 GB/ 128 GB variants, and all of them come with expandable memory (something that the X lacked, interestingly).

And that’s not all. The Realme 5 Pro also brings in a hefty quad-camera arrangement to the photography party, with the main sensor being a 48 megapixel Sony IMX 586 with an f/1.8 aperture. The other snappers are an 8-megapixel ultra-wide sensor, a 2-megapixel portrait sensor, and a 2-megapixel macro lens. On the front is a 16 megapixel Sony IMX471 sensor. That is once again pretty much statistically on par if not better than most of its opponents, including its own X-named flagship. Round that off with Android Pie (with Color OS 6), 4G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS, and you have a very good package for the price that is charged. And in spec terms, does enough to make all those in the vicinity look warily over their shoulders.

A really decent performer too

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All this comes together to deliver a very impressive performance. We have already seen the capability of the Snapdragon 712 in the gaming-centric Vivo Z1 Pro and it largely replicates its very impressive performance in the Realme 5 Pro as well. If you stick to middling settings, you can even play the likes of PUBG and Asphalt very smoothly, although moving up the frame rates will result in a few lags and freezes. In matters of multi-tasking and running routine tasks, the Realme 5 Pro sailed through them all without breaking into a sweat, although it did heat up ever so slightly from time to time (never reaching anything remotely alarming though).

The cameras have been star performers and have played a key role in Realme’s rise in the Indian market, and they turn in a very good performance in the Realme 5 Pro as well. The phone comes with the same 48-megapixel main sensor that was seen in the Redmi Note 7 Pro and on the Realme X, and well, its performance is very close to those two worthies. We got some terrific detail and for the most part, saturation stayed at pleasant rather than overwhelming levels – a key difference between Realme and many of its Chinese rivals that sometimes tend to go overboard with them reds, greens, and blues.

Great main sensor, middling others (especially macro)

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But while we loved the results we got from the main sensor, we were not quite as impressed with the others. As in the case of the Realme 5, we did appreciate the extra territory the ultra-wide sensor gave us, but the loss of detail due to its lower resolution was a lot less welcome. And well, we think the macro/close up sensor is a great idea, but its implementation is not quite there. It could sometimes pull off great shots, but on other occasions, struggled to focus. Portrait shots were good, but not exceptional. To be honest, while quad cameras sound good on paper, we really were not swayed by the implementation, as most of the heavy lifting was still being done by the single main sensor.

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Big battery, fast charging, but…

The one area where we found the phone stumbling a little was in battery life. With a 4035 mAh battery, we were expecting battery life that went beyond a day comfortably. However, the Realme 5 Pro just about saw out a day with normal use. Yes, it could go beyond if used carefully and thanks to the presence of VOOC Charge 3.0 technology, you get about 55 percent charge in about half an hour, but truth be told, we expected much better overall battery life – shades of what happened with the Vivo Z1 Pro, which interestingly had the same chip. The OS remains polarising – yes, we know some people will find Color OS a little too much to handle (there are plenty of third-party apps to go around), but we did not have much to complain in terms of general smooth operation, once we got the hang of it. And let’s face it, we would rather have lots of features than none. Finally, we really think that Realme needs to improve loudspeaker quality on its devices – they are loud and clear enough but the sound quality is not the greatest (it is much better on earphones, though).

Redmi has a challenger…so has Realme!

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At Rs 13,999 for 4 GB/ 64 GB, Rs 14,999 for 6 GB/ 64 GB and Rs 16,999 for 8 GB/ 128 GB, the Realme 5 Pro is a formidable proposition. Yes, on the surface it might seem to be aimed squarely at the bestselling Redmi Note 7 Pro, which starts at Rs 13,999 for 4 GB/ 64 GB and comes with a dual camera, the stock Android camera centric Mi A3 at Rs 12,999, the gaming-oriented Vivo Z1 Pro which has a similar chip and a huge 5000 mAh battery, and the Galaxy M30 which starts at Rs 13,990 for a large AMOLED display and a triple camera set up. However, another device that floats into its range is Realme’s own Realme X flagship. Yes, the X might have more premium features like an AMOLED display, a pop up camera and an in-display fingerprint scanner, but the 5 Pro comes with quad cameras and a better processor, not to mention expandable memory and well, its 8 GB/ 128 GB edition costs as much as the 4 GB/ 128 GB version of the X. And if that does not tell you just what the Realme 5 Pro brings to the table, nothing will. A lot of joy for consumers, and a headache for friends and foes alike!

Pros
  • Eye-catching design
  • Very good cameras
  • Smooth performer
Cons
  • Battery drains faster than expected
  • Inconsistent macro lens
  • Software will take some getting used to
Review Overview
3.90
Overall Score
Design
Camera
Software
Performance
Price