Realme GT Master Edition Review: A Master Who Could Have Been Trained Better

A master who finds competition from his own pupil

by: - Last updated on: August 21st, 2021
Key Takeaways
  • The Realme GT Master Edition appeals to be a special device with its naming scheme.
  • The new Snapdragon 778G chipset brings in solid performance along with 5G connectivity.
  • At the price of Rs. 27,999, the Realme GT Master Edition enters a segment that has strong competitors which the Master has to face.

A company that launched just 3 years ago now offers a smartphone at almost every price point, and we are talking Realme here. You may argue that Realme’s roots were laid by OPPO, which has helped them grow this much, but hey, they have launched some really great devices so far, which ultimately benefits the end-user. The Realme GT Master Edition is a device under the “GT” branding, which is still too young to be called a new series. So what does “GT” stand for, and why does Realme call this device “Master Edition”?

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The Realme GT Master Edition aims to be a different phone, unlike other special editions where an existing device gets a new theme or redesign in terms of appearance but has the same specifications. The Master Edition differs from the Realme GT 5G mainly in the core, the processor. With the Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G on board, the device brings a potential chipset in terms of performance, with an added touch of 5G connectivity.

Master Edition, Which Has Its Own Special Version

As we just said, the Master Edition is a different device and is not trying to be a special edition of an existing Realme phone. But this particular Edition has its own special version in Voyager Gray color option designed by a popular Japanese Designer, Mr. Naoto Fukusawa. We received this special version for testing, and its design approach is – unique. First of all, the back has a grid-like pattern that reminds us of a suitcase, as the design itself is inspired by a suitcase, according to the artist. It also bears the exclusive signature of the designer Naoto Fukusawa, which adds a sense of a special version at first sight.

Other color options include Luna White and Cosmos Black, both of which lack the grid pattern and Naoto’s signature on the back. The special Voyager Gray has a leather finish that is made from vegan leather. But after using both the Realme GT Master Edition and the Realme GT 5G, we felt that the back of the Realme GT 5G felt more like real leather, while the Master Edition has more of a polycarbonate feel than the expected leather feel. Yes, the back of the Master Edition has a leather-like texture, but it feels more like polycarbonate than leather.

The triple rear camera has a glass casing that looks very premium. Even with this glass panel, the camera bump does not stick out far and is negligible. Apart from the Realme branding, the back is kept clean, and the classic “Dare To Leap” lettering is not present here.

The Realme GT Master Edition comes with a silicone case in the box, and the Voyager Gray unit has a case that is the same color as the actual phone and also carries the same suitcase design pattern from the back. So even after applying the case on the gray version, the design attraction is still preserved on the phone.

Feels Good in the Hand

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The in-hand feel of the Realme GT Master Edition is very compact, and the overall weight feels evenly distributed. The device has no weight shift towards the battery side and feels evenly balanced when held in hand. One-handed operation is possible, and you can easily pull down the notification panel with your thumb while using the phone one-handed.

The included back cover is also very light and does not add any significant bulk or footprint to the device. If you use the device without the cover, the plastic frame can sometimes become slippery as the edges have a shiny surface. We, therefore, recommend using the cover as soon as you start using the phone.

Colors Improve on the Display, After This Setting

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The Realme GT Master Edition’s 6.43-inch hole-punch display has a Full HD + resolution with a 120Hz refresh rate. Initially, the whites looked on the warmer side of the color spectrum, which did not feel right. So we explored the display settings and tried changing the color temperature and color modes and found the sweet spot where the colors looked more natural. We set the screen temperature to “Cool” and Screen Color Mode to “Brilliant.” The OSIE visual effect was also enabled.

Note that colors are subjective, and we changed the settings to make the colors look more accurate and natural. You can always change the settings so that the content on your screen is comfortable for your eyes. But to test the screen’s color accuracy, we changed the settings here to conclude that the Realme GT Master Edition display is capable of delivering accurate colors, with eye-friendly options available as well.

You can also play the HDR content on YouTube and Amazon Prime on the device, but Netflix does not currently show the HDR option in the app. HDR makes a difference when you play compatible content on supported streaming services and is noticeable to the eyes. When you use the device outdoors, the brightness and contrast levels are raised to the maximum, and the text on the screen is visible and legible. The overall color quality on this display can get really rich when needed, and media consumption is a great experience on the Realme GT Master Edition.

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The refresh rate of this screen is 120 Hz, and the touch sampling rate is 360 Hz. Scrolling on display is very smooth, and you can choose between three refresh rate options.

1. Auto – The device automatically selects a refresh rate between 60Hz or 120Hz depending on the application being used.
2. Standard – Constant 60Hz refresh rate.
3. High – Constant 120Hz refresh rate.

We used the device with the highest refresh rate of 120 Hz for a thorough test. Details about the battery life are mentioned later in this review. In summary, the touch response is very accurate, and the scrolling is buttery smooth. We did not notice any lags at this high refresh rate. In case you are wondering: The display is made by Samsung.

Stronger the Primary Camera, Weaker the Secondary

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The Realme GT Master Edition gets a triple rear camera setup in this configuration.

1. 64MP primary lens with f/1.8 aperture
2. 8MP ultra-wide lens with 119°FOV and f/2.3 aperture
3. 2MP macro lens with 4cm focal length and f/2.4 aperture

The primary 64 MP camera takes pictures at 16 MP by default, which is the norm for cameras with a high megapixel count. There is a special 64 MP mode that increases the image size by quite a bit to use the full resolution.

The primary sensor takes good pictures in daylight, and the dynamic range is very wide. Details are very well preserved, and images are sharp and crisp. Photos taken with the primary lens are a bit more saturated but still look appealing. We confirmed the color accuracy of these images by transferring the photos to our desktop and viewing them on our monitor instead of the phone’s more brilliant AMOLED display.

In the 64MP mode, you get slightly more detail in the images when you zoom in, but the difference is not huge. The color profiles in this mode are similar to those of the regular 16 MP photos.

In low light and artificial lighting conditions, the main camera does a really good job. Detail suffers a bit, but that is only noticeable when you zoom in. You have to use the Night Mode in pitch-dark surroundings.

Without the Night Mode, images turn out to be overexposed and have darker shadows. The night mode provides a good balance between dark and light areas of the photo, making the images much more usable. Overall, the main lens does a good job with static images.

The 8 MP wide-angle lens is a good addition but sometimes produces slightly darker pictures than the main camera. Details are okay when zoomed in but still fall short of the main lens. Dynamic range with the wide-angle lens needs improvement, as the balance between brighter and darker areas of the image could have been better. In low light or dark conditions, this lens has major problems, and images are very noisy with very little detail.

The 2MP macro lens is disappointing. You have to get very close to the subject, 4 cm to be exact, and the results are only satisfactory. Due to the lower resolution, the image is not very detailed, and you need very bright lighting to get a usable image. The macro lens is fine for occasional use, but it’s not very impressive.

The 32MP selfie camera has an aperture of f/2.45 and is housed in the pinhole display. Selfies are really sharp, and the dynamic range is great, even with a bright sky in the background. Selfie shots retain a lot of detail, and skin tones are a bit brighter. Edge detection in portrait mode is also pretty accurate.

There are a lot of other image-specific features in the camera app like Street Mode and AI Enhancement Mode, but these only returned with a little more saturated images, and there was not much difference when it comes to detail. There is also a Pro Mode where you can manually adjust the focus, ISO, white balance, and exposure.

The videos on the Realme GT Master Edition are capped at 4K 30fps. You can also use 1080p 60fps, 1080p 30fps and other lower resolutions. However, there is currently no support for 4K 60fps. The camera focuses quickly between near and far objects, and videos have a good dynamic range. The detail at 4K and 1080p resolutions is very good, and the overall video quality is fantastic.

When it comes to video stability, there is some sort of automatic EIS in the Realme UI camera app that can not be disabled by any means. It works well, and there is no judder in the videos, but it would have been better if Realme had provided an option to disable it. There is also the Ultra Steady option in videos, which we have seen on several Realme devices. It works really well and eliminates all kinds of heavy shaking, especially when walking. The only downside to the Ultra Steady video mode is the crop factor that is introduced to maintain stability.

The Realme GT Master Edition also has a Dual View Video mode where you can record video simultaneously with the front and rear cameras. There are three different layouts in the camera application: split-screen, round facecam, and rectangular facecam. These can come in handy when recording vlogs and are a very useful little feature. Other video modes include Live Bokeh, which basically works like a portrait mode for videos, and AI Color Portrait, where only the subject in focus retains the RGB colors. In contrast, the background colors are changed to black and white.

In summary, the Realme GT Master Edition cameras perform well in bright light conditions, and the main lens can take some good pictures in the dark with Night Mode. The wide-angle lens needs a lot of light to take good photos and struggles in low-light conditions. The macro shooting did not impress us, unlike the other two cameras here. Selfies are sharp, and edge detection is very accurate in portrait mode.

Master Edition, but Not the Master Chip?

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This is an obvious question, why does the Realme GT Master Edition get a chipset that is a step behind its sibling, the Realme GT 5G with the Snapdragon 888? With the Realme GT 5G, the company aims to offer the best chipset on the market at a competitive price. Now for the Master Edition, it looks like Realme has tried to diversify its portfolio across different price segments. Before we talk about competition from other brands, we have a device from Realme itself, the Realme X7 Max with the Dimensity 1200 5G chipset, a similar set of cameras, and a display at a lower price. So, where does the GT Master Edition stand in Realme’s own lineup?

The Snapdragon 778G 5G processor in the Realme GT Master Edition is something we have not seen on many devices. So instead of starting with a direct comparison, let us first see what the chipset is capable of.

We used the Realme GT Master Edition with a refresh rate of 120 Hz, and we did not feel any lag when scrolling through the menus; it was very smooth. App open times are really fast, and animations render well. Even with rigorous app switching, fast typing, or when multiple apps were active in the background, the Master Edition was able to handle all tasks without breaking a sweat. In the heat of the moment, we tapped our fingers on the on-screen keyboard to see how the device responded, and the master said, “Another time, student.”

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So these were our initial impressions – the Snapdragon 778G is fast. But how fast? Let’s do benchmarks. No, no, no-no. Benchmarks do give a good tentative idea about the potential of the device, but we believe more in real-world usage instead. And, we decided to play some resource-demanding games on the device, like Subway Surfers! (*Sound of a doorbell ring*, *Sounds of slapping*, *Sounds of the door being slammed shut*)

Well, this joke did not go down well with gamers waiting for the Snapdragon 778G’s performance specs. We have a notorious gamer in our team (who is apparently writing this review) and tested the potential of this chipset with games like Battle Grounds Mobile India – BGMI. And the results were impressive.

The Realme GT Master Edition supports Smooth+Extreme settings that enable true 60fps gameplay, with HDR+Ultra settings available for 40fps. There is no official support for 90fps yet. We played the game on Smooth+Extreme settings, and the framerate was consistently between 55-60fps in Erangel, even on hot drops like Pochinki, Military Base, and Sanhok-Bootcamp. But how did we get the exact FPS? We used a screen mirroring service called TC Games, which mirrors the contents of your phone to a desktop via USB. It also shows us the exact FPS throughout the game, and our test results are derived from that.

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This device is not just about topping the FPS charts, but the Realme GT Master Edition’s consistency while gaming was surprising. Even after a gaming session of 2 hours, the device does not develop excessive heat and only gets a little warm. After playing games on multiple devices, the Master Edition runs noticeably cooler while gaming. There was no sign of thermal throttling as the device does not generate that much heat. The Vapor Chamber Cooling System seems to work efficiently here to keep temperatures under control. However, you can expect a BGMI gaming session of a maximum of 3 hours on a 100% full charge, after which you have to plug the device into the wall.

Realme offers an exclusive “GT Mode” with this device that enhances the overall gaming experience. This mode gives you the ability to unlock the maximum performance of your device while gaming while also offering features like DND for calls, disabling auto-brightness, and pop-up notifications that can hamper your gaming experience. We played the game with both GT mode enabled and disabled and did not notice any drastic changes in performance. But features like DND in GT mode improve the overall gaming experience, so it is better to play games with this mode enabled.

A slight disclaimer from our side: Use the DND feature in GT Mode only if you think you can afford to miss a few calls while gaming. We would not want you to miss a call from your loved ones while you are playing games on your phone. Else, you may have to answer some angry faces from your family or colleagues after getting that Winner Winner Chicken Dinner in the game.

Let’s Discuss Realme UI, between You and I

Realme UI

The Realme GT Master Edition runs on Realme UI 2.0 based on Android 11. Apart from an exclusive GT mode, the Realme UI experience is the same as on any other Realme device. The interface is very responsive and smooth to use. There are quite a few bloatware apps that come pre-installed, but the good thing is that you can uninstall them as they are not system apps. However, the default dialer, contacts, and messaging app are from Google.

Apart from the 8GB of RAM on this device, you get an option called Ram Expansion which uses Virtual RAM technology to increase your RAM up to 5GB. However, we think that 8 GB of RAM is more than sufficient even for intensive multitasking. The device is easily able to keep 8-10 applications in memory without having to reload them. We also enabled RAM Expansion to try it out, and it does not really affect the battery life. The memory management of the Realme UI is really good here.

Dark vs Light Mode

Realme UI gives plenty of customization options like changing themes, fonts, accent colors, live wallpapers, and more. At this point, Realme UI is very matured in terms of responsiveness and provides a good set of features too. We also tried gesture navigation, which worked fine. The UI does not stutter at any point when the refresh rate is set to 120Hz.

In-display Finger Scanner, Headphone Jack, Face Unlock, and More!

The Realme GT Master Edition’s in-display fingerprint scanner is very accurate and recognizes your print almost every time. If your fingers are slightly oily or wet, the scanner either takes more time or refuses to unlock. We have had some interesting experiences with biometrics on this device. When both AOD and Face Unlock are enabled, and you pick the device up from a table or apartment surface, the phone quickly unlocks via Face Unlock even before you put your thumb on the fingerprint scanner! That’s how fast Face Unlock is.

in display fingerprint

However, when you take the device out of your pocket, the natural grip of an average person automatically places their thumb on the screen, unlocking the device via the fingerprint scanner. Either way, biometric unlocking is very fast on the Realme GT Master Edition.

The 3.5 mm headphone jack is still present here, which makes us very happy! The output via this jack is very good, as we tested with our Audio Technica M20x headphones and Mi Dual Driver earphones. The unit with crisp sound quality drove both. However, the headphone jack comes at the expense of stereo speakers, as the Realme GT Master Edition only has a single, down-firing speaker. It does get very loud, but stereo speakers would have been much better. The Realme X7 Max has stereo speakers, but the Master Edition does not. Come on, Realme, you could have done better!

5G and WiFi 6, a Good Mix

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The Snapdragon 778G chipset brings 5G capabilities to the device, which we could not test here in India. We used the device with Jio 4G in Mumbai, and the connection is good even indoors. Carrier Aggregation is supported on the device, and there were no issues with cellular reception. It also supports WiFi 6, but we did not have access to a WiFi 6 router to test it. With a 70 Mbps connection indoors, the device was able to reach speeds that are roughly equivalent to the Internet connection without any problems.

We also used our Mi Bluetooth Speaker and OnePlus Bullets Wireless with the Realme GT Master Edition, and the connection was pretty stable. There was no delay in audio output, and we had no complaints with wireless audio. In addition to the connectivity options, there is also NFC on this device.

Battery Life

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The Realme GT Master Edition features a 4300 mAh battery with Realme’s signature 65 W SuperDART charge. We tested the device at the maximum refresh rate of 120 Hz with Dark Mode disabled, and the average screen runtime was about 5 hours. We even lowered the refresh rate to 60 Hz for two days, and the screen’s uptime increased by 30-40 minutes but barely reached the 6-hour mark. At this point, the Snapdragon 778G seems to consume more power, so the average screen runtime of the Realme GT Master Edition is 5 to 5.5 hours with regular use.

While using the device, we had Always On Display enabled, and even turning off AOD did not increase the battery life to 6 hours. The device compensates for this battery life with its 65W SuperDART charger. It only takes 30 minutes to charge the device from 0% to 100%, and the phone does not generate any heat while charging. Overall, the battery life of the Realme GT Master Edition is not the best in its class, but it can easily be used for a whole day.

Verdict – Should You Buy the Realme GT Master Edition?

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The Realme GT Master Edition’s display makes for a very good media consumption experience, and the presence of a headphone jack makes it even better. Performance-wise, there are no setbacks here as the device can handle any competitive task with ease. If you compare it with the competition, you have the Realme X7 Max and the POCO F3 GT, both of which come with the Dimensity 1200 5G chipset and stereo speakers.

The Snapdragon 778G of the Realme GT Master Edition is as good as the Dimensity 1200 of the competition and also has a slight advantage over others in gaming. But the lack of stereo speakers is a major setback here. At a starting price of Rs. 27,999/- for the 8GB +128GB variant the Realme GT Master Edition compiles itself with a good display and raw performance in an ergonomic design but misses out on an important feature that its competitors offer. If you are planning to get a unique design, then the Voyager Gray option from Naoto Fukusawa makes the Realme GT Master Edition a good buy as it costs the same as other color variants.

But hey, the Realme GT Master Edition starts at Rs. 25,999/- right? Yes, the base 6GB + 128GB variant does start at a lower price but Realme says that this storage configuration will be sold later. As of now, there’s no specific timeline shared by the company on the availability of the most affordable model. Hence, for now, the starting price of the Realme GT Master Edition remains 27,999/- for the 8GB + 128GB variant, and we will update this section when the base model goes on sale.

The Realme X7 Max is a good alternative with a similar set of cameras, display, and a Mediatek-equivalent chipset if you want to save some money. Otherwise, if you want something that is fresh to the market, then the Realme GT Master Edition is the way to go.

But what does GT stand for in the Realme GT Master Edition?

While Realme has still kept the full form of GT as a mystery, here’s what others would probably think about the GT branding.

A gamer would say ‘Gamer’s Turbo’ as the device has a splendid gaming performance.

Whereas if you ask the Realme X7 Max, what does it think about the GT Master Edition, an expected answer would be ‘Good Try’ as it really comes close to the X7 Max but does not dominate it.

If only phones could speak with the power of AI, we would have witnessed a great conversation between two devices comparing themselves against each other.

Buy Realme GT Master Edition

Pros
  • Amazing AMOLED display
  • Ergonomic form factor, lightweight design
  • Consistent performance without heating
  • 5G connectivity
  • 65W fast charging
Cons
  • Moderate battery life
  • Cameras need improvement
  • Lack of stereo speakers
  • No IP rating
Review Overview
Build & design
Software
Performance
Camera
Battery
SUMMARY

The Realme GT Master Edition almost offers a complete package with its performance and design but loses out on stereo speakers to its own relative, the Realme X7 Max. It tries to compensate it with 65W charging but still faces heavy competition from the market, including the POCO F3 GT.

4.0

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