Realme GT 2 review: Flagship Filler
Last year I called the Realme GT “the new flagship killer” and in true smartphone industry fashion, a year on there’s a follow-up. But does the GT 2 have the same killer instinct?
It’s not quite the same situation in 2022, partly because there’s a GT 2 Pro model as well. While that is arguably more of a flagship (it costs £699), the GT 2 get much of the same hardware and features for £150 less.
It doesn’t have the LTPO 2.0 display with its variable refresh rate down to 1Hz, and uses the older Snapdragon 888 rather than the Pro’s newer Gen 1 chip, but for many people, neither of these things matter.
In fact, the GT 2 is a more well-rounded, better value for money option in many ways. However, if you already own a Realme GT, this new model isn’t going to tempt you to upgrade.
Design & Build
- ‘Paper-like’ biopolymer rear
- Bigger and heavier than before
- Still not waterproof
In terms of design, it’s nearly impossible to tell the two new phones apart. The GT 2 and GT 2 Pro share almost identical dimensions and styling, so this isn’t a typical case of the Pro model being larger.
Perhaps more importantly, the vegan leather option from last year’s Realme GT 5G with its striking yellow colour is gone in favour of a ‘paper’ design. Realme has once again partnered with Japanese designer Naoto Fukusawa, who worked on the GT Master Edition, to create a biopolymer – yep, that’s another one to add to phone vocabulary – that resembles paper.
The firm says over 12 months of R&D and over 1000 hours of colour testing have gone into it with the aim of creating something environmentally friendly, aesthetically pleasing and durable.
While I’m not sure the result is particularly paper-like, it’s nice to see Realme doing something alternative again and I like the tiny herringbone pattern. It feels nice, provides grip and keeps fingerprints at bay, even if the back does feel quite plastic at the same time.
This finish is available in Paper White or Paper Green but if you want to keep it traditional, there’s also a Steel Black option which has a plain glass finish.
A silver plastic frame is far better at hiding what’s it’s made of. It really looks and feels like metal when oddly, my colleague Toddy found the opposite with the GT 2 Pro. A more obvious difference between the two is that the Pro has a much better screen-to-body ratio and therefore looks more premium.
Regardless, the GT 2 is solid and overall, it feels nice in the hand, but there are smaller and lighter phones around if you’re looking for something more compact. The Xiaomi 12 is a recent example – if you can stretch to a bit more money – as well as the OnePlus Nord 2 which is essentially identical in size to the original GT.
It’s a shame not to see a headphone jack considering there’s space for one and Realme sadly hadn’t added any kind of IP dust- and waterproof rating.
Screen & Speakers
- 6.62in AMOLED
- Full HD+
The main reason the GT 2 is bigger than its predecessor is the larger 6.62in (vs 6.43in) display, meaning it will appeal more to those looking for a big-screen phone. It might not sound like much of a difference, but the original GT feels more petite.
Otherwise, specs are largely still the same with an AMOLED panel, Full HD+ resolution, HDR10+ support and a refresh rate of 120Hz.
If you are considering the GT 2 Pro, as mentioned above, it has LPTO 2.0 technology meaning the refresh rate can dynamically change all the way from 120- down to 1Hz depending on what you’re doing to save power.
It also has a higher resolution and a slightly higher quoted peak brightness but not enough on the latter to matter. I measured peak brightness with automatic adjustment switched off at a decent 507 nits using a Spyder X.
For most people though, the GT 2’s display will be plenty good enough. It’s vibrant, responsive and I really don’t have any complaints about it. If you don’t like the default profile, you can always go and change it in the settings menu where you’ll also find things like an eye comfort mode, image sharpener and more.
Back to the refresh rate and you can select 120Hz under ‘high’ or the phone can auto-select between 60- and 120Hz based on what app you’re using.
The fingerprint scanner is once again embedded in the display and worked very well for me, rarely requiring more than one attempt to log in. You can also use it to measure your heart rate if you wish.
In terms of audio, there are stereo speakers and while there’s plenty of volume on offer, the sound quality isn’t anything special. It’s not bad but the frequency response is narrow leading to a somewhat restricted sound quality.
Specs & Performance
- Still Snapdragon 888
- Up to 12GB RAM
- Up to 256GB storage
It’s a case of all quiet on the Western Front when it comes to the core specs because that bullet point list above is no different to the original GT.
That’s not to say the GT 2 doesn’t offer good specs, that’s a solid offering but anyone using last year’s GT may be disappointed at the lack of upgrades here. With LPDDR5 and UFS3.1 standards memory and storage standards already in place Realme didn’t really have anywhere to go.
The newer Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC has been kept for the GT 2 Pro, instead, but the 888 still has a lot to give including built-in 5G and plenty of raw performance. It just depends how fussed you are about having the most recent chipset.
There’s either 8- or 12GB of RAM paired with 128- or 256GB with three combinations of those capacities. Note that the entry-level model is only available in Steel Black in the UK, though.
I’ve tested the top-spec model and had no qualms with performance. In fact, the GT 2 scored better than the Pro model in raw CPU tests like Geekbench 5.
It also capped at 60fps despite being set to 120Hz and you’ll find this with games, too, so those looking for maximum fps should look elsewhere – the Nubia Red Magic 7 is a similar price – but 60fps is still perfectly smooth for most games.
There’s a GT mode you can switch on in quick settings for extra performance, but it doesn’t seem to improve any benchmark results. In fact, I saw the Geekbench 5 score go down.
The bottom line is that this phone is highly capable and should deliver smooth operation for years. You also get decent wireless specs including NFC, Bluetooth 5.2 and Wi-Fi 6.
- 50Mp main sensor
- 8Mp ultrawide
- 2Mp macro
- 16Mp selfie
Much like other hardware on the phone, the GT 2 hasn’t changed a whole lot compared to its predecessor in the photography department. Three of the cameras are near identical while the main sensor has actually dropped from 64- to 50Mp but this Sony IMX766 sensor has benefits like larger pixels and even more importantly optical image stabilisation (OIS).
This Sony sensor is a popular choice for many phone makers and it’s easy to see why. It offers decent levels of detail, good low light performance and the OIS makes it a good choice for smooth video recording, too (though 8K recording is saved for the GT 2 Pro if that bothers you).
While point and shoot results will impress most users, if you like to analyse your photography or get it blown up for prints then there’s a little too much noise in some areas like clouds. I’ve also found the GT 2 tends to oversaturate colours, particularly red and green. This partly comes down to personal preference as although the shots look good, I prefer a more natural look.
As per its predecessor, the ultrawide and macro cameras are limited in what they can offer.
Starting with the ultrawide, there’s the usual drop in quality considering it’s only 8Mp and the colours aren’t particularly consistent with the main camera either, largely because they are more natural where the main camera tends to oversaturate.
Still, it’s handy to have at times and is far more useful than the 2Mp macro camera that seems to crop up on so many phones these days. It’s the same old story here where it’s difficult to take good shots as you need to be a precise distance from the subject for it to be in focus.
The photo of the cork in the gallery took me far too many attempts and I almost gave up. Even when you do get it right, there’s limited detail due to the low resolution of the sensor. The only real positive here is that Realme no longer hides the ‘Ultra Macro’ mode in a weird part of the camera app, but as usual you might as well use the main camera and cropping in.
The 16Mp remains the same and that is to say, it offers decent quality overall and includes a portrait mode. It’s about average for a mid-range phone in 2022.
Battery Life & Charging
- 65W charging
- Adapter included
This section is a real highlight for the GT 2 as for starters the large 5000mAh battery means the phone can last a really long time. Being at a computer most of the day at home means I’m typically a lighter user, meaning I could get three days of usage, but even at the weekend when I’m not tied to a desk it still comfortably lasted two days.
In the PCMark Work 3.0 battery test we subject all phones to, it lasted an impressive 11 hours and 46 minutes, outpacing most others.
This is all with the screen set to 120Hz as well so even heavy users who drain the battery faster with long periods of gaming should find it lasting longer than many rivals. And even when it does get low or die, the GT 2 can be charged very quickly indeed.
The included 65W SuperDart charger can get the phone to a superb 44% after just 15 minutes and 90% after 30 minutes. As you might expect due to the biopolymer back, there’s no wireless charging here.
Software & Apps
- Android 12
- Realme UI 3.0
- Three years of OS updates
On the software front, the Realme GT 2 comes with Android 12 and the latest Realme UI 3.0 so it’s very much up to date.
The latest version is nice and clean on the whole with a look and feel similar to the Pixel 6. It also makes some nice refinements such as tweaked icon design and there’s a Smart Sidebar you can use to access your favourite apps or features no matter what you’re doing.
That’s not exactly something that hasn’t been done before though and the phone comes with things we’d rather not see such as a raft of pre-installed apps and I’ve personally found the settings menu a little tricky to navigate.
The default wallpaper mimics the paper-like rear of the phone which is a nice touch but Realme UI 3.0 can do Android 12 things like automatically match the colour of UI elements based on the wallpaper you choose.
I experienced a few small bugs during my time with the phone. These were mainly overlay issues where, for example, a WhatApp notification gets stuck on the screen while I’m in a different chat thread.
It was regular enough to be a serious issue and hopefully, Realme sorts this out soon with an update. Speaking of which, you get a solid three years of OS updates with the GT 2 which should take you to Android 15.
Price & Availability
You can buy the Realme GT 2 from the official store now and the phone costs £499 or £549 depending on which model you choose.
There are two SKUs of the phone available so that starting price will get you 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, but paying the extra £50 will boost you to an impressive 12/256GB.
As mentioned earlier though, the cheaper model is not available in the Paper White or Paper Green models in the UK so if you want the interesting biopolymer back, you’re forced into the more expensive option.
You can buy the phone from the official Realme store as well as retailers such as Amazon
The price means it’s not as cheap as the original GT but is still cheaper than many big name rival flagships such as the Google Pixel 6, Xiaomi 12 and Samsung Galaxy S22. The gap being smaller means it’s not a no brainer, though.
You can also go a lot cheaper and still get a great phone with examples such as the OnePlus Nord 2, Poco X4 Pro 5G and Motorola Moto G200.
Check out our charts of the best mid-range phones and best smartphones to see what other options you have.
The Realme GT 2 is another solid phone from the firm, but I feel like it’s more of a flagship filler than flagship killer – sitting between last year’s GT and the new GT 2 Pro.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t buy it, just that it’s less of a no brainer this time around. Not a whole lot has changed since the original GT with much of the same spec sheet and I personally prefer the striking vegan leather design rather than this new biopolymer one.
With a higher price and the entry-level model limited to the Steel Black (non-biopolymer) colourway, it’s just got more of a job on its hands competing with various phones at a similar price or often much lower.
A lack of waterproofing, wireless charging and those basic ultrawide and macro cameras are all disappointing. However, if the unusual biopolymer design does take your fancy, then you’re getting a well-spec’d phone with above-average battery life and speedy 65W charging.
Realme GT 2: Specs
- Android 12 w/ Realme UI 3.0
- 6.62in Full HD+, 120Hz AMOLED display
- Corning Gorilla Glass 5
- Snapdragon 888 5G
- Adreno 660 GPU
- 8/12GB LPDDR5 RAM
- 128/256GB UFS 3.1 storage
- 50Mp main f/1.8 Sony IMX766 sensor w/ OIS
- 8Mp ultrawide f/2.2 w/ 119° FoV
- 2Mp macro f/2.4
- 16Mp front-facing f/2.5 Sony IMX417 sensor w/ 78° FoV
- Super Linear Dual Speakers
- Bluetooth 5.2
- WiFi 6
- 5000mAh battery
- 67W fast charging
- 162.9mm x 75.8mm x 8.6mm
- 200g (Steel Black), 195g (Paper White/Green)