At Mobile World Congress, Realme announced the European debut of the GT 2 and GT 2 Pro, the latter of which features an unusual microscope camera mode and is comprised of allegedly eco-friendly materials. Unfortunately, Americans will almost certainly never be able to purchase this phone, let alone utilize it as a daily driver. That’s a shame, because, like its Iqoo (the BMW-branded 9 Pro) and Oppo (the Find X5 Pro) cousins, I tested the GT Pro 2 for a few days, and it offers some appealing concepts that could otherwise breathe fresh life into the stale US smartphone industry.
A Totally Unusual Look
For the record, Realme, Iqoo, and Oppo are all owned by BBK, the Chinese corporation that also owns OnePlus. The phones from such brands have certain similarities in terms of features and resources, but they differ in terms of design and software.
The Realme GT2 Pro stands out from the rest of the BBK lineup right away thanks to an appealing back created by Naoto Fukasawa, a Japanese industrial designer best known for his work with MUJI.
The back is made of a textured white biopolymer substance that feels like cardboard and features Fukasawa’s signature in Roman letters. The design is a departure from other top smartphones’ smooth metal, glass, and ceramic surfaces. The material “reduced the [back shell’s] carbon footprint by 35.5 percent,” according to Realme. The box is recyclable, and the ink is made from soy.
On the front, there’s a 6.7-inch 120Hz WQHD+ display that’s bright and sharp. The phone is large, measuring 6.4 by 2.9 by 0.3 inches (HWD), but it is light, weighing only 6.7 ounces.
The phone’s polymer back, low weight, and bland silver surround make it feel more like a midrange smartphone than a premium one, which is an issue given its $839 price tag. I know, I know: the hardware inside (which I’ll go over in more detail in the following section) is clearly flagship-worthy, but we need to start redefining premium to include lighter phones made of more ecologically friendly materials. But I can’t get over my initial perceptions of its construction.
Extremely Quick Results
The GT2 Pro, like the Galaxy S22 phones, is powered by a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset. It also charges faster than any of the Samsung phones I’ve recently tried, just like the other Chinese phones I’ve used.
The GT2 Pro’s Geekbench scores are comparable to those of other Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 flagship phones. A “GT mode,” akin to Iqoo’s “Monster mode,” promised improved performance, but it didn’t show up in the tests I ran.
Aside from being environmentally friendly, the polymer back appears to be a good heat conductor. The CPU Throttling Test app revealed that the phone throttled to 78 percent and averaged 248KGIPS over 15 minutes, which is the same as the Galaxy S22 Ultra and better than some other phones with the same chip. The phone’s battery, on the other hand, hit 112 degrees Fahrenheit, which is higher than the Find X5 Pro or the Iqoo 9 Pro. The entire phone felt warm after the test.
According to Realme, the bulky 65W charger, dubbed SuperDART, charges the phone from zero to 100 percent in 33 minutes. In my test, charging from empty to full took approximately 40 minutes; the phone went from 1% to 20% in the first five minutes.
Images that are really close-up
In the last several weeks, every Chinese phone I’ve examined has had some bizarre photography feature. Realme’s contribution is to forego a telephoto lens in favor of one with a microscope mode that takes 20x or 40x close-up photos. I don’t know anyone who would find this beneficial, but it’s really cool, and “[I] get it, I guess,” as my teenager put it.
More importantly, the microscope mode exemplifies why I like these non-US phones: they have original concepts and are willing to take risks. They can accomplish things that no other phone in the US can, and the world is a better place as a result. I wish these options were available to Americans.
There are also some amusing features, such as a 150-degree wide-angle lens with a fish-eye effect. That capability is also present on Iqoo and OnePlus phones, indicating that it is now a common BBK aspect. There’s also a tilt-shift mode and a Street mode. I’m not sure what that last one does, but it doesn’t matter because these modes are at least interesting.
Not suitable for use in the United States, but another example of what we’re missing out on
I intended to use the GT 2 Pro as my primary phone, same to how I used the Oppo Find X5 Pro and the Iqoo 9 Pro, however it refused to accept any of my T-Mobile or Verizon SIM cards. With a functioning SIM card inserted, the phone simply joined and left the network. Infuriatingly, that’s the issue with all of these enticing foreign phones: if they can’t keep a cellular connection, they’re useless as a smartphone.
I hope Oppo, Iqoo, and Realme would make their products available in the United States, but there’s a chicken-and-egg issue here. They don’t perceive the cost and effort of being licensed and fighting their way into the shelves as a worthwhile investment. As a result, Apple and Samsung continue to hold a monopoly on our market. The only takeaway is that there is a better mobile world out there; we simply aren’t a part of it.
Realme GT 2 Pro
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