realme 5 Review — bigger is better
The realme 5 is a battery beast with a 5000 mAh battery and the frugal Snapdragon 665 chipset. There's also the upgraded quad camera configuration now, giving you more flexibility when taking your shots.
4GB + 64GB: RM599 (SRP)
4GB + 128GB: RM799 (SRP)
+ Design is a blast of fresh air in the busy mid-range segment
+ Mild performance upgrade over predecessor
+ Battery life is insanely long
+ Camera serves up good results
- Plastic build collects fingerprints and scratches easily
- 720p in 2019 is getting ridiculous
Many smartphones occupy the mid-range segment. Today we will be looking at the realme 5, the successor to the realme 3. A lot of cool features debuted in the realme 3, but the realme 5 isn’t exactly a slacker either. It too offers nice upgrades over the realme 3, packing a quad-camera setup like the realme 5 Pro, and is probably the first to offer such a camera setup in this price bracket. But hey, before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at what’s in the box, shall we?
The box of the realme 5 is exactly like the realme 5 Pro. Predominantly white with a picture of the device taking up the most space up front. I still prefer the packaging of the realme 3 series, so if realme is reading this review, I hope we see a return to the minimalistic design of yore.
The usual suspects lay in the box. A flexible TPU case, a SIM ejector tool, USB cable and 10W power adapter, and of course, the realme 5 itself. You don’t get VOOC charging here on the realme 5.
Big is beautiful
Taking a closer look at the realme 5 itself, we see that it does share most of its design cues with the more premium realme 5 Pro. You get the fancy polygonal patterns here, although it is slightly more subdued here on the realme 5 than it was on the Pro version.
Over on the front, we get a large 6.5″ display, which is actually quite a bit bigger than the realme 5 Pro’s display, and a clear step up in size from the realme 3’s screen. There’s a sizeable bottom chin, which is pretty common for a device of this caliber.
We still get a headphone jack with the realme 5, which is nice to see. Not so nice to see is the microUSB port, which is definitely getting quite dated. But then again this is a common feature at this price point. You can also see that the realme 5 is rather thick, presumably to accommodate the massive 5000 mAh battery inside.
|Snapdragon 665 (4 x Kryo 260 Gold @ 2.0 GHz + 4 x Kryo 260 Silver @ 1.8 GHz), 11nm LPP
|6.5″ HD+ (1600 x 720), IPS LCD, 480-nit max brightness, 89% screen-to-body ratio
|128GB eMMC 5.1 (expandable via microSD)
| Main Camera(s)
12MP f/1.8 + 8MP f/2.25 ultra-wide angle camera + 2MP f/2.4 macro + 2MP f/2.4 depth sensor
Nightscape, Expert mode, Chroma Boost, Ultra macro, 4K30 video, 720p240/1080p120 slow mo, AI beauty, AI HDR, AI scene recognition
AI Beauty, AI HDR, 1080p30 video
|ColorOS 6 based on Android 9 Pie
| LTE Band 1/3/5/8/38/40/41
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 GHz, 5 GHz)
| Li-Po 5000 mAh (non-removable)
|164.4 x 75.6 x 9.3 mm
|Splash-resistant design, no IP rating
The realme 5 does pretty well in Antutu, beating out its predecessor. The rest of the devices in the same price range, or were in the same price range are quite a bit slower than the realme 5.
Interestingly, switching over to the Snapdragon 665 actually caused the realme 5 to come in below the realme 3. It is faster in the ES 2.0 and ES 3.0 benchmark runs, but it is a bit slower in the Sling Shot Extreme benchmark. It’s a middling result, fitting of a mid-range device.
It does gain the upper hand against its predecessor in CPU performance, as well as most of the competition in its price segment as well.
In PCMark’s productivity-oriented bencmark, the realme 5 did really well, although it still comes in below the realme 2 Pro.
The battery life is excellent on the realme 5, partly due to the efficient Snapdragon 665, but mainly thanks to the massive battery. Also, the display is a 720p one, so that should help a bit also. With the largest battery in its price segment, and it definitely delivers the numbers you would expect. In real use, you would easily get two days of battery life, probably with juice to spare too. Recharging it is a slow affair, with only 16% regained after 30 minutes. The 10W charger definitely struggles to feed the massive 5000 mAh battery.
If you are planning on using the realme 5 for gaming, keep your expectations realistic. It has enough grunt for an acceptable experience, but you won’t be pushing 60 fps in PUBG Mobile even at the lowest settings. PUBG limits you to 30 fps. In COD Mobile however you will be able to get 60 fps on low graphics. On the bright side, you will be enjoying a lot of gaming on one single charge.
The realme 5 touts a near-all plastic build, but that has been the case since the realme 2 Pro was introduced in Malaysia. You will want to make use the included TPU case to avoid scratches on the beautiful patterned back of the realme 5. The fingerprint scanner is also located on the back, in a relatively easy to reach location, but of course, that depends on the size of your hands.
The screen is huge, and coupled with the hefty weight of the device, I somewhat doubt the fairer sex will feel comfortable using the realme 5. It’s somewhat of a bummer that realme still used a 720p panel here. And it isn’t even that great of a 720p panel, with it having a rather low maximum brightness that meant poor visibility under sunlight. I wish realme threw in a FHD+ display here too.
For audio you will only be getting a single speaker down bottom that does suffice for the casual video or ringtone, but there’s a headphone jack for you to plug in earphones for a better experience.
On the software front we see ColorOS 6, and it is shared with the rest of realme’s lineup. It looks good, performs okay, although the realme 5 does exhibit some minor stutter when diving through the UI, but I would attribute it to optimization issues that should get ironed out in later software updates.
Plenty of cameras to go around
Now you know that realme did the leap to quad, and that includes the realme 5. It is probably the first to offer such a camera setup in its price range, and I must say that the camera does seem to be an upgraded over the realme 3.
Once again, if you have seen the UI on recent realme devices, you would find this familiar. The only changes include a button to switch to the ultra-wide angle camera, and a longer list of options that make switching between modes a bit more troublesome.
The realme 5 can deliver some good shots, although it is worth noting that checking out the photos on the subpar screen doesn’t do justice to them. The wide-angle camera and macro camera are exactly the same as the ones on the realme 5 Pro, so deliver similarly middling results. Not too bad, but not great either. But having a wide-angle camera and macro camera is already extras that few other devices in the same price segment can boast of. Paying some attention to the Nightscape shots reveals that you will have to deal with a narrower field of view as the camera crops in to allow for some electronic stabilization. You can check out the full-sized images over on Google Photos.
The realme 5 is an incremental upgrade over the realme 3. Just like the realme 5 Pro, you aren’t seeing big gains in performance, but you do get a better camera and much better battery life. Priced at RM799 for the 128GB variant here, it is still a decent deal. It would probably be best to just go for the realme 5 with 64GB of storage which goes for RM599 if you are talking from a value standpoint, as the realme 5 supports expandable storage anyway.
realme probably built the realme 5 with two goals in mind: deliver the longest battery life in its segment, and deliver a camera that’s better than most of the competition. They have largely succeeded, but still there are some low-hanging fruits that realme should have picked to make the realme 5 a bigger upgrade over the realme 3.
I can’t get behind the 6.5″ display touting a 720p resolution. Also worth noting is that some of the competition offer support for fast charging, something which the realme 5 lacks. I wouldn’t fuss about the microUSB port, but I know some would, and that is once again something which realme could have easily changed coming from the realme 3.
Our thanks to realme Malaysia for sending us the realme 5 for review!