Realme GT2 Pro review: Designing a greener future
- Excellent performance and battery life
- Bright and vibrant 2K display
- Impressive camera output
- Relatively dated design
- The paper edition should be standard
- No telephoto lens
If you look at the market intelligence numbers, millions of smartphones are shipped not just every year, but every quarter. Given their small size and, in some cases, very affordable prices, these mobile devices have littered the planet, both figuratively and literally. Although smartphones use a lot of metal and glass, many of their parts and the processes used to create these technological marvels contribute to the deteriorating state of our planet. It’s far too late to roll back smartphones, tablets and computers, so it’s up to manufacturers to take steps to reduce the negative impact of their products on the environment. Many phone makers have started taking notice and taking action, but Realme is making its biggest and boldest statement this year with the Realme GT2 Pro, embodying its vision of a greener future.
Creator: Realme x Naoto Fukusawa
It’s as if there were two editions of the Realme GT2 Pro. There are the “regulars” which come in Steel Black and Titanium Blue colors, while the most notable pair are the Paper White and Paper Green variants. Our review unit is the most common Steel Black, which unfortunately lacks the durable material used in the Paper editions. Nevertheless, this review will consider both editions as a whole, especially since they share almost everything in common except for this special case of biopolymer.
Unless you grab the Paper White and Paper Green colors, the Realme GT2 Pro would look pretty unremarkable. In fact, you won’t even realize what makes these paperback editions special unless you look closer and feel closer. Realme has opted to stick with a familiar design language, with a rectangular camera block that sits in the corner of the phone’s back. This back is made of frosted AG (anti-glare) glass or biopolymer, depending on the edition, with an aluminum frame that is flat on the top and bottom edges but curved on the left and right.
Although relatively simple compared to the Google Pixel 6, Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra or even the OPPO Find X5 Pro, the design language of the Realme GT2 Pro has the advantage of familiarity and a bit of minimalism. Where its peers and rivals have camera bumps that unnecessarily span the full width of the phone, Realme has remained more conservative in its camera designs, keeping the overall design and changing only the size of the enclosure. to accommodate the number of cameras the phone has. There’s an element of beauty in its simplicity, especially considering that some phone designs these days are so radical as to be unattractive.
The Paper White and Paper Green colors have a unique personality that goes beyond their make-up, which we’ll get to later. Closer inspection will reveal micro-patterns on the surface of the cover, almost like enlarged paper grains. Unsurprisingly, the back cover also looks different, although calling it paper isn’t exactly accurate. The roughness of this surface gives the phone an easier grip compared to even matte glass, which is the perfect sequel to the other design feature of the phone.
The Realme GT2 Pro, especially those with glass backs, are smooth and light to hold. Unfortunately, this might actually be too smooth, which could lead to some very disastrous phone-to-ground encounters. The frosted look and feel of Titanium Black’s AG glass does nothing to improve its grip. In fact, it might even have made the phone even more slippery compared to glass which sometimes has a bit of stickiness on its surface. Realme provides a gel case for the phone, but it is not transparent like what most manufacturers offer.
The phone nestles comfortably in the palm of your hand, thanks to the curved sides and curved edge of the GT2 Pro. It bucks the current trend of going back to flat edges on all sides, giving it the look and feel of a blast from the past. Unlike the back cover, the screen is completely flat, another design element that has come back into vogue lately. This “old school” design has the advantage of avoiding unnecessary screen keys that often plague screens with curved edges. Overall, the Realme GT2 Pro is comfortable to hold and use, but it’s advisable to use it with a case, especially if you’ve opted for the Black or Blue models.
The Realme GT2 Pro carries the top-of-the-line hardware available for smartphones in early 2022. That means the somewhat current Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and 8 or 12 GB of RAM right off the bat. You can expand the RAM to 3GB, 5GB, and even 7GB by taking that much space out of the phone’s fast UFS 3.1 storage. You won’t miss out on performance, although the phone does tend to get a bit toasty under heavy use, a trait that seems to be common with phones using this particular processor.
The phone’s display is also top-notch, boasting 2K resolution where some of its competitors have stuck to Full HD. It’s bright and clear, even in the sun, and colors really pop with a wide color gamut that supports up to 1 billion colors. This comes in handy when you start taking photos and recording videos. The 6.7-inch LTPO2 screen has a hidden power that you won’t see but hopefully notice anyway. While it can go up to 120Hz on some apps, the screen can stay at a steady 1Hz when viewing more static content, saving a sizable amount of battery per day.
Mobile photography is where it’s at these days, and the GT2 Pro is definitely among the most discreet and unnoticed performers on the market. The phone has two main cameras, both equipped with 50MP sensors. That means you won’t have to sacrifice quality when going from wide-angle to ultra-wide-angle, although you will have to give up phase-detection autofocus and optical image stabilization when you do. The only downside to Realme’s camera team is the lack of a dedicated telephoto zoom camera, so you’ll have to settle for shooting at full 50MP resolution and then just crop the section you’re looking at. you want to zoom.
In practice, however, that doesn’t matter much because the Realme GT2 Pro takes excellent photos no matter what time of day. Colors are accurate and detail is well preserved, especially when lighting is plentiful. The phone has a night mode available, but it looks like you can’t actually turn it off as the AI automatically detects the scene and spends the night there. On overcast days, the camera has a small noise issue, especially on single-color surfaces.
There’s no denying that smartphones are mostly sets of non-renewable technologies, so every little thing that offsets their negative impact on the environment goes a long way. Some smartphone makers have ditched shipping chargers inside their boxes, while others have started using scrap plastics. Realme has some too, but it goes beyond packaging and manufacturing.
Realme is improving its packaging techniques, like reducing plastic use and using soybean oil ink, but it’s also making commitments that go beyond just selling the phone. For example, it has a program in partnership with treedom that plants a tree for every Realme GT phone sold. Given how fast the brand is growing globally, this could translate to hundreds of trees welcoming our descendants in a few years.
Of course, the highlight of the GT2 Pro is its “Paper Tech Master Design”, made in collaboration with longtime partner and renowned industrial designer Naoto Fukusawa. More than just the look and feel of these special editions, the back cover is also made from biopolymer, which helps reduce the phone’s carbon emissions during production. This is clear proof that it is entirely possible to use alternative materials that make a phone more durable while giving it a stylish appearance.
Unfortunately, Realme is still a few steps away from establishing itself as the example of sustainability in the smartphone market. It has yet to adopt a repair strategy similar to Apple, Google and Samsung, opening the doors to self-repair and easier purchase of genuine spare parts. It should also give a stronger statement on how to ensure that used or broken phones are disposed of properly or, better yet, returned for recycling. The Paper Tech Master Design is definitely a step in the right direction, but it’s still a “limited edition” design that’s outnumbered by dozens of “regular” phones. Hopefully Realme won’t let these efforts become a one-time publicity stunt and slowly but surely make it the norm for future phones.
Although it doesn’t look or sound like it, the Realme GT2 Pro is a high-end premium smartphone in heart and in deeds. If you get the Paper Tech editions, you even get the chance to flaunt it as a sleek designer phone. It has hardware comparable to Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S22 and surprisingly good cameras, even without all the marketing buzz. Given these factors, it might almost come as a surprise to learn that the phone costs less than $1,000, at least in the markets where it’s available.
The value of the phone, however, extends beyond its actual features and design. To some extent, this is an embodiment of Realme’s vision and commitment to sustainability, especially with Paper editions. When a single purchase of a Realme GT2 Pro plants a tree and reaffirms the use of sustainable materials and practices, $1,000 might not be enough to really show the real value of the phone.
Truth be told, it’s hard to get excited about a phone whose design has been used time and time again, especially because the smartphone market has conditioned our minds to equate different with exciting. If it’s not for the Paper Tech Master Design, even the phone’s white and green colors might not be enough to draw attention to it. Unfortunately, that would be a huge mistake, given that the Realme GT2 Pro, despite its understated appearance, is actually a powerful and impressive computer in your pocket.
The phone, however, is more than its specs and design. It represents a different way of thinking and a different way of making phones. This year, Realme has caused a stir in its sustainability efforts, putting its vision for a greener future front and center. Hopefully that doesn’t stop with the GT2 Pro, and the company will continue to make noise in every new generation of phones that floods the market.