The realme 7 5G is a new breed of sub-$500 5G smartphones that sets new price/performance benchmarks. And it looks terrific too.
Let’s start with the statement, “The realme 7 5G – gosh, why would you buy anything else?”. Why? Because it has everything, you could want – Wi-Fi AC, BT 5.1, NFC, GPS, Dolby Atmos, 48MP quad-camera, 16MP selfie, 8/128/micro-SD, 5000mAh battery with 30W super fast charge, and a delightful 2400×1080/120Hz screen.
What is more, it not only passed every test – it exceeded them all. Its only real competition is its 4G self – the realme 7 Pro 4G review here at $469 (run-out at JB) scored 9.8/10.
OK, there are some other sub-$500 5G phones. Motorola’s g 5G at $499 (review here 8.4/10) is strong, pure Android competition but not quite as good in the photo department. OPPO’s Reno4 Z starts at $599 (review here 8.8/10) uses the same processor. I suspect OPPO and vivo (realme sibling) will soon have matching spec models.
Details: realme 7 5G Model 8/128Gb RMX2111 Dual-sim
The Mist Blue back and frame with a slight highlight sheen is just slightly different, although I like the Flash Silver (also on the 7 Pro). I know it is a plastic back and frame. But it is PMMA (Polymethyl methacrylate), also known as acrylic or plexiglass. It is environmentally friendly, shatter-resistant, not quite as hard as glass, and easier to vacuum-deposit paint and polish.
I like the right side combo fingerprint and power button. On the left is volume up/down.
The camera bump (top left rear) houses four lenses and a single LED flash. Despite its protrusion, the phone dies not rock when placed on its back.
The front screen has a left top micro-O-hole for the selfie and 2.5D (slightly curved edges) Gorilla Glass 3 protected screen. Underneath is the 3.5mm combo jack, down-firing speaker, and main mic (there is one on top too).
Lastly, the dual sim is a hybrid – two sims or one and a micro-SD.
It is 6.5”, 2400×1080, 120Hz adaptive, 20:9, Gorilla Glass 3 covered IPS screen. Maximum claimed brightness is 480nits, contrast 1500:1 and 81.5% NTSC (over 100% sRGB). In tests, it reaches 400/430 typ/max and about 800/1100:1 – still more than bright enough except for direct sunlight use. It is very close to 100% sRGB.
In adaptive mode (60-120Hhz), you notice some screens are smoother, but the real benefit is that it takes the touch sample rate to 180Hz. Test software DRMInfo finds Widevine L1 and the HDCP 2.3, so it should play SDR (and downmix HDR10) streaming content. When gaming, it has a fast enough response rate but this depends on the SoC. We ran a few synthetic tests but none would rise above 60Hz refresh. This may mean the 180Hz touch rate is lower. Overall, for the price, it is an exceptional screen.
SoC – MediaTek Dimensity 800U MT6853 7nm
We have seen this before with the OPPO Reno4 Z (a slightly slower variant), so we know what to expect. This is an eight-core with 2×2.4Ghz cores and 6×2.0Ghz cores. Its scores 595/1799 on GeekBench 5 single/multi-core test. That puts it on a par with the Qualcomm SD845 SoC – pretty good.
It has an integrated sub-6Ghz NSA modem – both can be 5G services.
The GPU is a Mali-G57 MC3 with an OpenCL score of 2089. OK for medium-to-high frame rates for most modern games. It will decode HDR10 to the SDR screen.
It has 8GB LPDDR4X and 128GB UFS 2.1 (100GB free) and micro-SD to 256GB. CPDT sequential read/write is 576.26/277.42MBps – excellent. However, as it only supports USB-C 2.0 (480Mbps) speeds, our excellent Orico 1TB IV300 external SSD reaches 41.80/38.21MBps – still fast enough to record 4K to. CPU Throttling was excellent. It started at 187,599GIPS and averaged 174,467, losing less than 10% over the 15-minute test.
Comms – It has it all
Wi-Fi AC is 2.4GHz and 5GHz. 1×1 SISO meaning a maximum of 433Mbps/-39dBm (good) at 2 metres from our Netgear AX reference router. It holds the 5Ghz signal quite well out to about 10 metres. BT 5.1 supports multi-point, will share with two devices, SBC and AAC codecs. It supports handsfree and mono/stereo audio. NFC supports Google Pay (Paywave contactless). GPS is a single band with approx. 10 metres accuracy suitable for turn-by-turn navigation.
Sensors include combo Accelerometer and Gyroscope (this usually results in very sensitive auto-rotate, but this was fine), eCompass, Proximity, and Ambient light. The Goodix fingerprint sensor was 100% accurate and fast.
4G and 5G
It has a hybrid dual sim or Micro-SD and single sim. Both can be 5G (5G+5G DSDS) active at the same time. It supports VoLTE and Wi-Fi calling (depends on carrier) and has a single ringtone. 4G bands are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7,8, 12, 17, 18, 19, 20, 26, 28, 38, 39, 40, 41, 66 – it is a world phone. Speed test in a 4G, 3-bar area is -104dBm/39.8fW (slightly below average), but it does find a second tower at 107dBm/20fW. It averages 15/10Mbps/47ms DL/UL/Ping – quite good.
5G supports n1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20, 28, 38, 40, 41, 77, 78 NSA sub-6Ghz. We can’t test 5G speed but expect a between 200-4000/30Mbps DL/UL with a good signal. Some reports say that 5G sucks the battery to about three hours of screen-time. It is a good city and suburban phone but not for regional use.
Battery – huge 5000mAh
It has two 2500mAh batteries, and the Dart Charger delivers two concurrent streams of 5V/3A for fast charge. It is an excellent system used by OPPO and vivo and does not stress the batteries. But if you lose the special yellow-tipped USB-A to USB-C cable, it will only charge at 5V/2A. It is USB-C PD compatible in that it will only draw a maximum of 10W.
30-minute – 60%
60-minute – 95%
65-minute – 100%
Using 5V/3A standard USB charger and cable – 3 hours
MP3 music test: 50% volume from storage – 24+ hours
100% load Battery drain – 9 hours
Manhattan 3.1 Battery Test 120Hz – 321 minutes (5.35hrs) and 1909 frames
T-Rex Battery Test 60Hz – 377.1 min (6.29 hours) and 3257 frames
Drain screen-on: approx. 400mA 12.50 hours
Drain screen- off: approx. 250mA (claim 25 days but closer to 20 days)
These figures tally with the OPPO Reno4 Z that uses the slightly slower processor and an AMOLED Screen.
Sound – it is mono
It uses an AW87339 Awinic 3rd generation stereo K-class simplifier. Depending on the speaker, it can have as low as .02% THD and up to 3.5W per channel. It is not that this is any better than other amps – we have not seen it before. It also provides noise suppression using dual mics. A Dolby Atmos (DA) decode chip provides some speaker EQ and external DA output.
It has an earpiece speaker under an almost invisible slot and a down-firing speaker mono music speaker. Media (music/movies) is 70dB, and Ringtone is 75 – these are reasonably loud and handsfree volume, and mic sensitivity is good. It has no sound stage. It has some bass and builds to as mid-signature for clear voice. The DA EQ has no real effect on the speaker.
It output SBC and LDAC to our Sony reference WH-1000Xm4 headphones. It was clear, and the DA setting can widen the sound stage and inject some vague 3D sound height. You can set it to high-res music (not for the speaker).
Build – very well done
It is 162.2 x 75.1 x 9.1mm x 195g – heavier due to the 5000mAh battery. We have elsewhere described the acrylic materials and finish – I like it.
It has no IP rating – not expected at the price. The warranty is 2-years, and OPPO looks after that for realme. In the box is a clear bumper cover (use it) and the 30W charger and cable (don’t lose it).
Android 10 and realme UI 1.0
Android 10 and a 5 January security patch. It offers three years of security patches but no promise on OS upgrades. Realme UI 1.0 is a light touch over Android that retains the familiar app draw and home key controls. All Google apps are there, and there is very little bloatware – mainly alternative to Google Apps, and some of these are excellent and keep data from the tech giant. Facebook is easy to uninstall. Android 11 is coming soon (UI 2.0 beta in India). There are many Android and realme additions you can see here. Some are model dependent, e.g., OLED or IPS screens etc. This is very unexpected for a $499 phone.
Missing – no deal breakers
Buds – no
IP rating – No
This is the most fully-featured at the price, and we should focus on the positives – 120Hz screen and 5000mAH 30w charge battery!
The Realme 7 5G camera – pretty good
At $499, you want a good all-rounder, almost idiot-proof camera, and that is what you get. Perfect in daylight or office light and struggles a little in low light unless you use night mode.
While it is a quad-camera, the main sensor is 48MP binned to 12MP and augmented with AI for computational photography. The 8MP wide-angle is just for that, as are the 2MP macro and depth (bokeh) sensors.
48MP (binned to 12MP and 1.6um pixels), f/.18, 79.8° FOV, AF, 10x digital zoom, 6P, HDR, Samsung S5KGM sensor
The 48MP will also shoot at 4:3 mode. It features EIS (not OIS) stabilisation, super night mode (you need to use a tripod – not hand-held). It will shoot at up to [email protected] The selfie is 16MP, f/2.1, 1.0um, 79.3°, FF, 5P, HDR Samsung S5K3P9SP.
I am at the end of over 70 tests, exceeding all. I can’t find anything to be concerned about. The realme 7 5G is the new class-leader for <$500 5G phones. There are a few minor issues. Battery life suffers under 5G use but is very good as a 4G phone. If you like stereo speakers, a better camera and only need 4G, the realme 7 Pro is a better bet.
I gave the realme 7 Pro 9.8/10. This will end up very close. Its main feature is 5G for under $500. Frankly, you don’t need to worry about that yet – at least until 2023, when the rollout is more real than imagined.
realme 7 5G – a sub-$500 5G smartphone with the lot
The realme 7 5G does more than tick all boxes - it exceeds them.
Value for money
Ease of use
MediaTek and 120Hz screen adaptive give super smooth performance
Excellent camera for the price
Incredible 5G value (dual 5G sims)
Everything you could need or want
None – it gets the unreserved recommendation for a $499 5G device