Another month, another Realme device launch, at least that’s what it feels like. Thankfully, the Realme 7 5G is a little different. It’s the third 5G phone in Realme’s line-up, after the very popular X50 Pro 5G, and the less well-received but still impressive X50 5G, but what does the Realme 7 5G bring, outside of a £20 lower price tag? Well, a new chip for starters.
- Dimenisty 800U is a champ
- Better screen than X50 5G
- 5000mAh battery is a tank
- 30w Charging is still stellar
- Cameras still just okay
- Price higher than expected
- You have to really want 5G
- 6.5” IPS-like screen
- 120Hz refresh rate
- 480 Nits peak brightness
- MediaTek Dimensity 800U SoC
- 4x Cortex A76 @2.4Ghz
- 4x Cortex A55 @2.0Ghz
- Mali G57-MC3
- TSMC 7nm
- 6GB RAM, 128GB UFS 2.1 storage
- Rear Cameras
- 48MP Samsung ISOCELL GM1
- 1/ 2.0” sensor
- 26mm effective focal distance
- 8MP Ultrawide
- 119 degree field of view
- 1/ 4.0” sensor
- 2MP Macro camera
- 2MP Depth Camera
- 48MP Samsung ISOCELL GM1
- Front Camera
- 1/ 3.06” sensor
- 26mm effective Focal distance
- 5000mAh Battery
- 30w VOOC Flash charge
For a more in-depth look at the specs on offer here, hit up GSMArena’s Realme 7 5G page.
Hardware – Realme 7 5G
Much like the rest of Realme’s 2020 line-up, the Realme 7 5G is really well built, it’s a bit of a tank actually, tipping the scales at a smidge under 200g and less than 1 millimetre under 1cm thick, but despite that, it hides it’s size well. With the sloped back and the slightly stepped front glass, there are different faces for your eye to fall on so even if you do see the side profile your immediate reaction likely isn’t “what a chonk”
Taking a small hardware tour, we’re joined by the typical face of a 2020 smartphone, relatively slim side and forehead bezels, with a more sizeable chin, a roughly 6.5” screen with a hole-punch camera cut-out in the top left. To be fair, this isn’t a problem, this is what happens with mass manufacturing. Realme isn’t making the screens here this is likely BOE, AUO or JDI. If they got a really good price maybe even an LG panel, but unlikely. So you buy what you can afford from the display manufacturer, who already has a line of hole-punch LCD displays, the hole-punch is in the top left, do you go and ask for a custom screen? With smaller chin, a smaller blackout around the hole-punch or move it to the right side? You can, but then you’ve just tanked your budget for something else, and at least whoever makes this display it is a serious upgrade to the wholly underwhelming panel of the X50 5G. Better colours, better viewing angles, better touch response and much less (but still apparent) ghosting.
As is common now in the top bezel between the glass and frame is where the earpiece is hidden, and this is quite a nice trend I must admit as we use phones for calling less and less, the emphasis put on it being obvious is withering away with some manufacturers removing it entirely for vibrating OLED panels instead, this doesn’t have that obviously, but those are cooler still. On the Right-hand side of the phone is the combo power button/ Fingerprint scanner and it’s fine, but I have made it obvious is many of my reviews how I feel about side-mounted fingerprint scanners. Being left-handed means I have to use my index or middle finger for scanning which has less surface area and recognisable ridging than the thumb so it is more likely to fail. The implementation is better here than before but there is no denying this design is less friendly for left-handed users, whereas a rear-mounted or front-mounted scanner is equally as usable no matter which is your dominant hand. It is such a poor, unreliable experience that I enabled the much less secure face unlock using the front camera because I’ll get into my phone with less fuss, then I only need to worry about the fingerprint scanner when I’m authenticating things.
On the Left-hand side of the phone is the separate volume buttons, these have a little more wobble than I’d like, but what is worse is that the lower button is significantly looser than the upper button. Above the volume button is the NanoSIM and MicroSD tray, this is not one of the newer generation trays with space for 2 NanoSIMs and a MicroSD slot, you have to choose whether you want the second SIM or expandable storage. On top of the phone is the secondary microphone for noise cancellation used on phone calls or video recording. On the bottom of the phone is the main loudspeaker on the far right. There is a USB-C port in the middle, with the main speaker to the left of it, and the far left is where the 3.5mm headphone jack resides, y’all know how I feel about them, if you really want one, this has one, however, there are no headphones in the box.
Lastly is the rear of the phone. Like the Realme 7 and 7 Pro, the 7 5G modifies the camera layout, whilst it’s all in a vertical cluster in the top left it’s no longer a single stream of lenses, the flash and one of the useless lenses has moved next to the others so it is more rectangular, this new camera housing is also paired with a new back panel design. Whereas the older panel had a uniform sub-diffraction/light scatter pattern, this new one is split 90/10 with a matte/glossy split, it sounds very strange but I am a big fan. The colour also changes from a dark nearly Navy blue at the bottom to a more ice blue up top. In fact, this colour gradient continues along the entire frame of the phone, very cool little addition, gives the phone a bit more characters. I actually prefer this colour to my all dark blue Realme 7 Pro.
Software – Realme 7 5G
This is another section that is pretty simple at this point, Android is a very mature operating system, and RealmeUI is already pretty polished despite only breaking off from ColorOS a year or so ago. The Realme 7 5G runs Android 10 with Realme UI v1.0. It’s disappointing that it isn’t Android 11 and RealmeUI V2.0 yet, given how long Android 11 has been out and Realme was one of the companies with early access to Android 11 to build their UI atop.
But Android 10 and realmeUI V1.0 is very smooth on here, the UI for the most part, makes a lot of sense, and unlike certain other companies, this is on a new build of android 10 so that I can continue to use navigation gestures (they’re just better) and use a third party launcher of choice, mine is Action Launcher. Realme’s built-in apps are stable, well designed and are cohesive with the rest of the phone, but in places where it makes more sense to use the Google variant of an app, such as with Browsers, Contacts, Email, SMS Messages etc, Realme will, so I don’t have duplicate apps I have to hide.
Software updates are something that is hard to gauge, my Realme 6 and 6 Pros have ben getting multiple updates in the near year I’ve had them, I’ve lost count of the OTAs I’ve had on those, but my X50 and X3 SuperZoom, those have had significantly fewer updates. I do hope that Realme isn’t spreading itself too thin by releasing too many devices and having a hard time supporting them all, but I fear that is the case because in the sub £300 space alone they have 9 devices currently on sale, ouch.
Cameras – Realme 7 5G
The Camera setup here is very similar to that of the X50 5G, in fact, if you drop the secondary selfie camera from the X50 5G, you get this camera setup, which is a 48MP main camera, an 8MP Ultrawide and 2 absolutely useless 2MP cameras, one for Macro shots and the other for depth information. People might get annoyed that I keep bringing up how useless these cameras are, but if I stop bringing it up, OEMs start to think that they’re a great idea, and they’re not, they’re a waste of physical space, they’re a waste of money and they do not improve the experience, in fact, in many ways, I think they I’ve users a fall sense of what the device is capable of so that when they try to take a macro photo or a portrait shot, they’re disappointed.
The Main camera here, the Samsung ISOCELL Bright GM1 is a 48MP camera designed to take good 12MP shots, what it does is, is it takes 4 individual megapixels and groups them together to make one larger pixel, a larger pixel means more light is taken in and generally looks better. There is an option in the camera app to take 48MP photos if you want, they do have more detail, but I often keep in in the standard mode as that is what most of the image processing is tuned for. So how does it look? The Samsung ISOCELL cameras are known for having a very peculiar interaction with certain colours, namely Greens and Reds. they look a little fluorescent, whilst I personally like the look, it certainly isn’t an accurate image.
What about that Ultrawide? Well, it’s here, and it is less disappointing than on some other phones I have, but an 8MP ultrawide with a tiny 1/ 4.0” sensor is only going to get you so far. I would have much preferred that Realme drop the two useless cameras in order for a better slightly larger ultrawide sensor instead. This is not appearing to be a Samsung sensor, however, likely being Galaxycore instead. The colour tuning of these is different from the Samsung and it is pretty noticeable when side by side, but what is more noticeable is how soft the image is, and this isn’t a resolution thing I don’t believe, 8MP is still quite high, but this is just a smeary mess sometimes. I’m not going to give the Depth and Macros any more than this sentence as they don’t deserve it. They’re bad, and they exist.
Moving to the front camera, this is performing a little worse than on the X50 5G, and I think I know why. The SoC in the Realme 7 5G is different from the X50 5G. whereas the X50 5G sues a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G chip, the Realme 7 5G uses a MediaTek Dimensity 800U chip, and whilst I prefer practically everything about the MediaTek chip, Image processing is weaker than on the Snapdragon chip, Qualcomm has just spent more money on its ISP (image signal processor) and it shows. It also rears its head in the next section, Video.
Video recording on Android is already a bit hit and miss, and I think is one of the last bastions for real change, the iPhone is just absolutely killing it here, and only high-end Android phones from Samsung, Huawei and sometimes Sony have a chance. The Realme 7 5G can shoot 4K30, 1080p60, 1080p30, 720p60 and 720p30 on the rear camera, and I will test the first three, the front camera, on the other hand, tops out at 1080p30. I will test this too.
Performance – Realme 7 5G
This is a pretty nice section for me because it’s the first time in a while I’ve had a new relatively high-end MediaTek chip to play with, and this time it’s from thor 5G only Dimensity Lineup. The 800U is one of the lowest tiers of Dimensity chips, offering 4 Cortex A76 cores at 2.4Ghz and 4 Cortex A55 at 2Ghz, the only real difference between the 800, 800U and 820 is the GPU, with them going from 5 G57 cores down to 3 on the 800U.
Whilst I won’t get into the drama of older MediaTek chips (and some companies with newer ones) cheating on benchmarks, you can find a great write up of it on AnandTech from Andrei Frumusanu. I will speak about the perceived performance of the Dimensity 800U, and I would be lying if I didn’t tell you this device feel more responsive than any 765G phone I have, and to boot, seems to produce less heat, at least when looking at internal temperature monitoring systems.
This is not the best chip in the world, far from it, it’s not even the highest-end chip in the Dimensity family, but the 800U is battling the 765G from Qualcomm and, at least in my opinion, winning. Whether using the phone ad opening apps, flipping around the camera, doing a bit of light gaming or just doom scrolling on twitter the only times I felt like I was waiting for the 800U was when I had just restarted the phone and for the first few minutes of use, after that, it was butter. I’m sure part of this is due to the generous 6GB of LPDDR4X RAM, but even so, I was impressed.
Radios and Connectivity – Realme 7 5G
As with my other 5G devices, I am not able to test 5G. Where I live in the Southeast doesn’t have any masts and I’d need to drive to Brighton for it, and I’m not doing that, so my tests are LTE only, but I was very surprised by the radio performance here.
The Highest speed I received on the Realme 7 5G was 51.2Mbps on the download, with 15Mbps on the upload, this, whilst respectable, is lower than usual, but in line with other Realme devices because, for some strange reason, Realme devices, from the cheapest to the most expensive do not support carrier aggregation on Three UK, this might be a licensing thing, it might just be that Three hasn’t spent any time on it yet as they don’t actually sell any Realme devices, but I can say this is not a chipset problem, even the Realme devices with Qualcomm chipsets do not do Carrier Aggregation on Three, however, if you put an EE SIM card in, it starts working, so this is just a configuration issue that I hope is sorted soon. The radios are stronger than I was expecting them to be, getting WiFi in the part of my house that is usually pretty weak, and holding onto a weaker LTE signal when most phones would drop down to HSPA+.
Battey and Charging – Realme 7 5G
Realme phones rarely have issues with battery life or charging, and with a 5000mAh cell here, there really is nothing to worry about. Whilst I haven’t been able to test 5G, I have been told that the sub6 5G on offer here has a negligible impact on battery life, which is good, but even if it did, on a normal light use day I was able to eke out nearly 3 days of use here, and the 30w charging was able to fill it up in barely over an hour, but I usually top it up on the third night slowly.
I was able to kill the Realme 7 5G in a single day, but it was a struggle and a bug. I had a 7 hour timelapse of my 3D print and then after that, even though the screen would turn off it wouldn’t actually go into screen off mode the backlight would still be active on a black screen, consuming power. This bug happened once, and never again. Battery and Charging are not an issue here.
Conclusion – Realme 7 5G
The conclusion to this review is actually a bit harder than I thought it would be, you see we (reviewers) didn’t find out the price of the phone until launch day, same as you, but some of us had already had the phone for about 2 weeks at that point. The phone retails at £279, and for Black Friday it sold for £229, we were lead to believe that the retail price would be closer to that £229, not a special limited price. For £229, the Realme 7 5G is a near-instant buy. It’s very close in price to the Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite with the snapdragon 750G, which is on sale for £229 and often for £199. But at £279, the Realme 7 5G is the same price as the Realme 7 Pro, and just £20 cheaper than the X50 5G. I would buy this over the X50 any day, but the 7 Pro has the better screen, faster charging, better camera setup, but it is slower.
Realme’s lineup is very crowded right now, at £250 this would have been a good phone, at £230 it would have been a steal, but at £280 you have to want 5G more than you want a better-looking screen.