Realme is back at it again, releasing what feels like the 20th phone this year. This time around, it’s the Realme 7 and 7 Pro. This refreshes the popular 6 and 6 Pro from earlier this year, which I reviewed also. Has Realme created an unneeded successor? Is it actually an upgrade?
- Gorgeous Super AMOLED screen
- Insanely good battery life
- 65W charging
- Main Camera is good
- Only 60Hz screen
- Ancillary cameras are only okay
- 720G at its limits
- 6.4” Super AMOLED
- Optical fingerprint reader (Under Display
- Snapdragon 720G
- 2x Kryo 465 Gold (Cortex A76) @ 2.3Ghz
- 6x Kryo 465 Silver (Cortex A55) @1.8Ghz
- Adreno 618 @500Mhz
- Samsung 8nm LPP
- 8GB LPDDR4X RAM
- 128GB UFS2.1 storage
- MicroSD expansion
- 64MP main
- Sony IMX682
- 26mm equivalent lens
- 1/ 1.73” sensor size
- 8MP Ultrawide
- 16mm equivalent lens
- 119 degree field of view
- 1/ 4.0” sensor size
- 2MP Macro
- 2MP Depth
- 64MP main
- Front camera
- 24mm equivalent lens
- 1/ 2.8” sensor size
- 4500mAh battery
- 65w Dart Charge
For a more complete spec sheet, head on over to GSMArena for the 7 Pro
This is quite interesting. The Realme 6 series was a massive upgrade over the 5 series in hardware design and build quality, and I didn’t expect Realme to pull it off again, and for the most part, they have, but I’m not sure if it was needed.
Let’s take a hardware tour of the phone first. Upfront is the gorgeous 6.4” 60Hz Super AMOLED screen. This is an absolutely stunning screen, with the single hole punch in the top left of the screen. Now if you’ve seen or read my Realme 6 Pro review, those will jump out to you. The Screen on the 6 Pro is bigger, faster and has a dual cut-out, what gives? Well, this is a much higher quality screen, with better colours, viewing angles, lamination and more, and swapping from 90Hz to 60Hz was noticeable to me.
What about the cameras? This is a bit of a bummer, whereas the 6 Pro had 2 selfie cameras, a normal 16MP and an 8MP ultrawide, we just get a 32MP standard lens here, whilst the main camera is better here, ultrawide selfies are cool, and I would have preferred a single ultrawide that you could just crop into. Above the screen is the earpiece in a tiny slit between the glass and the frame, and the bezels on the top and sides are pretty uniform, but there is a larger chin on the bottom of the phone than I was expecting and makes an already tall phone taller than it needs to be.
On the right-hand side of the phone, we have the power button with this really nice yellow anodisation in a slit in the middle, it is a subtle thing but whenever I notice it, it makes me smile. There is no wobble or play in the button and it’s not overly hard to press the button, it also comes with a nice sharp click. On the flip side, there are the 2 volume buttons and the SIM tray, the buttons do have a little more play than the power button does, but nothing egregious. The SIM tray is interesting, it is a triple-slot design with 2 NanoSIM cards and a MicroSD slot. Usually, these are 2 NanoSIMs or a NanoSIM and a MicroSD.
On top of the phone, there is nothing but the secondary microphone used in phone calls or video recording. One the bottom there is the USB-C charging and data port, flanked by the main speaker grille and the 3.5mm audio jack, I was berated by readers when I said that the Realme X50 5G didn’t have one and I didn’t care. I still don’t care, but now you know that this phone has a headphone jack, and it is just as meh as every cheap phone with a headphone jack. If you’ve got nice headphones, don’t plug them into this, use a USB-DAC and amp.
On the back of the phone is a pretty drastic redesign from the 6 Pro, instead of the glossy rear with subsurface scattered effects, the 7 Pro now has a matte rear panel with a differentiated seam down the left edge. The Camera modules have also changed, instead of the vertical line of all 4 sensors like last year, we get this rounded rectangle shape. I’m not sure which one I prefer, but I know that it’ll be easier to get my MOFT phone stand on the 7 Pro than the 6 Pro.
The software on the Realme 7 Pro is the same Android 10 and Realme UI that we’ve seen throughout this year, there aren’t any major changes that I can find, if you didn’t like it then, you won’t like it now.
I do quite like RealmeUI though, it’s not like Pixel android or older OxygenOS builds, but it is clean, consistent and smooth, something that can’t always be said about other manufacturer skins. Starting on the home screen, like many manufactures Realme now integrates the Google Feed off to the left of the main screen. You can change almost anything you like about the launcher if you want the iPhone look you can get rid of the app drawer and have all the apps sprawled out onto separate home screens for you to organise. You can change the animation that occurs when you swipe through your pages, you can change the grid size and more, there is a lot of customisation here and that is one of the things I quite enjoy. Even the notification shade, which is changed from Pixel/Stock Android is consistent with the rest of the UI.
Going into the settings app, which is the one that is pretty visually different from the Pixel app, is still very easy to use for the most part. Instead of having fewer options which people have to dig into to find something, Realme has decided to break out more items, which might look a bit more overwhelming at first, but everything is labelled in such a way that you don’t need to worry, and if you still can’t find the thing you want, there is still a search bar at the top of the settings app, that enables you to just type the feature you want and it’ll surface it.
Of the apps that are custom, many of them are ones I like, such as the clock and the calculator as well as the camera app, but there are ones I’m less of a fan of, the files app and the music app being the big ones. it is not that they’re bad apps, I’m just not a fan of the visual design nor the navigation experience, thankfully, this is android, so you can download third-party ones you like and set those as defaults, which is awesome and finally something Apple is letting iOS users do, albeit with a small subset of apps.
Earlier on this year when I started getting Realme phones, I said I can’t comment on software upgrades as they’re too new. Well after 9 months of reviewing Realme phones and seeing the updates, both security and feature updates that these phones have gotten, I’m pretty confident saying that these will stay up to date for at least 18 months. Would I like Realme to give a solid support length like Samsung, Apple and Google? Of course. And I think 3 years should be the minimum consumers should expect, but so far, I’m pretty happy with what we’ve seen and I hope to see the new RealmeUI and Android 11 very soon.
The Camera section is one I was very interested about, this is a bit of a wash, the main camera is the same resolution, but the sensor has been swapped, the older Samsung ISOCELL GW1 has been swapped out for the newer Sony IMX682 and I expected a bit change, sadly, I didn’t see one. Whilst the colour tones have improved, we no longer get the characteristic ISOCELL colours, I think the IMX682 is mostly too new to have the optimisations that we have on the older IMX586 we saw OnePlus use on the 8T, and the ISOCELL GW1 on pretty much every Realme phone earlier in the year. I expect as the months come on, the images out of the 7 Pro will get better. I also think that Realme is trying to get a similar colour match to it’s other cameras, but in doing so I think it’s underselling the capabilities of this new camera module.
The focus speed seems similar if not actually a tad slower than the older camera, but auto-exposure is significantly faster, even if the end result is a bit of a wash. Both cameras use quad-Bayer arrays in them so that at a hardware level, these 64MP sensors are designed to take really good 16MP shots, and they do. You can if you want, go to the dedicated 64MP mode in the camera app to get all that resolution and detail, personally I rarely feel the need to, but it is interesting seeing a photo of a tree or a bush in the standard mode and the 64MP mode.
Next is ultrawide, and this is what looks like the same sensor and lens setup as before so expect pretty similar images. Maybe I’m just more critical of Ultrawide lenses now than I was earlier in the year, but compared to the main lens this is still disappointing. Unlike the TCL 10L and 10 5G, these are at least usable, not smeary messes, but compared to the detail in the main sensor, this is a bit of a shock. Thankfully Realme has done a better job colour matching the main sensor to the ultrawide, or at least due to the Sony sensor not having the colour issues that Samsung sensors do it appears as better colour matched. However, the view is still different if you’re taking a photo and switching between the two often you’ll notice you’ll need to move.
Zoom is the weird one, on the Realme 6 Pro last year there was a dedicated zoom lens, a 13MP with a 2x optical zoom. Whilst 2x optical zooms aren’t the most useful, I would have preferred a 3x optical zoom, having one is better than not having one, and it’s certainly better than what they replaced it with… a depth-sensing lens. To get 2x zoom this time the phone just crops in on the 64MP sensor, and yes, digital zoom is bad, when you’ve got this much resolution to work with, it’s actually not that noticeable, at least to me. I am so mad and so tired of these useless depth sensors and macro cameras on phones, they are terrible quality, they take up money and space that could be used for something else and it is a bull-poop marketing exercise/ pissing contest so they can tell the customer they have the most cameras, even when half of them are useless or so bad they might as well not even be there. I would have much-preferred Realme canned the 2 2MP sensors and instead put in a better ultrawide camera, that would have made a bigger impact on users, and the better ultrawide could be used as a macro camera as we’ve seen before, and a better ultrawide can give depth data for better portrait shot without the need for the depth lens.
On the front is the new 32MP selfie camera, at 85 degrees it’s wider than you’d think, but it is still very much a single person camera. This is an upgrade over the 16MP main camera from last year for sure, but dropping the second sensor is the downgrade. If anything I would have liked to see a single lens on the front is that 110 degrees ultrawide and in normal mode be cropped into an 85-degree field of view like this, but have the option to zoom out when you need it.
Lastly, here is video recording, and whilst I was impressed by watching the videos on the phone, when looking back on the computer, the videos look significantly more smudged. I’m not sure what weirdness is going on on my computer, but uploading them to YouTube seems to fix it a bit. It might well be something to do with VLC or my GPU drivers.
The Snapdragon 720G is a known entity now, it is a 6+2 core design with 2 Cortex A76 cores and 6 Cortex A55s and these perform really well, though I do think this configuration is roughly the limit of the 720G, a 1080p+ screen at 120hz is the technical limit, I’ve tried these chips at 90Hz and despite this benign a gaming chip (that’s what the G at the end stands for) it is pushing it. Using the 720G for video encoding such as the Powerdirector test I use to show it as being about 30% slower than the Snapdragon 855, about 10% slower than the Kirin 980 from a few years ago, about on par with the Mediatek G90T.
I’m not a massive mobile gamer, my haunts are usually GameBoy emulation or 2048, but in trying to run Injustice: Gods among us, I saw noticeable frame hitches and the phone get warmer than I’d expect. These gaming chips are interesting but rarely are the optimisations actually noticeable over the normal chip, so manufacturers just use the G chip because they can market it, hence why you’ve seen so few Snapdragon 765 phones and so many 765G ones.
As usual, I don’t really think benchmarks give you the full picture, but I’ll post some screenshots below. In the end, there is a reason this is the chip google uses in the Pixel 4a, it is a fast enough chip for a 1080p screen the overall experience is great and the Samsung 8nm process is efficient enough so that you don’t need a huge battery (Pixel 4a) but if you do put one in, like the 4500mAh monster in here, it just goes for days and days.
Battery and Charging
Speaking about battery life, this is just ridiculous. The 1080p screen, paired with the energy-sipping 720G and then slapping a 4500mah battery in here you were always going to get good things out of it, but 3 days of use is easy to get on the Realme 7 pro in quarantine life and even hitting it harder, I wasn’t able to kill it normally. The only time I managed to kill the phone in a single day was when I was using it to record a 7.5 hour timelapse from my 3D printer, so the screen was on for 7.5 hours, the camera was on for 7.5 hours and the ISP was recording video for 7.5 hours, no wonder it died in a day.
That brings me to the other insane thing on this phone, the 65w charging. Let me just get this spec out there. 0-100% in 34 minutes. If the phone is so dead it will not turn on, and you plug it in, in less than 2 episodes of the Simpsons you will have a fully charged phone. Having charging this fast really does mess with your brain a bit, instead of the “I’ll just charge it overnight” as you’ve done for the last 12 years or whatever. This can become (‘ll just plug it in whilst in the shower” or “plug it in whilst making coffee in the morning” and that’s enough for another day or so of use, it really messes with you and takes a little bit of getting used to.
For those of you that care or are interested in how on earth this phone can charge at 65w, well it is actually quite simple, inside the phone there isn’t one battery, there are two that are 2250mAh and are charged at 32.5w each at the same time achieving the 65w charge speed. Much easier to charge two smaller batteries at the same time at a low speed than trying to shove 65w into a single battery, and if you did, it wouldn’t last very long.
For those of you new here, the Miscellaneous sections of my reviews are for things that I have something to say about but not enough to give them their own section. On the Realme 7 pro that would be the optical fingerprint scanner and the Radio performance, starting with the fingerprint scanner as that’s the quicker subject. I love the fact the Realme 7 Pro has an optical under-display fingerprint scanner, I think they’re very convenient and I’m much more of a fan of these than the older power button style that Realme has used in the past, why? Because I’m left-handed, and the power buttons are on the right-hand side of the phone, perfect for the right thumb, and works every time, but when I’m reviewing a phone with a side scanner, no matter how many times I register my left index and middle finger, first unlock success is 50% or lower. A front-mounted under-display fingerprint scanner or a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner is equally accessible for both left and right-handed people. The Optical scanner here feels like an older generation scanner with a smaller lens and slower response time, but the slower response could also be down to the snapdragon 720G as the animation on the screen often time drops frames.
The Radio performance was less impressive to me. Not only does Realme not seem to support Carrier Aggregation, at least not on my carrier, but the overall signal strength seems much weaker than my Huawei devices, my Realme X50 Pro and even my Pixel 4a which I noted as having a weak radio. I do find myself dropping down to H+ more than I have in recent times as well, perhaps this is just a configuration issue on my carrier and can be addressed in the future.
When I was speaking to a journalist friend about the Realme 7 Pro they asked me which I would recommend, the 7 Pro or the Realme X50 5G as they were the same price, and it made me realise that the 7 pro is so nice to use, I’d take it is 60Hz OLED with a weaker chip, over the 120Hz LCD with 765G and 5G. The 7 Pro feels nicer in the hand, has a better battery, better camera, much better screen and is just more enjoyable to use.
Realme should be happy with the 7 Pro, it’s a very balanced smartphone. It’s not going down the 5G path, it is not going down the high refresh rate screen path, instead, it made the phone that has a nice screen to look at and use for things like social media, photos and videos look great on it, even if scrolling is a little jumpier. I’ve said all year you shouldn’t buy a phone for 5G only, and when at the same price as this, you could get the X50 5G or this, I can’t see why you’d pick that