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realme 5 Review – Come For The Cameras, Stay For The Battery

Together with the realme 5 Pro, the realme 5 makes up realme’s latest smartphones to arrive in Malaysia last week. The duo introduces a new quad-camera setup which is something new to the realme lineup here. Their previous release – the realme 3 series – has dual cameras which is fast becoming a relic in this age of three, four, or even five cameras. Our review of the realme 5 Pro is up, and you can read it here. For now, we shift our focus on its more affordable sibling.

Being in the same series, it is not a surprise that the realme 5 looks nearly identical to the realme 5 Pro on surface level. There’s the same form factor and build materials, the same teardrop notch, the same side button placements, the same rear fingerprint sensor and the same quad cameras arrangement. But there are plenty of differences as well. The realme 5 is a larger device, a fact that you can see as well as feel on your hands, thanks to its larger and taller 6.5-inch display. However, the clinger here is that it is merely a HD display which might be a big enough of a dealbreaker for some. It is not the worst display but neither it is the best. The difference is apparent when you place both devices side-by-side.

realme 5 (left) and realme 5 Pro (right)

Pay a closer look at the bottom of the phone and you will see that the “chin” on the realme 5 is noticeably thicker than the one of its higher-end brother, not that it really matters for most people but if you are all for aesthetic values then it might be a spot for bother. And for all the USB-C goodness (finally) of the realme 5 Pro, it doesn’t extend to the realme 5 which is stubbornly hanging on to micro USB.

 realme 5 (top) and realme 5 Pro (bottom)

Having a lower price tag naturally means some compromises had to be made. We have seen it on the display, the connector port and now inside of the phone we have the Snapdragon 665 chipset. There are currently not that many smartphones sporting the fairly-new midrange chipset which was introduced in April and the few include the Xiaomi Redmi Note 8, Oppo A9 2020 and Xiaomi Mi A3. On paper, it is obviously not going to match the raw performance of the Snapdragon 712-equipped realme 5 Pro. Apart from the one time the system completely freeze up, the phone generally runs fine for everyday smartphone tasks.

The best feature is no doubt the quad cameras. The camera array is the same with the realme 5 Pro in that it has an 8MP ultra-wide angle lens, a 2MP depth sensor and a 2MP dedicated macro lens. It doesn’t get the realme 5 Pro’s 48MP main camera and therefore will not be able to take the same level of photo quality but that shouldn’t deter you as the rest of the cameras still do a fine job for what they bring to the table. The realme 5 is still able to take 119-degree wide angle shots, portrait shots and super close-up shots just as well. The macro shots in particular are fun as they add a new dimension to smartphone photography that has been largely ignored in the last couple of years.

Camera UI on both phones are the same, which also means the quirks found on the realme 5 Pro also exists on the realme 5. I am referring to the ultra-wide lens toggle which sits right top far away from where our finger is reachable when operating the device single-handedly. The realme 5’s bigger size makes switching to the lens even more of an inconvenience for those with small hands.

Take a look at some shots from the realme 5 (night shots taken with Nightscape mode turned on)

Ultra-wide angle with/without

Main camera lens

Ultra-wide angle lens

Main camera lens

Ultra-wide angle lens

Macro lens with/without

Main camera lens

Macro lens

Main camera lens

Macro lens

Not everything is watered down on the realme 5 however. For all the lesser features it has to make do with, it tries to make up for it with a giant feature – a 5,000mAh battery. This makes it the biggest battery capacity ever offered on a realme smartphone to date. The numbers do translate to real world experience as our review unit do seem to last a very long time before the battery finally yields. This is also where the HD display is more of a plus point than a minus as less pixels draw less power than a Full HD display.

The battery would be perfect had it also comes with fast charging technology like the realme 5 Pro’s VOOC 3.0, which it unfortunately don’t. The bigger battery will last longer no doubt, but without the aid of any fast charging that also means it will also take a longer time to be filled up.

Choosing between the realme 5 and realme 5 Pro is pretty clear cut. If you want a better-looking display, better camera, better performance overall and USB-C, the realme 5 Pro is the obvious choice. I would advise people to go for the realme 5 Pro if the choice comes down to the two options for better future-proofing, provided the extra cost is not a stumbling block of course. The only plausible reasons you would go for the realme 5 is if you value long battery life above all else, and the lower price which starts at only RM599 (the realme 5 Pro costs nearly double at RM1,099).

But then again, the realme 5 lives in its own price category. You won’t find many smartphones out now within the same price range that boast of a quad-camera system.

 

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