RealMe 5 (2019) review

The phone for those who are happy to make do

RealMe RealMe 5
  • RealMe RealMe 5
  • RealMe RealMe 5
  • Expert Rating

    2.75 / 5

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Big battery

Cons

  • Iffy performance
  • Inconsistent camera

Bottom Line

Even at the best of times, it feels like the RealMe 5 is making do with limited resources and while I was sometimes pleasantly surprised by how it fared, it rarely excited or delighted me in the way that other budget phones this year have.

Would you buy this?

  • Price

    $ 299.00 (AUD)

Should I buy the RealMe 5 (2019)?

If $299 is your number and you’re unswayed by Motorola’s One Macro and Oppo’s A-Series, the RealMe 5 might be the budget phone you’re looking for. It might not do all the things you want a phone to do very cleanly but it still do them. It’s heavy on the specs but light on charm and a sense of identity. 

If you have a little more to spend, I’d recommend doing so. Buying a budget device might always mean some form of compromise but the RealMe doesn’t do a particularly-great job of picking its battles. It’s equipped with an arsenal of camera hardware and a hefty battery life but there’s little else to love about it. 

Price when reviewed

In Australia, the RealMe 5 is priced at an RRP of AU$299.

RealMe 5 (2019) full review

Even at the best of times, it feels like the RealMe 5 is making do with limited resources and while I was sometimes pleasantly surprised by how it fared, it rarely excited or delighted me in the way that other budget phones have. 

The RealMe 5 also runs on a meaner and leaner Snapdragon 665 processor plus 4GBs of RAM and 128GBs of storage. Powered by Color OS 6, the most visible point of difference compared to other budget smartphones is the quad-lens camera on the back.

Credit: RealMe

The rear of the RealMe 5 is equipped with an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, 12-megapixel primary lens, 2-megapixel portrait lens and a 2-megapixel macro lens. Even if that kind of multi-lens array isn’t quite as exclusive as it used to be, it’s still noteworthy here.

Ultimately, though, the RealMe doesn’t do a great job of picking its battles. It’s equipped with an arsenal of camera hardware and a hefty battery life but little else. It’ll get the job done but when the other options can do it cleaner and better, it’s hard to make the case for. 

Price

In Australia, the RealMe 5 is priced at an RRP of AU$299. You can buy it through:

The RealMe 5 is not available on any postpaid plans but you can pair it with a SIM-only plan. Check below for a round-up of the best SIM only plans:


Design - Look, Feel, Features and Camera

If you’ve dabbled with any of Oppo’s cheaper A-series devices, the look and feel of the RealMe 5 is going to feel more than a little familiar. The budget handset is glass on both sides, with an eye-catching geometrical pattern on the back that serves to set it apart from most other such glass-sandwiches.

For the most part though, the RealMe 5 does little to dispel your expectations about it. It’s an Android smartphone with a small price-tag and a large battery. The only real distinguishing features here, aside from the aforementioned, come in the form of the fingerprint sensor on the back, the headphone jack and Micro-USB slot on the bottom - the latter of which comes out looking positively dated. 

Likewise, the screen here is about 6.5-inches in size but only HD+ in resolution. It’s not particularly sharp or colourful compared to flagships like the S10+ (review here) but it does offer a pretty big canvas for things like video content and photos.

Credit: RealMe

Held in hand, the RealMe 5 doesn’t come across as as cheap as it actually is but there’s still a noticeable gulf between the feel-factor here and what you’ll get from something more expensive. Little has been done to hide the conspicuous seams that hold this thing together and betray its budget price. 

Of course, the RealMe 5’s best trick here is detracting attention from its very obvious seams with a quad-lens rear camera. The end-destination of the more-lenses-is-better approach popularised by Huawei, the RealMe’s rear-camera is comprised of an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, a 12-megapixel primary lens, 2-megapixel portrait lens and 2-megapixel macro lens.

1x zoomCredit: Fergus Halliday | IDG
1x zoom
2x zoomCredit: Fergus Halliday | IDG
2x zoom
5x zoomCredit: Fergus Halliday | IDG
5x zoom

The upshot of this multi-lens array is that you have a lot of flexibility. The ability to take easily and instantly ultra-wide shots makes taking ultra-wide photographs infinity easier than it would be without a dedicated lens. 

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

Unfortunately, in action, I struggled to get meaningful results out of it. In daylight situations, it was more than up to a quick snap or two but it never really captured subjects (such as the delicious cafe breakfast seen both above and below) with the desired level of fidelity and pop. In low-light or at night, it also struggled in spite of the dedicated night mode. 

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

All told, the RealMe 5 ticks a lot of boxes but lacks the kind of flair and identity you’ll find elsewhere. It’s got all the essentials you need to get by but there’s nothing particularly exceptional or noteworthy. 

Performance - Specs, Software, Benchmarks and Battery Life

Specs

  • Processor:  Snapdragon 665

  • Operating System:  Android 9 with Color OS 6

  • RAM:  4GB

  • Storage:  128GB

  • MicroSD slot: Yes

  • Headphone Jack: Yes

  • SIM: Dual

  • Battery:  5000mAh

  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5 + 4GB + NFC + Wi-Fi  

  • Rear Camera: 8-megapixel wide-angle lens + 12-megapixel primary lens + 2-megapixel portrait lens + 2-megapixel macro lens

  • Front-Facing Camera: 13-megapixel (f/2.0)

  • Dimensions:  164.4 x 75.6 x 9.3 mm

  • Weight: 198g

Software

Software-wise, there’s not a huge difference between what you’ll get from the RealMe 5 and what you’ll get on an Oppo device like the Reno Z (review here). There are some slight adjustments to the visual profile of the iconography that RealMe have made that I found slightly disconcerting, but for the most part, the experiences are alike.

Credit: RealMe

Unfortunately, the usually smooth interface feels like it sometimes struggles on the RealMe 5’s limited hardware. It often stuttered and staggered, especially once multiple applications entered the mix. The ColorOS found in the RealMe 5 just doesn't bridge the gap between the comfort of iOS and the customisability of Android in the same way that it does on more-capable devices.

Benchmarks

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG
Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG


Please note that, since we haven’t reviewed that many devices since Geekbench updated their software, we don’t have a huge pool of samples to compare the RealMe 5 against. We plan to update this section once we have a bit more data to play with. 

Battery Life

Although it sometimes felt like the RealMe 5’s performance was handicapped, the 5000mAh battery inside the thing did deliver a solid and consistent two days of usage per charge. 

I wish it supported faster (or even wireless) charging but it’s still pretty good. I’d reliably make it through about two days of regular usage - and sometimes a little more - on a single charge.

The Bottom Line

The RealMe 5 does provide a lot of bang for your buck but it’s not hard to find something better, something cleaner or something with a more discrete identity. 

Even at the best of times, it feels like the RealMe 5 is making do with limited resources and while I was sometimes pleasantly surprised by how it fared, it rarely excited or delighted me in the way that other budget phones this year have. 

Credit: RealMe

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