The Realme GT Master Edition seems to offer everything that anyone could ask for in a mid-range smartphone. It has a high-quality Super AMOLED display, a new processor, and a battery that charges up from zero to 100 percent in about 35 minutes. It's got slightly better hardware than the OnePlus Nord 2, so it might be an interesting alternative within the same price segment. Then, there's the recently launched Motorola Edge 20, which is priced a few thousand Rupees higher, but offers a lot more in terms of hardware plus near-stock software, in a slim and sleek package. The GT Master Edition is the most affordable of these three, but will that give it enough of an edge?
The Realme GT Master Edition is available in three variants, but not all of them can be bought in all the colour options that have been announced. The Cosmos Black, Luna White, and Voyager Grey finishes are available if you choose the 8GB RAM and 128GB or 256GB storage options, which are priced at Rs. 27,999 and Rs. 29,999 respectively. There's also a 6GB RAM and 128GB storage variant, which is only available in Voyager Grey and serves as the base variant, priced at Rs. 25,999. So, if you were looking to grab the Realme GT at Rs. 25,999, it will only be available in Voyager Grey.
So, why is the premium-looking Voyager Grey finish available on the lowest price model? Other than the fact that this is the signature Master Edition design touch, the answer to that is glass… or the lack of it. The Luna White and Cosmos Black finishes have glass back panels, while the Voyager Grey one is a mix of polycarbonate and vegan leather, which apparently makes it more affordable.
While vegan leather sounds quite premium, the reality with the GT Master Edition unit that I received in this finish is quite different. It's not the soft-touch natural leather replacement that I expected it to be. While it feels a bit soft (read rubber-like) and offers a nice grip (also thanks to the suitcase-like horizontal ridges across the back), it feels more plastic than premium.
This is mainly because the vegan leather coating is just skin-deep, and there is no thick fabric layer that might have lent this phone a softer touch and more premium feel. The vegan leather on the Master Edition appears to be directly bonded to the back panel, which is made of polycarbonate. On the bright side, this slightly rough, plastic-like material felt tough. This isn't bad, given that this is a smartphone and will be placed on different types of surfaces in day-to-day use. The Luna White finish appears premium thanks to its frosted glass white back. It's also slimmer at 8mm than the Voyager Grey finish, which is 8.7mm in thickness.
Unlike the Realme GT, the GT Master Edition has a single bottom-firing speaker.
There's a 6.43-inch display, with thin bezels at the top, left and right, though the bottom one is slightly thicker. The camera module at the back barely protrudes, so this phone does not wobble much when placed on a flat surface - but that might not be the case with the non-ridged finishes.
The Realme GT Master Edition uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G processor which is manufactured using a 6nm fabrication process. Currently, the only other smartphone to feature this SoC in India is the Moto Edge 20, which is a close competitor of the GT Master Edition. The processor offers a maximum clock speed of 2.4Ghz on its prime CPU core, with three more high-performance and four more efficiency cores for a total of eight. This phone has up to 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB of storage with no room for storage expansion. Communications options include Wi-Fi 6, NFC, Bluetooth 5.2, and dual 5G standby with support for several 5G bands. The phone is powered by a 4,300mAh battery and supports 65W charging.
Realme UI 2.0, which is based on Android 11, runs the show on the GT Master Edition. It offers plenty of customisation under Personalisations in the Settings app. You can change the shape of app icons and even draw your own pattern for the Always-on Display. The phone comes preloaded with several Realme-branded and third-party apps. Most of these can be uninstalled. While the third-party apps weren't a problem on the GT Master Edition, I did receive the occasional promotional notification from the Themes app, but these can be turned off in the Notifications & Status Bar settings.
The 6.43-inch display's Dragontrail glass picks up fingerprints occasionally, but it does not turn into a smudgy mess as these can be wiped off easily. The Super AMOLED panel has a 120Hz refresh rate and offers a 360Hz touch sampling rate, which was useful when playing games. The display is quite sharp with a full-HD+ resolution, and gets bright enough to tackle direct sunlight. What I did not like was the aggressive auto brightness feature, which often set the display to a very low brightness even under street lighting. Because of this I often ended up turning the feature off after sunset as I had to keep on reaching for the brightness adjustment bar in the notifications tray every time I pulled out the phone.
In terms of software, Realme UI seemed optimised to take advantage of the new Snapdragon 778G SoC. The software experience felt fluid with no stutters or lag.
Synthetic benchmarks showed good results. The Realme GT Master Edition achieved an AnTuTu score of 5,39,725, which is on par with the scores obtained by the OnePlus Nord 2 with its MediaTek Dimensity 1200 processor. Geekbench also showed similar results, with the GT Master Edition managing 786 and 2,767 points respectively in the single and multi-core tests. There is a significant performance bump in comparison to the Snapdragon 768G. The iQoo Z3 (Review) with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 768G managed an AnTuTu score of 4,45,029, which is a lot lower than the 778G's results.
As for gaming, the Realme GT Master Edition performed quite well. Heating was not a problem although the phone did warm up a bit while playing Call of Duty: Mobile at the Very High setting (with anti-aliasing on). There is a gaming mode called GT Mode which Realme claims enhances overall game performance by cranking up the CPU and the display's refresh rate to a 120Hz.
Realme claims that this new feature (exclusive to the GT lineup) is different to what the Game Space app on other models offers. GT Mode can be activated from a notifications tray toggle, optimisations happen in the background. There's no way to customise CPU frequency or set a custom screen refresh rate, like in ASUS' Armoury Crate app on its ROG Phone series. I tried the GT Mode and it did not seem to have any noticeable impact on the games I played. However, the smartphone did heat up quicker (after just one Frontline tournament) and remained hot while the GT mode was turned on.
With a 4,300mAh battery, I expected the Realme GT Master Edition to be a one-day smartphone. It overshot my expectations by a bit, giving me a day and half of battery life with casual use. That dropped to just a day with some heavy gaming (especially with GT Mode on). The phone fared well in our HD video loop test, managing 19 hours and 53 minutes, which is quite good for a mid-range smartphone. Charging the battery fully takes around 35 minutes, which is quite fast, and on par with the competition.
The Realme GT Master Edition offers a triple rear camera setup with a 64-megapixel primary, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera, and a 2-megapixel macro shooter. Selfie duties are handled by a 32-megapixel front camera. The camera app interface is typical Realme UI, with all the important controls on one layer, with slightly advanced controls such as setting the video resolution and frame rate tucked into slide-out menus.
Photos taken in daylight came out crisp with good dynamic range, but colours were a bit saturated even with the AI feature turned off. The ultra-wide-angle camera managed more natural-looking colours, but with noticeable purple fringing in brighter areas. Shooting people and pets indoors resulted in slightly softer images with less detail.
At night, the camera's performance was above average in street-lit scenes but below average in dimly lit scenes. There was little to no detail in the shadows, but the Night mode did an excellent job of bringing out details and delivered crisp-looking images. The ultra-wide-angle camera captured very blurry photos in low light, and most such shots were unusable. Switching to Night mode improved the quality drastically, but photos were still quite average.
The macro camera is basically present to fill up the spec sheet, and does not capture usable photos. I managed better close-up photos with the primary camera. Selfies taken in daylight came out crisp and detailed, but edge detection in Portrait mode was a bit off. Selfies shot in low light did not come out well and were mostly blurry. Switching to Night mode delivered usable photos at best.
The Realme GT Master Edition shot its best video at 4K 30fps. Clips recorded at 1080p 60fps also looked quite good and were well stabilised, but dynamic range fell a bit short. Low-light video appeared a bit murky at all resolutions, but stabilisation was still good.
The Realme GT Master Edition certainly offers good value for money, given that you get a new Snapdragon 778G processor, a high-quality Super AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate, 65W charging, and good battery life. Its camera setup may not be as interesting as the Moto Edge 20's cameras, but they perform well in daylight. The phone also feels quite gaming-ready, even though it's not purpose-built for gaming like the Poco F3 GT (Review) is. While the OnePlus Nord 2 (Review) offers similar performance, Realme seems to have a clear edge in terms of pricing, with the GT Master Edition starting from Rs. 25,999 for the base 6GB RAM variant. So, if you are on a tight budget, and don't mind the unique vegan leather and suitcase-like design, then Realme's GT Master Edition gets the job done for a little less.