Review

Realme GT Master Explorer: Smartphone in case design for $490

With the realme GT, the currently fastest growing smartphone manufacturer released a particularly affordable Snapdragon 888 smartphone. Now, the realme GT Master and the realme GT Master Explorer Edition are added to the series. Will the realme GT Master Explorer Edition convince us with its case design?

realme GT Master Explorer

realme GT Master Explorer Edition
Display6.55 inch 19.5:9 Full HD+ (2400 x 1080p) 120 Hz AMOLED, Curved
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 870
Graphic chipQualcomm Adreno 650
RAM8/12 GB
Mass storage128/256 GB
Camera50 MP Sony IMX766 ƒ/1.88
16 MP ultra-wide Sony IMX481 ƒ/2.2
2 MP Macro ƒ/2.4
Front camera32 Megapixel  Sony IMX615 ƒ/2.5
Battery4.500 mAh 65W SuperDart Charge
ConnectivityWiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, USB-Typ-C, GPS/GLONASS/BDS, Dual-SIM, NFC, SA/NSA 5G, LTE Band 20
FeaturesFingerprint sensor in the display, stereo speaker
Operating systemRealme UI based on Android 11
Dimensions / Weight159,9 x 72,5 x 8 mm / 185g

I pack my suitcase and take with me….

Realme has a soft spot for special backs. This has already been proven with the Realme 6 Pro or the onion and garlic edition of the realme X. For the realme GT Master Explorer Edition and the also released realme GT Master, they cooperated with the Japanese industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa and designed a back in the style of a suitcase. Accordingly, the press kit also came in a small suitcase; after all, the focus here is on “exploring” like on trips.

realme GT Master Explorer backside

The back of our colorway “Voyager Gray” is made of gray leatherette. This especially ensures a good grip! It is also finally a device that does not literally scream for fingerprints on the back. On the other hand, the triple camera module protrudes a bit from the casing, as in almost every smartphone nowadays. A realme Designed by Naoto Fukasawa logo has been placed to the right of the said camera module by the manufacturer. The Explorer Edition is also available in apricot.

On the right side of the case is the classic power button for locking the device. Otherwise, only two antenna strips are found on this side of the realme GT Master Explorer Edition, while the two individual volume up and down buttons and an antenna strip are found on the left side.

realme GT Master Explorer side view

Unfortunately, the realme GT Master Explorer Edition, like the realme GT, does not have an IP rating, which is why the device is again not water- and dust-proof. The bottom of the device also features a speaker, the USB-C charging port and the dual-SIM slot.

Workmanship of the realme GT Master Explorer Edition

The workmanship of the realme GT Master Explorer Edition is convincing, as everything has been milled out as precisely as it should be. All edges are also not sharp-edged, but well rounded, which makes the device comfortable to hold. With its 8.8 mm, it is not the thinnest device at all, but you cannot talk about a clunky block here either. The weight is 185 g, and the beveled bottom makes it possible to place the device straight without it tipping over immediately.

realme GT Master Explorer stand

The camera module is also worth mentioning. It only protrudes from the smartphone’s casing by an unusually small amount for today’s devices. Of course, this still causes the smartphone to wobble when placed flat on a table, but this is by far not as strenuous as in other devices where the camera module protrudes much further from the casing.

realme GT Master Explorer camera module

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For the first time with a curved display!

Similar to the realme GT, a 120 Hz AMOLED display with a Full HD+ resolution of 2400 x 1080 pixels is once again installed. However, the 6.55″ screen diagonal and the fact that this is the first realme smartphone with a curved display are different. The refresh rate can be changed between 60 Hz and 120 Hz in the display settings. An automatic adjustment can also be selected, which, according to the description, adjusts the refresh rate differently from app to app. Thanks to the 120 Hz and a sampling rate of 480 Hz, scrolling looks much smoother and inputs on the device are also implemented much faster. The front-facing camera in punch-hole design remains unchanged on the top left of the screen in the realme GT Master Explorer Edition.

realme GT Master Explorer display

The maximum brightness of the realme GT Master Explorer Edition is 1,100 nits, which is above average. Pixel errors or similar were not found in this test, and the color shift into green that occurred in the realme GT test also disappeared. Due to the AMOLED display technology, realme again installs the fingerprint sensor under the display.

realme GT Master Explorer fingerprint-sensor

An always-on display is also available thanks to AMOLED. There is also a dark mode, adjustable color temperatures and customizable icons. Instead of a notification LED, realme relies on an edge lighting in the GT Master Explorer Edition, which lights up the screen’s edge in 3 different styles when you receive a notification or a call.

realme GT Master Explorer display settings

Worse processors than in the realme GT.

The Oppo subsidiary completely relies on Qualcomm for the GT series. Although you would certainly expect the ultimate from a “Master Explorer Edition”, “only” the Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 processor is installed. It is basically based on the Snapdragon 865 and is also used in the POCO F3. We remember the equally expensive realme GT with the SD 888. Accordingly, the decision to “only” use the octa-core SD870 processor with Qualcomm’s Adreno 650 graphics unit in this model is questionable.

Snapdragon 870

Gaming works well with the Snapdragon 870 processor because even games like PUBG Mobile run smoothly and without significant performance drawbacks. Realme also offers a Game Space mode that is opened via a swipe gesture from the upper screen edge to the center of the screen during gaming. In this mode, various settings can be adjusted, which are supposed to improve the gaming experience. However, the heat development is already noticeable in some demanding games as soon as certain modes are activated, so you will notice a certain heat from the device in your hand after a while.

realme GT Master Explorer PUBG Mobile

While you only get an 8/256 GB storage variant of the also released realme GT Master, the realme GT Master Explorer Edition flaunts a maximum of 12 GB working memory and also 256 GB mass storage.

Benchmark results

The results of the AnTuTu 3D, PCMark and Geekbench 5 benchmarks achieved with the realme GT Master Explorer Edition are, as expected, below the results of devices with the Snapdragon 888. Nevertheless, there is no need to hide with the SD870 because the achieved scores are definitely impressive. Above all, it is confirmed that the performance is good enough to open all apps on the device quickly and to run smoothly without problems.

realme GT Master Explorer benchmark

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Fast charging with 65W

We have already mentioned that the battery life of realme devices was not exactly a strength. However, it became clear with the realme GT that the manufacturer has worked on it and that the device can now even manage 1 1/2 days without charging. The 4500 mAh battery of the realme GT Master Explorer Edition still does not seem incredibly large, and the battery runtime is still not the best we have seen in smartphones so far, but you can still manage almost 1 1/2 days with a fully charged battery. During our battery test, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth were enabled for the entire period and the screen brightness was set to 50%.

realme GT Master Explorer battery

Regarding the charging of the device, realme has included a 65W charger in the scope of delivery of the GT Master Explorer Edition. Thus, a full charge takes just under 40 minutes. Charging is done via the aforementioned USB-C port on the smartphone’s underside, but it should also be mentioned that realme unfortunately still does not offer wireless charging like with the realme MagDart.

Triple camera with flagship sensor

While the realme GT still had the 64 MP Sony IMX682 sensor installed, the realme GT Master Explorer Edition comes with the 50 MP Sony IMX766 sensor like the NORD 2 from OnePlus. This flagship sensor is combined with a 16-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera and a 2-megapixel macro camera. A 32-megapixel Sony sensor with a ƒ/2.5 aperture is located in the front for selfies.

realme GT Master Explorer triple camera

Main camera

The IMX766 sensor also combines four pixels into one in standard mode, which results in 12.5 MP photos. This so-called pixel binning ensures that the photos are even brighter. A purely digital 2x to 20x zoom can be set within the camera app. The respective pictures with zoom are only usable up to 5x because the picture gets too blurry after that.

realme GT Master Explorer sample photo

The main camera’s strengths are especially the large number of details and the image sharpness. We were also impressed by the natural/vivid colors in the pictures we took. Like in OnePlus’ Nord 2, the dynamic range of Sony’s sensor in the realme GT Master Explorer Edition is really good and in combination with a good contrast ratio, beautiful pictures can be taken with this device.

realme GT Master Explorer main camera test
realme GT Master Explorer main camera
realme GT Master Explorer camera
realme GT Master Explorer picture

Ultra-wide-angle camera

The ultra-wide-angle camera has also been adapted, so it now has 16 megapixels and an aperture of ƒ/2.2. We already know the installed Sony IMX481 sensor from the OnePlus 8T, where we especially praised the 123° shooting angle, which allows capturing even more in photos.

realme GT Master Explorer ultra wide angle camera

This is also true here, but the difference to the main camera is already very obvious. While the detail depth is still good, the image sharpness in particular is weaker than in the main camera.

realme GT Master Explorer ultra wide angle
realme GT Master Explorer ultra wide angle comparison

Macro camera

The third camera on the back of the device is the macro camera. However, it only has a resolution of 2 megapixels and an aperture of ƒ/2.4. Due to this low resolution, the quality of the pictures is not really good and the imprecise closest focusing distance, which is especially important for pictures taken with this camera, is not convincing either. Overall, the camera might be nice for one or two pictures, but you probably won’t want to use it on a daily basis anyway.

realme GT Master Explorer macrocamrea

Selfie camera

The situation is different again for the front-facing camera of the realme GT Master Explorer Edition. Probably, this 32-megapixel Sony IMX615 sensor with an aperture of ƒ/2.5 is used more often than the macro camera. The punch hole camera offers good exposure and detailed photos with natural skin tones/colors. You cannot really expect much more from a front-facing camera!

realme GT Master Explorer selfies

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Realme UI 2.0 as operating system

The realme GT Master and the realme GT Explorer Edition are preloaded with the 2nd generation of the in-house realme UI operating system, which is based on Android 11. If you order the global version, you can look forward to all relevant Google services and little bloatware. In addition, there are one or two real-world features like standby gestures, which you might already know from OnePlus’ OxygenOS.

Our device is the China version, which is why we unfortunately have the exact opposite of the global version in terms of available Google services and bloatware. Instead of little to hardly any bloatware, our device is full of apps like Weibo, Qunar Travel and Baidu, just to name a few examples.

realme UI 2.0

Despite our China version of the realme GT Master Explorer Edition, nothing has changed in terms of personalization options. The user can still customize the always-on display via a generator and change the app icons already mentioned. The animation of the fingerprint is also adjustable, as is the app layout and all colors, fonts and the notification area.

realme UI 2.0 updates

We have had good experiences with realme in terms of updates, since security and system updates were regularly applied to the devices. Our realme GT Master Explorer Edition is currently an Android 11 version from August 16, 2021, and the latest security patch is from June 5, 2021. Unfortunately, we do not have any information about the latest Google Play system update due to our China version and the resulting lack of Google services.

Connectivity

The 5G availability is given in this smartphone, even though it is not explicitly mentioned in the name. Of course, LTE including Band 20 and 28 is also available if you opt for the global version. Dual-band WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, dual GPS and NFC are also available. A dual-SIM slot is also available, but there is no room for a micro-SD card. Accordingly, a memory expansion is unfortunately not possible. In contrast to the realme GT, the manufacturer does not install a 3.5 mm jack in this device anymore, which means that the connection with wired headphones only works via a jack to USB-C adapter.

realme GT Master Explorer dual-SIM

One of the two speakers is located on the bottom next to the USB-C port. The other speaker is located on the top of the device, which results in a stereo setup for this device, which is especially good for playing media. The sound quality of the speakers of the realme GT Master Explorer Edition is definitely not bad, but there are still small problems with lower frequencies, which can be especially annoying for longer media consumption.

realme GT Master Explorer speaker-1

realme GT Master Explorer Edition worth buying?

Unlike almost all other manufacturers, realme does not necessarily build successor after successor, but offers alternatives. Thus, the realme GT Master and the realme GT Explorer Edition tested here are not successors to the realme GT, but rather alternatives with a different focus. The focus is definitely on the design in both variants, and in the case of the Explorer Edition even on the camera – finally. This is actually even on the flagship level with the installed Sony IMX766 sensor.

Unfortunately, the camera is the only thing that allows this smartphone to keep up with the real flagship smartphones. While the performance of the realme GT was put in the foreground, realme does not use the absolute top processor from Qualcomm in this device. The design of this device is similar to the “normal” realme GT, but apart from the unusual design and the camera, this smartphone does not have anything that really distinguishes it in this price segment. The lack of an IP rating and the fact that wireless charging is still not integrated do not exactly speak for this smartphone.

According to various sources, it will be priced at around $500, but since the device’s official release is not until September 6, 2021, it is only available on AliExpress for a little extra, depending on the storage variant.

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Lars

The world of smartphones has fascinated me for years now, and with the rise of brands like Xiaomi & Co, I found my way here!

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