Realme’s GT line takes its name from the world of motorsports, so it should come as no surprise that speed is of the essence in the new GT Neo 3.
From the racing stripes across the back to the inclusion of the fastest wired charging in any phone right now – a frankly ridiculous 150W – this phone is designed for speed freaks.
But despite that, it’s also a satisfying, well-rounded phone that ticks a lot of boxes and only rarely slams the brakes.
Design and build
- Glass back, plastic frame
- Bold racing-stripe design
- Surprisingly slim and light
The first thing you’ll notice about the GT Neo 3 is probably the outlandish rear design. Realme is no stranger to bold aesthetics, and the racing stripe are relatively restrained by the company’s usual standards.
I’ve been testing the Sprint White version of the phone, with black stripes running across the camera, while the Nitro Blue model sees white stripes cut through a navy body, reminiscent of a 1960s AC Cobra. If you’d rather have something a little more restrained, the Asphalt Black model is just that – black.
The rear of the GT Neo 3 is made out of matt AG glass, with a lightly frosted finish to reduce fingerprints. Realme has somehow made the glass feel like plastic and, combined with the actually-plastic frame, the phone does feel a little cheap in the hand. Given that glass brings with it obvious durability downsides, if the phone is going to feel this plasticky then it might as well just be made from it anyway.
That slight cheap feeling is partly down to how impressively light the phone is. At 188g, it feels more lightweight than you’d expect for a phone with a 6.7in display, and at 8.2mm thick it’s thin and comfortable in the hand too. Don’t get me wrong, this is a big phone, but it doesn’t always feel like one.
One downside to a phone with a great design is that you’ll probably end up covering it in a case, and that’s as true as ever here. While Gorilla Glass 5 is found on the phone’s front, there’s no such protection on the back, and no IP rating for water and dust-resistance – so you’ll want an extra layer to keep this safe.
Display and audio
- Large 6.7in screen
- 120Hz OLED with HDR support
- Stereo speakers
The GT Neo 3’s display isn’t quite market-leading, but it’s certainly no slouch. The flat 6.7in panel has a raft of impressive specs: OLED, 120Hz refresh rate, and HDR10+ support.
In practice, it looks sharp. Colours are bright and punchy, viewing angles are good, and the 120Hz refresh rate shines through with smooth animations.
More expensive phones offer upgrades like curved edges, dynamic LTPO refresh rates, and improved peak brightness, but for the vast majority of users the GT Neo 3’s offering will be more than enough.
The display here also offers an in-display fingerprint scanner, which has worked without a hitch.
It’s a similar story with the phone’s stereo speakers. These isn’t the crispest or richest audio around, but offering any stereo support is impressive at this phone’s price. As you’d expect these days, there’s no dedicated headphone jack.
Specs and performance
- Impressively fast Dimensity 8100 chip
- Up to 12GB RAM and 256GB storage
- 5G support
The GT Neo 3 is powered by the MediaTek Dimensity 8100 chipset, a 5nm chip that’s designed for more affordable flagships.
The phone performed exceptionally well in our benchmark tests, even beating some Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 phones on the CPU-focussed Geekbench 5 test, though scores are more in line with the competition on the graphics-heavy GFXBench tests.
That CPU benchmark flatters the phone a little, but it’s still undeniably nippy in practice. I’ve not hit any lag or stuttering in my time using the phone, and it’s capable of multi-tasking with ease and playing the latest Android games with excellent frame rates.
If you like you can also enable the optional ‘GT mode’, which will supposedly “significantly improve your phone’s performance.” It didn’t make a jot of difference when I re-ran the benchmarks however, so I’m not sure how much impact it really has. In any case, the phone is fast enough without that you needn’t worry.
My review unit is paired with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage – the only version available here in the UK, though in some markets you’ll find a cheaper model with 8GB RAM. Note that the storage isn’t expandable, so 256GB (minus the space for the OS) is all that you get.
The Dimensity 8100 brings with it support for Sub6 5G – the most common type outside the US. There’s also Wi-Fi 6, NFC, and the latest Bluetooth 5.3 standard.
Battery and charging
- Absurdly fast 150W charging
- Solid battery life
- Option of a version with slower charging
Let’s get the confusing bit out of the way first: there are two versions of the GT Neo 3, but not everywhere.
I’ve been reviewing a model with 150W charging speeds and a 4500mAh battery – the only version on sale in the UK. But in other countries, including India and parts of Europe, there’s also a second model which drops to slower 80W charging but has a bigger 5000mAh battery to make up for it. I haven’t tested this version, so my comments on battery and charging only apply to 150W variant.
Still, that’s undoubtedly the exciting one. 150W is currently the fastest wired charging of any phone on the market – enough to top the phone up to full in less than 15 minutes, or hitting 50% in just five minutes.
That’s only if you enable the optional ‘Rapid charging’ setting, which Realme warns may see the phone “get a little warmer during charging.” If you prefer to leave it off you won’t miss out by too much though – without rapid charging the phone still gained 88% of charge in 15 minutes in my test, and was up to full well before the half-hour mark.
That impressively fast wired charging means Realme decided to omit wireless charging entirely, but for many I think that’s a fair trade-off.
Battery isn’t bad either. Even though the 150W model packs a slightly smaller-capacity cell, I’ve still found the phone easily lasts a full day and often well into a second. A decent score of a little over 10 hours on our PCMark battery test reinforces the point. This isn’t the longest-lasting phone around, but it should last long enough for most.
Realme is also bullish about battery health – presumably to reassure those worried that the extra fast charging might cause long-term damage. The company says that the phone should still have 80% of its original battery capacity left after 1600 charge cycles, which equates to four or five years of use.
Although I obviously can’t test that myself, I can say that it’s far beyond current industry averages. That means that even if Realme is massaging its numbers a little, I’d still expect the GT Neo 3’s battery life to be in better shape than most phones after a few years of use.
Camera and video
- Capable main camera – especially in good light
- Average ultrawide
- Decent selfie camera
It’s fair to say that cameras aren’t the main focus of the GT Neo 3, so if it has a weak spot it’s probably here. That’s not to say the camera setup here is bad though – it’s just limited.
The main camera impresses. Using the 50Mp Sony IMX766 sensor, this optically stabilised shooter is pretty excellent in daylight, and you’d be hard-pressed to pull the results apart from flagship phones at a glance.
The OIS helps it hold its own in low light too. At night it’s clearer that this isn’t a flagship-grade camera, but whether in the regular shooting mode or the dedicated night mode, you’ll get shots that are good enough to share on social media, even if they’re not pixel-perfect.
Things drop off a little with the 8Mp ultrawide. This is decent in the daytime, though there’s definitely a drop in detail from the main camera, and colours tend to be a little less appealing. At night it’s plain disappointing, held back by the smaller sensor and lack of stabilisation – don’t use this in low light unless you really have to.
Finally, the third rear lens is a cheap 2Mp macro camera. These are now a common way of making up the numbers on affordable Android phones, and this is no different. Shots are fine as long as the light is bright, but focus is tricky to maintain, and you can usually get just as good results – if not better – from the main lens anyway.
Fortunately, the selfie camera fares better. At 16Mp it’s no surprise this isn’t quite as sharp as the main rear camera, but detail and dynamic range are both good, and the camera handles skin tones really well. The portrait mode bokeh is a little aggressive – note how much it’s blurred my hair – but results are attractive so long as you don’t look too closely.
The rear camera can shoot video at up to 4K and 60fps, and the OIS helps keep footage nice and stable. Front-facing video is limited to 1080p, and lacks that stabilisation however.
Software and updates
- Runs Android 12 out of the box
- Realme UI is easy to use, but there’s bloatware
- Two Android updates promised
The GT Neo 3 ships with Android 12 out of the box, with Realme UI 3.0 on top.
Realme UI is based heavily on parent company Oppo’s ColorOS, so if you’ve ever used an Oppo phone it will feel familiar.
That’s no bad thing, because ColorOS – and by extension Realme UI – is one of the better Android skins out there. The software is deeply customisable, with a huge amount of flexibility in how your phone looks and feels.
For example, Realme has always allowed users to tweak everything from the shape and size of their app icons to the animation used by the fingerprint sensor. This has now been bolstered by the addition of the Android 12-powered option to change the colours of the system-wide interface based on your wallpaper – though that will limit you to using static, rather than dynamic, wallpapers.
The only real downside to the day-to-day software experience here is that Realme has included a few pre-installed apps you probably don’t want. The most egregious are a set of games – Block Puzzle, Tile Master 3D, and the ever-curious Solitaire Fish World – but you’ll also have to put up with a variety of Oppo’s in-house apps for everything from transcription to file sharing.
The other issue is updates. Realme promises that the GT Neo 3 will receive two Android version updates – so Android 13 and 14 – and then an extra third year of security patches.
This isn’t a bad commitment, but it does lag behind the likes of Google and Samsung. Android manufacturers are slowly moving to improve long-term software support, and right now Realme is lagging slightly behind the pack.
Price and availability
The Realme GT Neo 3 is out now in Asia – including China and India – and goes on sale across Europe and the UK on 15 June. You shouldn’t expect it to ever launch in the US.
Pricing varies a bit because of the various versions. The 150W charging model I’ve reviewed, with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage, costs £599 in the UK and ₹42,999 in India.
The slower charging 80W version is cheaper, starting from ₹36,999 in India, but this model isn’t launching in the UK – though will be on sale in some parts of Europe.
The pricing puts the GT Neo 3 firmly at the upper-end of the mid-range market, and actually more expensive than the £499/€549/₹34,999 Realme GT 2. If you’d rather go cheaper still, the Realme GT Neo 3T shares a lot of the Neo 3’s specs, dropping to 80W charging and the older Snapdragon 870 chip, and costs just £369.
Outside of Realme’s line, the phone’s strongest competition in the UK and Europe is the substantially cheaper OnePlus Nord 2T. At £369/€399 this phone packs an only slightly slower chipset, still-excellent 80W charging, and essentially the same camera as the GT Neo 3. The Realme phone is definitely faster, but is it £230 faster?
Check out our guide to the best mid-range phones for more options, or the best Realme phones to see how the rest of the line-up compares.
While the GT Neo 3’s marketing may be all about speed, this is an unexpectedly well-rounded offering.
Sure, it’s fast – with 150W charging and a flagship chipset that should come as no surprise. But with a decent display, snazzy design, and capable main camera it has more to offer than that.
It’s not perfect of course. While the phone looks nice it does feel a little cheap, and the main camera is let down by disappointing additional lenses. Bits of bloatware frustrate a little too, and at this price there should really be at least one more Android version update down the line.
But none of…