The RealMe 8 5G is quite a prospect: it costs next to nothing, packs in a ton of spec and hardware, and it looks like a premium flagship…
So what’s the catch? This is my first time using a RealMe phone, although I have been closely following the company for the last couple of years.
And for the catch? Well, RealMe delivers big on value for money by using cheaper CPUs – a MediaTek Dimensity 700 – and keeping thinner profit margins than its peers.
This is also what Xiaomi does, for the most part as well.
This phone looks anything but cheap, despite the fact it only costs £179 in the UK.
In fact, it looks and feels very much like a flagship phone, reminding me of the OPPO Find X2 Pro – it has a similar shape, gait, and weight to it.
You also get a wealth of “high-end” specs for your money too – things like a 90Hz display, a triple lens camera fronted by a 48MP wide sensor, Android 11, a 16MP front-facing camera, and a up to 8GB of RAM.
RealMe 8 5G Design
The look and feel of the RealMe 8 5G is not what I was expecting. Sub-£200 phones tend to feel plasticky and cheap.
The RealMe 8 5G is anything but; it is made from premium-grade materials and it has a heft to it that makes it feel nice and robust.
From the front or back, it looks like flagship to my eyes. How RealMe got the price this low is a complete mystery to me; you can shave off hundreds of bucks just by switching to a cheaper CPU.
The display, while not 120Hz, is bright enough and, thanks to its 90Hz refresh rate, and IPS LCD screen tech, looks great – both when using apps and when viewing videos and other media.
You also have support for SD-cards and even a headphone jack, two things sorely missing on nearly ALL Android phones these days.
With storage options, you have either 64GB or 128GB. Again, pretty decent given its pricing. My test unit is the 128GB model.
Physically, the RealMe 8 5G looks and feels great. From the moment I unboxed it, I knew I was going to like it. And, like OPPO, RealMe includes a case for the RealMe 8 5G inside the box too.
The RealMe 8 5G ships with Android 11 out the box. Whether it will get Android 12 remains to be seen. But RealMe’s custom Android UX, RealMe UI 2.0, is pleasant enough to use, packing in nice design elements and icon design.
My daily driver is a Pixel 5, so I’m used to Google’s stock Android configuration which is clean and adheres to Google’s Material Design philosophy.
Usually, switching to another phone, especially an Android phone, is a little jarring – things seem to busy, too convoluted. But I actually really quite like RealMe UI 2.0.
It does come with WAY too many apps preinstalled, AKA bloatware. Apps like TikTok, Facebook, and a whole host of RealMe apps – upwards of 20 – are hard-baked inside the phone’s OS.
I get why RealMe does this, but for my preferences I’d have preferred far fewer apps. I simply booted the phone up, logged in with my accounts, and either deleted or moved all these errant apps to a folder titled “bloatware”.
One of the really cool things about RealMe UI 2.0 is the sheer level of customisation options it possesses. You can change how many apps show on your display by alternating the number of columns and rows.
You can quickly change the wallpaper with a long press on the screen, and RealMe’s wallpaper designs are actually really nice too. You can change the icon design, add or remove widgets, and you can even alter the transitions to your liking.
This makes personalising your phone really simple. It also gives you a ton of options for making your phone completely unique to you – you can change and alter every aspect of the operating system.
I’m pretty old and boring now, so I basically left it in the stock configuration and changed the wallpaper. But if you like tinkering with the look and feel of your phone’s UX, you’ll love the options here.
The RealMe 8 5G ships with a rather impressive triple lens camera. Here’s a breakdown of its full specs:
- 48 MP, f/1.8, 26mm (wide), PDAF
- 2 MP, f/2.4, (macro)
- 2 MP, f/2.4, (depth)
In my week or so with the phone, I found the camera to be exceedingly impressive given its low price tag.
For less than £200, you’re basically getting a camera setup that, only a couple of years ago, early-adopters were paying £1000+ for.
Is it as good as the Pixel 5 or the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s? No. But that’s not the point; those phones cost considerably more than the RealMe 8 5G.
It does capture some pretty impressive images though. The camera also sports a bunch of useful shooting modes – things like Portrait Mode, 48 Mode, Night Mode, Expert Mode, Ultra Macro, Slo-Mo, and Pano.
RealMe has carbon-copied the iPhone camera app design too, so if you’re coming from an older iPhone, the camera app will feel immediately familiar.
The RealMe 8 5G ships with a 5000mAh battery. I’ve been using this phone for a couple of weeks now and the battery life has been superb.
It will do a full day – with heavy use – with ease. If you forget to charge it, you’ll probably get through to around midday the next day.
The RealMe 8 5G also features 18W fast charging too, although no wireless charging, so you can quickly top the phone up as and when you need to.
In this context, I have ZERO complaints about the RealMe 8 5G – it has excellent battery life that is up there with the best models on the market right now.
Who Is The RealMe 8 5G Designed For?
The pitch of this phone is simple: bring high-end specs and performance to people that cannot usually afford it – the type of people that cannot or will not drop £1000 on a phone.
This means teenagers and people in developing countries, for the most part. And that is a pretty sweet demographic, as there is plenty of room for growth.
RealMe wants to be a “youth brand” – all of its marketing is targeted at young people. And the price of the phone, alongside its design and focus on imaging, is what will end up selling this phone to youngsters.
But this phone is suitable for all types of users, even existing Apple and Samsung users.
If you want a cheap 5G phone with a great camera and a stunning design and solid performance, for less than £200, the RealMe 8 5G is essentially unbeatable.
The only real issue I have about this phone is how RealMe managed to make and sell it for such a small amount of money – it literally makes no sense given just how well it performs in all areas.
Who is RealMe Anyway?
Next to OPPO and VIVO, RealMe is one of the fastest-growing phone brands on the planet. Interestingly, they are ALL owned – either partly or wholly – by the same corporate entity, BBK Electronics.
The RealMe 8 5G launched alongside the RealMe 8 and the RealMe 8 Pro – the RealMe 8 5G, though, is the only option that comes with 5G.
In this respect, it would be the preferred model of the range. 5G is happening, so you might as well get on the train. Especially if you plan on running your phone for the next few years.
And right now, the RealMe 8 5G is the best and cheapest 5G phone you can currently buy.
I really like this phone. For the asking price of less than £200, it is next to impossible to fault this phone…
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.