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Realme 7 5G review
Is Australia’s cheapest 5G phone all it’s cracked up to be?
The Realme 7 5G (a.k.a. the cheapest 5G phone in Australia) has a gorgeous display, decent camera and great battery life, which unfortunately takes a hit with 5G actually switched on. It’s a good entry-level 5G device if you simply must have the fastest data speeds available, but if you’re happy with 4G, Realme has plenty of other great 4G-only devices.
While 5G is still very much in its infancy in terms of coverage in Australia, we’re already spoilt for choice when it comes to 5G-capable smartphones. At the top end, you’ve got the popular iPhone 12, Google Pixel 5 and Samsung Galaxy S21. But none of these devices would be considered cheap, ranging from $999 to a couple of grand. That’s what’s so intriguing about the Realme 7 5G. It boasts a stunning 120Hz display, zippy performance, a decent camera and 5G connectivity for less than $500. But, unfortunately, it seems that the Realme 7 5G’s flagship spec may also be its biggest downside.
Realme 7 5G price
The Realme 7 5G is all about bringing next-gen connectivity to the masses, with a very accessible $499 price tag. That puts it in the low-to-mid-range, which is pretty impressive given its impressive spec sheet, especially considering it shares more than a few features with big guns like the Galaxy S21 Ultra, which starts at $1,849 (almost four times the price of the Realme 7 5G).
In fact, at the time of writing, it’s the cheapest 5G handset currently available in Australia, tying with the Motorola Moto G 5G Plus, which has a smaller (albeit still decent) 90Hz refresh rate.
Realme 7 5G design and display
When I first saw the Realme 7 5G, it was hard not to notice its striking similarities to its non-5G sibling, the Realme 7 Pro. With the same mirror-like effect on the rear of the phone (available in a darker blue on the 7 5G) and the same camera notch front and back, it’s hard to tell the two apart. In fact, the only real difference is the 7 5G’s flatter standby button, which also happens to function as a fingerprint reader, instead of the 7 Pro’s in-screen scanner. If you look closely, you’ll also notice the two models’ camera setups are quite different (64MP on the Pro vs 48MP on the 5G) - more on this below.
Left: Realme 7 Pro | Right: Realme 7 5G
While they might look eerily similar, they’re completely different beasts under the hood. The Realme 7 5G sports a 6.5-inch IPS LCD screen with a speedy 120Hz refresh rate. While colours aren’t quite as vibrant and blacks aren’t quite as dark as the 7 Pro’s OLED screen, it’s still a gorgeous display with double the refresh rate, resulting in silky smooth movement while scrolling, flicking between apps and playing mobile games.
Realme 7 5G camera
I’ve had some wildly varied experiences when it comes to cameras on Realme phones. The Realme 7 Pro’s shooter blew me away, while the Realme 6’s setup left me completely underwhelmed.
The Realme 7 5G’s camera falls somewhere in the middle (if not closer to the Realme 6), consisting of a 48MP main lens, 8MP ultrawide lens, 2MP macro and 2MP depth lenses. It’s certainly not on par with the Pixels and iPhones of the world, but it’s perfectly capable of taking some nice shots in bright daylight. In low light conditions, it struggled with detail and accurate colour.
The same can be said for the 16MP selfie camera. With a decent amount of natural light, your shots will turn out fine, but if you’re planning on taking some night-time selfies with your mates at the pub (or whatever it is the youths are doing these days), you’ll be a little disappointed.
All this said, it’s a decent camera for its modest price point and will suit everyday users perfectly.
Realme 7 5G features and performance
While Realme’s cameras can tend to be a little hit and miss, there’s one thing they never get wrong - performance. Despite opting for budget-friendly chips over high-end processors, these guys must be working some black magic to make their affordable phones run so quickly and so smoothly.
The Realme 7 5G runs Android 10 (with 11 scheduled for later this year) on a MediaTek Dimensity 800U 5G chip. It’s not the fanciest piece of tech in the world, but it works like a dream. The phone can run multiple apps with no issues and games are smooth and responsive.
Likewise, unlocking the phone - whether you do so with your face or your thumb - is a breeze, and in my experience, the 7 5G’s physical fingerprint reader is far superior to its in-screen counterpart found on the 7 Pro.
AUX dinosaurs will also be happy to know the Realme 7 5G does have a 3.5mm headphone jack, so you can stay happily wired in for the foreseeable future. As for the speaker, it’s actually pretty damn good thanks to the integrated Dolby Atmos and Hi-Res Audio, which admittedly feels wasted on me and my low-quality TikTok habit.
Realme 7 5G battery life
As someone who doesn’t live in an area with 5G access, I couldn’t give the Realme 7 5G’s 5,000mAh battery a proper go. In my experience, its longevity was fantastic, averaging a full two days of everyday usage with 4G and the 120Hz refresh rate turned on.
With 5G turned on, you can expect that life to cut almost in half. 5G is a notorious battery drainer, and according to our friends over at WhistleOut, the Realme 7 5G is not immune to this common issue, especially while using 5G almost exclusively. It’s something to keep in mind if you were hoping to have 5G switched on all the time, but if you’re simply wanting a phone to bridge you through this 4G-to-5G transition phase, you’ll manage just fine with the Realme 7 5G.
On the plus side, charging is just as fast as you’d expect, given Realme’s penchant for a quick juice. While it’s not as snappy as the 7 Pro’s frankly insane 65W charge (which promised 0-100% in just over half an hour), you’ll be happy to know you can completely refuel your Realme 7 5G from zero in a little over an hour.
Is it worth it?
The Realme 7 5G is a stellar mid-range smartphone. It performs better than some devices twice its price, rocks a simply beautiful display and a decent camera. Given its reported 5G battery drain issues, I can’t in good conscience recommend it solely for the fact that it’s 5G-enabled, but it’s still a highly capable all-rounder with otherwise great battery life. That said, if you’re happy to go without 5G for the time being, you’d be better off forking out an extra $100 for the Realme 7 Pro.