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Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Introduction and specs

Realme is once again trying to stand out from the crowd with funky new design, deliver yet another of its Master series phones. The Realme GT2 Explorer Master is the most powerful phone yet to be adorned by a design co-created with a famous designer only this time the maker signed up Jae-Jung rather than Naoto Fukasawa. And unlike the GT Explorer Master, the GT2 Explorer Master is the company’s most powerful phone yet instead of an upper mid-ranger.

The “Travel Trunk” design means that this isn’t just another boring bar phone, but its internals are also largely impressive. Not only is the phone running the latest and greatest from Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, but it’s also equipped with an advanced cooling system. Judging by our previous experience with Realme’s phones running the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip, we feel quite optimistic about this.

Furthermore, the GT2 Explorer Master has two touch-sensitive areas on the right side of the frame aiming to appeal to gamers as much as it does to fashionistas. They are not marked, so the areas remain inconspicuous, which is great as it doesn’t ruin the overall design and symmetry. And that’s on top of the advanced gaming-related features under the Realme GT Mode 3.0.

Realme GT2 Explorer Master specs at a glance:

  • Body: 161.3×74.3×8.2mm, 195g; glass or vegan leather back, glass front, aluminum side frame.
  • Display: 6.70″ OLED, 1B colors, 120Hz, HDR10+, 1080x2400px resolution, 20:9 aspect ratio, 393ppi.
  • Chipset: Qualcomm SM8475 Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 (4 nm): Octa-core (1×3.19 GHz Cortex-X2 & 3×2.75 GHz Cortex-A710 & 4×1.80 GHz Cortex-A510); Adreno 730.
  • Memory: 256GB 8GB RAM, 256GB 12GB RAM; UFS 3.1.
  • OS/Software: Android 12, Realme UI 3.0.
  • Rear camera: Wide (main): 50 MP, f/1.8, 24mm, 1/1.56″, 1.0µm, multi-directional PDAF, OIS; Ultrawide angle: 50 MP, f/2.2, 15mm, 150˚; Microscopic: 3 MP, f/3.3, (microscope), AF, 40x magnification.
  • Front camera: 16MP, f/2.5.
  • Video capture: Rear camera: 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30/60fps, gyro-EIS; Front camera: 1080p@30fps.
  • Battery: 5000mAh; Fast charging 100W.
  • Misc: Fingerprint reader (under display, optical); NFC; stereo speakers.

Photography capabilities aren’t neglected, although it’s the one area where this phone doesn’t bring the best from Realme. The camera setup is almost identical to the GT2 Pro’s, with Sony’s 50MP IMX766 sensor in the lead, accompanied by another 50MP sensor behind a 150-degree FoV ultrawide lens. The 3MP microscopic camera is also carried over – it may hav limited impact on the overall imaging prowess, but enables some cool uses.

Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Another major upgrade over the original Explorer Master from last year and the GT2 Pro from this one is the charging. The GT2 Explorer Master is powered by a big 5,000 mAh battery supporting 100W fast charging and Realme says it needs less than 30 minutes for a full charge. The new GaN materials used for the battery tech ensure a longer life span, but more on that in the following pages.

The really bad news is this phone will be limited to the Chinese market. So acquiring one outside the country will be troublesome, not to mention that you’ll have to live with the limitation of software not tailored to your market even if the Google Suite is easily enabled.

Still, we believe the GT2 Explorer Master is an exciting device, not least because it’s the first Realme phone with the updated Plus version of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, so we are curious what the maker made of it.

Unboxing the Realme GT2 Explorer Master

The Realme GT2 Explorer Master comes in a pretty big box. It contains all the usual user manuals, a USB-A to USB-C cable for charging and data transfer, the appropriate 65W charger and a nice-looking gray silicone case for extra protection.

Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Better yet, the case provides nice grip and doesn’t feel as cheap as most of the other cases OEMs bundle with their phones. In other words it can be a long-term solution rather than a stopgap until you order something better.

Design and build

The GT2 Explorer Master is quite different from what we are used to seeing from Realme. It’s a mixture of modern, sleek design and retro styling. The Travel Trunk colorway we got has a vegan leather back (a fancy type of plastic) and a flat metal frame goes around the handset in line with the recent trend of boxy designs. The combination makes it feel premium and solid in the hand.

Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

The material on the back, although plastic, makes a very plausible leather impression, it’s grippy, yet somewhat soft to the touch. There are brackets in three of the corners for that old school trunk reference. The choice of colors is also pretty elegant with that light beige back plate and gold-ish brown finish of the frame. And for those that feel such retro inspiration doesn’t sit well with modern tech Realme offers standard Black and White colors with glass backs.

Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

The back is plenty grippy and along with the sharp corners and flat frame make up for secure and pleasant handling. And for a 6.7-inch device with a 5,000 mAh battery and two vapor chambers inside, 195 grams is really acceptable. Perhaps opting for the vegan leather back has trimmed off some weight. It’s a more lightweight option than glass, that’s for sure.

Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Despite its relations with the GT2 family and the Explorer Master from last year, the camera island takes after the GT Neo3. The big main sensor sits on top with the other two cameras underneath. The bump is quite prominent, has sharp edges and the individual lenses stick out quite a bit.

Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

As we already mentioned, the side frame is metal-made with flat sides and has chamfered edges towards the front and back panels. It feels pretty nice and looks great. Realme says it’s designed in a way that actually helps 5G reception as well.

Realme GT2 Explorer Master - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Realme GT2 Explorer Master - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Realme GT2 Explorer Master - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Realme GT2 Explorer Master - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Realme GT2 Explorer Master

The power button sits on the right while the volume rocker is on the opposite side. Both keys are positioned conveniently, but the same cannot be said about the fingerprint reader. It’s once again placed too close to the bottom bezel and makes it somewhat awkward to reach with your thumb.

Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

The bottom side of the frame is business as usual – USB-C connector, speaker grille and a SIM card tray. The top houses only the secondary mic and the additional grille for the other speaker’s echo chamber.

Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Nothing out of the ordinary on the front as well, where we see some premium flagship-level bezels. The top one measures just 1.84mm while the bottom one is not far at 2.37mm. For all intents and purposes, though, the top and bottom bezels look symmetrical to the naked eye. The side ones take it one step further, measuring at 1.48mm. The selfie camera sits in a small, centered punch-hole.

Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Even though the Travel Trunk design might not be for everyone, it’s definitely interesting and well implemented making it a worthy installment in the Mast Edition series. Kudos to Realme for delivering so many unorthodox designs and with such high frequency.

The phone also deserves bonus points for the reasonable weight and surprisingly comfortable handling. An omissions you might want to consider – there’s no official ingress protection. Going by the GT and the GT Neo series, however, there probably are seals that protect from sprinkles and splashes.

6.7-inch, 120Hz OLED display

The Realme GT2 Explorer Master is built around a 6.7-inch OLED panel with 1080 x 2412px resolution and 120Hz that can boosts its touch sampling rate up to 1000Hz touch sampling rate. The panel covers 100% of the DCI-P3 color space and its color depth is 10-bit. In other words – flagship-level viewing experience.

Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

We can’t help but draw a quick comparison between the GT Neo3 and the GT2 Explorer Master. Both phones have the same exact display dimensions, cutout, bezels, specs and the results from our brightness and color accuracy tests are oddly similar. That’s nothing to frown at as the panel itself is great. It’s just strange not to use the energy-efficient LTPO2 OLED panel the GT2 Pro has.

In manual mode, the panel boosts up to 497 nits while in Auto mode, it can go up to 798 nits. More than enough for comfortable outdoor use, regardless of the ambient light. Color accuracy is quite impressive as well, as long as you opt for the Natural color preset. We got low average and maximum dE2000 – 0.7 and 1.8, respectively. The white is truly white against the sRGB color space and it doesn’t have any discernable tint. The same cannot be said about the default Vivid color mode, which, admittedly, has juicier colors that most users would like.

Display test 100% brightness
Black,cd/m2 White,cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Realme GT2 Pro 0 482
Realme GT2 Pro (Max Auto) 0 778
Realme GT2 (Max Auto) 0 846
Realme GT2 Explorer Master 0 497
Realme GT2 Explorer Master (Max Auto) 0 798
Realme GT2 0 517
Realme GT2 (Max Auto) 0 846
Realme GT Explorer Master (Max Auto) 0 805
Realme GT Explorer Master 0 504
Realme GT Neo3 0 466
Realme GT Neo3 (Max Auto) 0 796
Realme GT Neo 3T 0 516
Realme GT Neo 3T (Max Auto) 0 803
Poco F4 GT 0 468
Poco F4 GT (Max Auto) 0 761
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G (before second slide) 0 385
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G 0 792
iQOO 9 Pro 0 438
iQOO 9 Pro (Max Auto) 0 1000

In addition to the HDR video brightness boost, the Video color enhancer and the Image sharpener options, the panel has a dedicated X7 display chip that works with the Adreno 730 GPU to provide a smoother overall gaming experience by stabilizing frame rate and reduce power consumption. It also does the math related to interpolation and can render a 30fps video at 120fps by inserting intermediate frames. Although, that last one isn’t advisable as MEMC (Motion Estimation Motion Compensation) produces annoying smearing effect that you might know as Soap Opera effect.

HRR control

Sadly, there’s no granular refresh rate control, so you have only 60Hz and 120Hz steps at your disposal. You get the option to lock one or the other or use the Auto Switch mode.

The last one behaves as expected – full-screen videos and an idle screen dial down on refresh rate (60Hz), while most other apps we’ve tried and system menus run at 120Hz. Interestingly enough, leaving an idling screen in a system menu would set the refresh rate at 120Hz.

And in case an app doesn’t cooperate with the default Auto Switch mode and caps at 60Hz, you can try forcing it with the 120Hz setting in the display menu. We’ve tried it and it works, but not in games. Most of them still remain limited to just 60fps.

Battery life

Battery life is solid. The change in the chipset and the display compared to the GT2 Pro have actually resulted in a better endurance. The 5,000 mAh cell is also marketed to withstand twice as many cycles as a standard Li-Po battery. It’s supposed to preserve at least 80% of its capacity even after 1,200 charging cycles, thanks to GaN materials inside the cell.

Back to the battery life, we see exceptional endurance in screen-off and screen-on test scenarios, easily overtaking other flagship phones with similar chipsets and battery capacities.

Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Our battery tests were automated thanks to SmartViser, using its viSerDevice app. The endurance rating denotes how long the battery charge will last you if you use the device for an hour of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. More details can be found here.

Video test carried out in 60Hz refresh rate mode. Web browsing test done at the display’s highest refresh rate whenever possible. Refer to the respective reviews for specifics. To adjust the endurance rating formula to match your own usage patterns check out our all-time battery test results chart where you can also find all phones we’ve tested.

Charging speed

The GT2 Explorer Master also impressive when it comes to charging. The new 100W UltraDart fast charging can get the battery full in just 31 minutes. To be frank, the standard Android meter showed 100% after just 25 minutes of charging, but the battery was in a fully charged state after an additional 6 minutes, according to third-party software that has more accurate readings.

Either way, that’s pretty fast, one of the fastest, even.

30min charging test (from 0%)

Higher is better

  • Realme GT Neo3 150W
    100%
  • Poco F4 GT
    100%
  • Xiaomi 12 Pro (120W)
    100%
  • Realme GT2 Explorer Master
    99%
  • Realme GT2
    97%
  • Realme GT Explorer Master
    96%
  • Realme GT Neo3T
    95%
  • Oppo Find X5
    94%
  • Oppo Find X5 Pro
    91%
  • Realme GT2 Pro
    91%
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G
    51%

Time to full charge (from 0%)

Lower is better

  • Realme GT Neo3 150W
    0:16h
  • Poco F4 GT
    0:17h
  • Xiaomi 12 Pro (120W)
    0:21h
  • Realme GT2 Explorer Master
    0:31h
  • Realme GT Explorer Master
    0:33h
  • Realme GT2
    0:40h
  • Realme GT Neo3T
    0:40h
  • Oppo Find X5 Pro
    0:40h
  • Realme GT2 Pro
    0:40h
  • Oppo Find X5
    0:42h
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G
    1:15h

Speakers

This year’s Explorer Master features the same loudspeaker setup as the previous one – a bottom-firing one aided by one at the top that doubles as an earpiece. You can find an additional grille at the top side of the frame, acting as an echo chamber.

For all intents and purposes, the speakers sound well-balanced, but once you cover the bottom one, you will immediately notice the difference in loudness and overall fullness.

Even the bottom one isn’t amazing and at higher volumes, the highs start to ring a little. At least vocals remain mostly clean and the setup gets loud enough to earn a “Good” score.

Use the Playback controls to listen to the phone sample recordings (best use headphones). We measure the average loudness of the speakers in LUFS. A lower absolute value means a louder sound. A look at the frequency response chart will tell you how far off the ideal “0db” flat line is the reproduction of the bass, treble, and mid frequencies. You can add more phones to compare how they differ. The scores and ratings are not comparable with our older loudspeaker test. Learn more about how we test here.

Realme UI 3.0 and Android 12

Even though the Realme GT2 Explorer Master runs a Chinese version of Realme UI as it’s not getting a global version, it’s still pretty much the same experience. That’s true at least when it comes to features, while the default app package is obviously different.

It’s still Relame UI 3.0 based on Android 12 and it still has Google Mobile Services even if they are lying dormant by default. We just had to sideload the Google Play Store and install the needed apps without any awkrward hacks required. Some limitations with this software are at hand, however. Some banking apps might not work and the device isn’t whitelisted by Netflix, so you’d have to sideload that as well. No HDR capabilities in the YouTube and Netflix apps too.

Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Realme UI has a colorful UI with customizable UI elements and its own iconography for the notification shade and the general Settings menu. The app drawer hasn’t been tweaked either, but we did notice a bit of inconsistency with the swipe up and swipe down gestures on the Home screen when opening/closing the drawer. A small annoyance that probably won’t be noticed by most users.

Home screen, recent apps, notification shade, app drawer, settings menu - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Home screen, recent apps, notification shade, app drawer, settings menu - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Home screen, recent apps, notification shade, app drawer, settings menu - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Home screen, recent apps, notification shade, app drawer, settings menu - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Home screen, recent apps, notification shade, app drawer, settings menu - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Home screen, recent apps, notification shade, app drawer, settings menu - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Home screen, recent apps, notification shade, app drawer, settings menu - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Home screen, recent apps, notification shade, app drawer, settings menu - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Home screen, recent apps, notification shade, app drawer, settings menu

Realme also kept the so-called Icon pull-down gesture. Swiping alongside the left or right edge of the screen crams icons at the bottom half of the screen so they can be easily reached with your thumb. The gesture is pretty reliable as well. By default, the swipe-down gesture on the Home screen opens up the so-called global search, but you can set it to expand the notification shade instead.

Icon pull-down gesture - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Icon pull-down gesture

As before, Realme UI offers deep customization of the interface by letting you choose accent colors (or a combination of accent colors), wallpapers, icons, the shape of the quick toggles as well as the font and size. All of these settings are found in the Personalization sub-menu.

Customization settings - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Customization settings - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Customization settings - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Customization settings - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Customization settings - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Customization settings - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Customization settings - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Customization settings

The Dark mode isn’t a new feature, especially for Realme’s UI, but you get some additional options. Scheduling the Dark mode is possible, of course, and forcing it on third-party apps is also available. We were surprised by the color schemes, however, as the Dark mode now offers three variations – dark gray instead of black and a bit lighter gray. The gray color has been proven to be just as effective as the pitch-black color when it comes to energy consumption. So going for a lighter gray might be a sweet spot for users that are hesitant to go full Dark mode.

Always-on display - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Always-on display - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Always-on display - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Always-on display

Under the Special features sub-menu, Realme put the Smart sidebar and Flexible windows features, both of which boost multitasking. When turned on, the sidebar offers quick access to some of your favorite apps. The system allows you to adjust the position of the sidebar, which is crucial because it might interfere with the back gesture if you are using the standard Android gestures. Anyway, tap and hold on an app icon enters split-screen mode while a single tap opens up the app in a floating window or as Realme likes to call it, “Flexible window”. The supported apps can be opened in small, draggable and size-adjustable windows.

Floating window and smart Sidebar - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Floating window and smart Sidebar - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Floating window and smart Sidebar - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Floating window and smart Sidebar - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Floating window and smart Sidebar

A few good words about the vibration motor – it seems to be improved upon as the haptic feedback feels precise, punchy and strong. It feels great alongside the whole frame of the phone when typing or during certain actions when navigating through menus and apps. This version of the software also has separate controls over vibration intensity for calls and notifications.

The good old screen-off gestures that allow you to launch certain apps or the flashlight by drawing letters on a locked screen are here to stay.

In the Realme labs, where the company likes to introduce experimental features, there’s one that caught our eye. You can stream music to a Bluetooth headset and wired headphones simultaneously. Pretty neat if you are traveling with a friend and want to listen to the same tunes.

Gestures and Realme lab - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Gestures and Realme lab - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Gestures and Realme lab - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Gestures and Realme lab - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Gestures and Realme lab

Lastly, let’s talk about the fingerprint reader. It’s fast, it’s accurate and reliable. Two new features are now available with the fingerprint reader, though. One of them is the built-in heart rate monitor, which seems to be largely inconsistent.

A Quick launch option is now available and seems to be taken straight from OnePlus’ OxygenOS. You just tap on the fingerprint scanner and hold until icons for your pre-defined apps appear. Dragging your finger on one of them launches the app in question.

Quick launch - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Quick launch - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Quick launch

All in all, though, the Realme UI 3.0 looks snappy, offers some new features and looks and feels the same as the previous iteration of the software, for better or worse. It’s also highly customizable, and that’s something a lot of Android users are looking for. Bonus points for that.

Gaming features and shoulder triggers

The GT Mode 3.0 isn’t something new as most Realme phones come with one. It devotes all of the CPU and GPU resources to keeping a stable frame rate throughout the gaming session.

A double swipe from the side brings out an in-game overlay that lets you customize the gaming environment, block calls and notifications, record your gaming session and also display stats about your network connectivity, in-game FPS and battery level.

GT Mode overaly - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
GT Mode overaly - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

GT Mode overaly

And since the GT2 Explorer Master is equipped with a set of shoulder triggers, this is where you bind them to certain actions. We found them to be particularly useful in first-person shooter and racing games. There’s visual and haptic feedback when pressing down on the trigger area. Since the vibration motor is precise and crisp, the feedback you get from pressing on the frame gets pretty close to pressing an actual button. Pretty nice job on Realme’s end.

Shoulder triggers settings - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Shoulder triggers settings

Synthetic performance

Compared to the Realme GT Explorer Master, the GT2 Explorer Master offers a substantial upgrade in terms of raw performance, but it’s also an improvement over the Realme GT2 Pro, even if more modest. The Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 promises 30% better power efficiency in the CPU and GPU department compared to its predecessor since Qualcomm changed from Samsung’s fabs to TSMC’s (both are still 4nm, though). Performance gains are smaller – 10% on both CPU and GPU, mainly due to the higher clock speeds.

The octa-core CPU consists of the same 1+3+4 core combo (1x Cortex-X2 + 3x Cortex-A710 + 4x Cortex-510), but clocked at 3.20 GHz, 2.75 GHz and 1.80 GHz, respectively. The Adreno 730 GPU runs at 900Hz.

Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Aside from the CPU and GPU, the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 is also bringing a new Spectra ISP, premium Snapdragon Sound and more power-efficient NPU computing. The ISP can now record 8K HDR footage and video bokeh effect alongside face tracking simultaneously. The NPU’s capabilities have been bumped up 20% per watt.

There’s also the Volumetric rendering support and improved power efficiency during gaming, and those alone theoretically boost gaming time by about an hour. Now off to the benchmarks to see how well it fares against the competition and see how good Realme’s implementation is.

GeekBench 5 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Asus Zenfone 9 (High Performance)
    4338
  • Xiaomi 12S Ultra
    4300
  • Realme GT2 Explorer Master
    4021
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (1440p)
    3657
  • Poco F4 GT
    3637
  • Asus Zenfone 9 (Dynamic)
    3606
  • Realme GT2 Pro
    3501
  • Realme GT2
    3487
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G
    3049
  • Google Pixel 6 Pro
    2831

GeekBench 5 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Realme GT2 Explorer Master
    1336
  • Xiaomi 12S Ultra
    1324
  • Asus Zenfone 9 (High Performance)
    1313
  • Poco F4 GT
    1244
  • Realme GT2 Pro
    1238
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (1440p)
    1180
  • Realme GT2
    1131
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G
    1096
  • Google Pixel 6 Pro
    1042
  • Asus Zenfone 9 (Dynamic)
    927

AnTuTu 9

Higher is better

  • Asus Zenfone 9 (High Performance)
    1083092
  • Realme GT2 Explorer Master
    1045876
  • Xiaomi 12S Ultra
    1039412
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (1440p)
    968359
  • Realme GT2 Pro
    966251
  • Poco F4 GT
    952124
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (1080p)
    940400
  • Realme GT2
    810512
  • Asus Zenfone 9 (Dynamic)
    783425
  • Google Pixel 6 Pro
    719815
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G
    719696

GFX Aztek ES 3.1 High (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Asus Zenfone 9 (High Performance)
    67
  • Realme GT2 Explorer Master
    59
  • Asus Zenfone 9 (Dynamic)
    57
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (1080p)
    51
  • Realme GT2
    40
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G
    38
  • Xiaomi 12S Ultra
    38
  • Realme GT2 Pro
    36
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (1440p)
    30
  • Google Pixel 6 Pro
    28

GFX Aztek ES 3.1 High (offscreen 1440p)

Higher is better

  • Realme GT2 Explorer Master
    46
  • Asus Zenfone 9 (High Performance)
    46
  • Xiaomi 12S Ultra
    46
  • Realme GT2 Pro
    42
  • Asus Zenfone 9 (Dynamic)
    33
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (1080p)
    32
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (1440p)
    31
  • Google Pixel 6 Pro
    31
  • Realme GT2
    27
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G
    24

GFX Aztek Vulkan High (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Asus Zenfone 9 (High Performance)
    69
  • Realme GT2 Explorer Master
    59
  • Asus Zenfone 9 (Dynamic)
    47
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (1080p)
    46
  • Realme GT2 Pro
    39
  • Xiaomi 12S Ultra
    39
  • Realme GT2
    38
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G
    38
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (1440p)
    29
  • Google Pixel 6 Pro
    26

GFX Aztek Vulkan High (offscreen 1440p)

Higher is better

  • Asus Zenfone 9 (High Performance)
    52
  • Xiaomi 12S Ultra
    51
  • Realme GT2 Explorer Master
    50
  • Realme GT2 Pro
    46
  • Asus Zenfone 9 (Dynamic)
    36
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (1440p)
    35
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (1080p)
    34
  • Realme GT2
    30
  • Google Pixel 6 Pro
    30
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G
    25

GFX Car Chase ES 3.1 (offscreen 1080p)

Higher is better

  • Asus Zenfone 9 (High Performance)
    104
  • Xiaomi 12S Ultra
    104
  • Realme GT2 Explorer Master
    103
  • Realme GT2 Pro
    95
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (1080p)
    76
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (1440p)
    76
  • Asus Zenfone 9 (Dynamic)
    75
  • Google Pixel 6 Pro
    70
  • Realme GT2
    68
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G
    57

GFX Manhattan ES 3.1 (offscreen 1080p)

Higher is better

  • Asus Zenfone 9 (High Performance)
    187
  • Realme GT2 Explorer Master
    182
  • Xiaomi 12S Ultra
    182
  • Realme GT2 Pro
    165
  • Asus Zenfone 9 (Dynamic)
    137
  • Realme GT2
    115
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (1080p)
    114
  • Google Pixel 6 Pro
    110
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (1440p)
    109
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G
    103

As you can see from the scores, the results are inline other SD 8+ Gen 1-powered smartphones. We’ve excluded some onscreen tests from the charts since the device was locked at 60fps. The SoC is convincingly more powerful than its predecessor and the competing solution from Samsung, the Exynos 2200, in pretty much all scenarios.

Sustained performance

Although Realme’s dual vapor chamber cooling design sounds a lot like the GT2 Pro’s, the cited numbers are ever so slightly different in favor of the GT2 Explorer Master. The total heat dissipation area is 37,924 mm2, while the two VC sheets are crammed up in a 4,811 mm2 heat dissipation area.

In addition, Realme highlights a total of 11 layers designed to get the heat away from the SoC and some of those include stainless steel mesh, diamond thermal gel and graphene.

We ran the standard CPU throttle test that puts 100% workload on the CPU for an hour. Usually, games don’t reach such high loads for extended periods of time, but this kind of stress testing is the best we can do for testing the cooling capabilities of a system.

CPU throttle test: 30 min - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
CPU throttle test: 60 min - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

CPU throttle test: 30 min • 60 min

The GT2 Explorer Master did great. In the first 30 minutes, the CPU throttled down to about 80% of its maximum performance and that only happened after the 25th-minute mark. The graph seems smooth enough too. It remained at around 78% of its performance throughout the rest of the test, which is pretty solid given the powerful chipset and the passive cooling design. It’s also notably better than the SD 8 Gen 1-powered GT2 Pro, which throttled down to 74% of its maximum performance in the first 15 minutes.

Since the handset has a plastic (sort of) back, it doesn’t get too hot to handle after an extended workload, but the frame does get toasty. It’s aluminum after all.

50MP Sony IMX766 main camera and secondary 50MP fisheye

The GT2 Explorer Master uses the same 50MP Sony IMX766, 1/1.56″, 1.0µm sensor with multi-directional PDAF as half a dozen more Realmes, Oppos and OnePlus smartphones. It’s used as a main camera and is paired with an f/1.9 aperture. The sensor is quite capable and fits the flagship’s specs sheet.

Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

The secondary, ultrawide camera has another 50MP sensor, but we get no official confirmation on the exact unit used. Though, it’s probably safe to assume that the company used the same Samsung ISOCELL JN1, 1/2.76″, 0.64µm sensor found in the GT2 Pro. The aperture is fairly wide for an ultrawide – f/2.2 and the lens covers a whopping 150-degree field of view, worthy of the fisheye title.

The third camera is the so-called micro-lens camera, which is essentially a 3MP, f/3.0 shooter, fitted with a lens for microscope-level magnification. The native magnification is 20x but up to 40x is offered as digital zoom. The unit supports AF and produces neat photos.

The GT2 Explorer Master gets a 16MP f/2.5 selfie camera instead of the 32MP found on the GT2 Pro series.

Camera menus

Swiping left or right in the camera viewfinder switches between the usual camera modes while the “More” section accommodates the secondary modes, including the Expert. The latter gives you granular control over ISO, exposure, focus, white balance and shutter speed.

In the standard Photo mode, you will find an AI toggle for a boost in colors, HDR control, three toggles for the ultrawide, main and 2x zoom.

Camera menus and modes - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Camera menus and modes - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Camera menus and modes - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Camera menus and modes - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Camera menus and modes

The iconic 150-degree and fisheye modes are tucked away in the additional camera modes as well as the microscopic lens. You can always rearrange them to your liking and put them alongside the main camera modes in the carousel.

Camera menus and modes - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Camera menus and modes - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Camera menus and modes - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Camera menus and modes

The automatic Night mode behavior seems to have been implemented on Realme phones as well after we saw it in action on Oppo’s recent handsets. It’s not such big of a surprise since they share mostly the same software. In short, the standard Photo mode will almost always force the Night mode on if it deems it dark enough. Realme still keeps the separate Night mode for when the software decides to opt for the standard Photo mode but you feel it’s not enough. So you do have some flexibility at your disposal. The image stacking process doesn’t take long, though, the ISP and the algorithm are blazing-fast.

Daylight samples

Main camera

As expected, the overall rendition reminds us of the GT2 Pro since it has the same camera setup and roughly the same ISP as well. This, in turn, means that the daylight performance is almost impeccable. Aside from the first sample in which the grass has a couple of soft patches (probably the noise suppression algorithm acting up), the photos look great. They are crystal-clear, have plenty of detail, sharpness is good and dynamic range is wide.

12.5MP daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 102, 1/2805s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
12.5MP daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 102, 1/2000s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
12.5MP daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 207, 1/3553s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

12.5MP daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 104, 1/2605s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
12.5MP daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 193, 1/2118s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
12.5MP daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 337, 1/2976s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

12.5MP daylight samples

The camera seems to be quite consistent even indoors, as noise is virtually non-existent and sharpness doesn’t deteriorate as much as we would have expected. Colors in all scenarios are a bit more conservative, but that can be easily fixed with a flick of the AI toggle, which boosts saturation in most scenarios. Then again, some of you may like natural color reproduction.

12.5MP daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 106, 1/3204s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
12.5MP daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 217, 1/2000s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
12.5MP daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 263, 1/4370s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

12.5MP daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 122, 1/50s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
12.5MP daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 405, 1/899s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
12.5MP daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 399, 1/220s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

12.5MP daylight samples

The 50MP mode gets a new name – 50MP AI. However, the results are rather unimpressive as you are really not getting much extra detail to make up for the larger file sizes and you are losing some dynamic range as well.

50MP AI daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/3163s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
50MP AI daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 101, 1/1391s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
50MP AI daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 200, 1/3660s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

50MP AI daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 101, 1/1795s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
50MP AI daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/1403s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
50MP AI daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 300, 1/2932s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

50MP AI daylight samples

2x zoom

The lack of a proper telephoto camera is mitigated to some extent thanks to the excellent processing and solid primary 50MP sensor. The samples below would easily beat some 2x telephoto cameras, although going further is probably not advisable.

2x zoom daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 101, 1/1421s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
2x zoom daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 102, 1/4499s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
2x zoom daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/2576s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
2x zoom daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/610s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

2x zoom daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 101, 1/2249s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
2x zoom daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/1266s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
2x zoom daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 300, 1/50s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

2x zoom daylight samples

Ultrawide camera

Since the ultrawide unit features a lens with extremely wide FoV, 150-degree to be exact, the handset crops from the middle of the frame and straightens out the barrel distortion to produce the ultrawide view without the drawbacks. However, there must be some upscaling up to 12.5MP for the sake of consistency and in combination with the lens, the shots below aren’t the sharpest around.

Ultrawide daylight samples - f/2.4, ISO 178, 1/405s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Ultrawide daylight samples - f/2.4, ISO 100, 1/393s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Ultrawide daylight samples - f/2.4, ISO 136, 1/835s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Ultrawide daylight samples - f/2.4, ISO 147, 1/568s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Ultrawide daylight samples - f/2.4, ISO 198, 1/720s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Ultrawide daylight samples - f/2.4, ISO 100, 1/208s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Ultrawide daylight samples - f/2.4, ISO 317, 1/196s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Ultrawide daylight samples - f/2.4, ISO 762, 1/100s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Ultrawide daylight samples

Still, overall the ultraide camera captures some good-looking pictures compared to competing ultrawide solutions. Rendition as a whole is pretty similar to the main camera in terms of color reproduction, noise and even the dynamic range is great. Indoor environments are harder and some shadows may come out underexposed.

150-degree and fisheye

There are two separate modes in the so-called Fisheye mode – one that takes 150-degree FoV samples and the other one simulates the fisheye effect. Both produce shots with pretty much the same quality as the standard ultrawide mode. The only drawback is sharpness – this one seems to be worse in the Fisheye mode, which isn’t a big surprise. More importantly, the images are perfectly presentable for social media and produce cool dramatic effect.

150 FoV ultrawide samples - f/2.4, ISO 309, 1/92s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
150 FoV ultrawide samples - f/2.4, ISO 180, 1/136s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
150 FoV ultrawide samples - f/2.4, ISO 2340, 1/20s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

150 FoV ultrawide samples - f/2.4, ISO 1198, 1/41s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
150 FoV ultrawide samples - f/2.4, ISO 1572, 1/20s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
150 FoV ultrawide samples - f/2.4, ISO 144, 1/399s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

150 FoV ultrawide samples - f/2.4, ISO 138, 1/823s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
150 FoV ultrawide samples - f/2.4, ISO 197, 1/630s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
150 FoV ultrawide samples - f/2.4, ISO 233, 1/640s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

150 FoV ultrawide samples - f/2.4, ISO 100, 1/208s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
150 FoV ultrawide samples - f/2.4, ISO 3417, 1/17s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

150 FoV ultrawide samples

Fisheye ultrawide samples - f/2.4, ISO 3200, 1/20s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Fisheye ultrawide samples - f/2.4, ISO 1193, 1/38s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Fisheye ultrawide samples - f/2.4, ISO 1559, 1/33s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Fisheye ultrawide samples - f/2.4, ISO 136, 1/823s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Fisheye ultrawide samples - f/2.4, ISO 197, 1/630s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Fisheye ultrawide samples

Microscopic camera samples

The native zoom of the camera is 20x, while the digital enhancement can push that to 40x zoom. Sticking to the native 20x zoom is better, in our opinion, as the 3MP resolution of the sensor is really not suited to digital zoom. Either way, the microscopic shots are really impressive allowing you to se really fine details. The LED flash on the back turns on, so you get good lighting in almost all scenarios.

Micro-lens camera samples: 20x - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Micro-lens camera samples: 40x - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Micro-lens camera samples: 40x - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Micro-lens camera samples: 40x - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Micro-lens camera samples: 40x - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Micro-lens camera samples: 40x - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Micro-lens camera samples: 20x • 40x

Low-light samples

Main camera

As opposed to the GT2 Pro, the GT2 Explorer Master uses Night mode to shoot scenes with poor lighting far more frequently in its default mode.

We’ve got a few examples for you to see where the software opted for the standard shooting method.

Low-light samples: Normal - f/1.8, ISO 1597, 1/20s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Low-light samples: Night mode - f/1.8, ISO 1173, 1/15s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Low-light samples: Night mode - f/1.8, ISO 1455, 1/25s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Low-light samples: Night mode - f/1.8, ISO 887, 1/15s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Low-light samples: Night mode - f/1.8, ISO 1464, 1/33s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Low-light samples: Night mode - f/1.8, ISO 1265, 1/29s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Low-light samples: Normal • Night mode

Either way, we suggest using the Night mode in all poorly-lit scenarios as sharpness is excellent, there’s virtually no noise, the level of detail, even in the shadows, is impressive and dynamic range is outstanding. Light sources look great, colors are punchy and the contrast is just right. To be honest, there’s little not to like about those samples. The GT2 Explorer Master’s cameras are doing an excellent job, all things considered.

Night mode main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 2521, 1/15s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Night mode main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 1797, 1/20s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Night mode main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 3323, 1/13s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Night mode main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 2592, 1/15s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Night mode main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 1173, 1/15s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Night mode main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 2460, 1/15s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Night mode main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 2346, 1/20s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Night mode main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 2229, 1/15s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Night mode main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 887, 1/15s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Night mode main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 1265, 1/29s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Night mode main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 2498, 1/15s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Night mode main camera samples

2x zoom

Even going for the 2x zoom at night isn’t ruinous to the image quality. Sharpness suffers notably, but it’s not deal-breaking and the rest of it remains unchanged. Sadly, this is true only for the standard Photo mode and in most cases, the software will force Night mode.

2x zoom low-light samples: Normal - f/1.8, ISO 686, 1/20s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
2x zoom low-light samples: Night mode - f/1.8, ISO 1083, 1/15s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
2x zoom low-light samples: Night mode - f/1.8, ISO 676, 1/20s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
2x zoom low-light samples: Night mode - f/1.8, ISO 1180, 1/15s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

2x zoom low-light samples: Night mode - f/1.8, ISO 690, 1/20s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
2x zoom low-light samples: Night mode - f/1.8, ISO 1225, 1/15s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
2x zoom low-light samples: Night mode - f/1.8, ISO 1067, 1/20s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
2x zoom low-light samples: Night mode - f/1.8, ISO 799, 1/15s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

2x zoom low-light samples: Night mode - f/1.8, ISO 787, 1/17s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
2x zoom low-light samples: Night mode - f/1.8, ISO 1625, 1/15s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

2x zoom low-light samples: Normal • Night mode

The Night mode produces signifcantly softer pictures. One workaround is to use the Pro mode when shooting low-light scenes with the 2x zoom and just leave all the settings to Auto. This wouldn’t trigger the Night mode.

2x zoom Night mode samples - f/1.8, ISO 1944, 1/13s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
2x zoom Night mode samples - f/1.8, ISO 3609, 1/13s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

2x zoom Night mode samples - f/1.8, ISO 2351, 1/15s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
2x zoom Night mode samples - f/1.8, ISO 2028, 1/15s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

2x zoom Night mode samples

Ultrawide camera

The ultrawide camera captures surprisingly good shots in the dark and the Night mode will turn on in the vast majority of cases. You can expect decently sharp images with plenty of detail and wide dynamic range. Colors are punchy, contrast is good and noise is hard to spot. The quality is excellent for an ultrawide camera.

Ultrawide camera Night mode samples - f/2.4, ISO 4381, 1/10s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Ultrawide camera Night mode samples - f/2.4, ISO 10944, 1/9s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Ultrawide camera Night mode samples - f/2.4, ISO 7744, 1/9s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Ultrawide camera Night mode samples - f/2.4, ISO 7488, 1/9s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Ultrawide camera Night mode samples - f/2.4, ISO 4403, 1/10s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Ultrawide camera Night mode samples - f/2.4, ISO 6316, 1/9s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Ultrawide camera Night mode samples - f/2.4, ISO 3381, 1/17s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Ultrawide camera Night mode samples - f/2.4, ISO 4169, 1/19s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Ultrawide camera Night mode samples - f/2.4, ISO 4000, 1/19s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Ultrawide camera Night mode samples - f/2.4, ISO 9792, 1/9s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Ultrawide camera Night mode samples

Here are two scenes in which we had forced the Night mode and the difference is apparent. The Night mode sample on the right is considerably sharper and handles light sources much better.

Ultrawide low-light samples: Normal - f/2.4, ISO 3912, 1/17s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Ultrawide low-light samples: Night mode - f/2.4, ISO 4169, 1/19s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Ultrawide low-light samples: Night mode - f/2.4, ISO 3460, 1/17s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Ultrawide low-light samples: Night mode - f/2.4, ISO 4000, 1/19s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Ultrawide low-light samples: Normal • Night mode

Once you are done with the real-life examples, take a look at our Photo compare tool for some pixel-peeping and see how the Realme GT2 Explorer Master fares against the competition.

Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool

Realme GT2 Explorer Master vs. Samsung Galaxy S21 FE and the Google Pixel 6 in our Photo compare tool

Portraits

The portrait samples look a tad better than the ones we took with the GT2 Pro. They are detailed, with good contrast and lively colors, but not over the top. The system gets the right exposure of the subject’s face all the time, regardless of the scene, even in sub-optimal lighting conditions.

Portrait samples - f/2.8, ISO 104, 1/496s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Portrait samples - f/2.8, ISO 136, 1/1904s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Portrait samples - f/2.8, ISO 117, 1/2000s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Portrait samples - f/2.8, ISO 400, 1/66s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Portrait samples - f/2.8, ISO 260, 1/50s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Portrait samples - f/2.8, ISO 115, 1/50s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Portrait samples

The faux bokeh effect is impeccable – it’s quite convincing and handles complex backgrounds pretty well.

Selfies

Selfies are good, for the most part, with excellent dynamic range, good level of detail and challenging lighting conditions aren’t an issue. In some cases, though, we suggest forcing the HDR as the background can often come out clipped. We were also surprised to see the HDR algorithm working in Portrait mode. However, we would have appreciated a bit more sharpness. That’s our only complaint.

Selfies: Normal - f/2.5, ISO 160, 1/100s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Selfies: Portrait - f/4.0, ISO 143, 1/100s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Selfies: Portrait - f/2.5, ISO 500, 1/100s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Selfies: Portrait - f/4.0, ISO 175, 1/33s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Selfies: Portrait - f/4.0, ISO 125, 1/33s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Selfies: Portrait - f/2.5, ISO 136, 1/50s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Selfies: Portrait - f/2.5, ISO 100, 1/434s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Selfies: Portrait - f/4.0, ISO 100, 1/306s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Selfies: Portrait - f/2.5, ISO 164, 1/33s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review
Selfies: Portrait - f/4.0, ISO 238, 1/33s - Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Selfies: Normal • Portrait

Video recording

We were surprised to see that there’s no 4320p option available, but we can’t say we miss the 8K recording anyway. It’s often not up to the real 8K standards and 8K-capable TVs aren’t widely adopted. So the 2160p video resolution should do just fine and it’s stabilized as well. Speaking of, we didn’t find the action camera-like stabilization other Realmes and brands offer, but the standard EIS should be enough for most.

The first thing we noticed about the 4K footage below is the overly enthusiastic exposure. It’s easy to see the clipped roof of the building as well as the overexposed signs and foliage. Aside from that, the video is great. It has plenty of detail, contrast is good, colors are natural and life-like, sharpness is great too.

We were pleasantly surprised by the ultrawide camera, which produced similar-looking video with minimal loss of sharpness. That’s downright impressive for an ultrawide camera. The overall rendition (color reproduction, white balance, exposure, dynamic range, etc.) seems identical to the main camera. Kudos for that.

As we already mentioned, EIS is available in 4K and it’s pretty good too. There are no unwanted jello effect or panning issues.

We’ve recorded a video using the ultrawide camera as well.

The nighttime video recording capabilities are impressive. The main camera produces relatively clean videos with an acceptable amount of noise, good dynamic range and quite a bit of detail in the dark. Sure, clipped highlights are a thing but aren’t all that bad.

The AI mode is supposed to deliver better nighttime video performance but it’s capped at 1080p resolution so it’s generally softer. However, it also looks somewhat cleaner as it takes care of the remaining noise.

The ultrawide camera in the dark produces considerably softer and darker videos, its smaller sensor showing up, but it’s still usable and not the worst we’ve seen from an ultrawide camera.

You can now take a look at our video compare tool to see how the Realme GT2 Explorer Master stacks against the other phones we’ve reviewed.

Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool

2160p: Realme GT2 Explorer Master vs. Samsung Galaxy S21 FE and the Google Pixel 6 in our Video compare tool

Competition

Even though the GT2 Explorer Master is a brand new phone, it feels quite familiar. Aside from the different, boxier design, the GT2 EM is merely a refresh of the GT2 Pro. A plus version of the same chipset, faster charging and the swap of the LTPO2 OLED panel for a standard one. Perhaps the rest of the world isn’t missing out on that much.

Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Still, the GT2 Explorer Maste offers excellent battery life, impressive sustained performance and excellent camera output with a nice microscope twist to boot. The lack of a proper telephoto camera is the only thing holding it back from matching the very best cameraphones out there.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G
Xiaomi Poco F4 GT
vivo iQOO 9 Pro
LG KC550

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G • Xiaomi Poco F4 GT • vivo iQOO 9 Pro • LG KC550

Now, given that this is a Chinese-only model, most direct comparisons would be pointless. We suggest looking up the GT2 Pro review and see what we have to say for its competitors. Perhaps the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE and the vivo iQOO 9 Pro remain relevant alternatives, with the former sporting a 3x optical zoom camera. It also rivals the GT2 Explorer Master in overall camera performance, not just in versatility. Feature-wise and performance-wise, though, Realme’s offering still comes out on top.

The Xiaomi Poco F4 GT is a relatively recent handset that came out in the meantime and it fits well in the near-flagship segment. And despite its impressive OLED panel, nicely tuned four loudspeakers and blazing-fast charging, it’s no match for this year’s Explorer Master’s camera performance and versatility and battery endurance.

Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Another obvious alternative to the GT2 Explorer Master, which we already mentioned, is the GT2 Pro. At first, we thought that the global market was missing on a gem like the Explorer Master, but in reality, the device is hardly any different than the GT2 Pro when it comes to overall user experience. So we can definitely see why Realme decided to keep the special edition to the Chinese market only.

Verdict

It’s one of the more unusual phones to judge, the GT2 Pro Explorer Master. An excellent display, long battery life, good peak and sustained performance and great camera performance across the board. Yes, we’d take a long telephoto instead of a microscopic lens, but if 2x was the alternative we are better off this way as the main sensor does well at shorter zooms. And we have an even cooler design this time around.

All in all it brings enough upgrades to remain just competent and well-rounded as the GT2 Pro six months later, but for the vast majority of users it just doesn’t matter as they aren’t able to buy it.

Realme GT2 Explorer Master review

Pros

  • Bright 120Hz OLED display with accurate colors.
  • The boxy Travel Trunk design is cool.
  • Good sustained performance, low surface temperatures.
  • Excellent camera performance all-around (especially the ultrawide).
  • Extra long battery life, extremely fast charging
  • Customizable and feature-rich Realme UI 3.0, Android 12
  • Neat features such as 360-degree NFC, crisp vibration motor, touch shoulder triggers

Cons

  • No telephoto camera.
  • No wireless charging.
  • No IP rating
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