What features lack in the Realme 5S

Last year, many smartphone brands came up with their sub-brands and online-only series of smartphones which eventually is working out well for the brands. On similar lines, the Realme Mobiles brand was introduced under OPPO earlier last year. realme 1 was the first smartphone from the brand and later on, the company started to branch out from OPPO to start functioning independently. Within a year, realme launched an array of smartphones and realme 5s is the latest budget smartphone launched by the company. It was launched alongside the flagship realme X2 Pro and is positioned as an upgrade to the realme 5 smartphone. We have been testing the realme 5s (4GB+128GB) for some time now and in this review, let us find out if the realme 5s is ‘real-ly’ an upgrade to the realme 5.

Box contents

realme 5s box packaging is minimalistic and the front of the box has the image of the smartphone along with the branding to the front and key specifications along with other details to the rear. Upon opening the box, you will find the realme 5s, transparent case, 10W wall adapter, micro USB cable, SIM ejector, and the usual user manual and warranty information.

  • realme 5s
  • Transparent case (x 1)
  • Wall adapter (10W x 1)
  • Micro USB cable (x 1)
  • SIM ejector (x 1)
  • User manual
  • Warranty information

Physical Overview

realme 5s sports a polycarbonate back with a crystal design to the rear. To the front, there is a large 6.51-inch HD+ display with a mini-drop notch and earpiece. The power button is to the right and volume rockers are present to the left. We tested the red color variant of the smartphone and these buttons look amazing in this color. To the bottom, there is a 3.5mm headphone jack, microphone, micro USB port, and the speaker grill. The upgraded 48MP quad-camera set up along with the rear-mounted physical fingerprint scanner is present to the rear of the realme 5s.

Build quality and Display

realme 5s sports a 6.51-inch HD+ mini-drop display with a resolution of 1600 x 720 pixels and is protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3+. The quality of the panel used by realme is quite good as it gets pretty bright outdoors and has decent viewing angles. The colors are vibrant with a decent amount of sharpness and you can adjust the color temperature with the three options – Cool, Default, and Warm provided under Settings. As expected it has an ambient light sensor and has support for auto-brightness. But, the auto-brightness is kind of a hit or miss and could be annoying at times. We hope it would be fixed in the upcoming software updates.

Although this smartphone has a polycarbonate back with a crystal design, it is well-built and offers a decent grip. Similar to other smartphones, it too attracts fingerprints and smudges, and it is better to use a case. Regarding the display, as the resolution is on the lower side, if you observe closely, you will notice the pixels. We would have wished to see a FULL HD+ display on this one, but nonetheless, the quality of the panel offered by the brand on this smartphone is quite good.

Software, UI, and Apps

realme 5s runs on Android 9.0 (Pie) based ColorOS 6.0.1 with November 2019 security patch as of now. realme has already confirmed Android 10 update for realme 5 in Q2 2020, and we can expect a similar timeline for the realme 5s too. Color OS also offers various ways for navigation including gestures and comes with an array of features. It also has ‘realme Lab’ which brings Dark Mode to the realme 5s and the implementation is quite good. The best part is that the dark mode applies to most of the third-party apps and you can choose to turn it off at your convenience.

Out of 4GB RAM, around 2GB of RAM is free when default apps are running in the background and out of 128GB, you get about 112GB of free storage upon setting it up for the first time.

Apart from the usual set of utility apps, realme has pre-installed some bloatware, like UC Browser, Dailyhunt, Opera News, and Helo but all these apps can be uninstalled easily. You can also uninstall apps like App Market, Hot Apps, Hot Games by following the procedure here without rooting the phone. realme 5s does not have Widevine L1 certification and this means that you cannot enjoy HD content on NetFlix and Amazon Prime.

Having said that, Color OS is loaded with a lot of options and nifty features, and the choice of custom skin varies from user to user.

Camera

realme 5s sports an upgraded 48MP quad-rear camera setup and it is a combination of 48MP rear camera with Samsung GM1 sensor, f/1.8 aperture, PDAF, LED flash, EIS, 8MP 118° ultra-wide-angle lens with 1.12μm pixel size, f/2.25 aperture, 2MP depth sensor and 2MP camera for 4cm macro with 1.75μm pixel size, f/2.4 aperture.

The stock camera offers different modes like Nightscape, Chroma boost, HDR, Panorama and Expert mode, Nightscape and Chroma boost work even with the ultra-wide-angle lens. When it comes to daylight pictures shot with the realme 5s, the quality of the picture itself is good with a good amount of sharpness and detail. The low-light pictures are decent, but in extreme low light conditions, noise creeps in and you can notice a considerable amount of noise in the pictures. By default, it shoots in 12MP resolution and if you want to shoot in 48MP resolution, there is a dedicated ‘Ultra 48MP’ mode. The pictures taken with the stock camera app are slightly on the saturated side and with Chroma Boost turned on, the pictures are over-saturated. But thankfully, there is support for Camera2API and you can sideload a Google Camera mod to get pictures with natural colors and take advantage of the other goodness that Google Camera offers.

The quad-camera setup also includes an ultra-wide-angle lens and a macro lens. The quality of the pictures shot with the ultra-wide-angle is quite good and it is good to have an ultra-wide-angle lens that offers a much wider perspective. The macro lens allows you to get closer to the subject and it gets the job done. The 13MP front camera with f/2.0 aperture too performs well. Check out the camera samples below.

Regarding the video, realme 5s records at 1080p at 30fps by default, but it can go up to 4K at 30fps as well, and there is support for EIS as well. You can also record slo-mo and time-lapse videos as well.

Connectivity

realme 5s has support for WiFi 802.11ac (both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands) comes with Bluetooth 5.0 support and GPS/ GLONASS. Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 AIE features an integrated X12 LTE modem that has support for 4G connectivity and also has Voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) support for Reliance Jio, Airtel and supports Dual 4G VoLTE. This means that you can use 4G on both the SIMs on realme 5s. We tested with Dual SIM cards and there were no issues with call quality, and it worked flawlessly.

Performance

realme 5s is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 AIE processor paired with 4GB RAM with 64GB/128GB of internal storage and we tested the top-end variant with 128GB internal storage. Snapdragon 665 is an 11nm mobile platform based on FinFET technology with Adreno 610 GPU and it packs 4 Kryo 260 cores (performance A73-based) clocked at 2 GHz along with 4 Kryo 260 cores (efficiency A53-based) clocked at 1.8GHz.

In our testing with casual applications used day to day, the realme 5s performed well without any issues. But, once we installed a number of applications, we noticed slight sluggishness in the UI. The apps weren’t the fastest to load and sometimes WhatsApp and Instagram crashed upon loading. Also, the auto-rotate doesn’t respond as expected, but this was not occurring all the time and it was random. It is to be mentioned that a quick restart fixed the issue, but it prevailed again after some time.

When it comes to gaming performance, the Adreno 610 GPU handles gaming fine and you get quite good gaming experience. We tested games like Asphalt 8, PUBG Mobile, Call of Duty, etc, and the gaming experience was quite good. We hope Realme would fix the issues with UI and optimizes it in the next update.

Check out the benchmark results below.

Battery life

realme 5s packs a large 5000mAh battery and when it comes to battery life, it lasted 2 days with moderate usage and with heavy usage, it lasts over a day. It does not support fast charging and only has support for 10W charging. The charging times are quite slow which could be annoying for some and it takes 3 hours to charge from 0 to 100%. We wished realme offered fast charging with this smartphone considering the competition in this price range.

realme 5s achieved FoneArena One Charge rating of 19 hours and 45 minutes, which is almost same as the realme 5.

Conclusion

The differentiating part between realme 5 and realme 5s is the upgraded 48MP quad-rear camera setup. realme has upgraded the primary sensor and the rest of the sensors remain the same. So, should you buy the realme 5s smartphone? The primary camera is certainly an upgrade and is better compared to realme 5. But, in our opinion, if you are already using a realme 5, you can skip the realme 5s, and wait for the successor (realme 6?) which could be a true upgrade to the realme 5. We wished realme could have offered a higher resolution display, USB Type-C with fast charging on the realme 5s, considering the competition in the same price point starting at Rs. 9999. Having said that, if you are looking for a smartphone under Rs. 10,000, realme 5s is still one of the recommended options out there.

Realme 5s comes in Crystal Blue, Crystal Purple and new Crystal Red colors, is priced at Rs. 9999 for the 4GB RAM with 64GB storage version and the 4GB RAM with 128GB storage version costs Rs. 10,999. It is available from Flipkart and realme.com.

Pros

  • Brilliant battery life
  • Large display
  • Unique rear crystal design
  • Improved rear cameras

Cons

  • Random performance issues (Could be fixed with a software update)
  • Micro-USB port
  • Lack of fast charging

Author: Manoj Nagendra

Manoj Nagendra is passionate about smartphones and the latest technology. He likes to write and explore the latest tech and you can often find him with an Android phone. You can follow him on Twitter @manojshesh24 and also mail at [email protected] View all posts by Manoj Nagendra