Realme GT Neo 3T review: a great budget Android phone for gaming

The Realme GT Neo 3T is the cheaper version of the Neo 3, but it's more affordable and still great for mobile games

Realme GT Neo 3T review
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

A great semi-affordable phone for gaming and video streaming, thanks to its big, good-looking screen, stereo speakers and powerful innards. Just bear in mind the camera doesn’t aim for a naturalistic tone and that the plastic build won’t make jaws drop.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Fast charging

  • +

    Good gaming performance

  • +

    Bold and bright OLED screen

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Plastic shell feels a bit basic

  • -

    Not that much of an upgrade over the last generation

  • -

    The camera likes to oversaturate its images

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Want a gaming phone that doesn’t cost a fortune? You could do a lot worse than the Realme GT Neo 3T, on review here.

The processor is this phone's best asset. It’s a Snapdragon 870, which performs brilliantly for the asking price, seems well supported by people who actually make games, and doesn’t make the phone heat up like some of the best flagship phones out there.

And the rest? That’s not too shabby either. The Realme GT Neo 3T has an unusually bright OLED screen, fast-charging (but not as fast as the Realme GT Neo 3 proper) and solid battery life. Its camera is OK too, although certainly not close to best-in-class. 

The main drag is it’s barely any different to the last-gen Realme GT, and might actually be worse-looking. However, this is what you get when a company refreshes lines every six months (it's kinda exhausting). But right now I’m most interested in whether the Realme GT Neo 3T is worth your cash, not the pros and cons of how the industry works in 2022. 

Realme GT Neo 3T review: Price and availability

Realme GT Neo 3T review

(Image credit: Future)

Realme certainly hasn’t messed things up in this regard, and this is a solid deal at £369 for the right kind of buyer. 

The real-time shopping widget below will present the best available price right now, which has already dropped since launch, making it even more of a bargain prospect.. It's actually approaching half price of the big brother GT Neo 3 too. 

Realme GT Neo 3T review: Design and display

Realme GT Neo 3T review

(Image credit: Future)

Realme makes this phone in three colours: white, black, yellow. The one you pick is going to radically affect the first impression you get on unboxing. 

I picked up the yellow Realme GT Neo 3T version, because why not? However, this one makes me wonder if the company’s execs got their kids in to help design the finish. The yellow is very bright, and has a light reactive pattern, making the back look like a shiny checkerboard flag as you tilt the phone in your hand. 

It’s going to be a bit much for some. It’s a bit much for me. But there is some good news: the bundled case looks transparent but actually has a slightly smoky finish, one that mellows out the yellow significantly. I’ve lived with the Realme GT Neo 3T for more than a month, and now don’t mind the colour at all (with the caveat of it being behind that case anyway). 

The easy way out of this test of taste is just to buy the black or white versions, of course. And the black gets rid of the checkerboard effect — a nice shout-out to the boring normies out there like me. Holla!

Looking beyond the finish, the build of the Realme GT Neo 3T is extremely… ordinary. The back and sides are plastic. You’re not spoiling anything by using the case. Realme does use a metal for the power button on the side, but that the volume buttons on the other side are plastic shows quite how tightly budgeted this phone is. 

Saying that, the Realme GT Neo 3T does have an in-screen fingerprint scanner — once a “luxury” feature. It’s reasonably fast and reliable, and feels much like those of pricier phones because the haptics are solid here too. That’s the character of the vibrate effects the phone can produce; you’ll feel a little haptic knock as you unlock the Neo 3T.  

Even the speakers are solid. There are two drivers, one above the screen, another on the Realme GT Neo 3T’s bottom. Back in day you’d expect there to be a massive tonal disparity between the two but they actually sound pretty similar. The tone is well-rounded for a phone speaker and maximum volume is good. 

On first glance the yellow Realme GT Neo 3T seems a bit of an in-your-face attention grabber, but there’s a lot of good stuff under the surface.

Realme GT Neo 3T review

(Image credit: Future)

If you consider the Realme GT Neo 3T an entertainment and gaming phone, the screen is one of its most important assets. Realme delivers the goods here. 

We get a 6.67-inch OLED panel of 2400 x 1080 pixel resolution, and a 120Hz refresh rate. Unlike the 60Hz Google Pixel 6a, this Realme has no obvious budgety cuts.

Its stand-out feature is probably maximum brightness. I simply found that outdoors the Realme GT Neo 3T gets a bit brighter than just about all the other phones I’ve tested at this level in 2022.

It’s not the 1300 nits you’ll read on Realme’s website because peak brightness and real-world brightness are two different things. But outdoors visibility is good.

Colour is great too. There’s a reserved sRGB-style mode, one that actually references the DCI-P3 colour gamut Apple targets these days, and a full bore oversaturated mode that shows off the full range of the OLED panel. That latter mode is the only one I wouldn’t recommend: it's a bit garish.

All you really miss out on here compared to, say, a £1000 phone, is ultra-high pixel density. But it’s still sharp.

Realme GT Neo 3T review: Performance and software

Realme GT Neo 3T review

(Image credit: Future)

The Realme GT Neo 3T runs Android 12 and has the Realme UI 3.0 interface. This user interface is too thick to let you appreciate the style changes Google made in Android 12, but what’s here is perfectly solid. 

There aren’t the obtrusive added elements seen in the latest OnePlus software — which is notable when OnePlus, Realme, Vivo and Oppo are all part of the BBK Electronics smartphone empire. And the parts you might not like can be tweaked anyway. 

For example, as standard if you flick from anywhere but the top of the screen the Realme GT Neo 3T brings up the global search bar, not your notifications. But you can change that in the Settings menu. 

Raise to Wake was switched off in my Realme GT Neo 3T from the off, making the in-screen fingerprint scanner feel more cumbersome. But that’s an option in Settings too. 

I’ve made a few tweaks to the phone to make it operate how I want it to, but all the tools are right there. It’s consistent with the Realme GT Neo 3T’s whole vibe: it’s a nerdier phone than, say, the Google Pixel 6a or Samsung Galaxy A53

The processor brings the real substance of this nerd-dom. It’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon 870, released in 2021. This is effectively a reworking of the Snapdragon 865 Plus, used in super-pricey older flagships like the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (US version) and Asus ROG Phone 3, but for far cheaper handsets. It is one of the best performance-to-price system-on-chips available as I type this.

Games run beautifully on the Realme GT Neo 3T, and support seems to be better than in some of the MediaTek-powered phones I’ve tested recently. The phone also gets noticeably less hot than top-tier Androids with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, the 2022 Android champ. 

The Pixel 6a’s Tensor processor is even more powerful, but the Realme is still the obvious pick for gaming because of its significantly larger screen. This plus the good stereo speakers, rich OLED display, and reliable Snapdragon 870 make this phone an undeniable hit for gaming. 

Realme GT Neo 3T review: Cameras

Realme GT Neo 3T review

(Image credit: Future)

When you make a gaming phone on a tight budget, there’s a good chance you’ll have to compromise in the cameras. And that has, sort of, happened in the Realme GT Neo 3T. 

We get a 64-megapixel main camera, an 8MP ultra-wide, and a 2MP macro. It’s a classic upper entry-level array, and similar hardware is found in phones cheaper than this one. 

The Realme GT Neo 3T also lacks the kind of barnstorming primary camera sensor found in the Google Pixel 6a, Nothing Phone (1) and OnePlus Nord 2T. This phone isn’t the best pick if you care more about the quality of your photos than anything else. But it’s not bad. 

My main takeaway here has much more to do with Realme’s house style of image processing than anything else. The Realme GT Neo 3T takes vibrant pictures that frequently have amped-up colour whether you switch on the AI Scene Enhancement mode or not.

Looking over the stacks of pictures I’ve taken, this seems to ramp up when the Realme GT Neo 3T is faced with a scene that needs more HDR help in balancing out a scene. Greens can look unnaturally bright, sun-blasted fields more orange than they appear in real life. And when the powerful Auto HDR kicks up to maximum gear, your shots can take on an almost fantastical air. 

This is often quite welcome if you mostly use your phone camera to share shots with friends and family over WhatsApp. The Realme GT Neo 3T doesn’t deal in boring, buttoned-up and sober photography. However, that does mean you’ll often have to tweak them after shooting if you want images that look entirely natural. 

If you approach your phone camera like, well, an actual photographer, this may be a problem. However, after embracing Realme’s exuberant style I was pretty happy with how rarely it actually messes up scenes. Even the 2x zoom mode is able to take pictures that don’t immediately look digitally zoomed (and this phone does not actually have an optical zoom lens). 

There are some outright weaker areas, though. The Realme GT Neo 3T is just OK at night, and cannot compete with phones like the Google Pixel 6a and OnePlus Nord 2T. There is a handy dedicated night mode that typically warms up the colour and improves dynamic range a bit, but textures look blurry or fuzzy and images just don’t hold up that well up close.

Like most phones near the price, the 8MP ultra-wide camera is not that great. Image quality drops much more quickly in lower lighting — that might be simply under tree cover, not only at night time. There’s often quite obvious purple fringing in images. It’s the kind of performance you’ll see in many rivals of a similar price.

We see some of the same Realme flavour in the GT Neo 3T’s video too. You can shoot at up to 4K resolution up to 60 frames per second. However, you’ll only get software stabilisation at 4K/30 and below, making that mode much more useful.

At 4K you’ll see a similar excitable image style as we see in some of the phone’s photos: amped-up colour that doesn’t look that realistic. And the application of it seems a bit more clunky in video than stills. However, image quality is otherwise pretty good in daytime lighting.

In the 1080p modes the Realme GT Neo 3T’s colour looks a lot more realistic, less messed with, as if that Realme veil is dropped. Image quality is still sound too, although you naturally lose that ultra-sharp look of 4K.

A 16-megapixel selfie camera sits around the front, and it is the second-best camera on the phone. It’s able to recreate a good amount of facial detail indoors as well as in solid outdoors lighting. Auto HDR handles backlight scenes well and the background blur mode works well too. Just go easy on the face tuning — even the “Classic” setting messes with the dimensions on your face a bit. Still, it isn’t half flattering.

Realme GT Neo 3T review: Battery

Realme GT Neo 3T review

(Image credit: Future)

The Realme GT Neo 3T has a 5,000mAh battery, the classic capacity for one of these enthusiast’s affordable mid-range Android devices. It’s enough to get exactly the sort of longevity I’m after. 

Sure, you can hammer it and see it run out of battery in a day, but on the average day of use I might have around 30per cent charge left by the end. 

The Realme GT Neo 3T also has very good fast-charging, which means a quick 10-minute charge before a night out is an effective insurance against a dead battery for the train ride home. This is one of the most overt upgrades over the old Realme GT Neo 2T: that phone had 65W charging, this one has 80W (but it's not 150W like the non-T version, the Realme GT Neo 3).

According to my power meter it never actually reaches 80W, but does charge the phone from flat to 100 per cent in just under 38 minutes. That’s excellent for an affordable Android handset 

Realme GT Neo 3T review: verdict

Realme GT Neo 3T review

(Image credit: Future)

The Realme GT Neo 3T is a cracking gaming phone for folks who don’t want to spend a bomb on their next Android device. It has stereo speakers, a bright and colourful OLED screen, and a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset that matches the performance of 2020 flagship phones that cost three times as much a while back. 

Some other parts don’t get quite as much attention as a result. Attention-grabbing as this yellow finish is, the plastic build is basic. And in classic Realme fashion the camera tends to significantly amp up colours in some scenes, making photos appear pre-edited at times. 

You can get better cameras for similar money, but if you are more interested in raw performance and gaming, the Realme GT Neo 3T is a bit of a star — if not much of an upgrade over some of Realme’s last-wave phones. 

Also consider

Check out the Poco X4 GT if you like the sound of the Realme GT Neo 3T’s chops but want to spend even less cash. It has the MediaTek Dimensity 8100 SoC, which is even better for gaming. But you tend to get slightly worse optimisation in games. The phone also has an LCD screen rather than an OLED, and side-by-side the Realme looks a bit richer. Still, the Poco wins for sheer power per pound. 

The Google Pixel 6a may be a better buy if you don’t mind having a smaller screen. Its Tensor processor is just as capable, better in some areas, and the primary camera will get you much more faithful images than the excitable Realme. 

And for a touch of build quality class, take a look at the OnePlus Nord 2T. It has a glass back panel, and looks a bit more sophisticated all round. The primary camera is better than the Realme’s too. However, it also has a smaller screen, which isn’t ideal for playing games and streaming video.