Interview: Realme VP talks fast charging, U.S. availability, and more

Interview: Realme VP talks fast charging, U.S. availability, and more

At Mobile World Congress this year, Realme announced its newest flagship phone, the Realme GT 2 Pro, along with the GT 2. At the event in Barcelona, on the 14th floor of my hotel with a view overlooking the city, I got a chance to sit down with Mr. Madhav Sheth, Realme VP and Realme International Group President.

There was a lot that got announced. The Realme GT 2 Pro comes with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, dual 50MP cameras, and a 120Hz QHD display for €749. The GT 2 comes in at €549 with a Snapdragon 888; moreover, both of them are €100 off for a limited time, making them €449 and €649 for the GT 2 and GT 2 Pro.


The company also introduced 150W charging, as did its parent OPPO as well as its sibling OnePlus. But before I got into the products, I wanted to ask about U.S. availability, mainly because of the keynote intro.

Disclosure: Realme sponsored my travel and accommodations at Mobile World Congress.

Realme and its plans for the U.S.

Rich: I wanted to question some of the things you said at the beginning of the keynote. You told a story about someone from Poland who was upset about not being able to buy a Realme device at the time. There was also a slide that said a premium device does not equal Apple and Samsung. So, what do you say to the U.S. consumer that can’t purchase a device?

Madhav: Same thing. Realme is only present in one third of the world right now, in 60 countries. I think we have a lot to do. Definitely, by seeing the growth of certain brands in the U.S., I believe there’s an opportunity for a brand like Realme for sure. There’s a brand that has recently grown fast in the U.S., TCL. I’ve been seeing that, and we want to get into the U.S. market for sure.

Rich: That’s good to hear, because people need more options. For premium devices, all we get are Apple and Samsung, and then there are smaller options like Google and OnePlus.

150W SuperDart charging, and keeping the charger in the box

Another thing that was talked about at the keynote was a mention of keeping the charger in the box. Obviously, we’ve seen companies like Apple and Samsung remove the charging brick, so with the announcement of 150W UltraDart charging, I really wanted to know how committed the company is to that.

Realme GT Neo 3

Rich: You also made a comment about including chargers in the box. Obviously, there’s a charger that comes in the box with the GT 2 Pro. Is that a commitment for the future? You also announced 150W charging, so is that going to be in the box with the GT Neo 3?

Madhav: That’s also going to be in the box. I’m not saying having the charger or not having the charger is a good thing. If I was only giving you an 18W charger for the rest of my life, maybe I’d remove the charger from the box. But if I’m changing the voltage and the capacity of the solution, which is now 65W or 150W, where will the consumer go and buy this charger from? So, the point is that basically I have to make these chargers available and they should not have to go back to the old speed, which is 18W.

What is technology? Technology is all about giving them peace of mind. By removing the charger, and everyone has their own strategy so there’s no comment on what they’re doing, but they may be right because if you’re only giving one charging speed forever, it’s fine. Because the previous two generations or three generations have the same charger. It’s the same charging technology and same charging speed, so why do you need another charger? With new technologies and new charging speeds, I think I have to give the charger along with the phone.

Rich: I actually said something similar in my review of Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Plus. They’re doing 45W charging now, but it’s not in the box, and if it was really about e-waste, they’d let you turn in your old charger for a new one.

So, about charging performance. At what point is enough enough? We’re at 150W now, which is supposed to get your phone to 100% in 15 minutes. OPPO just announced 240W charging, which gets you to 100% in nine minutes. At what point are we just good?

Madhav: I think it’s high time that five or 10 minutes is enough. I believe in moving to the next level of charging technology, which is less about speed and more about the number of hours the battery can sustain. That’s something we’re looking at doing through software optimizations. Yesterday, we mentioned the LTPO screen, which means the touch response adjusts based on your usage. Moving from 1Hz to 90Hz or 120Hz or 240Hz, so that can save you 1.5 hours of battery life. I think 150W to 240W won’t make much of a difference for people. The difference is definitely from 65W to 150W, because that’s about a 30-minute difference in charging time. That’s pretty good.

This is what it is. If I talk to a user about what they want in a phone, they just say they need a better phone. You don’t know the definition of better. No one does. Understanding what makes it better is one of the most important journeys.

Interview: Realme VP talks fast charging, U.S. availability, and more

The Realme GT 2 Pro Cooling Chamber

The Realme GT 2 Pro comes with an improved cooling chamber that promises better thermals, which means better sustained performance. This is particularly interesting because the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 can run hot.

Rich: One thing that I think improves the experience that might fly under the radar is the cooling chamber in the GT 2 Pro. I don’t want to say that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 has overheating issues, but it can run hot, even compared to the Snapdragon 888. Do you find this helps a lot?

Madhav: Any high-end processor where benchmark scores are over a million is going to generate heat, so it’s about how we control it.

Realme GT 2 Pro

Rich: There aren’t a lot of Snapdragon 8 devices yet to compare this to. But do you find that the cooling chamber is helping to generate higher benchmark scores and more sustained performance?

Madhav: What we tried to do with the 8 Gen 1, is that since all of these processors have this 1+3+4 design, that prime core at a higher clock speed generates a lot of heat. If you look at the cooling area of this, it’s pretty large, so you get sustained performance. It’s one of the biggest on a phone, and the metal frame also helps dissipate heat.

Also, the thermal gel we’re using has diamond particles in it, since diamond is really good for conducting heat. But if you’re looking for high performance, it’s like a car. If you’re using a V6 engine, it’s going to generate heat and power, so it’s about how you control it.

Rich: Obviously we’re going to test it out, but I’m wondering how it compares to other Snapdragon 8 devices and how they handle cooling.

Madhav: I sincerely urge you to go and compare to any 8 Gen 1 chipset out there, and you will see the amount of sustained performance and frame rates you get with this, over a period of time. It’s really impressive.

What about a Realme foldable?

Find N foldable smartphone made by sister company OPPO

Rich: So to go a little off-course, when are we going to see a Realme foldable?

Madhav: Nothing right now. As I always say, innovation is never about giving you something just because it’s different. Being different is good, but it has to be useful. I’m not saying foldable phones aren’t useful, but it’s different, and from gen one to gen three, there are a lot of improvements. It’s definitely much better. We have to look at what will happen to a foldable phone when they play games? What will happen to content if we have a difference of lines in between the screens? We don’t want to compromise on the experience. But we are working on it to make sure we have the right experience, but this year we’re going for innovation of 150W charging and under-display camera. The under-display camera is something that I think is going to be big because people have said they don’t even want this tiny hole in the screen. We want them to have a display that is seamless.

Rich: What kind of experience can you expect from that? We’ve had some under-display cameras but you can still see it. You can still see where the camera is. I know TCL, for example, showed off a lossless under-display camera.

Madhav: Having a prototype and having a final design a big difference. When it finally comes out, it will be an incredible experience for sure.

Recapping the GT 2 Pro announcement, the price, and the lack of a telephoto lens

Rich: What’s the overview of the Realme lineup in 2022? What’s the focus of GT, or the Neo brand? We were just talking about this outside, how regions like India have a ton of Realme brands, while other regions want to see more.

Madhav: One is commercial and one is on the innovation side.The GT series has the high-end top-notch latest innovations to bring to market. With Neo, we have similar things but at a lower price over a period of time. So, GT Neo 3 is one notch below the GT series, but a similar experience. If you see GT 2 Pro, that’s top notch with a Snapdragon 8, but GT 2 is Snapdragon 888. GT Neo 3 would be maybe, and I’m not confirming but maybe, Snapdragon 870.

Realme GT 2 Pro

Rich: But that one is getting 150W charging.

Madhav: We want to democratize certain things. Certain innovations are based on economies of scale. To make it very affordable, I have to bring economies of scale into the business.

Rich: Speaking of pricing, €449 was one of those wow moments. €649 for the Pro, albeit for a limited time, and then it’s €549 and €749. That’s pretty wild.

Madhav: We want the people to trust us. If they’re putting up their money, we want them to trust us. Marketing stuff doesn’t last, and what remains are the values of the company and the product. These two things are what remains in the mind of the people.

Rich: It just reminds me of OnePlus in 2014, when they came out with a $349 phone with a Snapdragon 800 chipset. But they don’t do that anymore, so I was really excited to see the €449 price tag on the Realme GT 2.

To recap with the GT 2 Pro, €649, 120Hz LTPO 2K display, Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, dual 50MP sensors. But no telephoto lens?

Madhav: No telephoto lens. We’re doing it through software in the primary camera. To get the best of the telephoto, you should move to a DSLR. But if you want to experience telephoto, you can get 3x or 5x through the primary lens. So we have a primary camera with telephoto through software, and an ultra-wide at 50MP with a 150-degree field of view. I think we have the best of both worlds, and I think ultra-wide is more relevant as the world is getting outside again.

I believe it’s going to be really exciting to see what Realme offers going forward. As a company within the BBK umbrella, it sits alongside other brands like OPPO, OnePlus, Vivo, and iQOO, so there are a lot of similarities across the board, but there are differences as well.

For example, back in 2014, OnePlus was the one that was offering premium specs at an unbeatable price. With OnePlus offering its current-gen flagship for $969, it’s a breath of fresh air to see the Realme GT 2 Pro for €649 and see the Realme GT 2 for €449. Indeed, the GT 2 is set to be one of the best inexpensive phones on the market.

Indeed, it’s going to be exciting to see what the firm has in store going forward, as it seems poised for growth and to conquer the global market. The next thing we should be seeing is the GT Neo 3, which will come with 150W charging.

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