Well that didn't take very long, did it?
Barely half a year goes by since the Realme 3 Pro wowed budget smartphone fans and a successor turns up to do it all over again. But when you're part of the same Chinese mega-corp that also runs Oppo and OnePlus, the speed at which Realme can turn around new handsets shouldn't come as a surprise.
It's a similar story to last year's phone, with a design that punches well above its weight and the hardware to fend off mid-range rivals, only now you get double the number of cameras and a few extras that bring it up to date, for barely any extra cash. Oh, and don't let the name fool you: this is the fourth iteration, but because of how the number 4 sounds in Chinese, Realme skipped it. "Death phone pro" doesn't sound all that cheery, after all.
DESIGN & FEATURES: PLASTIC FANTASTIC
It won't win any awards for originality, but cover up the Realme logo and you'd have a hard time guessing who made the 5 Pro - it has the same glass and metal sandwich design that's pretty much uniform these days.
Get it in your hand, though, and you'll notice that it's plastic on the back, not glass. And the screen seems to sit on top of the frame, instead of sandwiched inside it, leaving a chunky lip around the edge you can't help but notice whenever your fingers run across it.
Still, with a sizeable battery inside, the 5 Pro feels fairly hefty, and the crystalised pattern on the back helps it stand out from rivals. The teardrop notch containing the selfie cam means there's not a lot of screen bezel either.
For this kind of cash you won't find any waterproofing, and there's a rear-facing physical fingerprint sensor instead of an under-glass one, but you won't hear any complaints from us over the free protective case included in the box.
And yes, those really are four camera lenses on the back of a £180 phone.
CAMERA: FOUR TIMES THE CHARM
More doesn't always mean better, and sure, two of the 5 Pro's four snappers are a bit niche - but the main sensor certainly means business. It's the same one that you'll find in the £549 OnePlus 7T, taking 48MP pictures and using pixel-binning to pop out 12MP images.
In daylight, it takes very detailed, well-exposed shots that still look pretty good once you start peeping at pixels. Electronic stabilisation helps keep well-lit scenes looking sharp. Colours can seem a bit artificially boosted compared to real life, though, and when the light drops you lose quite a bit of clarity. Still, dynamic range is pretty decent, so for the most part you'll be able to stick your shots straight onto social media.
Switch to the 8MP ultrawide angle lens and pictures seem a lot softer, and the saturation-boosting image processing is a lot more noticeable, but there's no denying you can fit a lot more of your subject into every shot.
The other two sensors are less impressive. One is dedicated to macro shooting, but at 2MP you shouldn't expect brilliant results. It can be tricky to get the required 4cm away from your subject to keep everything in focus, and the results aren't all that special.
We're not massively fussed about depth sensors, and the 2MP one found here does pretty much what you'd expect: mostly convincing portrait effects, but with the usual bokeh errors around fine detail that make you wonder why Realme didn't just do it with software instead.
The camera app doesn't exactly make it easy to swap between all these cameras, either. The ultrawide angle lens is always accessible on the main screen, but you've got to dig around for the macro and portrait modes - surely if they're good enough to get their own sensors, these modes should be front-and-centre?
At least the 16MP front-facing camera does a decent job with selfies, packing in more than enough detail in most lighting conditions.
DISPLAY & SOUND: BIG AND BOLD
No huge surprises here: the Realme 5 Pro has the same display as its predecessor, which puts it pretty much on par with all its rivals.
That means a 6.3in, 19.5:9 aspect ratio wedge of glass and pixels with a Full HD-and-a-bit 2340x1080 resolution. It's skinny enough to sit comfortably in your hand, but usefully longer than a 16:9 screen (and seriously, when was the last time you even saw one of those in a phone?).
Resolution is high enough that text and images look crisp, even if detail is lacking compared to say, an £800 Galaxy Note 10 Plus, but then this is a phone that costs a quarter of the price. With that in mind, image quality is plenty good enough.
It's an IPS panel, so shadows are never going to pop like they might on an AMOLED phone, and brightness is a little behind the competition when you step outside, but colours look pretty vibrant and you can customise the colour temperature in case you aren't happy with the out-of-the-box picture.
Sound is less impressive, with the single down-firing speaker coming across fairly tinny, and not particularly loud. Crank up the volume and your tracks can sound unpleasantly sharp, but for YouTube videos and podcast listening it'll get the job done if you can't be bothered to reach for a pair of headphones.
OS & SOFTWARE: COLORS YOUR IMPRESSION
With a customised version of Android shared with parent company Oppo, Realme's take on Android is what you make of it. ColorOS is packed with customisation options, but it'll take some digging to work out which ones are worth your time.
Want gesture swipes instead of onscreen navigation buttons? You've got it. Homescreens filled with apps instead of a separate drawer? No problem. It's running Android Pie underneath, and an update to Android 10 should land pretty soon too, so you won't need to worry about being behind on security updates.
The icons and settings screens are a bit of a halfway-house between Google's own OS and an iPhone-like experience, which not everyone will like, but at least they don't seem to make the CPU sweat with lots of flashy animations.
Having to put up with a slightly quirky version of Android seems to be par for the course for a lot of sub-£200 phones, and thankfully the Realme 5 Pro isn't so crammed full of gimmicks that it gets in the way of just using the phone. On the other hand, there's a fair few preinstalled apps that duplicate Google's own, which aren't all that useful if you're fully onboard with Gmail, Google Music and the like.
PERFORMANCE: NO SLOUCH
The Snapdragon 710 inside last year's Realme 3 Pro was a fair bit more powerful than the 655 chip its main rivals were rocking, and could deliver real punch in apps and games. For 2020, the 5 Pro steps up to the newer Snapdragon 712.
It's still an octa-core chip, but promises a healthy 10% power boost, while also sipping a little less battery in the process. Paired with 4GB of RAM, it's comfortably able to outperform most of the £200 competition.
Android feels fluid and responsive, apps load quickly, and there's little slowdown on show, unless you're attempting some serious multitasking. Gaming is on the cards, too, with demanding titles like PUBG Mobile and Call of Duty: mobile delivering consistent frame rates. Graphics settings default to high, and things stay impressively smooth when the action gets hectic. Load times are where you can tell this is more of a budget phone, but otherwise performance is impressive for the money.
128GB of built-in storage is hardly the norm at this price, and Realme doesn't make you choose between dual SIMs and extra capacity, as it has a dedicated microSD card slot. You shouldn't run out of room for your apps and downloads in a hurry.
BATTERY LIFE: TAKE A VOOC AT ME NOW
Even affordable phones can't be seen with anything less than 4000mAh these days, and the Realme 5 Pro delivers - and while it's far from being a long-life champ, it has the juice to get you through a full day without needing to top up.
It comfortably lasted from breakfast to bedtime, with plenty of photos, YouTube videos and some gaming in between, so you'll be fine for light to moderate use. When it is finally time to top up, the bundled 20W charger uses parent company Oppo's VOOC fast charging to get you back to full in just over an hour.
There's no wireless charging (hardly a surprise at this price) but it's great to see Realme make the jump from microUSB to USB-C, so you don't need to hang onto those legacy cables.
REALME 5 PRO VERDICT
Competition around the £200 mark is fierce right now, but the Realme 5 Pro doesn't disappoint. It improves on its predecessor in a few key areas, notably its camera, and the more powerful CPU means smoother performance in apps and games.
Oppo's custom version of Android isn't the best, though, and while an update to Android 10 is expected to land in February, it's not expected to dial back on the bloatware. You also miss out on NFC, important for anyone wanting to use their phone for contactless payments, and ultrawide camera aside, the other lenses feel a bit gimmicky.
The Redmi Note 8T finds room in the budget to include NFC, at the cost of storage and CPU power. Or if you prefer your flavour of Android a little more stock, the Moto G8 Plus can be had for only a little more.