The GT Neo3 features the same exact camera setup the vanilla GT2 has. It's also a decent step up from last year's Neo2 as the main camera gets a larger, more recent sensor, often used in flagship phones. We are talking about the Sony IMX766 50MP, 1/1.56", 1.0µm unit paired with an f/1.9 aperture. Multi-directional PDAF and OIS are aiding the camera.
The ultrawide camera, on the other hand, is expected but still underwhelming in a way. Behind the f/2.2 lens sits a simple, 8MP, 1/4.0", 1.12µm snapper. The third camera is the popular fixed-focus 2MP unit used for macro photography.
There's no change in the selfie department either. A 16MP, 1/3.09", 1.0µm sensor uses an f/2.5 lens, and this setup can be found not just on the GT2, but on the GT2 Pro and the Neo2 from last year as well.
Realme's overhauled software didn't reach the default camera app as it looks exactly the same as before. Swiping left or right switches between the usual camera modes while the "More" section accommodates the secondary modes, including the Pro mode. 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.
The so-called expert mode gives you complete control over focus, ISO, shutter speed, white balance and exposure. Strangely, the ultrawide toggle is located in the top black bar over the viewfinder, and since it doesn't support autofocus, there's no way to use the manual focus function as well.
Since the GT Neo3 shares the same main camera hardware as the GT2 and the GT2 Pro - so it's no surprise that the daylight performance is excellent and comparable. The handset produces sharp and detailed photos with little deterioration when going indoors. This is defined by a slight increase in noise and a drop in sharpness. However, the level of detail remains high.
That's not to say the rendition is identical to the GT2 and the GT2 Pro. We suspect the difference comes from the ISP. Colors are considerably juicier on the Neo3, while the software goes for darker overall exposure. Notice how dark the shadows are. Dynamic range remains wide enough as we don't see necessarily crushed shadows or clipped highlights.
The 50MP mode is hard to recommend, as usual, since overall quality deteriorates significantly. You get more detail from the full-res photos, but they also appear softer with prominent noise.
The 2x zoom photos are more than decent. They are good enough for social media, and rendition remains unchanged from the standard 1x mode. Still, the samples below are not exactly proper 2x telephoto-level as cropping from the binned 12.5MP photos and upscaling back to 12.5MP inevitably results in reduced sharpness and a slight increase in noise. The latter can only be spotted indoors on uniform backgrounds.
There's nothing much to talk about here as the mainstream 8MP ultrawide camera performs just as expected - mediocre at best. Under the ideal lighting conditions, the snapper can produce usable photos but expect color fringing, lack of fine detail, and excessive softness. Colors, on the other hand, are punchy and attractive.
Another commonly used sensor is responsible for the close-up shots. The optimal focusing distance is 4cm (no autofocus), and there's no indication whether you've got the subject in focus or not. That makes macro shooting a lot more difficult. The tiny 2MP sensor produces photos with washed-out colors, low contrast and not much detail - it's a 2MP sensor, after all.
The low-light samples below are pretty good, leaving little room for improvement. The first thing we noticed is that they are sufficiently sharp with plenty of fine detail, high contrast, juicy colors (with a bit warmer temperature) and virtually no noise. We've also noticed the same tendency for darker exposure, which could be a double-edged sword. It makes images look more natural, but you lose quite a bit of detail in the shadows, which can sometimes be detrimental, depending on the scene.
And perhaps some of you with a more trained eye may have noticed that the samples suggest that a heavy HDR algorithm is at play here. The highlights, neon signs and lamps all look smoothed out and well-balanced. That's because the standard Photo mode will always shoot using Night mode if the software deems necessary. There's no way to turn off the automatic Night mode either. Unsurprisingly, we see absolutely no difference between the standard photos and those taken with the Night mode. Stacking the frames takes less than a second anyway, which suggests of highly effective and fast processing capabilities of the ISP.
Aside from the darker exposure, which can be easily fixed with a software update, we can go as far as saying that the Neo3 takes better Night mode photos than the GT2 and the GT2 Pro.
The 2x zoom mode's performance is somewhat unpredictable, but for the most part, images are considerably softer and noisier than the standard 1x samples. That hardly comes as a surprise. We suggest using the Night mode exclusively because it produces sharper samples with better highlights.
Without the Night mode, the ultrawide camera is hard to recommend. Images appear as if they are out of focus, but they are extremely soft, lack contrast, colors are anemic, and noise is easy to spot.
The Night mode boosts overall quality considerably by widening the dynamic range, improving sharpness and suppressing most of the noise. Highlights are also a lot better. And although sharpness is better on the Night mode, it's far from ideal. In some rare cases, the nighttime ultrawide photos can be used for casual social media posting.
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 GT Neo3 fares against the competition.
Portraits are okay, but we would have liked them a bit sharper. Aside from the first sample, in which the subject's skin color is a tad reddish, color reproduction is good. Dynamic range is wide, contrast is great, and noise can be spotted only in the dark areas of the image with sub-optimal lighting. The faux bokeh effect is pretty convincing with stellar edge detection.
To our surprise, the selfies are excellent. We were surprised because the GT2 didn't impress with selfie quality. The ones that the Neo3 takes are sharper, detailed, with a wide dynamic range, the subject's face is always well-exposed, and there was minimal deterioration in lower lighting.
However, the portrait mode seems to be making the samples visibly softer, so do take this into consideration.
The chipset and the main sensor are perfectly capable of recording 2160p videos at 60fps, but the ultrawide camera is limited to 1080p@30fps. Since this isn't a flagship SoC, we can't expect 8K support. There's also a dedicated Movie mode that shoots in a 21:9 aspect ratio and allows you to tinker with stabilization, shutter speed, ISO, exposure, focus, and white balance.
The 4K footage itself is downright impressive. We can once again see the lower exposure crushing some shadows, but overall sharpness, the level of detail, contrast and dynamic range are all excellent. Colors are not overboard, just a tad juicier than in real life.
As we said earlier, the ultrawide camera is limited to 1080p video recording, so sharpness is understandably lower. Sadly, even for a 1080p footage, it's underwhelming. Add in the crushed shadows due to the narrower dynamic range and visible noise, it's getting hard to recommend using the ultrawide camera for video recording.
Once you are done with the real-life scenarios, take a look at our video compare tool to see how the Realme GT Neo3 stacks against the other phones we've reviewed.