The Realme GT Neo 3 puts other fast-charging phones to shame

You’ll never find a phone like the Realme GT Neo 3 Naruto Edition on a Verizon or AT&T store shelf. For starters, Realme phones are usually only available in the US as unlocked global versions sold on Amazon, and they aren’t necessarily compatible with your wireless carrier’s network.

This particular model is also a special edition device with only 5,000 units made which pays tribute to the anime franchise Naruto. Either the American people just don’t have an affinity for special edition phones, or manufacturers have decided it’s not worth selling them here. About the most exciting thing that we seem to get is a green iPhone, which is just… an iPhone that’s green.

As for the special edition phones, this GT Neo 3 is top notch. Realme didn’t just put a logo on the box, changed the color of the phone and stopped using it. The branding continues from the user interface to the maroon and green canister in which the phone is shipped, which is shaped like a ninja scroll. Even the SIM ejector tool is shaped like a leaf symbol from the show.

But there’s another reason to look at this phone: very, very fast charging, which might be something we actually get here. Realme’s parent company BBK also owns OnePlus, which does sell phones that work in the US. The GT Neo 3 (and also the Naruto Edition) is sold in a 150W wired charging version. Realme spokesman Tanya Tang warned me that it would be scaled down to just 125W in the US due to the lower standard voltage here, and that performance would be slower.

How slow? A meager 46 percent charge in five minutes. In comparison, the 65W charge of the OnePlus 10 Pro takes it from 0 to 100 percent in about half an hour, which is considered very impressive. This would potentially be twice as fast, even at the slower speeds the US allows. I told Realme to send the phone urgently.

One DHL delivery and a few days later I’m here to report that I’ve seen the future of fast charging, and it’s impressive. When the phone’s battery was completely drained, I was able to charge it to 100 percent in just over 16 minutes. Importantly, my house didn’t catch fire during the process either.

While charging, I turned the phone on when it reached about 10 percent within two minutes. After that, I regularly turned on the phone screen to check the progress, which probably slowed the charging down a bit. Still, I got about 33 percent in five minutes, 68 percent in ten minutes, and a full charge at 4:30 PM. With the phone turned off all the time, it seems reasonable that I would have gotten the 46 percent in five minutes I was quoted. In any case, I am very impressed.

The phone and the charging stone heated up significantly in the process. I had the phone in my hand for most of it and it never got uncomfortable to hold, but the charging brick got really hot. An infrared thermometer registered about 120 degrees just after charging ended (full disclosure, the thermometer is designed to measure a baby’s temperature, so this isn’t an accurate reading). Hot, but don’t burn-your-house hot.

The fast charging brick is in the box and if you want the very fastest charging speeds, it seems you have to use the equipment provided by Realme. Using a different USB-C cable noticeably slows down charging, and testing by ChargerLAB shows that third-party charging bricks can only deliver up to about 18W to the phone. The Realme charger seems to reach 45W with other USB-C devices, so it can quickly charge a 30W phone like the Google Pixel 6 Pro, but it can’t double as a charger for your MacBook Pro.

So will we see 150W charging on North America-bound OnePlus phones in the near future? Could be. The OnePlus 10R, sold in India, supports 150W charging. Is charging so fast really useful or more of a gimmick? That’s hard to say too. I’d happily take super fast charging if it didn’t mean a significantly higher price or other features would suffer. However, designing a phone is full of compromises, so it’s unlikely that fast charging this way would come without some form of punishment.

All I can say for sure is that this is some damn impressive technology bundled into a thoughtfully designed special edition phone. If it’s a gimmick, it’s a very well executed one.

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