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

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There’s fast charging, and then there’s really fast charging

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The Realme GT Neo 3 comes in 80W and 150W versions.

You’re never going to find a phone like the Realme GT Neo 3 Naruto Edition on a store shelf at Verizon or AT&T. For starters, Realme branded 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 that pays tribute to the anime franchise Naruto. Either the US population just doesn’t have an affinity for special edition phones, or manufacturers have decided that it’s not worth the effort to sell them here. About the most exciting thing we seem to get is a green iPhone, which is just… an iPhone that’s green.

Realme commits to the Naruto branding from the packaging to the SIM tool inside the box.
Photo by Allison Johnson / The Verge

As far as special edition phones go, this GT Neo 3 is top-notch. Realme didn’t just slap a logo on the box, change the phone’s color and call it a day. The branding carries through from the UI to the maroon and green canister the phone ships in, 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 take a look at this phone: very, very fast charging, which might be a thing we actually do get here. Realme’s parent company BBK also owns OnePlus, which does sell phones that work in the US. The GT Neo 3 (and likewise the Naruto Edition) is sold in a version with 150W wired charging. Realme spokesperson Tanya Tang cautioned me that in the US, it would adapt to just 125W because of the lower standard voltage here, and that performance would be slower.

How slow? A measly 46 percent charge in five minutes. For comparison, the OnePlus 10 Pro’s 65W charging takes it from 0 to 100 percent in about half an hour, and that’s considered very impressive. This would be potentially twice as fast, even at the slower speeds that the US allows. I told Realme to send the phone posthaste.

The phone arrives in a canister designed to look like a ninja scroll.

One DHL delivery and a few days later, I’m here to report that I have seen the future of fast charging, and it is impressive. With the phone battery fully depleted, I was able to charge it up to 100 percent in just over sixteen minutes. Importantly, my home didn’t catch on fire in the process, either.

During charging, I powered the phone on when it reached about 10 percent around two minutes in. After that, I turned on the phone screen periodically to check progress, all of which likely slowed down charging a tad. Even so, I got about 33 percent in five minutes, 68 percent in ten minutes, and a full charge at 16:30. With the phone powered off the whole time, it seems reasonable that I would have gotten the 46 percent in five minutes figure that I was quoted. In any case, I am very impressed.

Just over seven minutes in, the phone had charged over 50 percent.

The phone and charging brick warmed up significantly during the process. I had the phone in my hand through most of it, and it never became uncomfortable to hold, but the charging brick actually got hot. An infrared thermometer registered about 120 degrees just after charging ended (full disclosure, the thermometer is designed to take a baby’s temperature, so this isn’t a precise measurement). Hot, but not burn-down-your-home hot.

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

You need to use the supplied charger to get the fastest charging speeds.
Photo by Allison Johnson / The Verge

So will we see 150W charging on North America-bound OnePlus phones in the near future? Maybe. The OnePlus 10R, sold in India, supports 150W charging. Is charging this fast actually useful or more of a gimmick? That’s tough to say, too. I’d gladly take super-fast charging if it didn’t mean a significantly higher price or that other features would suffer as a result. Designing a phone is full of tradeoffs, though, so it’s unlikely that fast charging like this would come without some kind of penalty.

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