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Realme C11 review: stylish design, average performance

On: July 14, 2020

The competition in India’s budget smartphone segment is now more fierce than ever, and this can be mainly credited to two brands – Xiaomi and Realme. Both brands have launched several affordable smartphones over the past year, and as a result, we have at least three models from each brand in the Rs 5,000 – Rs 10,000 price bracket.

Also read: Realme Narzo 10A review: an incremental upgrade over the Realme C3

The Realme C3 was launched earlier this year and was followed by the nearly identical Realme Narzo 10A, which brought in minor improvements like a fingerprint scanner and an additional macro lens on the back. Now, the company has launched the Realme C11 in India as the latest C-series offering. Contrary to the naming scheme, the Realme C11 actually brings downgrades on the performance front compared to the Realme C3 and Narzo 10A. To find out how it holds up compared to other budget phones, read on.

Design and display

The Realme C11 marks a change in direction for the brand when it comes to design, deviating from the usual vertical camera setup. While the back panel has the signature textured pattern of the C-series, it now has a dual-tone finish with a smooth band on the left side engraved with Realme branding, and a new square-shaped camera module on top.

Apart from this, the back panel is bare. There’s no fingerprint scanner, and the phone relies on face unlock for biometric authentication. In my experience, the face unlock was a bit on the slower side and I mostly found myself unlocking the device using the pin.

Coming to other design elements, Realme has retained the micro-USB charging port at the bottom. While this isn’t surprising considering the price, it would be nice to see Type-C on Realme’s budget devices, considering that Xiaomi has made the switch. The micro-USB port at the bottom is accompanied by a 3.5mm audio jack on the left and speaker grille on the right.

The right edge houses the power and volume buttons, and the left edge is home to the dual nano-SIM tray with a dedicated microSD card slot. Realme is offering the C11 in two colours – Rich Green and Rich Grey. I received the latter and it looks quite polished. If you are looking for a more vibrant and stylish colour, Rich Green will be a more suitable choice.

Coming to the display, the Realme C11’s window to the world is a 6.5-inch LCD panel with a 20:9 aspect ratio. The screen comes with a resolution of 1,600 x 720 pixels and is quite sharp and punchy. Moreover, thanks to the waterdrop notch on the top, the display has an impressive screen-to-body ratio of 88.7 percent, offering an immersive viewing experience. However, there’s no support for Widevine L1, which means you will have to be content with SD resolution while streaming online videos.

Cameras

The Realme C11 might have a stylish new camera design but the module itself is a humble dual camera setup featuring a 13-megapixel primary f/2.2 sensor and a 2-megapixel f/2.4 portrait lens. The camera app comes with features such as HDR, Chroma Boost, Super Nightscape, portrait mode and more. The waterdrop notch on the front houses an f/2.4 5-megapixel camera with features like AI Beauty, HDR, software-aided portrait mode, and more.

The primary 13-megapixel shooter captures crisp pictures with ample detail in bright daylight. However, there are some exposure issues when shooting in peak sunlight, as the camera tends to overexpose the highlights. Portrait shots turned out to be good with decent edge-detection, thanks to the secondary depth sensor. I was pleasantly surprised by the close-up performance of the primary camera, as it was able to get a decent macro shot despite not having a dedicate sensor.

The situation changes when the sun goes down though. Images taken in low light are grainy and unusable. There is a night mode on the plus side, and using this improves the exposure and details slightly.

Coming to the 5-megapixel snapper on the front, the camera takes good selfies in daylight with natural skin tones. I suggest tapping on the beautify icon and setting the slider all the way down to zero if you prefer natural-looking self-portraits. The edge-detection on the portrait mode could have been better, as I noticed a halo effect most of the time. As with the rear camera, the performance of the front camera dips considerably in low lighting.

Performance, software and battery

Coming to the performance, the Realme C11 is the first smartphone in India to come powered by the MediaTek Helio G35 chipset. The 12nm chipset features a clock speed of 2.3GHz and is accompanied by an IMG PowerVR GE8320 GPU for graphics. Realme is offering C11 in a lone configuration with 2GB RAM and 32GB storage, which can be further expanded up to 256GB using a microSD card.

During my review period, I found the Realme C11 lagging on several instances, and the fact that it has only 2GB RAM doesn’t help with multi-tasking either. Coming to the gaming experience, the phone loads PUBG Mobile in the lowest setting by default. Surprisingly, the phone couldn’t handle the game past the first 5 minutes, heating up a bit and then freezing. So while PUBG on the Realme C11 is out, casual sessions of Temple Run or Subway Surfer are fine.

Software-wise, the Realme C11 boots Android 10-based Realme UI out of the box. The OS comes with features like a system-wide dark mode, digital wellbeing, app cloner, game space, split-screen and more. While there are third-party apps pre-installed, they can be uninstalled. My unit had the Helo app pre-installed, which has recently been banned by the Indian government over security concerns. However, review devices don’t always come with the final software, so this could change on retail units.

In the battery department, the Realme C11 comes with a beefy 5,000mAh battery but misses out on fast charging. While the phone does take a long time to charge up, it lasts a good while as well. During my stint, I was able to get a day and a half out of it, mainly using it for social media like WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. The C11 also offers reverse charging, which means you can use it to charge other devices.

The competition

The Realme C11 has been priced at Rs 7,499 in India. The pricing puts it squarely in the line of sight of Redmi 8A Dual, which starts at Rs 7,499 as well. The Redmi 8A is priced at Rs 7,499 for the 2GB +32GB model, Rs 8,299 for 3GB + 32GB variant and Rs 8,999 for the 3GB + 64GB variant. The Snapdragon 439 SoC on the device is far more reliable for day-to-day usage, although it’s also not an ideal choice for gaming fans. The Redmi 8A also offers 18W fast charging support through a USB Type-C and better overall cameras.

Then there is the Realme Narzo 10A, which starts at Rs 8,999 and offers a more powerful Helio G70 gaming processor with up to 4GB RAM and 64GB storage. On the battery front, both smartphones are on par with each other. The Realme Narzo 10A  is a much better offering here simply on the grounds of performance. The smartphone also captures better pictures, even in low light despite missing out on a dedicated night mode. The Narzo 10A also offers a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner for security.

Bottomline

The Realme C11 is more stylish than previous C-series phones from the brand, with its dual-tone back panel and square camera module looking especially refreshing. While it offers a large display and good battery life, it’s sluggish when it comes to performance. For this reason, you’d be better off paying a bit extra and opting for the Realme Narzo 10A instead.

Pricebaba’s rating:  7 / 10

What works:

  • Attractive design
  • Massive battery
  • Large display

What doesn’t:

  • Sluggish performance
  • Cameras struggle in low light
  • Micro-USB port
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Abhiman Biswas

Abhiman is obsessed with all things tech. His hobbies include reading on his Kindle and clicking random pictures on his phone. His secret superpowers happen to be mixing great cocktails and lip reading. In his spare time, you are likely to find him cleaning his aquascape, researching new species of aquatic fishes and planning which aquatic plants to buy next.