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Realme C12 review: an upgraded Realme C11

On: August 18, 2020

Realme recently expanded its C-series of budget smartphones in India with two new models – the Realme C12 and C15. These phones join the Realme C11 in the country. The C-series smartphones are all powered by the MediaTek Helio G35 SoC and feature a square rear camera module. However, while Realme C11 is the base model in the lineup with dual cameras and 2GB RAM, the latest launches bring a few upgrades to the table.

Also readRealme C11 review: stylish design, average performance

The Realme C12 is simply the C11 with more RAM, a bigger battery, and triple cameras. However, does the upgraded spec sheet translate to improved real-life performance? I have been using the Realme C12 for over a week to find out.

Design and display

The Realme C11 was a detour for the brand with a square camera module and prominent Realme branding on the back panel. The smartphone looked premium despite being an entry-level, polycarbonate-clad device. The Realme C12 is also polycarbonate-clad and retains the square camera module. Instead of the dual-tone finish, Realme has opted for what it’s calling geometric gradient design, which is simply a different take on the diamond pattern that we last saw on the Realme C2.

The rear panel has a textured pattern that prevents smudges and also helps with the grip. Another upgrade over the Realme C11 is the circular fingerprint scanner on the back, which is fast and accurate. The square triple camera module is on the top left corner, with smaller Realme branding on the bottom left.

Other elements include power and volume buttons on the right edge, and a dual nano-SIM tray with a dedicated microSD card slot on the left. The top edge is bare, whereas you will find the 3.5mm audio jack, micro-USB port, and speaker grill at the bottom. The Realme C12 is being offered in Power Blue and Power Silver colours.

In the front, the Realme C12 retains the same display as its predecessor. The 6.5-inch LCD panel comes with a waterdrop notch design and a 20:9 aspect ratio. The screen offers a resolution of 1,600 x 720 pixels, and is quite sharp. I did have an issue using the smartphone in direct sunlight with auto-brightness on. You will need to set the brightness to 100 percent to be able to use it outdoors. Moreover, there’s no Widevine L1, so the smartphone streams online videos in SD content despite having an HD display.

Cameras

On the back, the Realme C12 has a 13-megapixel f/2.2 primary camera, backed by a 2-megapixel black and white/portrait lens and a 2-megapixel macro sensor. The latter allows lets you get as close as 4cm to your subject. The camera app comes with features like HDR, Chroma Boost, Super Nightscape and portrait mode.

The daylight pictures I shot using the Realme C12 turned out to be very detailed and sharp with good dynamic range. However, in peak sunlight, when the sun is directly overhead, the camera muddles up exposure and tends to wash out images. The situation is not any better after dark, as images turn out to be grainy. The camera app does offer a night mode, but all it does is increase the exposure and details slightly.

The portrait mode offered by the camera is pretty good with decent edge-detection. The black and white portrait sensor does a very good job of capturing details and also keeps the colours natural, which result in pleasing bokeh shots with an aesthetically blurred background. The macro lens lets you get close to your subject, but resulting images aren’t very detailed.

The waterdrop notch on the front houses a 5-megapixel selfie camera, which offers features such as AI beautification function, HDR mode, portrait mode and a panoselfie feature for wide-angled selfies. Turn off the beautification mode and the camera captures good selfies with natural skin tones. On the flip side, the portrait mode and low light imaging from the front camera is nothing to write home about.

Performance, software, and battery

The Realme C12 comes with the entry-level 12nm gaming processor – the Helio G35. The chipset features an IMG PowerVR GE8320 GPU for graphics and 2.3GHz clock speed. With the Realme C11, I faced issues with lags and poor multitasking due to the limited 2GB of RAM. With the Realme C12, the RAM has been increased to 3GB but the storage remains the same at 32GB. The microSD card slot supports up to 256GB of expandable storage.

When I set up the Realme C12 with all of my 134 apps from the cloud, the backup set the Fluid live wallpaper automatically. The Fluid live wallpaper is an interactive wallpaper, which emanates light when touching the display. The reason I am mentioning this is that this particular wallpaper has a very low hardware requirement, but it’s still very choppy on Realme C12.

In my day to day usage, I noticed that there’s a second’s delay before any app loads. However, the device handles multitasking decently and doesn’t kill apps in the background.

Coming to the gaming experience, just like its predecessor, the Realme C12 opens PUBG Mobile in the lowest graphics setting. However, unlike the Realme C11, the C12 managed to last for a whole match of PUBG. That said, the gameplay is very jarring and if you’re looking for a gaming device, in particular, you should look elsewhere. More casual games like Temple Run and Candy Crush play without any hiccups.

Out of the box, the Realme C12 boots Realme UI based on Android 10 and ColorOS 7. The device comes with features like dual mode music share, focus mode, personal information protection, dark mode, digital wellbeing, app cloner, game space and more. While there’s a lot of bloatware on the device which can be uninstalled, Realme has made sure to remove banned apps like Helo from the software.

The Realme C12 comes with a massive 6,000mAh battery, but there’s no support for fast charging. Realme is providing a 10W charger with the handset, which takes close to 3 hours to charge from zero to 100 percent. Realme claims that the phone can easily last 3 days on a single charge. In my experience, with heavy browsing, WhatsApp, YouTube, PUBG, Forza Street and Twitter, I could easily push it till the end of the second day, which is impressive.

There’s also reverse charging support, which means you can charge other gadgets with the C12 using a supported cable.

The competition

Realme has launched the C12 in a single variant with the price set at Rs 8,999. At this price point, the smartphone goes up against the Redmi 8A Dual, which has been priced at Rs 8,299 for the 3GB + 32GB variant. You get a more reliable Snapdragon 439 chipset, better overall cameras and support for 18W fast charging through USB Type-C port.

Another serious contender for the Realme C12 is the Samsung Galaxy M01, which has received a price cut and is now available for Rs 8,399 on Amazon. While the Galaxy M01 features the Snapdragon 439 SoC, it misses out on the macro lens and comes with a smaller 4,000mAh battery.

At the same price point, there’s Realme Narzo 10A, which comes with more powerful Helio G70 processor that is ideal for those who take PUBG seriously. It also comes in an additional 4GB + 64GB variant for Rs 9,999, but packs a smaller 5,000mAh battery. Unfortunately, the Narzo 10A is only available via flash sales, which means you’ll have to try your luck if you want to buy it.

Bottomline

The Realme C12 is Rs 1,500 more expensive than the C11. For that price, you get more RAM, a fingerprint sensor and a larger battery. While the Helio G35 isn’t the most reliable chipset, if you’re looking for a basic smartphone with battery life for days, you can consider the Realme C12.

Pricebaba’s rating:  7 / 10

What works:

  • Attractive design
  • Massive battery
  • Large display

What doesn’t:

  • Sluggish performance
  • Poor low-light imaging
  • No fast charging
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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.