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Realme C2 review: a well-rounded budget smartphone with great battery life

In the span of just one year, OPPO’s offshoot brand Realme has managed to establish itself as one of the key players in India’s smartphone market. It’s common knowledge that the budget segment in India is the most competitive, and Realme’s candidate in this category is the recently launched C2. With a starting price of Rs 5,999, it has the potential to be a disruptive option in the budget space. Can it hold its own against competing devices from Xiaomi? Read on to find out:

Design and display

The Realme C2 is one of the best looking budget smartphones out there, thanks to the use of a ‘diamond cut’ back panel. The geometric two-tone finish is slightly texturised, and despite the use of plastic, doesn’t feel cheap or flimsy. Since it’s a matte finish, it doesn’t attract fingerprints either. You can get it in Diamond Black and Diamond Blue colours, and both are equally striking. I comfortably used this phone without a case, although Realme does provide one for free in the retail box.

 

The phone features two SIM card slots and a dedicated SD card slot which is always welcome. One downside of the Realme C2 is that there’s no fingerprint sensor, with just face unlock available for security. The display measures 6.1-inches, but thanks to thin bezels and a waterdrop notch, it feels quite compact to hold. Realme also pre-installs a screen protector out of the box. With HD+ resolution, a 19:5:9 aspect ratio and Gorilla Glass (version unspecified), it might appear that Realme’s covered all the bases with the C2’s display. However, during my usage, I found that colours lack depth and punch, and that the display is quite reflective, especially outdoors.

Cameras

The Realme C2 features dual cameras, a 13MP primary sensor and a 2MP depth sensor. The rear camera features PDAF and f/2.2 aperture. Thanks to the secondary depth sensor, you can also take portrait shots with a bokeh effect. In the camera app, there’s a button to toggle between 1x and 2x zoom, and while this is digital zoom, it’s a handy shortcut if you want to get closer to your subject. The front camera is a 5MP unit, and offers both HDR and portrait mode. There’s also a screen flash option to light up selfies in low light. I was pleasantly surprised with the cameras on this phone. Images shot in daylight turned out crisp and detailed, and the bokeh effect works well too. In lower light and indoors images tend to be quite grainy, but this is to be expected on a budget phone. The front camera outputs decent, albeit slightly beautified images. The portrait mode for selfies isn’t very impressive, with poor edge detection and an artificially softened background. The Realme C2 also comes with a feature called Chroma Boost, which essentially increases saturation in images. I personally don’t like the results, but some users might find it appealing.

Software

 

The Realme C2 runs Android 9 Pie, overlaid with ColorOS 6.0. The latest version of ColorOS is the most polished yet, with a clean interface and tasteful icons. The addition of an app drawer is a big relief, and serves to eliminate clutter from the home screen. Swiping to the right of the homescreen brings up the Smart Assistant, which is basically a single screen with a search bar, favourite contacts, apps and utilities like the weather and calendar. There’s a Driving mode and Riding mode, with the latter muting all notifications except incoming calls. My main gripe with ColorOS is the number of pre-loaded apps. There are over 12 third-party apps installed on the phone, but at least Realme gives you the option to uninstall them.

Performance

Powering the Realme C2 is a Helio P22 processor. The base variant comes with 2GB RAM + 16GB storage, while the higher end model features 3GB RAM + 32GB storage. I had the 3GB model for review, and found it to be quite adept at being a daily driver. That said, you will have to contend with some lags while multi-tasking. I can’t comment on how the 2GB RAM model performs, but I believe it should be able to handle basic tasks, and that’s what you’d expect with an entry-level phone. As for gaming, it goes without saying that this is not the phone to buy if you’re an avid gamer. While the Realme C2 is fine for light gaming, graphics-heavy titles like PUBG are best played on a more powerful device. On the C2, PUBG runs on the lowest graphics setting, and you can expect a few frame drops too. Check out our detailed gaming test for a better idea of how it performs.

The face unlock lets you choose between directly unlocking the phone when you press the power button, or swiping up once the display is on. It’s actually pretty fast, especially if you set it to unlock when pressing the power button. Unfortunately, it’s not adept in low-light due to the lack of an IR camera. Realme compensates for this by using a sort of screen flash called “screen brightness compensation”. This takes a few seconds to work, and the sudden screen flash can be blinding in the dark. I would have preferred a fingerprint sensor, at least on the 3GB RAM version.

The battery is one area where the Realme C2 shines. With a 4,000mAh unit, it’s capable of lasting close to two days with normal usage. In our battery drain test, the Realme C2 lasted for 12.5 hours.

Verdict

At its asking price, the Realme C2 is one of the best phones you can currently buy in the entry-level segment. It’s very much an all rounder, scoring well on design, cameras and battery life. The only missing feature is a fingerprint sensor, and this too was something I only missed in low light. The C2 will go up against the Xiaomi Redmi 7, which features a more powerful processor and a fingerprint sensor, but also comes with a higher price tag – Rs 7,999 for the 2GB + 16GB variant. The 3GB + 32GB option at Rs 8,999 is priced more or less on par with the Realme C2’s matching variant, and for this version, more users might be tempted to go with Xiaomi’s option. That said, if you’ve got price constraints when it comes to buying a new phone, the Realme C2 base variant at Rs 5,999 is an unbeatable option.

Pricebaba’s rating: 8 / 10

What works:

  • Attractive design
  • Decent cameras
  • Good battery life

What doesn’t:

  • Display colours lack depth
  • No fingerprint sensor
  • ColorOS has too many pre-loaded apps

Photos by Raj Rout

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Ketaki Bhojnagarwala

Ketaki has 10 years experience writing on tech, having worked at the Hindu Business Line and 91mobiles earlier. When she's not editing copies or reviewing the latest gadgets, she spends her time binge-watching Netflix and reading fantasy fiction.