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Realme C3 review: setting the benchmark for entry-level smartphones

On: February 7, 2020

Over the last year, Realme has emerged as Xiaomi‘s arch-nemesis in India. The OPPO-spinoff has a smartphone series to take on Xiaomi’s offerings at every price point. The Realme C-series is a line-up of entry-level Android smartphones offering a solid set of specifications, and goes head-on with Redmi A-series in India. The brand has now launched the latest in this series called the Realme C3, and it comes in as a rock-solid value for money offering. I have been using the smartphone for quite some time now, and here’s how the Realme C3 stacks up in the sub-Rs 8,000 price segment.

Design and display

The Realme C3 takes an entirely different route from the diamond-finish back on its predecessor Realme C2 (review) and glossy sheen on the first generation Realme C1. The latest smartphone comes with a plastic build as usual, but with fine wavy lines on the back and a metallic paint job that gives an illusion of rays of lights emanating from the primary camera module. No surprise that Realme is calling it the Sunrise design. Realme is offering the smartphone in Frozen Blue and Blazing Red colourways. I personally prefer the Blue colour variant of the smartphone as the sunrays-effect is more prominent and it looks premium.

Other elements of the phone include the power button on the right and volume keys on the left. The buttons are sitting in a chamfered recess in the chassis, which means they are easy to find yet flush with the sides for a more uniform look. You will also find the dual nano-SIM tray on the left, which comes with a dedicated microSD card slot. Having a dedicated expandable storage slot is a massive plus at this price point considering the storage space is usually on the lower side. The top edge is bare whilst you will find the 3.5mm audio jack, micro-USB port and speaker grille at the bottom. At the back, you will find the dual-camera module in a vertical orientation in the top left corner, accompanied by a single LED flash. There’s no fingerprint scanner as expected, but I found the integrated face unlock to be pretty fast when there’s enough lighting. On the flip side, I was disappointed to see that that facial recognition unlocked the phone even when I had my eyes closed, and I would suggest sticking to a PIN or pattern unlock for security.

The Realme C3 ships with a 6.5-inch LCD screen with 1,600 x 720 pixels resolution, 20:9 aspect ratio and 89.8 percent screen-to-body ratio. Protecting the screen from accidental scratches and nicks is a layer of Gorilla Glass. The viewing angles and brightness on the C3 are commendable, however, you will need to increase the brightness a little when outdoors. As expected, the smartphone is missing Widevine L1 certification to let you stream content from OTT platforms in HD resolution, but on the plus side, videos I played were sharp and punchy.

Cameras

In the optics department, the Realme C3 gets a dual-camera module, the same as its predecessor. Realme has downgraded the primary sensor from 13MP to 12MP, accompanied by the same 2MP depth sensor. As for selfies, the latest launch retains the 5MP snapper from the older model. The camera app is loaded with the usual features like 4x digital zoom, HDR, Chroma Boost, portrait, time-lapse. pro, panorama and more.

The Realme C3 managed to impress me with its daylight imaging prowess. The pictures shot outdoors with the sun out had punchy colours as well as an impressive amount of detail. The portrait mode also works well but struggles to detect edges and loses detail if the lighting is less than ideal. Speaking of low light, the camera struggles with dynamic range and pixel peeping reveals that the details are being fudged too. I sorely found myself missing a dedicated night mode here. However, considering this smartphone falls in the entry-level segment, I can’t complain much.

The selfie camera on the Realme C3 is the same as its predecessor, and as such is equally lacklustre. The camera was able to capture the skin tone well in daylight but struggles when it gets dark. Moreover, I would suggest tapping on the beautify button on the viewfinder in the bottom right and sliding it all the way down to zero, as the beautification mode is pretty aggressive on this one.

Performance, software and battery

The Realme C3 is the first smartphone in India to come powered by MediaTek’s budget gaming processor called the Helio G70. The chipset is 64-bit octa-core unit backed by a Mali-G52 MC2 GPU. There’s the Game Space mode to further improve the gaming performance on the C3. Considering the USP of this processor, the first thing I did was to download and launch PUBG Mobile on the phone. I was pleasantly surprised when it fired up the resource-hungry game in high graphics settings by default. Mind you, this is a feat that a lot of mid-range smartphones fail to achieve, and this is an entry-level phone we have got here. The game plays pretty well with slight jitters now and then in high graphics, but it is buttery smooth in medium settings. Needless to say, the processor handles less intensive games without breaking a sweat.

Gaming performance apart, the Realme C3 manages to hold its own in day to day usage as well. I did what I always do, restore my massive backup of over 130 apps to the device and keep at least 70 percent of these apps running in the background while multi-tasking heavily. I am yet to encounter a single lag or hang on the device. This can also be credited to Realme UI based on Android 10.

The Realme C3 is the first device from the brand to boot the latest software out of the box. The software itself borrows visual cues from Samsung’s One UI (negative space on top of notification panel), stock Android interface and optimisations from ColorOS. The software is loaded with features like a system-wide dark mode, digital wellbeing, app cloner, game space, split-screen and more. There is a tiny amount of bloatware but thankfully, those apps can be uninstalled. I have the 4GB + 64GB variant and the device offered close to 41GB out of the box.

Coming to the battery, the Realme C3 is equipped with a massive 5,000mAh cell under its hood. The battery easily lasted me a day and a half with my regular usage that involves a lot of WhatsApp, a couple of hours of PUBG and Instagram. What ground my gears was the “slower” 10W fast charging because, with a massive battery like that, the Realme C3 takes forever to charge. The usage of a micro-USB port is also disappointing, considering the Redmi 8A adopts a Type-C port.

The Competition

As expected, Realme has priced the C3 the same as its predecessor, starting at Rs 6,999. At this price point, with a gaming processor and Android 10, there are not many smartphones that can challenge it. However, the Redmi 8A (review) and Moto E6s (review) come close. Redmi’s offering misses out on Android 10 and a powerful chipset but comes with USB-C, 18W fast charging support and a better 8MP selfie camera. The Moto E6s, on the other hand, offers a near-stock Android interface, fingerprint scanner and 8MP selfie camera, but misses out in almost every other aspect. That said, Xiaomi is expected to launch the Redmi 9A soon, and that could be a more worthy contender to take on the Realme C3, as it’s expected to feature the Helio G70 SoC as well.

Bottomline

With the Realme C3, you get the latest Android version with the optimised Realme UI, powerful gaming processor, dual cameras, good display and massive battery for the price of an entry-level device. Therefore, if you’re looking for the best you can get in the sub-Rs 8,000 segment, the Realme C3 should be among your top choices.

Pricebaba’s rating: 8.5 / 10

What works:

  • Runs Android 10 out of the box
  • Realme UI is a huge improvement over ColorOS
  • Good gaming performance
  • Massive battery

What doesn’t:

  • Cameras need improvement
  • Uses a micro-USB port
  • No fast charging

Photos by Zaid Hassen

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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.