Realme 3 review: Steady performer with a glitzy back

Mirza Mohammed Ali Khan | Updated on March 20, 2019 Published on March 20, 2019

The latest from Oppo’s sub-brand comes with Android 9 Pie

Realme, Chinese phone-maker Oppo’s sub-brand, knows a thing or two about staying in the public eye. It recently created a world record for the largest sentence formed by mobile phones using its newly-launched Realme 3 in New Delhi. The company also opened its first exclusive service centre in New Delhi on Tuesday and claims to have sold over two lakh Realme 3 phones in the first sale. How did the Realme 3 fare on testing? Read on.

The smartphone sports the now-common ‘waterdrop’ notch, which I personally find unappealing and even borderline creepy (it looks like an eye focussed on you at all times you’re using the phone). But with design trends becoming a template for almost all manufacturers to ape, it isn’t confined to just Realme. It does have advantages, and it maximises screen space. Realme could have made the bottom bezel less narrow and made the phone look even better.

The back sports a gradient, which looks very attractive when it catches the light a certain way. My review phone morphed from Navy Blue to Purple to a lighter shade of Blue when I moved it around. The fingerprint sensor is towards the top, slightly below the vertical dual camera and flash assembly. The volume rockers and the dual SIM and MicroSD tray are on the left and the power button on the right. The phone is a good looker, all in all, but did feel a little on the heavier side. The front and back are fingerprint magnets and using the case provided in the box is a no-brainer.

Fire up the Realme 3 and you will find that the latest ColorOS is based on Android 9 Pie, which is a plus. However, ColorOS still needs to make its homescreen look a little more sophisticated and less garish. However, on pulling the app tray up, the icons and the interface begin to look a lot better. It still comes with bloatware, but mercifully, these apps can be uninstalled.

The review unit was the 4 GB RAM and 64 GB memory version. There is also one with 3 GB RAM and 32 GB memory. Thanks to the 4 GB of RAM on board, games like the popular PUBG and Asphalt can be downloaded and played to one’s satisfaction. The back did warm up, but the Mediatek Helio P70 processor ensured that gaming and other tasks like video recording were handled without hiccoughs. Other phones in this range run processors such as the Snapdragon 660 and Snapdragon 625, 636, etc, which turn in similar performances. Basic multi-tasking, which any regular smartphone user would do, is also smooth. Overall, this phone’s performance caters to an everyday user with some casual gaming thrown in.

However, the phone’s display (720 x 1520 p, HD+) leaves you wanting for more. Smartphone companies are bringing better and better displays at lower prices and customer expectations have also evolved accordingly. When streaming multimedia, I felt the videos could have been sharper with brighter colours. Sunlight legibility is passable.

The Realme 3 retains the 3.5 mm jack, and that’s a plus. However, it also retains the Type-2 USB, which is fast becoming obsolete. A Type C USB would’ve helped this one punch above its budget a tad bit. The loudspeaker is all right but can sound shrill as the volume gets louder.

Every phone now has a dual camera (some even have three or four lenses) so companies have to look at software fixes to try and stand apart. There’s a lot of AI embellishment available on the Realme 3’s 13 MP selfie camera. You can make your nose smaller, eyes bigger, cheeks slimmer, etc, etc. Whether you like and use it is on you, so there’s nothing much to say here except that the front camera does what it is supposed to do and what you make it do. The portrait mode worked all right too.

The rear camera consists of a 13 MP, f/1.8 aperture shooter along with a 2 MP depth sensor. Again, this set too produced decent portrait shots. Budget phones in general have a certain benchmark for passable portrait shots and the Realme 3 lives up to it. The camera also has features like Nightscape that help with low-light shooting, as the names suggests. It does add more detail to pictures taken at night. The Chroma Boost feature helps colours stand out better in bright ambient lighting conditions. The images do look like they have been ‘fixed’, but the results aren’t bad.

The 4,230 mAh battery lasted me a little over a day, with camera use, some gaming, video playback and calls. The 10W charger in the box juiced the phone up from zero to 100 per cent in about two-and-a-half hours.

Realme is fast building its own fanbase in the country and its latest phone has got some buzz around it. But there’s still lots of competition to contend with.

Price: ₹10,999 onwards

Pros: Good looks and performance, good battery life

Cons: ColorOS needs to get better, needs a better display and loudspeaker

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Published on March 20, 2019
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