The smartphone world is a competitive and unforgiving place. One bad feature can cost you your place. And while the premium segment might grab all the attention, it is the budget segment that sees the most fierce battles being waged. The reason? Well, a much wider variety of smartphones present in the segment and bigger target audiences (hey, not everyone shells out Rs 30,000 plus for a phone – most are content doing a fraction of that). At the end of the day, thanks to this competition, the consumer gets a number of options to choose from in this segment. It is here that a new brand recently stepped in with a similar strategy (and perhaps even a similar name) to that of the budget smartphone boss, Xiaomi: pack great features in a box with a light price tag.
It has not been long since Realme stepped in the smartphone business but the brand is already one of the top five smartphone brands in the country, and is seen by many as the closest thing Xiaomi has to a real challenger, thanks to its similar product proposition. After launching the Realme 1 and Realme 2, the brand has now added a new number to the list, the Realme 3. But is it “real-ly” a note-able smartphone, especially considering that its rival launched a spec-laden Redmi Note 7] just a few days ago?
No glass, but shimmer still meets sophistication
For the longest time, if there was one thing budget and mid-segment smartphones did not have, it was the looks – they tended to be awfully plain and simple looking. But of late, that scenario is changing. Glass is the industry favourite nowadays but getting a glass back under Rs. 10,000 is still a pretty difficult task. Realme, however, has found a way around it with the Realme 3. The device comes with a polycarbonate back but has glossy finish which makes it resemble glass. A combination of black and shimmery dark blue on the back adds a touch of glamour to the device’s design – we really like the Dynamic Black colour of the Realme 3, which is the unit we have. Unlike some devices that have really in-your-face bright colours or devices that are too subtle, the Realme 3 comes with the best of both worlds, bringing sophistication to the party where glitter is already burning up the floor.
Much like the glass backs, though, this one is a fingerprint magnets, too but the smudges and the fingerprint are generally not that visible. The dual camera setup is placed in a vertical capsule on the top left that juts out a little while there is recessed fingerprint scanner slightly on the right hand side from it. The front is good looking, too, thanks to a drop notch and thin bezels on the top and sides, giving the device a good screen to body ratio. The only negative on the front is that 6.22-inch HD display and that relatively thicker chin below it. The display seems pretty average and does not seem to handle contrast well, too.
Overall, the phone feels good and looks great. It also comes with a cover in the box, helping you keep it safe from scratches and smudges.
Taking on the Snapdragon with a “Helio” on top
Qulacomm’s Snapdragon processors may be the chips of choice in the budget segment but Realme has decided to go with a MediaTek processor with the Realme 3. The smartphone is powered by MediaTek Helio P70 processor, which is supposed to be slightly ahead of the Snapdragon 636 in the game but does not match the powers of the 660. The chipset is bundled with 4 GB RAM and 64 GB on-board storage, and also comes in a 3GB / 32 GB variant. Storage can be expanded upto 256 GB via microSD card. We are expecting the Realme 3 to handle daily tasks and casual games well, but high-end games might be a slightly rocky road to follow. That said, the P70 at this price point is not a bad choice.
Decent cameras on paper
In the camera department, the Realme 3 sports a dual primary camera on the back and single selfie camera on the front. The dual camera is a combination of a 13 megapixel main sensor with f/1.8 aperture coupled with a 2 megapixel secondary sensor. While the numbers on the camera sensors are decent, the AI supported camera brings a number of modes along with it like the Chroma Boost mode, Nightscape mode, to make your camera experience a richer one. On the front there is a 13 megapixel AI powered sensor with f/2.0 aperture and ⅓ inch sensor. The camera performance of its predecessors has been pretty good, so we would advise you not to go by the numbers here. It ain’t all about megapixels, you know.
If there is one department where the Realme 3 is a definite beast, it is the battery department. The smartphone comes with a 4,230 mAh battery which should easily last more than a day. There is no fast charging support, which is slight negative but a 4,230 mAh battery really does speak for itself.
A Color-ful Pie
The Realme 3 comes with Android Pie (9.0) out of the box which is topped with Realme and Oppo’s shared ColorOS 6.0. While a piece of the Android Pie is much appreciated, we do not think we like the ColorOS just as much as of now. Yes, it adds a bit of personality to the phone but getting used to it might take some time.
Going head to head with the Note 7
Priced at Rs. 8,999 for the 3 GB/ 32 GB variant and 10,999 for the 4 GB/ 64 GB variant, it is pretty clear what battles the Realme 3 is picking up and with whom. The smartphone goes head-on with the just-launched Redmi Note 7 which is priced at Rs. 9,999 for the 3 GB/ 32 GB variant of the device. Might be a tad bit expensive as per the RAM and storage comparison but the Note 7 brings a better processor, display, an all-glass frame and the name of Redmi Note along with it. Also coming into contention are Asus’ Zenfone Max Pro series devices which have just received a price cut (the Max Pro M1 starts at Rs 8,499 now). Just how well is it going to fare against these worthies?
Me will find out. Really. Pun intended.
Stay tuned to find out in our detailed review.