The sub Rs.15,000 price segment in the Indian smartphone market has become a battlefield and the two main warriors in it are Realme and Xiaomi. The two brands have been launching devices that are not only specced quite strongly but are also priced very competitively, often within a few weeks, or even days, of each other. So far, we had only seen Xiaomi’s Redmi smartphones going against Realme phones but now that Xiaomi has launched the Mi A3 in the market with a starting price of Rs. 12,999, we now see a Mi going against a (Real)me.
That’s because just a day before the Mi A3 was launched, Realme announced the Realme 5, which is right in the Mi A3 alley. There is a price gap between the two, but there are enough similarities for them to be squaring off against each other in the smartphone arena. Which of the two is the superior?
(Note: this comparison is between the 6 GB/ 128 GB RAM variant of the Mi A3 and the 4 GB/ 128 GB variant of the Realme 5, the highest variants of both devices).
Design: Battle of the blues
Both smartphones come with trendy design elements. Both have tall displays with thin line-like bezels around it, both have a drop notch housing the front camera and a glossy back with very different and distinct patterns. We received both units in blue variants – crystal blue for Realme and not just blue for the Mi. Although the two share some similar traits, a closer look unveils the differences. The Mi A3 comes with a slightly smaller display as compared to the Realme 5 and the bezels around the display of the Mi A3 are slightly more prominent as compared to the Realme 5. The smaller size of the display also brings in a compact form factor, which honestly comes as a breath of fresh in the age of only tall and taller phones. The form factor also makes the phone sit very well in the palm of your hand.
The glossy electric blue backs of the two phones are also quite different from each other. For starters, the Mi A3’s back is actually glass and comes with Gorilla Glass 5 protection, while the Realme 5 comes with a polycarbonate back. You might not be able to tell the difference by just looking at them but holding the devices will definitely give you an idea. In sheer looks terms, the back of the Mi A3 brings a wavy light pattern to the table while there is a diamond cut pattern on the back of the Realme 5. While the waves are nice and subtle on the A3, the diamond pattern on the realme 5 will grab more eyeballs. The back of the Realme 5 also carries the physical fingerprint scanner, which can be a design minus for some while the Mi A3 brings the fingerprint scanner under its display.
In terms of appearance, we think, the realme 5 looks slightly more attractive than the Mi A3, thanks to the tall display, slightly thinner bezels and the diamond pattern on the back, but the compact form factor of the Mi A3 and the plain glass back (no physical fingerprint scanner) gives that phone slightly more premium feels. They both look good. Take your pick.
Display: That AMOLED edge
This might look like a one sided battle because the Realme 5 comes with a bigger display as compared to the Mi A3 but the bigger number doesn’t always win all wars. The Realme 5 comes with a 6.5 inch HD+ display with a resolution of 720 x 1600 while the Mi A3 brings a 6.08 inch HD+ display with a resolution of 720 x 1560 to the table, but it being AMOLED is what gives the A3 an edge over the Realme 5 in this department. Also, because the A3 has a smaller display, it has a higher pixel density simply because the pixels on the A3’s display are more tightly packed and arranged as compared to that on the realme 5 – 283 ppi as against 270 ppi. That means slightly sharper graphics and fonts. The Mi A3 also produces better, richer colours and deeper contrast as compared to the Realme 5. Yes, there is roughly a difference of about 0.4 inches between the two display which adds to the overall experience of the phone, but the A3 wins on sheer quality.
Winner: Xiaomi Mi A3
Processor and RAM: Same Snappy Dragons with different memories
The chipset war between the two phones is a tough one, mainly because both the Mi A3 and the realme 5 run on the same processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 655 coupled with an Adreno 610 GPU. That said, the two phones come with different RAM and storage set ups. We received a 4 GB/ 128 GB variant of the Realme 5 and a 6 GB/ 128 GB variant of the Mi A3. The Realme 5 is available in 3 GB/ 32 GB and 4 GB/64 GB versions too while the A3 also has a 4GB/ 64 GB variant available in the market. Storage on the two can be expanded up to 256 GB. That said, the Mi A3 has a hybrid SIM card slot which means you would have to give up one of your networks, while the realme 5 has a dedicated memory card slot. Still, we think the additional RAM wins it for the Mi A3, although this is a very close round – and those extra RAM GBs cost extra bucks.
Winner: Mi A3
Performance: Extra RAM equals extra smoothness
The two phones can handle your daily tasks quite easily. Both can jump from one app to another and sail smoothly through casual games. It is the high end games where both struggle a little, you would start seeing frames drop getting more frequent as you dive deeper into high end games. That said, the Mi A3 did feel ever so slightly more snappy as compared to the Realme 5. The extra RAM, combined with stock Android gives the Mi A3 that extra oomph that the phone needs to get in the lead in the performance department. The sound, both over headphones and on loudspeaker is also slightly clearer on the Mi A3, which again gets the phone some extra points here.
Winner: Xiaomi Mi A3
Camera specs: Counting cameras and megapixels
This is a slightly tricky territory because the Realme comes with a quad camera setup on the back while the Mi A3 brings a triple camera setup. But then again, there is a 48-megapixel Sony IMX586, ½ inch main sensor on the Mi A3 with f/1.79 aperture, which is the top of the line sensor in the market at present while the Realme 5 comes with a 12 megapixel sensor for its main sensor with f/1.8 aperture. Supporting the main sensor on the A3 are an 8-megapixel ultrawide sensor with f/2.2 aperture and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. The Realme 5 on the other hand brings an 8 megapixel ultrawide sensor with f/2.25 aperture, a 2-megapixel macro sensor and a 2-megapixel portrait (read “depth”) sensor. On the selfie front, the Mi A3 offers a 32-megapixel camera with f/2.0 aperture (similar to the one on the Redmi Y3) while the Realme 5 houses a 13-megapixel camera sensor with f/2.0 aperture. Yes, we know the Realme 5 has an extra camera up its sleeve but we have to side with the Mi A3 in this round, simply because of the bigger numbers on the main and selfie camera.
Winner: Xiaomi Mi A3
Camera performance: Difference-making megapixels
Realme has had a great track record when it comes to camera performance and the Realme 5 is no different. The smartphone punches well above its weight with a 12 megapixel camera… but (yes, there is a big but), the phone just is not quite there as compared to the Xiaomi Mi A3. The Mi A3’s camera captures much more detail and colours reproduced are more realistic as compared to the Realme 5 where the colours are quite saturated. The extra macro lens on the realme 5 is also a little disappointing simply because it does not really deliver. It takes ages to focus on the subject and often delivers blurry results. The story remains the same in the selfie camera arena as well. The 32 megapixel sensor on the Mi A3 easily takes the 13 megapixel sensor on the Realme 5 out. The selfies on the A3 turn out to be more detailed and accurately coloured as compared to selfies on the Realme 5.
Winner: Xiaomi Mi A3
UI: Stock versus Color
This really comes down to what you prefer. It is all about whether you like the stock Android’s clean, clutter-free, uncomplicated looks and feels, or the layered looks and feels. The Mi A3, just like its predecessor is part of the Android One initiative and comes with stock Android. The phone runs on Android 9 (Pie) out of the box, and because it is a part of Android One, there is no sign of MIUI here, barring perhaps the camera app and a Mi Community app. The Realme 5 on the other hand runs on Android 9 (Pie) out of the box but comes with a layer of ColorOS 6 (Realme edition), with a number of third party apps on board. Both the phones work pretty smoothly. While the Realme 5 offers a number of settings, options, features and third party apps, the Mi A3 is very simple and plain. It all really comes down to what you like, but we are going to give this one to the Mi A3 because it is a part of Android One which means the phone will get assured updates from Google for at least the next two years.
Winner: Xiaomi Mi A3
Battery: Outmatched by mAh
The Mi A3 may be knocking it out of the park so far but it is the battery where the Realme 5 gets back in the game. The Xiaomi Mi A3 is powered by a 4,030 mAh battery. The Realme 5 on the other hand brings a massive 5,000 mAh battery to the table. The battery of the Mi A3 can see a day and little more normal usage. This is where the extra 1,000 mAh of the Realme 5 help it get the edge. The smartphone can comfortably see through two days of normal usage, and you can even enter a third day, if used carefully. The phone can comfortably stay awake for more than a day even with heavy usage. The Mi A3 comes with support for fast charging but does not have a fast charger in the box, which negates this advantage. Both batteries will take some time to get charged, but the Realme will simply last much longer.
Winner: Realme 5
Price: On a tight budget? Get Real(me)
Have budget blues? Well, then you can pick the Realme 5, simply because the phone comes with a starting price of Rs. 9,999 for a 3 GB/ 32 GB variant while the Xiaomi Mi A3 has a starting price of Rs. 12,999 for 4 GB/ 64 GB variant. The 4 GB/64 variant of the Realme 5 is also slightly cheaper than the Mi A3’s 4 GB/ 64 GB version as it costs Rs. 10,999. The top end variant of the Realme 5 (4GB/ 128 GB) is priced at Rs. 11,999, which is still below the base variant of the Mi A3). The the top variant of the Mi A3 (6GB/128 GB) cost Rs. 15,999, which actually puts it against the likes of the Realme X and the Realme 5 Pro. If you are short on cash, there’s only one Real choice here.
Winner: Realme 5
Verdict: A choice between price and performance
With a score of 6-2 (with one round tying up between the two), the Xiaomi Mi A3 seems to be the clear winner of this Tech Face-Off but (yes, the mighty ‘but’ again), the Realme 5 scores in a very vital department: Price, and does not trail the A3 by too much in others. The affordable price of the Realme 5, four cameras, bigger display, bigger battery and same processor, make the phone a real sweet deal/. One that can give the Mi A3 a run for its money. The Mi A3 does take it away in terms of overall performance and hardware but bring money into the equation and things start getting a little…well, Real.