Over the past year, we have seen quite a few offerings from Realme, all of which offer incredible value for what they are worth. The brand has continuously taken user feedback into consideration when coming up with new phones, and the Realme 3 is no exception. In a way, the Realme 3 combines the best parts of Realme 2 and Realme U1. The battery on the new phone is the same as the Realme 2, its chipset is borrowed from the U1, and all three share a similar rear camera setup. However, the brand made some exciting changes with the phone’s design and added new features to its camera.
With a starting price of INR 8,999, (same as the launch price of the Realme 2) the Realme 3 sounds like quite a bargain. Let’s see if this assumption holds true.
[P_REVIEW post_id=148406 visual=’full’]
Table of Contents
Realme 3 Design, Build
While I was quite fond of the diamond back design of the first two Realme handsets, it makes sense that the brand would want to move on to more modern design trends. Ergo, the Realme 3 boasts a gradient finish on its back. There are three options to choose from, Dynamic Black, Classic Black, and Radiant Blue. For this review, I picked out the Radiant Blue variant that happens to bear a more mirror finish, while the others have more of a matte look.
Another change on the Realme 3 over its predecessors is with regards to how it is constructed. The phone offers a unibody build with curved edges. This supposedly helps Realme make the phone thinner and lighter, while also ensuring a more seamless overall aesthetic. Also, we now have a waterdrop style notch above the 6.2-inch LCD display. For protection, the phone makes use of Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3 over this screen.
The power button is on the right side of the device, while the volume rockers are on the left. There is a good amount of tactile feedback to these buttons when pressed. Just above the volume rockers is where you will find a triple card slot. Meanwhile, the base of the device houses a bottom firing loudspeaker, a micro USB port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
The overall look and feel of this smartphone are indeed impressive. Surprisingly, the phone is not as slippery as one would expect. Still, Realme provides a transparent case in the box that should further assist with protecting the phone without compromising on its looks. There is even a pre-applied screen protector to ensure the display is protected from any unwanted scuffs.
Realme 3 Display
Now that it has been established that Realme 3’s screen is protected from the outside, let’s take a look (pun intended) at how it performs in daily use. Realme has made use of a 6.2-inch IPS LCD that makes use of a tiny U-shaped notch at the top. The top and sides of the phone achieve 2.05mm wide bezels, while the bottom has a slightly thicker chin. This has allowed Realme to achieve an 88.3 percent screen-to-body ratio on this phone. Understandably, the phone’s screen offers an HD+ resolution with a 19:9 aspect ratio.
For its class, the Realme 3’s display is just fine. Since this is an HD+ screen, the visuals are not the sharpest. Colors are vibrant enough, with black levels being a bit less than ideal. The screen is not the brightest either, but it can be cranked high enough to be useable outdoors. Viewing angles are also quite decent.
Realme 3 Camera
As mentioned earlier, the back of the Realme 3 houses the same 13MP +2MP camera setup found on the Realm2 and Realme U1. With that said, Realme has made some upgrades to this setup. The aperture size of the 13MP primary lens is now f/1.8, which should allow for an improvement in imaging as more light can get in. Furthermore, the phone now offers two new shooting modes – Nightscape and Croma Boost. Additionally, the front camera of the phone has also been bumped up to a 13MP sensor.
With all enhancements turned off, the performance of the rear cameras is about the same as the older Realme phones. The affordable nature of this handset sets the bar pretty low, and the quality of images is on par with that. In daylight, pictures come out with an acceptable amount of detail, accurate enough colors, and decent contrast ratio. In some instances, the dynamic range is also not too bad.
As soon as ambient light starts to dim, however, you begin to notice softness and noise. This is where Nightscape comes in. This mode takes multiple shots in about three seconds and combines them to get more details and reduce noise in low-light scenarios. In my attempts, while noise reduction was minimal, I did notice an improvement in details captured in this mode.
Then we have Chroma Boost. This shooting mode basically applies some post-processing to achieve punchier colors and better dynamic range. Again, dynamic range improvements were not as high as I would have liked, but the colors do become more vibrant.
The selfie camera on the Realme 3 is a 13MP f/2.0 sensor. The performance here was about the same as the rear camera, where daylight shots had a decent amount of exposure and detail, but shots in low-light did not fare so well. With that said, edge detection in portrait shots with good lighting condition was actually quite decent.
Realme 3 Performance
Realme 3 makes use of a MediaTek Helio P70, a chipset that debuted with the Realme U1. Our review unit came with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, but there is also a 3GB RAM +32GB storage model that is offered at a lower price point. To top it all off, we have the latest flavor of Android (9.0 Pie) adorned with ColorOS 6.0.
This combination results in a surprisingly smooth and clean user experience. The UI is fairly close to stock with elements such a swipe up app drawer, navigation pill and card stacked recent apps menu. Additionally, there are a whole bunch of gesture navigation options to choose from. The changes ColorOS brings can be seen with the notification shade which tends to take up the entire screen, and other smaller custom UI elements here and there. The bloatware is minimal and can pretty much be entirely removed.
As for raw performance, the phone doesn’t leave a lot to be desired. PUBG fans would be pleased to know that the phone can run the game quite well. The game auto-selects medium graphics settings and actually delivers good frame rates. While having an HD+ resolution certainly helps, Realme also has other tricks up its sleeve to improve overall gaming performance.
A feature called ‘Game Space’ allows a bunch of optimizations to ensure games run as best as possible. Game Space can lock brightness when a game is running, optimally allocate system resources, restrict background network access for apps other than the running game, reduce network latency, block notifications, reject calls, and even easily capture screenshots and screen recordings.
For security, the Realme 3 offers both a fingerprint scanner and face unlock. I was again pleasantly surprised to see how well both perform on this smartphone. Despite face unlock not being as secure, its unlock speed was just as good as the fingerprint sensor’s.
Realme 3 Battery Life
The Realme 3 makes use of the same 4230mAh battery as its predecessor. The brand says that combining this battery with the highly efficient Helio P70 allows the smartphone to obtain the same battery life as phones with 5000mAh batteries. One of the ways this is achieved is with a setting called “Screen Battery Optimization,” which reduces the screen’s quality to gain either 5 to 10 percent more battery life. I don’t think this claim is too far from the truth, but we have to keep in mind that this phone is using an HD+ resolution display while most of the competition offers Full HD+ screens.
To test out Realme’s claims, I first put their phone through a day of heavy usage filled with multiple rounds of PUBG, Asphalt 9, Real Racing 3 and Alto’s Odyssey, along with the usual foray of smartphone activities such as browsing social media, watching YouTube videos, music playback and making phone calls. In this scenario, the phone provided an impressive 7 hours of screen on time with around 30 hours of standby. On lighter use, the phone easily made it through two days on a single charge. Topping up the battery from zero takes over two hours considering the phone only ships with a 10W charger.
Realme 3 Verdict: Should You Buy?
The Realme 3’s fantastic gradient design makes it look pricier than it actually is. And when it comes to raw performance, its Helio P70 does beat out most of the competition at this end of the market. The phone even boasts a stellar battery life, with its software also being quite clean and offering useful features.
If I really had to nitpick, I would say that the camera’s low-light performance isn’t very good. But then again, Nightscape can solve the issue in many situations as long as the subject is stationary. Also, an HD+ screen isn’t the best for consuming content, but most devices at this price point offer comparable displays.
With the 3GB RAM model priced at INR 8,999 and 4GB RAM model priced at INR 10,999, the only real threat the Realme 3 faces is with the recently launched Redmi Note 7. We haven’t gotten the chance to test that phone out yet, so it wouldn’t be right for us to draw any conclusions. But as it stands, the Realme 3 is one of the most consistent and complete packages I have had the pleasure of using at this end of the mobile phone spectrum.
Design and Build Quality8.0/10
Software & Features9.0/10
Value for Money9.0/10
What Is Good?
- Gradient design makes the phone look premium.
- Chroma Boost and Nightscape offer noticeable improvements in picture quality.
- Excellent battery life.
- Commendable performance with surprisingly clean software.
What Is Bad?
- A Full HD+ display would have been better.
- Vibration motor feels weak.
- No USB-C port or fast charging.
- Price to go up after 1 million units sales.