Table of contents:
Perhaps, the Realme 3 is one of the most anticipated and exciting smartphones in the market in recent days. The reason is because of the Realme brand, since the company always knows how to please users with a cheap price while the features are very rich, and Realme 3 is no exception. With a price of P6,990, this is one of the most popular smartphone for buyers in the low price segment.
So, is buying a Realme 3 phone a good choice for consumers? Let us find out.
Realme 3 Specs:
- 6.22-inch HD+ IPS LCD display, 1520 x 720 resolution, 270 ppi
- Android 9.0 “Pie”, Color OS 6
- Dual-SIM, dual standby
- 2.0Ghz 64-bit MediaTek Helio P60 octa-core processor
- Mali-G72 GPU
- 32GB / 64GB internal storage
- Expandable microSD slot up to 512GB
- 3GB / 4GB RAM
- 13-megapixel (f/1.8 aperture, PDAF) + 2-megapixel (f/2.2 aperture, depth sensor) dual rear camera
- 13-megapixel rear camera, f/2.0 aperture
- 1080p at 30 fps of video recording
- Fingerprint scanner (rear-mounted)
- 4G LTE (Category 12)
- Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
- Bluetooth 4.2
- FM Radio
- GPS, with A-GPS, GLONASS
- micro-USB 2.0 connector
- 4,230 mAh non-removable battery
Inside the box:
- Realme 3
- 5V/2A charging adapter
- micro-USB 2.0 cable
- SIM tray tool
- Transparent rubber case
Design & Build quality
Design is not one of the strongest points of those affordable smartphones for obvious reasons. However, Realme 3 breaks this rule by offering an impressive uni-body design that is not indicative of its price in any way. The uni-body design is made of plastic, which feels soft to the touch and looks quite premium. There is no half frame separating the back and the screen component, which gives the device a sense of perfection. Seeing the Realme 3 is hard to believe that you can achieve such an impressive design without any use of metal or glass. The perfect appearance is accompanied by beautiful degraded colors. It comes in two colors: Radiant Blue, which we are reviewing, and Dynamic Black. The gradient effect is achieved by superimposing two layers of black and blue ink. When you rotate the device under the light from a certain angle, you can see that the lower back changes color from blue to purple.
The shiny finish really adds to the visual appeal of the device, however the back is prone with fingerprints and smudges. You will have to clean it regularly with a soft cloth to maintain a clean appearance, or you can place the transparent hard case that comes inside the box. Fortunately, the device is not so slippery despite the glossy finish and offers a firm but comfortable grip and easy one-hand operation.
The front of the device is mostly covered with a screen with thin bezels and a smaller chin. The Gorilla Glass 3 protection is on board and, as an additional precaution, the device also comes with a pre-applied screen protector on top. The Realme 3 removes a clipping similar to an iPhone from its predecessor and opts for a notch of drop style. The notch houses a front camera sensor and a proximity sensor. The receiver is just above the notch. On the back, we find a dual camera configuration, a fingerprint scanner and a vertically printed brand logo.
All ports and holes are located on the bottom, which includes a speaker, a micro-USB port, two microphones and a 3.5 mm jack. Realme has taken a different approach with respect to the position of the physical buttons. The right side only keeps the power button pressed while the volume keys are located on the left side. The left also houses the SIM tray that can carry two nano-SIM cards and a micro-SD card at the same time.
When moving to the screen, the Realme 3 offers a 6.2-inch HD+ panel that has an aspect ratio of 19:9. Although the resolution is on the lower side, the panel’s overall performance is quite satisfactory. The reproduction of the color is precise, the contrast and the saturation are in the point and the viewing angles are also decent if the price is taken into account. The screen is calibrated for the sRGB color space. We discovered that the default color temperature is on the colder side, but fortunately this can be easily fixed by adjusting the temperature slider below the screen settings. As is common in most custom masks today, it also has a night mode, called Night Shield.
ColorOS offers additional customizations with Night Shield for different uses. So along with a basic night mode, you also get a black and white mode and a high-contrast reading mode with white text on a black background. The visibility outdoors is fine. You can read the text in direct sunlight, but seeing images or any other medium is not a very pleasant experience, since the colors appear blurred and the contrast fades.
While we would have liked to have a Full HD panel, the overall performance of the screen is totally acceptable and one of the best we have seen in the entry-level segment.
Software, UI & Apps
As for the software, the Realme 3 is installed with Android 9.0 Pie with the latest version of the custom UI of the company at the top. ColorOS 6 brings many new changes and visual revisions on previous versions. In terms of design, the new user interface uses white backgrounds with subtle gradient colors for a clean appearance. Oppo says they have eliminated the lines and spacing of the menus and settings to allow for a more intuitive and faster browsing experience. The icons of the system applications have also been redesigned and now have a circular design with a bright color combination. One of the biggest changes that the new user interface brings is the addition of an application drawer to the default launcher.
If you prefer the old iOS-style interface, you still have the option to switch to standard mode and have all your applications organized on the home screen. In terms of bloatware, the device is not installed by much. A couple of pre-installed applications such as UC Browser and Facebook, and can be easily uninstalled.
Sounds and alerts can be controlled with standard “Mute” mode and there is also a “Do not disturb” mode that is equivalent to what you get with Android. Another big change in the latest version is the Android P-style navigation system. As in the implementation of Google, the home button acts as a mobile pill that can be dragged anywhere to scroll through the screen of recent applications. Scrolling up and holding opens the recent window that shows open applications on rounded cards. You can drag the start button to either side to scroll through the screen of recent applications, while a simple drag and drop to the left takes you to the latest applications used.
You can also opt for slick navigation gestures in the style of iOS to use the maximum real screen capacity. When you slide up from the right and to the left, it acts like a backspace button and when you scroll up from the center. it returns to the home screen. There is one more option for navigation in the form of an assistance ball: a small bubble that acts as a floating navigation bar. A single touch on the ball acts as a backspace action, a long press brings it back to the home screen and double tap opens the recent apps screen.
Then, there are gestures off the screen that allows you to perform quick actions when the screen is off. For example, you can draw a V on the screen to turn on the flashlight or draw O to start the camera application. It also allows you to create your own custom gestures and then link them with your choice of action.
For a safer driving experience, ColorOS also includes a dedicated Driving Mode that silences all notifications and sounds while driving. You can add contacts that you don’t want to mute to the white-list or you can use the “Call for repeated calls” feature that allows the device to ring if the same number tries to call again within 3 minutes.
Game Space is a central center for players. It facilitates access to installed games by organizing them in a space. There are multiple tools to improve and take control of your gaming experience. You can block notifications and calls so they do not interrupt you in the middle of your game. OEMs like Samsung and OnePlus offer similar tools on their devices, so this is not something completely new. However, it is good to have controls of this type on a device like Realme 3.
ColorOS 6 seems to be a step in the right direction, as it addresses many of the weak points of previous versions. But in terms of refinement and smoothness, it still has a long way to go before it can match the likes of MIUI and EMUI.
Performance & Benchmarks
The brain of the Realme 3 is the octa-core chipset from MediaTek Helio P60. Based on TSMC’s 12 nm FinFET process, the chipset has 4x Cortex-A73 performance cores and 4x Cortex-A53 efficiency cores to handle light activities. The Helio P70 is exclusive to the Indian market; Elsewhere, the device comes with a MediaTek Helio P60. It’s a step ahead of Realme 2, which included a Snapdragon 450 chipset. Fortunately, however, the impressive specs were translated into fast and flawless performance in real life.
Real-world performance is quite decent. We didn’t observe any delays and stuttering in many parts of the System UI. Application opening times are also fast compared to what we have seen in many devices within the same price segment. As always, these performance have nothing to do with the chipset or MediaTek. In fact, the Helio P60 is one of the most powerful and capable SoC in the entry mid-range segment. The marketing material of Realme is full of how it is comparable and, in a way, even better than the Snapdragon 660 and that is really true. In reality, the device’s real-life performance can be comparable to the devices that runs Snapdragon 630 or 636 SoC.
The fingerprint sensor mounted on the back is well positioned and can easily be reached without adjusting the grip. In terms of speed and accuracy, although it is a quite much disappointment. Most of the time, it just does not match the fingerprint. It was functional during the initial phase but over time it became totally unusable. No matter how carefully we tried to put our finger, most of the time the message “The fingerprint does not match” appears. Adding different fingerprints, deleting and re-adding everything again did not help in any way. On the positive side, Realme’s facial unlocking is really fast and accurate.
In our test of opening speed of the application, which consists of opening Gmail, Play Store and YouTube in a rapid succession of 150 times for each application, the device turned out to have a quite fast performance.
ARM Mali-G72 MP3 is a great update on Adreno 506 in Realme 2 and the difference is evident when playing games. It also helps that the device has a low resolution 720p screen, which makes the device an advantage, since the GPU will have to generate fewer pixels. We played several titles with lots of graphics to evaluate the game’s capabilities and we discovered that it is a good contender, especially considering its price.
The Realme 3 is equipped with two cameras on the back. While the resolution is identical to that of its predecessor, the main sensor now uses a brighter f/1.8 aperture for better performance in low light conditions.
Today, most low-budget phones have become good enough to have no trouble taking reasonably good pictures in broad daylight. Having a flagship is still going a long way in terms of dynamic range and detail retention, but the point is that the quality gap is not what it used to be a few years ago and with each new generation of mid-rangers it is closing down yet plus side.
In terms of performance in daylight, Realme 3 offers mostly visually appealing results that seem to be linked to its “ready for social networks” tone. There are proper details in the shots and the colors are also accurate. The images suffer from the lack of natural dynamic range. Shooting with Auto HDR does not seem to help much either. It is necessary to detect high contrast scenes, but in terms of improving the details of the shadows, it is far from effective. Photos taken with and without HDR show little difference. We also observed an excess of tuning and excessive saturation applied to many of the images, probably in an attempt to make the photos look more pleasing.
To compensate for a limited dynamic range of the camera, Realme has included a dedicated shooting mode called Chrome Boost that aims to improve high-contrast images with the help of software processing. Chroma Boost improves colors, contrast, and saturation of the image and offers a more vivid looking shot than you would get from the standard shot. The results are far from natural, but they should be fine to share in social media sites like Facebook and Instagram.
The performance in low light is passable. The images do not retain many details, they are very noisy and look a bit oversaturated. The HDR helps raise the shadows a bit, but the final results still leave much to be desired. Interestingly, Realme has included a dedicated night recording mode called Nightscape, which according to the company greatly improves the low light and night shots. Nightscape works on the same principle as other night modes: it takes several long exposure shots at a time and joins them together to assemble a final image that is brighter and more detailed. In fact, Nightscape makes a noticeable difference in low-light scenes and brings out more details of the darker areas. The effect is not as dramatic as what you would get from something like Google Pixel’s Night Sight.
For selfies, the device has a 13MP front camera. In conditions of good lighting, the images went well with enough detail and good contrast, but the dynamic range is again below the average. Noise levels are high in low light shots and images appear grainy.
For casual photo shoots and to share on social networks, the Realme 3 cameras will certainly not disappoint you. Nightscape is a nice advantage that has and should help to further differentiate the device from the competition. In terms of overall camera performance, it does everything well enough, but it’s certainly not the best of its kind. However, there is nothing that breaks the problem, considering the price and the target audience. For those who upgrade from an entry-level phone, camera performance is still a breakthrough and more than satisfying to meet their requirements.
Connectivity, Audio quality & Battery life
The Realme 3 has a single background speaker. For a mono configuration, the speaker becomes reasonably loud, although the sounds begin to distort at high volumes. The audio quality is average and what is expected from an affordable budget smartphone. The quality of the call is not clear: the callers’ voices begin to muffle at the maximum volumes and the intensity is also on the lower side. Cellular reception was good both indoors and outdoors, but we observed that cellular data speeds, especially download speeds, are slower than we have seen in this category.
The battery department is where Realme 3 really shines. The 4,230 mAh battery is not only a little bigger than competitive devices, but the low-resolution display also contributes to a longer battery life. The Realme 3 clearly has an advantage over the competition in this area and we are very impressed with the battery life that we’ve got during our review period. With a full charge, the device allowed to spend 2 full days with normal use and there was still some battery left on the third day. Our typical use falls on the heavy side and involves a lot of web browsing, taking photos and a large dose of social networking applications. We were not very fond of video games and, apart from the game tests, we did not use the device for heavy games in long run-times.
Charge times are on the slowest side. This is to be expected when taking into account the size of the battery and the stock 5V/2A charger. With the standard charger, the device takes about 3 hours to fully charge. Since the backup battery itself is quite amazing, we do not think this is a big problem. It would be too much to expect from a low budget smartphone to supply a fast charger.
Realme 3 has its strengths and weaknesses. The strengths include a beautiful design, a great battery life, a camera experience rich in features and good gaming capabilities. The performance is on the above average side and the software looks like it might need some polishing. But when we consider its price, the whole package is not so bad. The Realme 3 seems to be the perfect fit for people who are upgrading from an entry-level smartphone but are not ready to spend on an appropriate mid-range device.
There’s no need to talk a lot to hurt your throat. This smartphone is equipped with something that can be called “sufficiently good” and can be used fairly well, whether it is a camera that takes good night shots. And, focus on various tricks that so much to say, this is a smartphone that is suitable for use in many matters, not at least for Realme 3 is price starting from P6,990 for the 32GB variant. If you want to add some additional thousand pesos, the 64GB / 3GB model is priced at P7,990, while the highest 4GB RAM variant is P9,990.