Although battery and design are a bit of savior, performance and camera are weaker areas of this device
Last year, Oppo’s former subsidiary, Realme made its entry into the Pakistani market with the launch of Realme 2 Pro and the budget Realme C1. This year Realme 3 has already made its appearance to go head to head with the likes of Vivo Y95 and the Huawei Y9 2019.
Though the device looks pretty good on paper and packs all the essentials of a modern smartphone, this Realme 3 review is all about how it performs in real life and to see whether it is worth your hard-earned money.
So, let’s dive into the review of the device to know whether it gives its competitors a run for their money.
Realme 3 specs
- Display: 6.22 inches, IPS LCD
- OS: Android 9.0, ColorOS 6.0
- Chipset: MT 6771 Helio P60
- RAM/ROM: 3GB/32GB
- Camera (rear): 13MP + 2MP
- Camera (front): 13MP
- Battery: 4230 mAh
- Full specs
Design and Display
Realme 3’s body is mostly made out of polycarbonate material with a 3D-like curved back. Though plastic, it still looks great thanks to the gradient starry finish which is slightly similar to what we have seen in Vivo V11 Pro and the Vivo Y91
The back of the device has a dual-camera setup, and a traditional fingerprint sensor sits in the spine of the phone where your finger would hover naturally.
I like this position of the fingerprint as no matter how big your phone is; you can easily unlock it. Realme 3, however, is not heavy at all, and though it might not really be usable with one hand, it’s still better than the massive Honor 8X in terms of size and usability.
The right-hand side of the device has an easily accessible power button. On the left side, you’ll find the volume rocker, which has an excellent placement, so even if you are someone with small hands, you won’t have a problem reaching out for it.
The bottom of Realme 3 contains a micro USB charging port along with a 3.5mm headphone jack and a speaker grill. It’s a shame that the USB Type C hasn’t still made its way to most midranges. Nokia 6.1 Plus, however, is among the few phones equipped with Type C. Even the latest Vivo v15 comes with a micro USB port.
The phone feels light in hand and doesn’t slip from the grip despite having a glossy finish. However, it’s a fingerprint magnet, and the chances of getting scratches are quite high.
The Realme 3 comes with a 6.2-inch HD+ display offering a 1520 x 720 pixels screen resolution, 19:9 aspect ratio. A layer of Gorilla Glass 3 protects the display on top.
Our Realme 3 review revealed that the screen resolution of the device is a bit low for the display size, especially when many of its midrange competitors have now moved on to offer Full HD displays. Thus, the images and text aren’t the sharpest, but it’s not bad enough to be a deal-breaker. The 720p display is probably how the company plans to keep the price under control.
Like you would expect in almost every IPS LCD panel, the device comes with respectable color saturation, and the contrast is also okay, but the blacks are obviously aren’t as deep as you’d find on AMOLED screens.
It seems that the notch trend is still lingering on, and the Realme 3 also carries a water-drop notch, which is not intrusive at all when consuming media on the massive screen as you get used to it pretty quickly thanks to its small size.
The viewing angles of the phone are also great indoors but quite struggles outdoors as there is apparent fading on the sides.
On full brightness, it can get quite bright for indoor use as well as outdoors. However, the phone comes with a pre-installed low-quality screen protector, which results in excessive smudges on the screen, making it difficult to use outdoors.
Other than that, we did not encounter any problems regarding the display in our Realme 3 except that the auto-brightness feature does not work well enough and could have been better, but that a software optimization issue and does not relate to the quality of the display.
Android Pie sits in the heart of the phone with the updated Color OS version 6 on top that comes with a new visual experience. Many aspects have received a new look and functionality.
The phone comes with an app drawer out of the box. Also, the first thing we noticed in our Realme 3 was the two navigation buttons — the home and the back button. Thankfully, you can change the navigation bar in the settings menu. There is also a variety of gesture options to navigate- giving every type of user an option.
In giving the UI a new look, sadly, the company has excluded some of the significant features of Android Pie, like the Digital wellbeing, which monitors your time of smartphone usage and is a cool feature to use.
Though the company has fixed a lot of things like simplifying the settings menu into categories and separating them with a line, certain aspects still look clumsy, like the huge toggle keys in the notification shade.
The device also has a “Realme Game Space feature” that boosts the gaming performance of the phone and enables game optimization with add ons like do-not-disturb mode and brightness lock but annoyingly, as the test went on, whenever I started any game, every time I encountered the “Game Space” prompt which was pretty irritating.
You can also launch the Google Assistant by pressing the power button for a very short time, but that’s more gimmicky than actually being useful because whenever you want to turn the device off by pressing the power key, the Google assistant pops up first.
Besides, it’s 2019, and no one wants to use a button for their digital assistant when you can easily summon it by just saying “Ok Google” and not touching your phone at all.
All in all, Color OS 6 is a heavily customized skin that is not going to please everyone, but if you are coming from any Chinese phone like Huawei or Vivo, you might find it fit your taste.
Performance and Battery
Powering the Realme 3 is the MediaTek Helio P60 octa-core chipset that is coupled with a 4GB RAM along with 64GB internal storage. The device can look pretty good on paper, but sadly enough, our Realme 3 showed that the impressive specs don’t translate to a fast and flawless performance in real life.
The benchmark scores, however, are great and even exceed those of the Snapdragon 636 toting Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro. Here are the Geekbench and Antutu benchmarks of the phone though they don’t reveal real-life usage.
During our time with the phone, we noticed that in light usage, it works flawlessly and performs day-to-day tasks with ease. Opening multiple lightweight apps like messaging, social media apps, and watching videos on YouTube did not pose any inconvenience.
Though the P60 chipset is a bit older one, it still has a lot of juice left and can pretty much accomplish any lightweight task easily.
Our real-life tests showed that the same could not be said for heavy usage. The device doesn’t cut it when it comes to power-intensive use. The real-world performance is quite underwhelming. Lagging and stuttering can be observed in many portions of the SystemUI.
If you are playing a single heavy game like the Real Racing 3, PUBG or Deer Hunter, you can enjoy that as long as it lasts. Still, when you try and open other apps in the background or switch to other apps while playing the game, the screen gets stuck, and you have to wait for it to come to normal, so you can proceed on.
Another super irritating thing I noticed that whenever I pressed the home button while playing a heavy game and 7,8 apps were opened in the background, the screen went black, and even after 5 to 10 mins it did not go back to normal.
Though the benchmark performance of the phone may be immaculate, it is misleading and is nowhere even close to the Snapdragon 636 charm that we saw in the Nokia 6.1 Plus and the Redmi Note 6 Pro.
For most of the part, this laggy and annoying performance is not because of the hardware, as helio P60 is known to be an efficient chipset. It instead comes from the poor software optimization of the phone. Other than the scenarios mentioned above, the performance is manageable but undoubtedly far from being amazing.
As for the sound quality, the single bottom-firing speaker can get pretty loud, but the sound may be too shrilling for some. The speaker is positioned at the bottom, so you’ll happen to cover that during your gaming sessions.
Powered by a 4,230 mAh cell, the battery performance on the handset is amazing in real life. In one hour of light and moderate usage, the device only consumed 12% of battery,. While we were expecting the phone to drain the battery quickly in heavy usage, it ate up only 16% of battery in heavy usage.
This means that you can eke out one full day of heavy usage from the device, which is pretty great. The battery part is actually where the 720p screen helped a lot and did not drain as much battery.
Every midrange phone has a dual-camera nowadays, with some of them even coming with a triple camera setup like the Camon i4. Following the trend, Realme 3 also provides a dual-camera setup on the back with 13-megapixel primary sensor and a 2MP depth sensor. The front camera is a 13Mp sensor that sits in the waterdrop notch.
The company has also overhauled the camera app. It now comes with two new features for photography — Nightscape and Chroma Boost. The AI camera comes with a scene recognition feature that recognizes 16 independent scenes and 100 scene combinations.
In color OS 6, the camera app interface is also changed. You get Photo, Video, and Portrait as main categories. To explore within these, you’ll have to click on the “options” icon with three lines on the left side.
After the disappointment in performance, we looked towards the camera part to gain solace but in vain. The camera on the device is also average, and though it takes good pictures too, it is very inconsistent.
The quality of photos taken with the primary camera was a bit of a hit or miss when shooting landscapes. Some shots had excellent detail, and sometimes the device struggled with capturing a good picture, and the output was washed out colors.
HDR is present, but colors can look a bit oversaturated. Realme 3 also has a chroma boost option, which enhances the saturation of the pictures. It adds unwanted contrast, sharpens the image to an undesirable point, and uses excessive saturation.
As we earlier mentioned that the HDR is inconsistent, it can sometimes overexpose a picture, which results in tipping the balance between saturation and details, losing both in the wake.
Realme 3 also comes with a dedicated Nightscape mode that uses AI and multi-frame exposures to give you a brighter image in low-light. On paper, this might look cool and all, but in practice, though it improves the clarity and color balance of the image, it doesn’t gather that much light.
HDR images in the night are more bright than the Nightscape pictures, but then they lose color balance, which Nightscape maintains to a great extent but sometimes at the expense of a lot of extra noise and blur.
The portrait mode from the back camera is horrible, and even in bright light, it fails to differentiate between the subject and the background and, in turn, spreads patches of blur across the subject lining.
The background blur is also very strong and aggressive, which looks artificial, but sadly, there’s no way to adjust this before or after you’ve taken the shot.
The front 13-megapixel sensor captured detailed selfies under good light but struggled under low light. It’s also ladened with AI beautification, which lets you do things such as smoothen your skin, slim your cheekbones, etc. However, the edge detection in the selfie camera wasn’t good either.
The colors also came very bland and washed out. All in all, the camera in Realme 3 is neither extremely horrible, nor is it quite satisfying. It just leaves you hanging, wanting for more. So, if you want a device to take immaculate pictures every time you take it out of your pocket, trust me, you want to pass on this one.
Realme 3 has both its strengths and weaknesses. The strengths of the phone include a handy design, a great battery life, a feature-rich camera experience, and excellent gaming capabilities.
The multitasking performance isn’t on par with other devices, which is, in fact, the result of poorly optimized software, which badly requires a lot of polishing. The abundance of camera features also does not mean that the camera is out of this world. When talking strictly about the camera, it’s just an average device.
Realme 3 seems like a perfect fit for people who are upgrading from an entry-level smartphone but aren’t ready to spend a fortune on a proper mid-range device. But if you previously own a great mid-ranger like the Huawei Nova 3i or the Honor 8X, we suggest you don’t make the switch to Realme 3 as you’ll only get disappointed by the underwhelming performance of the device.