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Realme 3 Review - Mid-range performance, budget price tag!

Huawei Nova 5T
Realme 3, the company's newest phone have the design, specs, and features that could wow even demanding consumers with limited budget.
Realme 3 Review - Mid-range performance, killer price tag!
Early 2019's budget phone to beat?

It is equipped with a curved back body with gradient colors, large 6.2-inch display, mid-range-grade 12nm Helio P60 octa-core chip, up to 4GB RAM, up to 64GB storage, 4,230mAh battery, 13MP + 2MP dual-camera with Chroma Boost and Nightscape, and Android 9.0 Pie OS with ColorOS 6 skin.

Traditionally, phones with that specs are found in the PHP 12K to 15K price category. However, the realme 3 is not one of them.

It comes with a jaw-dropping starting price of just PHP 6,990 for the 3GB RAM/32GB ROM variant.

But how does it perform in real life? Is it as good as it is on paper? Here's our full review!

Unboxing/Accessories

Unboxed!
Unboxed!

Unlike other budget phones, the realme 3 comes with a pretty loaded package. First, you will see the unit itself after opening the grey box.

Second, you will find the 5V/2A USB wall charger, SIM ejector tool, TPU clear case with shockproof design, and the paper documents.

Third, upon further inspection, we saw that it has a pre-installed plastic screen protector on top of the display.

However, it won't come with an earphones with mic for calls. Instead, Realme is selling the impressive Realme buds with magnetic design for PHP 399.

Build Quality/Design

Realme 3 back
Realme 3 back

Realme 3's body is mostly made out of a polycarbonate material with 3D-like curved back. It comes with a glossy glass-like finish. The protrusion behind comes with metallic paint finish on the sides and glass protecting the flash and dual-cam. 

On the top, it has a 2.5D curved screen with Corning's Gorilla Glass 3 protection.

Like most mid-range and budget phones, you won't find water and dust resistance. The back of the phone is also a bit prone to hairline scratches if you won't put a case.

Fortunately, the glass on top of this handset should be quite durable. It even has a pre-installed screen protector to further protect its display from unwanted light damages.
Top
Top
Bottom
Left
Right

The overall aesthetics of this handset is similar to Vivo V11. The curved back design with dynamic black gradient color reminds us of the Vivo's starry purple colorway as well.

One of the most stylish looking at this price point!

But, realme 3 has its own distinct feel. One of the camera sensors behind has a striking yellow-orange painted rings. There is a fingerprint sensor at the back too. The realme logo is aligned with the dual-camera setup at the bottom portion behind.

In front, it highlights a 6.2-inch HD+ display with 19:9 screen aspect ratio and 88.3 percent screen-to-body ratio. Realme achieved this by implementing a tiny dewdrop notch. Yes, it has a way smaller notch versus most phones with notches last year.

The chin bezel is still a bit thick though. But for an entry-level phone, the screen real estate of this handset is considered as big.

The phone measures at 156.2 x 75.6 x 8.3 mm. It is even smaller compared with the iPhone 8 Plus with traditional 16:9 panel and 5.5-inch display which measures at 158.4 x 74.81 x 7.3 mm.

There's nothing on top, but you will find a 3.5mm headphone slot together with another mic, micro USB, and speaker below.

There is a hole at left for the dedicated dual SIM and microSD card and the volume rocker below. The power button is found at the right side of the phone.

The phone is a bit slippery to hold without the case and it is prone to fingerprint smudges. It is quite handy for a device with 6.2-inch screen. It weighs at 175 grams.

Display Quality

Big display
Big display

Realme 3 has a big 6.2-inch display with HD+ 1520 x 720 resolution. Obviously, it isn't as crisp as other devices with 1080p screens, but HD+ is still usable and respectable especially at this price point.

Like most IPS panels, colors are close to accurate with respectable punch. Contrast are also okay, but blacks aren't that deep. Overall colors are more than usable for viewing photos and even watching movies.

Like other phones, you can adjust the color temperature from cool to default to warm in the settings. It has an accurate auto brightness feature as well.

You can also use the Night Shield mode to protect your eyes if love using your phone in places with dark or dim lighting condition.

Screen brightness is average which is strong enough at around 450 nits for indoor use. For outdoor use, the screen won't be that bright, but images and texts will still be viewable. It is bright enough for indoor use, but we wished that it has better sunlight legibility.

It comes with 10 points of multitouch in total for easy swiping and touching.

Audio Quality

Underneath, the Realme 3 has a single speaker. It has slightly above-average loudness which is great. The audio coming out of it is also decent and clean. Of course, it won't have the soundstage and bass response from phones with stereo speakers. Some songs also get a little peaky with hissing at max loudness.

But again, its output is more than decent with proper separation of details. Distortion is also minimal.

By default, it has the "Real Sensaround" audio tech turned on. It's a tech developed by Dirac audio and Realme to bring an immersive and more natural HiFi and cinema sound.

From my experience, it makes the vocals and instruments a bit clearer. It also adds a bit of soundstage and loudness. However, audio could be a little too bright for some.

When turned off, headphone audio will be a bit warmer and close to natural sounding.

Just pick the audio settings that will suit you best. Oh by the way, it can drive most earphones and some regular sized headphones.

Bluetooth audio also works with support for LDAC high-quality lossless audio. Just make sure that you have an LDAC read wireless headphones like the 1MORE Triple Driver BT.

Microphone quality is pretty crisp but with evident background noise. It is still considered as respectable for the price though. Loudness level from the earspeaker is decent. As expected, overall call quality is decent.

Battery

Over 14 hours!
Over 14 hours!

One of the main highlight of the realme 3 is its battery capacity. Like the realme C1, it comes with big 4,230mAh of battery. Moreover, it has 12nm power-efficient chip, the Helio P60 processor. It doesn't have a super high resolution screen as well.

It's a phone that keep going and going and going...

The result? Realme 3's battery performance is stellar. It clocked 14 hours and and 36 minutes in our PC Mark work battery life test. It is higher than the usual 10 to 12 hours from other phones with around 4,000mAh battery.
Real-life battery usage
Real-life battery usage

Real-life battery performance is also quite good! It clocked a little over 11 hours of straight heavy usage with 4G LTE and even WiFi hotspot sharing at times.

You can also choose the "Super High Power Efficiency" mode that will automatically close down some background apps when not in use, reduce screen brightness, and turn off vibrate on touch to further help in saving power.

Charging speed is also respectable considering its price and big battery capacity. Charging time from 0 to 100 percent is 2 hours and 20 to 30 minutes using the 10W charger in the box.

It doesn't come with a more modern reversible USB-C port for charging yet. But at this price point, I cannot complain. Most budget phones are still with micro USB. 

Camera

Dual cam
Dual cam

Like most modern phones, realme 3 are equipped with two cameras behind. The primary sensor is a 13MP f/1.8 camera with 1.2um pixel size and PDAF focus. It is a pretty promising sensor that should work nicely even in some challenging scenes.

It is paired with a secondary 2MP f/2.4 depth sensor that could help with portait shots with bokeh.
Neat looking camera user interface
Neat looking camera user interface

Realme has also revamped its camera app. The icons are neat and most of the camera modes and settings are easy to locate.

Its camera app comes with the photo, portrait, face beauty, panorama, filters, and expert modes.

The expert mode UI is very easy to understand. It comes with exposure (ISO and shutter speed), white balance, focus, and EV adjustments.

It also comes with two new modes. First is the Chroma Boost that uses image stacking to lessen noise, improve colors, and make dynamic range wider.

Near flagship-grade night shots!

Second is the Nightscape. It reminds us of the night mode found on the OnePlus 6T. It also uses image stacking and AI to help users take stabilized handheld 3s long exposure shots with crisp details and improved overall image quality even in low light.

On the camera settings, you will see that it goes with options for grid, smart gradienter, auto HDR, AI scene recognition, and watermark.

Like other Helio P60 powered phones, it has realme 3 has AI for scene detection and auto image optimization. Gladly, its AI is not as aggressive as the AI of other camera phones. It can enhance your sky, food shots, and more a little without overdoing it 8 out of 10 times.

Like most phones with PDAF focus, it has pretty fast focus speed. It is mostly accurate and respectable. There are very few occasions where it will miss to focus on your subject. It can even focus on subjects around 2.5 inches near.

Shooting speed is swift on auto mode. Chroma Boost mode will require you around 1 to 2 seconds. Nightscape needs 3 seconds of saving time.

Without Chroma Boost, most of our images are natural looking with decent amount of sharpness in daylight and indoors. Grain is hardly noticeable as well. 

With Chroma Boost colors will pop mode. Dynamic range will be wider by as well. We noticed that it highlighted the greens and reds in some of our shots to give it a more vibrant look. Sharpness will also be better.

Chroma Boost is not perfect though. There are times where I'll pick the shots on auto mode since it looks more natural.

But when it works, it works and you will be surprised with its sharpness, colors, contrast, and dynamic range.

Bokeh looks decent when you turn the portrait mode. Edges are not perfect, but it is considered as respectable. 

On challenging dim and low light conditions, quality will suffer a little. Noise and loss of colors will be noticeable. It is still mostly decent at this price point.

Fortunately, realme has a workaround to help you take better low light images. It is the Nightscape mode.

Realme's Nightscape mode is one of the most impressive regardless of price. It can shoot night and low light shots with extra crisp details, balanced looking colors, well-controlled lights/highlights, and wider dynamic range.

It is not perfect though, there are scenes where it oversharpened my shot and made it a bit too bright for my liking.

But, let us all remember that this is a budget phone. For now, we can be happy that it can shoot near flagship-grade type of night shots.

Yes, it can compete with the night modes from other high-end Android phones.

At this price point, it is that good!

Rear Camera Samples

Normal vs Chroma Boost
Normal vs Chroma Boost
HDR
HDR 1
Flower close-up
Flower close-up
Another close-up
Another close-up
Portrait mode (against the light)
Portrait mode (against the light)
Indoor normal vs indoor Chroma Boost
Indoor normal vs indoor Chroma Boost
Indoor dim
Indoor dim
Normal vs Nightscape mode
Normal vs Nightscape mode
Nightscape 2
Nightscape 2
Nightscape 3
Nightscape 3
Nightscape 4
Nightscape 4
Nightscape 5
Nightscape 5
EV -4 (ISO 100, 2.5s)
EV -4 (ISO 100, 2.5s)

For selfies, it comes with a 13MP f/2.0 camera. On paper, it doesn't sound that great. But, it is also feature rich and quite capable.
13MP selfie cam
13MP selfie cam

The selfie camera comes with portrait mode, auto HDR, and AI face beauty tech. It has a screen flash for low light snaps too. But unlike the main cameras, it has no AI scene recognition tech for selfie though.
Selfie camera UI
Selfie camera UI

Fortunately, most of the shot that we took using its selfie camera turned out great. Shots comes with crisp details in daylight with punchy and close to natural looking colors. Our selfies aren't beautified when the face beauty mode is on unlike other selfie-centric phones.

Portrait with bokeh works even if it only has a single camera as well. There are times where edge detection needs improvement though.

Low light selfies are also respectable even if there is some loss of details. Just use the screen flash in dim conditions.

Selfie Camera Samples

Detailed daylight selfie
Detailed daylight selfie
With AI face beauty
With AI face beauty
Selfie bokeh
Selfie bokeh
Indoor selfie
Indoor selfie
Low light selfie
Low light selfie
Low light selfie and low light selfie with flash
Low light selfie and low light selfie with flash

For videos, it can shoot up to 1080p 30fps at the back and for selfies. At the back, it even comes with time-lapse and slow-mo mode. For selfie videos, it has time-lapse as well.

The output from the 1080p main camera is decent with speedy enough focus good color reproduction even in low light. However, stabilization needs improvement. It has no OIS.

Our selfie videos turned out good as well with crisp details and decent dynamic range. Crop is evident, but stabilization is noticeably better compared with the main camera.

Video Samples


Performance

AnTuTu and Geekbench scores
AnTuTu and Geekbench scores

As of writing, Realme 3 is is the most affordable packed with a 12nm 64-bit Helio P60 octa-core processor. This is a chip with up 2.0GHz clock speed, dual-core AI, and Mali-G72 MP3 GPU. It slightly lower than the Realme 3 with Helio P70 from India, but here in PH. It is arguably the most powerful chip at this price point.
PCMark
PCMark

Realme 3 comes in 3 different configurations. First, a 3GB RAM/32GB ROM model. Second, a 3GB RAM/64GB ROM variant. Third, a 4GB RAM/64GB ROM version.

The unit that I reviewed is the top-end 4GB RAM/64GB ROM version. Based on my experience, it comes with identical performance versus other P60 powered phones that we reviews. Its speed is even comparable with the OPPO F9 with the same chip.

Most users won't have a problem with opening apps, multitasking, and even with casual gaming.

Mid-range grade performance, budget price tag!

When it comes to gaming, Mobile Legends is playable at all high settings. We experienced no lag even during clashes.


NBA also works at high settings, but you have to turn off cloth simulation and lower the crowd details to make the gameplay smoother. At this price point, I cannot complain with its gaming performance.
Real Game Space
Real Game Space

It even has the realme Real Game Space to further optimize your gaming experience. You can even reject calls and block notifications while in-game.

Thermal management is also quite decent. It gets warm during games, but far from alarmingly hot.

The UI

Neat UI!
Neat UI!

Realme 3 is also one of the first phones with the Android 9.0 Pie based ColorOS 6.0 skin. It is the neatest looking skin of the company yet with near stock-like experience and deep Google integration. ColorOS 6.0 also comes with the new OPPO Sans font developed by the Hanyi Chinese typeface firm. It looks less cluttered versus most Android skins.
Smart Assistant and Phone Manager
Smart Assistant and Phone Manager

Realme also claimed that it arrived with built-in machine learning features which will freeze the apps in the background instead of shutting them down. Realme said that it will analyze your app activity for 2 weeks to learn your habit.
Gestures
Gestures

We also like that it easy to learn simple gestures and swipe-up gestures. It has few bloats, but most of them are even removable.

For power users, Realme also revealed that it has has an open Camera 2 API and bootloader unlocked from day 1.

Other features

Realme 3 has good connectivity options too. GSM signal is alright. WiFi is mostly strong. 4G LTE works and it even has 700MHz band. GPS also works well.

This device also comes with a fast and accurate face unlock technology. The fingerprint scanner at the back works all the time too. It also goes with an FM radio, gyroscope sensor for VR/AR apps, and OTG.


Pros - Stylish design, big screen with tiny notch, mid-range worthy specs, long battery life, great cameras, Nightscape mode rocks, bargain price
Cons - Screen could have been brighter, no EIS or OIS for video stabilization

Realme 3 Specs

Display: 6.2-inch 2.5D curved Gorilla Glass 3 protected IPS screen w/ HD+ 1520 x 720 resolution at 271 ppi
CPU: 2.0GHz Helio P60 octa-core processor w/ dual-core AI
GPU: Mali-G72 MP3
RAM: 3GB/4GB
ROM: 32GB/64GB expandable via microSD card slot up to 256GB (dedicated)
Back Camera: 13MP f/1.8 + 2MP f/2.4 w/ PDAF and LED flash
Selfie Camera: 13MP f/2.0 w/ AI face beauty
Battery: 4,230mAh w/ 10W fast charging
OS: Android 9.0 Pie w/ ColorOS 6.0
Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, 700MHz 4G LTE, Bluetooth 4.2, OTG, FM Radio, GPS, A-GPS, dual SIM
Sensors: Accelerometer, light, orientation, proximity, gyroscope, sound, magnetic
Others: Fingerprint sensor, face unlock, Colors: dynamic black, radiant blue
Dimensions: 156.2 x 75.6 x 8.3 mm
Weight: 175 g
Price: PHP 6,990 (3GB RAM/32GB ROM), PHP 7,990 (3GB RAM/64GB ROM), PHP 9,990 (4GB RAM/64GB ROM)

Verdict

Realme changed the game once more with the Realme 3.

It's an entry-level device with the design, performance, battery, and cameras that punches above its price. Its minor weaknesses are forgivable for a phone this affordable.

Realme 3's starting price of PHP 6,990 is tough beat. It is a highly recommended phone for budget conscious consumers. 

Build/Design - 4.25
Display - 3.75
Audio - 4.25
Battery - 4.75
Camera - 4.5
Performance - 4.75
Average - 4.375/5
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