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Realme C3 Review - Best budget gaming phone yet, period!

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Realme has recently introduced a new phone that could be perfect for demanding gamers, but with a very tight budget, the realme C3.
Realme C3 Review - Best budget gaming phone yet, period!
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To recall, it is the first with the 12nm MediaTek Helio G70 octa-core processor designed to provide gaming-class performance on mid-range phones. This chip comes with the 2x Cortex-A75 high-performance cores at 2.0GHz, 6x Cortex-A55 efficiency cores, and the Mali-G52 MC2 GPU.

At just PHP 5,990, the realme C3 is considered as a budget phone. It means that this handset could be the most capable phone for gaming in its class.


Let's see if it is worth all the hype. Here's our full review!

Multimedia Experience

It is good for watching movies

In front, this device sports a large 6.5-inch IPS (LTPS) screen. Having a big display is always a welcome sight especially for those who like consuming a lot of multimedia content whether it is watching videos (#CLOY of course) or playing games.
Neat display
Neat display

The resolution is HD+ at 1600 x 720 at 269 ppi. Obviously, it won't be as sharp or crisp as FHD+ screens, but we can't really have it all at this price point.

Let's look at the bright side instead. First, the screen has minimal bezels with a small notch. Second, it has a tall aspect ratio of 20:9. 20:9 for a more "cinematic" view is rare even on pricier mid-range phones. Third, this phone has punchy colors, good contrast, and pretty strong brightness levels. Viewing angles are mostly good as well.
Good viewing angles
Good viewing angles

In comparison, the pricier realme 5i has a listed brightness of 480 nits. But in real-life, the realme C3 with 400 nits listed brightness has better sunlight legibility.

In the Display and Brightness settings, you can adjust the Screen Color Temperature to Cool, Default, and Warm.

For a more accurate typing, swiping, and touch experience, it has 10 points of touch as well. Most of our taps are instantaneous and accurate making it great for competitive gaming.

At the bottom, it has a single down-firing speaker. It isn't the highest quality speaker, but it gets the job done. It is fairly loud. It isn't just that clear. The sound coming from it is a bit muddy for me. But again, I must remind myself that this is considered normal on budget phones.

On wired headphones, the experience is better. It can drive most wired earphones and some basic headphones with ease. It can make my favorite wired headphones shine a little at about 60 percent loudness. The signature is a bit warm. It has a bit of emphasis on the bass as well.

It uses the Real HD Sound tech co-developed by realme and Dirac audio that's found in the settings. When turned on, it enhances the soundstage for a more "3D" like experience. The good thing, it isn't too much where the 3D effect will be unnatural.

If you like to customize the audio experience, you can choose the audio EQ present of your choice.

Since realme C3 uses Bluetooth 5.0 tech, connectivity is fairly stable. It supports AAC the default audio compression codec by Apple and YouTube. It isn't super lossless, but as long as you have high-quality audio files and buds like the realme Buds Air, playing tunes on realme C3 will be enjoyable.

Microphone recordings are clear, but not that loud. It blocks noise nicely for a budget phone. The earspeaker works well too. It is decent for calls overall.

Cameras

Triple-cam
Triple-cam

For cameras, the realme C3 is one of the most affordable with a triple-cam setup. It consists of a 12MP f/1.8 primary shooter with the speedy PDAF focus paired with a pair of 2MP f/2.4 cameras for 4cm macro shots and depth.
Camera UI
Camera UI

Personally, I would have liked it better if it has an ultra-wide-angle sensor instead. But, at least it has a total of 3 cameras for extra versatility. Plus, most phones at this price point aren't equipped with the wide-cam that I wanted.

Going to the modes, it is basic. The device has auto HDR, Filters, Chroma Boost, Portrait, and Expert mode with up to 16s long exposure. The Expert mode can also let you adjust the ISO from 100 to 1600, WB from 2000K to 9000K, MF/AF, and EV from -2 to +2.

Rear Camera Samples

As mentioned in our first camera samples article, the realme C3 has a decent focus. We just find the shutter speed and saving speed to be a bit slower than my liking.
Daylight 2
Daylight 2
Daylight 3
Daylight 3

Daylight shots are okay. I with respectable colors despite being a bit contrasty. Some may even like this better as it made the shots looks more detailed. Dynamic range could be better though.
Normal shot
Normal shot
Chroma Boost
Chroma Boost

To make your shots look brighter with punchier colors, you can use the Chroma Boost. Just be careful in using it as it might make your shots look cartoonish or oversaturated. Only use it in scenes that aren't that bright and colorful.
1x
1x
2x
2x
4x
4x

For zoom, it can do up to 4x digital zoom. Up to 2x, the zoom is decent. The 4x zoom has a bit more grain, but it is still usable. The use of digital zoom is ideal in daylight scenes. It'll struggle indoors with artificial lighting and in low light.
Sample macro shot
Sample macro shot

It has this up to 4cm ultra-macro feature as well. In our experience, it is only usable in well-lit scenes. It'll struggle in low light. Overall macro quality isn't that great as well.
Portrait mode
Portrait mode

The portrait mode is decent and it has a respectable subject to background separation. The bokeh it can produce is quite nice for a budget phone as well. The edge detection is better than expected as well.
Indoor 1
Indoor 1
Indoor 2
Indoor 2

On shots with artificial lighting, the C3 still performed nicely. Using the main cam, the loss of details is hardly noticeable. Exposure is balanced as well.

Outdoor dim 1
Outdoor dim 1
Outdoor dim 2
Outdoor dim 2
Outdoor dim 3
Outdoor dim 3

We also tried to take shots at around 6PM where the scene is dimmer than usual daylight outdoor shots. While the shots it produced are still quite bright, the loss of details is more evident this time.

Low light 1
Low light 1
Low light 2
Low light 2

In low light, thanks to its bright 12MP f/1.8 sensor, shots are still pretty good and detailed. Exposure control and color accuracy are still nice. But of course, the grain is visible. It would have been so much better if it has the Nightscape mode.

Its lack of Nightscape is one of our very few nitpicks about this phone.
Selfie UI
Selfie UI

For selfies, it uses a 5MP f/2.2 snapper with auto HDR, Filters, AI Face Beauty, and Portrait mode.


Selfie Camera Samples

Daylight selfie
Daylight selfie

I like that it has the tap to focus function and fast face detection. Shooting speed is still not super fast so you need steady hands.

As long as you are on a scene with natural lighting. No problem. It can get selfies with plenty of details and respectable colors.
Normal selfie vs AI Face Beauty and Portrait mode selfie
Normal selfie vs AI Face Beauty and Portrait mode selfie

For indoor shots, the grain is visible. But, the shot is still not bad for a 5MP sensor. The AI Beauty mode can make you look better as it'll soften your skin. Fortunately, it'll retain your skin tone as well. The bokeh needs improvement as you will see missed blurred edges.
Low light selfie
Low light selfie

In low light, the selfie is a bit softer with grain but still decent. To get a pretty sharp output, you just need to be a bit more patient here as the photo saving time is not that fast in low light.

For our first camera samples, click here.

For videos, both the back and front cameras can shoot up to 1080p at 30fps. The main cam also has up to 4x digital zoom, Time-lapse, and Slo-mo modes.

The back cam takes decent shots in daylight, but you will notice that it is a bit smudgy compared to its still images. Focus speed is fast, but the shake is evident since it doesn't have EIS as well.

The Time-lapse mode is usable. The Slo-mo mode is in a 4:3 ratio and the quality is far from good.

Selfie videos are surprisingly decent with acceptable details and colors. The crop is not that big as well.

Video Samples


Performance

AnTuTu
AnTuTu

As mentioned, it is the very first with the 2.0GHz 12nm Helio G70 octa-core processor with the Mali-G52 MC2 GPU in the world. It is a 64-bit SoC solution designed for mobile gamers on a budget. The primary cores of this chip are the Cortex-A75 cores and that is even higher than the Snapdragon 665 with Cortex-A73 primary cores.
Other benchmarks
Other benchmarks

Its use of a chip that powerful is very impressive for a budget phone as most phones with similar speed are found in the PHP 10K range or higher based on the benchmark scores we got.

MediaTek’s HyperEngine technology that enhances gaming experience is present on this phone as well.

The chip is paired with 3GB RAM and 32GB expandable storage. The 3GB RAM is enough for running a few tasks at a time and the 32GB storage will allow you to install most of the apps you need. I recommended getting a good quality microSD card for storing photos and other files to avoid consuming the entire 32GB of your device.

Thanks to that setup, the C3 is the fastest for the price yet. It feels as fast as most mid-range phones despite its entry-level price tag. The opening of apps is fast and switching from an app to another is quick.

The highlight? The gaming experience! It runs Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, NBA 2K20, and Call of Duty: Mobile well.
Mobile Legends game settings
Mobile Legends game settings

Mobile Legends at high-settings with HFR is stable at 59 to 60fps. To my surprise, it can run the NBA 2K20 at max settings with minimal frame drops. It is the first sub-PHP 6K phone that can run that game at all-high settings that I ever tested yet.
Game Space Competition Mode while in-game
Game Space Competition Mode while in-game

For thermals, it gets warm after hours of gaming, but not uncomfortably hot. It has this Game Space Competition Mode that optimizes the games you are playing to keep the gaming performance stable.
Different settings of Game Space
Different settings of Game Space

To further avoid throttling during long game sessions, use the phone in an air-conditioned place.


The Game Space Mode also has other modes such as the Normal Mode and Low Power Mode. It can also be used to have an uninterrupted gaming experience.

Gaming beast, battery monster!

To make the gaming experience even better, realme paired the device with a massive 5,000mAh battery. In our test, on average usage, it can last for up to 2 days on a single charge even if you are connected to 4G LTE or WiFi always. If you watch videos from time to time, it can still last for a day and a half.

For gaming, it can last for around 12 hours on Competition Mode, 13 hours on Balanced Mode, and almost 15 hours on Low Power Mode.

Charging speed is a bit slow since it only comes with a 5V/2A 10W micro USB charger. Charging time from 0 to 100 percent is around 3 hours.

For connectivity, it has WiFi 802.11 b/g/n/ac, 4G LTE, Bluetooth 5.0, OTG, FM Radio, GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, and dual SIM slots. In our experience, 4G signal reception is good in our location even if it has no mention of the Band 28 700MHz frequency support. You will not have a problem with the usual call or text as long as you are in a place with nice signal coverage.
The realme UI
The realme UI

For software, realme C3 is also the first with realme UI 1.0 out of the box. Realme UI is a customized version of the ColorOS 7 based on the Android 10.0 operating system.
Other features of realme UI
Other features of realme UI

The interface reminds me of ColorOS, One UI, and Oxygen OS combined. It is in a good way as it is the most stock-looking UI that realme has ever used yet. It is also very easy to use with several navigation options. Like the Huawei EMUI, it'll also allow you to pick from a drawer or no drawer mode.

What I do not like here is it has a lot of repetitive apps. I'm fine with having Google Play Store and a separate App Market, but I'm not cool with the Hot Apps and Hot Games app stores as it is similar to the main App Market.

Fortunately, you can just hide it if you do not want it. Other pre-installed apps are easy to uninstall as well. You can also switch off the "Get Recommendations" in the settings to avoid receiving app and content recommendations in system apps like "Download Management".

Other than that, the realme UI is beautiful, FAST, customizable, and feature-rich. It comes with Themes, Private Space, Digital Wellbeing, Dual Mode Music Share, Icon Customization, and more.

It has an app called the Phone Manager to keep your phone optimized and fast always as well.

Pros - Good build and design, large display, best-in-class speed, stellar battery life, respectable cameras, realme UI
Cons - Slow charging, no Nightscape mode, no dual-band WiFi

Realme C3 Specs

Display: 6.5-inch 2.5D curved Gorilla Glass 3 protected IPS (LTPS) screen w/ HD+ 1600 x 720 resolution at 269 ppi
CPU: 2.0GHz 12nm Helio G70 octa-core processor
GPU: Mali-G52 MC2
RAM: 3GB
ROM: 32GB expandable via microSD card slot up to 256GB (dedicated)
Back Camera: 12MP f/1.8 + 2MP f/2.4 4cm macro + 2MP f/2.4 depth + LED flash
Selfie Camera: 5MP f/2.2
Battery: 5,000mAh w/ 10W charger
OS: Android 10.0 w/ realme UI 1.0
Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 b/g/n/ac, 4G LTE, Bluetooth 5.0, OTG, FM Radio, GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, dual SIM
Sensors: Accelerometer, light, orientation, proximity, gyroscope, sound, magnetic
Others: Fingerprint sensor, face unlock, splash resistance, Dirac HD Sound, Colors: Frozen Blue, Blazing Red
Dimensions: 164.4 x 75 x 8.95 mm
Weight: 195 g
Price: PHP 5,990

Verdict

For me, realme C3 is the new gaming-centric smartphone to beat in its class.

Among all the similarly priced phones in our possession, it has the highest benchmark scores and the smoothest actual gaming performance yet.

Moreover, while it is marketed as a gaming-focused device, it has most of the right qualities it needs to be a great all-around entry-level smartphone. In particular, I like that it has a big display, triple-cameras, and a strong battery performance.

It has a few weaknesses, but they are forgivable for the price.

Build/Design - 4.25
Multimedia Experience - 4
Cameras - 4
Performance 4.75
Average - 4.25/5
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