realme C3 Review: Mobile gaming made real affordable

realme C3 Review: Mobile gaming made real affordable

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When you think of getting a good gaming phone, you’ll probably think of saving up a good sum of money just to get a decent handset capable of running the games you play.

Well, realme begs to differ.

The smartphone manufacturer that made itself known for releasing bang-for-your-buck devices now has a game-centric handset to add to its portfolio. Dubbed as a “game monster”, the realme C3 promises a seamless gaming experience without asking for a lot in return. This model is the newest iteration in realme’s C line and boasts of upgraded features and new developments including the brand new realme UI.

With powerful internals, an attractive design, and even more attractive price tag, could the realme C3 be too good to be true?

Design

The realme C3’s new design is quite a head-turner. The company switched out the diamond pattern found on the C2 with a new, light-reflecting sunrise design that comes in either Blazing Red or Frozen Blue. This new design is meant to mimic the sun’s rays which, I believe, is well-executed as the pattern is obvious even in normal lighting.

Having slightly raised ridges at the back also provides a much-appreciated additional grip and, despite having an all-plastic construction, the build still feels pretty solid and the device itself a bit hefty.

The power button sits on the right side of the phone while the volume rocker and triple card tray are on the left. The buttons are firm, easy to press, and responsive. Though occasionally, the power button takes some time to wake the device but it seldom happens.

Turning to the bottom side of the phone reveals a micro-USB slot, 3.5mm headphone jack, and speakers. In a perfect world, we’d all rather have a more updated USB-C for charging. But at this price point, we really couldn’t complain.

CHECK OUT: realme C3 Unboxing and Hands-on

Display

The realme C3 boasts of a bigger screen size than its predecessor at 6.5 inches with a mini-drop notch.  It’s protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3 which should be enough to resist scratches from keys, coins, and other similar items that may be loose in your pocket or bag.

Bezels are pretty thin on the sides and forehead but do have a noticeable chin.  The mini-drop notch design was retained from its previous models but still proves to be pretty effective. It’s not as intrusive as other notch designs when using the device in full screen.

In regard to the display’s color, the realme C3 is able to produce bright and faithful colors that aren’t too saturated. Contrast is average but sharpness could be better. The lack of sharpness is most noticeable with text but it shouldn’t be too much of a bother for the average user.

The display also works well under direct sunlight. On a bright, sunny day, I found I didn’t need to max out the phone’s brightness for it to be visible.

I also appreciated the C3’s large display which gives a generous amount of space to do my daily tasks. But because of the display’s tall form factor, a number of apps and videos won’t be able to fill up the screen but this, in no way, affects the phone’s performance. Netflix, for example, can be zoomed in to fill the screen but the picture will be slightly cut off in doing so.

Speakers, on the other hand, leave little to be desired and are too easily blocked by the hand or palm because of its placement. Thankfully, you can remedy this problem by plugging in some headphones into the 3.5mm jack.

Software

Previous iterations of the C-series operated on OPPO’s ColorOS but it has since then been replaced on the realme C3. The device now ships with new realme UI which is heavily based on Android 10. The company says that this proprietary OS is more similar to how the original Android operates which should provide users a better UI experience overall.

Swiping down on the home screen, for example, will now take you to your notifications and settings, similar to Android 10, instead of a global search.  Icons are now fully customizable with the ability to change from rounded to square and even adjust its transparency. The original icons can also be customized with your own photos or icons.

There’s also support for dark mode, dynamic wallpapers, native screen recording with internal and external audio, and tap to lock. One of my favorite features of the UI is its dark mode. It’s well-designed and doesn’t feel forced. I actually turned it on a day after I got the C3 and haven’t turned it off since.

Fans of the app drawer also need not worry as it’s still an option for the C3. The additional smart sidebar also makes it easy to access your most-used apps. You can choose up to 20 apps to place in the sidebar which, in my opinion, is more than enough. There’s also the option to move it around to a spot where you feel it to be most comfortable as well as transparency adjustments.

Overall, as a longtime Android user, migrating to the realme UI wasn’t hard at all. The functions are practically the same which makes it a breeze to get used to.

Camera

The realme C3 sold in the Philippines houses an AI triple rear camera system consisting of a 12-megapixel main camera, 2-megapixel macro camera, and 2-megapixel depth-sensing camera. These three cameras combined plus support for hardware-level bokeh means that the C3 is able to produce decent bokeh.

In testing the realme C3’s camera, I found that it works best when there’s plenty of light available. It’s able to produce sharp photos and accurate colors given the camera specs. You see the cameras’ shortcomings when it starts to get dark, though. There are noticeable grain and distortion, especially in the dark areas of the photo. There’s still a bit of sharpness but, again, the cameras are best used when there’s light.

The C3 is opening up options for mobile photography enthusiasts since it’s equipped with macro lens and Ultra Macro mode. With it, you should be able to take photos as close as 4cm away and, upon testing, I can confidently say that it holds true.

As for quality, it really depends on your shooting conditions. A well-lit area is ideal to get the best results. You can still get macro shots in normal lighting conditions though the device may warn you that it may be too dark to shoot. At times though, it can be a hit and miss feature as I had a difficult time getting a sharp image of a flower in direct sunlight.

Nowadays, the front camera is just as important as the rear. With smart AI algorithm, the realme C3’s front camera has beauty mode and portrait selfies that provide a more personal approach to retouch. Unfortunately, the AI beautification is not my cup of tea.

Pulling it up to 100 percent produces extremely blurred and brightened skin which looks very unnatural. Some users may be able to pull off the beautification at 50 percent or less but I would much rather prefer using the front camera without it. In fact, the front camera, without filters, is able to produce sharp and accurate selfies that you’d already be proud to post.

Performance

The realme C3 is the first phone to be powered by the Helio G70, a processor made specifically for gaming phones. It’s coupled with up to 4GB of RAM and an internal storage of 32GB with the option to expand through microSD.

For an affordable phone, these specs are pretty impressive. I was eager to find out how well it would perform as a daily driver and as a gaming phone.

With daily tasks, the realme C3 performed really well. Switching between apps was seamless and the touch screen was responsive. Problems started showing, though, when there were a lot of apps running in the background and when memory started dwindling. The C3 started freezing at times and I experienced some input lag when trying to open apps or even when trying to unlock the phone. When I limited the number of apps I had in the background, it started working smoothly again. It should also work better if there’s an installed microSD card to support the phone’s other functions.

For its security features, the realme C3 offers number passcode, face unlock, and fingerprint unlock. I was pretty impressed at how fast the fingerprint sensor could unlock the phone. It took no time at all and I didn’t have to press several times for my fingerprint to register. The face unlock is also equally impressive and could even identify my face even when I was wearing a face mask.

Gaming

With claims that it’s a gaming monster, I tried to push the realme C3 to its full limits. I tested the device with different types of mobile games, with the graphics settings maxed out each time, to see how it would perform. For this phone, I would say that performance relies somewhat heavily on the number of tasks or apps running in the background. I found that games would be responsive and fast as long as the phone is not dealing with other processes. It’s not a hard tradeoff — if you want a fast phone for gaming, make sure that you just play.

Graphics-heavy games, like Asphalt 9, are actually pretty impressive. Models were clear and sharp, reflections and other effects rendered well too. Unfortunately, at the highest graphics settings, the game started encountering noticeable frame drops and lags. Bringing it back down to a conservative setting, though, can easily solve this problem.

We also tested the C3 on a 3D rhythm game to test out its speed and responsiveness.  At its highest setting, with no disturbance from other apps, the C3 was very responsive and I could accurately hit notes. But when notifications or chat heads would pop up, the game would lag and the touchscreen would sometimes be unresponsive.

Surprisingly, playing Mobile Legends, even with apps running in the background, did not cause any noticeable strain to the phone’s performance. Connectivity didn’t have an issue and loading screens are fast enough. A couple of hours of gaming did heat up the unit but not to a point that it was uncomfortable to hold.

To manage its games, the C3 uses the Game Space app. It acts as a hub where you can organize your games and their settings. It offers three different performance settings: Low Power, Balanced, and Competition Mode. Switching to Competition Mode increased the phone’s performance quite a bit, lessening frame drops and lags. It isn’t a significant difference compared to low or balanced mode but it does help overall.

The realme C3’s gaming capacities are impressive for a cost-effective phone. At its price, its performance is at its peak though it’s probably best to opt for more balanced graphics settings and keep background apps at a minimum when playing.

Battery

The realme C3 boasts a super long battery life and it sure did deliver. With 5000mAh capacity, the C3 was able to last the whole day with moderate use. realme says that a single charge can last up to 700 hours when on standby, up to 20 hours when watching a movie, and up to 10 hours of straight gaming.

I left Pokémon Go open for a couple of hours and it didn’t take too much of a toll on the battery. It may not sound like much but is actually impressive considering it’s a game known for draining battery pretty fast.

The downside, however, is that the phone charges via micro-USB. This makes charging really slow, especially for the battery size it has. It took over three hours to charge it from zero to 100%. Interestingly, realme added reverse charging capabilities to the C3 so you can use it to charge other devices when they need extra juice.

Creature Feature

In our reviews, The Modern Creatures aims to find that one special feature of a device that makes it worth having — something that gives the product a slight edge from among its peers. And for the realme C3, we dub its Creature Feature to be its long-lasting battery.

This may be surprising to say since the highlight of this phone is its gaming capabilities. And yes, the gaming capabilities of the phone top-notch for a very affordable phone but I found that the battery is a feature that’s overlooked because of it.

Having the luxury of not worrying about your phone’s battery is something anyone can appreciate. Plus, I play a number of mobile games and not having to worry about battery life is a big luxury. Additionally, the battery’s reverse charging feature may be a bit of a novelty for some, but it’s also nice to have and fun to show off.

Conclusion

Having the new Helio G70 processor provided entry-level phones like the C3 a real boost in performance and graphics. Given the right conditions, it exceeds expectations and definitely lives up to its title as a “game monster.” The new realme UI is also a great complement to the device and the big display is a feature that’s easily appreciated.

Despite having minor performance issues, the realme C3 proves to be a great cost-effective gaming phone and all-around handset. For PhP 5,990, it’s probably one of the best entry-level phones you can get at this time for mobile gaming.