Let’s take a minute to look at Realme’s first ever debut last year. They made their first debut in Malaysia on November 7th 2018, and the Realme 2 alongside the launch. Now, the Realme 3 is officially here in Malaysia and quite a lot of upgrades were done. Not only in terms of hardware, but software as well.
Without further ado, here is the in-depth review of the brand new Realme 3.
Looking at the box itself, well – it’s in quite a unique design language here. Especially on the color scheme as it follows the new Realme identity which they announced here. The yellow letters on grey background is definitely something refreshing.
At the back of the box is where the color and RAM/storage configuration is specified. The Realme 3 comes in Dynamic Black and Radiant Blue color options.
Opening up the lid reveals the accessories box right away which houses the thick, transparent TPU case, the SIM ejector tool, and also the documentations. Under the box is where the Realme 3 itself is found, and then the charger and micro USB cable.
From the front, the Realme is having the typical slab of screen at the front with physical buttons at the side. Nothing out of the ordinary here.
Turning it over, we found out that Realme has packed something interesting here – hence the cosmic-themed launch event at India. The one we have here is in the Dynamic Black color option, which has a purple to black or blue to black color gradient, depending on the angle you are looking at.
As you might have noticed, the color gradient also has these sparkly sprinkles look that Realme is calling the “starry particles”, inspired by the galaxy’s starry night sky.
Though it looks nice, the entire body of the Realme 3 is made out of plastic and has a gloss coat all over to protect the starry particle effect. That means the phone itself is a fingerprint magnet and it is really difficult to keep it clean.
By the looks of it, the word “realme” pad-printed at the corner of the phone. I can actually feel the word with my fingertip, which I worry that the word will come off over team.
When the included thick transparent TPU case is installed, then the entire screen will be protected and surrounded by the case’s lip. Also, the Realme 3 comes with a film screen protector out of the box. Film screen protectors get scratched up easily, but at least your screen is still protected. Bravo, Realme. That means the phone can be fully protected completely when I unbox it.
While using the Realme 3, I am surprised that it has triple dedicated slots for both SIM 1 and SIM 2 alongside with the microSD card slot. That is truly just fantastic given that there are many people nowadays who have multiple SIM cards (me included).
In terms of WiFi, Realme 3 only supports up to 2.4GHz N-WiFi, which is kind of expected for today’s standard of mid-range smartphones. Once again, the main benefit of 2.4GHz is range – and that is what matters the most for portable devices like a smartphone.
At the left side of the phone is where the aforementioned tripled dedicated card slot is found alongside with the volume rocker. They are really clicky and especially reachable for left-handed users like me.
At the right side of the phone is where the power button is found. Once again, the buttons are nicely placed for one-handed users.
Looking at the bottom, we can find the speaker grill, the micro USB port, and also two more microphones there. And that is where we can also find the 3.5mm audio jack there. Seems like Realme has stashed all of the ports at the bottom.
That is because there is absolutely nothing at the top. Usually this is where the secondary microphone is found, but not for the Realme 3, apparently.
One of the most notable thing regarding the Realme 3 is obviously – the display. It comes with a 6.22-inch IPS LCD display that has a waterdrop notch, 1520×720 pixels in resolution. It is also protected by the Corning Gorilla Glass 3.
When I turned on the device, I used the Realme 3 without checking on the resolution at all. I thought it was a 1080p display – but when I checked the screenshot’s resolution, I was taken aback. It looks generally sharp, but there are certain elements on the screen that obviously looks pixelated with jaggy edges because of the lack of pixel density – but generally, the screen is actually looking good.
In terms of colors, the Realme 3 good in general, but it comes with a blue hue. The new ColorOS 6.0 does let you change the color temperature in the settings menu by default, or by enabling “night shield” mode (blue light filter mode) and shift it even further to warmer colors. I absolutely love this flexibility that ColorOS 6.0 offers.
The colors are could use a little bit more saturation – but that is just my personal preference. Overall display quality on the Realme 3 is just really good for its price.
Alright, the cameras is the one aspect that many people are interested in. Realme’s ColorOS 6 comes with a bunch of improvements in both the camera UI and also the features available for the camera.
In terms of the pure specs, the Realme 3 has these cameras:
- Dual rear-facing cameras
- 13MP f/1.8 with PDAF
- 2MP depth sensor
- 13MP f/2.0 selfie camera with fixed focus
Like I have always said, the camera hardware is only one small part of the story. Let us take a look at the picture samples down below. All of these pictures are taken with the Realme 3 only.
By default, the camera is actually already quite good to begin with. Using the Realme 3 to take pictures at our usual test scenes yielded decent quality shots.
To make it even better, there is a button to increase the saturation – and that is by tapping the button called “chroma boost”. It does what its name suggests – boosting the color saturation. It also applied a tinge of HDR as certain darker parts of the sky have been brightened up too.
Using the chroma boost mode indoors turned the shots a little too yellowish, though.
When we picked up the Realme 3, we twere told to update the firmware before proceeding with the review – and so I did. With that update comes a new feature called Nightscape. It’s technically the same as other night modes – you take a long exposure shot. The result is stunning for a mid-range smartphone.
Though it isn’t without its flaws – it is quite difficult to stabilize the shot. Other high-end smartphones with this feature are able to stabilize the shot, though this is an unfair comparison.
Honestly, I am surprised that the Realme 3 has nightscape mode and is able to take such stunning images. This is an example that with smart and effective software, you can get the most out of any hardware.
Once again, I’m not really a fan of selfies. The Realme 3 can take some decent selfies. It manages to retain most of the details and I am fairly content with it overall.
With the new ColorOS 6.0 (which we will go deeper later), it comes with a new camera UI. There is one button at the corner there that shows the list of different camera modes. That is something that I find it to be a different solution to the list of ever-growing camera modes. Have it nested into one sub-menu instead of scrolling left and right to change modes.
Other than that, the manual mode is pretty alright as well, as it has two dials for exposure – one for ISO and another for shutter speed. It ranges from 100 to 3200 and 1/8000s to 16s respectively.
By the way, the camera settings menu is finally in the camera app itself, unlike in the Realme 2 Pro whereby the camera settings is in the phone’s settings menu itself.
The Realme 3 ships with the latest version of ColorOS. Previously, when I saw “ColorOS”, I was already skeptical. In this iteration of ColorOS, it still looks the same most of the time, but there are a lot of changes that makes ColorOS a powerful custom Android skin.
Let’s take a look at the settings menu. It has gotten an overhaul whereby many of the elements are rearranged to its appropriate category and it feels intuitive to navigate through. We mentioned one example here in the display section of this review.
Another example is how many options there are available for face unlock. The amount of granular control here is immense and it allows you to disable auto unlock or disable the brightness compensation. While it seems redundant, leaving options do cater for all the weird requirements that we all have.
I realized that games like PUBG Mobile did not run in full screen at first. I had to go to the settings menu to change it to full screen manually. It is a little difficult to reach this part of the settings menu but this is a one-time thing so it is fine.
Other parts of ColorOS 6.0 does seem pretty usual compared to other Android skins, though there are room for improvements. For example, the clear notification button is quite obscure and the fingerprint scanner gestures could be implemented as well.
Speaking of the performance, the Realme 3 is obviously the successor of the Realme 2, which is aimed towards the mid-range market. Before we get into the performance and benchmarks, let’s take a look at the specs of the Realme 3:
- 6.22-inch IPS LCD display with 1520×720 pixels in resolution
- MediaTek Helio P60 (global version)
- 4x 2.0GHz Cortex-A73 + 4x 2.0GHz Cortex-A53
- Mali-G72 MP3 GPU
- 3x 800MHz cores
- 4GB RAM
- 64GB internal storage (expandable with microSD card)
- 4,230mAh battery
- Android 9.0 Pie with ColorOS 6.0
Before we all go “ugh, MediaTek”, we shall let the benchmarks do the talking. MediaTek has come a long way to create good chipsets over the years.
See? The MediaTek P60 is actually quite good here. In terms of gaming, it is even better. Let us show you why.
We start off our gaming test with the 3 usual titles that we use – Honkai Impact 3, Asphalt 9, and obviously PUBG Mobile. While many people are disregarding MediaTek chipsets as “incompetent”, the P60 used on the Realme 3 is actually quite good.
Starting off with Honkai Impact 3, we had to tune down the graphics to a level 2 to ensure generally smooth gameplay. I tried with God Kiana and there are some occasional frame drops – especially when casting her ultimate skill. If you want, you can lower the graphical settings to level 1 to get an even smoother gaming experience.
Then comes Asphalt 9. It is actually running quite well on default graphical quality and it is overall, good gaming experience. There are some frame drops here and there, though.
When it comes to PUBG Mobile, we played the zombie mode and we had to use these settings to ensure smooth gameplay – HD graphics at high frame rate with anti-aliasing disabled. The gameplay was really fun, and I managed to get chicken dinner on my first game on the Realme 3 too.
The Realme 3 comes with a fairly large battery. With 4,230mAh of battery capacity, the battery life is surprisingly long-lasting too. It went all the way to 13.2 hours on our standard battery test, and that is certainly something worthy of applause.
Realme 3 has included the usual 5V 2A charger with a standard micro USB cable. Nothing particular fantastic here, and I really hope that Realme makes the switch to USB-C soon. Many other products in the market have already made the switch.
Back to the main topic – the 5V 2A charger took about 44 minutes to reach 50% of battery charge and a total of 78 minutes to reach 75% of battery charge. It’s not the fastest, but it is decent enough since I usually just plug the phone every night and unplug it in the morning.
The Realme 3 is a mid-range smartphone that checks all the boxes and more – especially with the nightscape camera mode. The battery on the Realme 3 is large as well, making it really suitable for full day’s worth of use. Of course, the new ColorOS 6.0 is a major bonus plus point as well. It is also capable of running games like PUBG Mobile – and that is all I ask for.
With all that said, the Realme 3 is available in two variants at these prices:
- 3GB RAM + 32GB storage – RM599
- 4GB RAM + 64GB storage – RM699
Is it a great value? It sure is. The Realme 3 is going to set off some thunder with this surprisingly good mid-range smartphone.