The smartphone race is hot like it’s never been before. Android’s open-source nature has levelled the playing field for new players, and it shows. With everyone wanting to get a piece of the lucrative market, everyone and their uncle seems to be pushing a new device. Today, we take a look at Realme, another player that wants to focus on the younger, style- and power-conscious market. Do they nail it with the C1, their value model, or will it just add to the noise already present in the market?
Realme is making some strides in affordable smartphone design. The C1, while being modestly priced, doesn’t look it. The glass back, the matte black finish on the frame edges, and the subtle silver accent around the dual rear cameras makes the phone look a tier higher than one might expect. The subtle, minimalist design hits their style target squarely, and the understated style makes it special in a crowded market. It’s notched, though not excessively, and the chin on the bottom, with its curved corners, isn’t overly large either. Overall, it’s quite a nice-looking phone, particularly in blue.
Being of the value line of Realme devices, some compromises do have to be made, though thankfully, those on the C1 aren’t deal-breaking. The screen is a large 6.2-inch deal, with a 720 x 1520 resolution, and an aspect ratio of 19:9, protected by Gorilla Glass 3. It runs a Snapdragon 450 chipset, which is an excellent choice for its class, and 2 GB of RAM. 16 GB of storage is available out of the box, but it is expandable via a dedicated microSD card slot, which is great.
Dual main cameras with 13- and 2-MP resolutions can be found on the back, while the selfie camera is a single 5 MP deal. Both sets have HDR and the rear camera even has a depth sensor, for some potentially neat bokeh tricks. Gaming is handled by an Adreno 506 GPU, which should be able to run even more graphics-intensive games, though probably not on maxed-out settings.
All of this is powered by an impressively large 4230 mAh battery for what should prove to be great endurance.
User Experience: 4/5
The original incarnation of the C1 isn’t a flagship device, and it doesn’t pretend to be one. It does however, look the part. It looks deceptively similar to the higher-end phones from Realme, which is an interesting strategy that I really appreciate. The now-ubiquitous notch is partly responsible, but a lot of it also has to do with the construction, which is surprisingly solid. Other phones in its price tier aren’t generally this robust. Points to them for that.
Daily performance can’t be knocked. The power-efficient SD 450 does the job quite well, and despite the limited 2 GB of RAM, apps launch acceptably fast. Bringing up the multitasking menu does take a beat or two if you’re coming from a particularly heavy app, such as Chrome with plenty of tabs, so it pays to keep in mind the price point you’re playing at should you own this device.
Something this phone excels at though is as a media consumption device. The chipset and display don’t use up as much power as some of the higher-end devices, and coupled with a battery as large as the one on the C1, you get a lot of video time. Netflix and YouTube will be your friends, and it’ll keep Spotify running far longer than any of your playlists, by a wide margin.
Gaming performance is a mixed bag. While it can run games, even some of the more graphics-intensive ones such as PUBG, lots of action can cause it to stutter. Dropping the graphics settings gets around this, rendering the game perfectly playable. The screen remains its best ace, making the gaming experience just a little more enjoyable just by virtue of having such a massive screen.
Camera performance could be better. Images snapped with the main camera could use a bit more sharpness, and the colors are slightly washed out. It’s not going to be your go-to device for shooting an ad campaign, but for capturing memories, it’s plenty.
There’s no fingerprint scanner on the device, though face unlock is present, and performs as well as that on the higher-end Realme devices.
The value of the C1 is the greatest feature of the device. Its capabilities surpass its price tag, and should deliver greater than one can expect from the device. It is a clear winner in the value department.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find better at this price point.
Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE December 2018-January 2019 Issue.
Reviewed by Ren Alcantara