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With the Realme C3, the company is trying not only to offer a competitive budget smartphone but also to offer a decent upgrade from its predecessor the C2. 

The Realme C2 was a pretty good phone that was more than capable of holding its own in the budget phone segment. So let’s have a look at the C3 and see whether it’s not only a good budget phone but also a credible step up from the C2.

Of colors and snappers

First off, the C3 can be had in two nice colorways, Frozen Blue and Blazing Red. 

Our test unit came in the latter, and we can say that it’s quite a conversation starter, not only because the color is bright but also because when you turn the phone around, you’ll see that it also has texture—a ribbed or ridged texture thanks to a variety of wavy lines that are more evident when bright light is trained on it. This is a bit different from the old C2 which boasted an angular rear design mimicking the planes of a diamond or crystal.

Take note that the C3 is made out of plastic, as can be expected from a bargain phone, but it’s not at all bad. As a matter of fact the C3 has a solid feel and sits quite well in the hand—note that we didn’t say ‘heavy’, there is a difference there. 

But we daresay people will spend more time looking at the phone’s AI-enhanced triple lenses rather than the texture of its rear. The three-lens setup is at the same time better than the two lenses the C2 offered and is also bound to get some prospective buyers to nod. They’re not flagship level lenses, the main lens is 12MP, and the portrait and macro lenses are both 2MP affairs, but one more lens, we feel, is certainly better than two. The camera upfront is a 5MP selfie snapper affair.

A word on these lenses and how they performed; they’re pretty decent as far as cameras go, especially for a phone in this price class. Photos taken were average in good light and a little less satisfactory the less bright it got. Shots of moving people were rather blurred, and overall the color reproduction was decent too if a little washed out. 

As for the selfie cam it turned out decent pics too, with the AI feature helping people take “just OK” pics of themselves and able to touch them up somewhat using the phone’s built-in enhancement modes. Pretty much par for the course as far as budget camera phones go, we feel.

Video-wise, the C3 isn’t really one for the books—just alright as well, albeit with no built-in stabilization, so it’s best to use a monopod or tripod if you want to try to take video with one of these phones.

A screen affair

The front of the C3 is really all about the screen—it’s a 16.5cm or 6.5in affair, a whole centimeter longer than that of the C2’s 15.5cm or 6.1in screen. The C3’s waterdrop selfie notch does very little to intrude. In terms of color and brightness, the C3’s screen is pretty vibrant and we were pleased that we didn’t need to crank up the brightness when we tried using it in bright sunlight. Oh, it’s also made of Corning Gorilla Glass for added protection from scratching or breakage.

Down below the screen sits one of the C3’s telltale features, a giveaway that this isn’t a high-end phone – a micro-USB port when many other phones both high-end and mid-range are shifting to USB-C. We aren’t too bothered given that there are micro-USB cables aplenty to be had, and for not a lot of cash at all, in the market. The C3 also does come with a 3.5mm audio jack if you’re still not sold on Bluetooth headphones.

Software-wise, the C3 is leaps and bounds ahead of the C2 thanks to the fact that the C3 is the first of Realme’s phones to offer its newly-introduced Realme UI out of the box. We like the fact that this new UI allows for some interesting customizations, like, for instance, the capability to tweak, the size, shape, and transparency of app icons.

This new software runs on a relatively powerful processor (a Helio G70 octa-core CPU, which is a gaming processor). When combined with the phone’s 3GB of RAM, this processor set offers decent speed and allows for the phone to be pushed a little even to the extent of being gaming capable. 32GB of internal memory isn’t all that much these days, but the C3 can be expanded to 256GB via its microSD card slot.

By the way, the C3 also adds to its gaming chops through a feature known as Game Space which helps optimize its performance when a user is playing a game. What this means is that users who play games can enjoy much smoother gaming performance, including practically no frame drops. Pretty good for a budget phone.

And we also like that Realme saw fit to give the C3 a better battery than the C2: the new phone has a 5000mAh battery whereas the older phone comes with a 4000mAh battery. Our test C3 lasted over 24 hours straight on a fully charged battery, and also could be topped up pretty fast: just 2 hours to be topped up from zero charge.

The verdict

The Realme C3 is quite a bit of an improvement over the C2 in many ways – gaming-compatible chipset, larger screen, more powerful battery, more modern interface – and because it offers all these features, it also ends up quite a viable alternative for those seeking a good smartphone that won’t break the bank. Make sure to check this one out if you’re interested in investing in a decent phone that won’t cost you too much cash.

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