Having announced its intention to launch in Europe, Realme's first EU phone is available to buy, and is aiming straight at Honor's budget smartphone territory. The company - a sub-brand of Oppo - has a focus on creating smartphones you can afford quite comfortably, but with features and hardware that don't leave you wishing you'd spent more.
The first device available now in the UK is the Realme 3 Pro. It has an attractive finish, big screen, dual camera that promises some great capabilities, and software that sets it apart from other Android manufacturers.
We're yet to see if Realme is going to produce a compelling enough experience to convince British shoppers to hand over money for one, and it is entering a fairly saturated market. From first impressions, the Realme 3 Pro is a good start.
Attractive, but budget, build
- Plastic casing with shimmering, glossy finish
- Micro USB port
- Physical fingerprint sensor on the back
- Nitro Blue and Lightning Purple colours
When trying to build a phone for a specific price bracket, specifically in the lower end of the smartphone world, compromises have to be made somewhere. You can't just build a phone from polished stainless steel, and slap the best display in the world on the front. So to ensure it could keep the internal hardware at a decent quality and deliver good performance, Realme opted for a plastic body.
That's not to say it looks bad though. Realme has used a similar finish to what we saw on Oppo's F11 Pro. It's glossy, so almost looks like glass, and has those two colour that gradient into each other, with a subtle lined patterned added for extra texture.
The edges all around the phone have a more matte finish, but are colour matched either to the black/purple or blue/purple finishes on offer in the UK and wider Europe.
Buttons and ports are just about what you'd expect from any smartphone. The power button is on the right side, within easy thumb reach, while the separate volume up/down buttons are at a similar position on the left side.
It's on the bottom edge where things get a bit 2015. Realme - just like Oppo on its more affordable phones - continues to use a micro USB port instead of Type-C (to deliver its fast charging). It's a little disappointing to still be seeing an old connector on a modern smartphone.
With that said, wired headphone users will be pleased to see there is a 3.5mm jack alongside the port, on the opposite side of the port to the single speaker grille.
Other than that, there's not a lot else to discuss in depth. The camera and fingerprint sensor layout on the back is fairly standard, as is the fact that the display's bottom bezel is quite noticeably thicker than the frames on the sides and at the top.
In the hand, it feels lightweight, and seems to attract fingerprint smudges pretty easily which - being plastic - aren't quite as easy to wipe off as they might be on glass finished with an oleophobic treatment.
Full screen and a tiny notch
- 6.3-inch IPS LCD panel
- 1080 x 2340 (19.5:9)
- Dewdrop style notch
On the display side of things, it's pretty much what you'd expect from a competitively priced smartphone. It has a full HD+ IPS panel that takes up around 84 per cent of the available front space.
With its resolution of 1080 x 2340 over 6.3-inches, that's a pretty high pixel density of 409 pixels per inch, meaning details are pretty sharp. LCD means you don't get the punchy colours or contrast with inky blacks that you get from an OLED screen, but at this price point, any OLED that's affordable is generally poor quality, and so LCD definitely makes sense.
With that being said, on first impressions, the screen certainly seems good enough. Colours are vibrant, details are sharp and the contrast is good too, considering this is LCD tech.
Hardware and software
- Snapdragon 710 processor
- 4GB/64GB + 6GB/128GB options
- 4,045mAh battery
- VOOC flash charging
- ColorOS 6 based on Android Pie
While it skimped a bit on the physical build, Realme wanted to ensure the performance of the phone was close to flagship quality, and so built in a second-tier Snapdragon 700-series processor. Specifically, this is the 10nm based Snapdragon 710, which is no slouch.
Joining it is either 4GB or 6GB of RAM, depending on whether you go with the base model that has 64GB storage or the higher model with 128GB storage.
Just quickly flicking through software interfaces and scrolling through lists and menus, the smoothness isn't quite up there with the likes of the OnePlus 7 Pro. But then again, this is a budget smartphone. For its price point, it definitely seems good enough on first try.
Perhaps more impressive is that this thing has a 4,045 mAh battery, which is easily more than enough to get you through even the busiest of work days. What's more, it has 20W fast-charging delivered through Oppo's VOOC technology. That means heat is dissipated through the cable, ensuring you can continue to charge quickly even if you're using the phone while it's plugged in.
As for software, that's Oppo's ColorOS, which is a highly customised version of Android Pie. In the past, it has looked more like iOS than Android, but things seem to be moving away from that line of thinking.
Now, you actually get an app drawer, rather than just a sea of app icons strewn across multiple home screens.
Dual camera for the masses
- 16MP main camera
- 960fps slow-motion (720p)
- 5MP second depth camera
- 25MP selfie cam
On to the camera system, and this is your fairly standard makeup, but with some unexpected features. Its 16-megapixel primary camera combines with a 5-megapixel sensor to take your stills. However, you can also use this primary camera to take multiple shots and stitch them together into a huge 64-megapixel image.
We haven't tested it yet, but if it works well, that's quite incredible. It uses AI smarts and processing to lineup the images and stitch them seamlessly into a gigantic, pin sharp image.
As well as that surprising feature is the inclusion of super slow-motion video. It can record a slow mo video at 960 frames per second (that's the same as Samsung/Sony), at 720p resolution to create awesome slow motion videos.
On the front, it's your typical Oppo-style high megapixel count selfie camera built into that dewdrop notch.
Of course, we'll need more testing time to see if the camera is actually any good, but what it's promising from a features standpoint seems ideal.
Overall, the Realme 3 Pro seems a decent phone for the money. At just £175 you get a lot of features, a great screen, big battery and fast charging in a phone that's nice to look at.
Realme's biggest problem, we think, is going to be brand recognition. It's new to the UK and Europe, and - even though Oppo has launched here - its mothership brand is still new too.
In this market, Honor is very competitive and very successful, and Realme is going toe-to-toe with it. With that said, the recent controversy surrounding Huawei's will mean significant challenges for Honor, especially if the public perceives it as an untrustworthy brand, and that could just be the ticket Realme needs to gain a foothold.