At a Glance
If you’re looking for a mid-range smartphone with decent specs for a great price, the Realme 3 Pro is for you.
For £175 you get a phone with a good screen, much more than decent performance, acceptable cameras, an attractive design and a powerful battery.
You’ll have to give up an AMOLED screen, USB-C and premium build, but for the price it doesn’t matter.
After launching in India and China, Oppo’s budget smartphone brand Realme is finally coming to Europe with the Realme 3 Pro, a mid-range device that offers very good value for money.
Realme wants to compete with Huawei and Xiaomi, and with this phone it is on the right track. The Realme 3 Pro has an attractive design, is powerful for its price, has decent cameras, and costs less than £175.
Although it has some shortcomings (lack of USB-C input, for example), it also has very favourable points such as a triple tray for two SIM cards and an SD, headphone jack, and performance and capacity that phones at this price do not usually have.
Price and availability
Realme 3 Pro costs €200 from Realme delivered to the UK, which converts to around
£175 at the time of review in July 2019. This gets you 6GB RAM and 64GB storage, though pay €249 and you can get 6GB/128GB – a bargain at about £220.
You can choose between nitro blue and lightning purple colours.
This great price puts it in competition with the
best budget phones on the market including the
Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 and the
Honor 10 Lite.
Design and display
Perhaps it is in its material where it is appreciated that it is a mid-range phone, as you will see, the finish is plastic and aluminum (does not specify what type of aluminum, so we can intuit that it is not a premium material). Even so, the design is quite harmonious, simple and light, gets to be suitable for all tastes.
So, how is the 3 Pro so affordable? Well, basically, plastic! This is not a premium build phone despite the attractive gradient colour options reminiscent of recent phones from Huawei, Honor and Oppo itself.
That plastic picks up a lot of fingerprints and smudges and you’ll reaching back there a lot for the rear fingerprint sensor, although thanks to the facial recognition built into the 3 Pro, we’ve rarely needed to use it.
The large 6.3-inch FHD+ resolution screen offers good sharpness. Although its an IPS LCD screen rather than OLED, it’s more than acceptable for the price. Initially the screen may look a little over-saturated, but we were able to fix this small detail by changing the temperature of the phone in Settings.
A downside is it was hard to see the screen correctly, even with the maximum brightness, when we used the phone to take pictures outside on a fairly sunny day.
The screen is protected with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 and has a 90.8% screen-to-body ratio. The bezel is very thin, and the selfie camera is housed in the increasingly common drop-shaped notch, thanks to which an “infinite screen” effect is achieved.
The camera app is fairly easy to navigate, with extra modes such as ‘Slow Motion’, ‘Night Mode, ‘Panoramic’, ‘Time lapse’ and ‘HDR’.
In the picture you can see an image taken with the ‘Panoramic’ mode:
In addition, like any other app on a current smartphone, you can access ‘Expert’ mode to choose for yourself the exposure, aperture, white balance, focus, and more.
There are two rear cameras – the main one is a 16Mp Sony sensor with Dual Pixel focus and f/1.7 aperture (the same sensor found in the
OnePlus 6T). The secondary is 5Mp with an aperture of f/2.4 and is for depth sensing. It allows bokeh effect in portraits, so popular lately, as you can see below:
However, as you can see in the photos taken with this camera, the blur effect is not 100% accurate, since in some of our tests the subject photographed was not exactly separated from the background (my hand does not separate well from the background and sometimes the blur is too aggressive).
The ‘HDR Mode’ is also not as accurate as it is on high-end phone models, as sometimes it seems to saturate the colour more than to make it closer to what the human eye sees.
The photo on the left shows a photo taken with HDR turned off, while the one on the right, the most saturated, is the one taken with HDR.
The ‘Night Mode’ uses the combination of artificial intelligence, multiple frames and an anti-vibration algorithm to improve image quality when light conditions are not optimal.
You can clearly see the difference between a photo taken in night mode (left photo) and a photo taken in night mode (left photo). However, when we saw the picture on a larger computer screen we could appreciate better that the picture loses details and sharpness.
These are by no means the worst cameras on a phone, but they are also far from the very best. If your main agenda when buying a phone is photography, then we recommend you spend far more and opt for smartphones with more powerful cameras such as the Huawei P30 Pro or Google Pixel 3.
What really stands out in the Realme Pro’s cameras is its software, called “Ultra HD 64Mp” by the company. This allows the device to “make copies of pixels to increase the pixels”. This means that real pixels are synthesised, resulting in fairly good quality images.
As far as the zoom is concerned, in this case we are dealing with an entirely digital zoom that allows you up to ten magnification. The 3 Pro doesn’t stand out especially in this field, but we didn’t expect anything different considering its price.
In the following picture you can see several captures: without zoom, with one magnification, two, five and ten magnifications. The more we zoom in, the more details are lost, as you might expect.
Video recording is at 1080p and 30fps with sharp details and vibrant colors, but as in the case of photographs, when you zoom the quality worsens.
There is no optical image stabilisation which means photos can be blurry in low light or if you don’t have a steady hand, and videos can be a bit shaky. Still, you can record videos of quite good quality as you can see below.
We’re pleased to see that the 3 Pro includes the option to record in super slow motion, at 720p and 960 fps. We were also pleasantly surprised by the 25Mp f/2.0 selfie camera. The selfies can also be taken in portrait mode, that is, with the background out of focus bokeh effect (as you can see in the first picture), and you can get a pretty good effect.
The beauty filter is an odd inclusion because it is able to remodel your chin, the size of your eyes or your nose until you become someone who doesn’t look like your original self (you end up looking more like an alien). Luckily, this effect can be deactivated. In the photo below you can see the beauty mode taken to the extreme.
Performance and Features
The 4 or 6 GB of RAM and the 64 or 128 GB of storage are pretty generous, but lose out if we compare them with the capacities offered by the new high-end phones that are coming to market.
For example, the standard Huawei P30 Pro comes with 8 and 128GB of base memory. But the price of this phone is almost five times the price of Realme 3 Pro, so the Realme more than holds its own.
The processor here is the Snapdragon 710, which although not the a high-end processor model is still a good chip that promises good performance if you don’t push the phone too hard
Other phones that make use of this same processor and are characterised by its optimal performance are the Xiaomi Mi 9 SE, the Samsung Galaxy A8s or the Lenovo Z5s.
We have benchmarked the phone to check its performance, you can take a look at the graph to see its results. Please note that we used the cheapest 4/64 GB model.
In the tests, the Realme 3 Pro is above the more expensive Honor 8X, the Honor 20 Lite or the Motorola One Vision, reaffirming the 3 Pro’s value for money.
It’s notable that there is not much difference in the results obtained with the Oppo F11 Pro, one of the latest mid-end models of the official brand of Realme, ie Oppo.
Connectivity, audio and battery
One point against this phone, which means it may become somewhat outdated soon, is the lack of USB-C input. To make up for it there is a 3.5 mm headphone jack, something that unfortunately we see less and less of in new, more expensive phones.
The headphone jack, the micro-USB socket and the speaker are located at the bottom of the phone. The speaker is not great, as while it sounds quite loud at maximum volume, it also distorts.
We have already mentioned above (it’s worth repeating) that one of the features we like most about the phone is the ability to use two SIM cards at once together with a micro SD card, expanding storage up to 256GB.
Maybe this detail is not very important for many, but in our case we liked to see that the 3 Pro had a tool that more and more phones are losing: FM radio, something that only budget and mid-range smartphones decide to keep.
Finally: battery life. It’s one of the best things about the phone, since its 4000mAh cell allows you to use your phone all day and well into a second. In our tests, the phone with the screen on managed to last 9 hours and 45 minutes, a very good duration that will be far, far longer in real world use.
You can charge the phone 30% in 30 minutes, although we had to wait 1 hour and 30 minutes for it to be charged to 100%.
The Realme 3 Pro comes with Oppo’s custom Android software ColorOS 6. The style of the interface changes Android 9 Pie, and brings it slightly closer to Apple’s iOS interface, something that can bother most Android fans.
Although as we say, ColorOS 6 is quite different from the Android 9 Pie that we are more accustomed to, we had no trouble adapting. It’s a fairly intuitive system and easy to get used to, but is far from the stock versions you see on Pixel, Nokia, Sony and any Android One phone.
As mentioned in previous sections, the phone comes with fingerprint recognition and facial recognition. After our test days we can say that we did not have any problems with these two tools.
Facial recognition worked for us at all times, even in low light, something that surprised us when we consider, once again, the price of this phone. Thanks to facial recognition, we barely needed to use the fingerprint sensor.
The Realme 3 Pro is a budget phone with specifications capable of competing with other major brands such as Xiaomi or Huawei. It has good performance and camera with above average battery life.
In addition the design, although it does not include high-end phone materials, nor an AMOLED screen, is still quite attractive and is far from looking like a cheap phone.
For a little more you can get the option of 6GB RAM and 128GB storage, which we think is worth it to avoid the phone becoming outdated in the immediate future.
We miss USB-C, OIS and fast charging, but we only need to look at the price again for these little details to be forgotten.
originally appeared on PC World Spain.