2019 has been a busy year for the Realme. The company has launched five smartphones in India by mid-July and also made its entry into the Chinese smartphone market. Realme is also concentrating on offline sales this year in India in order to grab the user base from Samsung.
With the launch of Realme 3i, it looks like the company is planning to have a smartphone at every price point in the budget segment. The Realme C2 is priced at a starting price of Rs 5,999, the Realme 3 starts at Rs 8,999, and the newly launched Realme 3i sits between the two starting at Rs 7,999.
At first looks, Realme 3i looks like a cross between the Realme 3 and the Realme C2. While the phone looks identical to the Realme C2 thanks to the back panel design, it is a lite version of the Realme 3 smartphone. The phone packs similar specifications as the Realme 3, but has a MediaTek Helio P60 processor instead of P70 processor. Here is our review of the Realme 3i.
Realme 3 specifications: 6.22-inch HD+ display (1520×720 resolution) | Gorilla Glass 3 | Helio P60 processor | 3GB/32GB, 4GB/64GB storage models | 13MP+2MP rear camera | 13MP AI selfie camera | 4230 mAh battery | ColorOS 6.0 with Android Pie.
Realme 3i price in India: Rs 7,999 for 3GB RAM + 32GB storage, Rs 9,999 for 4GB RAM + 64GB storage
Realme 3i review: Design and display
The build of the Realme 3i is a spitting image of the Realme C2. I really liked the smudge-free textured diamond-cut back panel of the Realme C2 and the company provided the same in the Realme 3i. While the black and blue coloured variants are nothing new as compared to the C2, the Red-Blue variant is a breath of fresh air. The device looks very attractive and a beauty to hold.
Realme 3i carries a fingerprint sensor at the back, volume rockers are at the left edge, and the power button is the right. The 3.5mm audio jack, micro-USB port, and the speaker grille are at the bottom and the top edge is clean without any holes or buttons.
While Realme is concentrating heavily on the back design of its smartphone lineup, it seems to have forgotten about the front panel completely, resulting in a similar water-drop style notch on all the Realme devices of 2019, except for the Realme X. If you were to put Realme 3, Realme 3 Pro, Realme C2, and Realme 3i side by side with their screen facing upwards, it will be hard to distinguish one phone from another.
The display of Realme 3i produces good colours and the viewing angles are nice. But the brightness levels are not impressive as the text is not clearly visible under direct sunlight. The phone handles the notch well and it is good to have the Night Shield option to reduce blue light from the screen.
Realme 3i review: Camera
Realme 3i sports a dual-camera setup carrying a 13MP primary sensor with f/1.8 aperture and a 2MP depth sensor. The phone is capable of taking good pictures in bright outdoors with accurate colours reproduction.But the pictures do not carry much details. The exposure levels do not sit well and the dynamic range is only okay.
Indoor shots under artificial lighting carry too much noise and low light shots are not that good. Realme 3i comes with a Nightscape mode like the Realme 3, and it is good to see at this price point. The mode brightens the picture and you get a picture which carries more visibility, but do not expect to get details when you zoom in.
Realme 3i also comes with Chroma Boost mode in the camera app, but it does not work like the Realme 3 Pro. The Chroma Boost mode is supposed to recognise scenes and optimise the shot accordingly for better dynamic range, greater details, and more balanced exposure levels. But it tends to oversharpen the image and has a sort of overlap effect, the one where it looks like the phone took two pictures, tried to merge them and failed.
In some instances, the mode actually works and improves dynamic range, colour reproduction, and overall exposure levels. For the rest of the time, I would suggest to turn this feature off for better results and detailed pictures.
Realme 3i sports a 13MP front camera and it is capable of clicking really good pictures with nice colours, contrast, and details while keeping the skin tone close to natural. But it needs ideal light conditions to work properly. The pictures clicked in too much light or low light conditions turn out chippy. The front camera also loses details under good artificial lightning.
It is good to see Realme has kept the controls for the beauty mode in the Realme 3i as well. Surprisingly, the portrait mode on the front camera works well. The edge detection rarely misses and it is definitely better than the rear camera’s portrait mode.
Realme 3i review: Performance and software
Realme 3i is powered by the MediaTek Helio P60 processor and it runs smoothly without stutters. The phone handles multiple apps well and it does not lag while switching between apps and Chrome tabs. However, there are moments when the touch latency doesn’t work as it should.
The phone is capable enough to handle ordinary games like Subway Surfer and Warrior Legends and graphics-heavy game PUBG Mobile. PUBG is set to medium graphics setting by default and it plays well on these settings, however, the frame drops are evident during the gameplay. On high settings, the frame drops are consistent and so I would suggest playing the game on medium settings only.
Realme 3 runs ColorOS 6.0 based on Android 9 Pie. The gesture navigation found on the Realme 3 are not present in the Realme 3i. But Realme has added a Themes and Wallpapers store in the ColorOS, which is a welcome addition.
In this version of the ColorOS, the App Market feels very much like adware with its unwanted notifications. The Market adds two folders like icons “Hot Apps” and “Hot Games” in the app drawer which are not really folders but take you to App Market. One cannot get rid of these items.
Another addition to the ColorsOS is the Quiet Time to schedule a time when you do not want to receive notifications and calls or receive messages/calls from only selected contacts. You can also select to allow the phone to ring when a person calls a second time within three minutes.
ColorOS 6.0 on Realme 3i also includes multiple display effects for the Night Shield screen. You can select to cut off the blue light with total control over the screen colour temperature or choose to display the screen in Black and White, pretty much like the Grayscale in the stock Android. There is also a Night-time Reading option that works removes all the colours and enforces sort of a dark mode. But the mode is not comfortable to use and needs some tweaking from Realme’s end.
Realme 3i speaker, battery, fingerprint sensor, and face-unlock
The speaker on Realme 3i is very loud. You can easily hear the audio even when outdoors. The sound lacks depth, but that is not something I would be complaining about given the price of this phone.
The battery on Realme 3i lasts close to two days on moderate usage and if you are a heavy user, it will still last you close to a day. The device does not support fast-charging but with such good battery backup, it should not bother most users.
The face-unlock feature and the fingerprint sensor on the Realme 3i impressed me a lot. The fingerprint sensor works super fast and never misses the mark. The face-unlock feature is equally fast. It recognises the face in an instant and unlocks the device even before you can see the lock screen wallpaper.
Realme 3i review: Verdict
Realme 3i is a welcome addition to the Realme 3 series and it caters to the users who want something between the Realme C2 and Realme 3, both in terms of performance and price. While the Realme 3i does not offer a commendable screen and camera, it packs a beautiful back panel, above-average performance, and a great battery backup. For users who want a smartphone under Rs 8,000 which can deliver an all-rounder performance, Realme 3i is not a bad deal.