Is it Worth To Buy Realme 3 Pro?
If you’ve been reading us for a while, you might remember our article on midrange smartphones, where we argued that a midrange smartphone really is all you need.
Well, my old reliable second-hand Samsung Galaxy S6 was a trooper, but it died an untimely death by collision during a jog.
I also wanted to try out a budget phone, preferably something that didn’t pass the $250 mark. If midrange phones were great, surely budget phones would work out just fine. A bit of research pointed me towards the Huawei P Smart (74% Metascore), the Honor 10 Lite (77% Metascore), the Moto G7 Power (81% Metascore), and the Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 (79% Metascore).
All these were solid phones, and I was tempted by the Huawei for its specifications. However, Huawei is a bit of a wild card at this stage with trade talks still up in the air, and I didn’t want a phone that would lose Android support on a whim.
Something I barely saw while looking up recommendations was the Realme 3 Pro, which is a relatively new smartphone from the OPPO sub-brand Realme. With its 82% Metascore, it surprisingly topped the list despite limited media coverage, and I decided to pull the trigger after hearing good things about it.
I’ve been using the Realme 3 Pro for a month now, and I think I can confidently say that its worth it. Let’s talk about why.
Why haven’t I heard about this phone?
The Realme brand isn’t that well known outside of China, and has only recently begun its spread to regions like India, South East Asia, and Europe (around June 2019 in fact). While it hasn’t reached American shores yet, the success in the UK should mean that its arrival is a given.
The Realme 3 Pro model I got was the one with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, though a 4GB/64GB model is available if you want to save $40.
Colour-wise, you’ll be looking at Lightning Purple, Nitro Blue and Carbon Gray (which is unfortunately only available in India and China at time of writing).
The Nitro Blue variant is certainly an eye catcher, with its racetrack-style etching that shifts when angled in the light, but I went with the more muted dark Purple look.
The Realme 3 Pro’s greatest strength is its under-the-hood hardware. The phone runs a recently released Snapdragon 710 chipset, which offers up multi-core performance that comes close to matching the Snapdragon 835 (featured on the Galaxy S8 and Pixel 2).
This is a step up over the similarly priced alternatives I listed above, and highlights how performance is a key focus, hence the tagline “Speed Awakens”.
8GB of RAM is more than enough for my needs, and I didn’t experience the app-killing phenomenon that’s common with Chinese smartphone manufacturers throughout my time with the phone, a definite plus in my books.
Speaking of more than enough, the 128GB of internal storage is excellent, and it even supports expandable storage of up to 256GB via SD card, which meant my song library off my late Galaxy S6 slotted right in.
The 4,045mAh battery also shows off speed with its implementation of VOOC fast charging, allowing the phone to get up to 50% charge within 30 minutes, and going to full within 2 hours.
The capacity is also impressive, and I’ve managed to get through nearly two full days at work on a single charge, with the phone finally turning off on the commute back on the second day. This included sporadic bursts of gaming, web-browsing and phone calls. That’s amazing considering the sub-$250 price tag.
This is somewhat helped by ColorOS, which manages battery use carefully, but not as drastically as competitors like Huawei. No notifications were lost during my month with the phone.
One of the ‘cheats’ used here is setting apps to dormant mode instead of closing them entirely, which is a nice alternative to Huawei’s EMUI and its sadistic app-killing tendencies. Games and Youtube videos can be returned to hours after use with this technique.
I’ll admit that I was apprehensive about going from a 5.1-inch 2560x1440 OLED screen to a 6.3-inch 2340x1080 IPS display, but it wasn’t as jarring as I expected.
Images are sharp and crisp on the Realme 3 Pro, if a bit unsaturated, though that’s likely due to my being used to Samsung’s OLED panels.
The display also uses a semi-notchless style, with a teardrop camera cut-out ‘marring’ the otherwise spotless display. As far as screens go, I was impressed, and 1080p video was smooth as butter on the display.
Brightness might be a sore spot for some people. The smartphone is perfectly fine for indoor and most outdoor use cases, but under heavy sunlight, you might struggle to use the phone, even at maximum brightness settings.
In terms of bonuses, there is a pre-applied screen protector that protects the Gorilla Glass 5 screen, and the included transparent phone case also has a front-facing lip that further protects the main screen.
The Realme 3 Pro comes with a 25MP front-facing camera, and dual 16MP/5MP rear facing cameras.
You know the deal with Chinese smartphones. Their cameras utilize heavy processing to ‘enhance’ images, and often times this involves AI detection algorithms and face beautifiers.
Oppo is notorious for intense softening on selfie and portrait shots, and its only right to assume that their subbrands would follow suit. Thankfully, these options are deactivated by default, so more natural shots are possible.
I will say this, after testing out this and the Huawei P Smart, I’d have to say the Huawei wins in terms of camera quality. The P Smart barely wins out with better colour accuracy and more natural effects like depth of field and digital HDR.
That’s not to say Realme’s offering is bad either. Photos are detailed, and low-light performance with Night Mode is amazing considering the price. However, if you’re really into photography, the Huawei or Honor alternatives might be more worthwhile.
The User Experience (UX)
Realme uses Oppo’s own ColorOS running atop Android Pie. An update to the recently released Android 10 is promised, but has yet to be rolled out at time of writing.
ColorOS is… alright, I guess. I’d prefer stock Android (and I’ll likely be rooting my phone in a bit), but it does a decent enough job as an Android fork without being overly intrusive.
The best way to describe ColorOS is that its an iOS emulation, and everything from icons, UI-style and gestures are very similar to the most recent iOS devices.
I was not a fan of this, and thankfully, Realme included Android’s defining customizability. While it took time (the settings menu is cluttered and unorganized), I finally got the phone to work the way I wanted it to, and I’ve been enjoying it a ton.
Despite the iOS comparisons, its nice to note that ColorOS includes an app drawer, which is a feature I wish more phones would include as a standard.
One big complaint I’ve got with ColorOS is the lack of colour-customization, most notably the lack of a darker colour palate. With Android 10 releasing a system-wide Dark Theme, the iOS whites that are so pervasive here feel all the more jarring.
Despite how Realme clearly wants to be Apple, I’m glad they included a headphone jack. Realme’s ‘Real’ sound processing module was active by default, but it can thankfully be deactivated in the settings menu (Honor had a reputation for locking their EQ settings).
Since we’re on the topic of sound, I’ll say this, the Realme 3 Pro’s built-in speakers are garbage. I’ve used a few cheap phones before this, and even sub-$100 phones beat the speakers in terms of sound quality.
Even without being pushed, the speakers are distorted, and you’ll struggle to hear much detail. This is a very tinny sound, and I’m far from impressed.
Luckily, Bluetooth 5.0 support means you’ll be fine whether you’re going wired or wireless.
I’m not a heavy mobile gamer, but I dabble in Hearthstone, and this game usually does not run well, even on my old Samsung Galaxy S6.
Imagine my surprise when I was hitting a solid 60fps on the Realme 3 Pro. Everything was butter smooth, and even load times were short. The Snapdragon 710 is great for gaming, and I didn’t even need to engage the ‘high performance’ mode that gives an extra boost.
I tested PUBG Mobile (a popular, resource heavy game) and managed to run it on high settings at a solid 25-35fps throughout, which is up there with high-end midranges and some flagships.
The best thing about gaming is the battery life. Even while gaming, the Realme 3 Pro doesn’t drain the battery life too fast, which is always a plus, and one of the reasons you should consider this.
Some of the coverage of the Realme 3 Pro in its early release stages in India reported overheating issues, and I didn’t experience the issues throughout my time with the phone.
Sure, the back did get a bit warm after 3 hours of continuous Hearthstone, but it never felt too hot to hold. I’d say this is a non-issue, and the 12-month warranty covers these issues if they ever should arise.
This is likely the weakest part of the Realme 3 Pro (and that’s saying a lot, especially since this section isn’t going to be negative either).
The Realme 3 Pro looks striking, but it doesn’t feel too good to the touch. The body is primarily polycarbonate (which is fancy speak for plastic), and will easily scratch if you don’t use the included phone case.
The phone is also a little on the heavy side at 172g without the case, though I easily got used to it within minutes of use.
One odd exclusion was the lack of a USB-C jack. The VOOC fast charging relies on the old micro-USB tech that has been slowly phased out throughout the years.
In terms of practical downsides, the only real negative is the slower data transfer rate. Not that big of a deal breaker for me, but it’s worth noting.
While by no means bad, the overall design just doesn’t have the same premium feel as the rest of the phone.
If you’re in the market for a cheap yet powerful smartphone, I’d say the Realme 3 Pro is worth it, hands down.
I’m very happy with the Realme 3 Pro, and it does not feel like a budget phone.
Performance and hardware is top notch all round, and this competes, if not matches the performance of higher end phones that cost way more.
I’ve always thought that midrange phones were the way forward, but colour me impressed with the quality of sub-$250 phones. Don’t be surprised if you read an article on the merits of budget smartphones in the near future.
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