Realme 1 Review: A Solid Budget Smartphone

Budget smartphone segment is heating up a lot these days, with the likes of Xiaomi and Asus going head on. The newest entrant being Realme, now Realme is a brand that is formed by OPPO and Amazon India and will be an online only brand in terms of sales. Their newest smartphone Realme 1 is all set to rival the likes of Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro and Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1.

These days you can get a lot from the budget smartphones without needing to pay those flagship prices. The Realme 1 is no exception, it’s got an eye-catching design and a combo of very powerful hardware at at a very competitive price.

Let us now dive straight into the review! 

We have been using the Realme 1 as our daily driver for the past 2 weeks. The Realme 1 is being offered in a bunch of memory configuration, the version we have has 6GB with 128GB storage.

Realme 1 Specifications 

  • Display: 6-inch IPS display, (1080 x 2160 pixels), 2.5D curved glass
  • Software: Android 8.1 Oreo, ColorOS
  • Fingerprint Scanner: No
  • CPU: Mediatek Helio P60 Octa-core processor with AI Chip
  • GPU: Mali G72 MP3
  • Memory: 6 GB RAM
  • Storage: 128 GB internal, microSD card support upto 256GB
  • Main Camera: 13MP (f/2.2), dual-tone LED Flash
  • Selfie Camera: 8MP with f/2.2 aperture
  • Connectivity: 3.5 mm, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS + GLONASS
  • Cellular: 4G LTE, Dual SIM (nano + nano + microSD), Dual VoLTE
  • Battery: 3,410 mAh, Li-ion Polymer, non-removable
  • Price: Rs 13,999 (Starting Rs 8,999)

Box Contents 

The box is simple in design with Realme branding on top.. As soon as you lift the top part, you are greeted with the smartphone. Underneath lies the documentation and the supplied silicon case followed by accessories.

A complete list of items you get inside the box:

  • Realme 1
  • Sim Ejector Tool
  • Charging Brick
  • USB Cable
  • Silicon Cover
  • Warranty and User Guide

Design

OPPO has been known to make some of the best looking smartphones in the market and you can see that being applied in the Realme 1 as well. The design of the phone right of the bat is very eye-catching and will grab the attention of a lot of folks. OPPO has used their signature polygonal design reflective back here as well which was earlier only seen on their flagship level smartphones. Unlike on the OPPO flagships, the polygonal design here is placed underneath a sheet of acrylic making it prone to fingerprint and scratches over time.

On the back you would find the Realme branding in the centre, accompanied by the OPPO branding on the bottom. Unlike many smartphones in this prive, sporting dual rear cameras, the Realme 1 carries only a single 13MP sensor with LED flash.

The Realme 1 sports the new trendy 18:9 aspect display with rounded corners. The big 6 inch display dominates the front of the smartphone, with the front facing camera, earpiece and sensors placed up top. The bottom of the smartphones houses the micro-USB port, speaker grill and the 3.5mm audio jack. The button placement is similar to what you would on the other smartphones, with the volume rockers being placed on the left side and power button on the right. The SIM tray is on the right side and can take 2 nano SIMs and a microSD card, no hybrid system here.

Display

In terms of display, the Realme 1 is keeping up with the competition with the use of a 18:9 aspect ratio 6 inch display. The panel used here is an IPS LCD 2160 x 1080 pixel resolution, making it a FHD+ panel. The bezels on the top and bottom are slim, giving you a full edge to edge experience.

The display settings come with the option to adjust the color temperature and font sizes to one of your liking, which is a nifty feature. Other than this you get Night Shield to prevent your eye strain. The panel here is bright with good color reproduction and deep blacks.

Overall it’s a good display considering the price of Rs 8,990 at which the base variant of this smartphone is sold.

Software

Like most of the smartphones in the budget segment with custom skins, Realme 1 is no exception either. Realme 1 uses OPPO’s ColorOS, which can be found on other OPPO smartphones as well. One thing to note here is, while most of the smartphones right now are either stuck Android 7 Nougat or are in the process of migrating to Android 8 Oreo, but the Realme 1 comes with Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box.

The new ColorOS v5.0 brings some AI features to the table along with features like split-screen multitasking, improved gallery and Face Unlock, which is a standard these days. OPPO has used the Onboard AI chip found on the Helio P60 very effectively, you get a windows on the left homescreen which organizes the most used apps and important data like calendar appointments etc organized just like the one you’d find on the OnePlus devices.

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Just like other Custom Skins, there’s no app drawer and instead, every app you install can be found on the homescreen. The omission of the Fingerprint scanner is a very controversial subject and to compensate it OPPO has added Face Unlock. Now the Face Unlock is very fast and is perhaps the fastest that we have seen on budget smartphones. When it comes to security, it is lagging behind, in the first smartphone build the Face Unlock was working even when eyes were closed, now this has been patched in the new OTA update, where OPPO has added settings to activate or to deactivate it.

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One thing that we don’t really like about ColorOS is with the notification. OPPO isn’t sticking with the standard one flick removal policy, instead you need to swipe left on a notification revealing a set of buttons, where you’ll find the delete button. This is an extra step and we would appreciate if OPPO removes this in the future builds.

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OPPO has added iPhone X like Gestures to ColorOS as well, they come in a variety of configurations and can be tweaked per users tastes. ColorOS also gives the ability of hiding the navigation buttons.

Apart from the above-mentioned things we feel like ColorOS is a balanced custom skin which provides a good amount of customization ranging from themes to core Android settings but at the same time there are certain areas where ColorOS needs work.

Performance

As mentioned above, the Realme 1 is powered by Mediatek’s Helio P60 chipset, which has a dedicated Neural Processing Unit (NPU) onboard for AI. This arguably is the best mid-range chipset that Meditek made in a while. P60’s performance is equivalent to what you would find on the Snapdragon 660. The Helio P60 supports Dual VoLTE which is picking up pace in the Indian market and thanks to the dual SIM card support on the Realme 1 you can take advantage of this. The only area where Helio P60 lacks to the Snapdraogn 660 is graphics, while the Qualcomm chips come with latest Adreno GPU, the Realme 1 comes equipped with Mali G72 MP3.

We didn’t find any hiccups in the day to day performance, this can be attributed to the 6GB of RAM that the Realme 1 has. Switching between apps, scrolling through pages, multi-tasking is smooth. The call quality is decent with no issues.

The Realme 1 comes with a 3,410 mAh battery which will easily last you a full working day with high usage and users with moderate to light usage can easily use this phone for 2 days. This all is being achieved by the extremely power efficient cores on the Helio P60.

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Talking about gaming, we ran the most famous Android game of this season, “PUBG” on the
Realme 1 on high graphics settings and the gamely was smooth. We didn’t notice any serious lag or heating during our gaming tests. ColorOS has a dedicated mode for gaming, where in the will kill apps in the background to provide that optimal performance and bar notifications from coming through.

Coming to the audio, the Realme 1 has a single downward firing speaker. The sound through the speaker is on the average side, with a little distortion caused at high volume. The output via the 3.5mm jack is surprisingly very good for a smartphone in this price category.

Camera 

Moving to the cameras, in today’s time cameras is what the buyers look towards more. OPPO has gone against the trend of dual rear cameras and has fitted the Realme 1 with a 13MP camera with a narrow f/2.2 aperture. The images taken by the rear shooter are decent with good amount of detail. The budget smartphones underperform in low light conditions and so does the Realme 1. In dim lit conditions the images are soft and are washed out at times. The rear sensor is capable of shooting videos at 1080p 30fps. One thing to note here is, there is no sort of stabilization available here.

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There’s a portrait present on both the rear and front cameras and OPPO has provided with a Pro mode as well. The camera app interface is similar to what you would find on iOS. Coming to the front camera, here OPPO has gone with a 8MP sensor with the same f/2.2 aperture. The shooter takes decent selfies and there are a lot of extra features like sticker (like the ones found on snapchat) and they work great, thanks to the onboard AI. A beauty filter is also present which we feel works in the background even if it is disabled.

Overall, the camera performance and quality is decent for the amount you are paying for this smartphone.

Realme 1 Pricing

  • 3GB/32GB – INR 8,999
  • 4GB/64GB – INR 10,999
  • 6GB/128GB – INR 13,999

Pros

  • Decent Design
  • Onboard AI
  • Good Battery life
  • Good Overall performance

Cons

  • Camera suffers in Low Light
  • MicroUSB
  • ColorOS

Verdict – Should you go for it?

Realme 1 can be considered as one of the most exciting offerings in the current budget smartphone market. It’s got all the essential a budget buyer needs. We did like the diamond design back, large 18:9 display and the overall performance. There are a couple of features and design choices we didn’t like.

If you are in market for buying a new budget smartphone then the Realme 1 should be on the top of your list. Both the 3/32GB and 4/64GB model are a steal at their respective Rs 8,999 and Rs 10,999 price point, making them a notch above the Redmi Note 5 and Redmi Y2.

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