Realme recently launched its first real flagship smartphone called Realme X (Review) in India. In addition, a new budget offer called Realme 3i was announced. This new cell phone is a variant of the Realme 3 (review) that came onto the market a few months ago. According to the company, the price gap between Realme C2 (Review) and Realme 3 is to be closed. The Sub-Rs. The 10,000 phone segment is already quite saturated, with a lot of price overlap, sometimes between competitors and sometimes between models from the same manufacturer. In Realme's case, however, there is currently a small gap between the most expensive variant of Realme C2 and the basic variant of Realme 3, in which Realme 3i is used.
Although the technical data of the Realme 3 are very similar, the Realme 3i has two main differences – the aesthetics and the SoC. Is there room for the Realme 3i alongside its siblings, or is it just another name in the crowd? We check to find out.
Realme 3i design
The physical aspects of the Realme 3i are identical down to the last millimeter and the gram with those of the Realme 3. It is comfortable to hold, as it is not too heavy at only 175 g and is easy to grip and use with one hand. The main aesthetic difference is the use of a matte finish with a diamond pattern on the back, similar to the C2. We have the Realme 3i in diamond black (looks more royal blue than black), but it is also available in diamond blue and diamond red (blue-red with a gradient).
On the front is a 6.2-inch HD + (720 x 1520) panel with Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The bezels are fairly narrow, but the chin is clearly visible below. The phone also has a dewdrop notch, which makes it look relatively modern. The display has a good brightness, the colors are powerful and the viewing angles are also quite good. The low resolution is not a big problem, but you will notice a slight lack of sharpness if you compare this display with one with a higher resolution.
The power and volume buttons on the Realme 3i respond properly and are ergonomically placed. On the left is a compartment with three slots, in which two 4G nano SIM cards and a microSD card can be accommodated at the same time. Dual VoLTE is also supported. Below we have a speaker, a micro USB connector and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
The diamond pattern provides good grip and, unlike the Realme 3, which has a glossy texture, spots are not easy to spot. The fingerprint sensor is easy to reach and works well. There is also facial recognition that works very quickly, just like previous Realme phones.
The delivery of the Realme 3i includes a silicone case, a 10 W power supply, a micro USB cable, a SIM eject tool as well as warranty and short instructions.
Realme 3i specifications and software
The Realme 3i has a MediaTek Helio P60 processor instead of the Helio P70 that powers the Realme 3. This is not a major downgrade, as the P60 is still a very powerful octa-core chip with good CPU and GPU performance. At the start, Realme announced two variants of this phone. The Realme 3i variant with 3 GB RAM and 32 GB storage costs Rs. 7,999, while the other with 4 GB RAM and 64 GB storage is priced at Rs. 9999. We have the latter version for review.
Other technical data of the Realme 3i include single-band WiFi according to 802.11b / g / n, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, USB-OTG, FM radio and the usual variety of sensors that we previously expected.
The software is fairly current, just like on the Realme X. The Realme 3i runs on ColorOS 6, based on Android 9 Pie. There was even a security patch from June 2019. The functions of ColorOS are unchanged from what we just saw in our Realme X test.
The app drawer is now activated by default. However, you can go back to a single-layered look if you prefer. There are a number of pre-installed apps, but at least all third-party apps can be uninstalled. You also get the usual shortcuts like Smart Sidebar, which can contain shortcuts to apps and which you can access by swiping across the edge of the display.
Google's digital wellbeing is still not there, and Realme will still give us access to the Android 9 battery diagram, which will help you better understand your battery usage at a glance.
Real 3i performance and battery life
The 4 GB RAM version of the Realme 3i that we used for several days has proven itself in daily use. Apps loaded relatively quickly, navigation in the Android menus went smoothly and the phone did not get hot at all if the CPU or GPU were not overloaded. It got a little warm in games, but not to the extent that one would pay attention and attract attention.
Benchmark numbers are not bad for what you pay for. AnTuTu delivered a score of 1.32.996, while the T-Rex test in GFXbench delivered 45 fps. The values are slightly lower than the Realme 3, but this can be expected.
When it comes to gaming, the Realme 3i is no child's play. With high-end titles like PUBG Mobile, you have to play with reduced graphics quality settings. This means that visible aliasing effects occur at the object edges, but at least the gameplay does not suffer. With this phone, we were able to easily win a 40-minute PUBG Mobile round without serious battery or heating problems. ColorOS has a feature called Game Space that automatically locks screen brightness and prioritizes system resources for the game.
The only problem we had while playing is that because of the positioning, it is very easy to block the speaker with the palm of your hand. The same applies when watching videos. The Realme 3i's speaker gets loud, but the audio quality is fairly average. If you're using a wired headset, you can optimize the sound using the Real Power Sound customization options. You can quickly activate this with a toggle switch, set different sound modes, or manually adjust the lows, mids and trebles.
The cameras are not much different from the Realme 3. The Realme 3i has a 13 megapixel main sensor with an aperture of 1: 1.8 and a phase detection autofocus (PDAF). There is a second 2-megapixel sensor for depth calculations when shooting in portrait format.
Thanks to PDAF, the camera focuses quickly, but only when your subject is sufficiently illuminated. Landscape shots contain a decent amount of detail, but complex textures like small leaves or trees in the distance were not very different. We also noticed many chromatic aberrations when shooting objects against the light.
Close-ups generally performed slightly better, but some of our macros looked fairly flat despite being shot in a relatively controlled environment. The 2-megapixel secondary sensor does a good job of depth calculation, but there were times when this phone had edge defects, especially when taking portraits of people.
Creative modes like Chroma Boost and Nightscape are also available. The former should be avoided when shooting plants or leaves, as the shades of green are greatly exaggerated. However, landscapes like a city skyline can benefit from a color improvement, as you can see in the first example.
Nightscape works, but not as well as we saw on Realme X, mainly due to the limitations of the sensor. Night scenes look brighter than in normal automatic camera mode, but there is a lot of grain and chroma noise. The camera can hardly focus on close-up pictures and landscapes when taking pictures without activated Nightscape.
The 13 megapixel selfie camera is actually not that bad. If you are patient and the light is good, you could take some pretty usable shots. There's portrait mode here too, but the blur effect is too aggressive and looks artificial. There is also no way to adjust this.
The Realme 3i can record videos up to 1080p, but there is no stabilization. In fact, the video isn't stabilized even at 720p, which is a little disappointing. The image quality is average, but the focusing speed is not bad, at least in good light.
This phone has a 4,230 mAh battery, which took 16 hours and 59 minutes in our very good HD video loop test. With the actual use, we easily managed to achieve a one and a half day runtime, even if we have a little game and camera use.
Unfortunately, there is no quick charge, but with the included charger, the phone can be charged up to 48 percent in an hour. It takes almost two hours longer to fully charge to 100 percent.
The only purpose of Realme 3i is to close the gap between Realme C2 (Review) and Realme 3 (Review). The basic variant at Rs. 7,999 is a decent choice, as is Rs. 1,000 cheaper than the Redmi 7, with the same memory and storage space. There is no longer any reason to buy the top-end version of the Realme C2, since it has exactly the same price as the 3i.
The 4 GB version of the Realme 3i is a bit difficult to recommend, although it is still cheaper than the Realme 3 – at almost USD. 10,000, it competes with a higher range of phones such as the Redmi Note 7S (review), Asus ZenFone Max Pro M2 (review) and even the Realme U1 (review). All of these alternatives offer slightly better features like higher resolution displays, better cameras and more powerful processors.
If you're on a tight budget and can live with average rear-view cameras, the 3GB version of the Realme 3i is worth considering.
Is Realme 3i the new best cell phone under Rs. 8,000? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast that you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just click the play button below.