Realme 1 full review: the flagship in disguise

Rating: 8/10

Yay:

  • Full HD+ resolution
  • Powerful octa-core processor
  • Best in class selfie performance

Nay:

  • Average low-light camera performance
2018 has been a great year for smartphones and while we’ve seen a lot of niche brands go mainstream, we saw some commercial brands like OPPO get down to business with a consumer-centric phone. I am talking about the Realme 1, a phone that packs a real punch but charges peanuts for it.

Realme 1 design: premium plastic body

The Realme 1 is one of the most unique looking phones in its price range. But that, to be honest, entirely sits in the eye of the beholder.

I got fooled at first glance into believing that the phone is made of glass. The plastic on this phone is so good, that only the phone’s weight gave it away. Also, the Realme 1 is slightly different from other glossy plastic phones, in the way that generally when you hold a phone, it’s the painted plastic that sits in your hand. However, in this case, there is an extra layer of transparent plastic with the red paint sitting on the underside, which means that even if it gets a lot of scratches the Red color won’t chip off.

The sides too sport the same glossy plastic which actually provided a good feel. Interestingly the glossy plastic is not as slippery as I thought. On the contrary, I had no problem carrying it around. Plus it’s quite sturdy too, I’ve dropped it a few times, and there is not a single scratch on it.

The Realme 1 comes with dual bottom microphones! How’s that for a trend?

The power button is on the right and the volume buttons sit on the left and they are good. Buttons, as I’ve said in every one of my reviews earlier, are generally overlooked by brands. But Realme, has done a good job. I thought I’d mind the separate volume keys for UP and DOWN, but I am content with it.

Also, having two separate buttons reduces the chances of soft clicks. At the back sits a single camera with the Realme logo below it. The camera bump isn’t bad at all and sits flush with the back…mostly. The bottom hosts a Micro-USB port with a headphone jack and a single speaker grill, which happens to be quite loud for its size.

I know what a lot of you are thinking “where the hell is the bloody fingerprint scanner?.”

I’m excited to tell you that just like the astronomically-priced iPhone X, the Realme 1 only comes with Face Unlock as the single biometric unlock system. It doesn’t use the complex tech that the iPhone uses, but it does get the job done. I have been able to unlock the phone in most cases easily and the in-app locks also works seamlessly with face unlock.

Realme 1 display: the real deal

The display on the Realme 1 is another part that makes it such a good phone. It has the tall 18:9 aspect ratio and it doesn’t have a notch. Now I don’t know about you notch fans out there, but I am notch a not fan…oop, not a notch fan. Talking about the pixels; that display is a crisp full HD+ panel, which is quite rare at a starting price of Rs 8,990. The colours look good, the sharpness is on point, but the brightness could’ve been a little better. Even at max brightness things don’t look as good. But hey, to bring the price down, they had to compromise on something, and this looks like a sensible one.

One of the crispiest displays in its league

Watching movies, YouTube videos, and especially Mr. Phone’s videos look good on this display. The touch response is also good and since I’ve been using it without a screen guard starting day one, I can safely say, that the scratch resistance is as good as any other phone on the market.

Does it take smudges easily? Yes. Does it wipe away easily? Yes. So, no need to worry about that.

Realme 1 Software: iAndroid

Talking about the software, the Realme 1 runs the same skin found on other OPPO phones – Color OS 5.0. Now, Color OS isn’t necessarily a bad operating system, but it’s just far from my preferred Android skin. I think from an unbiased point of view, the OS is stuffed with a lot of useful options and features. If you’ve Android user for a long time and haven’t ever used an OPPO or a Vivo phone, you might struggle. The fact that to change the wallpaper you’ll have to dig through Settings might get annoying.

On the left of the home screen, you’ll find a personalized feed with a few widgets for quick access. The widgets include a calendar, weather, quick google search etc. and you can also turn them ON or OFF according to your preference.

If someone’s shifting from iOS to Android then this might be the easiest transition. Colour OS is designed very close to Apple’s mobile operating system. The home screen is arranged in an iOS way where you can access all your apps without having to go into an app drawer. You can also, just like an iPhone, trigger search with a single swipe down. I also like that you can change slide animations to whatever you like.

The Realme also has a lot of security features like a private keyboard that comes up whenever you are writing your password. You’ll also find individual app locks which support Face Unlock too. Stuff like this can not be found in a stock android phone which is why a lot of people prefer skins like Color OS.

Realme 1 Performance: a beast from within

The Realme 1 is beast when it comes to performance. I have never once experienced lag when using it. Surfing the internet, wasting hours swiping through travel pics on Instagram, or watching YouTube is all fun on this thing. Now when it comes to gaming you know what to expect from a phone that sstarts at Rs 8,990. Well, throw whatever your know out of the window, because this one right here, is good!

The Helio P60 inside is a beast and can handle almost any android game in the market

The Realme 1 uses the same Helio P60 that sits inside the Oppo F7 which costs more than three times the base variant. Playing games is a pleasure on this. The exciting part is that the top variant only costs Rs 13,990 and sports a whopping 6GB of RAM inside. The base variant also comes with 3GB of RAM, which is ample for medium to heavy gaming. Oppo also provides a gaming mode which does a few cool things. It, first of all, clears the memory and also turns on DND so that you can have a seamless gaming experience. The gaming mode triggers all the four higher clocked cores for the ultimate gaming experience.

The Helio P60 is impressive and we also have an in-depth article about it so make sure to read it.

Realme 1 Camera: it’s single for good

The Realme 1 comes with a single 13MP f/2.2 camera sensor at the back and an 8MP f/2.2 camera at the front. The back camera performance is surprisingly good and we tested it thoroughly in our camera comparison with the Redmi Note 5 Pro and the Asus Zenfone Max, and the results might just surprise you.

Realme 1 Single camera setup

Basically, the Realme 1 has a reliable camera and you can get some good pictures out of it. Daylight pictures are good looking with slightly softer details. Portraits are good and the selfies are even better. The bokeh effect also works well and I think it does a good job compared to others in its price range. The low light performance is decent. The softness is even more pronounced in low light situations.

Click here to view more pictures from the Realme 1

Video performance is probably the only area where the Realme 1 falls a bit short due to the absence of EIS. Colours and details are all well preserved, and the camera comparison with the Redmi Note 5 Pro is a testament to how good the camera on the Realme 1 is.

Realme 1 Battery: it’s reliable

The battery inside is a 3,410mAh unit and it juices up through a micro-USB port. Well, the battery life has been impressive and I’ve never faced a single problem while using it. The 12nm process on which the Helio P60 is built might definitely be one of the reasons for the impressive numbers, and I have used it left and right and it never died on me once. I’ve always gotten impressive screen on times on it. The Realme 1 comes with a big brick however, it doesn’t support any kind of fast charging. What this means is that to juice it up for a casual day’s use, you’ll have to plug into the wall for a long time.

Conclusion

Well, this has been a great experience and I think the Realme 1 has been my most positive review yet but somehow, I’m not surprised. It is a beautifully crafted phone. The display is one of the best at its price, performance is unbelievably good, it sports an impressive camera, and the battery life is something Oppo should be proud of.

Now, the most exciting part of the Realme 1 is its price, you can get the 3GB RAM/32GB storage base variant for Rs 8,990, the 4GB RAM/64GB storage variant (not yet available) for 10,990, and the 6GB RAM/128GB storage variant for Rs 13,990.

Sreehari

Sreehari is in love; in love with technology. His enthusiasm for new gadgets can be seen in his videos. He single-handedly built Mr. Phone's YouTube channel and continues to persevere with Nitesh in making world-class tech videos. Sree - as everyone calls him affectionately - is also a big fan of Artificial Intelligence and Industrial Design. If he is not working on gadget reviews, Sree is a trained Carnatic singer. When you meet him, do to request for his rendition of Kabira by Arijit Singh.