Realme 3 Pro review: the best value for money phone under 20,000

Realme 3 Pro

Rating: 8.4/10

Yay: 

  • One of the best LCD panels in its price range
  • Class-leading GPU performance 
  • VOOC 3.0 provides unbeatable charging speeds

Nay:

  • Color OS still not the most intuitive skin to use
  • The microphone records sub-par audio

For a new brand that is yet to complete a year of existence, Realme took an unusual approach by launching close to six phones to date. Now, fortunately for Realme, almost all of these phones were very well-received and hence earned the brand a prime spot in the online mind share. Of all those phones last year, the most popular one was the Realme 2 Pro with a powerful Snapdragon 660 and capable camera systems. Today we are here to talk about the successor, aptly named the Realme 3 Pro. It comes with a newer body, better specifications, and charging capability that is said to put flagships to shame. 

Realme 3 Pro Design: refined ergonomics

The Realme 3 Pro comes from one year of design maturity, but it does look really good for it. Honestly, when I saw the Realme 3 with the unibody glossy polycarbonate design, I was a little worried for the upcoming devices. I was not a big fan of the unibody design, primarily because if it’s glossy, it’s glossy all the way. You should know its quite difficult to get it right. Plus, glossy polycarbonate attracts scratches like anything. To me, it didn’t make the Realme 3 look like a real upgrade in design to the Realme 2.

I am happy to say that, the Realme 3 Pro doesn’t follow the suite and instead goes for a much more refined version of the Realme 2 Pro. The back is glossy but the material seems to be of slightly higher quality and is curved at the sides merging seamlessly with the matte textured frame of the device. The sides are not flat either this time. There are ergonomic chamfers all around the frame. They join together to form flat surfaces at both the top and bottom of the phone. I remember similar looking frame curves on the OnePlus 5T. 

This is a tall phone for sure, but from my measurements, the length and width of the frame are almost exactly the same as the Realme 2 Pro. The Realme 3 Pro although does provide better ergonomics thanks to the curved back. For the people who might have confusion, the back pattern is on the inside of the phone and doesn’t play a part in enhancing the grip of the phone. 

The placement of all the buttons, the sim tray, microphones everything is exactly the same. It’s just the bottom part is where the headphone jack and single speaker grill switched places, but that’s it. Is that a bad thing? I don’t feel so. Primarily, because I had no problems with these placements anyway.

They say don’t fix anything unless it’s broken. Overall, the Realme 3 Pro is an apt design upgrade over the Realme 2 Pro and surely enhances the experience in every way. 

Realme 3 Pro Display: the best LCD under 20,000

The Realme 2 Pro had an FHD+ display with a water drop notch and that’s exactly what the Realme 3 Pro has. It’s the exact same dimensions, the exact same notch, but it isn’t quite the exact same panel. It’s rather a better panel. The display is so much more color accurate and you can see that quite clearly here. I am amazed at how just tuning the display helps make it look so much more premium. The display is truly better in every way and not just better than the Realme 2 Pro’s display. This panel beats even the Redmi Note 7 Pro according to us. Some could argue that it’s neck to neck with Samsung Galaxy A50’s panel. It’s not gonna beat the Samsung Display, but yes it’s easily the best LCD panel I’ve seen under 20,000. 

I found no color shifts on the panel and surprisingly it’s quite close to accurate color temperature. In fact, if you go into display settings and play with the color temperature a bit. The display ends up being very close to my MacBook’s color calibrated display. How about that!

The display is quite good for consuming content when you are on-the-go. Notably, you also get Widevine L1 certification. Unfortunately for us, our review unit shows Widevine L3. But pre-production units tend to lack in a few areas due to the pre-launch nature. That said all retail units will according to Realme come out of the box with Widevine L1 certification. 

So, in a nutshell when it comes to the display, the Realme 3 Pro is a force to be reckoned with. 

Realme 3 Pro Software:  no ads, no flair

The Realme 3 Pro runs color OS 6 built on top of Android 9 pie. Color OS 6 is something we talked in-depth about in the Realme 3 review and you can go and refer if you want the whole story. What I’ll do today is go the Ershad route and tell you what I like and what I don’t like. 

What I like:

  • I like the fact that there is an app drawer. Now, even after a decade of improving software, the basic navigation philosophy is pretty much the same, and when we tackle something that’s not that, we tend to try and avoid it. That’s one of the big reasons people like stock android because that’s what we’ve grown up with. If we’d always used all apps on home screen iPhone like setup, then stock android would’ve felt completely out of place. That said, I like my OS to be as close to stock as possible and Color OS 6. For the most part, this OS has almost always stayed at the other end of the spectrum. It did start out on top of Cyanogen MOD which was the holy grail in the smartphone geek community. Now, with small changes, Color OS is going back, for example, the app drawer that we see in the Color OS 6. 
  • I love the single swipe universal search, a feature I wish every phone had. It’s certainly a borrowed one, but it’s been implemented and at the end of the day it makes my life easier. 
  • I love the camera app, it’s a part of another section, but the fact that they’ve worked on the camera app. All the general settings that you need are at your disposal and it’s become a much simpler experience. 
  • I like certain features. The short press of the power key to call the google assistant. The security features which include Payment portal protections and pseudo base station blocking. The pseudo blocking makes sure that you don’t receive messages from the fraudulent organization. Further safekeeping our passwords from prying eyes. 

Realme 3 Software

What I don’t like:

  • I don’t like the constant change of icons for no reason, I have always seen this happen with new realme phones. Every time the default apps have a new icon and that just doesn’t help. There’s no theme that is followed, they just change randomly. Thus there are no identifiers to establish that you’re looking at a Realme phone. Unlike many brands offer these days. 
  • Color OS still needs a lot of improvement, not to compare it with MIUI, but to compare it with other better skins like the One UI or Oxygen OS. There were rumours in the beginning that just like OnePlus, Realme will also branch out of Oppo’s software and maybe work on their own. If that happens, then there is a lot of scope for it. 
  • I don’t like the notification panel, this thing needs a lot of work and it’s certainly gotten better. But the whole UI just doesn’t gel together, and that’s not something that might hinder your experience. It does make the phone stay away from a uniform looking operating system. 

Realme 3 Pro Performance: better gaming performance than peers

The Realme 3 Pro comes with a Snapdragon 710 SoC. Now, if benchmark scores are what you are looking forward to. Then the Snapdragon 710 isn’t necessarily going to blow your mind. The AnTuTu and GeekBench scores on the Realme 3 Pro are slightly lower than the Redmi Note 7 Pro. Where the Redmi scores a 178k on AnTuTu, Realme 3 Pro only scores a 158k. Similarly, the Geekbench scores are lower. This is not surprising at all. Considering that we already knew that the Snapdragon 675, in fact, carries a new Kryo 460 cores, whereas the 710 carries the older Kryo 360 cores.

Now, while the CPU performance is slightly better because of newer cores, the GPU performance is not the same. The 710 boasts a much more powerful Adreno 616 in comparison to the Adreno 612 on the Snapdragon 675. This resulted not only in better 3D mark scores but in fact translated to better gaming performance in our GameBench tests where we analyzed 30 mins of PUBG gameplay.

In day-to-day usage as well, I found the Realme 3 Pro to be absolutely buttery smooth. One of the things we noticed while testing out these phones for our comparisons was that the Redmi Note 7 Pro had gotten quite laggy. This was further worsened by the numerous ads in the UI. In comparison, the Realme 2 Pro, which we picked up for some testing. It felt really snappy even while being a year old. Also, realme as a brand does take updates seriously and they stay pretty close with the community when it comes to that. So I don’t think there should be any problems with the performance for you.

Another cool thing is that you can play Fortnite on the Realme 3 Pro. Realme has gotten into a collaboration with Fortnite. It means that the Realme 3 Pro becomes the only device right now under not just 20k but below 40k that can play this battle royale game out-of-the-box.

Realme 3 Pro Camera: needs polishing

The Realme 3 Pro carries forward the dual camera tradition from the Realme 2 Pro. The main sensor this time is a 16MP IMX 519 which is apparently the same sensor that the OnePlus 6T uses. The secondary sensor is a 5MP sensor which will help in better edge detection hence better portrait mode shots. 

Here are some pictures that I took while on a trip and as you can see they look stunning. The images do stay on the saturated side for the most part. If you like saturated images then this might actually be a good choice. Plus, you also get chroma boost mode. This mode is a more humbly named version of AI in other phones. This smartly boosts the colors in the picture providing a more appealing image. The phone also comes with a few flagship grade modes including, night mode, and an expert mode that part from giving you pro controls, also lets you click a significantly higher resolution 64MP image. It’s called Ultra HD mode. 

Click the picture to view full quality samples

Click the picture to view full quality samples

The sensor used is the IMX 519 which is the same sensor that OnePlus 6T employs for the primary camera, this is a 16MP sensor. Hence when compared to Redmi Note 7 Pro’s standard non-48MP shots, this does look crisper.  In the camera comparison, there were a lot of situations where the Realme 3 Pro had a more naturally detailed image. Another area where the Realme 3 Pro shines is in low light performance and this is not even without the light mode. Pictures from both the front and the back camera in low light are significantly better than its competitors. Now add night mode to this and you have a powerful low light camera. 

Click the picture to view full quality samples

Coming to the video, the Realme 3 Pro shoots up to the 4K resolution, but the stabilization stops at 1080p. The video capabilities are again excellent and the output looks quite appealing. That said, there’s still some choppiness I found with the 1080p stabilisation and I hope it gets fixed soon. While the video can be fixed, the audio is something that is sub-par and was one of the areas that the phone lacked in comparison to its competitors. 

Overall, while the Redmi Note 7 Pro is still the best smartphone camera under 20,000 according to our camera comparison, the Realme 3 Pro is a close second. This may change as well because the Redmi Note 7 Pro we used has gone through numerous updates which have made the camera performance significantly better, the Realme 3 Pro just launched today. It will have time for improvement. 

Realme 3 Pro Battery: flagship grade

Talking about the battery, the Realme 3 Pro has a 4045mAh battery, which is a standard among its competitors. Now, what does 4045mAh of battery capacity get you? Well, first of all, you get very comfortable battery life. That is the term I’d use here, because in all my usage not once did the phone pose any difficulties for me with the battery life. The GeekBench battery test indeed showed that the battery life was at par with the Redmi Note 7 Pro. As a matter of fact, both phones went from 100% – 50% in 3 hours of Geekbench battery test. 

Now, let’s come to charging. Here all I have to say is that after the OnePlus 6/6T, this is the phone that has me impressed. The Realme 3 Pro comes with VOOC 3.0 fast charging. This technology has allowed the phone to go from 0 – 100% in about 80 – 90 minutes. That’s just crazy because the OnePlus 6T with a smaller 3700mAh battery takes about 90 – 100 minutes on average. Thus concluding that the VOOC 3.0 is much faster than Dash Charge. I think when it comes to battery life and especially charging, the Realme 3 Pro is unbeatable in its price range and above.

Also read: Redmi Note 7 Pro review: stupendously good value-for-money 

Conclusion

The Realme 3 Pro is a feature packed phone. According to me, it is practically a no-compromise smartphone with boast-worthy on paper specifications. We are here to talk about the successor, aptly named the Realme 3 Pro. With a newer body, better specifications, and charging capabilities that put flagships to shame, it is indeed a successor in any shape. 

When compared to the Redmi Note 7 Pro, if you want a better camera performance today, then get the Redmi Note 7 Pro. The Redmi spits out amazing camera performance every time. While I won’t deny the possibility that the Realme 3 Pro would get better by updates. But this has been Xiaomi’s area of expertise for so long. I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon.

Also read: Samsung Galaxy A50 review: the most premium smartphone experience under Rs. 20,000

Now, if you do want a premium smartphone experience with flagship grade software. Because honestly, neither of them offers that for sure. Then, you should get the Samsung Galaxy A50. The Super AMOLED display with an in-display fingerprint scanner, Samsung’s new OneUI, and hence the overall user experience. I think it’s difficult to beat the Samsung Galaxy A50 in that aspect.

For me, the Realme 3 Pro kinda sits in the sweet spot between the two. The Realme 3 Pro’s Color OS 6 provides a much more hassle-free software experience compared to the Redmi Note 7 Pro’s MIUI. Plus, you get the Snapdragon 710 which helps with better day-to-day performance and gameplay. That’s not it, you also get premium features like 20W fast charging. It is unique in the price range and just undeniably good. All this while being economically priced makes the Realme 3 Pro a better alternative than its competitors. And if anyone was to ask me, I’d recommend the Realme 3 Pro over the Redmi Note 7 Pro.

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Sreehari
sree.hari@u2opiamobile.com

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.