By Ajay Joseph
The Realme C1 device was announced in the Philippines towards the end of 2018. Though a seemingly an unknown brand, some research indicated that Realme was originally Oppo’s sub-brand; but in 2018 Realme separated from Oppo. Their offerings being budget phones, but with a business model very similar to Oppo’s, producing solid midrange phones, with minimal compromises to hit phenomenal price points.
With some strong specs such as an octa-core processor, a huge 6.2-inch screen, and an enormous 4230 mAh battery, let’s take a closer look at what the C2 device has to offer, and how it fares in daily use.
Design and Ergonomics
In terms of aesthetics, the Realme C1 keeps it simple and functional. The unit I was testing was black, and though the rear is polycarbonate plastic, feels premium like glass. The Oppo design ethos is very evident, and having recently used an Oppo F9, it reminded me quite a bit of it; albeit a budget sibling.
The unit is light and comfortable to hold in the hand. The power button is on the right, while the SIM tray, as well as the volume up and down buttonsare on the right. The SIM tray can house dual SIM’s and a Micro SD card. At the bottom, there is a micro-USB slot, a single speaker, and a 3.5mm jack.
A 6.2-inch screen is quite massive, and its inclusion at the price-point is worth mention, giving budget users big screens. It’s a decent screen, with good color, good viewing angles, and all the usual features such as color temperature settings, some notch controls, and night mode options. For everyday media consumption, it fares just fine.
Specs and Performance
On the SoC front, the Realme C1 includes a Qualcomm SDM450 octa-core, which is pretty capable in day to day use. What holds the device back though is the 2GB of memory, which is clearly too little. If you have multiple apps open and don’t manage your simultaneously running apps well, expect slow-downs. Having mostly used flagship devices in the past several years, this was painful.
What I’d have liked to see is some software management in place, to ensure there aren’t too many running apps, but there is nothing like that at work here. In comparison, my flagship Windows Mobile device rocked 2GB of memory for years and was never a slouch. Likely that Android doesn’t manage its memory use as well, to ensure operating performance.
While I didn’t try gaming on the device, some checking online points to acceptable performance in games at lowered detail, with some frame drops in tasking games. Probably not the best choice for hardcore gaming, but it will get by.
When I first learned of the crazy 4230 mAh battery in this unit, I was somewhat blown away. That’s a pretty cool inclusion at this price point. Hell, who wouldn’t want to have a lotta juice that would easily take you through a day or more? In light-use scenarios, it easily lasted two days. There is no fast charging though, so charging such a mammoth battery from 0% takes quite some time. I found myself mostly hooking it up overnight, so as to ensure full charge the next day.
Patience is hard to come by, especially now with fast-charging being the norm. Even a mere 15% starting from empty takes about 30 minutes. Getting to 50% took about 2 hours, 75% about 3 hours, and 86% about 3 and a half hours. So in short, be prepared to wait.
The Realme C1 runs Android 8.1.0, with Color OS 5.2.1. I wasn’t surprised to not see Android Pie in action, as even today not all devices have transitioned. Likely that this device won’t get an upgrade. In terms of functionality, expect Oppo device functionality. What I’d have really liked to see was some efforts made to better manage memory use, but perhaps that’s more Android dependent.
The device is sold with 16GB of storage, and when brand new it has 7.11 GB available for user content and apps. The 16GB storage gets full easily, and I was getting constant alerts about space shortage. This could be a bit of a hassle when traveling if you’re taking pictures and don’t have an option to backup photos on the cloud and make space on the device. Perhaps an additional micro SD should be planned for and added.
The camera setup is pretty basic from a hardware perspective, featuring dual cameras at the rear, a 13-megapixel primary shooter and a 2-megapixel secondary lens for depth sensing. On the front, it has a 5-megapixel camera for selfies. The software is strong though, with the usual arsenal of Oppo depth effects, panorama mode, beauty mode for selfies, and such.
Pictures are like many other aspects of this phone, sufficient. You get moderate pictures during the day when lighting is good. In low light, it struggles and takes long to focus and click. Blurring when subjects are moving is common, and at night, overexposure of lights and poor detail are fairly normal. That said, trying a few times could yield good results at times. Selfies are pretty good, better than I expected. The front cam also supports facial unlock which is quite fast.
At a price of P5,990, this has got to be one of the best value propositions on the market. Less than three years ago, supposed lower-level midrange phones at double the price tag had hardly as much to offer. With the C1, Realme has created a value proposition like no other.
There is no doubt that for its price, the Realme C1 offers a pretty competent package, and then some. While the limited memory impacts performance and 16GB of storage is tight, the latter can be remedied with a micro SD card, and the former can be improved with some diligence. Set those two things aside, and what you have is a pretty capable phone; one that would give someone on a budget, bang for the buck like never before.