Hands-on review: Realme 3 Pro smartphone
Image credit: Realme
Premium specification and looks at a budget price in the fledgling company’s first UK offering.
This is the first UK smartphone from Realme, an unapologetically young brand. It was founded in May 2018, originally as a sub-brand of Oppo. The Realme 3 Pro boasts fast performance and very fast charging, but what’s most jaw-dropping is the price: the 4Gb Ram, 64Gb Rom version is £175, while £219 buys you 6Gb Ram and 128Gb Rom.
Out of the box, the look and feel is premium, not budget. The rear looks like liquid metal, in ‘nitro’ blue or ‘lightning’ purple, with subtle, laser-etched stripes. Perhaps they’re intended as go-faster stripes because the phone’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 AIE processor is fast - fast enough to be great for gaming and graphics.
We found setup straightforward, as you’d expect from a new Android handset, but restoring data from an old phone wasn’t the zipperless experience we’ve come to expect from premium brands. The phone told us to install an app called Clone Phone, but we couldn’t find it on the app store. We did find one called Phone Clone, but couldn’t get it to work.
We eventually connected the two phones directly using point-to-point Wi-Fi to transfer data, but it didn’t seem to make progress. Either it wasn’t working or it didn’t give sufficient feedback. Eventually, we gave up and instructed Android to restore from a two-hour-old online Google backup and be done with it. All we lost was two hours of SMS and WhatsApp messages. Our advice would be to do just this: back up everything to Google before switching, so you have it covered.
Specs for the handset are impressive. Physically, the phone has space for two sim cards, plus you can expand the memory with a micro SD card. They all go in a single slot.
The Snapdragon 710 AIE processor is power-efficient as well as powerful. Teamed with a 4,045mAh battery, this means that you shouldn’t run out of juice, even if you cane it. It’s good for 9.5 hours of YouTube or 18.3 hours of web browsing, for example.
Meanwhile, it uses VOOC 3.0 flash charging to replenish itself at high speed. The tech uses high current (4A) rather than high voltage, so it doesn't get as hot as other fast-charging technologies. You can go from 0 to 50 per cent in just half an hour, or 0 to 100 per cent in 80 minutes.
Camera specs are good. It offers 16-megapixel and 5-megapixel rear cameras, including the world’s first 960 frames-per-second slow-motion capture. It can also stack a burst of multiple photos to generate great low-light photos. The results of both were impressive: night shots bright and detailed, slow-mo fun and creative. You haven’t lived until you’ve watched a chicken run in slow motion.
The 25-megapixel selfie camera gets pin-sharp results, too. There are a host of built-in filters, some of which get more noticeable results than others. Smoothing works well, the ones that make your nose smaller or your eyes bigger not so much. All of the filters can be controlled with a sliding scale.
Aside from the hiccoughs transferring files from our old phone, the only other quibble we had with the Realme Pro 3 was that we thought the screen was easily scratched. To be fair, this was after a grubby weekend of family camping that might kill a flimsier phone, but still it suggested that they’d cut corners with the material for the screen.
However, it turns out that the phone’s 6.3-inch full HD screen uses Gorilla Glass 5 for toughness. We dug a little deeper and discovered that it comes with a factory-fitted screen protector. At last: a non-DIY screen protector, so no air bubbles! It was just the screen protector getting scuffed and this can be replaced any time for pennies. The phone also comes with a see-through plastic case for the rear, again protecting your phone and saving you money on accessories.
Battery life and performance are the biggest issues for most phone users and the Realme Pro 3 delivers brilliantly on these at a very reasonable price. This is no budget ‘burner’ phone, but it’s one of the cheapest phones that will still knock your socks off.
From £175 realme.com
Google Pixel 3a
If the Pixel 3 is the premium Android phone to beat, this is the mid-priced phone to beat. A great camera and unlimited Google Photos storage make this a great choice for keen photographers.
From £399 google.com
Again a big screen and big specs for a mid-range price, but with parent company Huawei under the political spotlight - including Google withdrawing support for future handsets - it might be safer to wait till the dust settles.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 7
Cheap as chips for a half-decent smartphone. The build quality feels a little cheaper, but pound-for-pound it packs exceptional power.
Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.