Realme as a brand has matured quite significantly over the past year or so and it is giving the industry leader Xiaomi a 'real' run for its money. Having initially started out as a budget smartphone brand, the company has also tried its hand at the mid-range segment with the Realme 2 Pro (Review) to great appreciation from users.
We now have the Realme 3 Pro which is in direct competition with the Redmi Note 7 Pro (Review). A few things immediately go for the Realme 3 Pro which is its smooth and fast performance along with its objectively elegant design. However, in my opinion, Xiaomi looks to have a clear lead in the camera department with its 48 MP Sony IMX 586 sensor. So should you buy the Realme 3 Pro? At a price of Rs 13,999 (4 GB/ 64 GB) the device does seem to be a compelling option but overall the Redmi Note 7 Pro is a smarter choice. Let's find out why.
Realme 3 Pro is designed to impress
On the exterior, the Realme 3 Pro has a very catchy two-tone colour. The Nitro Blue variant which we have received has a mixture of purple and indigo colours which merge in a sort 'S' shape. Realme tells me that this is done purposefully to signify 'speed' on the device. The device is light and easy to use in one hand although it has a big screen.
The device has a dual-camera setup and a fingerprint reader on the back along with the Realme branding on the bottom-left side. Below that we see a micro-USB port, a headphone jack and a speaker grill. On the left, there is a power button while on the right there are the volume rocker buttons. The front of the device is dominated by the DewDrop-notch screen and has thin bezels on the base. It can be said that for a mid-range device, the Realme 3 Pro has a pretty solid build.
Display is a strong suit
The Realme 3 Pro features a 6.3-inch FHD+ IPS LCD display with a drop-notch on the top housing the front-facing camera. The display is quite nice and vibrant with good colour reproduction as can be expected smartphones in this segment. I also like the V-shaped notch instead of the less elegant U-shaped notch seen on the Vivo V11 Pro (Review) or Galaxy M30.
Coming from the Realme 2 Pro, which had a substantially dull display, the Realme 3 Pro definitely seems a significant improvement. There are still some imperfections such as slight yellowish tinge even at default colour temperature settings and also the display muting bright reds to appear slightly maroon.
Even so, after using the device for more than a week, I can say that this is one of the best displays on a smartphone in its price range. Unless, of course, you are prepared to shell out a couple thousand more to get the Samsung Galaxy A50 which is 'the' best display in the segment.
Realme 3 Pro camera is great, but not the best
The Realme 2 Pro had an atrocious camera when compared to the Redmi Note 5 Pro (Review) or Note 6 Pro (Review). Realme 2 (Review) and Realme 3 (Review) also had camera problems in our reviews when compared to their respective competitors. While there has been a massive improvement this time around, it would appear that the competition (read Redmi Note 7 Pro) is still ahead of the curve.
To its credit, Realme has included a 16 MP Sony IMX 519 sensor which is the same used in the OnePlus 6T (Review) along with a 5 MP depth sensor. Some sample photos clicked on both the phones showed that indeed the Realme 3 Pro clicked shots worthy enough to stand against a phone that is more than twice its price tag.
Unfortunately, I don't have the Redmi Note 7 Pro to compare direct shots with, but my colleague has put up a Flickr album of sample photos which has given me a fair idea of the picture quality. The Redmi Note 7 Pro has great dynamic range and colour reproduction. I also say this as someone who has used the Note 7 Pro camera. The Realme 3 Pro is good but things like exposure calibration and focus are things that need to be worked upon.
I should also add here that the phone received a major update while I was writing the review, which has considerably improved the camera, especially the bokeh mode. Post the update, the background separation is much more well defined and the blur is softer giving the picture an overall better feel. However, overall the Realme still has ground to cover over the Redmi Note 7 Pro, which has a camera that is leagues ahead of anything seen on this price range.
The update also added a new feature called Super Slo-mo which allows you to record videos at 960 fps at what I believe is SD resolution (it was not mentioned in the camera settings). This feature, while looks cool on paper, is not of much use since the video produced looks barely usable to me in terms of quality.
The front camera, which has a 25 MP sensor, is also quite good and produces detailed and sharp images. In fact, comparing selfies from Note 7 Pro, I found that the Realme 3 Pro had much better focus and dynamic range. This is a phone that will definitely appeal to selfie lovers.
Blazing performance... or is it?
With the Snapdragon 710 SoC and 6 GB of RAM, there was no doubt in my mind that the Realme 3 Pro is a fast device. Benchmark scores showed as much for the device. However, when compared to the Snapdragon 675 SoC seen on the Redmi Note 7 Pro, the benchmark results actually show the SD 710 to be slower. Xiaomi had earlier claimed that manufacturers such as Realme, Vivo and more were offering underclocked Snapdragon 660 SoCs in their phones. While we can't comment on that without doing extensive tests, what we can say is that the SD 675 is indeed faster than the SD 710 since the former uses two high-performance Kryo 460 Gold cores based around ARM’s Cortex-A76 core while the latter uses Kryo 360 cores based on Cortex-A75 core.
However, in terms of GPU, the SD 710 uses a faster Adreno 616 GPU as compared to the Adreno 612 GPU seen on the SD 675. Even so, 3D Mark's Slingshot Extreme benchmark for testing the GPU again showed the Redmi Note 7 Pro with a marginally higher score
Recently a brand has started talking about Qualcomm SD 710.
Here's the thruth: it's a one year old processor! We launched a phone with SD 710 (globally) in Q2 2018.
— Manu Kumar Jain (@manukumarjain) April 15, 2019
The phone is touted to run Fortnite which is something the Redmi Note 7 Pro can't. But I ask you does it matter?
PUBG Mobile is the word of the day in India and not Fortnite which means that Realme's claims of being able to run Fortnite falls on deaf ears. PUBG Mobile is something that the phone can run at high settings although when you actually play, the phone starts stuttering at ultra frame rate, so you have to reduce it to high. Also, it appears HDR graphics are not available for the phone as well. I have seen similar problems cropping on the Nokia 8.1 (Review) which also had the SD 710 chipset. With my limited interaction of PUBG Mobile on the Note 7 Pro, I can say that the game does not run drastically better on it, but it appears to be still better than the Realme 3 Pro.
Apart from that, the phone is fast and reliable for doing moderate to heavy tasks. I could switch seamlessly between heavy apps without any lag. The phone also does not get hot during extended periods of usage which I like.
Another impressive thing about the device is its responsive screen unlock and the fingerprint sensor as well, which I appreciated in the Realme 2 Pro as well. It unlocks blazingly fast and works well even in low light conditions, which gets an upvote from me.
Audio and call quality on the device were as good as expected.
Software gets a much-needed upgrade
Realme runs on Oppo's proprietary ColorOS 6.0 UI which is based on Android 9.0 Pie and I have to say that this is a much-needed improvement on what could be considered a frustrating software experience. The UI experience is now more bloat-free (though not quite completely), the drop-down setting icons are now much bigger and easy to reach, there's an app drawer (personal preference) and an overall a cleaner feeling than Color OS 5.0
There are still the unnecessary Oppo App Store, an extra browser and a second messenger app that can't be removed. If it is a clean software experience you are after, I would recommend the Mi A2.
Realme 3 Pro battery life is impressive
I was quite impressed by the battery life on the Realme 3 Pro, which houses a 4,045 mAh powerhouse. The phone lasted me a full day on most days I was using it. Only when I was heavily gaming on it, did the phone give about half a day's battery life. PUBG Mobile drained the battery from 100 to 40 percent in about two hours, which is reasonably good for the device. Apart from that, for things like browsing and watching videos, I got approximately five hours of screen on time which is quite impressive.
Another great feature of the Realme 3 Pro is that it supports Oppo's VOOC 3.0 fast charging capabilities. Now it isn't as fast as say the fast charge on OnePlus, but it does charge your phone quite quickly. I managed to charge my phone from 0 - 35 percent in 20 minutes.
Realme 3 Pro Verdict and Price in India
It appears as though there are a few things that are going for the Realme 3 Pro: great display; amazing build quality; good cameras and capable hardware.
The same can also be said about the Redmi Note 7 Pro except that it is better in the camera department and is an overall great performer.
Is it really worth buying the Realme 3 Pro for Rs 16,999 when the Redmi Note 7 Pro offers something better at a similar price point? I think not. There really doesn't appear to be anything that the Realme 3 Pro does better, except for taking better selfies and slightly faster charging. If selfies and the slight faster-charging speeds matter, then Realme 3 Pro is for you. For everything else, the Redmi Note 7 Pro is a better choice.
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