Expert Rating
4/5
Design
★★★★★
★★★★★
Display
★★★★★
★★★★★
Software
★★★★★
★★★★★
Camera
★★★★★
★★★★★
Performance
★★★★★
★★★★★
Battery
★★★★★
★★★★★
Pros
  • Gorgeous, robust design
  • Long lasting battery
  • Capable rear cameras
  • Decent performer
Cons
  • Cameras fail to shine in low light
  • 3GB RAM variant faces stiff competition
  • Display doesn’t get too bright

“Our take on Realme’s latest handset – the Realme C2”

Back in the day, purchasing a smartphone in the premium segment used to be a two-horse race. You could either go the Android route and opt for Samsung’s latest Galaxy or buy an iPhone from Apple’s stables. Fast forward to today and the state of affairs of the smartphone industry has flipped. While there are plenty of options in the premium segment, the budget category is now dominated by Chinese rivals Xiaomi and Realme.

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Both companies have been going at it for quite some time now, undercutting each other every chance they get. Case in point, the Realme C2 (first impressions), which was launched a while back and goes up against a handful of budget-centric Redmi smartphones in India. I managed to get my hands on a unit and here’s what I make of it after spending a week with the device.

Specs at a glance

Display
Size 6.1 Inch
Resolution 720 x 1560 pixels
Performance
CPU Octa core, 2 GHz, MediaTek
RAM 2 GB
Storage
Internal memory 16 GB
External memory Up to 256 GB
Battery
Capacity 4000 mAH, Li-ion, Non removable
Camera
Primary camera 13 MP
Secondary camera 5 MP
Connectivity
Network support Dual SIM 4G
Other options Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS
Others
Battery Capacity 4000
Operating system Android 9.0 Pie

Design and display

It’s rare for a budget smartphone to ship with a bedazzling design but apparently, folks at Realme don’t shy away from a challenge. The Realme C2 is simply put, one of the best-looking budget smartphones I’ve seen all year and the design of the smartphone is right up there with the likes of the Redmi 7 (review). In fact, I personally prefer the design of the Realme C2 more, partly because it doesn’t try to fit in with glass-back smartphones by offering a glossy, pseudo-glass finish and rather, embraces its unibody plastic build.

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I am also more partial towards the handset’s overall fit and finish as the device features a matte back panel which ensured that the C2 didn’t smudge every time I picked it up. The panel also offers a substantially better in-hand grip as opposed to other devices in this segment, which can be accredited to its diamond-cut finish, which coincidentally, looks downright mesmerising. All said and done, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better-looking smartphone in this price range than the Realme C2.

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The Realme C2 doesn’t ship with a fingerprint sensor, which isn’t all that surprising, given the handset’s price point. However, the company has bundled speedy face unlock software with the device which works really well. The software is quite accurate and reliable, and it allowed me to unlock the phone in a jiffy when there was ample light around. The phone does take a minute to unlock when it’s dark, but that’s something most, if not all budget smartphones struggle with.

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You’ll also get a headphone jack with the device, which has been positioned towards the bottom of the phone. I would’ve liked to see a pair of earphones with the retail unit of the smartphone, as that would’ve been the icing on the cake. But hey, you could always pair the phone with the company’s Realme buds (review) down the line, which are quite affordable and sound pretty good too.

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Coming to the display, the Realme C2 ships with a 6.1-inch, HD+ panel with a dewdrop notch on top. Correspondingly, the handset’s front-hand side is dominated by its display which canvases 89.35 percent of the phone’s frame. Coupled with the panel’s vibrant colour reproduction, the display paves way for an immersive media consumption experience. On the downside, the display isn’t the brightest out there, and therefore, I did struggle to use the device when it was sunny outdoors. 

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The Realme C2 is a dual-SIM VoLTE device and during my stint with the phone, I didn’t run into any connectivity issues. The phone managed to offer me consistent internet speeds, and the call quality was per my expectations too. You’ll also get a memory card slot with the device, which can be used to expand the handset’s memory up to 256GB.

Cameras

The camera setup on the Realme C2 is unchanged from its predecessor, the C1 and towards the back, the handset ships with 13MP and 2MP sensors with f/2.2 and f/2.4 aperture respectively. For selfies, the smartphone sports a 5MP shooter up front.

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As bog standard as the C2’s camera specs are, the handset surprisingly clicks great photos. In daylight, the shots I took with the phone had ample details and vibrant colours. What’s more, turning on HDR for the photos actually resulted in better contrast levels and improved dynamic range too. I used the phone quite a lot to click landscape shots and I was amazed at the handset’s capabilities.

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The selfies I took with the phone during the day followed the same trend. While the resolution of the photos was low, the pictures were more than shareworthy on social media platforms like Instagram. The smartphone’s camera software does soften the skin tones, but for the C2’s asking price, I honestly couldn’t have asked for more.

The lowlight performance of both the front as well as the back camera(s) is nothing to write home about. Pictures I clicked with the phone after the sun had set were noticeably grainy, and the smartphone even struggled to focus on nearby objects properly at night.

On the flip side, portrait shots look phenomenal and the blur effect is extremely consistent and convincing, even across the rough edges of a subject. Simply put, if you love standing out in a photo (no pun intended), then you’ll love the Realme C2’s portrait mode.

Performance, software and battery life

The Realme C2 is backed by MediaTek’s Helio P22 processor, the likes of which we’ve already seen on devices such as the Redmi 6A (review). The P22 is an entry-level, octa-core chip which has been fabricated using 12nm FinFET process. The processor works alongside either 2GB or 3GB of RAM and correspondingly, the device gets either 16GB or 32GB of built-in, user-expandable storage. Bear in mind that I was sent the 3GB RAM variant of the smartphone for review, and therefore, your experience could vary if you opt for the lower spec model.

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It’s a given that the Realme C2 can only do so much before experiencing bottlenecking issues. Be that as it may, the handset could comfortably run casual games like Alto’s Odyssey and Clash Royale, and it even managed to run PUBG albeit at the lowest graphics preset. Still, the game was more than playable which is nothing short of a feat. What’s more, the smartphone kept up with my everyday usage and impressed me immensely when I was multitasking between resource hungry applications like Google Chrome. That’s not to say that you won’t run into any performance issues – apps sometimes did force close and UI animations get noticeably jittery when there are a lot of processes running in the background. Regardless, for its asking price, the Realme C2 is a solid performer and I couldn’t have asked for more.

Realme C2 review new002

The Realme C2 is fuelled by a 4,000mAh battery which coupled with the smartphone’s relatively lower-res display, lasts an eternity. In fact, on plenty of days, I hit the bed at night with close to 40 percent of juice still in the tank. To give you a better picture, the handset lasted 14 hours in PCMark’s battery drain test, which lines up with my experience too.

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Coming to the smartphone’s software, the device runs a custom skin of ColorOS v6.0 (Lite edition) on top of Android Pie, which instantly puts it in my good books. I’m still not the biggest fan of all the bloatware which comes bundled with the custom skin but at least Realme gives buyers the option to uninstall most, if not all of it. The skin also comes with an app drawer, along with some other nifty utilities like support for gesture-based navigation, split-screen modes and much more.

Verdict

The Realme C2 starts at Rs 5,999 for the 2GB RAM variant, but you will have to spend Rs 7,999 if you want more RAM and storage. Now, for Rs 6K, the Realme C2 is a stellar deal as it offers dependable cameras, excellent battery life, solid performance and a gorgeous, robust design. Consequently, if you only have Rs 6K to spend and not a penny more, then you should just add the handset to your cart right now. But, if you are thinking about picking up the handset’s 3GB RAM variant, then you should know that you can get more capable devices for the same price.

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For one, you could instead opt for the Redmi 7, which offers a better CPU, a taller display and a better front-facing camera. Moreover, you could also look at smartphones like the Realme 3 (review), which ships with a beefier cell, a more powerful processor, more storage and better cameras to boot.

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Ultimately, it all boils down to your budget but thankfully, we are in an era where there are no bad smartphones in the affordable segment anymore. There are only good phones, and better phones and the Realme C2 is a darn good phone.

Editor’s rating: 4 / 5

Pros:

  • Gorgeous, robust design
  • Capable rear cameras
  • Long lasting battery
  • Decent performer

Cons:

  • Cameras fail to shine in low light 
  • 3GB RAM variant faces stiff competition
  • The display doesn’t get too bright
Photos by Zaid

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