Oppo Realme 1 review: Sets new design benchmarks for budget phones in India
Oppo Realme 1 aims to stand out in the crowd with unique design but without compromising on the specifications. Here is our detailed review of Oppo Realme 1.
Realme is an online-only sub-brand from Oppo which is known for its premium and mid-range phones targeted at the youth. The first offering under the new sub-brand is Realme 1. Exclusively available via Amazon India, Oppo Realme 1 starts at ₹8,990 for the base variant featuring 3GB of RAM and 32GB onboard storage. The company also offers a 6GB RAM plus 128GB storage model for ₹13,990 - also among the few phones in the market to offer this combination in the under ₹15,000 category.
Oppo's Realme1 smartphone is aimed at the most competitive price segment in the Indian smartphone segment. Thanks to the likes of Xiaomi and Honor, this section is dominated by the phones with top-of-the-line specifications and features at affordable prices. Realme 1, however, ups the ante with an extensive focus on design while not compromising on the trend of high-end specifications.
Realme 1 aims to deliver a premium look and feel through a mirror-like finish, giving a premium glossy feel. Though a plastic body, the panel has a diamond 'reflecting' design, pretty unique for this price segment. We will elaborate more on the design in the review later.
As said earlier, Realme 1 has more to offer than just a premium design. We have been using the Realme 1 as our primary phone for quite some time. Here are our key takeaways.
Design and display
The smartphone's rear panel does stand out, giving it a premium look and feel. Although much isn't expected on the design for budget smartphones but this phone's aesthetics is quite refreshing. The rear panel does attract fingerprint smudges but that's the case with most of the glass and glass-like panels. In the case of Oppo Realme 1, it doesn't bother that much.
Coming to its specifics, the power key and volume rocker is placed on the right and left sides respectively. You'll find the speaker grille, 3.5mm audio jack and micro USB port located on the base. The phone fits well in the hand and the necessary buttons like volume and power are well within reach.
Oppo Realme1 is also following the trend of 18:9 displays. It comes with a 6-inch full HD+ display which is quite inconsistent. There's also a 'Nightly Shield' mode which reduces the colour tone for better readability in low light conditions. The display however doesn't work properly in outdoors which was a big hassle.
We had the top model with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage with us for the review. These configurations are usually what you see on high-end phones. Oppo also has a triple card slot for two SIMs and a microSD card for expandable storage up to 256GB. The smartphone is packed with MediaTek's Helio P60 processor which is claimed to be the world's first 12nm AI processor.
This AI CPU is aimed at "increasing power efficiency with less heat when gaming". We tested the phone's capability by playing a graphic intensive game Players Underground Battle (PUBG). The game was pretty smooth on the phone with no lags faced. The phone also offers a gaming mode where it turns off background apps and notifications. Daily tasks on the Oppo Realme1 are handled pretty well.
Oppo Realme1 is fuelled by a 3,140mAh battery which is supported by an "AI battery management". The phone takes about an hour and a half to fully charge and it can last for around 12 hours straight uninterrupted. This is capable on regular usage of the phone includes taking multiple calls, extensive use of apps like WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram and Facebook.
The phone prompts you to turn on power management mode once the battery reaches 20%. The phone has survived better than expected with very little juice and the usual usage.
On the software front, Oppo Realme1 runs Color OS 5.0 based on Android 8.1 Oreo out-of-the-box. It's good to see many OEMs adopting newer Android OS even on budget phones. Oppo's custom UI Color OS is a good copy of Apple's iOS. Some visible traits are the left screen mirroring the 'Today' feature of iOS, and the screenshot shortcut. There's also an 'Oppo share' similar to Apple's 'AirDrop', and 'Assistive Ball'.
The speakers on Oppo Realme1 weren't all that impressive. Even with the volume turned up to the maximum, the audio output was disappointing. Another problem I faced was the audio imbalance for notification and ringtone. The notifications were awfully loud even on half the volume while the ringtone was quite low at the same level. Increasing it to the maximum resulted in the notification overpowering the ringtone.
The smartphone features face unlock but lacks a fingerprint sensor. Facial recognition on budget smartphones have been more of a gimmick but the experience was different on the Realme 1 as it worked surprisingly well. Even in low-light conditions, the phone unlocked without any delay.
The 8-megapixel selfie camera is all about making you look pretty and cute. You have a handful of features to play around with on this phone's selfie camera. There's a 'Super Vivid Mode' which makes your eyes bigger and pop out like the Japanese anime characters. This is accompanied by different levels of beauty mode including one that is AI-based. You can also blur the background of your selfies with the depth effect which isn't perfect but does the job well. The smartphone also comes with cute AR stickers which are becoming a common trend among phones these days.
At the rear there's a 13-megapixel rear camera with LED flash. The photos clicked in daylight were good as they were adequately bright but the phone tends to oversaturate colours. It has a portrait mode, but the lack of a dual camera setup means it relies on its software to distinguish the background from the subject. The Redmi Note 5 Pro is a better option photos with depth of field effect.
Photos clicked in low light have a lot of noise and the auto mode tends to click it at a shutter speed lower than I could handle. You can fiddle with the pro mode which gives you the ability to change camera settings manually and stretch the shutter speed.
Overall, Oppo Realme1 performs pretty decently with a good set of specifications and features. The AI features highlighted by the company appears to be more of a gimmick and not something to entirely focus on when deciding on the smartphone. The base model with a price tag of ₹8,990 is recommended. If you are looking for better performance, you may consider the 6GB model. But at ₹13,990, you have tested performers like Xiaomi Redmi Note 5, Note 5 Pro, Mi A1, and Honor 7C which are available in the same price range.