Realme is on a mission to disrupt Xiaomi's dominance in the budget segment. The recent Realme 2 Pro (Review) smartphone offered very good all-round performance and good value at Rs. 17,990, and now with the Realme C1, the company hopes to raise the bar in the entry-level segment too. The Realme C1 competes with the Xiaomi Redmi 6A (Review), the Honor 7S (Review), and the recently announced Asus ZenFone Lite L1, at its introductory price of Rs. 5,999.
The big appeal of the C1 is its relatively powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 SoC, big display, and battery, the latter of which is impressive for this price bracket. Keep in mind that this is just an introductory price, which means after a couple of flash sales, it could go up. If you do manage to grab one during the introductory offer period, should you go ahead and buy the Realme C1? Let's find out.
Realme C1 design and display
The plastic body of the Realme C1 makes it light and easy to carry around and the sides are thick enough to offer a comfortable grip without making the phone look fat. The matte finish of the frame doesn't pick up fingerprints but the laminated back and display do. Just like the Realme 2 Pro, the back panel of the C1 picks up scuffs quite easily if you're not careful.
The display uses Corning Gorilla Glass, which should offer a good degree of protection, and an adhesive screen guard is included in the box as well. The Realme C1 has a massive 6.2-inch HD+ display, which produces pleasing, saturated colours. The display also gets quite bright, which makes it legible under sunlight. This is one of the few phones in its price range to have a notch. The display cutout isn't very deep or wide, which is probably why there's no option to hide it. Most apps scale all the way, filling up the area around the notch too. You can prevent this for individual apps, such as games, from the Settings app.
The back of the Realme C1 has a laminated coating, which is prone to scratches
The power and volume buttons are placed on opposite sides of the phone and are easy to reach. The feedback from is good without being noisy. There's a single SIM tray on the side, which can accommodate two Nano-SIM cards and a microSD card (up to 256GB).
The Micro-USB port, speaker grille, and 3.5mm headphone socket are on the bottom. At the back, we only have the dual camera setup on the top, a single LED flash module beside it, and the Realme logo at the bottom.
The Realme C1 doesn't have a fingerprint sensor but you do get face unlock. It works fairly well under good light and you can make it more secure by forcing it to make sure your eyes are open. In low light, the display lights up to help capture your face. It takes a little longer, but it works.
The Realme C1 ships with a silicone case, a SIM eject tool, instruction manuals, a 5W adapter, a screen protector, and a Micro-USB data cable.
Realme C1 specifications and software
The Realme C1 is powered by Qualcomm's current top-end 400 series SoC - the Snapdragon 450 mobile platform. It consists of eight custom Kryo 260 CPU cores running at speeds of up to 1.8GHz, along with an Adreno 509 GPU. In benchmarks, we saw good performance in tests overall compared to similar smartphones in this price segment with SoCs such as the Snapdragon 430 or even the MediaTek Helio A22, used in the Redmi 6A.
The Realme C1 is only available with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. The internal storage runs out pretty quickly, as we soon found out, as you only get about 8.67GB of usable space. The C1 doesn't have any option for merging a microSD into the the internal storage, so you'll have to move stuff manually. There's a step-by-step guide under the storage sub-menu for transferring photos, videos, audio, documents, and even APKs, over to the microSD card. However most of the apps we had installed such as Facebook, Instagram, or even games, couldn't be moved over. You can change the default storage path for photos and videos taken with the camera, but there doesn't seem to be an option for apps. A few heavy games like PUBG can eat into your storage very quickly.
Internal storage on the Realme C1 runs our pretty quickly if you have big games installed
Other Realme C1 specifications include Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, dual 4G with VoLTE, a compass, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, accelerometer, USB-OTG support, and FM radio.
The Realme C1 runs on ColourOS 5.1, which is based on Android 8.1 Oreo. Our unit wasn't quite up to date with security, as it was still running the August 2018 patch. The custom UI offers plenty of gestures and shortcuts, which we've seen before on Realme and Oppo smartphones. Game Space lets you automatically enable Do-Not-Disturb and disable auto brightness when gaming. Other features include the ability to blacklist unwanted callers and have notifications from apps like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger ‘pop-up' over the current app being used. However, there's no app or setting to change the theme of the phone.
Realme C1 performance, cameras, and battery life
The Realme C1 isn't the speediest phone around, which could have something to do with the amount of RAM it has. The system uses about 1GB, and about 500MB is used by apps running in the background, which leaves you with roughy 500MB of free RAM for multitasking and other things. Even waking the phone up takes a good second or two at times. However, once you're in an app, things aren't so bad.
We didn't face any issues browsing the Internet using Chrome, and multitasking was still manageable. The phone runs fairly cool but it does get a bit warm when gaming. Heavy titles like PUBG run, but gameplay is a bit sluggish, even at the lowest graphics settings. The display's touch response also feels a bit iffy now and then when gaming, but it's not a big issue genrally.
The Realme C1 has a Micro-USB port and headphone socket placed at the bottom
The stock audio and video player handles most popular media codecs well. During video playback, you can access ‘pop-up' apps like WhatsApp and the SMS app as an overlay, which is convenient. The single speaker gets is quite loud but the audio quality isn't very good.
The Realme C1 has a 13-megapixel main camera with a 2-megapixel depth sensor. The latter is used for gauging depth when shooting in portrait mode. Edge detection is decent, but the final image lacks good colours. With regular shots in daylight, the C1 captures a decent amount of detail in distant objects but we also noticed some chromatic aberration. Auto HDR is present but the end result isn't always very good looking. We have the common panorama and time-lapse shooting modes, as well as a stickers mode, which is fun to play around with.
Noise is handled well in low light but details and focusing speeds take a hit. Under sufficient artificial lighting, we did end up with some very usable macros, but landscapes in general look soft. The front 5-megapixel sensor captures good colours in selfies when lighting is favourable, but at night, we encountered a lot of chroma noise in our images. Video recording tops out at 1080p but the output isn't very sharp, and there's no electronic stabilisation.
Battery life is the Realme C1's biggest strength. The non-removable 4,230mAh battery easily lasted us about a day and half, and more at times when our usage was limited. In our battery drain test, we managed to run a 720p video file on loop for a total of 20 hours and 23 minutes. The Realme C1 doesn't support fast charging, but with a 10W adapter, we were able to fully charge it in about two and half to three hours. With the bundled 5W adapter, the phone takes nearly four and half hours to fully charge.
At Rs.6,999, the Realme C1 offers plenty of value. It would be hard to find another smartphone that matches the performance and features it delivers. Keep in mind that this pricing is for the festive season only, so there is a chance of it increasing by Rs. 1,000 or more, later on. The Realme C1 has a lot going for it such as excellent battery life, a relatively powerful SoC, a big display, and stylish looks. The 2GB of RAM does limit its multitasking ability a bit, and we would have liked an option with more internal storage.
Overall, the Realme C1 won't disappoint you, especially at this price, provided you're lucky enough to be able to snag one during the festive sales.
Realme C1 or Redmi 6A: Which is the best phone under Rs. 10,000? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.