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The Realme 3 is an impressive budget phone for India

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Big screen, tiny notch, big battery, low price

realme 3 Photo by Sam Byford / The Verge

Last year Oppo launched its Realme budget sub-brand in India, taking inspiration from Xiaomi’s Redmi in both name and business model. The strategy seems to have been successful. Now independent, Realme was India’s third biggest smartphone brand over the Diwali shopping season, according to Counterpoint Research, while IDC figures put it in fourth place for the fourth quarter of 2018 — one place ahead of Oppo itself.

Now Realme is launching its first 2019 device, the Realme 3, and it’s another impressive exercise in managing to bring advanced features down to a super-low price point. For comparison, the Realme 1 only came out last May and didn’t even have a fingerprint sensor. But the 3 could easily pass for a flagship-level device at first glance.

Key to this is the 6.22-inch LCD with a “waterdrop” notch, which first showed up in Oppo’s F9 and later made its way to the OnePlus 6T. I still like the way it looks, even in this age of hole-punch displays and sliding cameras. The “chin” at the bottom of the screen is a little larger than you’d expect on a flagship device but it isn’t a big deal, especially not for this category. While the screen isn’t going to blow you away with its 720p resolution or passable viewing angles, it’s fine in regular use.

realme 3

Around the back there’s a smooth curved frame with a flashy gradient interrupted only by the fingerprint sensor and vertically aligned camera module. The primary camera is 13 megapixels and the secondary sensor is 2 megapixels; Realme is touting an AI-powered ‘Nightscape’ mode, though I wouldn’t expect miracles.

Other specs include a MediaTek Helio P70 processor (P60 outside India), a large 4,230mAh battery, a 13-megapixel selfie camera, and up to 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. The Realme 3 runs Oppo’s ColorOS 6.0 based on Android 9 Pie, which interestingly enough moves the company’s software a little bit closer to “stock” Android with standard swiping gestures and an app drawer.

The Realme 3 will be priced at Rs. 8,999 (~$125) for a model with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, while Rs. 10,999 (~$155) gets you twice the storage and an extra gigabyte of RAM. That’s aggressive pricing, undercutting strong competitors like Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 7. The Realme 3 should be available on Flipkart shortly.