In the sea of smartphones where almost every phone looks alike, Oppo had done something novel. The first-ever smartphone in its budget yet youth-centric sub-brand, Realme, has a unique diamond cut 3D design at the rear. Embedded within the real glass, it reflects light in the same way a diamond does and looks different from every angle.
Honestly, this bold design took me down the memory lane - it reminded me of the HTC Touch Diamond launched way back in 2008, which also had a diamond-cut design on its plastic rear. But the all-glass body of the Realme 1 looks spectacular. It even packs in a 6inch display in a 7.8mm sleek body, without making it too big to hold. It has a soft finish that makes it a little slippery.
The power button on the right edge and the volume controls on the left are accessible even when the device is used with just one hand. There isn't any need to stretch the finger to unlock the device as the phone doesn't have a fingerprint scanner. Instead, Oppo has opted for a face unlock feature, which instantly unlocks the phone using the front camera. It isn't secure as Apple's FaceID is and the phone can be unlocked with closed eyes or even a photograph.
Complementing this stunning design is the neat user interface. I am not a big fan of custom UI and prefer using stock Android. However, the Color OS based on Android 8.1.0 made me feel at home. While all the apps were placed across pages on the home screen, what I really liked was the customisable smart assistant page.
Other than having shortcuts for the most used apps, it acted as a dashboard displaying my upcoming appointment, the number of steps walked and distance covered, weather update and more. For those who regularly shop online, there is a special feature that fetches all the information from various sources to show the update on the order. The search bar on the top of this smart assistant page came handy when looking for apps hidden under the folders.
I mostly used this phone for checking emails, managing my social networking accounts, capturing images, browsing the web, checking maps for directions and watching videos along with calling and texting. While the Realme 1 managed all this with ease, there were a few things I was a little apprehensive about. Firstly, the screen legibility isn't very good. While everything on the 6inch display with 2160x1080p resolution looks sharp, the display legibility was poor under bright lights - both indoor and outdoor.
Another thing Oppo could have improved was the camera optics. The rear camera on the Redmi Note 5 and the dual camera setup on the Redmi Note 5 Pro and the Asus Max Pro M1 are superb. And the one on the Realme 1 falls short. Oppo has added a 13-megapixel rear camera and an 8-megapixel front camera, which using software captures depth-of-field in images. While the camera managed to blur the background in the selfie image, there wasn't any depth effect in the one captured using the rear camera.
The images looked good on the phone's display but when zoomed in, the pictures had noise and edges were bleeding. The camera app had a neat interface and switching between the modes was a breeze. There is even a manual setting mode too. The beautification setting makes the face look clean by removing all the marks and blemishes.
The overall performance of the Realme 1 was just fine. Even with multiple apps running in the background, there wasn't any lag. Available with the starting price of Rs 8,990, our review unit was the top-of-the-line variant. Powered by the Helio P60 processor with dual-core AI processor, our review unit had 6GB of RAM. Of the 128GB internal storage, 106GB was user accessible, which can be further expanded using a dedicated memory card slot. There are two dedicated 4G nano SIM slots too. It packs in a 3140mAh battery that lasted me a day.
Oppo's Realme 1 is a great attempt in the budget phone category, but there is still a long way to go. Over the years, Xiaomi and recently Asus has raised the bar by offering the best in its price category. Realme seems to be on the right track but would need a few improvements going forward. You can consider the Realme 1 for its looks but if you are looking at the overall performer with a superb camera, than the Redmi Note 5, Redmi Note 5 Pro from Xiaomi and the Max Pro M1 from Asus are worth considering.
Price: Rs 13,990
Plus: Design, Battery, Performance
Minus: Display legibility, Camera