realme 3 Pro Review — upgraded hardware, refined software
realme took the premium mid-range Snapdragon 710, the OnePlus 6T's 16MP Sony IMX519 sensor, a large battery and crams all that into a plastic body then applied their latest ColorOS 6 with all the latest camera features to make the realme 3 Pro a great mid-range device with a strong dose of bang-for-buck.
+ Speed lines adds a twist to dual-tone backs
+ Snapdragon 710 at this price point. 'nuff said.
+ Excellent battery life
+ VOOC Flash Charge 3.0 is a real treat
+ Great camera features
+ Great pricing for what it offers
- Chroma Boost doesn't work well all the time
The realme 3 was an affordable option for budget-conscious smartphone users, but came with a number of high-end features. It was still held back by its 720p display though, as well as a generally sub-par camera sensor, despite featuring the amazing Nightscape mode. Skip forward to the realme 3 Pro, which uses Qualcomm’s “premium mid-range” chipset and the 16MP camera sensor from the OnePlus 6T. Sounds good?
The yellow-on-grey theme seems to be a thing with realme now. I personally find the red-on-white scheme of the previous generation more interesting, but oh well. I am not going to spend my time staring at the box anyway.
realme welcomes you with a message after you lift off the top lid. A cool touch and hopefully realme continues this tradition in the hopes that one day realme will be a cult…of affordable smartphones.
In the box you get your usual clear TPU case, the standard set of documentation and the 20W VOOC Flash Charge 3.0 power brick. There is no earphones here though, presumably to lower costs.
realme offers a pretty premium looking facade on the front. It has quite a minimal chin for an a device of this caliber.
The back is where things get interesting. To highlight the realme 3 Pro’s focus on speed, the realme 3 Pro has “speed lines” that is supposed to evoke thoughts of the Le Mans. I am pretty sure the cars at the Le Mans don’t have racing lines on them, but hey, it does looks good. Our unit here is the Nitro Blue variant which sports a fancy color shift from blue at the top half and purple at the lower half. The ring around the camera is also there to highlight the improved camera chops on the realme 3 Pro, but realme circles the depth sensor instead of the actual 16MP Sony IMX519 camera for some reason.
Here’s a closer look at the fine lines. You would probably have to click on the image to see the lines properly.
While the realme 3 Pro’s smooth curves are pretty similar to the realme 3’s, realme went with a distinct matte frame on the realme 3 Pro for a contrasting look, as well as a more secure grip.
The bottom edge is where you will find the microUSB, 3.5mm port and the speaker grille. It seems like OPPO has yet to refine their VOOC Flash Charging technology to accommodate the USB-C connector, at least cost-effectively, so we are still getting customized microUSB connectors with their more affordable offerings with the technology.
|CPU/Chipset:||Snapdragon 710 (4 x Kryo 360 @ 2.2 GHz + 4 x Kryo 360 @ 1.7 GHz), 10nm FinFET|
|GPU:||Adreno 616 @ 500 MHz|
|Display:||6.3″ FHD+ (2340 x 1080) IPS LCD panel, dewdrop notch, 90.8% screen-to-body ratio|
|Storage:||128GB eMMC 5.1 (expandable via microSD card)|
16MP f/1.7 + 5MP f/2.4 depth sensor
Dual Pixel PDAF, 64MP Ultra HD mode, Portrait Mode, Expert Mode, HDR, Chroma Boost, Nightscape, 4K30, EIS
AI Beauty, HDR
|OS:||ColorOS 6 based on Android 9 Pie|
|Connectivity:||LTE Band 1/3/5/8/38/40/41
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 GHz, 5 GHz)
|Battery:||4045 mAh (non-removable)
20W VOOC Flash Charge 3.0
|Dimensions:||156.8 x 74.2 x 8.3 mm|
The realme 3 Pro offers a rather massive upgrade over the previous generation realme 3 Pro with a better chipset, a larger battery and a better 16MP camera sensor. It also has a faster charging with 20W VOOC Flash Charge 3.0 on board. realme did downgrade the RAM and storage, with just 6GB RAM and 128GB eMMC 5.1 storage on the realme 3 Pro, instead of 8GB RAM and 128GB UFS 2.1 storage on the older realme 2 Pro.
The realme 3 Pro is a lot faster than the realme 2 Pro in Antutu. It is however quite a bit slower than the Nokia 8.1 with the same chipset, so optimization, or a lack of it, could be at play here.
The realme 3 Pro apparently is well optimized for CPU performance though, with it besting all the other phones here in the single-core benchmark run.
The Snapdragon 616 in the realme 3 Pro is one of the highlights of the Snapdragon 710, which promises great gaming performance in the mid-range segment.
PCMark scores aren’t exactly good, but then again the benchmark has a track record of not giving the most accurate representation of the performance of a device.
Moving on to the battery life test, the realme 3 Pro does pretty well, but it seems like it could be further optimized as the Redmi Note 7 delivers a better result here despite featuring a 14nm chipset versus the realme 3 Pro’s 10nm Snapdragon 710.
When it comes to using in real life, ColorOS does not offer a way to monitor the screen-on-time. I managed to get over 30 hours away from the plug though with quite a lot of use in between, so the realme 3 Pro was more than sufficient for my use. When I finally had to recharge it, the VOOC Flash Charge power adapter gave me an additional 47% juice in just 30 minutes, which is unprecedented in this price range and this large a battery.
If you are into gaming on your smartphone, you would be pleased to know that the gaming performance on the realme 3 Pro is top notch, although it can’t offer the Extreme frame rate setting in PUBG Mobile even at the Smooth graphics preset. At Ultra, the frame rates are very consistent though. The device barely warms up even when gaming.
The screen is quite expansive with a minimal dewdrop notch. Not much of an upgrade from the realme 2 Pro, but colors appear bit more vivid here. Sharpness is decent, as it feature I like the matte frame as it does help with grip, and the curved back lets the realme 3 Pro sit very comfortably in the palm of my hands.
Going with a dewdrop notch on the realme 3 Pro also allowed realme to show you notifications. This is in stark contrast to the realme 2 Pro, which had a similar design but was limited by ColorOS 5.2. The 25MP selfie camera here also does double duty to allow for face unlocking, although if you want security you should always rely on the physical fingerprint scanner on the back of the realme 3 Pro.
Let’s take a closer look at ColorOS 6 on the realme 3 Pro. realme has pledged to upgrade all their devices to the latest version of their software, and it is pretty awesome. It looks a lot better than ColorOS 5, with a much more modern outlook. And thanks to the more-than-sufficient firepower under the hood, my experience was a very fluid one without any stutters or lags to report. Most of the upgrades are in the camera department though.
The camera UI is pretty basic, which is what you want. And instead of being forced to slide through endless modes to reach the specific mode you want, realme cleverly fits the additional modes into a drop down menu, with the Video, Photo and Portrait modes being the only ones you have to slide to get.
In between the software improvements and hardware upgrades, the results are pretty good in this price segment. Images turn out pretty well, and once you turn on Nightscape mode, you can take awesome low light shots as well. While the realme 3 was quite hard to stabilize, realme seems to have worked on their EIS algorithm on the realme 3 Pro, making it much easier to take shots. The Chroma Boost option is a bit more hit-or-miss though, over-exposing the greens in almost every shot. In general, I would leave it on though, as most of the shots turn out a lot more appealing with it on. Or you could just take photos with it off and edit in the vibrance and saturation later, but ain’t nobody got time for that. You can check out the full quality images on Google Photos.
Is the realme 3 Pro a massive upgrade over the realme 3? Yes it is. The camera is much better, despite sharing the same software. The hardware itself is also a huge upgrade, with a Snapdragon 710 instead of a Helio P60 under the hood. This is the true successor to the realme 2 Pro. The price also reflects the realme 3 Pro’s ambitions, slotting in right at the same price point as the realme 2 Pro, with the variant we tested priced at just RM1099.
Does the shift back to eMMC 5.1 irk us, considering that we were feted to UFS 2.1 in the realme 2 Pro? To be honest, it does slightly. Slower storage does usually translate to a poorer user experience, but thankfully we didn’t encounter that here. With that said, the realme 3 Pro has so many upgrades across the board that we are almost inclined to overlook it. You get awesome battery life, great performance and a pretty good camera. What’s there to complain?
Our thanks to realme Malaysia for provisioning the realme 3 Pro for our review purposes.