Realme C15 review

Fresh from wowing us with the realme 6, a mid-range smartphone that is causing ripples in the local market by offering a good balance between features and price, something the Transsion Group duo Infinix and Tecno have successfully been doing for years, realme is back with yet another banger: the realme C15.

Like the realme 6 does in the next smartphone segment after the one it plays in, the realme C15, coupled with the rest of the siblings in the C series like the C3 and C11, which are also available in the Kenyan market, is out to upset the status quo and cause as much havoc as it can.

For the customer like me and you, however, all of this is to our gain. While we haven’t been lacking in options with the presence of almost similar offerings from Oppo, realme’s former parent, Huawei, Xiaomi, Tecno, Infinix and Samsung, realme brings with it the advantages of fresh blood. And it shows in devices like the realme C15.

Design-wise, there’s not much that stands out and there’s not much that makes you not like the device. You get the now-standard tear-drop notch on the front, the only disruptor in what is essentially a plain look punctuated by thin bezels and a slightly larger chin area. On the right side, the volume rocker and the power button are all clicky as you’d want them to while the left side is left for the double SIM slots and the single microSD card slot. The top side is clean while the bottom packs the usual suspects: 3.5mm headphone jack, power port and speaker.

The choice of a microUSB port for power and data transfer is a curious one, though. While it’s not really rare for devices in our market to feature such, it waters down realme’s credentials as an out-and-out industry gamechanger.

The matte finish on the back, with some slight perforations to improve grip is really good and keeps the paw prints that we have bemoaned on devices with the faux-glass (plastic) design like the Tecno Camon 16 away. Needing a case either to improve grip or keep smudges at bay is the least of your worries when using the realme C15. Out of the box, it’s good to go.

What isn’t watered down and is toe to toe with realme’s rivals in the market, however, is its 6.5-inch IPS LCD panel which is as vivid as what we’ve encountered on realme’s more pricey offerings but also equally poor when out and about – it’s brightness isn’t on the higher side of things. Still, from a pure user perspective, there isn’t much not to like about the display. It’s a HD+ panel, yes, but you don’t feel like you are missing out on much. Also, this, coupled with the beefy battery pack on the back, must be one of the key ingredients of the incredible battery life I have been experiencing.

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There is not much to write home about the realme C15’s cameras, especially the ones at the back.

Sure, at the back you get a set of hyped quad sensors but they deliver just what you’d expect of a device in this price range. Nothing out of the world and not much disappointing, either. The latter only comes in in low light scenarios where it struggles to match its performance in ideal lighting conditions.

The front-facing camera, however, is very good, only bogged down by the slow shutter which means a little patience needs to be exercised if your selfies are supposed to pop as you’d want them. Oh, and you’d need to remember to turn off that beauty filter which is on by default. Portrait mode on the selfie camera is surprisingly very good, something that we don’t see being implemented consistently this good even on smartphones that cost more – even double – than the realme C15.

The realme C15 I’ve had with me only packs 4GB RAM and 64GB of onboard storage. Not particularly surprising given its price but a step down from the 8GB RAM, 128GB storage combo that we have had to work with over the last couple of months while reviewing various mid-range smartphones. That notwithstanding, I found the realme C15’s performance acceptable. I didn’t encounter any stutter and lagging but I must admit that, given my wanderlust, I was alarmed that I was filling up the storage very quickly. This is where the 128GB model, which goes for Kshs 3,000 more, comes in. Kshs 3,000 is worth it for double the storage that you get.

The dismal performance when taking low-light shots also carries over into other things like using the face unlock feature at night or in lowly lit instances: it struggles and mostly fails. Not exactly unexpected but we have seen other devices (to be fair to the C15, they are mostly costlier) fare much better. The fingerprint sensor, located at the back, however, always saves the day.

With the realme C15, one gets the standard realme treatment: realme UI. What I liked about it on the C15 is that the intrusive ads and pop-ups I bemoaned in the realme 6 are fewer and fewer on the C15. Maybe it’s out of the realization that it has less power and that MediaTek Helio G35, good as it is on the device, needs to be singularly focused on delivering the best user experience possible and not pushing hidden agendas in the background. Everything else is pretty much standard. Nothing out of the ordinary. The standard near-stock Android experience but better tuned. You even get access to HeyTap Cloud, Oppo’s cloud service.

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There are added features like the ability to fire up the split-screen mode and run two applications side by side, clone apps now that the likes of WhatsApp are dragging their feet and Game space which tunes the device to better handle one’s gaming needs and offers a central place to manage the games.

The power button also doubles up as the Google Assistant button for those that cherish the Assistant’s handiness.

The number one standout feature on the realme C15, for me, is the device’s endurance. It lasts and lasts. 2 days of battery life are guaranteed when using the realme C15. It is not a surprise, though, given that it has a 6,000mAh battery unit but it is refreshing, nevertheless, to experience it. This is the device that you take with you on a long trip and not have to worry about balancing between documenting your trip and needing to stay closer to a wall socket or fishing out your power bank. The only problem? The trickle charging isn’t for the faint-hearted. You need at least 3 hours to get it fully charged and there is no way, at least as I experienced it, to speed up things.

The good

  • Long battery life.
  • It’s a plastic build through and through but it is so well executed it ends up being one of its main advantages as far as handling goes, in my opinion.
  • Good selfie camera.

The bad

  • Sound

The lowdown

The realme C15 is a good follow up to the C11 that realme offered for a few weeks before its introduction into the local market. It’s an even better upgrade to anyone who’s used the realme C3. It brings out the best of realme’s entry-level Android experience managing to successfully balance performance and expectations. Features and pricing. However, it is threatened by stiff competition in the market; the devices that potential buyers will probably be looking at before or after checking it out. Its game-oriented processor gives it a leg up but its so-so cameras and the need for more storage mean that you still need to be looking over your shoulder.

The realme C15 is going for Kshs 17,000 for the base (64GB) model and Kshs 20,000 for the 128GB model.

Have something that you believe I need to have a look at? Hit me up: echenze [at] androidkenya.com