Realme has been trying to take the low-end segment of Indian and some Asian markets by storm recently, with the release of four phones within the last year alone. Just months after the release of the Realme 1, the company announced both its successor, the Realme 2, and a cheaper variant of the same a month later, the Realme C1. We've got our hands on both, so read on to find out which one you should buy.

First, here's a comparison of the two in terms of specs:

Specs

Realme 2

Realme C1

CPU

Snapdragon 450

GPU

Adreno 506

Display

6.2”, 1520 x 720p (19:9). 271ppi
IPS LCD
88.8% screen-to-body ratio

Operating System

ColorOS 5.1 (based on Android 8.1

RAM

3GB/4GB

2GB

Storage

32GB/64GB + 256GB microSD expansion

16GB + 256GB microSD expansion

Camera

Rear: 13MP + 2MP, LED Flash
Front: 8MP

Rear: 13MP + 2MP, LED Flash
Front: 5MP

Video

1080p, 720p

Camera Features

AI Beauty, Front Camera HDR, Bokeh Mode

Battery

4,230mAh

Security

Face unlock
Rear fingerprint sensor

Face unlock

Connectivity

Audio: 3.5mm socket
Bluetooth: 4.2
Cellular: Dual SIM | 2G/3G/4G
Location: GPS, A-GPS
USB: microUSB
Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g/n, WiFi Direct, hotspot

Dimensions & Weight

156.2 x 75.6 x 8.22mm
168g

Colours

Diamond Black, Diamond Red

Electric Blue, Electric Black

Price

₹9,499 ($133) / ₹10,990 ($154)

₹7,999 ($112)

Design and Display

As you can see from the spec sheet, the two phones are incredibly similar. In fact, a lot of their specifications are exactly the same, including their dimensions and weight. The screen on the front is also the same 6.2-inch IPS LCD panel, with a resolution of 1520 by 720 pixels and an aspect ratio of 19:9. Both phones also sport a notch, and at this point, it's harder to find a phone without a notch than one with it. The bezels on the side and the front of both phones are small, they do both have a significant chin. Let's not forget that these are extremely cheap phones, so their screen-to-body ratio of 88.8% is quite respectable, even if not industry leading.

Their resolution is a little on the low side at only 720p and that, combined with the large 6.2-inch screen means that images are not quite as sharp as they should be, but it's not too bad, either. Unfortunately, where things became really unbearable was with the myriad of issues I encountered with the screen on the Realme 2.

It seems Realme's quality control may need some fixing, as the screen of the unit I received exhibited a number of defects in my less than one week of use. For one, it would start randomly flickering with a grid of black pixels splattered across the display. This was accompanied by the appearance of large vertical black bars on the screen. This first started out as just one bar in the middle, but soon progressed to almost the entire screen being filled with them. The issues are however intermittent and seem to come and go.

You can clearly see the black lines if you look at the bottom half of the phone on the right in the picture below. I also had issues with the screen turning off during use. All of this made my time with the Realme 2 miserable and meant I didn't really use it for a very long time before swapping to its cheaper sibling.

Ironically, the cheaper sibling of the Realme 2 fared much better in this regard, and the panel on the C1 exhibited no issues during my use.

Quality issues aside, the only real differentiator between the two phones in terms of design is the back, which features a stunning diamond-shaped pattern with shifting colours on the Realme 2 underneath a faux-glass plastic back. The C1 has the same plastic back, but it has a much plainer, more standard matte black finish underneath. That diamond pattern on the Realme 2 is quite a sight to behold, as its colour shifts from black and to blue depending on the angle you're looking from, and it's just one of the best-looking finishes I've seen. That this is also one of the cheaper smartphones you can buy today makes it all the more impressive.

The Realme 2 also features an oblong-shaped fingerprint sensor on the upper back, something the Realme C1 lacks as you're relegated to only using a password or the front camera's facial unlock feature for security. The placement of the chrome-tinted Realme logo and the dual camera setup on the two is the same.

Hardware & Software

That dual camera setup on the two phones is identical, with each sporting a 13MP main sensor plus a 2MP depth module. This means both phones are capable of taking portrait mode photos, and the edge detection was mostly okay in the few test pictures I took.

The battery on both phones is a whopping 4,320mAh and that, paired with the Snapdragon 450 powering both phones, means that you can get two days of battery life with ease. That chipset also places both phones in the low end of the smartphone segment in terms of performance and that's reflected in daily usage. Some hiccups here and there, but you can live with it just fine.

The Realme C1 comes with only 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage, which for a phone in 2018 is most definitely not enough. My WhatsApp backup alone takes up almost 3GB. The Realme 2, on the other hand, comes with either 3 or 4GB of RAM and a much more acceptable 32 or 64GB of internal storage. Both phones support microSD cards up to 256GB, but with the C1, that might be a necessity rather than a luxury. Both phones also support dual-SIM functionality, with the SIM tray having space for both the two SIMs and the microSD card so you don't have to choose between the two.

Both phones also run ColorOS 5.1, which is based on Android 8.1 Oreo. That means you're running OPPO's custom skin and lose out on features like an app drawer and so on. It will take some getting used to if you're coming from a stock Android experience, but you will eventually get used to it; there'll just be a little culture shock at the start.

Conclusion

For about ₹1,500 ($21) more, the Realme 2 ($133/$154) provides a much better-looking design, a fingerprint sensor, and more RAM and storage than its cheaper sibling ($112). In almost all other aspects, the two phones are almost identical and, therefore, I would have been more than willing to give my recommendation to the Realme 2. The two phones are also priced extremely competitively and offer superb battery capacity compared to similar offerings from other companies but, alas, the issues I experienced with its screen in less than a day of use leave me uneasy with the idea of recommending them to a buyer.

I couldn't find too many reports of similar issues with the Realme 2 on the internet, so that is a hopeful sign and maybe my unit was one of the few bad apples every phone maker has to suffer from. However, the experience has me a little weary of the Realme brand, overall. If you are looking to buy a smartphone in the low-end of the smartphone market, you'd be hard pressed to find better value for money in the $100-150 range. As such, you can either cross your fingers and hope you are more lucky with your unit than I was, or you can consider something like Xiaomi's Mi A2 Lite (₹14,500 / $203), though that phone is also significantly more expensive.

Update: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Realme was a sub-brand of OPPO, which, as of July 31 this year, was no longer true. The article has been amended to correct this mistake.

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