2 minute review
Realme has proven to be the brand to watch in 2022 as the GT 2 Pro and 9 Pro Plus bring the best features to the mid-range market. Now, it looks like the company has set its sights on budget phones as well.
When writing this Realme C35 review, we were surprised by how much it felt like a mid-range device. It was quick to use, has a more attractive design, and took much better photos than a lot of other phones at this price.
And it comes at a low price. The Realme C35 sits amongst the company’s ultra-low-end range of devices, phones you wouldn’t normally write about at home. Something can be said about the C31 as well, which was launched alongside the C35; But this high-end phone, while very affordable, is an amazing achievement for the price you pay.
The Realme C35 will easily find its way into our list of the best cheap phones, and the main reason for that is the 50MP main camera. It uses Sony’s IMX766 sensor, which is seen in a few phones right now (in particular, Realme devices), and is great for shooting in low light.
The Realme C35 captures a lot of color and light, in well-lit or night scenes, which puts it ahead of most other budget phones — sure, it doesn’t compete in the same leagues as the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, but it’s surprising enough to be able to tell what’s Present in the pictures due to the performance of other budget cell phones.
It’s a shame the phone doesn’t offer much more — no ultra-wide camera, nor a range of modes you might expect, like portrait mode on the front camera or a document scanner. However, at this price, you cannot expect the moon.
We were surprised at how fast the Realme C35 was, especially when you see the Unisoc processor mentioned in the specs list – these are usually rather weak – and the fact that budget devices are usually noticed for their sluggish performance.
Realme looks good for everyday use, whether you’re switching between apps or browsing social media. Sure, you’re not likely to have a great experience playing high-end games, but this device is not aimed at those for whom gaming is a priority.
As with the majority of budget phones, the Realme C35 will last a long time between charges – closer to two days than one, in our experience. Sure, charging isn’t particularly fast, but how many more affordable devices do that?
From the images in this review, you will notice that the Realme C35 is definitely a premium-looking phone, and it has a glossy green color that Realme calls Glowing Green (which is also available in a black version). While we found it attractive, whether or not you will depend on your taste. However, since the C35 is fairly large, with flat-angled edges, the phone isn’t very comfortable in the hand.
Every compliment we gave to the Realme C35 was followed by a qualification or a simple criticism. However, these negatives are very easy to overlook given the price of the phone. Realme is a viable alternative to mid-range mobile phones, one that far exceeds its weight. In fact, it should be the first port of call for anyone looking for a new phone at this price.
Realme C35 price and availability
- It comes in 64GB and 128GB storage versions
- Starting at £149 (about $200, AU$260)
- Not for sale in the US
Realme C35 Specifications
Weight: 189 grams
Dimensions: 164.4 x 75.6 x 8.1 mm
display size: 6.6 inch
Accuracy: 1080 x 2400
Slices: Unisoc Tiger T616
storage: 64/128 GB
back camera: 50 MP + 2 MP + 0.3 MP
front camera: 8 mega pixel
Pre-installed software: Android 11
battery: 5000 mA
Shipping: 18 watt wired
Realme C35 went on sale in April 2022, and it was revealed alongside the much less expensive C31.
The phone was released in the UK, but not the US or Australia. The former is no surprise, as Realme doesn’t sell its phones in the US, but we’ll likely see it debut in Australia sometime in the near future.
The phone costs £149 (about AU$200, AU$260) for 64GB storage and £169 (about $220, AU$300) for 128GB storage. For those who take a lot of shots, we recommend the latter; A slight price increase to double the storage space is a good deal.
The price makes the C35 the most expensive Realme C phone we’ve seen. However, the price is still more affordable than anything from the company’s main line of numbered devices, or most competitors from Xiaomi’s Redmi or Motorola’s Moto G line.
Realme C35 design
- Attractive green color
- The angular design feels rough in the hand
- USB-C port, headphone jack, side-mounted fingerprint scanner
From afar, the Realme C35’s bright glowing green might catch your eye – that is, unless you’re looking at the black version of the phone instead.
Up close, there’s a more standard-looking phone, with a USB-C port and 3.5mm headphone jack along the bottom, a volume key on the left edge, a power button with a fingerprint scanner along the right edge, and a rectangular camera sticking out from its plastic back.
The fingerprint scanner was a bit moody in use; But we taped the same finger twice, which was a hack that made it work.
In the hand, the phone proves to be a bit annoying. Its large size and flat edges create a completely angular device, which is especially uncomfortable to hold in the hand. As such, we recommend picking up a case.
Realme C35 screen
- 6.6 inch Full HD LCD screen
- good price
- It looks a little bleak
We were surprised by the C35’s FHD (1080 x 2400) screen resolution, given that a lot of budget phones opt for the higher resolution. This means that you can use streaming services or play games at their usual resolution. Measuring 6.6 inches across the board feels rather large, with the surface interrupted by a small amount.
The resolution is impressive, but it’s lower than the LCD technology and the maximum brightness is just 600 nits. Admittedly, these are price-class features, but they do mean colors are less vibrant and the screen is a bit weaker than we’d like.
Sometimes — not often, but sometimes — we’ve had issues with displaying the screen on brighter settings.
Realme C35 cameras
- The 50MP main camera is good for bright and colorful shots
- Macro and depth sensor but without ultra-fast shooting or telephoto
- A fit-for-purpose selfie camera
One of the most notable features of Realme C35 is the main camera. This 50MP f/1.8 unit uses the Sony IMX766 sensor found on a few phones, and it’s surprisingly competent.
It’s great for enjoying the light, and it has two benefits: it picks up color well, and it also captures more detail in low light and night settings. Sure, you might not shoot iPhone-level night photos with Realme, but we found the results surprisingly impressive for a phone at this price.
Thanks to this sensor, the Realme C35 is one of the best budget camera phones – but it is “one of” rather than “” of two small problems.
First, other cameras are not available. There’s a 2MP f/2.4 macro and a 0.3MP f/2.8 depth sensor, but it doesn’t add much to the equation. We’d have liked to see an ultra-wide camera to offer some versatility.
Second, the lack of HDR — or anything like it in the AI department — makes similar colors seem unrecognizable in some shots.
If you head into the camera app’s modes menu, you’ll find a fairly good selection including Night, Pro, and Panorama. However, there are one or two noticeable absences. There’s no document scanning mode, and you can’t actually take portraits with the front camera.
The selfie snapper itself is an 8MP f/2.0 camera, which is perfectly fit for purpose, capturing bright, clear photos. But don’t expect generous levels of detail or accurate color reproduction – or portrait mode, as we’ve already mentioned.
One of the odd things — or perhaps a feature — of the Camera app is that the photos looked much better once they were taken than they did in the camera preview. While we are used to a degree of inconsistency, with the Realme C35 the difference was obvious. The results were at least better, not worse.
Video recording is up to 1080p at 30fps, which fits the purpose of any clip captured for social media.
Realme C35 Performance and Specifications
- Unisoc T616 chip with 4 GB RAM
- Works well for the price
- 4G connection only
The ‘brains’ of the Realme C35 process is the Unisoc Tiger T616 chipset. If you know a lot about mobile technology, the Unisoc name will likely trigger thoughts of slow and sluggish phones; But we didn’t find the C35 too bad.
The phone was fairly quick to navigate, both for simple tasks like scrolling between menus and when using social media apps and checking emails. Sure, this is a “fast budget phone”, as opposed to a “fast premium phone” – but in our tests, Realme didn’t crash and didn’t feel too slow to use.
This is not a phone for gamers. High-end games will have a hard time running on this phone, so don’t expect to play PUBG Mobile, ramp up the graphics to Ultra mode and expect to have a good time. If your playing habits include Angry Birds, Candy Crush, and Pokémon Go, you’ll be fine.
The phone comes with 4GB of RAM and either 64GB or 128GB of storage. If you want your phone to see you in some time with quite a few apps installed, we recommend choosing the latter. The C35 is a 4G only phone, but at this price it shouldn’t come as a surprise.
- Android 11 base
- Realme UI is placed over the top
- Update schedule unknown
The Realme C35 runs Android 11, with Realme UI placed on top. This is basically a design change, since many Chinese brands like to use their own fork of popular open source software. However, in the case of Realme UI, the menus actually look very similar to stock Android.
The result is a clean-looking menu layout, whether you’re in the main menu, app drawer, or swipe down from the top of the quick settings menu. Plus, there’s actually less bloatware (or pre-installed apps) than we usually see.
Note that Android 11 isn’t the latest version as of the Realme C35 – most phone brands are a bit choppy in updating their budget phones – so we’ll have to wait and see if Realme continues to support the device.
Realme C35 battery life
- 5000 mAh battery
- It lasts for a day easily, sometimes for two days
- 18W charging is somewhat slow
Realme C35 comes with a large 5000 mAh battery. As such, the combination of the 60Hz LCD display and the lack of 5G connectivity made the C35 one of the longest-running smartphones we’ve tested recently.
The phone easily navigates through a day of use, and generally makes it to the second day as well. This included a lot of social media, photography, and the occasional additional app download.
The charging speed is 18W, which is definitely not fast; It will take over an hour to fully power up the phone. This phone is for those who charge their device overnight, not during the morning shower.
Should I buy Realme C35?
Buy it if…
Don’t buy it if…
If, for some reason, this Realme C35 review isn’t convinced that it’s a good enough phone, here are a few other options you might want to consider.
First revised April 2022