Realme seems to be all set for the upcoming festive season. The vendor has been launching smartphones left, right, and centre. Soon after taking the wraps off the mid-range Realme 9i 5G (review), the company introduced a new smartphone in India called the Realme C33. This handset is a budget offering, with basic specifications and priced well under Rs 10,000. We decided to take the phone out for a spin to see how well the Realme C33 performs in real life, and this is what our findings were. Read on for the full review:
The Realme C33 tries to offer a quality budget smartphone experience with its design, display, and performance. However, the handset’s camera and battery life leave something to be desired.
- The Realme C33 looks a lot like the Realme 9i 5G. The handset has the same flat-edged design, with a glittery back and no camera island. However, the Realme C33 doesn’t have the same CD-like reflection as the number-series phone. Instead, it flaunts the ‘Boundless Sea design’ that reflects a pattern with multi-colour beams of lights when light hits the surface at an angle. In Realme’s words, the design resembles water flowing in the sun. While that didn’t look like the case to me, I must credit Realme for the C33’s distinctive design. Be that as it may, the handset registers a severe amount of smudges, and the Sandy Gold colour variant sent to me for review wasn’t to my liking. The C33 is also available in Aqua Blue and Night Sea colours, which I believe would look better in real life.
- Moving on, the Realme C33 comes in a plastic frame that does creak a bit when pressure is applied, but it doesn’t flex whatsoever. Overall, the phone looks quite sturdy. Apart from this, the handset is also very comfortable to wield, thanks to the right-angle bezels and relatively lightweight design. The phone weighs just 191 grams, despite its 5,000mAh battery. Furthermore, the handset comes in at just 8.3mm in thickness. Around the back, the Realme C33 has three cut-outs for dual cameras and an LED flash. The cameras protrude slightly to make the entire thing wobble when lying flat on the surface. There is also ‘Matrix AI Camera’ text etched next to the camera layout. As for the fingerprint scanner, it is on the right spine of the phone – embedded in the power button, along with a volume rocker, while the micro-USB port, speaker grille, 3.5mm headphone jack and a microphone are all on the bottom edge.
- The Realme C33 sports a standard 6.2-inch LCD screen with HD+ (720 x 1,600p) resolution, 60Hz refresh rate, and a waterdrop notch. The screen is good to look at as it produces vivid colours and ample details, with decent viewing angles. However, I found its brightness on the lower side. While the display gets adequately bright with 400 nits of brightness, the outdoor visibility under direct sunlight can be a struggle. Meanwhile, the handset is Widevine L3 certified, which means it can only stream SD content from your favourite streaming platform such as Netflix.
- The Realme smartphone is powered by the Unisoc T612 chipset, which has a maximum clock speed of 1.8GHz. The chipset is based on a 12nm manufacturing process and has as many as eight cores. Speaking of its performance, it doesn’t disappoint with low-level tasks such as swiping around the screens, opening apps and switching between apps. I even tried multi-tasking while keeping a bunch of Chrome tabs open in the background, and the handset pulled it off without much effort. With that being said, the Realme C33 struggles quite a bit while handling power-hungry tasks such as gaming. A half-an-hour of Asphalt 9 on the handset resulted in heating issues and some frame drops. This isn’t new for a budget smartphone.
- In any case, the device gets respectable scores of 2,09,197 on Antutu and 1,409 in the multi-core test on Geekbench 5. The scores are marginally better than the T612’s predecessor T610, which can be found in quite a few budget smartphones. The Realme C33 is available in a couple of configurations: 3GB RAM + 32GB storage and 4GB RAM + 64GB storage. While the RAM isn’t expandable, you can increase the storage by adding a microSD card (up to 1TB), for which there is a dedicated slot in the phone.
- The cameras are not the forte of Realme C33, but they do a decent job for the price, at least in daylight. The handset packs a 50MP AI + 0.3MP dual camera setup at the back and a 5MP front-facing camera for selfies and video calling. Photos from the device definitely had some details, while the selfies had good facial detailing. However, the colours looked saturated with HDR and the skin tones were a bit off. Additionally, the images could have done better with some sharpness. Be that as it may, the cameras’ shutter and focus speeds were relatively fast in ample lighting.
- The nighttime photography of the phone needs improvement. Not only the images were grainy and underexposed, but the details looked underprocessed as well. While the C33 has a night mode, it doesn’t do much to retain the highlights. The handset also has portrait mode, with the ability to adjust the bokeh effect manually, but it was mostly hit-and-miss.
- The phone has a single bottom-firing speaker, which is loud but lacks audio clarity at maximum volume. The side-mounted fingerprint scanner works fine, and so does the handset’s 4G LTE and Wi-Fi. The latter, for the uninitiated, only supports the 2.4GHz band, which offers good range but not speed. Software-wise, the Realme C33 runs Android 12-based Realme UI S Edition out of the box. The S edition is a stripped-down version of the regular Realme UI for low-end phones. That said, the user experience is not very different. Yes, there is bloatware, but you can get rid of most of it after setting up the device. Apart from that, the software is intuitive and offers colourful UI and app icons along with a handful of other features such as dark-colour themes, smart reply, double tap to wake up the screen, lift to check phone, and pick up, flip or shake the device to control relevant applications. Unfortunately, the handset doesn’t have a built-in call or screen recording feature.
- The Realme C33 is driven by a 5,000mAh battery, which should last you for at least a day with normal usage between chargers. That said, the handset netted an average score of 8 hours and 9 minutes on PC Mark’s battery test. The device comes with a 10W charger, which takes around 3 hours for a full charge. This might feel like a long time, but 10W is the usual charging standard on devices in this price bracket.
The Realme C33 is priced in India at Rs 8,999 for the 3GB RAM variant, while the 4GB RAM option costs Rs 9,999. Is it worth buying? The Realme C33 is arguably the same as the Realme C31, which costs Rs 200 less. The latter has even got a dedicated depth and macro sensor. However, where Realme C33 excels is its design and slightly better primary camera. I personally would have liked the handset to offer better battery life, but that’s not the case. Despite what the PCMark battery test says, the Realme C33 can last only a day on regular usage. But, it is still not enough knowing that there are phones on the market such as the Infinix Hot 12 Play (review), which can last you for more than a day.
All said and done, if you are looking for a budget device with an eye-catching design, decent performance, and a nice screen, you can consider the Realme C33.
Expert’s rating: 3.5 / 5
- Good screen
- Attractive design
- Decent performance
- Average battery life
- Underwhelming cameras