Realme C21 Review: Android on a Budget

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When the Realme C12 was once launched alongside the C15 final year, the two smartphones looked very similar on paper and yet commanded very different prices. In 2021, the manufacturer has brought down the prices of both smartphones’ successors. The Realme C25 (Review) has a faster MediaTek Helio G70 processor, while the Realme C12’s successor, the C21, now starts at an entry-level price of Rs. 7,999.

It is going to appear to be an appealing price, but Realme has shuffled things a bit. The Realme C21 offers a smaller 5,000mAh battery (instead of 6,000mAh on the C12) and replaces the 2-megapixel monochrome camera with a 2-megapixel macro one. On a regular basis performance has not changed, because the Realme C21 sticks to the same MediaTek Helio G35 processor as the C12. Alternatively, the Realme C21 still offers a decent Android experience for anyone on a tight budget, so long as you do not demand too much from it.

Realme C21 price in India

The Realme C21 is priced in India at Rs. 7,999 for the base 3GB RAM + 32GB storage variant, and at Rs. 8,999 for the 4GB RAM + 64GB storage option. Both variants are to be had in Cross Blue and Cross Black finishes. There’s also the Realme C20, which is almost identical with the exception of that it is to be had only with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, and has a unmarried rear camera. It is priced at Rs. 6,999.

Realme C21 design

The Realme C21 looks relatively very similar to the C12 relating to overall design, with all three cameras and the LED flash placed neatly within a square-shaped camera module. The smartphone’s body is made of plastic and features a texture with fine grooves at the back, which offers a good grip.

Thanks to this matte finish, the back panel did not pick up fingerprints, and remained smudge-free with day by day use. At 190g, the C21 does not feel as bulky as the Realme C25 (209g), and this is chiefly down to the smaller 5,000mAh battery.

The plastic body’s texture with fine grooves offers good grip

 

A minor design detail that has changed since Realme C12 is the placement of the unmarried speaker. It now sits on the back at the behind left corner, next to the Realme logo. There’s a tiny dimple next to the grille that are supposed to prevent sound from getting blocked when the phone is placed on a flat surface.

Realme C21 specifications and software

Lots of the specifications, save for the battery and the cameras, have remained the same as on the Realme C12. The C21 has a MediaTek Helio G35 processor, which is commonly used by several manufacturers in this price segment. There’s 3GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage on the base variant, or 4GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage on the higher-end variant. Both assist you to add up to 256GB of storage the use of a microSD card in the committed slot.

Unlike the Realme C25, which shipped running Realme UI 2.0, the C21 offers Realme UI 1.0, which is based on Android 10. It’s kind of old, but the software appears moderately clean except for a couple of Realme apps such as HeyFun (for quick informal games), HeyTap Cloud (cloud storage), and Realme Link (to connect to the company’s IoT products). These apps can also be uninstalled whether you do not want them.

The Realme C21 does not run the most recent Realme UI 2.0 software, but still offers basic customisation options

 

Despite the absence of Realme UI 2.0, basic customisation options such as changing the system font, icon shapes and more are still to be had. There’s a decent selection of static wallpapers and the ability to apply and download new themes as polite.

Realme C21 performance and battery life

With the same processor and RAM options as on the Realme C12, the software shortcomings of the C12 have also made their way to its successor.

I noticed occasional lag on the 4GB RAM + 64GB variant that I reviewed. Switching between apps was once smooth more often than not but there were instances when apps restarted after being opened from the Recents screen. The keyboard at times would take a couple of additional seconds to pop up, and apps took a couple of seconds to launch. Despite the hiccups, the experience is not all that naughty for an off-the-cuff user who just wants to run a couple of simple apps.

The LCD panel on the Realme C21 can get bright enough to be visible in direct sunlight

 

The 6.5-inch HD+ LCD panel seems sharp enough at a glance, but it’s easy to spot jagged edges in the text and around icons whether you hold it up a bit closer. Colours appear a bit too saturated, and the display showcases a cooler tone than what would be natural. The LCD screen can get bright enough to be visible clearly in direct sunlight, which is pretty good for a smartphone in this price segment. Alternatively, the brightness drops relatively a bit when viewing any satisfied off-centre. The display also picks up fingerprints relatively easily and these are relatively difficult to wipe off.

When it comes to performance, the Realme C21 managed to run informal games smoothly but struggled with Asphalt 9: Legends and Call of Duty: Mobile.

Asphalt 9: Legends was once barely playable at the Default graphics setting, and showcased a number of lag and pauses while racing. What’s more, the game would possibly not even assist you to switch to Performance mode (for lowered graphics quality) Call of Duty: Mobile was once not playable as it lagged horribly even with the graphics quality set to Low and framerate set to Medium.

The placement of the speaker on the back isn’t a good suggestion

 

The placement of the speaker on the back isn’t a good suggestion as it directs sound absent from the user. When streaming movies or playing games, my index finger ceaselessly covered up the speaker, resulting resulted in muffled sound and reduced loudness. What’s more, the unmarried speaker is relatively tinny, and sound tears at high volume.

Since the Realme C21 is not built to run graphics-intensive 3D games, I ended up the use of it chiefly for messaging, checking emails, streaming movies, and taking photos. With my informal usage, the phone’s 5,000mAh battery lasted me a good two days. Our HD video loop test lasted 24 hours and 21 minutes on a unmarried charge, which is 7 hours short of its predecessor (the Realme C12) but is still very good.

Unlike the Realme C25, the C21 does not come with an 18W charging adapter in the box. Instead, you get a 10W charger that charges the 5,000mAh battery to 22 percent in 30 minutes, and 44 percent in an hour. The phone reached 100 percent in 2 hours and 19 minutes in my experience. This is still quicker than the Realme C25, which took 3 hours and 7 minutes to succeed in 100 percent, because of the reduced battery capacity.

Realme C21 cameras

While the 13-megapixel primary camera with its f/2.2 aperture and the 2-megapixel depth sensor remain the same as on the older Realme C12, the manufacturer has switched the 2-megapixel monochrome camera for a 2-megapixel macro camera on the C21, which many of us will find more useful.. The selfie camera also remains similar with a 5-megapixel sensor but has an f/2.2 aperture in comparison to the f/2.0 aperture on the preceding mannequin.

Realme has switched the 2-megapixel monochrome camera on the C12 for a 2-megapixel macro camera on the C21

 

The camera app’s interface is the typical Realme UI 1.0 camera with easy one-tap access to filters and the Chroma Boost feature, which amplifies the colours of photographs. Alternatively, the interface isn’t very responsive and there is slight lag when switching between camera modes. Even just swiping from photo to portrait or to video mode requires a bit of patience.

Realme C21 daytime camera pattern (tap to see full size)

 

As for the photos, the overall image quality is below average. Photos shot in daylight came out bright but fell short on detail with murky textures. Shooting subjects in broad daylight led to blown-out highlights, both on the subject and in the background. The same applies to the Portrait mode when the use of both the front and rear cameras. The rear camera, just like the Realme C25, boosts colour saturation when shooting a human subject in Auto mode. This doesn’t happen when shooting inanimate objects.

Realme C21 selfie camera samples (top: daytime portrait; behind: low-light portrait) (tap to see full size)

 

As expected, post sundown, photos get murkier with detail taking a big hit. Most low-light photos ended up having a look like paintings, and the committed Night mode did not help reinforce things either, in my experience. Photos shot in the Night mode came out blurry, with oversaturated colours. They also lacked depth and looked flat. Auto-focus speeds take a hit at night too, and you are going to need a bit of patience, although you tap to focus when shooting darker scenes. Selfies shot in low light were packed with noise and lacked any sense of depth.

Realme C25 macro camera pattern (tap to see full size)

 

The 2-megapixel macro camera captured shots that looked a bit too dramatic with over the top contrast and odd-looking colours. Shots taken with the main camera looked a lot better, with good sharpness and colours that were closer to the real object.

Video recorded in daylight is passable but not usable whether shot in low light. Videos shot at 1080p 30fps showcased blown-out highlights in brighter areas of the frame. There is no sort of stabilisation, which makes videos shot when walking in reality shaky.

Judgement

Provided its pricing, the Realme C21 is meant to be a first smartphone for someone who has upgraded from a feature phone, or for someone who simply wants to run a couple of on a regular basis apps and place calls. This is a basic budget smartphone that performs with a couple of hiccups, but is good enough for the informal user who does not expect much. Its camera performance is relatively weak and the same can also be said approximately gaming, which leaves battery life as its biggest selling point.

With that said, many recently launched budget smartphones offer similar hardware, such as the Poco C3 (Review). Priced at Rs. 7,499 it sort of feels a bit superior in relation to camera quality, but falls short relating to software performance. Those in search of a near-stock Android smartphone in this price range can also look at the Moto E7 Power which is priced starting at Rs. 7,499 (3GB + 32GB). It offers quite weaker performance and has two rear cameras, but adds an IP52 rating to the mix.

It’s an all television spectacular this week on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast, as we discuss 8K, screen sizes, QLED and mini-LED panels — and offer some buying advice. Orbital is to be had on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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