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Realme C15 vs Redmi 9C: Which budget phone to get?

I’ll start by saying there are a LOT of budget phones in the market today. Flagship phones get a refresh once a year (twice in the case of OnePlus), but the budget department doesn’t like to wait for a full revolution to release new models. Don’t get fooled though, most budget phones are practically similar — they are just getting cosmetic changes as a refresh.

The most recent budget phones I had are the Redmi 9C and the Realme C15. Both are available at their respective retailers for around P6,000 and even cheaper if you buy during a sale event. How do they stack up? Let’s find out.

Identical looks with minor differences

When you place the phones side by side, it’ll be hard to distinguish which is which. Both have a waterdrop notch, a bezel at the chin, and similar button placements. Even in screen size, both have large 6.5-inch displays. The two phones feature an HD+ resolution which translates to around 270ppi. Not as sharp as people might think, however, the screen size is definitely a plus for enjoying videos and mobile games.

Redmi 9C (left) and Realme C15 (right)

Both phones have a familiar waterdrop-style notch for their front cameras. Neither is distracting when viewing content in full screen and they practically disappear when you get used to them. As a popular comparison, they are not as obtrusive as the iPhone’s notch, but they are not as secure in doing face unlock.

Redmi 9C (top) and Realme C15 (bottom)

There’s a chin at the bottom of the display, as expected, because a true bezel-less display will cost money and that would drive up the phone’s price. The chin has an advantage; it helps when doing gesture navigation because you have extra real estate when swiping up from the bottom even if you have a thick case on.

Redmi 9C (left) and Realme C15 (right)

The similarities of the two phone continues on the back. Of course, they have a plastic back but they don’t feel cheap. Both have a square camera module that houses a number of lenses and a round fingerprint reader that’s reachable by the index finger for unlocking the phone.

On the hand, the Realme is considerable heavier because of its bigger battery and Redmi will make you think it’s thinner than it actually is because of its sharper curved edges.

Realme C15 (left) and Redmi 9C (right)

Again, both phones have very similar sides. The volume and power keys are situated on the right side and they are generally okay when it comes to clickiness.

Redmi 9C (top) and Realme C15 (bottom)

The holes of the two phones are found mostly at the bottom side with the Redmi’s headphone jack positioned very lonely at the top. Micro-USB is yet here to stay, however, Realme didn’t waste the good old port because they incorporated their 18W fast charging tech here. It’s a shame the Redmi is stuck at 10W only.

Realme C15 (top) and Redmi 9C (bottom)

Design-wise, I’d say the Realme C15 has a slight edge thanks to its heft. Because despite having a plastic body, it managed to feel like a solid brick. Some may not like that, but there’s a hint of assurance that the Realme C15 is well-packed. Don’t worry, the Redmi 9C is not far behind.

Realme UI versus MIUI

Under the hood, both phones are running Android 10 out of the box and is powered by the same Helio G35 chipset from MediaTek. Of course, they got their respective skins on top — Realme UI and MIUI — so the overall experience is quite different.

Redmi 9C with MIUI (left) and Realme C15 with Realme UI (right)

Performance-wise, both are generally smooth. There are some hiccups here and there, although no lags so far. I do notice some slow loading times with heavy apps like Facebook, but nothing major that would make you impatient.

Both MIUI and Realme UI have a good track record when it comes to software updates, so you’re assured that you’ll get support and security updates in the months to come. A major software upgrade to Android 11 is possible for both, but don’t expect it come very soon.

Identical in squares

While both phones seem to have the same camera setup, the Realme C15 actually has four cameras at the back while Redmi’s phone has three. Both phones have a 13-megapixel main shooter that’s accompanied by a pair of 2-megapixel additional sensors to help it shoot better depending on the scenario.

The fourth camera on the Realme is an 8-megapixel shooter with ultrawide lens. Even budget phones can now have an ultrawide camera and that’s a good sign of better things to come in this segment. Check out these few samples to see how these cameras fare in real-world usage.

As can be observed, Realme and Redmi have different ways of processing color. These apples in the supermarket look more natural on the Redmi 9C, while Realme somehow muted the color of the yummy apples.

Realme C15 (left) vs Redmi 9C (right)

When it comes to close up shots of small items like this uber-cute Togepi case for the AirPods, it appears that Realme can do a better job than Redmi. Because of a brighter exposure and sharper focus, Togepi looked happier on the Realme.

Realme C15 (left) vs Redmi 9C (right)

If you like shooting landscapes or cityscapes with your phone, you can take advantage of Realme’s ultrawide lens. It can fit in more in the frame thanks to its wide field of view, and there’s little to none distortion on the side. No fish-eye effect here unlike with action cameras.

Realme C15 (left) vs Redmi 9C (right)

Neither of the two is built for photography. However, the Realme C15 is a better all-rounder due to its extra (and useful) ultrawide angle lens. 📸

Realme for battery and charging

In the battery department, I’ll tell you right away, the Realme C15 wins. It’s got a bigger 6000mAh cell versus 5000mAh of Redmi’s and it supports 18W fast charging with the fast charger included already in the box.

White chargers from the retail package

Realme C15’s humungous battery can provide enough juice for up to two days of moderate usage. I also noticed that Realme doesn’t drain its battery while it’s not in use overnight. Redmi 9C, on the other hand, also has a respectable battery life that’s just a bit shorter than Realme’s.

In conclusion…

Budget phones are getting better and they are on the right track. I do like how manufacturers are providing the essentials of a modern smartphone first like a big display and long battery life. In this comparison, I’d give the prize to the Realme C15. It covers the basics while still managing to give useful extras like an ultrawide camera and fast charging technology.

It comes with a price though. The Realme C15 has a starting SRP of P6,490 while the Redmi 9C is priced lower and is usually on flash sale online priced at around P5,000, depending on the deal.

If you can add a bit to your budget, go for the Realme C15. But if you spot a good discount on the Redmi 9C online, you can’t go wrong with it either.

Buy the Redmi 9C (2GB/32GB) on Lazada

Buy the Redmi 9C (2GB/32GB) on Shopee

Buy the Redmi 9C (3GB/64GB) on Shopee

Buy the Realme C15 on Shopee

Buy the Realme C15 on Lazada