realme C35: Get this stylish budget smartphone if…

Beauty and brains is a common adage, but is there substance behind the realme C35’s style? Let’s explore what works and what doesn’t on this new realme budget phone and whether it’s worth spending your hard-earned money on.

Style is as important as substance

We spend so much time and get a lot of things done on our smartphones that it almost seems like an extension of our bodies. So, it makes sense if you’re looking for a device that reflects your taste. And the good news with the realme c35 is even if you’re budget’s only good for the slightly more expensive entry-level segment, you’re not being shortchanged when it comes to style.

realme’s tagline on its website for this phone is “Chic and Classy,” and they aren’t too off that mark. It’s quite a departure actually from its predecessor, the C25. I appreciate realme’s attempt at experimenting with the C35’s design, staying on trend with a boxy design and flat edges. I’ve already seen this comment online, but it does look kind of iPhone-esque. If you’re thinking about the Android space, it’ll remind you of devices like the vivo V23 or the OPPO Reno 7Z. And that’s a compliment for this phone because it means that it looks more expensive than it actually is.

realme lent us the Glowing Green option, which I’m pretty happy about. The black just feels a bit too conventional for me. Give me something with a bit more personality, and that’s what this color option offers. The green color has undertones of yellow, which comes out like sun rays when light hits the back of the phone. It makes me think of showing off this phone at the beach. The C35 is a bit of a fingerprint magnet, though. It can kind of hide it, but from certain angles, you’ll be able to see the fingerprints you’ve left behind.

I’m also slightly disappointed that realme opted out of even a basic jelly case for this phone. I can’t remember if the C25 had a case in the box, but I think realme should’ve opted to include one at its price point. I can understand the lack of earphones, but I would’ve wanted to see a case included in the box.

Of course, another reminder that this is a budget phone is its construction. It does have a plastic body. The upside to this is the phone feels lighter to hold. realme says it’s the brand’s most lightweight and thinnest phone in its C series lineup at just 8.1mm thin and 189g light.

The phone feels manageable even if it has a large display. The materials it’s made of and the squared-off design make it comfortable for me to hold in hand. I can’t speak of long-term reliability, but realme wanted to emphasize that the C35 has a TUV Rheinland High Reliability certification.

realme makes an interesting decision of having the power button/fingerprint scanner recessed into the side of the phone. I don’t see that often in budget phones. But the position is at the right height for my fellow right-handed folk. At the same time, the volume controls are directly parallel to the power button.

The fingerprint reader is pretty responsive. It can register my fingerprint at most a couple of tries in. It’s decent for a budget phone.

Another design decision I wish realme had rethought was its dewdrop notch. It dates the phone a bit, especially since many smartphone makers are learning that people prefer a cutout since it obstructs less of the screen.

You’re a casual smartphone user

Speaking of displays, realme upgrades the C series to a 1080p screen. Its 6.6-inch screen isn’t the sharpest I’ve seen. But updating the panel to this resolution means it supports Widevine L1, allowing you to watch Netflix shows on this device in Full HD. Peak brightness is at 600 nits, which means you’ll struggle a bit with using it outdoors.

I’m not familiar with the chipset realme equips the C35 with. It’s a Unisoc T616 processor with 4GB of RAM and 64GB or 128GB of storage. There is a 6GB RAM option, but it isn’t available locally. It is a shame because it would probably make this a more powerful device.

This is not a phone for budget gamers but for those who use their phones primarily for social media or working on the move. I hardly felt the impatience I typically feel when using budget phones, granted this is on the upper end of the budget smartphone spectrum. I could still efficiently multitask and switch between apps with just a second or two delays. I can’t recall if this phone crashed while I used it for social media or work, which could sometimes happen with budget devices. So, if you’re the type who just spends a lot of time scrolling or consuming content, you won’t have too frustrating a time on the C35.

If you game, that’s a different story. I’ve been into this game called Mirrorverse and it doesn’t seem like too demanding a game in terms of performance. But I sometimes felt the phone lag while I was in the middle of a battle. So, you must manage your expectations if you want to game on this phone. If you’re more into light, puzzle kind of games (I highly recommend Krispee Street), you wouldn’t have too much of a problem.

I appreciate that realme’s been smart about this phone’s apps and UI. It runs on realme’s Android 11-based realme UI R Edition, which it has designed for budget phones and offers a more stock Android-like look to the device. This move helps make the phone smoother to use and declutters the interface. There are still pre-installed apps, but fewer than I’m used to seeing in budget phones of other brands. I like that it relies mainly on Google apps, so there aren’t any duplicates for the essential phone apps on the C35.

If you like storing many files on your phone, you’ll be happy to hear that this device has a dedicated slot for microSD expansion. It’s also a dual SIM phone.

When it comes to consuming content, I would recommend using wired or wireless earbuds or Bluetooth speakers to enjoy the experience. Audio from its speaker can be a bit tinny when you turn it up to maximum volume. If you’re just watching on your own, you might as well just use earphones to hear better.

For camera performance, it’s still a bit of a mixed bag like many other things on this phone. You get a 50-megapixel Sony IMX766 camera paired with a couple of sensors you wouldn’t use much (a 2-megapixel macro and B&W portrait sensor). In front, there’s an 8-megapixel selfie camera.

Taking pictures with the 50-megapixel camera is a relatively enjoyable experience. It can pick color up well and even gets some detail with shots taken in low light (use the Night mode option for better low light support). For the selfie though, don’t expect much. There’s a Barbie-esque quality to the pictures. It’s best used in bright environments

As with other budget phone cameras, you can expect a basic shooting experience with the minimal camera modes to play around with. If portraits for the selfie camera are essential to you, that isn’t available here. The modes you get include Capture (Auto), Video, Portrait, Burst, Filter, Time lapse, Pro, Panorama, 50MP, Macro, and Night Pro.

Video recording is only up to the standard 1080p at 30 frames per second resolution. I’d temper my expectations for video recording. It’s meant to be used in bright environments. You take social media apps compressing videos into account, and you’ll get quality that leans a bit more on the mediocre side. While the cameras are helpful for photos, videos aren’t the C35’s strong suit.

We have some in-app tests on TikTok and Instagram linked here.

You don’t want to be tethered to your charger

One of the best things about budget phones is you can stretch out their battery better than their more expensive counterparts. With less powerful specs, it doesn’t eat up as much battery. The longest I can go on this phone is up to two days. You get a large 5,000mAh battery, so it’s an unsurprising result. But if you consume a lot of content, you can also make a dent in this phone’s battery life. A full day’s use is typically what you’ll get.

This is also the kind of phone that needs overnight charging. Or at least it won’t fully charge if you just decide to plug it in the morning you have to leave. It supports 18W charging, but with a large capacity battery, it typically took me two and a half hours to fully charge the realme C35.

What’s lit and what’s not

What’s lit about it:

  • Premium-looking design
  • Lightweight body makes it easy to hold and use
  • Responsive fingerprint reader that’s at the right height
  • Gets a better 1080p display than its predecessor
  • Has Widevine L1 support for Full HD content consumption on supported apps
  • Decent performance for casual smartphone users
  • Clean stock Android-like interface
  • Capable 50-megapixel primary sensor for photos, even in low light
  • Long-lasting, Energizer-esque battery

What needs the extra spark: 

  • Smudge magnet back
  • No included jelly case or earphones
  • Wished it had a punch-hole cutout instead of a dew-drop notch
  • The display could be a bit sharper
  • Brightness leaves a bit to be desired outdoors
  • Not designed for budget mobile gamers
  • The extra rear cameras aren’t particularly useful
  • Video recording isn’t its strong suit
  • Charging takes a bit of time

Final thoughts

The realme C35 is a mixed-bag kind of budget smartphone. Its style is definitely on point, and I want realme to keep exploring that with future C series devices. But the price-to-performance ratio is slightly unbalanced, especially for those who want a lot out of their phones. People have many more expectations at this price point, and I’ve seen them talk about this on our social media accounts. Buzz alone, this phone got a lot of that.

If you’re looking for a do-it-all budget phone, the realme C35 might leave you wanting in some respects. You can see that in the lengthy pros and cons list above.

But if you are more of a casual user who wants a better-looking device that won’t cost you too much, you’ll be plenty happy with this phone.

The realme C35 comes in two configurations:

  • 4GB + 64GB: PHP 8,490 / EUR 199.99
  • 4GB + 128GB: PHP 9,490 / EUR 219.99

What do you think of the realme C35? Let us know on social media!