The realme C line has typically left a favorable impression in the looks department. If we go by its “Champion” moniker, it seems to have that under control. The realme C35 got a lot of love from you when we featured it, particularly because of how it looked. And we’re curious this time about whether we can call the realme C53 a Budget Champion, not just in terms of looks but when it comes to its performance, too.
We’re weighing the pros and cons of the realme C53 in this latest hands-on. Scroll down to see the rest of our thoughts! (But you can check out the unboxing here first!)
What’s lit: Design is still the champ!
The realme C53 keeps this iPhone-esque shape we’ve seen in past models of this series. But realme introduces the aptly named Champion Gold for the C53. It reminds me a bit of falling rain. It looks textured at first, but it’s smooth to the touch.
And it adds this premium touch to a budget device. The C53 is the thinnest C series phone to date at 7.49mm (compared to the C55’s 7.89mm and C35’s 8.1mm). It’s still a phone I use with two hands, but the flattened edges are comfy to rest my index finger on. The power button/fingerprint scanner is in the middle of the phone, making it easy to reach for righties.
While the silicone case dampens the shine of the realme C53’s back, I appreciate that this model gets it. It was one of the things I was missing on the C35.
What needs the extra spark: The realme C53’s hardware shortcomings
It’s great to see an audio jack here, but that’s a staple I expect on budget devices like the C53. If you don’t like listening through wired earphones, you can listen through the solitary speaker. It’s not going to be a great listening experience. The speaker quality is mediocre at best.
realme tries to remedy this shortcoming with an Ultra Audio Mode, but unlike this option available on other devices, it maxes out at 150% instead of 200%. It’s loud enough in a smaller room but will probably be drowned out in larger rooms or when other people are with you.
It also has a 6.7-inch HD+ 90Hz display with a 90.3% screen-to-body ratio and 560 nits peak brightness. While it works fine indoors, it struggles when I’m outdoors on a sunny day.
LiTT Tip: If you still need that extra volume boost, it’s easy to enable Ultra volume mode. You just need to keep the volume button up until you max it out, and then it’ll just switch to Ultra volume mode on its own.
What’s lit: Running like a champ
I tend to have low expectations about performance when it comes to entry-level phones. So, I was happy to get a relatively smooth experience with the realme C53 during my daily use. I could quickly switch between apps when needed. And that’s thanks to the 6GB RAM it comes with, especially since realme adds support for an extra 6GB of virtual RAM, which it takes from the 128GB of storage. (You can expand storage up to 2TB via a dedicated microSD card slot, too.)
I’m a fan of the clean realme UI T Edition interface on this 4G handset. realme pulled back on adding too many preinstalled apps, too. This more lightweight UI possibly contributes to that smoother performance. I still wish to have a dedicated Gallery instead of relying on Google Photos, but that’s something I’ve experienced on devices in this segment before.
realme ports its Dynamic Island-esque Mini Capsule to the C53. It can display battery status, data usage, and step stats. But it’s limited to that right now. We’re hoping this is something realme develops on to get more use out of it.
LiTT Tip: If you want to enable the Mini Capsule, head to Settings > Notifications > Mini Capsule. You can choose from there which information you’d want to see on the graphic.
What needs the extra spark: A lesser-known processor
The realme C53 runs on a lesser-known UNISOC Tiger T612 processor. You can expect to play more graphics-intensive games at lower settings. Casual users who spend a lot of time browsing or consuming content can get a lot out of this phone. As mentioned, it worked well for writing/typing-related work, too.
What’s lit: Charge like a champion
Affordable smartphones typically last long on a single charge. They can last you for days because it doesn’t have demanding hardware. I typically go from a day and a half to two days on a single charge with the realme C53.
On the other hand, the typical downside is charging time. At least, this is something realme tried to address. The C53’s 5,000mAh battery supports 33W SuperVOOC wired charging. According to the brand’s tests, that can get the realme C53 from 0 – 50% in 31 minutes. It got me to around 40% at the same time, but that still isn’t bad. I typically get from 0 – 100% in approximately an hour and a half.
What needs the extra spark: realme C53’s camera cons
Let’s switch things up and talk about the downsides of the realme C53’s cameras. It gets a dual-camera setup on the rear, but the brand emphasizes the 50-megapixel main sensor. The second camera isn’t specified. But the main shooter is doing the heavy lifting anyway. And then, you have an 8-megapixel shooter in front.
As with many phones in its price bracket, I find it struggles with low-light shooting, whether that means photos or videos. These do not come out as sharp or detailed when you’re indoors or the lights are low. I also find that it struggles to focus and can be shaky when I try to record videos in low light. You can only record up to 1080p at 30 frames per second here.
I was also missing shooting ultrawide shots on this phone. Understandably, these won’t pack as many features (or sensors) as more expensive devices, but I still miss them.
What’s lit: Let’s talk camera pros, too
The realme C53 is a relatively reliable shooter in good lighting conditions. The images look a bit oversaturated but just to the point that it makes the colors more vibrant.
As with most phones, the C53 doesn’t produce full resolution by default. Pixel binning improves the photo quality and outputs 12.5-megapixel images by default. However, there is a 50-megapixel mode here if you want that full-resolution shot. I didn’t use it during my testing. But it’s a mode to use if you want to crop into a photo without degrading the image quality as much.
I’m happy to see realme bring its Night mode to this phone because the company makes one of my favorite Night mode implementations. You don’t need to put in too much effort to get great, handheld low-light shots. It may struggle with low-light videos, but it succeeds more often with photos taken at dusk or night.
Selfies aren’t the sharpest thing either. But I don’t mind this soft look to them. I like that there are tons of options you can tweak for its beauty filter. It allows you to achieve the look you want when taking those self-portraits. The subject separation in its selfie portrait mode is pretty decent. It won’t beat out the more expensive phones, but it’s usable.
If you’re looking for different photo and video modes, you won’t find that here. But I appreciate the pared-back settings. You get the basics, which is important. The shutter on the realme C53 is pretty snappy, too. You will get some blurry shots in, but at least you can keep shooting until you get what you want. If you are shooting in Night mode, expect to wait a bit between shots as the software processes your photo to make them come out better.
realme C53: Price and availability
You can now pick up the realme C53 for PHP 7,999 (around USD 147) at realme offline stores or through realme’s Lazada flagship store. *
realme C53: Final thoughts
In a lot of ways, the realme C53 ticks a lot of the boxes to be a “Budget Champion.” It’s not without its faults, as we’ve seen here. But if you’re searching for your first smartphone or a budget-friendly one to get you through your daily tasks, you might want to add this to your shopping list.
* If you buy something from this link, LiTT may earn a commission, but it won’t cost you extra. Prices are subject to change without prior notice.
What do you think of the realme C53? We’d love to hear your thoughts!