My experience with budget/low-end smartphones aren’t favorable. Though it’s been more than a year since the Honor 8s‘ horrible performance dismayed me, I still openly accepted a budget smartphone in my hands this 2020 to challenge myself if I can handle everyday tasks by just using a sub-PhP 7K smartphone.
Other than the C11 and C12, the C15 is the latest budget smartphone offering from realme. If you still haven’t heard of them, they’re a sub-brand of OPPO that focuses more on delivering budget and midrange smartphones at a more affordable price tag. ICYMI, we have an in-depth explanation for that.
Enough with the hullaballoos, let’s dive straight into the review.
How is it a “realme C11 on steroids”?
On paper, the realme C15 is quite similar to the C11 in many aspects. Quite unsure how realme names their smartphones but C11 plus four (C11+4) might mean four notable improvements from the previous variant.
|realme C15||realme C11|
|Processor||MediaTek Helio G35 (Octa-Core 2.3GHz)||MediaTek Helio G35 (Octa-Core 2.3GHz)|
|Display||6.5″ 720p IPS LCD||6.5″ 720p IPS LCD|
|Memory||3/4GB RAM||3GB RAM|
|Storage||64GB + microSD||32GB + microSD|
|Cameras||Quad rear-camera setup + selfie notch||Dual rear-camera setup + selfie notch|
|Charging||18W Fast Charging via micro USB port||10W charging via micro USB port|
That being said, we don’t usually base everything on specifications as we rely more on real-world performance and usage. Curious to find out? Just continue reading to know more.
A very artsy limited edition box
Our review unit comes with this super-extra doodle box designed by Vince Ricohermoso — a realme fan who won in the #realmedoodlechallenge with his self-doodled realme C2 box. Take note that this is only available in 1,000 limited quantities — so grab one now before it completely runs out.
I truly appreciate the doodle art as I used to draw doodles like this before — but mine is a total wreck 😂
Other than the special box and the phone, you still get the usual packaging inside: User Guide and Warranty Card, SIM tray ejector tool, micro USB cable, and a 9V/2A charging brick. Unfortunately, there’s no free clear case and earphones out of the box.
The harmony of design and function
The realme C15 features a new geometric gradient design — a major step-up from the lackluster back design of the realme C1, their first C-series phone launched two years ago. The design features a trapezoid divided into three sides that show different color hues when hit by light. They even claim this type of design is a first on a realme smartphone.
Although I’m not really into gradient back designs, I still like its subtlety. Let’s be honest, a budget smartphone doesn’t need to be flashy. You don’t want to attract thieves with a “super fancy-looking” gradient back design just to get your hard-earned smartphone taken away from you.
With its precisely-engraved radium texture back, it adds grip whenever you hold it. Other than that, it retracts fingerprint smudges — which is truer than blue.
Remember, this phone has a massive battery inside which adds heftiness to it. I don’t mind the added heft and thickness as its firm enough whenever you hold it 😏.
With that in context, phone manufacturers should always take ergonomics into consideration as a phone’s thinness doesn’t necessarily define how beautiful a phone is — just like society’s standards when it comes to beauty and appearance.
Display is commendable
As you’ve seen from the spec sheet above, nothing has changed with its display. The realme C15 has a 6.5-inch IPS-LCD display with a 20:9 aspect ratio and screen resolution of 1600 x 720. Under most lighting conditions, it’s legible with an accurate color reproduction and right amount of contrast.
But under bright and harsh light, this phone starts to suffer with its less bright display. Viewing angles are also not looking good when light overpowers the screen. For people who usually stay under the sun for longer hours (like motorcycle riders or bikers who use Waze for traveling and deliveries), it might be a dealbreaker.
Even if there’s a slight distraction of its Mini-drop notch and no option to hide it in the Settings app, you still get an immersive, full-screen display whenever you watch videos through YouTube, Netflix, or even other video-streaming platforms and offline video players. After all, a small notch is still better than a pop-up cameras that always rely on mechanisms that can break over time.
This isn’t a big issue for most but for those who are curious to know, it only plays 720p max when playing videos (obviously due to a display with only 720p resolution). Although tiny screen pixels aren’t totally visible with the naked eye, I’ve seen some pixelated artifacts when watching HD videos.
A budget phone should always include an audio jack
We can’t deny that most manufacturers nowadays try to dominate the tech-audio space with wireless TWS earbuds offerings — and realme isn’t an exception to that with their latest Buds Neo in mind. Still, an audio jack should live longer (or even kept forever) especially when there’s no need to remove it.
For people who still rely on those long, wired earphones because of audio quality and extra long hours of music goodness without having to charge it every other time, the inclusion of this 3.5mm hole is an added buying consideration.
Even if I enjoy my pair of wireless pods, I still do enjoy listening to music with wired earbuds as they still give me that immersive audio quality (depends on the earphones you buy though).
With that being said, there’s a music-centric feature they call “Dual-Mode Audio” that lets you share music by plugging in a headphone while there’s a wireless earbuds connected through Bluetooth — which is something we can’t do in this virus crisis especially if we always have to observe social distancing with others, let alone distancing one’s self away from crushie.
If loudspeaker is your concern, it’s decently loud even if it only has a mono speaker. Just don’t cover it when holding your phone or it will instantly get muffled.
A physical fingerprint scanner is still better than face unlock
Other manufacturers opt out in equipping their budget smartphones with physical fingerprint scanners (neither rear or side-mounted). realme isn’t excluded in that list especially when the C11 doesn’t have one. Gladly, they decided to put one on the C15 for added biometrics.
We all know security and privacy is a must for these technological devices, so as the use of reliable biometrics for locking and unlocking certain phone features.
Most of the time, it’s fast and accurate but there are times where I repeatedly placed my (clean and dry) finger three to four times on the scanner until it locked me out. But I guess it’s better than an under-display scanner — even better than having none at all.
Stock-like Android experience
This phone runs the latest Android 10 version. Before, they rely on OPPO’s ColorOS but this time, it has its own proprietary skin called ‘realme UI’ that’s close to the heart of Stock Android.
I enjoy the fluidity and seamlessness altogether. There are enough customization options based on my liking while still removing those unwanted settings and bloatware. As a fan of everything Dark Mode, I love how they included it too on this phone.
I honestly don’t prefer virtual navigation buttons as I want to maximize the experience of a full display. Fortunate enough, realme has also included Swipe Gestures that mimic how newer phones function these days. I know it’s not as close as iOS’ implementation but I still like how they included it for those who want it.
Performance is smooth for most part
When it comes to performance, the C15 performs fluid and seamless. Whenever I unlock the phone, swipe through the home screen and notifications panel, scroll through the apps drawer, and open most apps on a daily basis, they all perform snappy. However, the moment I open Facebook, sluggish animations can be seen whenever I always hit the react button.
Other than the minor performance issue, various social media apps such as Twitter, Messenger, and Instagram all work just fine. I don’t experience the slowness whenever I tap hearts on either of the apps. If it’s too unbearable for one’s liking, I recommend installing Lite versions of these apps. Certain features (that might be valuable for you) will not be present but they take up less storage and memory consumption.
Gaming is a totally different story
For those who love to game using their phones, there’s an included Game Space app that optimizes your phone when running games. Still, don’t expect jaw-dropping gaming performance even with the Helio G35 chipset paired with realme’s software optimizations.
From my own experience, playing PUBG and CoDM (Call of Duty Mobile) both suffered from casual stutters when aiming and shooting — and it’s not because of our internet connection nor latency.
I’m still giving it an approval for being able to run games at low settings — which other budget smartphones can’t afford at all. Best experience I’ve had when playing is when I experienced casual lags but still won the game 😂.
The battery life still is the ultimate win
Although, you’re not totally winning with its gaming performance, you still get the best battery out of the bunch. With its 6,000mAh battery capacity, you’ll be able to last more than two to three days with light to moderate use and less than that if you’re a heavy multimedia consumer. realme even claims it can last of up to 57 days of standby — which is still less than the days we’ve had in this pandemic lockdown.
In accordance to realme’s lab tests, you can play music with the C15 for 60 hours straight using Spotify. Other than that, they claim 28 hours of YouTube playback, all-day Instagram liking (and stalking), and even ten hours of PUBG — which I don’t know how they did it considering its gaming performance.
Nonetheless, the battery life is true to its words. I was able to use this for more than two days of average use. When I played music for four hours straight (while cleaning and organizing two rooms in our house), it only consumed around 15%-20%, which is still a great feat compared to smartphones with conventional battery capacities.
In times where you think you still need more than two to three days of battery life, there are extra power saving modes that will boost your phone’s life even longer. But in times where we’re just required to stay at home, I don’t think there’s a need to do that.
micro USB is a disappointment, but fast charging isn’t
As the world slowly transitions into a USB-C powered ecosystem, phone manufacturers should step up their game by completely ditching micro USB ports. This type of port should be obsolete instead of trying to phase out 3.5mm audio jacks. Other than its irreversible design, it performs slower — both with charging and data transfer speeds.
As opposed to the usual 10W charging, realme has decided to equip the C15 with a faster 18W fast charging — which gets the job done faster.
Filling it up from 0% to 100% might take several hours but for a smartphone that packs a 6,000mAh battery and is equipped with a micro USB port, that’s already impressive. Just putting this in context: the budget Honor 8s I tested last year only has a 3,020mAh battery and gets completely filled up for merely two hours.
You get more cameras for what its worth
Unlike its dual rear camera-touting predecessor, the C15 now has a total of four sensors housed in its rounded square camera cutout. There’s a 13-megapixel f/2.2 AI wide camera for your usual wide-angle shots. For an added shot perspective, there’s the 8-megapixel ultra-wide angle lens that’s capable of shooting wider photos in a 105-degree FoV (Field of View).
Those extra two sensors are 2-megapixel B/W and Retro sensors used for shooting black and white photos with better brightness, contrast, and white point. Other than that, it’s also used for portraits — especially when separating the foreground subject over elements in the background.
Works both inside and out
Phone cameras in 2020, regardless of the price category they belong to, should deliver at least decent photos that were shot outdoors. The realme C15 proves it can keep up with that standard.
With sufficient light source indoors, the C15 is still able to deliver good shots, even when zoomed in.
HDR and Chroma Boost are both helpful
What I’ve noticed while using its cameras is that, most photos I took look de-saturated for my liking. I’m not saying photos that are too saturated are better but you need that added vibrance especially when shooting food and/or other product shots (that might benefit most small online businesses out there).
With realme’s additional HDR and Chroma Boost camera features, it can further enhance not just the color and contrast, but also the exposure values, highlights, and sharpness very well.
Even with less light source, both of these features still work. Just be sure to stay still when shooting one.
Still, don’t expect too much from its quality
Night Mode doesn’t come in handy especially if you’re fond of shooting in low-light on a tight budget. For mobile astrophotography enthusiasts, as long as you have the necessary equipment, there’s a native Pro Mode option that might still help you capture the night sky with the right amount of settings.
I know this phone doesn’t have a built-in macro lens but I still tried testing it using Portrait Mode. The closer I get, the more it gets blurry and unfocused. I tried using the extra zoom options and it does the job better.
A less beautified selfie
Post-pandemic, I’m still not the type who’s into selfies. I totally prefer selfies without that added layer of beautification. But if selfies matter to you the most, you only get one “Beauty Mode” option — and that is the overall adjustment level.
Other than the level of smoothing, there are no added beauty options such as eye size enhancer, jawline reducer, and other added glitz when taking star-studded, beautified selfies.
There’s also a Portrait Mode available for the selfie camera. The separation between you and the background might work well in most scenarios and lightning conditions — just like how the pandemic separates us from our loved ones (especially from our crush 😭).
Is the realme C15 your BudgetMatch?
Considering you have a super limited budget, the realme C15 might just be your best choice. If you can spend a li’l bit more than the PhP 5K-worth realme C11, getting the C15 is a no-brainer.
Even if there’s an ongoing pandemic, the government requires schools to conduct online classes — which is a burden for most students and families with limited finances. For those who want an affordable tool for E-learning (especially with long hours of Zoom calls and online modules), this is truly a worthy contender. Although not totally limited to students per se, this is still a reliable purchase for people (or even oldies) who just want a basic phone without spending too much.
realme offers two variants of the C15. The base variant with 3GB/64GB configuration retails at just PhP 6,490 (US$ 133) with the option to avail the Lazada-exclusive PH Squad Edition Doodle Box in limited quantities. Spending PhP 500 more will give you the 4GB/64GB configuration at exactly PhP 6,990 (US$ 144) — which is still priced several pesos below the PhP 7K mark.
Black Shark 4: Price and availability in the Philippines
For mobile gamers
The gaming-focused smartphone Black Shark 4 has found its way to the Philippines.
The Black Shark 4 has a 6.7-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display with a 144Hz refresh rate, 720Hz multi-finger touch sampling rate, and SGS eye protection-certified pressure-sensitive screen. Black Shark has boasted of 111 percent DCI-P3 color gamut and a peak brightness of 1300 nits.
It’s powered by a Snapdragon 870 processor with up to 12GB of RAM and up to 256GB of internal storage. Backing these internals is a 4500mAh battery with 120W fast charging. It’s got dual stereo speakers, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a liquid cooling system, as well as two USB-C ports.
As for cameras, it has a 48MP main shooter, 8MP ultra-wide angle lens, 5MP macro lens, and a 20MP selfie shooter. The phone ships with JOYUI 12.5 based on Android 11 with plenty of gaming-centric features.
Price and availability
The Black Shark 4 will come in two colors: Mirror Black and Pale Grey. It will be available in these configurations: 8GB+128GB, 12GB+128GB, and 12GB+256GB.
The gaming smartphone will officially launch on April 28. You can watch here. Exact pricing will be released during launch day. Interested buyers can pre-order starting April 28 at Black Shark Philippines’ Shopee store.
Tales of ARISE releases on Sept 9
Collector Edition also announced
The long-running Tales series (25 years now!) has a new title coming! Tales of ARISE will be released in Southeast Asia on September 9, 2021.
Here’s the release date trailer to get you hyped.
What is Tales of ARISE?
The game will follow the story of Rena — the star that has been ruling the Dahna planet with an iron fist for the past 300 years. Renans have been depleting Dahna of its natural resources, enslaving most of the planet’s population in order to do so.
This tale follows the fight to free Dahnans of their fate and will be experienced through the eyes of Alphen, an iron-masked Dahnan fighting to free his people, and Shionne, a girl from Rena, who’s on the run from her countrymen. They will be joined through their journey by characters like Rinwell and Law that will help them in their fight for freedom.
Southeast Asia Game Editions
All pre-orders and Day-1 retail package version will receive a new costume for Alphen and Shionne, as well as outfits accessories and new cooking recipes and ingredients.
- Tales of Arise retail package version is only available for the PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4 in Southeast Asia.
- The package version includes pre-order digital bonus only for the first production. The number of initial production is limited and will end as soon as it runs out.
On Digital platforms, a Deluxe and an Ultimate edition will be available. The Deluxe edition will have the following items:
- Premium Item Pack, containing gold, cooking items and Boosts
- Premium Costume Pack, including 8 full costumes and 6 accessories
- Premium Travel Pack, allowing for better cooking and crafting abilities as well as discounts in shops
The Ultimate Edition will have all the content from the Deluxe Edition as well as new costumes for the characters including special costumes in collaboration with other BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment games.
A physical Collector Edition will be available and include the same content as the Ultimate Edition, along with an exclusive figurine, a Steelbook, an Artbook and the game’s Soundtrack. This edition can be purchased at participating retailers in Southeast Asia.
A special Hootle Edition will be available exclusively and in limited quantities on the BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Asia store at a later date. This edition will include, in addition to the base game, a metal case, an Artbook, the Soundtrack, a 15 cm Hootle plush along with 4 accessories, Hootle DLC for the game as well as stickers and 3 art prints.
Google Drive was down for PLDT users
Service appears to be working now
Google Drive was not working for PLDT users in the Philippines.
Multiple users in the Philippines have taken to Twitter to express frustration that Google Drive is down. The earliest tweets started at around 7PM (GMT+8). As of writing, the service continues to not work for some people.
wtf i was supposed to pass my pts and google drive is down xjjenwkwkwjw help
— 🐾 (@phiiidenise) April 22, 2021
Me checking on twitter if google docs is down too: pic.twitter.com/61jDyJqFYz
— KenjiTech (@tech_kenji) April 22, 2021
my workaholic self is shaking google docs is down… pic.twitter.com/Ixto1vFEBe
— Alyssa 😜 (@justalysssaaa) April 22, 2021
Some tweeters have pointed out that the problem is with the Internet Service Provider PLDT. Some have switched to using a different ISP and it has worked for them.
Okay so google docs is down when using PLDT, tried using mobile data hotspot and now it works.
— andreamarie (@aindreamarie) April 22, 2021
google docs is down— i thought it was just me and my phone but my laptop too and i guess everyone else using pldt.
— MJ Camingue (@mjcmnge) April 22, 2021
PLDT replying to queries
PLDT has yet to fully acknowledge the problem and have only so far replied to a handful of customers who have tagged them to flag the issue.
Sorry to know you’re having issues with your service, @dhenner08. Do not worry, we’ll help you out. Kindly send us your telephone number, account number, email address and mobile number via DM so we can further assist you. We’ll be waiting. Thanks! – Brey
— PLDT Cares (@PLDT_Cares) April 22, 2021
Sorry to know you’re having issues with your service, @tifguevara. Do not worry, we’ll help you out. Kindly send us your telephone number, account number, email address and mobile number via DM so we can further assist you. We’ll be waiting. Thanks! – Brey
— PLDT Cares (@PLDT_Cares) April 22, 2021
As of 4:24AM (GMT+8), the service has returned for some users.
Google Drive is Google’s cloud service that’s also home to its Office Suite of apps including Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides. Several people rely on the service both for study and work.
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