There is no denying that Realme makes some amazing phones, which beat the competition in terms of features and price. This is what the company sought to accomplish: to make appealing devices for developing markets that do not have the purchasing power to pick high-end, pricier phones

The Realme C33 is one of those devices that has been selling in the Kenyan market for some time now. It offers good specs for the price (it goes for KES 15,500 or slightly more, depending on where you buy it from), which puts it in a very competitive spot because there are many other smartphones from other brands that cost around the same price.

Do not be concerned, and while the competition may be exceptional in its own right, it cannot match the design elements incorporated in the C33. In my opinion, the C33 remains one of the most elegantly designed phones in its price range.

It is not often that people get to see devices with a boxy design at this price point. Additionally, the inclusion of a fingerprint reader embedded in the power button is a unique feature. These capacitive sensors have become less common as manufacturers have begun to shift towards in-screen biometrics, which can be less accurate when not implemented properly. However, capacitive sensors have a proven track record of being both fast and reliable. It is unfortunate that they are not used as frequently today, with the exception of certain devices such as Samsung’s foldables and some Redmis.

Nonetheless, I am pleased that Realme chose to include one in this device, as I felt the same when reviewing the C30s.

Before looking further into other aspects of the device, let me share some of its specifications:

realme C33Specs
Screen6.5”, 720 x 1600 pixels
SoftwareAndroid 12, Realme UI S
ChipsetUnisoc Tiger T612 (12 nm)
Memory64GB 4GB RAM Memory card slot
Camera50 MP, (wide),
0.3 MP, f/2.8, (depth)
USBmicroUSB 2.0
Fingerprint readerSide-mounted
Battery 5000 mAh, 10W charging
ColoursSandy Gold, Aqua Blue, Night Sea
PriceKES 15,500

Although they are quite decent, the specs of the device have a few shortcomings. One notable example is the inclusion of a 0.3 MP depth camera, which is unnecessary as the device’s sensor is capable of producing natural bokeh without the assistance of a dedicated depth sensor, as seen by the images taken with the C30s.

The chipset is also quite slow, and we would have loved to see one of the Helio chips by Mediatek here.

Other than these issues, the specs are quite appealing to me.

I introduced the design aspect of the phone, and there is no need to elaborate further as the device appears quite visually pleasing and modern.

The camera modules are aesthetically pleasing and understated (akin to what TECNO has been doing lately), the buttons provide a pleasant tactile sensation, and overall, it is a comfortable device to hold.

To truly appreciate its design, it is necessary to see the device in person. It is curious to ponder which compromises were made in the design department to attain such an affordable price point.

The display is large and reaches a sufficient brightness level for daily usage. However, it may not be as bright in direct sunlight.

It’s important to remember that this is a budget phone and the ability to increase the brightness to high levels is a feature reserved for more expensive devices, so this should not be a concern.

It’s worth noting that the display features a notch that also houses the 5MP front-facing camera. This is not problematic for me, but we are currently in an era when punch-hole cameras are becoming more commonplace and notches may make a phone appear outdated to some extent.

The software aspect of the device is not too shabby either: it comes with Android 12 pre-installed, and while Android 13 has been released for a few months, there has been no word from Realme about when this device will receive an update. My assumption is that it will not be updated soon. However, Android 12 is quite decent and is complemented by a ton of customization options within Realme UI S. There are numerous things that can be done with the software, and it will keep you entertained.

The performance aspect can be an issue for some, but you can work around it by installing lite apps. I did so with the C30s and had a positive experience. While lite apps do not provide the full functionality of their primary counterparts, they are lightweight enough to not overly tax the limited processing power, resulting in a mostly smooth experience when switching between apps.

I also recommend choosing the 4GB RAM model as it will provide the necessary additional space to allow many apps to stay in memory.

The camera performance is similar to what I experienced with the C30s. The 50 MP sensor produces high-quality images in well-lit conditions, but struggles in low-light settings. However, this is not a problem unique to Realme as many cameras within this price range exhibit similar behaviour. Additionally, it is apparent where cost-cutting measures have been implemented, but this can be overlooked when considering that it is possible to extract decent images from the high-resolution 50MP sensor.

In conclusion, the C33 is an excellent device, and I, as well as my team, would easily recommend it primarily due to its stylish design and attractive price point.

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Kenn Abuya is a friend of technology, with bias in enterprise and mobile tech. Share your thoughts, tips and hate mail at [email protected]