Smartphones can be expensive, very expensive, and obviously, not everyone can afford or want to spend a salary on a phone. This is why brands like Realme offer really attractive entry-level products for small budgets. This is exactly the audience targeted by this Realme C21Y. It is normal for manufacturers to make concessions on entry-level phones, but being perfectly objective, these phones still offer interesting features for their price.
At a time when cheap smartphones often seemed very cheap and very far away, we see that manufacturers have made efforts to raise the bar in terms of the quality of their phones. Although the materials are not the noblest and far from it, we notice that for this price, the Realme C21Y is really not of poor quality, even if some disturbing points remain to be raised.
The entire shell is made of rather thin plastic, but offers a pleasant touch and gives a rather nice look. The Realme C21Y itself is quite understated, which I personally like a lot. In terms of form, it looks like many other Android smartphones, with rounded corners and small design subtleties that are characteristic of them.
The rear of the Realme C21Y is quite simple; it tackles different parts which are mixed into two separate ones. One reveals wavy notched grooves and the other straight grooves, which makes the touch pleasant. The different parts are placed in the shape of a cross. It is rather pretty and discreet.
At the top left of the back cover, there is obviously the camera lens block, which consists of a square glass with three sensors and a flash, arranged in a square. Just below, in the center of the phone, there is the fingerprint sensor in place in a circle. I find its layout impractical and it sits a bit high on the hull despite having large hands, but more on that later.
At the bottom left is the speaker, located under two small slots just above, the Realme logo. It is rather discreet, even if the position of the hand will tend to muffle the sound.
On the right edge are the volume buttons as well as the power button, arranged in a small recess which is in continuity with the rather thin triangle roof shape of the edge of the Realme C21Y.
The left edge is very similar in shape but has no button, only the SIM drawer at the top, which will allow you to insert two SIM cards and a micro-SD card, which is a good point. Nevertheless, the drawer seems a little cheap. You will have to be careful when putting it back.
The bottom of the phone sports quite a few things in the end, but it’s enough. Indeed, there is the 3.5 mm jack port which remains quite common on this type of smartphone, but the presence of a micro-USB port seems to be quite limited for a smartphone released in 2021. A USB a little trouble understanding why this choice would have been so much better, easier to use, and certainly more solid, I have a little trouble understanding this choice.
The screen part is based on a 6.5-inch panel with an HD+ resolution with an 89.5% coverage rate, which is good because it covers almost the entire front face. On the bottom, there is nevertheless a black chin of 7 mm, and at the top, the notch drops to water, which leaves room for the selfie sensor.
From the performance point of view, let’s keep in mind the price of the Realme C21Y. Do not expect a SnapDragon 8 Gen 1 or a Dimensity 9000; here we already have a Unisoc T610, which has 8 Cortex A55 cores and Cortex and A75, which allows efficient cores and high-performance cores, which is one of the advantages of the ARM architecture.
This SoC T610, on the other hand, only supports a maximum of 6 GB of RAM in LPDDR4 (and even LPDDR3), which in itself is very light. In addition, the SoC embeds an ARM Mali G52 GPU, which, on the other hand, offers very limited performance for a GPU, as you will see in the 3DMark benchmarks.
In terms of storage and RAM, the Realme C21Y has 32 GB of storage as well as 3 GB of RAM, Welcome to 2015. Well, I’m kidding, but it’s true that it’s somewhat light for a smartphone in 2021. Even if the phone only cost 10,500 TK, at least 64 GB of storage would not have been too much. On the other hand, for storage, there is the possibility of adding more via an SD card, which is a good point.
The Antutu score of the Realme C21Y is 202813 points, which in itself is not a bad score for this kind of smartphone. Indeed, with such components and at such a low price, I did not expect a score like this. I must admit, it’s quite surprising for a general score.
Nevertheless, despite a relatively good score for this Realme C21Y, which even exceeds the Nova 8i by 15,000 points, the fluidity is not there. It is most certainly linked to the graphics performance, which prevents good acceleration, as well as to these unfortunate 3 gigabytes of RAM. Nevertheless, for 10,500 TK, it is perfectly honest.
The GeekBench 5 score of the Realme C21Y is 1281 in multi-core and 347 in single-core, which is not bad at all. In itself, it is not really the CPU that holds the phone back. Here the score is very consistent, especially given the CPU configuration.
Indeed, we have a Unisoc T610 composed of 8 cores, including six ARM Cortex-A55 clocked at 1.8 GHz as well as two ARM Cortex-A75 efficiency cores clocked at 1.8 GHz, which is not bad, even if it remains an entry-level chip.
On the storage side, this Realme C21Y has 32 GB of storage as well as 3 GB of RAM, knowing that it is possible to have it in a 4 GB version of RAM. The RAM is configured in LPDDR4X, which is the current standard.
In order to test the storage and the RAM, I used the Performance Test, which shows the speeds of the RAM, which are 1593 MB/s in reading and 1566 MB/s in writing. It’s not exceptional, far from it, but it’s not bad either. The latencies of the Realme C21Y are 92.7 ns, which is quite correct for the price of the device.
In storage, the speeds are 106 MB/s in reading and 111 MB/s in writing, and this is surely the problem, it is clearly not fast. We have seen much better, even on entry-level smartphones.
The SoC T610 of this Realme C21Y embeds an ARM Mali G52 GPU, which offers very basic performance. It is a GPU with fairly low raw performance. Nevertheless, it will allow you to watch 1080p videos without worrying as well as play some games without lags. In particular, I tried on Mupen64Plus with the Glide64 video plugin, and the N64 games ran without any problems, even with the maximum resolution of the screen, which is a good thing.
In order to test the raw performance of the GPU I obviously used this good old 3DMark using all possible tests although only the Wild Life was functional. The Realme C21Y is not compatible with the Vulkan engine.
These are obviously very low scores, yet we have already seen worse, believe me. In itself, the Mali G52 defends itself better than others, which is not a bad thing, believe me.
As I explained previously, the screen of the Realme C21Y is based on a 6.5-inch panel with an 89.5% coverage ratio of the surface of the smartphone. A phone like this could hardly carry a Full HD + AMOLED screen with a high refresh rate given its price. The product has to sell and bring in a margin, which is logical.
Nevertheless, the screen remains pleasant, and the colors are quite beautiful, although they lack contrast and brightness. Indeed, the brightness is 400 cd/m2, which is quite low but is sufficient for a smartphone that costs around 10,500 TK.
Of course, the HD+ screen is based on a resolution of 1600 x 720 pixels, which lets the pixels appear. It’s not so disturbing as long as the panel is not very bright and makes this detail quite discreet. A rather disturbing point, I find, is the viewing angle, which is quite low. Indeed, if you tilt the screen or you are not well in front, the images darken a lot, which I find quite a pity.
Note that the refresh rate is 60 Hz, which, of course, seems logical on an entry-level phone like this, even if it is still quite fluid despite the general performance of the smartphone.
In the smartphone settings, there is the possibility to switch from light mode to dark mode, as on most current smartphones. In addition, it is possible to change the colors and contrasts for three different modes, although I recommend the first. The different modes are:
Just below, in the same section, it will be possible to adjust the colors between standard, warm and cold, but also to modify them thanks to the colorimetric spectrum circle. These settings depend on individual preferences.
It will also be possible to activate the adaptive brightness, which adapts to ambient light in order to darken or lighten the screen. It’s pretty well done, it works.
On the camera side, you can imagine that on a 10,500 TK smartphone, you should not expect the best possible results. Nevertheless, the sensors defend themselves very well for the price of this smartphone. Indeed, we have here three sensors at the back and one sensor at the front, which offer the following configuration:
Sensor Main sensor Ultra wide-angle Depth sensor Front
That in itself is technically not bad for a phone like this. The various sensors work well overall, although, of course, you should not expect wonders in terms of results on a photo. In addition, you will have the following options:
This still leaves some interesting possibilities in terms of photos and videos. This will be perfectly sufficient for someone who wants to take very basic photos or videos, but without being demanding.
In automatic mode, it’s very basic, the contrasts are simple without being transcendent, the light balances too, nothing exceptional. The main sensor offers a resolution of 13 MP, which is quite low when you see what some of the brand’s smartphones can carry. Nevertheless, for a few thousand TK, it is quite honest overall. It takes very basic photos with quite low quality, but at least it works.
The main sensor of this Realme C21Y is an x4, not optical of course, but digital. He is clearly not exceptional, although he at least has the merit of being present and fulfilling his role.
It’s possible to zoom in on objects without too much trouble, but don’t expect to get usable photos given the pixelation of the photos taken. It’s not really usable outside of seeing something far away (not too far either).
The front camera is based on a very basic 5 MP sensor. The light and colors are bland, as are the contrasts. Nevertheless, we can thank Android for offering treatments that smooth the photos were taken. The advantage here remains the integration options, which help with image processing to make up for the worries.
The wearing mode is not optimal either; the background blur is quite badly drawn on the perimeter of the face. Nevertheless, it is there and works, so it is already a good point, even if it is clearly not with this smartphone that you will make your best portraits to publish on Instagram.
Night shots work on any device thanks to a larger aperture and longer exposure time. On this smartphone, of course, it’s the same principle.
In itself, it’s not bad at all. It works overall, although it’s clearly not the best I’ve seen. Don’t expect wonders, it remains a smartphone and a cheap smartphone, moreover. The light balances are quite basic, as are the contrasts, which is what comes up a lot on the sensors of this smartphone.
Realme UI is nice like OS, it is quite close to Android Stock which personally I really like. For my part, I am a fan of MIUI, EMUI, and other OneUI (from Xiaomi, Huawei, or Samsung) with ultra-personalized interfaces. However, some users like me also appreciate the interfaces that are very close to stock Android.
Indeed, this makes it possible to have a basic OS that is therefore fluid and functional but that still includes some interesting features. Of course, it has Android Stock features such as the application drawer or the basic settings integrated into the notification center.
Widgets are obviously present, but nothing integrated from Realme. The concern is that we depend a lot on Google services and we quickly see that the brand has very little integrated its own personalization touch, as other manufacturers do with the same kind of product.
The Realme UI has a relatively simple and intuitive design, although I’m personally not a fan. The applications are very easy to find, and the other visual functions, such as notifications, integrate well and offer fairly simple and functional management.
The interface incorporates many gestures to navigate the smartphone, which is very practical, much more than the virtual buttons at the bottom of the screen. Note that on a smartphone like this, it is not very fluid.
In terms of sound, we only have one speaker on the back of the smartphone, which does not allow any stereo sound. That in itself is good enough for a smartphone in terms of specifications, but the sound isn’t great either.
Indeed, without surrounding noise, the sound is rather clear and it is enough to watch a video. However, do not expect wonders in terms of sound quality. I tested different music and the sound saturates very quickly on a lot of basic frequencies. In addition, there is no bass, and the highs are too loud.
On the other hand, it is perfectly possible to take advantage of a wired or Bluetooth earphone or headset without any worries. Indeed, the smartphone is equipped with Bluetooth 5.0 as well as a 3.5 mm jack port, which will allow you to connect to all the references on the market.
That’s not bad if you just want to watch YouTube videos once in a while. That’s more than enough on a phone like this. Keep in mind that the C21Y is an entry-level phone.
The battery of this Realme C21Y has a capacity of 5000 mAh, which is really good for a smartphone. Moreover, given the components that are embedded in this smartphone, the consumption can only be below.
However, despite its fairly large capacity, the phone discharges quite quickly, even without doing anything. This in itself is not catastrophic, but I prefer to point it out. Indeed, on a 10,500 TK phone, we cannot expect the best battery on the market. However, it can last a full day without any worries, and I just wanted to do a comparison with what I have seen elsewhere on higher-end smartphones.
There is also the possibility, as on most Android smartphones, of activating the super energy-saving mode, which allows you to leave only what is strictly necessary in order to save the battery as much as possible if no charger is nearby and for a relatively long period of time.
In terms of connectivity it is very basic, but in itself sufficient for this smartphone and we have the necessary. Indeed, the Realme C21Y consists of the following connectors:
Yes, Micro-USB on a smartphone released in 2021. Although it is not a bad connector in terms of quality, we would expect more from USB Type-C, which today costs nothing to integrate. In and of itself, the connector is of good quality, but you should not expect fast charging or impressive transfer speeds.
The 3.5 mm jack port is still present too, but for once I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Indeed, this allows you to connect headphones or wired headsets, which will always offer you better possibilities than Bluetooth in terms of sound quality (on the high end, of course).
As for the network, it is very limited. The C21Y only has Wi-Fi 5 and 4G. The speeds are low, but sufficient, although sometimes frustrating, especially when you have a high-performance Wi-Fi 6 router like our Asus XT8 on which you can’t even connect, so we used our classic box. The speeds here are 18.6 Mbps down and 27.6 up which is, you will agree, very low.
The 4G bands are fairly standard and are as follows:
As you can see, these are the most basic bands out there, but they will allow better speeds than what I was able to obtain on Wi-Fi, which is not a bad thing at all.
For an entry-level phone, I was very pleased to see an in-display fingerprint sensor that really works, not like the easy recognition that can be unlocked with simple photos.
The sensor is very easy to configure in the Realme UI 3.0 settings; it takes seconds and works great. The sensor itself is responsive and unlocks the phone with no hassle. We can just note the small lack of precision sometimes linked to the fact that it is placed on the back of the smartphone, which is not practical. Would Realme have taken its molds from the Realme 7i to make this smartphone?
You will note all the same that the famous facial recognition by photo is present. You will agree that it is clearly a gadget and not a real security device because it is completely possible to unlock via a simple photo of a good size. tested and disapproved by the editorial staff.
On the other hand, it benefits from all the security updates as well as all the related devices integrated into the Realme UI in the same way as the brand’s more high-end smartphones.
The Realme C21Y is an entry-level smartphone. Nevertheless, it offers those who do not have or do not want to put a substantial budget into a phone the possibility of having functions and characteristics that are generally interesting. Nevertheless, knowing that it is a smartphone at a 10,500 TK, we should not expect performance and premium quality, although it is not bad at all in the market. Overall, it’s excellent value for money.
The Realme C21Y is an entry-level smartphone that offers a sober design and interesting features. It remains a cheap smartphone, but holds up and does the job it is asked to do.