Realme might be a little-known name in the smartphone industry for those in the west. In India, the story is pretty much the opposite, where Realme smartphones are all over.
In a recent report, it’s estimated that the Oppo sub-brand shipped 11% of all smartphones that arrived in India in Q1 2021, among them the Narzo 30 Pro 5G, one of the cheapest 5G smartphones you can lay your hands on.
While the ability to churn out affordable yet capable smartphones has propelled Realme to higher heights, the challenge of staying at the helm is seemingly becoming a daunting one each passing day.
For those new to the Realme realm, the company first arrived on the smartphone scene in 2018 as an Oppo subsidiary. At the time, its devices ran on the Chinese company’s ColorOS skin.
Fast-forward to today, Realme UI powers Realme phones out of the box. Sure, CEO Madhav and co. have often sold Realme UI as a standalone skin, but we all know it’s still massively based on ColorOS albeit with minor tweaks here and there.
The decision to ditch ColorOS and go solo meant that Realme had to work with the relatively small team at its disposal. At first, operations were smooth owing to the small number of devices available for maintenance.
But like any other Chinese smartphone vendor, Realme wasn’t able to hold back when it came to releasing new models. In just a little over three years, Realme has over 70 smartphones.
Developing and maintaining software for such a massive set of devices is no easy feat. Evidently, the workload seems to have begun taking toll on Realme’s small team.
As a result, we are no longer seeing the timely updates that characterized the company’s burst onto the smartphone scene a couple of years ago.
Today, Realme UI updates are synonymous with lengthy delays and even when the new firmware eventually arrives, there’s often a new bunch of bugs, issues and other problems in company.
Take the recent Realme UI 2.0 update that is supposed to bring Android 11 to several Realme devices, for instance. To date, nearly half of all eligible devices are yet to bag the update.
For the few lucky ones, the update has only been made available for beta testing, a process Realme says takes up to 16 weeks (early access open beta) before the stable version is ready for deployment.
In short, Realme says once a device receives its first taste of Android 11 via the early access program, owners will have to wait for at least 4 months before the stable version arrives.
Call it whatever you may, but this is nothing close to the software experience many signed up for when buying Realme phones.
And I tend to believe this change has more to do with the overstretched workforce that Realme has working on multiple software updates. Of course, the workforce has been expanding, but it’s still overwhelmed.
We’ve always been committed to the local community. Here’s our roadmap to continue making world-class products in India:
👉Expand local workforce to 10,000 in 2020
👉Hire 5,000 sales team members
👉#MakeInIndia approx. 60% of #realme smartphone supplies
👉Production line for TVs pic.twitter.com/VWOz6kOcGK
— Madhav Sheth (@MadhavSheth1) July 24, 2020
So, what now? Hire more software developers to reduce the workload for the current staff? While this could be an option, it would mean extra expenses for such a small company, in turn hiking the prices of its otherwise affordable phones.
Alternatively, Realme could take the OnePlus route and turn back to its parent company for support. We recently saw the fan-favorite brand making a bold move of ditching HydrogenOS in favor of ColorOS back in China.
According to OnePlus, this move is supposed to help the company speed up software development and rollout not just in China, but also across OxygenOS devices.
While we haven’t seen any results from the survey, this isn’t something to sweep under the carpet. For a company to run such a survey, there’s definitely something cooking.
Is Realme indeed considering a switch back to ColorOS? Well, for now, I don’t have the answer to this. However, I think this could just be the move the company needs right now.
Given its size and resources, I don’t think it’d be a problem for Oppo to absorb the current Realme software development team back to the main group and have them work on ColorOS updates and not a separate Realme UI update.
And looking at the struggles Realme is experiencing to deliver Android 11 updates to its devices compared to the progress Oppo is making with ColorOS 11, one wouldn’t mind having the latter take control of the entire situation.
I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but if it does, this move might as well be the best decision for Realme right now if it aims to keep its software updates house in order, even if it may not be the most popular decision.
For our Realme readers, I’d like to hear what you have to say on this. Should Realme move back to ColorOS to try speed up software development or the slow nature of Realme UI updates is fine with you?
The comments section is all yours. We also have a Twitter poll below, so be sure to cast your vote within a week, which is when the article will be updated with the results.
Time for a #poll!
Do you think Realme switching from Realme UI and back to ColorOS would speed up software development and rollout?
— PiunikaWeb (@PiunikaWeb) July 25, 2021
PiunikaWeb started as purely an investigative tech journalism website with main focus on ‘breaking’ or ‘exclusive’ news. In no time, our stories got picked up by the likes of Forbes, Foxnews, Gizmodo, TechCrunch, Engadget, The Verge, Macrumors, and many others. Want to know more about us? Head here.