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Asphalt 8 Airborne vs Real Racing 3: Android racing game comparison

androidpit racing games teaser
© nextpit

Two of the most popular racing games on Android are about to go head to head. Which handles the smoothest? Which has the best engine? Which has the sparkliest paint job? Okay enough of the metaphors, I’m going for a test drive with these Android racing games on our Google Nexus 7 (2013). Let’s take a look…

androidpit racing games teaser


EA Mobile have a ton or popular Android games under their belt, such as Plants vs Zombies and The Simpsons: Tapped Out. Real Racing 3 is one of the most downloaded racing games on Android, featuring astounding graphics, officially licensed tracks and tons of cars, it offers a true-to-life racing experience.

real racing 3 screenshot one
Real Racing 3 is serious business. / © ANDROIDPIT

Gameloft are another huge Android developer, producing titles like the Real Football series and the recently released Modern Combat 5. Asphalt 8: Airborne is the latest addition to their widely popular Asphalt series, focusing more on exotic locations and crazy stunts than the grounded realism of Real Racing.

asphalt eight screenshot one
The Asphalt 8: Airborne title screen hints at the over-the-top action you can expect from it. / © ANDROIDPIT


Real Racing 3

In Real Racing 3 you begin your journey with only one car and no status, and must win competitions to improve both. There are a variety of real-life races to take part in, all but one are locked when you first begin the game, so you are steadily introduced to bigger races and steeper competition as you progress.

There is certainly a lot of content here, each race has a variety of challenges. You earn money and fame by completing each race, and the money awarded allows you to unlock more cars or upgrade your existing ones. Your car needs to be serviced or upgraded from time to time and you must either spend the money awarded from your winnings or from in-app purchases. One means you will have to wait for a few minutes for the repairs to take place and the other is instant. (You can guess which payment method is instant.)

real racing 3 screenshot two
Once you have unlocked a race, your car still needs to meet a certain "PR standard" to qualify, meaning spending more money or points to upgrade it. / © ANDROIDPIT

Real Racing is a really comprehensive package, it has leaderboard integration so you can see how your friends are doing and try to beat their high scores, and some great race events like an elimination mode where every twenty seconds the person in last place is eliminated, which adds another layer of excitement to the proceedings.

But some annoying things get in the way. It’s great that Real Racing can offer real cars and locations, but the price structure is crazy. You are often prompted to spend real life cash to fix up your car, and while this may just be the state of free to play games, it’s incredibly cynical that you are almost forced to spend real money to progress. It’s an unneccessary limit that only detracts from the overall experience. Also, I was often prompted to download albeit small updates when I wanted to play certain levels or challenges.

real racing 3 screenshot three
Real Racing 3 does well to remain stable with so many on-screen vehicles. / © ANDROIDPIT 

Asphalt 8

Asphalt 8 throws realism out the window. If you’re familiar with something like the “Burnout” series, you should be right at home with Asphalt 8. It relies on drifting, using turbo boosts, and making jumps to stay ahead of the competition. It is frantic and often exhilarating.

By the 8th iteration of the game you would hope Gameloft know how to make the racing mechanics work, and truthfully the actual racing is fantastic. You get a real sense of speed and drama, crashes feel realistic, the tilt controls work nicely, and blasting through London city streets or the Nevada desert is beautiful. Crashing your car at high speed causes a “wreck”, which happens often. Fortunately, the penalty only takes you of the race for a second or two.

asphalt eight screenshot four
Asphalt 8 offers you a number of ways to customize your ride. / © ANDROIDPIT 

Like Real Racing, you can purchase in game currency or earn it through winning races, but it doesn’t pose quite as significant a threat to your wallet as EA’s offering does. For starters, your vehicles won’t cost you money to be maintained. You are reminded of what you can purchase before every race however.

Asphalt 8 features quite a brutal online experience which worked super-quick, in no time at all I was up and running with other players. It also has some other interesting modes which focus less on simply racing to the finish line, like Knockdown, where you must create more crashes than your competition.  

asphalt eight screenshot three
The motion blur and particle effects of Asphalt 8 really add to the experience. / © ANDROIDPIT 


Real Racing 3

EA have done a good job of making the controls feel responsive enough for the tight turns and precise handling necessary to beat your opponents. The brakes and acceleration are already taken care of for you, so all you do is rotate the device in your hand. The races are decided by how well you can master the turns, the controls are all-important, but thankfully EA have delivered in this department. Gesture controls aren’t really my thing, but neither are touch-screens, and while the screen never feels like I have complete control, I was impressed that most of the time it did what it should.

real racing 3 screenshot five
Real Racing 3's gesture controls are responsive and intuitive. / © ANDROIDPIT 

Asphalt 8

Asphalt 8 handles in a similar way to Real Racing 3 but adds on screen controls for another layer of depth, and difficulty, which I found it hard to manage on the Nexus 7. It’s simple enough in principle, you rotate the device like a steering wheel to turn right and left, but tapping the left side of the screen manages your braek/drift, and tapping the right side uses your "boost". Maybe this will work better on smaller devices, but I often worried I would drop my tablet when trying to avoid on-screen danger. 

asphalt eight screenshot two
Asphalt 8: Airborne certainly lives up to its name... / © ANDROIDPIT 


Real Racing 3

Overall, Real Racing 3 has great presentation and graphics, even if there is a frame rate drop at the start of races or when all the cars are together on-screen. There are a ton of different stages, including some nice city levels, and the car models look really sharp. Realistic physics also ensure damage appears on your car in real-time, with bumpers hanging off and trunks caving in when they become damaged.

real racing 3 screenshot four
Real Racing 3's graphics engine makes it look fantastic on devices that can handle it. / © ANDROIDPIT

Asphalt 8

Asphalt 8: Airborne houses some of the best graphics I’ve ever seen on a game from the Play Store. Brilliant particle effects, destructable environments and debris, and on-screen facets like lens glare all add to the already great art style. The locations, while fewer than in Real Racing 3, are completely different from each other, and there are a number of cool things going on in the background to distract you, from hot air balloons and planes flying past, to giant robots just hanging out. It's really impressive.

asphalt eight screenshot five
At night Asphalt 8 looks particularly impressive. / © ANDROIDPIT 


It goes without saying that both of these games can become money guzzlers if you let them, so in the end it depends on whether you favor a realistic driving sim or an arcadey romp. For me, Asphalt 8 has more interesting and exciting minute-to-minute racing. It’s hard to create a realistic feel on an Android device, so Real Racer 3 is already fighting a losing battle. Asphalt 8 also makes success without spending money a little more achievable, and has a better soundtrack too. So I think Asphalt 8: Airborne has pipped Real Racing 3 to the post.


Have you played either of these Android racing games yet?

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Scott Adam Gordon

Scott Adam Gordon

Originally from the UK, Scott graduated in Popular Music Studies at Newcastle University and attributes much of his success there to his beloved Samsung Galaxy S2. His current aim is to write cool things about Android. And he loves it.

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  • 1
    Deactivated Account Jul 30, 2018 Link to comment

    After thorough testing of both franchises, I deleted Asphalt. Real Racing 3 has better multiplayer and solo play. The cars handles far better in RR3, and this is crucial for any racing game. You can also transfer save to Apple tv and play with controller on tv.

  • 1
    Dylan Bigley Dec 16, 2017 Link to comment

    Every time I download Real Racing 3, I find myself never playing it and playing Real Racing 2 lol

  • 1
    Tirth patel Oct 30, 2016 Link to comment

    Which is safe game for the ipad mini 2
    Either real racing 3 or asphalt 8 airborne

    • 1
      Dylan Bigley Dec 16, 2017 Link to comment

      Definitely Asphalt 8 mainly because it is less pay-to-win and the steering controls are better for a bigger device

  • Tabom Gamdik 1
    Tabom Gamdik Oct 28, 2015 Link to comment

    Best graphics android game according to you

  • 3
    kasir abidi Nov 10, 2014 Link to comment

    Real racing just like other EA titles are made for money making and players are forced to pay in order to win or continue playing. i played real racing but after couple of races you have to buy in game cash to proceed or leave the device and take a nap or just delete. i did the last :)
    asphalt i havent tried yet but will try now on my nexus 5

    Scott Adam Gordon

  • 11
    Random Username Jul 27, 2014 Link to comment

    It's just like Battlefield vs CoD. I prefer BF.

    Scott Adam Gordon

    • Scott Adam Gordon 31
      Scott Adam Gordon Jul 28, 2014 Link to comment

      Haha yup. I prefer almost anything to CoD, really.

      • 11
        Random Username Jul 28, 2014 Link to comment

        So why did you think Asphalt is better?

      • Scott Adam Gordon 31
        Scott Adam Gordon Jul 28, 2014 Link to comment

        Was more fluid, the actual "racing" aspect of it felt better to play. Less focus on in-app purchases. More interesting locations. Real Racing is attempting to recreate Gran Turismo on a touchscreen device and I think that's a very hard thing to do. The outrageous style of Asphalt 8: Airborne suits the medium better.

        Mohammad Ab.

      • 1
        PrateekDalal Sep 9, 2014 Link to comment

        Please don't criticise COD :/

      • Scott Adam Gordon 31
        Scott Adam Gordon Sep 11, 2014 Link to comment

        Haha well CoD games always make brilliant use of the technology/hardware and I can't deny Activision know how to please fans! I'm not criticizing - CoD just isn't for me. :)

      • 1
        Deactivated Account Jul 30, 2018 Link to comment

        Real Racing works brilliant with gamepad. I have played more than 100 racing games, and RR3 has the best racing feel on mobile by far. I don't care about paying a few bucks, as long as I get the best game. I have played Real Racing 3 for more than 700 hours, and I am still just as exited to play as when I first started to play.

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