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Realme Narzo 10 review: a capable gaming smartphone on a budget

Realme has emerged as one of the fastest-growing smartphone brands in India within just a couple of years of its inception. The brand has been going toe-to-toe with Xiaomi, the leading player in the market for a while now. Realme has managed to unnerve the Chinese brand by aping every move and every device in the country. Now, for the first time Realme is charting its own course and launched a series of affordable smartphones with loaded features, which doesn’t come close on the heels of a Xiaomi or Redmi launch.

Also read: Realme 6 review: raising the bar in the budget segment

The company recently announced a new series of affordable smartphones called Narzo and launched two new devices –  Narzo 10 and Narzo 10A. Realme is targeting youth of the country with the new series as they both feature gaming-centric processors, good camera setups, attractive design and more as their highlights. I have had my SIM card in the Narzo 10 for the last one week, and here’s my detailed review of the phone.

Design and display

Before we delve into the design of the Realme Narzo 10, let me just acknowledge that it’s the re-branded Realme 6i for the Indian market. Therefore, you get the same matte finish polycarbonate back panel with a linear vertical pattern on the back, which resembles parallel beams when the light hits at an angle. I was surprised by the heft on the smartphone considering it’s crafted entirely from polycarbonate, and that could be largely credited to the beefy battery. The even weight distribution and matte finish on the back ensure that the Narzo 10 has a solid hand feel with a good grip.

Realme has launched the smartphone in two colours – That Green and That White. I received the latter, and was glad because it hides smudges effectively. If you want to use a case though, the retail box includes the signature smoky Realme case.

The Narzo 10 comes with a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, which is incredibly fast and accurate. There’s also super-fast face recognition and if you have it enabled, chances are you will not have to use the fingerprint scanner. Other elements on the Narzo 10 include USB Type-C flanked by 3.5mm audio jack and speaker grille on either side at the bottom. The power button is located on the right and volume buttons on the left with a SIM tray. The SIM tray features dual nano SIM slots and a dedicated microSD card slot.

The Narzo 10 features a 6.5-inch HD+ display just like the Realme 5i (first impressions), with a waterdrop notch and thick chin. Just like the 5i, the Narzo 10 comes with a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for protection against accidental scratches and drops. Realme has equipped the Narzo 10 with features like Dark Mode, screen colour adjustment, eye care and more features.

For an LCD screen, I was happy with the contrast, sharpness, brightness and viewing angles provided by the Narzo 10. However, there’s no Widevine L1 support, which means you will have to be content with SD resolution while streaming your favourite movies or shows on the smartphone.

Cameras

In the camera department, the Narzo 10 comes with quad cameras at the rear. The primary camera is a 48MP f/1.8 unit, which shoots 12MP pixel-binned photos by default. There is a dedicated 48MP mode if you wish to capture full-resolution images. The remaining cameras include an 8MP f/2.3 ultra-wide, 2MP monochrome and 2MP macro sensor.

The camera app comes with features like AI scene recognition, Croma Boost, night mode, portrait and expert mode among others. The phone can also record videos up to 1080p at up to 60fps.

Coming to the real-life performance, the primary camera shoots in 12MP mode by default as mentioned before. The images clicked in the daylight turned out to be pretty good, with ample details and accurate colours. I found the colours to be slightly on the muted side and more natural, but in case you prefer a more punchy look, you can turn on the Croma Boost option. The 48MP mode does add more details and bumps up the contrast, which is noticeable even on the smartphone display.

The wide-angle shots have slight edge distortion but that’s to be expected from an affordable smartphone. The monochrome/depth sensors work in tandem with the primary 48MP camera. While the edge-detection is adequate and background blur is aesthetic, you might find yourself dealing with a fuzzy edge detection on occasions due to a stray hair strand. The ultra-macro shots appear to be crisp prima facie on the phone, but if you pixel peep, the details are fuzzy.

The low light images captured using standard mode turned out to be noisy, however, if you use the night mode the picture quality does improve, albeit only slightly. The night mode simply boosts the exposure, the noise levels remain the same.

The selfie camera on the Narzo 10 is a 16MP sensor with an f/2.0 aperture size. There is the usual assortment of features like AI beautification, slim face, thin nose, skin smoothening and more. The regular selfies taken in the daylight were pretty sharp and had a good amount of detail. However, the portrait mode tends to muddle up the edges and I would suggest not using it at all.

Performance, software, and battery

Coming to the performance, the Realme Narzo 10 is the first smartphone in India to come equipped with the MediaTek Helio G80 processor. The 12nm chipset is a budget gaming SoC from MediaTek, accompanied by a Mali-G52 MC2 GPU. Realme is offering the Narzo 10 in a single variant with 4GB RAM and 128GB storage. Out of the box, device offers around 108GB of storage.

In day to day usage, the Realme Narzo 10 doesn’t break a sweat. I was able to switch between the newly launched Forza Street and Amazon Prime Video smoothly, even with a lot of apps open in the background.

As for gaming, the Narzo 10 started PUBG Mobile by default in HD graphics and High refresh rate. Thanks to the 720p display, the processor didn’t have to push much of the firepower to the visuals and as a result, the gameplay was smooth. I also tried Call of Duty: Mobile and Forza Street on the smartphone, and these titles run like a hot knife through butter on the Narzo 10. During my review period, thanks to the ongoing lockdown, I gamed extensively on the Narzo 10 and I am yet to encounter an instance of the smartphone heating up.

The integrated Game Space feature in Realme UI also contributes to a smooth gaming experience by freeing up memory, stopping notifications and more. The Android 10-based Realme UI an improved ColorOS with a cleaner interface and enhanced visual cues. The software comes with a ton of features like a system-wide dark mode, digital wellbeing, app cloner, split-screen and more, which are actually useful to the end-user. The software does have a bit of bloatware like Helo, Gaana, Dailyhunt and more, but most of these apps can be uninstalled.

In the battery department, the Narzo 10 comes with a mammoth 5,000mAh cell with support for 18W fast charging. Realme is providing an 18W charger with the Narzo 10, and it charged the phone from zero to 100 percent in just under 1.5 hours. With a couple of hours of gaming, frequent WhatsApp and Telegram usage, YouTube and Instagram, the battery easily lasted me an entire day.

The competition

The Realme Narzo 10 has been launched in India for Rs 11,999. At this price point, the only true contender for the newest launch is the Redmi Note 8 (review), which recently received a price hike and is now retailing for Rs 11,499. The Redmi Note 8 features a higher 6GB RAM configuration and a sharper full HD+ display. It’s on par with the Narzo 10 when it comes to the fast charging capabilities and camera configuration, but features a smaller 4,000mAh battery and Snapdragon 665 processor.

Another contender for the Realme Narzo 10 is the Samsung Galaxy M20. The Galaxy M20 flaunts a massive 5,000mAh battery and a sharper Full HD+ display. However, the device misses out on the processor as it offers  Samsung’s Exynos 7904 processor. Also, the camera setup on the Galaxy M20 is a 13MP dual setup.

If you can stretch your budget a little more, the Realme 6 is another good option. It offers a 90Hz display, 64MP quad cameras, Helio G90t chipset, side-mounted fingerprint scanner, and more.

Bottomline

The Narzo 10 comes in as a perfect stop-gap model between the Realme C-series and this year’s Realme 6 duo. Moreover, with pleasing design, good gaming performance, decent cameras and impressive battery life, the Narzo 10 might strike the right chord with its target audience. Therefore, if you are a college student looking for a capable yet stylish smartphone but have a hard cap on your budget, Narzo 10 is the way to go.

Pricebaba’s rating: 8.5 / 10

What works:

  • Good gaming performance
  • Runs Android 10 out of the box
  • Attractive design
  • Large battery

What doesn’t:

  • 720p display
  • Portrait mode is hit and miss
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Abhiman Biswas

Abhiman is obsessed with all things tech. His hobbies include reading on his Kindle and clicking random pictures on his phone. His secret superpowers happen to be mixing great cocktails and lip reading. In his spare time, you are likely to find him cleaning his aquascape, researching new species of aquatic fishes and planning which aquatic plants to buy next.