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Realme Narzo 20 review: an iterative upgrade

On: September 22, 2020

Realme launched the Narzo 10 and Narzo 10A (review) earlier this year, with gaming processors, good camera setups, and attractive designs. Both phones offer good value for money in the sub-Rs 15,000 segmet. And now, less than 6 months after their launch, Realme has announced three new models in the Narzo 20 series called the Narzo 20A, Narzo 20, and Narzo 20 Pro.

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

I have the Narzo 20 and it appears to be an iterative upgrade over the Narzo 10. On paper, it brings an updated processor and bigger battery but reduces the number of cameras and has a lower resolution selfie camera. I have been using the smartphone for over a week now, and here’s my review.

Design and display

Two things stood out for me when it comes to the design of the Narzo 20. First, there’s no Realme branding on the smartphone and instead, the phone has the Narzo logo on the back with a ‘Designed by Realme’ text. This could mean that Realme is giving the Narzo series its own identity, much like Xiaomi does for Redmi. Secondly, the Narzo 20 features a new polycarbonate-clad design with a square camera module. The phone is being offered in Victory Blue and Glory Silver colours. I received the latter, which looks quite flashy and stylish.

The back panel has what Realme is calling ‘V for Victory Design’, which is basically diagonal lines from each edge meeting in the middle to form a V-shaped texture on the back. The shiny finish along with the textured pattern creates a visually appealing effect depending on where the light hits. The textured pattern provides a good grip as well. Speaking of which, the smartphone has a good heft to it, thanks to the 6,000mAh battery inside. Despite this, curved back panel and even weight distribution make it comfortable to hold for longer usage.

The back panel houses the triple rear cameras with an LED flash arranged in a 2 x 2 grid in a square module in the top left corner. There’s a circular fingerprint scanner towards the center, which is fast and accurate, as expected from a capacitive module. Other design elements of the Narzo 20  are pretty standard. The left edge only has the dual nano-SIM tray with a dedicated microSD card slot. On the right, you will find the volume and power buttons. The top edge is bare, whereas you will find the speaker grille, USB Type-C port, and 3.5mm audio jack on the bottom.

The display on the Realme Narzo 20 is an IPS LCD HD+ panel measuring 6.5 inches. I was pleasantly surprised with the brightness levels, even in direct sunlight. The sharpness is good, the colours do appear a little dull and the viewing angles are not too great either. The display also has a warm hue to it by default, however, that can be changed by setting the screen colour temperature to cool in settings.

Despite the HD+ resolution, there’s no Widevine L1 support, which means you will only be able to stream online content in standard quality.

Cameras

Realme has equipped the Narzo 20 with a 48MP f/1.8 primary camera. The main unit is accompanied by an 8MP f/2.3 ultra-wide lens and a 2MP f/2.4 macro sensor. Notably, the 2MP BnW portrait sensor from the Narzo 10 has been left out this time and the camera depends on the software for the portrait mode. The front camera also has been downgraded from a 16MP sensor to an 8MP unit on the Narzo 20.

The camera app offers features such as AI scene recognition, Chroma Boost, night mode, portrait, and expert mode, to name a few. As for video recording, it can record 720p and 1080p videos at 30fps and 1080p videos at 60fps.

The primary camera captures 12MP pixel-binned images by default and there’s a dedicated 48MP mode for full resolution pictures. The standard mode captures well-detailed images with natural — read muted — colours. If you are a social media lover and have a liking for images with a saturation boost, there’s the Chroma Boost feature that serves the purpose.

I was particularly impressed by the dedicated night mode on the camera. The standard mode does capture acceptable low-light images but is plagued by fuzzy details, overbearing glare around light sources, and exposure issues. However, the dedicated night mode makes a world of difference. The dedicated mode drastically tones down the glare and brings out the details in shadows as you can see in the gallery above. Additionally, the night mode handles contrast well too, which results in aesthetically pleasing night shots.

Coming to the dedicated lenses, the wide-angle lens works as intended and also captures good details with natural colours. However, there’s a slight barrel distortion, which is not as evident on the smartphone display. The ultra-macro mode lets you get as close as 4cm to the subject but it has a fixed focus and details are blurry. There’s no dedicated depth sensor and I did find softening around the edges in pictures taken using portrait mode.

The 8MP selfie camera captures sharp and detailed selfies but suffers from the reddish tint, which OPPO and Realme smartphones are infamous for. The selfie camera also struggles with the edge-detection in portrait mode as there’s a halo effect around the edges quite often.

Performance, software, and battery

Powering the smartphone is the MediaTek Helio G85 budget gaming chipset. Realme is offering the Narzo 20 in a single 4GB RAM configuration with either 64GB or 128GB storage, depending on the variant. While the chipset is not as powerful as the Snapdragon 7XX series found on the competitors, it’s a capable workhorse.

During my stint, the smartphone managed multitasking and switched between the apps from the recent panel quite smoothly. However, I did notice a split second delay while opening apps like Facebook, Instagram and even the camera. As for gaming, I have been playing Call of Duty: Mobile and Forza Street on the smartphone during my review period. I did notice a little jitter in the latter and the phone does get slightly warm after 20-30 minutes of gaming.

Out of the box, Realme boots Realme UI based on Android 10 and ColorOS 7. If you are coming across the Realme UI for the first time, it’s basically like ColorOS with elements from stock Android like the Google feed and universal Google search bar. The software has the standard set of features including lockscreen magazine, gesture support, smart sidebar, assistive ball, Digital Wellbeing & parental controls, Game Space, and Split Screen. There’s a fair bit of bloatware including Realme’s own stock apps as well as third-party apps.

The highlight of the Narzo 20 is the massive 6,000mAh battery and I could easily see through the second day on a full charge. My usage mainly consisted of a lot of WhatsApp, Instagram, YouTube, and occasional gaming every now and then, and with this usage I found myself plugging in the Narzo 20 around dinner time on the second day. The battery lasted 13 hours and 55 minutes in PCMark battery test, which is par for the course for a 6,000mAh unit. The smartphone supports 18W fast charging, which completely charges the battery in 90 minutes.

The competition

The Realme Narzo 20 has been priced at  Rs 10,499 for the base 64GB model and Rs 11,499 for the 128GB variant. The smartphone competes with the Redmi Note 9 (review) and POCO M2 at this price point. The Redmi Note 9 is another MediaTek Helio G85-powered device. The smartphone offers a 48MP quad-camera setup on the back, which is on par with the Realme offering in our experience. However, it misses out in terms of battery as it features a 5,020mAh unit with 18W charging.

Coming to the POCO M2, the smartphone offers a similar display but with sharper FHD+ screen resolution. The handset is powered by the Helio G80 chipset, which performs more or less the same as the G85 but gets 6GB RAM instead of 4GB. The smartphone does miss out on a 48MP camera and a 6,000mAh battery though.

If you can stretch your budget a little, there’s the Realme 6i (review) and POCO M2 Pro, which are powered by much more powerful MediaTek Helio G90T and Snapdragon 720G chipsets, respectively. Both these smartphones offer 48MP quad rear cameras, 16MP punch-hole selfie cameras, and massive batteries with fast charging.

Bottomline

The Realme Narzo 20 is indeed an iterative upgrade to its predecessor, the Narzo 10. It offers a marginally more powerful processor and a bigger battery. In case you are looking for a stylish handset with good battery backup, the Realme Narzo 20 makes a solid case. However, if you are looking for a performance-oriented device and can stretch your budget a little, there are options like Realme 6i and POCO M2 Pro to consider as mentioned previously.

Pricebaba’s rating: 8 / 10

What works:

  • Bright display
  • Excellent battery life
  • Good cameras
  • Pleasing design

What doesn’t:

  • Inconsistent edge detection in portrait mode
  • Bloatware in Realme UI
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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.