Realme Narzo review: Narzo 10 vs Narzo 10A, here's what these look like!
If there’s one brand that has legitimately taken the fight to Xiaomi across smartphone price segments, it is Realme. The cat-and-mouse between the two brands has ensured Indian consumers are getting more bang for their buck than ever before, particularly in the sub-20,000 rupee segment. Now, with the Narzo sub-brand, Realme is looking to “target younger users who demand performance, camera, and style within a budget” a.k.a. the Redmi budget category! How do the first two Narzo phones – the pricier-by-comparison Narzo 10 and the budget-focussed Narzo 10A – fare, and do they do enough to displace the well-entrenched competition? Let’s find out.
Realme may have been aiming to hit a specific price point to undercut the competition, but the Narzo 10 looks way slicker and more premium than its price suggests, particularly with that eye-catching vertical pinstripe design in the ‘That Green’ unit I reviewed. The phone is easy to grip albeit a little difficult to operate one-handed, primarily due to its tall 20:9 aspect ratio screen and the hefty 5000mAh battery it packs in – the latter I found was a compromise well worth making.
Under the hood is the gaming-focused Mediatek Helio G80 chip with its powerful integrated graphics capabilities, and Realme has released the Narzo 10 in just a single 4GB of RAM/128GB of storage variant, avoiding the clutter and possible cannibalization of higher-priced phones in its own portfolio. In day to day usage, the Narzo was competent at handling moderate workloads, pausing only to take a breather when dealing with heavy games or apps. The G80 may not hold a candle to the Snapdragon 720G found in slightly pricier phones, but it holds its own in games, supporting high frame rates and bumped up graphics in PUBG Mobile, for instance. It’s worth noting that the phone would get warm after about half an hour of gameplay, but your gaming session wouldn’t get cut short with the massive 5000 mAh battery inside (lasts over a day of heavy use). Should you need to juice up really quick, there’s an 18W fast charger in the box.
The 6.5-inch 720p HD+ display on the Narzo 10 is bright and sharp, but colours could have been more vibrant, and some competing phones even opt for a full-HD display at similar price points. Realme UI is well-tuned to the device, but there are a lot of pre-installed apps and the odd notification spam that’s becoming quite the (necessary) pain to deal with in budget phones.
Yet, it’s the cameras on the rear which draw the most attention, with a quad-camera setup like many pricier models. The primary 48MP shoots detailed, well exposed shots when under good light, as does the 8MP ultra-wide angle, although there’s a tendency for images to be occasionally over-saturated. Night mode shots are usable, although the same cannot be said about the rather mediocre 2MP macro shots. Portrait mode shots with the 2MP depth sensor are just about average.
In all, the Narzo starts off looking like an excellent budget alternative to the Redmi Note 9 Pro or the Realme 6 but ends up looking like a phone that makes some compromises towards delivering at a compelling price point. Pick it up for its strengths in battery life and gaming performance.
The Narzo 10A may well be the more affordable model in the series, but it’s quite frankly the one to watch, more so considering the equivalent Redmi 9 series variant hasn’t launched as yet in India. Starting with design, it’s the same dimensions as the Realme C3 that came before it, albeit with a marked shift in the rear panel which now has a cleaner matte finish (as seen in the So White unit I’ve reviewed) and the Realme logo emblazoned across the back. The brand is finally getting comfortable in its skin to make its branding front and center…or in this case, rear and to the right! The tall and narrow theme (20:9 aspect ratio) continues in the Narzo 10A, and you get a physical fingerprint sensor on the back, something that’s fast becoming a hygiene element even at this low base price point.
Powering the Realme UI experience is a MediaTek G70 chip with 3GB of memory and 32GB of storage, and you get a 6.5-inch HD 720x1600 pixel display, all of which come together rather nicely at this price point. No major issues during use, save for the occasional stutter while launching big apps or editing heavy photos, and gaming fared equally well with Asphalt 9 and PUBG Mobile playing at mid-to-high settings. The problem of bloatware and promotional notifications continues here, but the rest of the software experience is refined and quite the revelation for a sub-10,000 rupee phone. Battery life is the standout feature, and the G70 and the lower-resolution screen barely sips battery throughout the day. This is a phone that can easily go two days plus on moderate workloads. When you do manage to drain the battery, it takes a fair while to charge at 10W, but that’s to be expected at this price point.
The cameras on the 10A are standard fare – a 12MP main camera with a 2MP depth sensor plus a 2MP macro – which take decent landscapes and people shots in good light, but fared far worse in low light, again a common theme in this segment. Videos fare about the same. Yet, at Rs. 8,499, Realme has pulled quite a number with the Narzo 10A – it misses no major tricks, battery life is stupendous and the overall experience of using the phone is rather good…I’d even go so far as to say it’s the better of the two Narzo devices, for sure. The cameras are a weakness, but the rest of the phone delivers, and how!
Realme Narzo 10
Pros: Premium looks, stellar battery life, good performance
Cons: Average camera, bloatware, lower resolution display, missing 5GHz wifi and 60fps video
Price: Rs. 11,999
Realme Narzo 10A
Pros: Excellent battery life, good performance, superb value for money, clean design
Cons: Lacks a modern Type-C port, weak audio, average camera
Price: Rs. 8,499