Realme has been on a smartphone launching spree for a while now and even though the ongoing lockdown has played a role in slowing the onslaught, now that there are relaxations in place, the company’s picked up right where it had stopped. Following the launch of the Realme 6 and Realme 6 Pro earlier this year, the company’s now announced a new series that the company likes to call ‘Narzo’. This series which currently comprises of two smartphones — the Narzo 10 and Narzo 10A — sits right between the 8-14k price segment.
While I’m not quite sure why Realme decided to come with a new series altogether but these two phones are essentially minor upgrades to its existing Realme C3 and Realme 5i phones. While I haven’t dabbled with the Narzo 10A just yet, I have spent a bit of time with the Narzo 10 which will retail for INR 11,999 starting 18th May.
Now, for the price, there’s a lot going for the Narzo 10. It features MediaTek’s new gaming oriented Helio G80 processor, a massive 5,000mAh battery, a 6.5-inch LCD display, a 48MP quad lens rear-camera array, support for 18W quick charge and also runs a version of Realme UI that’s based on Android 10.
There’s no headlining feature to talk about as such apart from the fact that the name ‘Narzo’ sounds a little odd for a smartphone. Heck, the Realme 5i launched only a few months ago and costs a good 2k lesser, so why not just opt for that instead? If you are looking for ways to cut your spending a tad more then that is a very legitimate question that you need to ask yourself. However, if you were to objectively look at the 10-12k segment for options, the Narzo 10 definitely throws its punches.
Strangely so, but the Narzo 10 doesn’t have an entourage of phones competing against it, especially if you’re on a super tight budget. Thinking of competition, the only two which come to mind are the Redmi Note 8, the Mi A3 and the ageing Samsung Galaxy M30. So how does the Narzo 10 fare?
Elegant, functional design
The Realme Narzo 10 doesn’t look a whole lot different from the Realme 5i that launched earlier this year. Although it does arrive in a couple of interesting color options that feature a fresh new pattern on the back. The reason why I see this is as a pro although its barely different from last year’s Realme 5 series is simple because of how subdued these new colors are. I’ve never been a fan of snazzy patterns and metallic shades of blue and purple, so this a definite thumbs up from me.
There’s still a mini waterdrop notch at the top with a sizable chin that we’re quite used to by now on budget phones.
As I’ve mentioned before, the Narzo 10 also packs in a 5,000mAh battery which makes it a tad bulky at 199g. It measures 9mm in thickness and although one-handed usage isn’t easy, kudos to Realme for ensuring that the back isn’t a smudge magnet.
The chassis seems unchanged from the Realme 5i. The Narzo 10 is curved at the sides which makes it convenient to hold and the fingerprint scanner is at the back positioned slightly higher than where your index finger naturally rests. This might feel a little tedious to reach at first but I’m glad that Realme’s done this as I’d otherwise end up unlocking the phone every time I wanted to glance at a notification. Continuing with the rear panel, the cameras are aligned vertically this time around too, with an offset flash to the right. There is a noticeable protusion of the camera module here but that’s clearly something that smartphone brands seem to care least about, moreso in a budget phone.
The power button otherwise sits on the right while the volume buttons are on the left. These buttons are shallow but offer decent feedback when pressed. The SIM card tray is on the left just above the volume buttons and has two Nano-SIM slots along with a dedicated microSD card slot.
Battery life is excellent courtesy of that chunky 5,00mAh unit
In terms of battery life, Narzo 10 is an impressive device. Realme claims a whopping 39 days of standy time here and I’m not sure how they arrived at that odd number, but I was able to eke out close to two days of usage with fairly high amount of usage.
However, that didn’t translate too well while charging it back up. That’s despite Realme including 18W fast charging. The battery refilled at a rate of just over one percent per minute until it hit just over 50%. Then things slowed dramatically. The first 17% took just 15 minutes to recharge. 32% took half an hour to fill up. But, for the final 5%, the Narzo 10 charged up a single percent in around 7-minutes.
As a result of the rapid decrease in speed, it took over 2-hours to fill the 5,000mAh battery entirely.
PUBG Mobile freaks have a capable budget powerhouse in the Narzo 10
The MediaTek G80 chipset inside absolutely breezed through almost everything I threw at it. Even while installing a large number of apps during initial setup or playing some of the Google Play Stores more intensive titles such as Shadowgun Legends.
That experience is, at least in terms of gaming, is enhanced by the fact that Game Space is included here, just as it is with OPPO’s ColorOS 7-powered devices. That optimizes gameplay, as does the above-mentioned “Smart Performance Mode” in the battery segment of Settings. “High Performance Mode,” makes things even better but doesn’t really seem to be a requirement and drains the battery noticeably faster.
None of that is to say users will gain a flagship experience. Textures and other graphics details are not quite at their best. Apps tend to load up a bit more slowly and high-intensity apps such as those associated with video or photo editing don’t perform tasks quite as well or as quickly as they could. Loading times for levels within games are extended. The resolution of high-end games and apps is, of course, not the best. But none of that is unexpected. This just isn’t a flagship device.
Comparatively speaking, though, the Realme Narzo 10 does not disappoint. Unlike some competitors in the budget-end of the market, Narzo 10 feels like a phone where performance is not an area where Realme took any shortcuts, none whatsoever.
What’s Not Smashable
Sunlight legibility of the display could be a potential problem
The Narzo 10 feature a 6.5-inch “mini-drop” display panel, with an 89.8% screen-to-body ratio and an aspect ratio of 20:9. That’s not the highest resolution at 720 x 1600 pixels but it’s more than serviceable. At no point during my time with the phone did I feel as though the panel’s lower resolution posed a problem to my viewing experience.
The color temperature can be adjusted to lean towards you liking, there’s an Eye Care mode tucked under display settings and colors pop naturally too. Overall, it’s a great screen that takes up most of the front of the device, with very little by way of bezels.
As a result, using the Narzo 10 was mostly a great experience despite not packing in an AMOLED panel. But it isn’t quite so good at all times. I noticed issues immediately upon taking this handset outdoors. Under overcast sunlight, it quickly became apparent that auto-brightness wasn’t going to be enough. In fact, auto-brightness automatically tuned all the way up as soon as I went outdoors.
Under direct sunlight, the screen became almost unusably dim. I turned the brightness all the way up, and that didn’t actually seem to help anything. So I ultimately left the screen brightness maxed out for the rest of my review. That’s a disappointment in 2020 and one of the few areas where the phone, as compared to other competing devices, simply falls flat.
The Camera performance is average, at best
Yet another area where Narzo 10 didn’t quite live up to its marketing under review is its 48MP AI-driven quad-cameras. That’s not to say they were a complete disappointment because, in conditions most photos will be shot under, it really isn’t. But as soon as the lights began to dim, significant issues began to show.
In fact, the quality of shots with the Narzo 10 seemed directly tied to just how much light is available. Even in lower-light conditions indoors — in flat lighting, where most cameras would perform well — pixelation was immediately apparent. Those only worsened as lighting did, as shown in the shot taken of shoes in a moderately shaded closet in our sample gallery via Flickr.
There weren’t any major artifacts visible in photos or videos with the Narzo 10. Pixelation and noise was the primary complaint. But even the included “Night” mode did absolutely nothing to alleviate that. In fact, Night mode was outright bad. That includes under lighting that many competitors would not have required a dedicated mode to capture acceptable shots in.
Close-up shots fall short too. Only in “Ultra Macro” mode can the Narzo 10 snap captures at closer than a half-foot or so. Ultra Macro falls short in that it really only works great at between a few inches to its minimum distance of 4cm — with 4cm distance shots providing the best quality.
Conversely, under good lighting, the cameras here do seem to perform well, even zoomed in and with shots taken in-hand. I snapped one shot, for instance, of some hair blowing in the wind while both myself and the subject were moving. The cameras caught the intended subject without blur exactly as one might hope. Color accuracy is great. Both autofocus and auto-HDR happen in a snap too.
The cameras are, aside from the above-mentioned caveats, great. Unlike the screen, those can almost certainly be improved via a software update as well. So there’s a real chance that Realme could improve matters where the device falls short. Sadly, I doubt there’ll be a compatible version of GCam for the Narzo 10 anytime soon.
Price and Verdict
Despite all of the area where there are obvious shortfalls, my time with the Realme Narzo 10 did prove one thing and that’s the fact that this is a solid offering for the price — all the basics and nothing more. And it accomplishes this without resorting to cheap tricks like selling obnoxious ads wherever possible.
The caveats are, of course, still present. The camera doesn’t shoot well once lighting dwindles. Display quality is high but isn’t exactly usable under the brightest lighting. Realme built this smartphone in a way that makes it heavier than others despite being comprised almost exclusively of plastics. It offset that by including a larger-than-average battery coupled with high-efficiency hardware. The battery lasts for days.
However, the Realme Narzo 10 does better than the overwhelming majority of its budget counterparts. On the camera front, as long as there’s adequate lighting, it’s going to perform brilliantly. On performance for everything from the processor to the fingerprint scanner and display sensitivity or responsiveness, there were no problems to speak of.