A Good Phone For Gaming Under Rs 20000, But Not Photos

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Realme Narzo was a name that first surfaced about four months ago. Now, a shade over a quarter since the launch of the Narzo series, Realme has brought along its second generation of the series. Like all other smartphones and smartphone makers, Realme too did not want to wait for a full annual cycle to offer users a generation upgrade to a smartphone series, the way flagship phones such as Apple’s iPhones and Samsung’s Galaxy S/Note series do. The result lies in the Realme Narzo 20 series, of which the Realme Narzo 20 Pro sits at the very top of the chart.

In many ways, the Narzo 20 Pro is configured rather similarly to the Realme 7, which has raised questions around why would Realme want to overlap two of its offerings — especially when it had a different brand approach with the erstwhile Narzo set of devices. That said, the Realme Narzo 20 Pro stands pretty well on its own in terms of what it offers. At Rs 16,999, the Narzo 20 Pro’s specifications include the MediaTek Helio G95 SoC, 8GB RAM and 128GB storage on our review device (it also has a 6GB/64GB variant), a 6.5-inch, full HD+ 20:9 display with 90Hz refresh rate, a 4,500mAh battery with 65W SuperDart fast charging, a 48MP quad rear camera unit, a 16MP in-display front camera, and all the other usual paraphernalia (dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5, USB-C) with even a 3.5mm audio port.


So, with all of this in sight, does it offer enough to make it to your smartphone buying shortlist?

Design and ergonomics

The Realme Narzo 20 Pro’s overall design is fairly decent. The shimmery V-pattern on the glass-like plastic rear panel may or may not fit your choice depending on what you call ‘good designing’, but it does not look tacky or inexpensive. The bevelled edges break the flow of the inward curved rear panel, but that does not impact the design flow. On the contrary, it actually helps improve the grip on what would otherwise be a rather slippery device to hold. Despite the 6.5-inch display and the tall aspect ratio, the Narzo 20 Pro does not feel too large, and even the 9.4mm thickness and 191 grams isn’t exactly apparent. In other words, despite being a large screen phone, the Realme Narzo 20 Pro feels sleek and smooth.

This, of course, aids the overall ergonomics of the Narzo 20 Pro. It feels like a pocketable device, and for the most part, it is really easy to carry around in pockets. The side-mounted fingerprint sensor is also easy to access, although people with smaller palms will struggle a bit. The one annoyance that I faced was the accidental unlocking that would happen when I’d try locking the device in haste and mistakenly place my thumb on the power/fingerprint button for an additional second. This caused a couple of embarrassing pocket dials.

Realme Narzo 20 Pro review

Another annoyance is if you choose to switch both face and fingerprint unlock on – the Narzo 20 Pro’s lockscreen responds faster to face unlock, when you’re expecting it to read your fingerprint and bypass the lock screen straight to the home screen. Safe to say, it is only sensible to just keep one of the biometric authentications switched on. However, credit where it’s due – the Narzo 20 Pro’s face unlock works surprisingly well, and once I turned up the display brightness, it could recognise my face even in pitch darkness at least six out of 10 times. I am, however, a bit concerned that it unlocks too easily – for instance, even when your eyes are closed, or the phone’s not directly pointed to your face.

On overall terms, the Realme Narzo 20 Pro feels like a well-designed device that ticks the ergonomics checkboxes reasonably well. It does not wow you, and the plastic rear panel attracts a fair few fingerprint smudges. But, thankfully, the camera hump does not set the phone askew if you place it on a plain surface, and on overall terms, the Narzo 20 Pro has more to like than to dislike.

Performance and display

Overall performance is taken care of by the MediaTek Helio G95, and upon a week’s usage, there were no undue surprises. The Helio G95 is practically the same processor as the Helio G90/G90T that was introduced last year, and it still remains a pretty decent gaming chipset to use. This, combined with 8GB RAM and the 90Hz display makes for a good gaming experience. Case in point – the resource-intensive Pokemon Go ran silky smooth, with all animations loading and running without hiccups. We could also actively switch from playing Pokemon Go to Asphalt 8, the latter being a gold standard of sorts for general mobile gaming tests.

However, while most gameplay ran smoothly, a few titles such as Call of Duty: Mobile showed hiccups in loading animations. Even the pre-race animations in Asphalt 8 showed interpolation or screen stutters, which is not what you’d expect from a gaming smartphone. That being said, keep in mind that the Narzo 20 Pro is a mid-range smartphone, and the fact that the games themselves run rather smoothly, and you feel far more reassured about the smartphone. The Narzo 20 Pro also does not show extensive load times for heavier apps, and even heavier tasks such as rendering video files on quick mobile video editors such as FilmoraGo was a smooth overall affair.

Realme Narzo 20 Pro review

For video editing, the smooth, 90Hz display felt slick to use. General animations, of course, are a big draw in fast refresh rate displays, and the overall interface feels a notch smoother as a result. Of course, general sluggishness may appear in the long run, as most smartphones exhibit with gradual ageing. However, even with a considerable number of apps loaded, there were no real lags in multitasking or app switching. Even exporting a 90-second video edit did not take too long, and in the overall sense, performance is not what you would be worried about.

While the display is likeable enough, I did find the viewing angles rather narrow – offsetting your viewing centre either by slight pans or slight tilts do exhibit colour shifts. In case of the Narzo 20 Pro, the colours become bleaker or desaturated as you tilt your phone upward or shift sideways. I am also not a big fan of the contrast levels of the Narzo 20 Pro, although you do get a custom colour balance mode with Realme UI, which helps you tweak colour points to your preference. This helps you fine tune colour temperature and saturation levels of the display – an added bonus if you watch shows on the phone at night.

Photography and videography

It is here that I found the Narzo 20 Pro to be a mixed bag. Imaging performance from the primary 48MP sensor is reliable and stable. The app itself is uncluttered, and you also get Google Lens integration. Realme also offers 2x and 5x digital zoom levels, which offer pixelation as expected from digital zoom and sensor crop. That said, it was an undue surprise to find the 8MP ultra-wide angle camera not producing good results. Most photos taken with the ultra-wide angle camera appear washed-out, and there is a surprisingly high level of noise in the photos as well.

It’s good to note that the overall colour tones are not distorted by the camera. The Narzo 20 Pro produces deep greens, smooth yellows and well balanced reds, all of which are certainly more than good enough for quick posting on social media accounts. While the ultra-wide sensor does not offer as good a quality in its performance as we’d have liked, it does fare reasonably well in brightly lit conditions. You get an editable frame, which you can tweak to refine overall details. From the main 48MP sensor, image sharpness is acceptable, and the additional macro and B&W portrait sensors add to the overall versatility of the camera.

Realme Narzo 20 Pro review

The Narzo 20 Pro’s camera is not bad by any measure. However, it is simply not the cream of the crop in terms of overall sharpness, which leaves you wanting for more. Videography is smooth and largely nondescript – it does what it is supposed to. If you’d want to use it for recording vlogs, the Realme Narzo 20 Pro offers 60fps videos in both 1080p and 720p, and even though it can record at 120fps, you only get it in the specific slow-mo mode within the camera app. Nothing disruptive, though, and it certainly gets the job done.

Software and battery life

Realme UI now shows satisfactory levels of maturity in its overall layout. Configuring the interface for the first is neat and uncluttered, thanks to a systematically arranged settings menu. I could get every setting I wanted, including privacy and permissions tweaks, without much ado, which is what I’d expect of a smartphone that I’m potentially spending years with – and the Narzo 20 Pro offers just that.

For navigating, I personally prefer gesture controls, and for the most part, the Narzo 20 Pro’s gestures are accurate. However, in many cases, registering the gesture to go one step back on a page was too frequently erroneous, which was an undue disruption to the overall usage experience.

Realme Narzo 20 Pro review

Battery life on the Narzo 20 Pro is fairly impressive, and even with an hour-long intensive gaming session every day, the 4,500mAh battery lasts for 15-odd hours without breaking a single sweat. The 65W SuperDart charging is pretty awesome – you get 30 percent charge from zero in eight minutes, and 70 percent in just under 20, which is really helpful in most cases. Realme also pledges a host of tech to protect your battery in the long run, which is impossible to test in a week’s span.

Verdict

The Realme Narzo 20 Pro is a good overall mid-range smartphone. By virtue of its performance, it can adequately rival other entrants in the category of smartphones priced under Rs 20,000 in India, such as the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max from Xiaomi, the Samsung Galaxy M31s, Motorola’s One Fusion Plus and Realme’s own 7 Pro. The camera performance of the Narzo 20 Pro leaves you wanting for more, but apart from that, it is certainly a smartphone that should make it to your mid-range phone shopping list ahead of the upcoming festive season. The Narzo 20 Pro costs Rs 14,999 for the 6GB/64GB variant and Rs 16,999 for the 8GB/128GB variant, and we’d really recommend you get the 8GB variant to make the most of Realme’s gaming performance promise here.




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