More Realme phones are popping up in the market with each passing day. To bridge the ever-growing divide between the budget and mid-range smartphone segment, Realme had unveiled the Narzo series earlier this year. The first phones under this new lineup were the Nazro 10 (review) series which were placed squarely between the signature Realme 6 (review) and the affordable Realme C3 (review). Now the company has revealed three new devices under the Narzo 20 series in the form of the Narzo 20, 20 Pro, and 20A. I have covered the Realme Narzo 20 Pro in a separate review, where it was obvious that the company’s pricing strategy is not making a lot of sense. Now with the Narzo 20, which starts at Rs 10,499, there is even more confusion with the Realme C15 (review) starting for Rs 500 less but packing in spectacularly low specs. Is the Narzo 20 the budget answer Realme has been looking for? Let’s find out in this detailed review.

Verdict

Realme has hit it bang on with the Narzo 20, edging out its own C15. Placed in an overcrowded market segment, the Narzo 20 carves out its space with a high-performance chipset, ample RAM, a high-res primary camera and a humungous battery.

Design and display

 

  • Display: 6.5-inch FHD+
  • Refresh rate: 60Hz
  • Panel: IPS LCD
  • Connectivity: USB Type-C

It almost looked like I was seeing the Realme C15 when I first laid eyes on the Narzo 20. The latter had the same plastic finish with a bit of a weathered, rough feel rather than the glossy look that post most phones go for these days. In my hand the Narzo felt thick and had a lot of weight to it due to the big battery inside, similar to the C15. On the front, there was the waterdrop notch along with big bezels on all sides and I could see that the physical fingerprint sensor was present at the same spot near the top half of the back in both phones. Even the camera array was a square-shaped housing on the Narzo 20 which encompassed the triple-camera setup and flash. The C15 in comparison, sported a quad-camera setup with the flash just placed below the square camera module. The main difference was in the design patterns on the rear of both phones. For the Narzo 20, it was a single colour design with V-shaped patterns shooting down from the top when looked at from different angles, similar to the Narzo 20 Pro. The Realme C15 had a triple-gradient look for the same colour split into three sections. To the untrained eye, however, both phones will appear to be about the same.

On the bottom, you will find the usual selection of Type-C port, 3.5mm headphone jack, and a speaker grille, a staple for Realme phones. As for the sides, you will be greeted by the standard volume rocker buttons and power button on one side while the dual-SIM + microSD slot is present on the other. The back panel does curve on its sides to make for an easy grip but the phone is substantially heavy. Otherwise, the Realme Narzo 20 is built like a tank and offers everything that a modern-day budget phone should have. On a side note, I do believe that the fingerprint sensor would’ve been well suited at a lower position. 

As for the display, the Narzo 20 packs in the same 6.5-inch HD+ (720 x 1,600) IPS LCD panel that is also present on the Realme C15. The aspect ratio is 20:9 and Realme has said that the display is covered with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for durability. For more screen real estate the Narzo 20, like the Realme C15, employs a waterdrop notch. However, there are chunky bezels on all sides and especially at the bottom which does make viewing content slightly less appealing. There’s no high screen refresh rate at this price point, although I expect this to be resolved by next year. Of course, I would’ve liked FHD+ resolution which some phones from Xiaomi do provide at a lower price such as the Redmi 9 Prime (review). As a whole, the colour accuracy and viewing angles are slightly off on account of the panel being an LCD but brightness levels are quite sufficient. Colour temperatures are on the only thing that can be customised on the phone’s display along with the usual Dark Mode and Blue Light filter toggle. 

Cameras

 

  • Rear cameras: 48MP primary, 8MP ultra-wide, and 2MP macro sensor
  • Front camera: 8MP

The Realme Narzo 20 makes use of a 48MP primary sensor which is part of a triple-camera setup. Other sensors on the device include an 8MP ultra-wide sensor and a 2MP macro sensor. I’m happy that Realme has not included a few other sensors such as a depth lens or a B&W lens for the sake of portraying a quad-camera setup like the Realme C15. Also, the Narzo 20 does take fairly nice shots for its price.

It’s good that nowadays Delhi sees bright and sunny mornings which help in taking very colour rich and detailed shots. The 48MP sensor makes for a decent companion while capturing the shimmering morning light, all the way till twilight sets in. You will definitely get the Realme branded saturated tones but dynamic range and exposure remain optimum. AI-scene detection and Chroma boost features are present to substantially boost colours and contrast ratios for more social media-worthy photos. Also since the phone uses pixel binning to get you high-res 12MP shots, you can opt for the UHD 48MP mode to get in even more detail. Again this detail will not be readily apparent on a mobile screen. At night the sensor understandably struggles. While a few of the misgivings are more-or-less rectified by the dedicated Night mode, you are bound to get substantial noise in your shots. Night photography still remains a weak point on many budget and mid-range smartphones, but it is quite impressive how improved it is now compared to just a couple of years back. 

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The ultra-wide lens is standard and has a 119-degree field of view which makes sense when capturing a wide landscape or if you want to fit more in the frame. There will be the usual distortions at the edges of the frame and detailing is going to be off owing to the low resolution of the sensor. As for the macro sensor, it serves as an accessory to the camera system with passable shots only in bright lighting. On the front is a single 8MP selfie shooter which will click decent shots and has features such as AI beauty, portrait mode, HDR, and more. As with the case on the rear shooters, the front camera functions well in light but quality tanks in low-lighting conditions although it is nice to see the night mode be a part of the front camera as well.

Performance and software

 

  • Chipset: MediaTek Helio G85
  • RAM: 4GB LPDDR4
  • Storage: 64GB and 128GB, expandable to 256GB
  • Software: Android 10 with RealmeUI

Realme is continuing its partnership with MediaTek on almost all of its budget phones. On the Narzo 20, you will be getting the MediaTek Helio G85 which is much better than the G35 seen on the Realme C15. The G85 uses two high-performance Cortex A75 cores along with six Cortex A55 cores while the G35 uses eight Cortex A53 cores clocked at 2.3GHz. There is a significant jump in performance with the Narzo 20 giving you an edge in multi-tasking or even general browsing when compared to the Realme C15. While benchmarks will not paint the whole picture, it certainly is showing a big gap in processing prowess between both phones. On Antutu and Geekbench’s single-core and multi-core tests the Narzo 20 dropped scores of 204,495; 353 and 1,282 respectively. The same scores for the Realme C15 are 112,822, 168 and 977. It is fair to say that if it is the ability to do daily tasks fast and effectively, then between the two phones, the Narzo 20 is a no brainer.

While it won’t be a good idea to try out high-end 3D games such as Call of Duty Mobile on a budget phone, the Narzo 20 actually does a pretty good job of it. The game will not allow you to run at maximum graphics and frame rate settings, but you can achieve the Very High frame rate option keeping graphic quality at low. The phone does heat up a little, but on the whole, it can keep a constant frame rate for a long time. In short, gaming will not be a burden on the device as long as the graphics are set moderately low, which is quite a big deal in budget-oriented phones. You also get more RAM than the C15 at 4GB along with 64GB of internal storage that can go up to 256GB using a microSD card. Authentication on the phone is done via the fingerprint sensor which is capacitive and opens the phone up instantly. Face unlock method should be avoided not just because it is not safe but face detection is quite poor. Call, microphone and speaker quality matched my expectations.

On the software side of things, we do see the same Realme UI skin which is based on Android 10. It is the same UI that you will see on a Rs 40,000 Realme X50 Pro and on the Rs 10,000 Realme Narzo 20. You can read about how the Realme UI experience here.  I like the concept of the Realme lab which should be updated soon with more features. Currently, it has a Super Night-Time standby mode which extends battery life during the night but we should see some new stuff being added over time. Overall RealmeUI is one of the cleaner Android skins out there and I hope they keep it that way in future updates.

Battery

 

  • Capacity: 6,000mAh
  • Charging speeds: 18W fast charge
  • 0-50 percent: 60 minutes

For most users of budget phones, the most important factor in determining a good phone is to see how long it can last before you have to juice it up. The Narzo 20 packs in a big 6,000mAh power cell, something that quite a few phones in adjacent price range are implementing. With such a big cell and not a lot of processing nor a high screen refresh rate to contend with, you are easily looking at a more than a one-day battery life with normal usage and two days on slightly restricted usage. This does not include heavy gaming which will reduce the battery life considerably. Like with the Realme C15, the Narzo 20 also has 18W fast charging that will take up to 2 hours and 30 minutes to completely recharge from 0 – 100 percent. Overall, the device is a wholesome battery powerhouse which should fulfil your basic smartphone needs for the better part of two days.

Final Verdict

It seems clear to me that the Realme Narzo 20 edges out the Realme C15. The latter only has an extra depth camera to contend with and is otherwise lacking or same in all aspects… be it display, battery, software or processing. The ideal RAM and storage option is the 4GB RAM + 64GB version that I have for review and there is no need to get the 128GB storage version since you already have an expandable storage option. 

There are other fish in the sea as well from different OEMs and Redmi 9 Prime is one that comes to mind more readily. It does make up in the display department with an FHD+ panel but falls behind in other parameters such as processing and a lower resolution primary camera sensor. So it does seem to me that if you have about Rs 10,000, then the best bang for your buck should be the Realme Narzo 20.

Editor’s rating: 4 / 5

Pros

  • Huge 6,000mAh battery
  • Performance is great
  • Nice design

Cons

  • Very bulky
  • Macro camera isn’t very useful


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