Realme’s Narzo 20 was a decent budget smartphone for 2020, with a focus on delivering the basics at an affordable starting price of Rs. 10,499. As we noted in our review, it was bulky and had a plastic unibody that didn’t look or feel premium. Performance-wise, it struggled a bit while playing games. Now, in 2021, Realme has released a much-needed update. It is priced a bit higher, starting at Rs. 12,499 (4GB RAM + 64GB storage), but offers a lot more than its predecessor, making it a good budget smartphone focused on performance.
However, Realme has also announced the Narzo 30 5G (First Impressions), an entirely different model that offers 5G connectivity, a better processor, a 90Hz refresh rate display and a 5000mAh battery in a slimmer package. It is competitively priced at Rs. 15,999 and offers 6 GB of RAM along with 128 GB of internal storage. So, which Narzo should you go for? Or are there better smartphones?
Realme Narzo 30 price and variants
The Realme Narzo 30 is available in two RAM and storage variants. The base variant offers 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage and costs Rs. 12,499 while the second variant offers 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage and is priced at Rs. 14,499. The Realme Narzo 30 5G is available in just a single configuration with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and costs Rs 15,999. The price of the Narzo 30 5G seems understandable considering that it offers improved specs plus 5G support, but it comes very close to the price of the more expensive Narzo 30.
Realme Narzo 30 design
Realme’s Narzo 30 is in stark contrast to the Narzo 20, which looked very basic. This new phone is offered in two finishes: Racing Silver and Racing Blue. We received a Racing Silver unit and it looks quite premium. Both options have a glittering eccentric strip that runs through the camera module.
The frame and back panel of the Narzo 30 are made of plastic. The glossy back collects dust and picks up fingerprints easily. It bends a bit when pressed, even with a little pressure. Still, the overall build feels pretty good and the plastic doesn’t crack. The phone feels a bit thick at 9.4mm, but not too heavy at 192g. The seamless design from the display to the frame and back panel gives it a nice hand feel. It fits comfortably in the hand and offers a firm grip.
There’s a 3.5mm headphone jack on the bottom next to the Type-C USB port, primary microphone and speaker. The volume buttons are on the left, while the power button with the built-in fingerprint reader is on the right.
One of the big changes to the Narzo 30 from the Narzo 20 is the screen. It’s still a 6.5-inch LCD, but now has a 90Hz refresh rate and the resolution has been increased from HD+ on the Narzo 20 to full-HD+.
Realme Narzo 30 Specifications and Software
The Realme Narzo 30 uses MediaTek’s gaming-oriented Helio G95 processor, which has two powerful 2.05GHz Cortex-A76 cores and six energy-efficient 2.0GHz Cortex-A55 cores. Graphics are handled by an integrated Mali-G76 GPU clocked at 900MHz. The phone has 4GB or 6GB of LPDDR4x RAM and 64GB or 128GB of UFS 2.1 storage, depending on which variant you choose, along with a microSD card storage expansion of up to 256GB. Connectivity options include dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5 and NFC.
The Narzo 30 runs on Realme UI 2.0, which is based on Android 11. The software allows you to customize icon shapes, system colors, fonts and even the shapes of the icons in the notification tray. There were a few third-party apps like Amazon, Snapchat, Facebook, and Soloop pre-installed on my review unit, but they didn’t affect my daily use unless I used them. There were also several Realme branded apps such as DocVault, Community, HeyFun, Realme Link, and Realme Store. Some of these can be removed, but not all. Except for the Theme Store, most of them didn’t give any promotional notifications.
Realme Narzo 30 Performance and Battery Life
The MediaTek Helio G95 processor handles the operating system quite well with no lag or stutter in everyday use. Opening and closing apps in an instant and multitasking was no problem on the 6GB RAM variant I tested, with most apps staying in memory for a while. The Narzo 30 performed well even in terms of benchmarks, with 3,56,846 points in AnTuTu and 532 and 1,700 in Geekbench’s single- and multi-core tests, respectively.
Gaming on the Narzo 30 was smooth and lag-free, but this phone heats up when stressed. Call of Duty: Mobile ran smoothly with the default high graphics and frame rate settings. The phone stayed cool while playing the game with these default settings, but changing the graphics to Very High made it warm quickly. Asphalt 9: Legends was not available for download. I tried the new Space Marshals 3, which looked great on the Narzo 30’s screen. With the detail level set to Medium (default), the phone got quite hot. Setting the setting to Low took care of the heat.
The Narzo 30 has a 5,000 mAh battery, and it easily lasted a day and a half during the test period. My usage included browsing social media apps, email, Slack, a few photos, an hour of gaming, and an hour of video streaming. The included 30W adapter is made for fast charging, with the Narzo 30 battery level reaching 55 percent in 30 minutes, 99 percent in 60 minutes, and fully charged in 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Realme Narzo 30 cameras
The Realme Narzo 30 has a triple rear camera which includes a 48-megapixel f/1.8 primary camera, a 2-megapixel monochrome camera and a 2-megapixel macro camera. Selfie tasks are handled by a 16-megapixel f/2.1 camera. The camera interface is quite intuitive with key controls just a tap away. Other options such as setting the timer and selecting the frame are located one level deeper in a slide-out drawer. One detail to note about the camera setup is that only two of the three cameras are accessible to the user – the monochrome camera only activates in portrait mode to calculate depth.
Photos taken in daylight were bright and saturated with good dynamic range and detail in the darker areas of the frame. With 2X digital zoom, this phone also took decent photos, but with less detail. Photos taken with 3X digital zoom were not usable and looked like oil paintings. The 2-megapixel macro camera took average photos with decent detail but inaccurate colors. It’s a fixed focus, making it incredibly difficult to focus on an object if you have shaky hands.
Photos taken in portrait mode with the rear camera were sharp and clear, with plenty of detail in the day, but average edge detection. The 16-megapixel front camera took decent selfies, but again with below-average edge detection in portrait mode.
In low light, the rear camera struggled to focus when taking regular photos and when using portrait mode. The same can be said about landscape photos, which came out quite cloudy and full of noise. Night mode improves the level of detail and illuminates the scene, but with mixed results, and the quality is highly dependent on the available light nearby.
Videos shot in daylight at 1080p looked too sharp, lacked detail, but showed decent stabilization. Videos in 4K looked better, with good detail, but were very shaky as they lacked any stabilization. In low light, videos recorded at 1080p came out noisy and mostly unusable. Switching to 4K showed much better detail, but there was still a lot of noise.
The decision whether to buy a Narzo 30 or a Narzo 30 5G will depend on your budget and requirements. This is a smartphone market that is also filled with interesting alternatives from other companies, and with 5G networks yet to go live, you might choose to prioritize cost savings or other features. If you do want a future-proof smartphone, the obvious choice between the two new Narzo 30s is the Narzo 30 5G.
If you’re on a tight budget and 5G isn’t a priority then the Realme Narzo 30 (prices from Rs 12,499) is a good budget smartphone that offers a great everyday experience, average gaming performance, decent photos and videos in daylight and good battery life. However, Xiaomi’s Redmi 10S (Review) offers an additional 8MP ultra-wide angle camera, a Super AMOLED display, 33W charging, stereo speakers and an IP53 rating for dust and water resistance for just an extra Rs. 500. As a package, the Redmi 10S would make more sense for many people.
If you are willing to pay an extra Rs. 1,500, Poco’s M3 Pro 5G (Review) priced at Rs. 13,999 is also a better choice. You get a future-proof smartphone with hardware like the Narzo 30 5G, but with 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage.