Realme brought the second generation of its ‘Narzo’ lineup of phones earlier this month, when it launched the Realme Narzo 20 Pro and Narzo 20. While the former was priced upward of Rs 15,000 to be the more ‘premium’ device in this lineup, the latter came in just north of the Rs 10,000 mark. Sticking to the lineup nomenclature that Realme established before, it also has at hand the Realme Narzo 20A – a sub-Rs 10,000 smartphone that promises a good smartphone usage experience at an introductory price range of Rs 8,499.
At this price, the Realme Narzo 20A features the Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 SoC, a 6.5-inch HD+ display, 3/4GB of RAM, 32/64GB internal storage, 12MP triple rear camera, an 8MP front camera, a 5,000mAh battery and support for single-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5. With such specifications, and at this price, the Realme Narzo 20A squarely competes against the Redmi 9i/9A from Xiaomi, Samsung Galaxy M01 and other phones from the likes of Infinix and Realme itself. Given how competitive this space is, should this really warrant your attention?
Design, ergonomics: Sleek and neat
The first thing that strikes any buyer about a phone is its design, and upon first impressions, the Realme Narzo 20A strikes a neat pose with its smooth textured rear finish. The plastic back panel has minimal, V-shaped textures, with a vertically aligned triple rear camera module surrounded by a metal trim, and the physical fingerprint scanner alongside it. As we noted in our review of the Narzo 20, the Narzo 20A’s fingerprint sensor is also placed a bit too high up the back panel, which makes it difficult to reach even for people with large palms. The power/unlock button to the right, and the two volume keys to the left are also placed a tad too high, especially if you have smaller hands.
However, the overall layout is fairly ergonomic. The speaker is placed to the right of the microUSB charging port at the bottom, which makes sure that you do not end up blocking it with your palms when streaming a video or gaming. To the left of the charging port is a 3.5mm audio port, which is a good thing to have. The 8.9mm thickness ensures that the Narzo 20A looks and feels sleek to hold, despite the large, 5,000mAh battery inside. At 195 grams, the Narzo 20A isn’t very light, but the overall phone does not feel heavy. If looks and in-hand feel is anything to go by, the Narzo 20A ticks off the right checkboxes from the onset.
Display: Gets the job done
You get a 6.5-inch, HD+ LCD panel here with 20:9 aspect ratio, and Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection on the display. It has a thick chin which thankfully does not disrupt the overall design flow – even with the waterdrop notch at the front. The overall display can get bright enough for viewing content under direct sunlight, which is a boon. It does look similar to the Narzo 20’s display in terms of contrast levels and depth of colours, and even the slight colour shift issue when viewing from an angle persists.
That said, Realme UI 1.0 does give you the option to tweak colour balance, from which you can increase saturation and that helps in improving the overall content quality. It is a display that gets the job done, but the Narzo 20A doesn’t get any of Realme’s fast refresh rate paraphernalia. Given its pricing, this is understandable.
Performance: Falters big time
It really is the performance of the Realme Narzo 20A that surprised us, but not in a good way. Despite being a mid-range SoC, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 is expected to be snappy enough as an overall performer, but the Narzo 20A shows a considerable amount of lags even with lightweight tasks. The UI feels sluggish as a result, and switching apps such as from Twitter to Gmail appears to strain the phone.
Heavier games such as Asphalt 9: Legends and Real Cricket 20, which are graphically intensive, all represent the same story when it comes to the real world performance of the Narzo 20A. There are too many intermittent stutters and screen tears, which makes playing such games a chore because you have to bear with the lags in the processing of graphics. This is a major surprise, because on paper, with the Snapdragon 665 SoC and 4GB of RAM, the Narzo 20A is expected to be one of the better performing budget smartphones in the market. However, that is not the case.
There are clear lags that show when you operate regular tasks such as the default camera app, and quickly switching between navigation, messaging and email apps clearly slow you down. It is the performance aspect that Realme could really have perfected, which in turn would have given it a significant edge against its competitors. However, even for a budget smartphone priced at under Rs 10,000, the Realme Narzo 20A does not qualify as a particularly smooth device.
Camera: Does as well as you can expect
The overall camera performance is somewhat of a saving grace for the Narzo 20A. It gets a 12MP primary unit with an f/1.8 lens, and two additional modules – a 2MP black and white unit, and a 2MP ‘retro’ unit. The ancillary cameras honestly do not contribute a lot to the overall camera, but you do get a portrait mode here that is mostly processed by algorithms to deliver the soft background defocus effect. Photographs shot by the Narzo 20A look decent in terms of colour accuracy and sharpness, and users of this phone will mostly want to shoot without any digital zoom or macro effect.Realme Narzo 20A camera sample. Cropped to fit. (Image: Shouvik Das/News18.com)
The Narzo 20A does not get 60fps videography, but it does get 4K videos at 30fps as its peak capability, which is pretty decent for a sub-Rs 10,000 smartphone. On overall terms, the Narzo 20A’s camera offers acceptable overall quality. It is not stunning, but it does as well as you can expect at this price.
Battery life: The only real highlight here
The 5,000mAh battery inside is one of the Narzo 20A’s strengths. It offers reverse OTG charging as well, and the overall battery backup is fairly impressive. Gaming for close to one hour with the phone connected to Wi-Fi and at 80 percent charge brought the battery down to 71 percent, which compounded in similar conditions can offer an average gaming time of over 10 hours with the Narzo 20A. This is actually rather impressive, and is one of the reasons (alongside the phone’s design) that may urge you to consider the phone. Unfortunately, it does not get a certified fast charging standard, but the overall charging speed means that you can juice up the 5,000mAh battery phone in about 90 minutes.
Verdict: A rather middling experience
The Realme Narzo 20A offers a mediocre smartphone experience at best, let down largely by its overall performance. Its display is acceptable, its camera does fairly well too, the battery life is good and its overall design is pleasant as well. If only Realme had not gotten the performance aspect so wrong, the Narzo 20A would have been an instant recommendation at the under-Rs 10,000 price segment. It is still a phone that you may wish to consider given its strengths, but with attractive options from the likes of Redmi and Samsung, it is not an automatic recommendation that we would give to our buyers.