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Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review

Introduction

It really wasn’t that long ago that the Narzo 10 family saw the light of day and yet here we are testing the new Narzo 20 lineup. For better or worse, this kind of turnover is the norm in the modern highly-competitive budget Android realm.

Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review

Realme knows too well that these are the kind of devices that are really going to move volume. Hence, the constant iterative updates to bring better value on a shoestring budget. The Narzo 20 is the middle-child in the Narzo 20 trio, unveiled on September 21. Both in name and features, it is clearly an iteration on the vanilla Narzo 10. The MSRP of INR10,499 ($145/€120) for the 64GB variant and INR11,499 ($155/€130) for the 128GB one is also close enough to be catering to the same potential customers.

Realme Narzo 20 specs at a glance:

  • Body: 164.5×75.9×9.8mm, 208g; Colors: Glory Silver, Victory Blue.
  • Display: 6.50″ IPS LCD, 720x1600px resolution, 20:9 aspect ratio, 270ppi.
  • Chipset: MediaTek Helio G85 (12nm): Octa-core (2×2.0 GHz Cortex-A75 & 6×1.8 GHz Cortex-A55); Mali-G52 MC2.
  • Memory: 64GB 4GB RAM, 128GB 4GB RAM; eMMC 5.1; microSDXC (dedicated slot).
  • OS/Software: Android 10, Realme UI.
  • Rear camera: Wide (main): 48 MP, f/1.8, 26mm, 1/2.0″, 0.8µm, PDAF; Ultra wide angle: 8 MP, f/2.3, 119-degree, 1/4.0″, 1.12µm; Macro: 2 MP, f/2.4; LED flash, HDR, panorama.
  • Front camera: 8 MP, f/2.0, 26mm (wide), 1/4″, 1.12µm; HDR, panorama.
  • Video capture: Rear camera: [email protected]/60fps; Front camera: [email protected]
  • Battery: 6000mAh; Fast charging 18W, Reverse charging.
  • Misc: Fingerprint (rear-mounted), accelerometer, proximity, compass; FM radio.

The Narzo 20 offers a slight chipset upgrade compared to its predecessor, mostly delivering better Wi-Fi connectivity and swaps the selfie camera module. Quite reminiscent of the relationship between the Narzo 10A and the new Narzo 20A. The design is also shared between the Narzo 20 phones.

Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review

The Narzo 20, however, has one more potentially important ambition, compared to its Narzo 20A sibling – with a massive 6,000 mAh battery, it is aiming to deliver unprecedented endurance for the lineup and perhaps even the company portfolio in general. A mighty achievement, considering the Narzo 10, also known as the Realme 6i in some markets, topped our battery charts earlier this year.

Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review
We have a few hands-on impressions of the Realme Narzo 20 to share, as well as benchmark runs and camera samples. So, without further ado.

Design, materials, handling

Realme clearly has a common theme going for the Narzo 20 and 20A. They share the same textured finish, which feels quite sturdy and will probably do well in terms of scuffs and scratches. It also incorporates a slick V-shaped design pattern that we find appealing.

Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review

Just like its sibling, the Narzo 20 can be had in either Glory Silver or Victory Blue. And the new Narzo and Realme branding is a lot less-obtrusive than what is present on the Narzo 10A. We are particularly fond of the blue variant, ourselves.

Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review

The Narzo 20 and Narzo 20A clearly have a lot in common. They share the same 6.5-inch IPS LCD panel, with roughly the same bezels surrounding it and overall control placement.

Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review

That naturally means that the footprint of both devices is not too different, although the bigger battery results adds an extra milimeter around the Narzo 20’s waistline.

Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review

The camera island on the back is different though and unlike the Narzo 10 and 20A, it’s barely protruding on the Narzo 20. There is no wobble when the phone is placed on a flat surface, which is appreciated.

Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review

Unlike the Narzo 20A, which we didn’t find particularly comfortable to hold, the vanilla Narzo 20 feels a bit better in the hand and the thicker sides certainly play a part in it.

In terms of controls, the Narzo 20 does differ notably from its 20A sibling. It actually has both its power button and volume controls on the right. The latter also being a single rocker key, as opposed to two separate keys on the 20A.

Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review

Still, the keys themselves are well-defined, easy to find by touch alone and provide nice tactile feedback – no complaints there. The fingerprint reader on the back of the Narzo 20 is predictably solid. It is snappy to set up and use, which we have come to expect from traditional capacitive readers.

Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review

The rest of the functional elements on the Narzo 20 are laid out similarly to the Narzo 20A. Single speaker and main microphone on the bottom, a 3.5mm port and a triple-slot tray (two separate nanoSIM cards and a microSD card) on the side.

Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review

The other major difference being that the Narzo 20 has a Type-C port. It is still just limited to USB 2.0 speeds, but is still notably better than the dated microUSB on the Narzo 20A.

Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review

Charging is also a step up at 18W. Despite the Narzo line being all about cost-savings, Realme also provides the required 18W charger in the box, which is commendable.

Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review

Display

The Narzo 20 packs the same 6.5-inch, 20:9 IPS LCD with a resolution of 720 x 1600 pixels as the 20A. That amounts from a 270 ppi, which while not tack-sharp is perfectly usable.

Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review

The LCD managed to remain usable under direct sunlight, at full brightness. Text was readable and the overall experience, good enough and acceptable.

Battery

Battery life could very well be one of the big selling points of the Narzo 20. Its Narzo 10 predecessor, as well as Narzo 20A sibling already go a long way with their 5,000 mAh packs. In fact, the Narzo 10/Realme 6i, managed to top our battery charts earlier this year. Equipped with a massive 6,000 mAh, the vanilla Narzo 20 is well on track to beat that record.

Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review

Prior to running our controlled set of endurance tests, we can say that in practical terms, the Narzo 20A easily got us through a day and a half of use on Wi-Fi. With a lighter usage pattern, we can easily see it going more than 48 hours on a single charge.

Speaking of charging, the Narzo 20 does one better than its cheaper Narzo 20A sibling and can take up to 18W and has the required charger to do so in the box. As a bonus, you also get reverse charging capabilities, so you can use some of that juice to charge-up other gadgets on the go.

Performance

Realme went with a MediaTek chipset for the vanilla Narzo 20, as well as the Narzo 20 Pro, with just the 20A using Qualcomm silicon.

The Helio G85 inside the Narzo 20 is actually very similar in terms of raw performance to the Helio G80, inside the Narzo 10. It has the exact same CPU configuration – 2×2.0 GHz Cortex-A75 and 6×1.8 GHz Cortex-A55 and the same Mali-G52 MC2 GPU. Since RAM is also unchanged between the pair at 4GB and both use the same eMMC 5.1 memory chips, it’s unsurprising that the raw performance results are very, very close.

Compared to the Narzo 20A and its Snapdragon 665 chipset, the Narzo 20 manages a single-core victory and is basically on par in multi-core loads. Compared to the two, the Narzo 20 Pro and its MediaTek Helio G95 expectedly comes out on top.

GeekBench 5 (multi-core)

Higher is better


  • Realme 7 Pro

    1811

  • Redmi Note 9S

    1785

  • Xiaomi Redmi K30 (Poco X2)

    1692

  • Realme 7

    1681

  • Realme Narzo 20 Pro

    1666

  • Redmi Note 8 Pro

    1622

  • Realme Narzo 20A

    1400

  • Realme Narzo 20

    1328

  • Xiaomi Redmi 9 (Prime)

    1325

  • Samsung Galaxy M21

    1319

  • Realme 7i

    1318

  • Redmi Note 9

    1292

  • Realme C3

    1262

  • Samsung Galaxy M31s

    1261

  • Samsung Galaxy A21s

    1100

GeekBench 5 (single-core)

Higher is better


  • Realme 7 Pro

    576

  • Redmi Note 9S

    570

  • Xiaomi Redmi K30 (Poco X2)

    548

  • Realme 7

    536

  • Realme Narzo 20 Pro

    517

  • Redmi Note 8 Pro

    493

  • Realme Narzo 20

    385

  • Xiaomi Redmi 9 (Prime)

    362

  • Redmi Note 9

    361

  • Samsung Galaxy M31s

    349

  • Realme C3

    347

  • Samsung Galaxy M21

    346

  • Realme Narzo 20A

    314

  • Realme 7i

    312

  • Samsung Galaxy A21s

    184

Looking at compound benchmarks like AnTuTu, we see a nicely spaced-out, linear hierarchy between the three Narzo 20 phones.

AnTuTu 8

Higher is better


  • Realme 7

    292828

  • Realme Narzo 20 Pro

    291407

  • Redmi Note 8 Pro

    279355

  • Realme 7 Pro

    278414

  • Xiaomi Redmi K30 (Poco X2)

    272229

  • Redmi Note 9S

    254000

  • Xiaomi Redmi 9 (Prime)

    201829

  • Redmi Note 9

    200414

  • Realme Narzo 20

    193912

  • Realme C3

    192223

  • Samsung Galaxy M31s

    187863

  • Samsung Galaxy M21

    180711

  • Realme 7i

    172933

  • Realme Narzo 20A

    169543

  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T

    167395

  • Samsung Galaxy A21s

    107157

The same is also true for GPU performance, with the Mali-G52 MC2, inside the vanilla Narzo scoring a few frames more, on average than the Adreno 610 inside the Narzo 20A and being beaten-out with over double the frames, on average, by the Mali-G76 in the Narzo 20 Pro.

GFX Manhattan ES 3.1 (offscreen 1080p)

Higher is better


  • Realme 7

    34

  • Realme Narzo 20 Pro

    34

  • Realme 7 Pro

    30

  • Xiaomi Redmi K30 (Poco X2)

    30

  • Redmi Note 9S

    30

  • Redmi Note 8 Pro

    29

  • Realme Narzo 20

    16

  • Samsung Galaxy M21

    16

  • Realme C3

    14

  • Realme Narzo 20A

    13

  • Realme 7i

    13

  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T

    13

  • Samsung Galaxy M31s

    12

  • Samsung Galaxy A21s

    9.4

That being said, depending on how adaptive a given game engine is, the Narzo 20 could match its Pro sibling in terms of actual on-screen frame rate, since its lower native resolution provides a noticeable boost. Along with the bigger battery the Narzo 20 might just be the “sweet-spot” for gaming performance among the trio.

The main benefit of switching from the Helio G80 inside the Narzo 10 to G85 inside the Narzo 20 is better and more-modern connectivity. Most notably, the inclusion on dual-band Wi-Fi ac. The Narzo 20 also throws in aptX HD support, to sweeten the deal further.

GFX Manhattan ES 3.1 (onscreen)

Higher is better


  • Realme Narzo 20

    32

  • Realme 7

    28

  • Realme Narzo 20 Pro

    28

  • Xiaomi Redmi K30 (Poco X2)

    27

  • Realme C3

    27

  • Realme Narzo 20A

    26

  • Redmi Note 9S

    26

  • Realme 7 Pro

    25

  • Realme 7i

    25

  • Redmi Note 8 Pro

    24

  • Samsung Galaxy A21s

    19

  • Samsung Galaxy M21

    14

  • Samsung Galaxy M31s

    14

  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T

    11

In practical terms, the Android 10-based Realme UI on board is snappy and responsive. Overall providing nothing short of a smooth budget experience.

Camera

The Narzo 20 borrows most of its main camera setup from the Narzo 10, and is certainly better equipped than the Narzo 20A. It consists of a main 48MP f/1.8 snapper with a 1/2.0″ Quad-Bayer sensor with 0.8µm piexels and PDAF. Next to it is an 8MP f/2.3 ultrawide camera with a 1/4.0″ sensor size and 1.12µm pixels. Last and least is a 2MP f/2.4 macro snapper. For comparison, the Narzo 20 Pro only adds a 2MP depth sensor, which hardly makes a difference.

Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review

That being said, the Narzo 20A offers 4K video capture and same goes for the Narzo 20 Pro. The vanilla Narzo 20, strangely, is capped at 1080p.

We grabbed a few quick test shots with the main 48MP shooter on the Narzo 20. We made sure to include ones with HDR on, as well as Realme’s Chroma Boost mode.


Realme Narzo 20 main 12MP camera samples: Regular - f/1.8, ISO 123, 1/5556s - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review
Realme Narzo 20 main 12MP camera samples: Regular - f/1.8, ISO 117, 1/4785s - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review
Realme Narzo 20 main 12MP camera samples: HDR - f/1.8, ISO 113, 1/5025s - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review


Realme Narzo 20 main 12MP camera samples: HDR - f/1.8, ISO 113, 1/4785s - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review
Realme Narzo 20 main 12MP camera samples: Chroma boost - f/1.8, ISO 113, 1/5025s - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review
Realme Narzo 20 main 12MP camera samples: Chroma boost - f/1.8, ISO 115, 1/4785s - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review

Realme Narzo 20 main 12MP camera samples: Regular • Regular • HDR • HDR • Chroma boost • Chroma boost

By default the main 48MP camera captures 12MP stills after the pixel binning process is done. If you want to, however, you can shoot at its full 48MP resolution. Here are a couple of scenes in that mode, as well as 48MP with Chroma Boost enabled.


Realme Narzo 20 main 48MP camera samples: Regular - f/1.8, ISO 122, 1/5556s - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review
Realme Narzo 20 main 48MP camera samples: Regular - f/1.8, ISO 119, 1/4785s - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review


Realme Narzo 20 main 48MP camera samples: Chroma boost - f/1.8, ISO 122, 1/5556s - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review
Realme Narzo 20 main 48MP camera samples: Chroma boost - f/1.8, ISO 119, 1/4785s - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review

Realme Narzo 20 main 48MP camera samples: Regular • Regular • Chroma boost • Chroma boost

On to the 8MP ultrawide then and the same couple of scenes. Again, accompanied by HDR and Chroma Boost samples.


Realme Narzo 20 ultrawide 8MP camera samples: Regular - f/2.3, ISO 113, 1/856s - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review
Realme Narzo 20 ultrawide 8MP camera samples: Regular - f/2.3, ISO 114, 1/1404s - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review
Realme Narzo 20 ultrawide 8MP camera samples: HDR - f/2.3, ISO 113, 1/856s - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review


Realme Narzo 20 ultrawide 8MP camera samples: HDR - f/2.3, ISO 114, 1/1404s - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review
Realme Narzo 20 ultrawide 8MP camera samples: Chroma boost - f/2.3, ISO 113, 1/856s - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review
Realme Narzo 20 ultrawide 8MP camera samples: Chroma boost - f/2.3, ISO 114, 1/1404s - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review

Realme Narzo 20 ultrawide 8MP camera samples: Regular • Regular • HDR • HDR • Chroma boost • Chroma boost

Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review
The selfie camera on the Narzo 20 is an 8MP, f/2.0 unit, with a 1/4″, 1.12µm sensor. Again, nothing fancy and identical to the one on the Narzo 20A. However, this does constitute a resolution downgrade over the Narzo 10 and its 16MP, f/2.0 snapper.

OS and UI

The Narzo 20 runs realme UI 1.0 out of the box, just like the rest of the Narzo 20 family.

Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review

It is built on top of Android 10 and our unit was still rocking the slightly older August 5 security patches.


About the Narzo 20 and realme UI - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review
About the Narzo 20 and realme UI - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review
About the Narzo 20 and realme UI - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review

About the Narzo 20 and realme UI

A large chunk of the relatively clean realme UI looks AOSP-inspired. The OS even ships with Google’s AOSP Phone and Messages apps. Despite that, this is one of the more feature and options-packed custom UIs out there.


realme UI home screens and folders - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review
realme UI home screens and folders - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review
realme UI home screens and folders - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review
realme UI home screens and folders - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review
realme UI home screens and folders - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review
realme UI home screens and folders - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review

realme UI home screens and folders

The default icons are also very AOSP-like. Same goes for the notification shade and quick toggles area, as well as the recent apps interface.


Recent apps - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review
Notification shade and quick toggles - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review
Notification shade and quick toggles - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review
Notification shade and quick toggles - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review
Notification shade and quick toggles - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review
Notification shade and quick toggles - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review

Recent apps • Notification shade and quick toggles

You get a conventional app drawer by default. Some of the noteworthy preloaded apps include Realme PaySa and Realme Link.


App drawer - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review
App drawer - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review

App drawer

You are not required to use the app drawer, though. If that is not your personal preference, you can switch to a home-screen based navigation style, as well.

There is also an optional simple mode, with bigger fonts and fewer options. Great for newer Android users or older folks. And that’s just the tip of the customization iceberg realme UI offers. Navigation also comes with surprisingly in-depth customization layer, including an abundance of gestures.


realme UI home screen, navigation and customization options - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review
realme UI home screen, navigation and customization options - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review
realme UI home screen, navigation and customization options - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review
realme UI home screen, navigation and customization options - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review
realme UI home screen, navigation and customization options - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review
realme UI home screen, navigation and customization options - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review

realme UI home screen, navigation and customization options

The included Game Space has your standard set of anti-distraction measures, like muting calls and notifications, but also features performance tweaks. These try to either squeeze more game time or more stable framerates out of the Narzo 20 and its modest hardware.


Game Space - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review
Game Space - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review
Game Space - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review
Game Space - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review
Game Space - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review
Game Space - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review

Game Space

Last, but certainly not least, Realme is consistently working on new features, which users can typically start testing-out early through the realme Lab menu.


realme Lab - Realme Narzo 20 hands-on review

realme Lab

Final thoughts

With an MSRP of INR10,499 ($145/€120) for the 64GB variant and INR11,499 ($155/€130) for the 128GB one, the vanilla Narzo 20 is a nice and gradual step up from the Narzo 20A and easily matches the value proposition of the older Narzo 10.

Besides getting a more-potent main camera and an ultrawide snapper, over the 20A, as well as a few other quality of life little things, like a Type-C port and 18W fast charging, the Narzo 20 also packs a massive 6,000 mAh battery. Battery endurance could, very-well be the Narzo 20’s calling card and a big draw to many prospective buyers, alongside its otherwise balanced budget value specs.

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