Technophile

Review: Realme brings periscope zoom to a budget phone

Mala Bhargava | Updated on August 03, 2020 Published on August 03, 2020

Touted as a special camera phone, the X3 SuperZoom is otherwise an all-rounder with some hits and some misses

These days it does seem as if phone companies take their bag of features, give them a good shake, and sees what mix of goodies falls out first to pop into the next phone. The bunch that go into Realme’s X3 SuperZoom bring a periscope camera to the mid-range segment, but there’s also a bit of this and that makes it difficult to say outright that this device is a recommendation in a scenario in which competition is intense. Let’s see what the overall balance looks like...

The X3 SuperZoom comes in an all-too-familiar design. It looks like it could have a OnePlus phone or just anything else. What’s noticeable is a very smooth mother-of-pearl-like finish on the back. It’s slippery but doesn’t show smudges, so whether you use a case or not depends on how confident your grip is. This is a fairly chunky phone - one is not sure why. Yet, it lacks the 3.5mm headphone jack and that’s another thing users are wondering about since there does seem to be the space to retain it.

The X3 SuperZoom is heavy, and the battery inside is 4,200mAh while it feels like it could be 6,000mAh because of that weight. The battery works with 30W charging. There’s no micro-SD slot, but one would argue that it doesn’t need one with the amount of storage on board.

Display

On the wrong side of the mixed bag is an LCD screen instead of an AMOLED. It isn’t too bad an LCD as far as LCDs go and is pretty good with colours, but it has that LCD look instead of the strong colours of an AMOLED and lacks a little in the brightness department. But, on the plus side of the bag of features is a 120Hz refresh rate — and that’s quite a rarity specially in this price segment. This makes for quick scrolling and adds to the device’s experience as being fast to use. This is a 6.6-inch screen with a dual punch hole for the front cameras.

One thing that is behind the speed and performance of the X3 SuperZoom is that it’s running on the Snapdragon 855+ SoC and while that may be 2019 hardware it really is still powerful. Pair that with 12GB RAM and 256GB, UFS 3.0 storage and that’s some fairly high end specs. It has a side-mounted fingerprint sensor which I’m a big fan of, really.

Camera

The X3 SuperZoom has a great daylight camera. For the mid-range segment the camera happens to produce some great colours and detail in photographs. Shots in reasonable indoor light are also very colour accurate and not unnecessarily blurred. Images indoors with the night mode can often get a yellow tinge, depending on the light used in the room, but are not bad.

You can shoot in 64MP which is what the main camera is capable of, if you need to. The ultra-wide lens is an 8MP and drops the quality dramatically indoors, but it’s available to add to the camera count and to use when out shooting a group of people or a landscape. There’s also a 2MP macro which again, really just adds to the collection as these do nowadays.

The highlight is the 8MP telephoto lens which does an optical zoom up to 5x and does so pretty well. Beyond that, you push it electronically up to 60x zoom at which point it’s not much good for taking pictures, but it certainly is for seeing something you need to. i took the Huawei P30 long ago and showed it to an ophthalmology department’s low vision team and they were truly amazed. They were saddened at the huge price of the device though but I told them the feature would come to less expensive phones, and it has.

The phone has a ‘starry night’ mode meant for capturing the night sky and while it’s no telescope, it makes for interesting images with reduced noise. The AI on board recognises the scene and situation and tells the user on-screen. It’ll tell if you it sees an indoor shot, for example. The selfie cameras are 32MP and 8MP ultra-wide and are about the usual you’d get.

Competition is fierce in the segment in which the X3 SuperZoom has come in. There’s the OnePlus Nord now, and quite a few others.

Price: ₹32,999, ₹27,999

Pros: Power specs, smooth performance, 120Hz screen, good camera with 5x periscope zoom, 30W fast charging

Cons: Heavy and chunky, no 3.5mm jack despite thickness, LCD display with slightly less brightness than needed, just one speaker that doesn’t sound great, boring design

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Published on August 03, 2020
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