Realme has been in the Indian market for over two years. What started off as the budget sub-brand of Oppo, has now become a mother brand unto itself, diversified into other product categories such as fitness bands, true wireless earbuds and even a smart TV. Naturally, the smartphones have also moved up the value chain, into the higher-end segment.
In the last year, Realme has launched a couple of firsts " a 64 MP camera sporting smartphone " the Realme XT, a 5G chipset-sporting smartphone " the Realme X50 Pro 5G (even though 5G is pointless in the Indian market for now). Continuing that trend, Realme has now launched a periscope telephoto camera module in the Realme X3 SuperZoom smartphone. While periscope zoom cameras have been around for a while now, none sell under Rs 30,000. This is slowly becoming a niche trend in flagships. We have seen periscope zooms in the Huawei P30 Pro and more recently, Oppo Reno 10X Zoom, Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra and a clutch of other devices.
Battery life is good, and you get a lot of settings to tinker with
The Realme X3 SuperZoom comes with a 4200 mAh battery along with a 30 W Dart Charger along with it. The phone easily lasts a day and half on regular usage and around a day on heavy usage, which includes a lot of gaming.
Under the Settings > Battery section there are many different options you can choose between to extract the most out of the battery. There is an 'Intelligent Power Saver' option which uses AI to save power in the background. You get a battery percentage, and if there are any tasks sipping battery in the background, you can click on the 'Save Power' button. This takes you to another screen, which has more details on what is using power. The 'Performance' mode has three sub-sections as well " 'High Performance Mode', 'Smart Performance Mode' and 'No Performance Improvement'. 'App Quick Freeze' lets you freeze certain idle apps, which puts them in a sort of 'locked' mode, so that they can no longer use any power or receive and send notifications in the background. You can tinker around with these settings to extract more usage from the phone.
As for charging the device, it's quick. It took around 60 mins to go from no charge to 100 percent. So even if you are in a rush, you just need a quick 15-minute charge to get you enough juice to see you through a few hours of a work day. Overall, battery life is one department where the phone presents no issues at all.
Build and Design: Quite bland
I kept this portion for last, because honestly, Realme has done nothing innovative here. They locked on to one design for the rear since the Realme 6, and so it continues. Blame it on their prolific launches. Only the COVID-19 lockdown could decelerate Realme's launch cycle. The Realme X3 SuperZoom makes do with a by now mature design language. Having seen so many Realme devices with this design, I'd say it's becoming boring to look at. The quad-camera setup is housed inside a vertical camera module placed on the top left-hand corner of the rear. The module does jut out a bit, but it isn't too sharp to touch. The glossy design on the back reflects light in a way that shows the dark to light gradation. It does collect fingerprint smudges. The glacier blue colour I received for testing looks quite good. While there is Gorilla Glass 5 on the front, the glass version on the back isn't known.
There is a plastic frame sandwiched between the glass coverings. The edges are rounded off on both sides, but there is a flat portion on the right hand side which houses the power/standby button, which also houses the physical fingerprint scanner. This is a design that is intuitive and was first used on Sony Xperia devices. The volume rocker is located on the left-hand side. The top and bottom edges of the device have a slightly depressed element, which feels nice. The dual SIM card tray is at the base (there is no microSD card slot), as is a USB Type C port and a speaker grille. The lack of 3.5 mm audio jack on a thick device as X3 SuperZoom begs explanation.
The phone weighs in a hefty 202 g. There is no IP rating for water or dust resistance. When you snap on the bundled transparent case, the phone becomes quite thick, but the display is protected, as the case protrudes a bit around the display. The dual front-facing cameras are placed at the top right-hand corner. There is nothing to complain about in the build and design, except maybe the plastic frame. For a Rs 30,000 plus phone, a metallic build is a no-brainer.
Verdict and Price in India
The Realme X3 SuperZoom is a good smartphone overall. Its major strength is the 5x periscope zoom camera and the dual front-facing cameras, which let you shoot portrait-mode videos. If the periscope zoom is something that you desire, then the X3 SuperZoom is the only offering in this price segment.
There are problems with the cameras as well, especially the ultrawide angle camera which takes some not-so-great photos. The video quality of the X3 SuperZoom is also something not worth writing paeans about. It's functional and offers the option to zoom in, but that comes at a cost. The display is great, but I am concerned about its brightness levels. The battery is long-lasting, which is helped by a quick charger. The overall performance of the Realme X3 SuperZoom is also impressive.
As you may have noted, there are many compromises you will have to make if you are planning to get this smartphone. On the other hand, if the 5x zoom is something that you can do without, you can consider the Realme X2 Pro (Review) which offers a 90 Hz AMOLED display, or the Redmi K20 Pro (Review) which offers a much better overall camera quality, and has recently seen a price drop. The OnePlus NORD is expected to launch in a few weeks, and while it doesn't offer a periscope zoom, it is sure to add more competition to this space.
Bottomline: Go for the Realme X3 SuperZoom only if you want that periscope zoom.