Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review

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Introduction

It’s admittedly easy to sometimes get lost in the ever-growing sea of Realme phones, but great bargains can be obtained by those that manage it. Despite getting its first members in May, the new Narzo lineup is already in its second generation. The Narzo 20 trio was unveiled on September 21 and consists of a vanilla Narzo 20, as well as a Narzo 20A and a Narzo 20 Pro.

Realme Narzo 20A specs at a glance:

  • Body: 164.4×75.4×8.9mm, 195g; Colors: Glory Silver, Victory Blue.
  • Display: 6.50″ IPS LCD, 720x1600px resolution, 20:9 aspect ratio, 270ppi.
  • Chipset: Qualcomm SDM665 Snapdragon 665 (11 nm): Octa-core (4×2.0 GHz Kryo 260 Gold & 4×1.8 GHz Kryo 260 Silver); Adreno 610.
  • Memory: 32GB 3GB RAM, 64GB 4GB RAM; eMMC 5.1; microSDXC (dedicated slot).
  • OS/Software: Android 10, Realme UI.
  • Rear camera: Wide (main): 12 MP, f/1.8, 28mm, 1/2.8″, 1.25µm, PDAF; Depth: 2 MP, f/2.4; Depth: 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: 4K@30fps, 1080p@30fps, 480p@120fps; Front camera: 1080p@30fps.
  • Battery: 5000mAh; Charging 10W.
  • Misc: Fingerprint (rear-mounted), accelerometer, proximity, compass; FM radio.

Given the rapid release schedule, it comes as no surprise that the new Narzo 20A is quite similar to the Narzo 10A. The A models are the proverbial “runt of the litter” and are clearly meant to cater to a people on a tight budget.

Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review

Realme knows too well that these are the kind of devices that are really going to move volume. Once you start thinking of things that way, increasingly-frequent model releases, featuring slight specs that let you maintain the value-for-money proposition around the year start to make a lot more sense.

Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review

The Narzo 20A is a great example. It essentially only switches the chipset and selfie camera, compared to the Narzo 10A, in hopes of maintaining competitiveness in the sub-10K price niche. In fact it starts at just INR 8,499 ($115/€100) for a 3/32GB model and the 4/64GB one is INR 9,499 ($130/€110).

Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review

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

Design, materials, handling

Measuring 164.4 x 75.4 x 8.9 mm and tipping the scale at 195 grams, the new Narzo 20A has a footprint almost identical to the Narzo 10A.

Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review

And similarities go further – identical rear camera setup, teardrop display notch and bezels around the same 6.5-inch IPS LCD panel, rear-mounted fingerprint reader.

Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review

One thing that has obviously changed is the design and the finish on the unibody shell of the Narzo 20A. Instead of the more conventional finish of the Narzo 10A, along with a rather unconventional, huge branding, this time around, you get a textured surface, in either Glory Silver or Victory Blue.

There is a rather subtle “V-shaped” pattern incorporated into the textured back design and the included Narzo and Realme logos are miniscule, compared to the 10A. Probably a good thing too, since we can’t imagine too many 10A owners were particularly enticed by the prominent branding, of all things.

Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review

However, the Narzo 10A does advertise a design incorporating Weather-sealed ports & loudspeaker, which while not an official ingress protection rating, is still good for extra peace of mind and oddly absent from official Narzo 20A marketing materials.

Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review

The texture feels quite nice to the touch, but we don’t necessarily appreciate the overall curvature of the Narzo 20A’s body. The current shape is not too comfortable to hold and could definitely benefit from more aggressive curvature. Perhaps, the slightly odd protruding edge, circling all of the sides of the Narzo 20A has something to do with the lesser in-hand comfort.

Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review

On the plus side, the Narzo 20A should be much less prone to scratches and scuffs and could potentially be used without a case with confidence. Another positive aspect of the Narzo 20A design is that it feels surprisingly light, especially for a phone packing a 5,000 mAh battery.

One noteworthy aspect of the Narzo 20A is that, just like its 10A predecessor, it uses a dated microUSB 2.0 port. Charging is limited to 10W, which is a bit of a drag on a 5,000 mAh pack. At least Realme is nice enough to include a wall charger in the box.

Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review

There are some positive aspects about the I/O as well, like the inclusion of the trusty old 3.5mm port. It sits on the bottom frame of the phone, next to the main microphone and the single speaker of the Narzo 20A.

Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review

The triple-slot tray is a nice touch. It takes two nano-SIM cards, alongside a microSD memory card, so you don’t have to pick and choose.

Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review

Controls on the Narzo 20A are perfectly standard and well-positioned. The two volume buttons and the power button are easy to feel around and offer nice tactile feedback.

Buttons - Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review
Buttons - Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review

Buttons

The rear-mounted fingerprint reader is fast to set up and also very snappy and accurate to unlock the phone.

Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review

Makes sense, seeing how it’s a conventional capacitive model.

Display

The Narzo 20A packs a 6.5-inch, 20:9 IPS LCD with a resolution of 720 x 1600 pixels. That amounts to a less-than-impressive 270 ppi, but even so we can’t say that the panel lacks sharpness. It is still perfectly usable in our book. Plus, the higher-specked vanilla Narzo 10 makes use of the same display.

Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review

We can’t really say too much about other performance metrics on the panel, before put it through the review paces, but in practical terms, the LCD managed to remain usable under direct sunlight even if it required full brightness. Text was readable and the overall experience, good enough and acceptable.

Battery

Again, we can’t really offer specifics prior to proper testing, but our initial field tests saw the 5,000mAh pack easily last through a whole day on Wi-Fi with potentially a second one also in the cards, depending on usage pattern.

Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review

Charing the big pack at 10W is a slow process. But that much should be apparent.

Performance

The Realme Narzo 20A is built around an 11nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 chipset – an upgrade over the 12nm MediaTek Helio G70 inside the Narzo 10A. However, the performance is broadly similar with the two chipsets trading blows in the benchmarks that we ran.

We can use the Realme C3, which has the same G70 chipset, as a reference and see that the Narzo 20A is actually a bit behind when it comes to single-core results.

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

The multi-core score of the Snapdragon is better than the Helio G70 by a similar 10% margin.

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

The compound AnTuTu 8 test saw the Realme C3 pull a 13% advantage. That’s not a huge difference, but it’s a clear indication that the chipset change was not motivated by performance gains.

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

In terms of GPU horsepower, the Adreno 610 inside the Narzo 20A and the Mali-G52 2EEMC2 in the Narzo 10A are again on par, with the latter a tiny bit ahead and neither impressing in any way.

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

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

However, the Snapdragon 665 does bring some connectivity goodies to the table. Most-notably, dual-band Wi-Fi ac, which the Narzo 10A lacks.

And even with roughly the same performance at its disposal as its predecessor the Narzo 20A runs the Android 10-based Realme UI in a snappy and responsive manner that causes little trouble with every-day productivity tasks and even some light gaming.

Camera

The Narzo 20A is a little light in the camera department, even when compared to its Narzo siblings. It has a single 12MP camera on the back doing the vast majority of the shooting, with two auxilary 2MP snappers for depth data and macros largely idling.

Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review

The 12MP snapper has an aperture of f/1.8 and a 1/2.8″, 1.25µm sensor with PDAF. Nothing too fancy and pretty-much identical to the setup on the Narzo 10A.

There’s nothing really fancy on the software side of the camera either, but you do get AI Scene recognition and a Pro mode for stills. Video capture on the Narzo 20A has a clear standout feature, though – 4K capture. This was not the case with the Narzo 10A and even the vanilla Narzo 20 is capped at FullHD on its MediaTek Helio G85 chipset.

We grabbed a few quick test shots with the main 12MP camera on the Realme Narzo 20A. You can see the performance with and without HDR, as well as with Chroma boost enabled.

Narzo 20A 12MP camera samples: Regular - f/1.8, ISO 155, 1/2513s - Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review
Narzo 20A 12MP camera samples: Regular - f/1.8, ISO 119, 1/1704s - Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review
Narzo 20A 12MP camera samples: HDR - f/1.8, ISO 151, 1/2717s - Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review

Narzo 20A 12MP camera samples: HDR - f/1.8, ISO 119, 1/1733s - Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review
Narzo 20A 12MP camera samples: Chroma boost - f/1.8, ISO 154, 1/2646s - Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review
Narzo 20A 12MP camera samples: Chroma boost - f/1.8, ISO 119, 1/1704s - Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review

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

The front-facing 8MP, f/2.0 snapper on the Narzo 20A is the only noteworthy upgrade in the camera deparment, compared to the 5MP unit on the Narzo 10A.

OS and UI

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

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

About the Narzo 20A and realme UI

Realme UI is quite clean, though pretty rich in terms of options, as far as custom UIs go. There is a clear AOSP vibe present throughout most interfaces. The OS even ships with Google’s AOSP Phone and Messages apps.

realme UI home screens and folders - Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review
realme UI home screens and folders - Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review
realme UI home screens and folders - Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review
realme UI home screens and folders - Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review
realme UI home screens and folders - Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review
realme UI home screens and folders - Realme Narzo 20A 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 20A hands-on review
Notification shade and quick toggles - Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review
Notification shade and quick toggles - Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review
Notification shade and quick toggles - Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review
Notification shade and quick toggles - Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review
Notification shade and quick toggles - Realme Narzo 20A 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 20A hands-on review
App drawer - Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review

App drawer

If you don’t like the concept of an app drawer and prefer a flat layout you can also do that. There is even a simple mode, with bigger fonts and icons all around – great for less-experienced or older users. 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 20A hands-on review
realme UI home screen, navigation and customization options - Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review
realme UI home screen, navigation and customization options - Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review
realme UI home screen, navigation and customization options - Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review
realme UI home screen, navigation and customization options - Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review
realme UI home screen, navigation and customization options - Realme Narzo 20A hands-on review

realme UI home screen, navigation and customization options

The included Game Space portal is surprisingly feature-rich. Besides offering the standard set of convenience features, like muting calls and notifications to prevent distractions, there are also potentially performance tweaks you can apply to try and either squeeze more game time or more stable framerates out of the Narzo 20A and its modest hardware.

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

realme Lab

Final thoughts

The Realme Narzo 20A manages to stretch its INR 8,499 ($115/€100) price tag quite a bit. It borrows heavily from the older Narzo 10A, adds a new chipset with better Wi-Fi, a higher-resolution selfie camera and a more understated exterior with a more sturdy feel to it. All of this should be enough to maintain the value for money proposition in the quickly developing market, making this a worthy if not necceserily inspiring addition to the company’s lineup.

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