Review

Realme X3 SuperZoom Review: Really about the cameras!

Forget shooting the stars, the camera IS the star

by: - Last updated on: September 26th, 2020

When we first got the Realme X3 SuperZoom for review, our initial thoughts were that the talk of the zoom on its cameras – 60x digital zoom in particular – was all very nice, but that this was basically a flagship killer. After all, it brought specs like a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ processor (the same as seen on the OnePlus 7T), lots of RAM, a display with a 120 Hz refresh rate and fast charging to the table. Surely, at a starting price of Rs 27,999, that counted for more than a quad-camera set up, even if it claimed to be able to take pictures of stars (the ones you see in the sky, not on the celeb pages).

Well, we think we got that partially wrong. The Realme X3 SuperZoom is actually a real camera star.

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The specs are good

This is not to say the hardware on the device is bad. No, as we stated in our first impressions, the Realme X3 SuperZoom ticks most budget flagship boxes, although it looks a trifle plain. The Snapdragon 855+ chip with RAM and storage combinations of 8 GB/128 GB and 12 GB/ 256 GB (no expandable memory), is good enough to handle every task you throw at it from PUBG to Call of Duty to video editing to dozens of Chrome tabs, and social networks. And it handles it all smoothly and without heating up, although that single speaker scores on volume rather than audio quality. This phone is a performer all right. And we love the positioning of the fingerprint sensor on the right of the display, where it doubles up as a power/display button.

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There are a few thorns among the hardware bouquet though. For one, that 6.6-inch full HD display is not the brightest we have seen, although it has been improved by a few software updates. It is not a dealbreaker by any means as you can read content in sunlight but it definitely is less than bright than even some devices that come with lower price tags. It does have a 120 Hz refresh rate though, which means smoother graphics (where supported) and scrolling but it also means that the 4200 mAh battery in the device drains out more rapidly. And well, the display’s not being the brightest also means that you have to keep it at a slightly higher than normal level – more battery drain. While we were generally able to see off a day of usage on the 4200 mAh battery in the device, we sometimes came up short as well. The good news is that the Dart Charge with 30W charger in the box charges the entire phone in less than an hour and gets you from zero to 70 percent in half an hour.

On the software side, the X3 Superzoom comes with Realme UI on top of Android 10. Yes, there are ads in the interface but they can be turned off. The similarity to Color OS remains and the gestures can be little iffy, especially the swipe to go back which sometimes gets obstructed by the cover bundled with the phone, but the phone runs smoothly overall. Hardly surprisingly, given all that hardware.

At Rs 24,999 for the non-SuperZoom version, the Realme X3 is perhaps the best value for money device for anyone wanting a high-end processor (app developers, PUBG players) and pumped up specs. We would however recommend spending an additional Rs 4,000 and going for the SuperZoom model, which brings us to the real stars of this Realme show.

It’s really about the cameras…

The rear of the Realme X3 SuperZoom comes with a 64 megapixel Samsung GW1 main sensor, an 8-megapixel ultrawide sensor, a 2 megapixel macro sensor, and the real ace – an 8-megapixel periscope sensor with OIS. Realme has promoted what it calls Starry Mode, a feature that allows you to take pictures of stars at night with the phone. Well, it involves messing with a tripod, letting the phone stay steady for five minutes, and then hoping the image comes out right (provided the sky is clear enough). There are also a number of shooting modes, including an improved Night mode, support for a tripod mode, filters, a Pro mode, and so on.

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Our advice? Just stick to auto and use that periscope lens.

That is because Realme seems to have put some serious hardware magic in that sensor. Yes, the 64-megapixel main sensor will give you some terrific detail with surprisingly realistic colors (not that much oversaturation) and the ultrawide does a decent job too (we just wish it had more megapixels though), and the macro can sometimes deliver some great insect snaps. But the periscope lens is the star. First, getting 5X optical zoom on a phone is rare – you normally get about half of that. Second, getting that zoom with a sensor with OIS suddenly means that even while zooming in, your shots are way more stable.

[Click here for full resolution sample pics]

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…and Sunny and Moony modes beat Starry Mode!

And it definitely shows in the results. The Realme X3 SuperZoom is one of the few devices with which we have got reasonably clear shots of the moon (with some craters visible too) and even snaps of the sun in the evening turn out to be spectacular. Also, whereas 2x is a bit of a token zoom 5x actually lets you get into the zone where you can snap animals and birds from a reasonable distance. Yes, the digital zoom starts getting a little messy once you head past 20X, but truth be told, we think this is the best zoom implementation on a budget flagship device. By some distance.

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The rest of the cameras live up to the Realme tradition of being steady performers, although with markedly lesser saturation than in the past, although portrait mode remains a little hit and miss when it comes to edges. Video still needs work to be top-notch but is good enough for most social networking purposes. Some did not like the capsule-shaped punch hole notch in the display but we think the 32-megapixel main selfie snapper in alliance with the 16-megapixel wide-angle sensor took some great selfies, even though there seemed to be some issues with a glare at times

All said and done, the Realme X3 SuperZoom comes with the best cameras we have seen in a sub-Rs 30,000 phone and matches those that cost much more than that as well. That zoom is not a stunt, although we would advise using it more for birds, animals, the moon, and the sun than the stars!

Want a budget flagship with great cameras…or just great cameras on a sub-Rs 30k phone? Sold!

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So at a starting price of Rs 27,999, is the Realme X3 SuperZoom THE budget flagship, as we had wondered in our first impressions? Well, if you really love photography and want budget flagship specs, then this is a no-brainer. Actually, if you want a very good camera phone at a price of below Rs 30,000, then this one again comes out on top. Yes, the design does not exactly stand out and some might have wanted a more colorful and bright display, but the phone ticks almost all performance boxes and creates a few new ones of its own when it comes to the camera. And at that price, it is considerably more affordable than the OnePlus 7T, which sports a similar processor but comes with a cleaner interface and a more snazzy design (as well as an AMOLED display, which may sway some).

Also lurking are the Redmi K20 Pro, which runs on an older processor but picks up design points, and the iQOO 3 which at Rs 34,999 is simply the most affordable Snapdragon 865 device out there. Of course, we will make comparisons just as consumers will, but those cameras put the Realme X3 SuperZoom in a zone of its own in the budget flagship race.

Buy Realme X3 SuperZoom on Flipkart

Pros
  • Very good camera performance
  • Fast charging
  • Generally smooth performance
Cons
  • Not the greatest display
  • Single speaker
  • Battery life gets drained by 120 Hz refresh rate
Review Overview
Build & Design
Performance
Camera
Software
Price
SUMMARY

It has got a zoom in its name. And it lives up to it. The Realme X3 SuperZoom adds a new dimension to the budget flagship battle by bringing in a camera that lets you snap the moon, if not the stars (not always, anyways).

4.0

Comments

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    1. Depends on which iPhones you are referring to – there are four of them in the current year right now, and three different camera arrangements. Also, comparing a Rs 27,999 device’s snappers with something that costs about 2-3 times as much seems a tad unfair. But that apart, this has to be among the most versatile camera set ups we have seen on a phone in the sub-Rs 40,000 category, Capable of some seriously good photography. And not a bad phone either.

  1. I would still stray away from paying the hefty amount for just the camera. But then again, it’s also about preference as to what serves as the main aspect for someone in a smartphone.

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