Say hello to the Realme X3 SuperZoom, the latest in a long line of phones originating in Asia that are now looking to become hits in western markets too. It's packed with power and features, it's competitively priced, and it might be the right phone upgrade for you.
That SuperZoom in the title refers to the 60x digital zoom on board here. The best quality optical zoom only goes as far as 5x, though that's still very decent for a phone – made capable by a periscope camera similar to those we've seen recently on other handsets.
Besides the camera we've got some very decent specs on show here – as we'll get on to shortly – and like brands such as Oppo and Xiaomi, Realme is putting all of this power and performance on the market at a very reasonable price for the amount of phone you get.
Having good specs on paper only gets you so far though, and we've been spending some serious time with the Realme X3 SuperZoom to see if it lives up to the hype. Is this handset worth a place on the list of the best Android smartphones of 2020? Read on to find out.
Realme X3 SuperZoom review: design and screen
We've got no complaints about the Realme X3 SuperZoom screen, which measures 6.6 inches corner to corner: you get a 2400 x 1080 resolution, a nippy 120Hz refresh rate, and an IPS LCD panel that's bright and sharp. While it's not the very best panel we've ever seen on a phone, it can certainly hold its own with the rest of the mid-rangers out there, and might even have the top-end flagships looking over their shoulders. The punch hole notch for the dual-lens selfie camera kind of ruins the aesthetics a little bit – cameras have to go somewhere, but we prefer a thicker top bezel.
As for the rest of the design and build of the Realme X3 SuperZoom, it's neat and tidy, without ever getting up to iPhone 11 or Galaxy S20 sorts of levels. This is by no means an ugly phone, but the occasional curve and slightly plastic feel lets you know that you're dealing with a phone that's not quite the best-in-class.
The camera bump on the back is reasonably well dealt with, and we really like the backing of the Arctic White phone, which displays a variety of colours as you move it under the light. Your more conventional colour options are Glacier Blue, Moss Green and Rust Red, and to our eyes they all look appealing. More conventional types might miss having a standard black option, but we don't.
There's USB-C connectivity here but no 3.5 mm headphone jack, and a single speaker – with Dolby Atmos support – down at the bottom. The fingerprint sensor is embedded in the power button at the side of the device: we actually like this placement more than having a sensor on the back or under the screen, and we wish that more phone manufacturers would opt for it.
Realme X3 SuperZoom review: camera and battery
The Realme X3 SuperZoom rear camera – a quad-lens 64MP+8MP+8MP+2MP affair – impresses in the variety of shots it can take, even if they don't all come out brilliantly. There's the 5x optical zoom that we've already mentioned, as well as an ultrawide option that helps you fit more into the frame with a single tap.
On the whole, we came away impressed with what the phone could offer in the photography department – colours and contrast weren't always as good as we've seen from top-end flagships, but the Realme X3 SuperZoom camera comes close in a lot of areas. That 5x zoom works really well, and this is going to be able to get you a lot nearer to the action than most handsets in this price bracket. It's also worth mentioning the dual-lens 32MP+8MP selfie camera too, which has an ultrawide mode of its own.
Night and low light photos are of course where a phone camera really shows its mettle, and it's here that the Realme X3 SuperZoom can struggle – you'll still get photos that you can use on social media, but details have a tendency to become blurred and noisy when there's little light available. There is a night mode but in our experience it didn't really make much of a difference.
When it comes to the amount of charge you can get from the 4,200mAh battery, we were comfortably getting through a day with around 30-35 percent remaining most days – that's decent, but similar to most new phones we're testing these days. Even under heavy use, it should last you a day. Our regular test of an hour's video streaming pushed the battery down from 100 percent to 89 percent, which is another respectable result.
Realme X3 SuperZoom review: other specs and features
Under the hood the Realme X3 SuperZoom comes carrying a Snapdragon 855 Plus processor – that's a step down from the Snapdragon 865 CPU that arrived this year, but only a very slight step down. Combined with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage, it means that even the most demanding games and apps zip along on this phone – we didn't notice any stutter or lag. What you don't get is a memory card slot, so there's no way to upgrade that 256GB of memory.
While the very top-end phones from Samsung and particularly Apple are technically more powerful than handsets such as the Realme X3 SuperZoom, we're now at the stage where that extra power doesn't really have too much of an impact on day-to-day operations. This is a phone that's going to serve you well for several years, and we wouldn't expect you to notice significant slowdowns before deciding it was time for an upgrade anyway.
A couple of the more obvious bits of cost-cutting that Realme has done here mean there's no IP68 water and dustproofing, and no wireless charging – those will be two features that a lot of users will probably be prepared to live without if it means paying less for their phone. There's no support for the latest Wi-Fi 6 standard here either, though the spec is only just starting to appear on the more expensive routers and other gadgets, and 5G connectivity is something else you're going to have to live without.
The software on board the Realme X3 SuperZoom is Android 10 with Realme's own custom Realme UI on top. Like a lot of variations on Android from Chinese manufacturers, the OS is something of a weak point, with a few strange apps and a few strange design choices to contend with. However, Realme UI is by no means as bad as some of the bloated messes we've seen on phones from other manufacturers in the past, and you should get by just fine (you can always install an Android Launcher, after all).
Realme X3 SuperZoom review: price and verdict
The market is now packed with phones around this price point that offer plenty of performance for very few compromises – phones from the likes of Xiaomi, OnePlus, Oppo, Motorola, Nokia and others. Even Apple has the iPhone SE now, and we expect that when the Google Pixel 4a appears, it'll make this segment of the market even more crowded.
However, just because the Realme X3 SuperZoom isn't particularly unique doesn't mean you should immediately discount it as your next smartphone. You do get a lot for your money here – some very decent specs, an appealing design, more than adequate battery performance, and a relatively clean version of Android.
The quad-lens rear camera proved to be something of a mixed bag, with some impressive features (like that 5x optical zoom) and some less convincing ones (like the night mode). While the phone never really gives you photos that are completely off the mark, the camera isn't as reliable or as impressive as the alternatives you can find on some of the rival phones at this price point.
Overall, we get the feeling that Realme hasn't quite hit its stride yet, and that there's plenty more to come from the company. For now, even with its faults, the Realme X3 SuperZoom offers plenty that impresses at this price point – just make sure you check out all the other competitive phones in this segment of the market.