Realme are a more recent company in the phone market, whilst they were part of the same parent company as OnePlus and Oppo, the company split out on their own back in 2018 and have been making some serious ground in the market with their latest range.
Whilst they have some decent mid range or budget phones, they have started aiming more at the high end with a recent 5G phone in the realme X50 Pro 5G, and now with this latest flagship the X3 SuperZoom.
I have had hands on time with the X50 model, but when the company reached out and asked If I also wanted to cover their camera aimed smartphone launch jumped at the chance.
Before I get started in the main part of the review, my usual disclaimer.
realme offered to loan me the X3 SuperZoom on a 3 loan period of which I used for around two weeks of that time.
No offer of a device to keep or money was given, and no one has had prior viewing of this review ahead of publishing, all thoughts are my own based on my review hands on time.
I received my device a little later than some of the other sites out there as my relationship with realme was just starting, so this is why my review is a little later, however the device has also had 2 or 3 big updates of the software, so gives an up to date experience
These days making your phone look different from the rest of the market and to stand out from the rest is a hard job, gone are the days where nearly every phone looked different, especially on the front where we now just get a large piece of glass with a camera cutout, it is hard to tell which phone is which from the front.
Looking up top of the screen you have a twin camera which features a main 32 megapixel shooter for those all important selfies and video calls we do more and more of these days, I won’t give too much away here as there is an area of the review showing off the camera, however I can say it is very impressive.
Next to this is the second camera, this time an 8 megapixel wide angle lens for those times you need to get more into your photo, this also takes some good photos but lacks the same resolution and quality of the main camera as you may expect, but is still nice to have on there.
The screen is 6.6 inches with 1080p resolution and uses LCD technology to help boost colours although it does therefore lack the punchy black contrast that an AMOLED screen has, it is ok outside with brightness boosted up to the max.
Something very impressive on the X3 SuperZoom is the 120hz refresh rate of the screen which is still very rare these days, with most phones offering 90hz at best. This allows super smooth scrolling when you are using the screen and when playing games that support the higher frame rate on offer.
The earpiece is housed right up top in the middle and in voice voice calls were good quality and loudness even when using out by a busy road where I normally test voice calls as it is more realistic than away in a quiet area, you need to know that the noise cancelation and volume is good for all conditions.
Up top you have one of the microphones which is used for voice calls and also for capturing stereo audio when in video recording mode and to help with the noise cancelation when in voice calls by blocking out background noise.
Down the bottom you have the loudspeaker which is very loud and punchy when listening at maximum volume, more than adequate for videos and music, and if you want it even louder you would be better using a pair of headphones anyway, which by the way, have to be either USB-C or Bluetooth because as with a lot of phones now, the X3 SuperZoom lacks a headphone jack.
There is a USB-C port used for data transfer and charging, and whilst there is no wireless charging here, you do get an impressive 30w charger in the box which allows for super fast topping up of your battery when you need too which is nice.
Down the bottom you also get the removable SIM tray which is where you get the Dual-SIM slot and can put in two different SIM cards which means this is very handy for anyone who uses a phone for work and one for personal, or does a lot of traveling so picks up a local SIM for different countries you visit.
Unfortunately neither slot can be used for expandable memory, however with 256GB built in and the amount of online storage options you should have more than enough and not really miss a memory card.
Over on the left hand side you get just the volume up and down buttons which of course control the system volume or in calls, there is nothing else to see on this side.
Over on the right side you get a power button in the middle which is built into the fingerprint reader so allows you speedy unlocking and does not take up any space on the bottom of the screen or on the back.
The speed of unlocking is very fast once setup, although my button did seem to wobble a little bit so was a little concerning what would happen if this somehow got caught and became damaged considering it unlocks and is used as power, I have not seen anyone else mention this so might just be my unit with the issue but was worth noting.
Over on the back you have a design many would say looks quite like the Huawei P30 series with the shiny back and quad camera system in the corner, not that this is a bad thing as both look really nice phones when it comes to the overall design.
The whole back is a nice shiny White colour on the model I was sent, a Blue is also available if you prefer a bit of colour, but even on the White version, when it catches the light you get a nice change of design that stands out.
The main area to look at is the top left corner which is where the cameras are located, as mentioned a quad setup so plenty of options to play around with.
There is a lot to cover on the cameras so check out the Camera section of the review to find out more, including some samples.
The cost cutting here comes in the materials used where realme went with a plastic frame instead of the stronger aluminum some other high end phones use, also the phone is water resistant, but has no official IP rating so would be ok for the rain, but not swimming or anything more adventurous.
If you have used an Oppo phone before and think the UI looks very similar, there is a very good reason for that, and that is although it goes by the name ‘realme UI’, it is in fact just a skinned version of the Oppo version.
There were some issues with older versions of Color OS, but a lot of this has been fixed and improved in recent versions, and realme UI is actually a joy to use coming from someone who has used most, if not all the different versions of skins out there.
The drop down menu has some nice touches including showing the amount of data you have used in the day, handy if you are not on an unlimited data plan and want to keep a look at what you are using each day so you wont run out.
There is a Dark Mode built in which was what I was using personally, and although the LCD means you don’t get those deep blacks, it helped using the phone on a day to day basis and with the splash of colour here and there, helps make colours stand out.
The software out of the box is based on Android 10, and after getting the phone I have had three updates come through to improve performance as well as a big improvement on the camera performance from when I first received it.
Whilst it is great to see these updates rolling out quickly, we will have to see how quickly the company are able to roll out the Android 11 update when this becomes available later in the year for Pixel devices.
You also get a swipe in sidebar which has some handy apps and shortcuts like if you wanted to quick launch an app or take a screenshot.
Also included is a Game Space area which lets you put gaming as a priority and block notifications, as well as boost gaming performance depending on the settings you set in the options, this is very handy if you are into your gaming and hate getting interrupted by constant notifications.
Digital wellbeing is also a big area of Android 10, and you get a set of tools in the settings to monitor your use on each app per day so you can make sure you are taking a break from your phone, there is a ‘Wind Down’ mode which puts the phone into gray scale mode at certain times to help your eyes as you go to bed, and Focus mode stops you using those apps that distract you by setting timers or a schedule.
Parents are also covered here with a separate area using Google Family Link which allows you to monitor timers, set certain apps that are allowed and restrict certain content until you authorise it as a parent.
I have used Color OS before and personally quite liked it, although this was on an older Oppo device and it did seem to take a while for them to release the updates for security and big version updates, so as mentioned before, fingers crossed realme are on the ball with this and release the updates quickly.
Performance is very good and whilst not running the latest 865 processor, the last generation Snapdragon 855+ does an excellent job at getting through all the tasks you can throw at it, whilst also having decent battery performance considering you also can run at 120hz all the time if you want.
Network support is something that can vary depending on your location, the X3 SuperZoom supports 4G/3G/2G, unfortunately no 5G here so if you are wanting this latest network speed you will have to look at the realme X50 Pro 5G instead.
Speeds over 4G were very good and on par with a lot of other smartphones I have used recently, using an EE SIM I was often able to hit around the 100Mbps mark and more which is more than enough for most people on a day to day basis without 5G included.
With 12GB or RAM and 256GB of built in storage, the X3 SuperZoom has more than enough power and storage for everyone to appreciate, even playing heavy graphic games the phone easily performed like a champ and was no slow down at all, also whilst running at that 120hz display rate.
The X3 SuperZoom comes in a single SKU of 12GB and 256GB so the version you buy will be the same as the one I was using, there is no lower model which makes this even better value when you compare it to the rest of the market.
Battery was also very good with recent software updates helping to improve performance, the 4200mAh battery easily lasted me a day, even with using two SIM cards at the same time, and if there was ever a time I was running a little low, the speedy 30w fast charging topped it up within a few minutes.
With a name like X3 SuperZoom, you know the camera is going to be a key area of the overall experience, and that is something realme have put a lot of time and attention into, especially making the software as optimal as possible by rolling out software fixes over time.
Selfie camera first, the X3 SuperZoom has two front facing cameras which is nothing new really, we have seen many phones with this and for good reason.
The main selfie camera comes in at 32 megapixels which is great for anyone taking selfies or using video calling, even for vlogging if needed due to the high amount of megapixels.
The second is a lower resolution 8 megapixel sensor, but with a larger field of view with it being 110 degrees so you get much more into the photo, even if you do lose some of the overall quality due to lower pixel count.
Quality is actually really impressive, I tweeted a few samples recently and many people commented on the good overall quality that was produced when in good lighting.
When it comes to recording video on the selfie side you have a top resolution of 1080p at 30 frames per second which is expected at a phone in this price range, quality is good and enhanced by the ultra steady mode you can switch on when recording selfie videos.
Over on the back is where you find the main cameras, and as mentioned, there are four of them which means you have lots of options to play with getting the right shot.
The main camera is an impressive 64 megapixel Samsung GW1 sensor which is great for capturing lots of detail and colours when in the right conditions, overall quality is very good, again, as long as you have decent lighting to help.
Next is a 8 megapixel lens which is wide angle and helps you get those group shots or amazing landscape photography, with the wide angle option comes a darker image I found, but quality was still very good for most situations.
Third is the magical 8 megapixel periscope lens which is what lets you get those great zoomed in photos, with 5x Optical and 60x Digital zoom you have plenty of distance to play with, although for many the 5x to 10x is the best spot with the maximum 60x producing a lot of blur, but it looks good on paper anyway.
Last is the fourth lens and this is 2 megapixel for macro photos, it lets you get really up close to an object and take some stunning photos, this is the same type found on many phones at the moment.
Some other phones have better macro mode by removing the camera all together, instead using a higher resolution wide angle sensor and allowing that to be used close up such as the OnePlus 8 Pro.
Macro photos still came out very good packing detail and plenty of colour which was great to see, and it was nice having all these camera options to get the best photo possible.
Night mode is here and produces some great photos when switched on, this is something most phones are going these days, and with the amount of time spent on the camera it was good to see decent results even when it came to night time.
Realme also went with an astrophotography mode which they call ‘Starry Mode’ this is where you hook the phone up to a tripod or something steady, point at the clear sky and it takes around 4 minutes of photos and merges into one, making the stars shine bright
This is as long as you have the right conditions of course, unfortunately where I was using the phone I was not able to use this feature which was a shame.
Video was impressive with resolution up to 4K as long as you are using the main sensor, using the wide angle was only available at 1080p, however there was also the option of 60 or 30 frames per second if you wanted to use that which was nice.
There are some handy extras for video including 960fps super slow motion for those action shots you may want to really slow down to show off, as well as two different modes for keeping footage smooth, a Steady mode as well as a Steady Max for making everything extra smooth when walking or needing to keep things steady.
There are other options such as bokeh in your video footage when being recorded live on screen which is something that is quite rare in phones, and a welcome addition if you want to get some great video footage.
Software for the camera is pretty much the same you find on any main Android phone these days with a swipe gesture switching between all the different modes.
With so many smartphone launches happening this time of year, it is becoming harder and harder to know which device is worth you spending your hard earned cash on, and with the recent COVID 19 pandemic, lots of people are wanting to cut back on large purchases.
Realme are one of the companies which are offering a set of flagship specs in a device which will not break the bank, with only a few small compromises over the much more expensive models from rivals.
The screen is one area that is slightly different as mentioned due to the LCD technology instead of AMOLED, however they have managed to add an impressive 120hz refresh rate to keep everything running as smooth as possible which is a good plus point.
Performance was impressive, and whilst it does not have the most recent Snapdragon 865 processor, it goes with last years Snapdragon 855+ which helps cut the costs, but also not really have much of a dip in performance because the 855+ is a very powerful chip to be using anyway, and in all tasks handled everything fine.
Software was also very good taking from Color OS which is used by Oppo and rebranding it as ‘realme UI’ but in reality, it seems to be the same idea behind it with the same design around the settings and drop down menu for example.
Whilst Colour OS might not be for everyone, it has certainly seen improvements over the years and is a decent skin to use these days.
The camera is the main focus of the X3 SuperZoom, hence the name being a camera terminology and you can tell they have put a lot of thought into getting as much out of the cameras as possible with various modes and lenses.
Considering the asking price of £469, this is a big saving of around £250 when compared to the Huawei P30 Pro which has a camera setup nearly the same.
If you are looking to get a serious camera in your smartphone and do not want to break the bank against some of the rivals, and do not mind a LCD screen, there is plenty to look forward to using on the X3 SuperZoom, not just the cameras which are a lot of fun, but that 120hz display for super smooth scrolling.
Thank you to realme who sent the review device out for me to be able to cover in a review.