Price (RRP): $699/799
You could think the headline refers to a camera. But no, the realme X3 is a smartphone as well with some impressive flagship hardware, a quad camera with 60x SuperZoom and fast 30W charging.
realme is part of the BBK group – the world’s second-largest smartphone maker and sibling to OPPO, vivo, OnePlus and more. The realme X3 SuperZoom wraps up the latest smartphone and camera tech into a very attractively priced package.
In fact, the realme X3 SuperZoom costs from $699/799 and for that you get a Qualcomm 855+ flagship SoC, 8/128GB or 12/256GB and a 6.6” 120Hz 2400×1080 screen. Yes, it is another case of shut up and take my money before they are all gone!
Australian Review: realme X3 ZuperZoom Model RMX2086
- Australian website here
- Price: $699/799 8/128 and 12/256GB
- Warranty: 2-years ACL
- Colours: Glacier Blue or Arctic White
- Country of manufacture: China
- realme is a youth-focused, online-only brand with the mantra ‘Dare To Leap’. So, if you are a Millennial or an old fart, don’t let youth have all the fun. BBK has no known links to the Huawei/ZTE/China spying debate.
- Other realme reviews here
realme X3 – first impression
I have a sneaking feeling that realme designers sit down and discuss how they can shove it to big brothers OPPO et al. They seem to take the best tech and through an agile online-only model produce gear that we would normally pay more for. The online model cuts out the middleman and distribution profit, but it also means that support is online as well.
Fear not – if you buy Australian certified stock from an authorised outlet then a nice man from OPPO slips on a yellow realme T-shirt to service you.
And they prolifically produce niche models to fill gaps in the market – this is but one of over 40 models since its launch a year or so ago.
Back to the phone. The realme X3 SuperZoom main features
- 6.6” 2400×1080, 120Hz IPS display with Gorilla Glass 5
- Qualcomm SD855+ Soc
- 8/128GB or 12/256GB LPDDRX4/UFS 3.0 (fastest ram and storage but no micro-SD)
- Quad-rear camera and 60X Periscope SuperZoom
- Dual front selfie with wide-angle
- Wi-Fi AC, BT 5.0, Dual Band GPS
- 4200mAh battery and 30W Dart Charge
How we rate smartphones
We conduct over 70 tests and mark the major headings with FAIL, PASS or EXCEED. These criteria are on what you can normally expect for a price/bracket of phone.
Screen – PASS++
- 6.6″ IPS LCD, FHD+ (1080x2400px) resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, 399 ppi. 20:9
- Brightness Claimed 400/480nits (measured 470 nits and no boost or auto brightness)
- Contrast Claimed 1000:1 typical and 1500:1 maximum (Measured 1300:1 – blacks are more a deep grey)
- Adreno 640 supports HDR10, HLG but we were unable to test screen support
- Gamut: 81.5% NTSC and Gentle mode is almost 100% sRGB Delta E 1.3
- Vivid and Gentle modes with an additional Cool-to-Warm slider
- Screen protection: Gorilla Glass 5 and pre-fitted screen protector
- Daylight readability: it is a reflective screen so fair
The major appeal of the screen is its 120Hz refresh rate. It is buttery smooth when you can find an app or content that supports it. For 90% of the time, it defaults to 60 or 90Hz – whatever the app supports. In fact, the only 120Hz content you can rely on is the realme menu system.
YouTube allows for some 120Hz content, but we were unable to locate many games or apps for that.
The default video player caps at 60Hz. Firefox and Opera cap at 90Hz and Chrome at 120Hz – if you set it to ‘forced’.
Despite the 60Hz preference, the screen gives solid gaming performance.
Summary: Not as saturated colours as AMOLED but on the whole has good colour and performance.
Processor – 2020 version of 2019 flagship SoC – EXCEED
Qualcomm SD 855+ (7 nm): Octa-core (1×2.96 GHz, 3×2.42 GHz, 4×1.78 GHz)
It is in the premium Galaxy Z Flip and way better than the 2020 Qualcomm SD7XX series.
Adreno 640 GPU
It is 15% faster in GPU than the SD855. It supports Snapdragon Elite Gaming optimisation and relame’s game assist.
RAM/Storage – The best – EXCEED
8GB/128GB, 12GB/256GB (220GB free), no microSD card slot.
CPU Throttling – EXCEED
The CPU has a maximum of 130,400GIPS, average 125,977 (5% throttling), and lowest 123,097. This is a great result and shows extremely good thermal management via a liquid cooling system. In fact, it never got about 50° CPU and 38° externally.
Tests – EXCEED
Geekbench 5 single/multi/compute 800/2617/2905. To put this in perspective it is one of the fastest SD855+, and 15% faster than the Samsung Galaxy Note10+
COMMS – EXCEED
- Wi-Fi 5 AC, dual-band, 2×2 MIMO
- Hotspot and Wi-DI
- Bluetooth 5.0 – A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP, MAP, PABP, HID, PAN and the full range of Qualcomm sound codecs including SBC, AAC, aptX/adaptive/HD and LDAC
- NFC: Yes, in the genuine Australian model
- GPS Dual Band
- USB Type-C 2.0 with OTG. Does not support MHL or ALT DP/Dex
- Sensors: 5-axis Accelerometer (for rotation and tilt), magnetometer (eCompass), Gyroscope, Gravity, Ambient Light sensor, proximity, wake-up sensor
This has a superb Wi-Fi antenna system enabling -38dBm/866Mbps out to 5 metres and -65/433 at 10 metres. No others around this price can achieve that.
GPS dual-band and the Qualcomm SoC meant <4metres accuracy and perfect for turn-by-turn navigation.
This has the full suite of sensors, including some that are games oriented. Again unusual at this price.
4G LTE – EXCEED
Dual SIM, VoLTE, VoWi-Fi, Wi-Fi calling
LTE Bands 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/20/28/38/40/41
Qualcomm X24 Cat 20/13 DL/UL for 2Gbps/316Mbps maximum speed. It shows a -83dBm signal strength in our 3-bar test location and 30/20Mbps.
But better than that is that it finds the neighbouring tower at -85dBm and the next at -113dBm – this is one of the best results we have seen and means it is good for rural and remote 4G use.
The dual sims are active until one is in use. There is only one ring tone for both.
Speaker – PASS
- Earpiece speaker – calls only
- Mono down-firing 1216 Linear speaker (a multi-magnet speaker with a small chamber behind the speaker to enhance bass).
- The Qualcomm SM8150 is a Hi-Fi Audio DAC which means it is 16/24/32-bit and 44.1/48/88.2/96kHz.
- Dual mics (basic background noise suppression)
- It supports Dolby Atmos and other Dolby versions decoding via BT or cabled headphones.
We don’t test the frequency response of mono speakers. It has a maximum volume of 76dB – that is fine for handsfree.
But the sound on our reference Sony WH-1000Xm3 using eh LDAC codec was amazing. Wide sound stage, great bass and clear vocals.
Battery – EXCEED
- 5V/2A (10W) or 5V/6A (30W) DART Charge. DART is realme proprietary and users a special charger and cable to deliver 2 x 5V/3A charges to two batteries making it charge twice as fast as a single USB-C charger. The Qualcomm SD855+ also supports QC 4+, so in effect, it can use any USB-C PD charger.
All tests were with a 60Hz screen
- Video [email protected], 50% brightness and aeroplane mode: 16 hours (we estimate about 2/3 hours less for 90/120Hz
- Audio: MP3 18 hours aeroplane mode
- Wi-Fi and typical screen on time use – 10 hours
- T-Rex: 164 minutes/6307 frames
- Discharge: 2.9mA means you should get up to 28 days screen off in idle.
- Charge: 0-100% under one hour with DART and 2.5 hours with 5V/3A
Over a week of heavy use, we had about 30% left at the end of the day. With aggressive battery management, this will get 2+ days.
Build – EXCEED
- 163.8×75.8×8.9mm and weighs 202g
- Gorilla Glass 5 sandwich over plastic (metal look) frame
- Goodix capacitive fingerprint sensor power button (fast) and 2D facial ID (slow)
- Table rock – use the clear bumper cover to prevent this
- Realme claims three layers of water resistance – not formally IP rated
- Matte finish rear makes it fingerprint resistant
- No earphones inbox
Android 10 and realme OS – EXCEED
- Patch level: 5 June. realme issue quarterly patches for two years but there is no OS upgrade guarantee
- realme OS is moving closer to stock Android in look and feel. If anything it is less cluttered.
- Android 10 navigation (Swipe gestures from both sides), uses side edges while upward swipes from the bottom take you Home. But you can set it for Android 9 app draw – I prefer that.
- It has all Google apps and Google Assistant.
- There is very little bloatware that can easily be uninstalled.
realme X3 Camera – EXCEED
SuperZoom is a combination of optical, hybrid and digital zoom spread over three lenses.
The Periscope uses a prism to bend light hence the high f/3.4 aperture – don’t use this at night. But it is OIS stabilised and has PDAF, so daylight/office shots are superb.
We compared it to the Huawei P40 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, and to my mind, it was just as good to 10X and a little better at 60X.
Primary Camera: EXCEED
- 64MP Quad-Bayer, 0.8µm pixel size, 66.9° FOV, f/1.8 aperture, PDAF, 6P
- Samsung GW1 64MP sensor that bins to 16MP/1.6um or shoot 64MP
- No OIS but uses UIS/EIS for [email protected] with H.264/5 encoding
- 8MP, 1.12µm, f/2.3, FF, 119° FOV, 5P
- [email protected]
Telephoto: All the same shot
- 8MP, 124mm Periscope lens, f/3.4, PDAF, OIS, 4P
- 5X optical to 60X digital
- [email protected]
- 2MP, 1.75µm, f/2.4, FF to 4cm, 3P
You can shoot on any lens, and each has a digital zoom.
The night mode is quite exceptional really making colours pop in sub 40 lumen light.
Super Nightscape*, Night mode, Panorama, Expert Mode, Portrait Mode, Time-lapse Photography, HDR, Ultra-Wide, Ultra Macro, AI Scene Recognition, AI Beauty, Filter, Chroma Boost.
*Astrophotography – captures exposures over four minutes. Must use a tripod and point the camera at the night sky. Better than Pixel 4.
- 32MP, 0.8µm, 1/2.8″, f/2.5, FF, 80.4° FOV, 5P
- Sony IMX616 (binned to 8MP/1.6um). [email protected]
- 8MP, 1.12µm, f/2.2, FF. 105° FOV, 5P
- GC8054 sensor
The two lenses give Wide Angle Mode, Time-lapse Photography, Front Panorama, Beauty, Face Recognition, Front Shot Flip, Blurring Adjustable
GadgetGuy’s take – The realme X3 is exceptional value and performance
Before I reviewed this (I have five phones in review at the moment), I thought it would just be another from the ‘lower-cost’ realme stable. I did not even know the price or processor – just that it had SuperZoom as we see on OPPO and Samsung.
Well, I was blown away that it had a flagship processor, the Qualcomm SD855+, the quad Periscope camera and by the value. I expected to see this configuration closer to $1000 than $699.
What I have learned is that realme looks for advantages. That advantage may be a surplus of components from its siblings OPPO, vivo, OnePlus and others. That advantage is also its ability to be agile – 40 models in 12 months. And finally, its online-only sales model makes it easy to market and move on to the next niche model.
I can’t quite give it 5/5 because it has no micro-SD slot or 3.5mm jack. But, who cares if you buy the $799, 12/256GB model that is exclusive to JB and includes bonus realme buds at $149. We will forgive no Qi charging and a formal IP rating.
It earns extra points for the grunty processor and Periscope camera. There are no competitors in this space for the price.