The Realme X3 punches way above its weight when it comes to the camera, but it doesn’t disappoint in the other departments either.
This review is a continuation of my detailed hands-on from last month, so I won’t be repeating myself when you can read that before continuing here (click the link below).
On this page you’ll see my verdict following a month of usage, and a final rating given only after proper usage.
The camera is of course the main purpose of this phone’s existence, so it makes sense to start here. As you’ll have read in my hands-on, the X3 SuperZoom comes with 4 cameras on the rear, and two on the front.
There’s a new Starry mode for capturing the stars at night, and 4K video recording up to 60 frames-per-second. It also has a professional mode, panoramic mode, slow motion and everything you’d expect these days.
I already posted some camera samples in the hands-on, but since then I have created a Google Photos Gallery with many more, some of which I’ve picked out and included below.
Anyone who has bought this phone is invited to add their own photos and video on the open gallery, and please do as I really appreciate seeing the efforts of others.
Having used the phone for some weeks, I am very impressed with the speed of operation and the quality and consistency of images.
What I was less impressed with was the low-light performance, especially very low light. Although the phone has the same night mode features as on Oppo handsets like the Find X2 Pro it can’t quite match the quality.
Compared to the Huawei P30 Pro, a perfect comparison phone (it even looks the same in many ways, not least the white glass back), the X3 SuperZoom cannot compete. In moderate light, there’s still some more grain than I’d like, but overall the quality is perfectly acceptable.
So, assuming you don’t want to take photos in near total darkness (the ‘magic trick’ of the P30 Pro and successive Huawei flagship phones) then it isn’t really anything to be too worried about.
When it comes to video recording, the Huawei falls short with a stuttery performance that you don’t get on the X3 SuperZoom. This gives the Realme the edge here for those who like to shoot video as well as take photos.
With the 5x optical zoom, you get excellent images when you want to zoom in close to things, and the 10x hybrid zoom is impressive too.
Should you try the 60x zoom, things do quickly get to a point where the quality is pretty ropey, just as it is on all the other phones with 50x – 100x zooms.
While the £1300 Huawei P40 Pro+ boasts far better image quality at maximum zoom (100x in this case), due in part to a 10x optical zoom to start from, it is still pretty much a gimmick than a genuine photographic tool.
Cropping a 10x zoomed image is probably a more sensible way to do things, although if you’re in a hurry to take something shareable on social media, it will do the job. Just don’t expect anything like what you’d get with a proper telephoto lens on a professional camera.
The camera that serves the least purpose is the 2-megapixel macro camera. While you get pin-sharp images, at such a low resolution you’re never going to get anything great in terms of overall quality.
With the 64-megapixel primary sensor, you can take photos at full resolution and while you lose the benefit of pixel binning to filter out noise, on a good bright day the results are extremely rewarding. It’s nice that it is a camera mode on its own, saving you from having to enter the settings menu every time you want to use it.
I have come to really love the X3 SuperZoom camera, as well as the camera interface that is now the standard on all Realme and Oppo phones. Only OnePlus has a slightly different look and feel to its camera interface, but I expect the underlying core is consistent. It shows that the BBK Electronics phone brands are rapidly catching up on Huawei and Honor.
If they can improve on the low-light performance, they could really give Huawei a headache (as if Huawei isn’t already suffering enough as it is).
The use of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855+ SoC was a perfectly sensible one to keep the price down, but some people might wonder why Realme didn’t use something like Snapdragon 765G.
The Snapdragon 865 chipset, with its attached 5G modem, is sold at quite a premium, but using the 765G chip would have seen a performance drop over last year’s flagship chipset.
The end result is a phone that does exceptionally well in the benchmarks and makes the phone appealing to gamers too. With such a big screen, and the camera cut-out in the bottom left-hand corner, I can recommend it for gamers too.
I only mustered up a score of 497,696 on AnTuTu (Realme claims it achieved 517,000) and even with more tests later, I never beat that score. My score was still excellent, and Snapdragon 855+ has clearly helped keep that all important retail price down without compromising performance in a way that most owners would ever notice.
While there was an optional 5G modem for the SD855+ chip, Realme has opted not to use it (almost certainly that would have added a further cost), so while you lose an element of future proofing (there’s only Wi-Fi 5 here too), you should bear in mind the 4G modem supports speeds of up to 2Gbps with 7x Carrier Aggregation (Cat 20 down and Cat 13 up).
The phone also comes with dual-SIM support, which some of the other Realme devices on sale in the UK do not. There’s full support for VoLTE and VoWiFi too, which is essential these days.
With a 4,200mAh battery and 30W fast charging, this affordable phone is still roughly on par with the Huawei P30 Pro (I purposely exclude the P40 series due to the lack of Google services). There’s no wireless charging, but you do get the fast charger included in the box.
Battery life is excellent and 30W fast charging gets you back to 100% in around an hour. With no 5G, it might be the reason that I’ve found the performance to beat the Realme X50 5G even with an LCD display over an AMOLED, and a bigger one at that.
Two-day battery life is easily achievable on this phone, or a full day with screen-on-times of seven or eight hours.
Screen & Sound
A 120Hz refresh rate is as smooth as you’d expect, and the LCD display is very bright and readable, especially on a bright sunny day. The colours are good too, and you can adjust the colour profiles as you wish.
Audio is loud and punchy too, but it lacks stereo. Given many flagships from Samsung and Huawei have made do with a single speaker (including the P30 Pro), plus the fact that many users will be using some form of earbuds or headphones, you may not consider this a major drawback.
For navigational instructions or used as a speakerphone (even just listening to voicemails/hold music), it is excellent. It’s sometimes easy to forget that a smartphone can make old-fashioned phone calls!
There’s really nothing bad about this phone. It may use some cheaper components here and there to save money, but it never feels like things have been compromised to the detriment of the phone – or the owner.
The user experience remains positive, and everything that matters is there. Realme has even ensured the phone is water-resistant. It ships with Android 10 and the Realme version of Oppo’s ColorOS – and it is a very nice enhancement of Android without trying to turn the phone into something it is not (like the various skins that have tried to turn an Android phone into an iPhone look-and-feel).
The screen is great, even with that slightly larger chin at the bottom, and the fingerprint sensor moved from in-display to the side power button (but with faster unlocking times coming as a positive benefit), and I have forgotten until now to mention that the phone also comes with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage!
So the phone does come without 5G or Wi-Fi 6, and this might be important to some for future proofing, but at half the price of comparable phones you may decide it is fine to own this for a while and be able to afford to upgrade to something else sooner.
Huawei will currently sell you a P30 Pro for around £699. It offers better low-light performance than the X3 Superzoom, and a nicer, curved, AMOLED display, but the Realme undercuts the Huawei by a not insignificant £230.
Being newer, it’s almost certain the Realme will be getting software updates for longer than a phone that is now, technically, well over a year old.
At £469, and with more RAM and storage than the P30 Pro, I feel you’re getting a killer deal here. It’s yet another great offering from Realme, a company to keep a close eye on now that other Chinese phone makers have been gradually increasing their prices over the years.
Pricing & Availability
The Realme X3 SuperZoom is available in a choice of Arctic White or Glacier Blue. The white version has a matte glass finish and is the model I reviewed.
The UK only gets the 12GB/256GB model, but there are other versions available globally that might, potentially, come here one day and offer a lower price at the cost of less RAM and storage.
The retail price is £469 SIM-free and the phone comes with the 30W fast charger and a clear plastic protective case and factory-fitted screen protector.
Disclosure: This phone was provided to me for review purposes, but Realme has had no input in the content of the review and was not shown any copy ahead of publication. I do not earn any money from the links above.
Realme X3 SuperZoom£469
- Fantastic and versatile camera
- Large, vivid, display
- Top 4G performing chipset
- Large battery and fast charging
- LCD display with a noticeable bottom bezel
- No stereo sound
- No 5G or Wi-Fi 6
- Macro camera is poor, along with photos in the dark