Consumer 5G networks have yet to become operational in India. As a feature, 5G first started showing up in premium smartphones, then made its way to the mid-range, and has now arrived in the budget segment. Adding 5G compatibility has increased the prices of many smartphones. In the budget segment, manufacturers have cut a few corners in other areas in order to keep smartphone prices under control. Processors that support 5G modems (add-on or integrated) cost more than 4G ones, which is why manufacturers must carefully choose how and where they make compromises. Buyers also have to decide what they prioritise.
Some manufacturers such as Xiaomi have so far ignored 5G in their low-cost offerings, while others including Motorola and Realme have been trying to squeeze this feature into some of their budget smartphones. Motorola was one of the first, with its Moto G 5G, which is available at Rs. 20,999. Realme has broken budget barriers, launching the Realme X7 5G (Review), followed by the Narzo 30 Pro 5G (Review), priced starting from Rs. 16,999. Now, Realme is aiming even lower with the Narzo 30 5G, which recently launched alongside the Narzo 30 (Review).
The Narzo 30 5G looks slim and seems to pack in all the specifications one would want in this price segment. Is it perfect, and is it worth choosing over the Narzo 30?
The Narzo 30 5G and the Realme 8 5G offer identical core specifications, but as per the brand, are aimed at different buyers. The Narzo 30 5G differentiates itself from the Realme 8 5G because it is available in a single 6GB RAM and 128GB storage configuration, priced at Rs. 15,999. This slots in between the higher two Realme 8 5G variants, which have 4GB and 8GB of RAM respectively, with the same amount of storage. The base variant of the Realme 8 5G is priced at Rs. 13,999 and has 4GB of RAM with 64GB of storage.
The Narzo 30 5G's price and hardware also match the Poco M3 Pro 5G (Review), which starts from Rs 13,999 for the 4GB RAM and 64GB storage variant and also comes in a matching 6GB RAM and 128GB storage variant priced at Rs. 15,999.
The Realme Narzo 30 5G feels slim and light, and offers a proper grip with its defined edges around the frame. The smartphone weighs 185g and is just 8.5mm thick. The Narzo 30 5G's back panel has an identical layout to that of the Narzo 30, but with an off-centred shimmery strip running through the back. The Narzo 30 5G is available in two finishes: Racing Blue and Racing Silver. I received a Racing Silver unit for review, and it has a glossy back panel. Build quality is quite good. The plastic back panel does not flex or creak, but it picks up fingerprints and is a dust magnet.
The 6.5-inch LCD panel looks sharp and gets quite bright outdoors. It has relatively thin bezels at the top, left and right, but a thick one at the bottom.
The Realme Narzo 30 5G uses a MediaTek Dimensity 700 processor, which is the same one you'd get with the Realme 8 5G and the Poco M3 Pro 5G. It features an integrated 5G modem which supports several 5G bands, and offers dual 5G standby. The Narzo 30 5G is available in a single RAM and storage configuration, and uses LPDDR4x RAM and UFS 2.1 storage. Connectivity options include dual-band Wi-Fi ac and Bluetooth 5.1. The Narzo 30 5G offers a triple-slot tray with space for two Nano-SIMs and a microSD card of up to 1 TB. The device has a 5,000mAh battery, and supports 18W charging.
The Narzo 30 5G runs Realme UI 2.0, which is based on Android 11. It looks clean and runs smoothly but there are also several preinstalled apps. All the third-party apps can be uninstalled if not needed. The HeyFun app and the native Browser app frequently push promotional notifications, but these can be silenced in the notification settings.
The Narzo 30 5G's display got quite bright at 600 nits and was legible in direct sunlight. However, the protective glass, like the back panel, got smudged easily with daily use. The display offers two screen colour modes to choose from – Gentle and Vivid. I preferred the Gentle colour preset, which displayed more natural colours, over the Vivid preset, which looked a bit too saturated. With a 90Hz screen refresh rate and a maximum 180Hz touch sampling rate, the display reacted to touches and swipes without any lag while playing games.
The Realme Narzo 30 5G performed well in most benchmarks, and surprisingly, scored better than Poco M3 Pro 5G in most of them, although by small margins. The phone achieved scores of 3,62,007 in AnTuTu, as well as 574 and 1,777 in Geekbench's single and multi-core tests respectively. Compared to the Helio G95 SoC in the Narzo 30, the difference in scores was minor.
Gaming was a decent experience on the Narzo 30 5G, with most games running smoothly at default settings. I faced no heating issues, as experienced on the Narzo 30, potentially making the Narzo 30 5G a better choice for gamers. Call of Duty: Mobile worked smoothly but was limited to the Medium graphics and High framerate settings, with most of the effects such as Ragdoll, Bloom, and Antialiasing not available. Asphalt 9: Legends worked quite smoothly with only a few dropped frames at the default graphics quality. The game was playable at High quality as well but would struggle a bit when lots of action was happening.
The Realme Narzo 30 5G offers good battery life for a phone that is this slim. During the review period, it easily lasted me a day and a half with general use, which included a few hours of streaming video, browsing through social media apps, taking a few photos, and gaming. Our HD video loop battery test also showed good results – the phone managed to run for 18 hours and 36 minutes. Charging was a bit slow compared to most smartphones in this segment, with the Narzo 30 5G reaching 28 percent in 30 minutes and 53 percent in an hour. A full charge took 2 hours and 10 minutes.
The Realme Narzo 30 5G offers exactly the same triple rear camera setup as the more affordable Narzo 30. There's a 48-megapixel f/1.8 primary camera, a 2-megapixel monochrome camera, and a 2-megapixel macro camera. Selfie duties are handled by a 16-megapixel f/2.0 front camera. The camera app's interface is typical of what is available on other Realme devices that run Realme UI 2.0, with all the important controls available just a tap away.
Photos captured in daylight came out clean and noise-free, but a bit saturated. Dynamic range was good, showing a decent level of detail in the darker areas of the frame, but there was noticeable purple fringing in the brighter areas. Oddly, textures did not look as defined as they did in photos shot with the Narzo 30. The Narzo 30 5G's camera setup also offers 2X and 5X digital zoom. Cropped photos showed less detail and dynamic range at 2X, while those captured at 5X ended up looking like oil paintings. The 2-megapixel macro camera shot decent photos with passable detail, but colours were quite different from those of the actual subject. Maintaining the perfect distance to an object using a fixed-focus camera will be difficult, especially if you have shaky hands.
Portrait photos taken using the front-facing camera came out sharp and well-exposed, but with below-average edge detection. Portrait photos captured using the rear camera looked much better with more detail but slightly more saturated colours.
As expected, low-light performance was not good. Scenes came out well exposed, but textures were flat even under street lighting. The rear camera produced unusable noisy and murky photos when shooting dimly lit landscapes. The Night mode's usefulness was limited, as it only increased brightness by a small margin, bringing out a bit more detail in the darker areas of the frame.
Video recording on the Narzo 30 5G was a bit disappointing, even when compared to what the Narzo 30 was able to capture. The phone allows for a maximum capture resolution of 1080p @30fps when using the main rear camera, which is disappointing for a smartphone in this segment. The camera took its own sweet time to lock focus, so most of the videos captured during this review were out of focus and overexposed. In dimly lit scenes, the camera struggled even more to focus and the videos captured looked quite murky and unusable.
The Realme Narzo 30 5G is a slim 5G smartphone with a good 90Hz refresh-rate display, great battery life, and mid-level gaming performance. After using it for a week, I was not too happy with the average photo quality and the below-average video capabilities of this smartphone. Charging it at 18W was relatively slow. Even the Narzo 30 delivers slightly better camera performance and more options for shooting video. Realme has managed to deliver a 5G smartphone with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage for Rs. 15,999, but I expected better.
If you must get a 5G smartphone right now, it would be worth spending an additional Rs 1,000 to get the Realme Narzo 30 Pro 5G (Review) instead. At Rs. 16,999 for the 6GB RAM and 64GB storage variant, it offers better value with a 120Hz refresh-rate display, the Dimensity 800U processor, and 30W fast-charging.
If 5G is not a priority for your next smartphone purchase, I would recommend the Redmi Note 10 Pro at this price level. It offers a better selection of cameras, a Super AMOLED display and 33W charging, plus a slightly bigger 5020mAh battery, at the same price. If you lean more towards stock Android, Motorola's G40 Fusion at Rs. 16,499 (6GB RAM + 128GB storage) is another option with the same Snapdragon 732G SoC as on the Note 10 Pro, but with a bigger 6,000mAh battery and a water-repellent design.