narzo goes solo: Too early, too soon?

THERE are but a few technology brands that could compare to the growth and success story of realme. From being a relatively unknown newcomer when it first set up shop in the Philippines in 2018, it is currently the No. 1 smartphone brand in the country—an achievement it accomplished in less than three years.

But did you know that realme used to be a sub-brand of OPPO and known as OPPO Real in 2010? Eventually, realme was established as an “independent brand” by Sky Li, former OPPO overseas business department head and vice president of OPPO.

Now, it seems history is repeating itself: this time its narzo’s turn to leave its mother brand.

The latest game-changer in the Philippine smartphone market, narzo arrives in full swing introducing two new disruptors for the entry-level and mid-range segment: the narzo 50 Pro 5G and the narzo 50 5G.

The narzo 50 Pro 5G is powered by the MediaTek Dimensity 920 5G Processor that uses the latest TSMC 6nm Octa-Core node to assure power efficiency. It can be boosted to a clock speed of 2.5GHz, ensuring faster app response, enhanced gaming experience, and better connection. Additionally, the Arm Mali-G68 GPU overclocks the GPU frequency and improves performance by up to 9 percent versus its predecessor, making it one of the fastest in its price segment. This is further complemented by Dynamic RAM Expansion (DRE) of up to 5GB additional Dynamic RAM for even the most hardware-intensive games.

Two new disruptors: the narzo 50 Pro 5G and the narzo 50 5G.

For its display, the narzo 50 Pro 5G  has a 6.4-inch Super AMOLED screen with 90Hz refresh rate, 360Hz touch sampling rate, and  Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection. For its cameras, it has a 48MP main camera, an 8MP (120 degrees) super-wide angle camera, and a 4cm Macro lens. The narzo 50 Pro 5G comes in a 8GB+128GB variant that retails for P15,999.

The narzo 50 5G, on the other hand, has a MediaTek Dimensity 810 5G processor that can clock up to 2.4GHz, and also comes with DRE of up to 5GB Dynamic RAM. It has a 6.6-inch FHD+ Ultra Smooth Display with a 90.7 percent screen-to-body ratio for that big-screen viewing experience. It packs a 48MP Nightscape Main Camera equipped with specialized night filters, Dual Stereo Speakers and a 5000mAh massive battery with 33W Dart Charge support for fast charging.  The lone 6GB+128GB variant retails for P12,999.

At the launch, Allen Yin, country manager for narzo Philippines, said they will be putting up 200 stores by the end of the year on top of its e-commerce efforts: “What started out as a vision is now becoming a reality as the entire narzo team intends to follow through on our brand’s promise of empowering Filipinos with technology.”

Besides being the former gaming sub-brand of realme, narzo used to cater to the more budget-conscious market. With the brand split, does it mean that realme is going to focus more on the mid-range and flagship market? I think being the No. 1 brand has given realme the confidence to further expand its reach by going after the more premium users with their upcoming X and GT series offerings.

Will narzo be just as successful as realme? That depends if they continue offering bang-for the-buck smartphones (good specs plus affordable prices) especially now that users are becoming more price-conscious. If realme’s track record is any indication, however, narzo might just be the brand to watch out for in the next couple of years.

Lucky 9s

GOING back to realme, the brand recently completed its number 9 series with the release of the realme 9i and the standard realme 9 edition.

Currently priced at P11,990, the realme 9i is for those adventure-seekers who want to capture their best memories. Headline features include a large battery with Dart Charge support, 50MP AI Triple Camera, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 Processor and a a 90Hz Ultra Smooth Display. The realme 9i is available in two color options: Prism Blue and Prism Black with a 6GB+128GB storage configuration.

This “Stereo Prism” design is inspired from light and its refractions that generate light prisms. The back of the phone creates different patterns depending on the angle of light reflecting on it, presenting a dynamic effect of three-dimensional light and shadow transformation.

Bringing leap-forward performance to the budget segment, the realme 9i’s  power-efficient Snapdragon 680 processor adopts the advanced 6nm production process and houses 4 Cortex-A73 Cores, 4 Cortex-A53 Cores and an Adreno 610 GPU. These features are optimized to allow for a longer-lasting battery life even with the use of a LCD Display with a high refresh rate. The 5000mAh Battery gives you up to 694.25 hours of standby battery life, and the 33W Dart Charge can fully charge the device from 0 percent to 100 percent charging in just 70 minutes.

For those into photography, the realme 9i features a high-resolution AI Triple Camera which houses three lenses starting with a 50MP ultra-high pixel main camera, a 2MP secondary black-and-white lens for professional portrait mode, and a 2MP 4cm ultra-close Macro Lens. The realme 9i’s camera interface also comes with trendy photography functions such as Portrait Mode, Night Mode, a dedicated 50MP Mode and an Extra HD Mode so you can capture sharper images. That 50MP shooter can take splendid shots in good lighting with lots of details, and you can easily take social media-ready photos with the realme 9i. Switch to 50MP mode to get the best details even if your subject is a bit far away. Portrait Mode has good edge detection and you can even adjust the background blur before taking a photo. Quality does suffer in low light as images come out a bit muddy, so you might want to use Night Mode instead—just make sure you have steady hands, as it could take a few seconds to process the image. For videos, it’s capable of shooting up to 1080p at 30fps though there’s no stabilization. realme cameras have gotten quite good and the realme 9i can hold its own. My only complaint is the lack of a wide angle lens.

Completing the latest number series lineup is the standard realme 9 4G. Those looking for a gold/yellow phone, this is the one for you. Featuring what realme calls a Ripple holographic design, this finish was created through an innovative plasma atom-coating and UV-nano imprinting processes, and results in a ripple effect that depicts sand dunes. It might not be the trademark realme yellow, but the Sunburst Gold is definitely a stunner. You can also get it in Stargaze White or Meteor Black if the gold is too blinding for you. The matte finish isn’t as prone to fingerprints and smudges, but I do wish they included a clear jelly case instead of a dark frosted one that mutes the color. The phone is quite slim at 7.99mm despite having a 5000mAh battery, and its flat edge ergonomics provides a comfortable grip. The battery can last you for a couple of days on a single charge and that bundled 33W Dart Charger can juice it up even faster. 

For its display, the realme 9 has a 6.4-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED screen with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection, a 90Hz refresh rate as well as a touch-sampling rate of 360Hz. The high refresh and touch-sampling rates makes everything feel snappy and smooth.

It is equipped with a Snapdragon 680 4G processor, one of the most reliable and efficient processors available today and can handle even the more demanding games, but do note that it only supports 4G.

realme has been consistent with its cameras and the realme 9 is one of the better ones in its price bracket, thanks to its main 108MP Samsung ISOCELL HM6 image sensor. The new sensor uses what realme calls a NonaPixel Plus layout (3×3 binning) increasing the sensor’s light-gathering ability by 123 percent compared with the older ISOCELL HM2. For selfies, the 16MP front-facing camera has you covered.

The 5000mAh battery is enough to last a day and the 33W fast-charge support can top it up in about an hour. It ships with Android 12 and the latest realme UI 3.0. The realme 9 has a tag of P14,999 for the 6GB + 128GB variant. n