Narzo 50i Prime Review: Two months on
So last year Narzo establishes itself as an independent brand in the Philippinesmoving away from the shadow of the parent company Realme while doubling down on the entry-level market.
The landmark announcement came with another surprise – the base variant of Narzo 50i Primethe company’s most affordable budget phone, would be offered at a deep discount for a limited time, making it easy for anyone in the market for a solid smartphone deal.
But suppose you don’t own Narzo 50i Prime yet and plan to buy one. Is it a good buy in 2023? Scroll down for our review.
An attractive model for its price segment, the Narzo 50i Prime offers a textured finish with a unique vertical line pattern on the back to stand out from a sea of bland budget boards. In addition to a dashing style, it also provides grip to the cover. On the other hand, the large rectangular panel that houses the single rear camera plus the Narzo branding provides a nice contrast to the rest of the body. Visually, the 50i Prime is one of the most striking handsets you’ll find in your basement, and it’s also available in mint green and blue, in case you’re not too keen on owning another black phone.
In terms of size, we think the Narzo 50i Prime is just the right fit, due to its reasonable 6.5-inch screen size and not-so-thick bezels. The phone’s angular design complements the ergonomics as well, and we found it comfortable to use even for long gaming sessions.
Unfortunately, in an effort to save on manufacturing costs, the Narzo 50i Prime omits a physical fingerprint reader for easier unlocking as well as a modern USB-C port for charging and file transfers. The latter could be a dealbreaker for some – especially as more and more devices are launched with USB-C support. This particular model is limited to face unlock, so unlocking the handset with your fingerprint is out of the question. It’s certainly fine if the face unlock feature works as intended, which it doesn’t here; too often it was unable to recognize faces in areas with dim or poor backgrounds.
The Narzo 50i Prime is powered by a Unisoc Tiger T612 4G chipset, which is built on a 12nm process, uses eight CPU cores, and is generally comparable to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 665 chip. It’s the same processor inside the more expensive one Realme C33 which we have reviewed late last year.
The T612 doesn’t disappoint when it comes to performing basic low-level tasks like navigating the UI, browsing social media, and handling multiple Chrome tabs. Heavy gaming is a different story though, as the 50i Prime, much like the C33, tends to struggle when playing resource-intensive games even at the lowest settings. Fortunately, the hardware is powerful enough to run demanding games such as Diablo Immortalalthough there was noticeable lag while rendering the game’s gorgeous 3D graphics.
On a more positive note, the Narzo 50i Prime includes a dual SIM tray plus a microSD card slot that supports up to a 1TB card, if you need more storage for your apps and personal files. The smartphone also boots the Android 11-based Realme UI R Edition overlay, which is designed to draw less power and use less bloatware and has added features like chat bubbles, stream updates and many more. Navigating the UI is reasonably fast and fluid, and we didn’t encounter any app crashes while running our favorite Android apps.
When it comes to taking pictures, the Narzo 50i Prime is about as basic as it gets. There is a single 8-megapixel camera and a 5-megapixel shooter for selfies. There are no dedicated sensors here for macro and portrait shots. Image quality is acceptable in bright, well-lit areas, but there’s no way to take portrait-style selfies with the front camera.
A few sample photos
Long battery life, outdated charging
Battery life is another highlight, as the Narzo 50i Prime delivers days – not hours – of normal use between charges. We typically got around six to eight hours of screen-on time on a single charge.
With Ultra Saving mode turned on, battery life can be further extended. It comes with several options in the Settings menu to help you save power, including options to optimize and limit apps that drain your battery too much and choose which apps close automatically after the screen is locked.
Charging, as previously mentioned, is done via a microUSB port, and it’s unfortunate to see a 2022 model top up above the outgoing standard – even if it costs a fraction of a mid-range or flagship phone. There’s no fast charging on board either, so getting the phone from zero to 100% takes nearly three hours based on our testing. It’s a long time to wait, and it will take longer than that if you use the device while it’s connected.
The Narzo 50i Prime has a 6.5-inch LCD screen with HD+ resolution and a refresh rate of 60 Hz. You’re looking at a pretty basic setup that’s fine for web browsing and media streaming. It’s about as basic as a modern smartphone can get these days, but again, we’re not expecting miracles given the price point.
Outdoor visibility is comparable to most other devices in its class, as the screen averages just 400 nits of brightness. To watch YouTube or Disney Plus on the go it will probably be enough, unless you are looking for brighter and bolder colours. And if that’s the case, you might as well pay extra for an AMOLED panel.
Praise the king
Then there’s the price tag. In the Philippines, the base Narzo 50i Prime with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage is priced at P4999 (around $89), but you can get it for a much cheaper price during sales events, which happen often. Last year, it was down to P3,799 ($68) after discounts. But even at its regular price, the 50i Prime gives you a lot of bang for your buck – a visually appealing design and long battery life, for one thing – and you can save even more by ordering on specific dates.
So, should you buy the Narzo 50i Prime? Well, it depends on your budget and priorities. If you don’t have much to spend, the Narzo’s most affordable Android smartphone is a decent but stripped-down cousin to the Realme C33. And while it’s a pretty good all-rounder for the money, it doesn’t excel at anything performance-wise, and has an accumulation of small annoyances that might make some potential customers look elsewhere.
Hopefully the Narzo 50i Prime’s successor will arrive this year with a USB-C port along with fast charging and a 90Hz display. A more capable, if not more efficient, processor would also be a welcome addition. Factor in these things and you have a budget blower that’s much easier to recommend.
To purchase the Narzo 50i Prime, follow the brand’s page.
Narzo 50i Prime Specifications
- 6.5-inch LCD screen, HD+ resolution, 60Hz refresh rate
- 12nm Unisoc Tiger T612 processor
- Mali-G57 GPU
- 3 GB of RAM
- 32 GB UFS 2.2 expandable storage, with triple card slots
- 8 megapixel rear camera
- 5 megapixel front camera
- 5000 mAh battery
- Realme UI R Edition based on Android 11
- Color option: Dark blue, Mint green