Samsung Galaxy S20+
Price: Rs 73,999/8+128GB
Samsung’s top-shelf Galaxy S series is back in its 2020 avatar with the S20 series. Sitting in the middle of the line-up is the S20+, which, while it ticks off all the boxes you’d want in a premium flagship — stellar display, good battery life, good cameras and all — goes up against the star of this season’s launches, the S20 Ultra.
Design-wise, the S20+ plays it safe yet sensible — the tweener device sheds the dual curved displays of the S10+ for a narrow-bezelled, taller and a way more practical one-hand-friendly design, quite the achievement for a phone with a 6.7-inch panel! And that display is a sensation, even by Samsung’s already high quad HD+, HDR10+ standards, with the headlining 120Hz refresh rate delivering an extra dollop of smoothness to the already snappy navigation and everyday use. The Exynos 990 chip that powers the S10+’s Android 10-based One UI 2.1 experience delivered rock-solid performance even with the heavyweight gaming titles, although running it full tilt at 120Hz will drain the 4,500mAh battery by late evening. Twenty-five-Watt fast charging takes it from empty to half in half an hour, and there’s reverse wireless charging support too. The camera department — a 12MP f/1.8 primary, a 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide, a 64MP telephoto and a depth sensor — takes extremely good shots across a variety of shooting conditions, and you’ll almost certainly walk away with a good shot every time. The new zoom system, which uses a mix of AI and interpolation, resolves a surprisingly good level of detail even at 10x and is quite the find.
The high 120Hz refresh rate caps the screen resolution at full HD+ (and not QHD+), so you can either have that refresh rate or the higher resolution — a software update is expected to fix this. No 5G support in India spec. While 8K videos are nifty, they could possibly be too early for their time. Fast-charging is slower than the competition.
Oppo Reno 3 Pro
Price: Rs 29,990/8+128GB onwards
Oppo’s traditionally been at the forefront of selfie-first phones, so the Reno 3 Pro with its 44MP dual selfie cameras comes as no surprise. Yet, as an entrant in the highly competitive value-flagship category, the Reno 3 Pro doesn’t differentiate itself enough from the competition.
The compact 6.4-inch 1,080p Super AMOLED display is hugely improved from the previous Renos, both in terms of brightness and rich colours. Performance on the latest ColorOS7 with Android 10 is on a par with expectations of the MediaTek Helio P95 chip — no lags or heating issues even during heavy use. But it’s the camera that delivers strongly on the Reno 3 Pro, with the 64MP main sensor/8MP ultra-wide/13MP telephoto cameras turning out excellent, well-exposed photos in good outdoor light. Low-light photos are tricky and soft at best and the Ultra-Dark mode doesn’t help particularly either. The 4,025mAh battery doesn’t seem much, but it lasts just past 24 hours, and 30W VOOC 4.0 charging tops it up in a sliver under an hour. Loud, single speaker and fast in-display fingerprint scanner.
As a phone which wears the Reno badge, one wishes Oppo had taken a few design risks with this phone to stand out, but that is not the case. That said, the design is sleek and the use of polycarbonate instead of glass makes it comfortably light to hold in one hand. Plenty of extremely competitive options below and slightly above the Reno 3 Pro’s not-insignificant asking price.
Realme 6 Pro
Price: Rs 16,999 onwards
The Realme 6 Pro is the company’s fresh salvo at the competition in the sub-Rs 20K segment, delivering a bevy of features and specs at a price that’s nice. Earns an easy recommendation but buyers would do well to watch out for Xiaomi’s March launches before pulling the trigger.
Realme’s been hitting several out of the park of late when it comes to design, and the 6 Pro continues on those lines, with its polycarbonate frame and Gorilla Glass 5 rear panel looking rather understated yet premium. Instead of in-display fingerprint scanners, this time you get a side-mounted scanner which performs double duty as the power/standby button as well. The full HD+ 6.6-inch display has a 90Hz refresh rate which keeps Realme UI slick and snappy, but give credit where it’s due — Realme usually does a good job optimising the software to the hardware and it’s readily apparent on the 6 Pro. Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 720G chip keeps things humming along nicely, even if you throw PUBG at it set to the highest settings. The 4,300mAh battery lasts a full day of use and the bundled 30W charger is a welcome addition at this price point. Camera pushes out bags of detail from the primary 64MP sensor, and the wide-angle selfies and the vastly improved night mode are a big win for the 6 Pro.
Lots of bloatware, as usual. LCD panel is bright and sharp but lacks the dynamic range and deep blacks of an AMOLED display. Better Qualcomm hardware available at similar price points.
Price: Rs 36,990 onwards
Another month, yet another sub-brand. Close on the heels of the Realme X50 Pro comes the BBK-sub-brand iQoo with its Snapdragon 865-powered iQoo 3, in 4G and 5G (Rs 44,990) avatars. For a debut offering, the iQoo 3 impresses, but will have to earn buyer trust over time.
It’s a smart if somewhat derivative design with the iQoo 3 taking cues from the competition, but the curved glass rear panel, chamfered camera panel and a not-insignificant heft lend a premium feel to the device. Qualcomm’s 2020 flagship 865 chip, coupled with the 12GB of the latest LPDDR5 memory, 256GB of snappy UFS 3.1 storage and liquid cooling tech for sustained peak performance, makes the iQoo 3 unit I tested a performance beast. Adding to its gaming creds are the dual ‘air triggers’, which are pressure-sensitive buttons flanking the right edges of the phone that work with the excellent vibration motor for an excellent gaming experience. The quad-camera setup — 48MP primary, 13MP ultra-wide/macro, 13MP telephoto and 2MP depth sensor — captures crisp and balanced images in daylight, and low-light shots are detailed without getting excessively noisy. Battery life is a respectable full day, though the support for 55W fast charging with the bundled charger is what I’m far more impressed with. The 4G variant at a lower entry price is a good move, though a future-proofed 5G version is available.
The 6.44-inch Full HD+, Super AMOLED display is great to look at — it’s bright, colours are punchy and the effect is expansive — but it’s let down by the use of a standard 60Hz refresh rate instead of the 90Hz one sees at this price point. iQoo UI is based on the latest Android 10 OS, but ships with a lot of bloatware. Storage is not expandable. No wireless charging or water resistance.
Tushar Kanwar is a tech columnist and commentator. Follow him on Twitter @2shar. Mail your tech queries to email@example.com