It’s arduous to consider the very first Realme cellphone was launched as not too long ago as 2018. The corporate has launched a staggering 44 telephones in simply 4 years, though not all have been accessible globally.
Nonetheless, the most recent Realme 9 sequence is nicely represented within the UK and Europe. 5 of the six handsets have made it to those shores, together with the common Realme 9. At £249/€279, it’s nonetheless nearly in funds cellphone territory, however the Realme 9 5G is accessible for a similar worth.
The usual mannequin is restricted to 4G however presents some higher specs elsewhere. Is that sufficient to make it a practical choice, or do you have to go for one of many many nice options round this worth? I spent a couple of weeks with the Realme 9 to search out out.
Design & construct
Premium construct, regardless of plastic again
Comparatively compact and light-weight
Irritating fingerprint sensor
The Realme 9 is likely to be a funds cellphone, however its daring design is bound to show heads. That may not be obvious from the entrance, however flipping it over reveals the eye-catching plastic end. It is shiny and displays and shimmers in a method that imitates glass, however with out the elevated weight or fragility.
The impact is immediately seen on the colourful ‘Sunburst Gold’ mannequin I examined, however you’ll nonetheless discover it on the ‘Stargaze White’ and ‘Meteor Black’ variations. I initially discovered this annoying, but it surely grew on me throughout my testing time. Not everybody will discover it aesthetically pleasing, although, and also you’ll must go case-free to see the complete profit.
The sturdy plastic again meant I wasn’t too apprehensive about damaging the cellphone. Even earlier than making use of the tinted silicone case included within the field, it presents loads of grip.
I additionally appreciated Realme’s resolution to not embrace its ‘Dare to Leap’ slogan in massive letters on the again of the cellphone. That’s one thing we’ve seen previously, however the smaller Realme brand right here is rather more tasteful.
Above it, you’ll discover triple rear cameras and a flash inside a transparent module. This solely extends barely from the again of the cellphone, which means there’s not an excessive amount of motion when utilizing face up on a desk.
By 2022 requirements, Realme has opted for a conventional design on the entrance. The one actual function of notice is the punch-hole for the selfie digicam within the prime left nook. I often choose a central placement, however shortly bought used to this format. It’s extremely unlikely to ever obscure essential info there.
The Realme 9 additionally has an optical in-display fingerprint scanner, however I want it didn’t. Enrolling is straightforward sufficient, however I constantly struggled to unlock the cellphone this manner. Lower than half of my makes an attempt have been profitable, and even then it was a lot slower than many different telephones. It left me counting on the much less safe face unlock, which isn’t supreme.
Slim bezels could be discovered on the highest and sides of the cellphone, however the cellphone nonetheless has a big chin.
There’s not a lot to jot down house about on the perimeters of the cellphone, with quantity controls on one aspect and energy button on the opposite. Annoyingly, the latter triggers the Google Assistant relatively than energy controls by default, however this may simply be modified in Settings.
A USB-C port and downward-firing speaker could be discovered on the backside, alongside a 3.5mm headphone jack. It’s uncommon to see the choice to attach wired headphones today, however I admire its inclusion right here.
Regardless of the massive show, Realme 9 stays impressively compact. At 8mm thick and 178g, it’s probably the most transportable and pocketable big-screen telephones round.
Display & audio system
Full HD, 90Hz OLED show
Glorious, wealthy viewing expertise
Single speaker is underwhelming
Show is the place the Realme 9 actually excels. It is a 6.4in, 1080×2400 panel, swapping out LCD on the 5G mannequin for superior OLED right here. The display sticks on the typical 20:9 facet ratio, with these slim bezels giving it a good 84.2% screen-to-body ratio.
As these specs recommend, the Realme 9 delivers a superb viewing expertise. You get vibrant colors, deep blacks and loads of element – you possibly can’t ask for rather more at this worth. The display additionally will get pretty vibrant (as much as 442 nits in testing), making it typically seen except you’re in direct daylight.
The one compromise is a 90Hz refresh charge, versus 120Hz on the Realme 9 5G. Nonetheless, this shouldn’t be an excessive amount of of a trigger for concern, and it nonetheless supplies a noticeable profit in comparison with the usual 60Hz. Simply be sure you flip it on in Settings.
As I alluded to, the Realme 9 has a single downward-firing speaker. It doesn’t mix with the earpiece for a stereo setup and the outcomes mirror that. Regardless of getting impressively loud, the cellphone lacks bass and is susceptible to distortion at greater volumes. It’s high-quality for social media and the occasional YouTube video, simply not rather more.
Specs & efficiency
Powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 680
Combines with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage
High-quality for on a regular basis use, however sluggish at instances
Given all of the deal with 5G today, it’s straightforward to overlook that Qualcomm continues to be making new 4G chips. They embrace 2021’s Snapdragon 680, which powers the Realme 9. The highest-spec mannequin I examined pairs it with 8GB of RAM, however a less expensive configuration drops it all the way down to 6GB.
Efficiency from the cellphone is… high-quality. I’ve examined a number of high-end Snapdragon eight Gen 1 telephones not too long ago so don’t wish to be too harsh, however the Realme 9 feels sluggish at instances. It’s most noticeable when opening/closing apps or multitasking, with important delays between tapping the display and it truly performing the motion.
The state of affairs improves as soon as the apps are open, however you’ll want to permit a couple of extra seconds to get arrange every time. You possibly can anticipate this from an inexpensive cellphone, however different handsets round this worth ship higher efficiency.
For those who simply want a cellphone for the fundamentals – assume calls, messages, net shopping and social media – this cellphone will nonetheless serve you nicely. Informal gaming can be inside attain, however there’s noticeable dropped frames on something extra demanding. For those who’re shopping for a cellphone for the likes of Name of Responsibility: Cellular or Asphalt 9, it’s best to look elsewhere.
This lacklustre efficiency is mirrored within the benchmarks beneath, the place many equally priced telephones carry out higher throughout a variety of assessments:
There’s just one choice on the subject of inside storage: 128GB. That may really feel a bit on the low aspect, however the Realme 9 does help enlargement through a microSD card.
As talked about above, the cellphone is restricted to 4G connections, so if you already know you need sooner 5G speeds then you’ll have to look elsewhere.
108Mp major sensor is spectacular
8Mp wide-angle and 2Mp macro poor by comparability
Nice 16Mp selfie digicam
Gone are the times when funds telephones may get away with sub-par cameras. That’s evident on the Realme 9, which has a 26mm major sensor at 108Mp. The next megapixel depend hardly ever equals higher photographs, however you’d often solely see this kind of lens on flagships.
Stills from the first digicam are spectacular, providing first rate color accuracy and spectacular dynamic vary. It’s significantly adept at panorama pictures, however can battle with publicity the place there’s much less pure mild.
Sadly, there’s a noticeable drop in high quality when switching to the 8Mp ultrawide lens. Colors look extra washed out and particulars within the background are sometimes misplaced. It is good to have the pliability of a 120° discipline of view, however I want Realme had made all of the lenses of comparable high quality.
The third of those is a 2Mp macro digicam, which provides virtually nothing to the expertise. Even with the devoted mode activated, it struggled to correctly deal with close-up pictures.
With out a telephoto digicam, the zoom function is all digital. Which means the standard drops sharply the additional you go, with the max 10x producing blurry, grainy photographs which might be solely usable for reference functions.
There’s no depth sensor both, however you’ll find a software-based portrait mode. It might produce some good outcomes at instances, however constantly struggles with edge detection.
One other digicam function that depends on software program is evening mode. The Realme 9’s model does a superb job of brightening low-light environments with out sacrificing an excessive amount of element.
Nonetheless, the 16Mp front-facing digicam is a nice shock. It delivers vibrant, detailed selfies that deal with publicity nicely. Portrait-style photographs can be found right here too, and I used to be actually impressed by the life like background blur it produced.
A variety of digicam samples can be found within the gallery beneath:
On the video aspect, the Realme 9 can seize footage as much as 1080p at 30fps. That is high-quality for most individuals, particularly with optical picture stabilisation (OIS) on the primary lens conserving video comparatively regular once you transfer round.
Battery life & charging
Glorious battery life, even at 90Hz
First rate 33W wired charging
Battery life is an space the place some funds telephones make compromises, however that’s not the case right here. The Realme 9 has a big 5,000mAh cell, which comfortably delivers a full day of reasonable utilization from a single cost. Relying in your utilization patterns, it might be doable to eke out two days earlier than reaching for the charger.
That’s mirrored in Geekbench 4’s battery take a look at, which serves as a measure of screen-on time. With the brightness set to 120 nits, the Realme 9 lasted a formidable 13 hours and 30 minutes.
On a regular basis utilization will deplete the battery extra shortly, but it surely’s nonetheless one of many longest enduring telephones I’ve examined in a very long time. And keep in mind, that take a look at is at 90Hz and with no battery saver mode turned on. Adjusting these settings will extend battery life even additional, particularly with the cellphone’s strong standby time.
While you do must cost it, the 33W USB-C adapter within the field gives you 27% again in 15 minutes. Reaching 50% in 30 minutes is per Realme’s claims, and is on the higher finish of what you may discover on telephones this worth. It will’ve been good to see wi-fi charging too, however that’s nonetheless not significantly widespread on funds telephones.
Software program & updates
Realme UI 3.Zero over Android 12
Customized pores and skin has a couple of notable variations
Eligible for not less than two Android model updates
The cellphone runs the customized Realme UI 3.Zero pores and skin over Android 12. Realme’s strategy to software program is barely totally different to Google’s, with notable modifications to fast settings, the app drawer, and digicam app. All really feel intuitive and simple to navigate, however there’s a particular studying curve in case you’re coming from a Pixel or Samsung cellphone.
Realme has additionally determined to incorporate its personal variations of many inventory apps, together with picture gallery, voice recorder and calculator. None of those could be uninstalled, which means it’s possible you’ll be caught with extra software program you gained’t ever use. Loads of Android cellphone makers are responsible of this, although.
Realme says the cellphone will get two Android updates and three years of safety updates. Which means the Realme 9 will get Android 13 and 14, however that is likely to be it – although that is nonetheless nearly one of the best software program help you may discover at this worth proper now.
Worth & availability
Realme has stored issues easy with pricing for the Realme 9 within the UK and Europe. There’s only one configuration accessible – 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage – for £249/€279.
It’s that can be purchased instantly from the Realme web site, the place you’ll at present get a free pair of Realme Buds Q wi-fi earbuds.
The Realme 9 is unlocked so accessible to make use of with all UK networks, however there is no availability within the US in any respect.
At that worth, it’s nonetheless nearly in funds cellphone territory. Nonetheless, competitors is fierce at this worth level. Xiaomi leads the best way right here, with the Poco X3 Professional, Redmi Notice 10 Professional and Poco M4 Professional 5G all accessible for the same quantity. However handsets such because the Samsung Galaxy A13 or Oppo A54 5G are additionally price contemplating.
In ditching 5G, the common Realme 9 delivers a strong all-round smartphone expertise.
The 90Hz OLED show is a pleasure to behold, whereas battery life is among the many finest you’ll discover on any smartphone. A good digicam is able to some glorious pictures, whereas I actually loved the premium design and light-weight construct.
However hit-and-miss efficiency takes the shine off the expertise, whereas the software program and in-display fingerprint sensor may each be higher.
It’s one of the best cellphone within the Realme 9 sequence for most individuals, however that doesn’t imply you should purchase it over another nice handsets accessible for the same worth.
Realme 9: Specs
Android 12 with Realme UI 3.0
6.4in Full HD+ (1080×2400) OLED show, 20:9, 90Hz
Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 (4G)
6/eight GB RAM
128 inside storage (expandable through microSD)
108Mp major, 8Mp ultrawide, 2Mp macro cameras
16Mp selfie digicam
Fingerprint scanner (in-screen)
33W wired charging
160.2 x 73.Three x 8mm