Realme is a Chinese smartphone manufacturer that onboards tempting value for money performance smartphones primarily focuses on its budget-centric and flagship killer smartphones. Realme has introduced its first budget-oriented smartphone of 2022 for the Indian market which is the Realme 9i. It was announced in Vietnam this month and is now ready to step in to hit the shores of the Indian market as well.
The Realme 9i is a successor of Realme 8i which comes along with India’s first smartphone with Qualcomm Snapdragon 680. With minor upgrades from its previous iteration; the question arises whether Realme 9i is a worthy successor over Realme 8i and who are its target customers? After using this device as our primary driver for almost two weeks, here’s our review of Realme 9i. But before hopping towards the review, here’s a quick look at the specifications of this device.
Realme 9i Full Specifications
|Price in India||₹13,999|
|Release date||10th January 2022|
|Launched in India||Yes|
|Dimensions (mm)||164.40 x 75.70 x 8.44|
|Battery capacity (mAh)||5000|
|Colours||Prism Black, Prism Blue|
|Refresh Rate||90 Hz|
|Screen size (inches)||6.60|
|Protection type||Asahi DragonTrail|
|Pixels per inch (PPI)||401|
|Processor make||Qualcomm Snapdragon 680|
|Expandable storage type||microSD|
|Expandable storage up to (GB)||1024|
|Dedicated microSD slot||Yes|
|Rear camera||50-megapixel (f/1.8) + 2-megapixel (f/2.44) + 2-megapixel (f/2.4)|
|No. of Rear Cameras||3|
|Front camera||16-megapixel (f/2.1)|
|No. of Front Cameras||1|
|Operating system||Android 11|
|Skin||Realme UI 2.0|
|Wi-Fi standards supported||802.11 ac|
|Number of SIMs||2|
|Supports 4G in India (Band 40)||Yes|
|Supports 4G in India (Band 40)||Yes|
|Ambient light sensor||Yes|
In the box, you get the realme 9i, 33W Charge Adapter, Screen Protect Film, Quick Guide, USB Type-C Cable, SIM Card Pin, Protection Case, Product Guide and Warranty Card.
DESIGN & DISPLAY
Realme 9i received two drastic changes over its predecessor i.e, faster-charging speed and the introduction of stereo speakers. Its design screams premium that carries its design cues with Realme GT Neo 2 and doesn’t feel like you’re holding a mid-range device at first glance. This design takes its inspiration from light and prisms which shine when sunlight strikes the panel at a different angle.
While Realme claimed that the 9i is the first smartphone in the segment to come with stereo speakers, the claim is invalid as Redmi Note 10s launched last year also come with stereo speakers.
This polycarbonate back holds a layered coating that is entirely made up of plastic that doesn’t catch fingerprint traces and smudges easily. The device feels sturdy during in-hand operations and doesn’t feel slippery at all. However, we recommend using the TPU case provided in the box to sustain the beauty of this device. This device is available in two colours:- Prism Black and Prism Blue. For conducting this review, we’re rocking the Prism Blue colourway which looks eye-catching.
At 190 grams, the weight hasn’t been a concern for our usage. Similarly, the plastic mid-frame is flattened out and the back is slightly curved for better grip. Towards the physical overview; on the right, it flanks a power button which doubles up as a physical fingerprint sensor. On the left, there are volume rockers and a SIM tray slot. On the bottom, there’s a standard USB Type-C port coupled with a mono speaker to its right and a microphone and headphone jack to its left. Whereas, on the top, there is a secondary noise cancellation present on it. It also holds for a dedicated MicroSD card slot; expanding storage won’t be a hassle on this.
Just like the Realme 8i, Realme 9i also has the same 6.6 inch IPS LCD panel with a resolution of 1080×2412 pixels. With this iteration, it surrenders and doesn’t continue the 120Hz panel and instead sports a 90hz of refresh rate which might be a deal-breaker for some people who’re spoiled by the higher refresh rate. Diving into settings there’s an option to smartly switch between refresh rates to conserve the battery.
However, you can only opt between 60Hz and 90hz manually as per preference. This display is further protected by Dragontrail Pro for scratches and drops. This display reproduces punchy colours which are decent and justify its price tag. With the peak brightness of up to 480 nits, the display is not the brightest panel but visibility is not a concern during outdoor conditions. The stereo speakers are perfectly loud with clear vocals but the bass distorts on higher volume. With the Widevine L1 Certification, this will delight your binge-watching experience.
Realme 9i is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 680, Realme advertises this device as ‘Next Level Power’ and slaps a power-efficient processor on it. However, if you expect it to outperform while gaming and multitasking, that won’t happen. This chipset is based on 6nm architecture with a clock speed of up to 2.4Ghz. The graphical duties are handled by Adreno 610. The other downgrade of this processor is that it only supports 4G connectivity whereas its predecessor is a 5G enabled device.
Moving towards benchmark scores, it scores 277245 in Antutu Benchmark. In GeekBench, it scores 363 in Single-Core and 1550 in Multi-Core Score. During our CPU throttling test, the CPU throttled to 93% to its max performance. For India, Realme 9i capped the UFS 2.2 storage type and instead added UFS 2.1 storage which works fine.It is available in two storage:- 4GB RAM+64GB ROM and 6GB+128GB configurations. The Realme 9i performs strictly like a budget device which is quite strange when we run BGMI where the graphics are restricted to Balanced mode only. There is an older 600-series chipset from the past which are capable of running BGMI on High Graphics at least. Since this chipset is power efficient; playing games on this is not the best experience in this segment.
The Realme 9i carries forward the 50 MP Primary Camera alongside the 2 MP Macro Sensor and 2 MP of Black and White Sensor. Nevertheless, ignoring both Macro and Black and White; the 50 MP Primary Camera Sensor doesn’t deliver what it’s known for.
Photos that are captured in the daylight situation consist of sharp details but this camera juggles in maintaining exposure which leads to overexposed pictures that distort the details on the edge. It also boosts the red hues than usual. However, you can zoom in to 2x and 5x through the primary lens which results in grainy, overexposed, and non-usable pictures. The 50MP mode helps to retain details but revoked the zoom capabilities which is common for this price range. The cameras on Realme 8i are average but don’t struggle in maintaining exposure which makes it sit above for me rather than Realme 9i. In low-light scenarios; this camera struggles in exposure management which puts into overexposed and grainy pictures. The post-processing of Night-mode comes to the rescue which makes the images usable. The colour reproduction and exposure seem fine but receive some fuzzy details.
For this price point, nitpicking about low-light pictures won’t bring justice to the table. The compromise of not providing ultra-wide is a huge turn-off whereas its competition from Redmi with the introduction of Redmi Note 10S fulfills that in this price range. The 2MP Macro and Black and White sensors are useless. Instead, we’ll recommend you to manually post-process them into black and white colour schema or crop the results from the primary sensor for better results. The 16MP Selfie shooter results in delivering decent selfie pictures with plenty of details evident in the scene. The selfie camera surpasses the rear camera and the results can be uploaded on social media without a hitch.
SOFTWARE & BATTERY
Realme 9i is running on Realme UI 2.0 which is based on Android 11 out of the box. The Realme UI 2.0 is well optimized with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 and there were no stutters while navigating into the UI and spending time on Social Media. I used to appreciate Realme devices for not including bloatware and spammy advertisements. But, Realme 9i changed my mind with its introduction. There are a total of 14 preloaded bloatware apps. Some of the applications like MX TakaTak, ShareChat, Josh, Moj; result in spam notifications in the drawer. However, this bunch of bloatware can be uninstalled but still irk the experience of the user.
Due to the fact that the Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 is a power-efficient processor, this delivers a huge benefit to the battery consumption of this device while comparing it with other contenders. The Realme 9i ships with a massive 5,000mAh battery which is coupled with 33W of Fast Charging. In our usage, Realme 9i easily managed to deliver a day and a half with ease which includes playing games, watching movies, video calls, browsing social media, etc. The fast-charging consumes almost 1 hour 18 minutes to juice the battery again from 0%-100% which is quick.
Realme 9i – THE UNBIASED VERDICT
Realme 9i is available in two colours:- Prism Blue and Prism Black which is priced at Rs. 13,999 for 4GB+64GB configuration and Rs 15,999 for 6GB+128GB configuration. Realme 9i is a true example of what a ‘successor’ shouldn’t be like. It has some advantages like a bigger display, an attractive design, stereo speakers, fast charging coupled with a bigger battery which can be your movie-buff for entertainment purposes. But, If you’re someone whose priority is not more than this, Realme 9i is a nice choice for you. The rear camera experience remains lackluster, even after sacrificing 5G capabilities; the processor is still at power efficiency. The lack of ultra-wide is a miss for this category.
I didn’t feel that there’s a need for Realme 9i over Realme 8i. Realme 8i still offers a capable processor, 5G enabled device, a 120Hz display, the camera results on Realme 8i are much more pleasing than Realme 9i. Ask this question to yourself; Is Fast charging and stereo speakers enough for you to call a smartphone a successor with a compromised camera experience? It all boils down to your personal preferences.
The Poco M3 Pro is powered by a Mediatek Dimensity 700 chipset which offers more power to performance ratio than the Qualcomm Snapdragon 680. The camera tuning is better, with a similar battery capacity but with an 18 Watt Fast charging. It supports 5G connectivity for better futureproofing. The Redmi Note 10T 5G offers a similar spec-sheet but with 6GB RAM and 64GB ROM which gives it a slight edge over others.
The Redmi Note 10S is a better VFM smartphone that offers an AMOLED screen, MediaTek Helio G95 processor which is more gamer-centric than Mediatek Dimensity 700. A 64 MP Primary Camera Sensor which is not for the sake of numbers, a presence of 8MP ultrawide camera, a 5000mAh battery with a 33W fast charging. The only compromise it brings to the table is the lack of 5G connectivity. It’s still a better alternative over Realme 9i by just bumping your budget by 1000 INR.
Disclaimer: We tested the Realme 9i (6GB+128GB) for 2 weeks before writing this review. All our reviews are unbiased and are published without the brand getting to read it before you guys. We don’t change our reviews on pressure from brands and that’s the reason we are not sent review units from companies like Samsung, OnePlus, Xiaomi, and a few more.