The Realme 9 5G is currently exclusive to India. The company’s confusing lineup is admittedly pretty hard to keep track of, but technically it is sort of a successor to the Realme 8s 5G and the Realme 8 5G before that. Though, technically, specs-wise, it kind of sits nestled in between the two.
The one major distinguishing factor between the new Realme 9 5G and the Realme 8 5G that came out over a year ago is the chipset – a MediaTek Dimensity 810 compared to a Dimensity 700. A weird and kind of bold choice, considering that this makes the older Realme 8s 5G technically better. It is a very similar device to those two as well, both physically and in terms of specs, but it does bump up the main camera to a 64MP unit, has 33W fast charging and a better chipset on board.
Realme 9 5G (India) specs at a glance:
- Body: 162.6×74.8×8.5mm, 188g; Glass front, plastic back.
- Display: 6.50″ IPS LCD, 90Hz, 480 nits (typ), 600 nits (HBM), 1080x2400px resolution, 20:9 aspect ratio, 405ppi.
- Chipset: MediaTek MT6833P Dimensity 810 (6 nm): Octa-core (2×2.4 GHz Cortex-A76 & 6×2.0 GHz Cortex-A55); Mali-G57 MC2.
- Memory: 64GB 4GB RAM, 128GB 6GB RAM; UFS 2.1; microSDXC (dedicated slot).
OS/Software: Android 11, Realme UI 2.0.
- Rear camera: Wide (main): 48 MP, f/1.8, 26mm, 1/2″, 0.8µm, PDAF; Macro: 2 MP, f/2.4; Depth: 2 MP, f/2.4.
- Front camera: 16 MP, f/2.1, 26mm (wide), 1/3.09″, 1.0µm.
- Video capture: Rear camera: 1080p@30fps; Front camera: 1080p@30fps.
- Battery: 5000mAh; Fast charging 18W.
- Misc: Fingerprint reader (side-mounted); 3.5mm jack.
This essentially makes the new Realme 9 5G a “middle-ground” offer between the Realme 8 5G and the Realme 8s 5G. Not exactly a major upgrade like its higher model number might suggest. Still, that’s all reflected in its price as well. It sits at a competitive INR 15,000 (EUR 183/$192). That could very well be enough to make it a popular budget choice like its siblings. Plus, the Dimensity 810 is a tough chipset to fit into this sort of a tight budget, proving once again that Realme is aggressively pursuing a competitive edge through the best possible value proposition.
Before we dive deeper into what the Realme 9 5G offers, let’s look at its retail box. Even though the Realme 9 5G has what is essentially the standard accessory pack for a current Realme device, it would technically be considered a rich retail package by modern standards. It ships in a sturdy bright-yellow box, which is quite eye-catching and gets the job done when it comes to protecting its contents.
Speaking of contents, beyond the phone itself, Realme also bundles in an 18W charger in the box so you can use the full 18W fast charging the phone is capable of. There is a thick USB Type-A to Type-C cable alongside it. Unfortunately, you have to move up to the Realme 9 5G Speed edition or the Realme 8s 5G to get the faster 30W charging.
Realme is also nice enough to throw in a thick and solid transparent TPU protective case in the box. It’s a great little addition that lets you start using the phone worry-free immediately.
Design, build, controls
The Realme 9 5G is available in either Stargaze White (our review unit) or Meteor Black. The design itself is pretty eye-catching, mostly due to the finish and the colors on the backside. Realme says that this particular coating process was quite challenging and required different coating thicknesses up to 10 times the ordinary amount. This “super coating process” or “ripple holographic gradient coating process” required investment in machines and processes to get it just right.
In person, the Realme 9 5G changes color depending on the available light and how it hits the surface. It looks cool, and we can appreciate the extra attention to detail. The surface isn’t glossy, limiting the fingerprints and grease it accumulates.
Since we are already on the topic of surfaces, the ones on the Realme 9 5G are all plastic. That’s not a criticism in itself, though, since plastic has its benefits – it is a lightweight and sturdy material. And though a plastic build might be a downer for some, the Realme 9 5G neither looks nor feels cheap in hand.
The Realme 9 5G uses a standard three-piece “sandwich” build style with a plastic back and plastic frame. The front is made of glass, but there is no official info on exactly what kind. There is practically no flex to the chassis. It feels strong and sturdy while remaining relatively light at 188 grams.
With a footprint of 162.6 x 74.8 x 8.5 mm, the Realme 9 5G is nearly identical to the older Realme 8s and Realme 8 and is pretty comfortable to hold and use. Though, some extra curvature would have been appreciated for an easier grip.
Design-wise, there isn’t much that actually sets these three phones apart. We would even go as far as to say that perhaps Realme reused some molds. Even the camera island on the Realme 9 5G has that familiar overall shape and layout.
It protrudes from the body quite a bit. Enough to make it wobble when placed on a flat surface. The bundled plastic case doesn’t fix that issue either.
There is nothing particularly noteworthy about the control layout on the Realme 9 5G. You get a power button/fingerprint reader combo on the right side of the device.
It feels great with excellent tactile feedback and is easy enough to feel out since it sits in a big recess. The fingerprint part is a traditional capacitive reader that works great and is accurate and speedy. We have no complaints about it.
The phone’s left side houses a volume rocker and the nano SIM slot. The cradle here has a total of three slots – two dedicated nano SIM and a separate one for expandable microSD storage, up to 1TB.
The top of the phone is mostly empty, while the bottom houses the primary microphone, a 3.5mm audio jack and a single bottom-firing speaker. The Realme 9 5G lacks stereo speakers and no hybrid stereo setup, which is a bummer. Especially since its cheaper Realme 9i sibling does have the feature.
The USB Type-C port is also here. It can charge the phone at up to 18W, is wired for USB 2.0 data speeds and has USB Host functionality. Nothing fancy beyond that, though, like video output.
The Realme 9 5G is rocking a familiar display. IPS LCD, FullHD+, 6.5 inches in diameter and with a 90Hz refresh rate, we are pretty sure that this is the same panel as seen in both the older Realme 8s 5G and the Realme 8.
It’s not a chart-topping unit by any stretch of the imagination but has proven to get the job done in the past. With an advertised typical brightness of 480 nits and a maximum one of 600 nits it is usable outdoors.
In terms of settings, the Realme 9 5G has quite a few tweaks and options available for the display. There are two color profiles to choose from – vivid, which targets the wider DCI-P3 color space and Gentle, which aims for sRGB instead. Also, there are plenty of font options to explore.
The Realme 8s 5G has a 90Hz refresh rate and a trio of settings to control the display mode under Display settings: auto, 90Hz and 60Hz. One would instantly assume that the auto mode tries to do some clever switching to conserve battery, whereas the 90Hz and 60Hz modes are just fixed toggles.
Unfortunately, that is not entirely true. The auto mode seems to run most apps in 60Hz mode overall, like the Phone or Messages apps, both of which the 90Hz mode ran in 90Hz. In fact, we rarely say anything pushes past 60Hz in auto mode. 90Hz mode runs most things at 90Hz with auto switching down to 60Hz when the phone is idle for a bit. So, if you want to get the most use out of the 90Hz refresh rate, the 90Hz mode seems to be the way to go, with no immediately apparent battery downsides. Realme needs to make this menu and its options a bit clearer.
None of our standard high refresh rate test games managed to run at anything past 60Hz in any refresh rate mode, which is not surprising on a Realme device but still just as disappointing.
On a more positive note, we are happy to see that the Realme 9 5G has the highest possible Widevine L1 certification, allowing streaming services like Netflix to provide it with 1080p content to saturate the display resolution fully.
The Realme 9 5G runs Realme UI 2.0 out of the box, which is a familiar sight. Unfortunately, it sits on top of the older Android 11, which is not ideal.
The overall UI has a particularly distinctive look and feel to it, but all the while doesn’t stray too far away from the AOSP look. Clean, usable and straightforward.
That doesn’t mean that it’s light on customization, though. The themes, icons, colors, notification shapes, layouts, text font, and size are all freely customizable.
Realme has always been about offering the best possible value, which is particularly hard to do in the budget price segment where the Realme 9 5G resides. Arguably one of the best features of the Realme 9 5G is how it combines desirable specs with an aggressive price point. Notably, the MediaTek Dimensity 810 chipset, which Realme managed to fit into an INR 15,000 MSRP.
Looking at the competition, the Realme 9 5G deserves praise for that alone, since the Dimensity 810 is about as good of a chipset you can get for that price. The efficient 6nm chip packs a 2×2.4 GHz Cortex-A76 & 6×2.0 GHz Cortex-A55 CPU configuration and a Mali-G57 MC2. Also, it excels in the connectivity department with SA/NSA 5G support on both SIM slots, dual-band Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.1 with LE and aptX HD, and GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, BDS, QZSS to name just a few highlights.
The Realme 9 5G combines the Dimensity 810 with either 4GB of LPDDR4x dual-channel RAM and 64GB of UFS 2.1 expandable storage or a higher-tier 6GB/128GB variant. Our review unit is the latter higher-end model.
The Realme 9 5G also supports RAM expansion or virtual RAM of either 2GB, 3GB or 5GB. It is on by default and set at 2GB, making for a total of 8GB of “RAM” in our unit.
Let’s kick things off with GeekBench and some CPU testing where the Dimensity 810 excels and mostly towers above the competition. The MediaTek G96 is probably its closest competitor when it comes to pure CPU prowess, but that chip can’t compete with the rest of the feature set on the Dimensity 810.
GeekBench 5 (multi-core)
Higher is better
GeekBench 5 (single-core)
Higher is better
AnTuTu is a more compound benchmark that considers things like memory performance and incorporates graphical tests. The Realme 9 5G is almost leading the pack here as well. While the Realme 8s 5 G is outpacing it even at current, depreciated pricing, the newer Realme 9 5G seems to have it beat for value.
Higher is better
Looking at graphical benchmarks next and GFXBench in particular, we remind you that comparing numbers across different devices is only feasible with offscreen rendering since lower resolution phones like the Samsung Galaxy A22 and Motorola Moto G50 have an “advantage” in onscreen runs due to their lower HD+ native display resolution.
GFX Car Chase ES 3.1 (onscreen)
Higher is better
GFX Car Chase ES 3.1 (offscreen 1080p)
Higher is better
The Realme 9 5G and its Mali-G57 MC2 GPU clearly hold their ground very well in all of these tests. If you are after the best possible GPU performance with no regard for other additional features, though, the older vanilla Realme 8 might just be a slightly better bet. Its MediaTek Helio G95 chipset is well known for having a beefier GPU in the Mali-G76 MC4.
GFX Manhattan ES 3.1 (onscreen)
Higher is better
GFX Manhattan ES 3.1 (offscreen 1080p)
Higher is better
GFX Manhattan ES 3.0 (offscreen 1080p)
Higher is better
Finally 3DMark paints a very similar picture with the Dimensity 810 outperforming other competitors in the price bracket, sans for the Helio G95 in the older Realme 8.
3DMark SSE ES 3.1 (offscreen 1440p)
Higher is better
3DMark SSE Vulkan 1.0 (offscreen 1440p)
Higher is better
3DMark Wild Life Vulkan 1.1 (offscreen 1440p)
Higher is better
In practical terms, we had no issues navigating the UI and daily tasks like browsing with practically none to minimal stutters and slowdowns. While we couldn’t play every possible game at the highest settings, most ran very well on medium without any issues on what is very much a budget device.
The Realme 9 5G only heats up mildly with intensive and prolonged loads. Since the surface remains fairly cool and comfortable, it means that most of the heat is left trapped inside what is a passive thermal system. Throttling is an inevitability, but one that the phone handles quite gracefully.
While we’ve definitely seen better behavior, the Realme 9 5G managed to ramp down its performance mostly smoothly, thus avoiding jarring and sudden framerate drops and in-game stutters. It gets a good passing mark.
The Realme 9 5G truly excels at the value performance metric. It is practically impossible to get a device with a better chipset at its price range. Even if you are willing to look at older models, it’s a daunting task. The Dimensity 810 is not only great in terms of performance per dollar but is also very well-equipped in terms of connectivity and additional features. It is a forward-looking, modern 5G chipset. This is arguably where the Realme 9 5G really shines.
Battery life and charging
The Realme 9 5G ships with a 5,000 mAh battery, which should easily last most people through the day on moderate usage, Wi-Fi connection and a 90Hz screen refresh rate. According to Realme, the battery is good for 38 hours of call time, 22 hours of video playback, 143 hours of music and 728 hours of standby on a single charge. It also has smart 5G power saving, which promises up to 30% lower battery consumption by automatically dropping to LTE as needed.
It can charge at a maximum rate of 18W. With the included charger and cable, we were able to get the phone from dead to full in 2 hours and 51 minutes. That’s a pretty long time. Faster charging would have definitely been appreciated, but we understand that this is a budget device and a well-equipped one at that, and something has to give.
The Realme 9 5G is part of the current wave of BBK devices that go a bit light on the camera department. What we mean by that is that there is no ultrawide nor a dedicated telephoto on the device. Once you dive into the specs, you’d realize the Realme 9 5G has a single 48MP main camera on its back. The other two 2MP snappers are supplementary at best.
This can be interpreted as a deficiency or simple practicality, though, since one could argue that no ultrawide at all is better than a basic one that diverts budget away from other bits of the phone. However, we can’t fail to note that the older and similar overall Realme 8s 5G has a higher-resolution 64MP main camera. That’s one of the noteworthy downgrades introduced with the Realme 9 5G.
The camera app and its UI are a familiar affair. There is nothing particularly noteworthy about them.
We managed to go out and capture a few quick shots with the Realme 9 5G. Here are some from the primary camera in its default 12MP mode.
And also, the very same scenes captured in the full-resolution 48MP mode.
Realme 9 5G Speed edition: 12MP main camera samples
We’ll leave the judgment on quality up to you for the purposes of this hands-on.
The Realme 9 5G looks great with an eye-catching exterior and feels good to the touch. It’s well-made both physically and in terms of specs. It’s just a bit too close to its Realme 8s 5G and Realme 8 5G siblings to really be anything more than an incremental variation on the same formula. So, you can understand our lack of excitement about this one.
That value formula, however, is undoubtedly highly appealing, and with a current price tag of just under INR 15,000 (EUR 185/$192), the Realme 9 5G manages to push the value envelope even further. It delivers a well-balanced specs sheet with plenty of features, including 5G connectivity and the slick Realme UI 2.0, without breaking the bank.
In fact, it even goes one step beyond by including a MediaTek Dimensity 810 5G chipset in the mix, which is about as good as hardware gets in this price bracket. A generous and aggressive offer, even more attractively-priced than the Realme 8s 5G and the Realme 8 5G.
- Attractive, eye-catching design.
- MediaTek Dimensity 810 5G chipset is top choice in the segment.
- Great battery life.
- Solid overall camera quality.
- Dedicated microSD slot, 3.5mm jack.
- Pretty slow charging.
- Single loudspeaker.
- Launches with the older Android 11 OS.
- High refresh rate doesn’t apply to gaming.
- Rather basic camera setup: no ultrawide or telephoto.
- No ingress protection.
this is originally published at GSMARENA