Realme 9 5G SE First impressions: Potential to be the new Budget King | Mobile News

Realme 9 5G SE First impressions: Potential to be the new Budget King

The Realme 9 5G SE is priced in India starting Rs. 19,999. Here are our first impressions of the smartphone.

| Updated on: Aug 22 2022, 10:39 IST
Realme 9 5G SE
Realme 9 5G SE first impressions: A sparkling design, fluid display and powerful performance makes this smartphone really interesting. (Akash/HT Tech)

The trouble with first impressions is that first looks can often be deceptive. However, with Realme 9 5G SE, we are willing to take the chance. The Realme 9 series has been impressive so far. The recently launched Realme 9 Pro had thoroughly impressed us after improving upon its existing performance, including its often criticized camera performance. And it seems that Realme 9 5G SE has continued the tradition with a more powerful Snapdragon 778G SoC and a longer lasting 5000 mAh battery. 

But those are just numbers and in the past we have seen smartphones with good specifications failing to deliver ( remember Redmi Note 11S?). So, the question is, how does Realme 9 5G SE fare in our first impressions? Read on to find out.

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Realme 9 5G SE Design

Realme 9 5G SE
Realme 9 5G SE (Akash/HT Tech)
image caption
Realme 9 5G SE (Akash/HT Tech)

The world of design is a pretty polarizing place and can often make or break a smartphone. Some may prefer flamboyant colors with quirky design and camera panel while some like a minimalist matte finish that stands out. And often, companies go for one or the other depending on who the target audience is. Well, in my opinion, Realme 9 5G SE manages to capture the best of both worlds when it comes to its design aesthetics.

The smartphone comes in two color variants of Starry Glow and Azure Glow. Both the colors follow the company's Starlight design language which essentially means a sparkly finish under light. But is not glossy (and thankfully, minimizes smudges). The camera panel has an upside down L organization. The camera panel does make it a little wobbly on a flat surface, a minor inconvenience that should be taken care of by a case, which Realme provides in the box. We have seen this exact same design on Realme Q3S which was launched last year. Nonetheless, it still manages to impress. However, if you are someone who prefers a matte finish, this will probably not speak to you.

The Realme 9 5G SE has a side mounted fingerprint scanner on the power button on the right side of the display and volume keys on the left side. The volume keys are a little pointed out which can be uncomfortable for regular use and I would have preferred a more ergonomic design. The location of the fingerprint scanner and the power button however is a delight to use. The slight curve makes sure your thumb never misses its mark.

The front camera is lodged on the left corner, another trademark of the brand. But if you're used to a central selfie camera, it can take a bit of time to get used to. It has zero impact on the pictures taken, however. Overall, I found Realme 9 5G SE to be delightful in terms of design and form factor.

Realme 9 5G SE specifications

The smartphone features a 6.6-inch FHD+ LCD display with a refresh rate of 144Hz. It also comes with a 240Hz touch sampling rate. Additionally, it also has a 6-level smart adaptive refresh rate from 30Hz to 144Hz, which means based on the usage, it can adjust the frame rate for you to give a better battery life. You can obviously keep it at the highest refresh rate through settings.

The Realme 9 5G SE is equipped with the Snapdragon 778G SoC which makes it even more powerful than the Realme 9 Pro with MediaTek Dimensity 920. It sports a triple rear camera setup with a 48MP primary camera, a 2MP black and white lens and a 2MP macro lens. On the front it flaunts a 16MP AI selfie camera. The smartphone is backed by a 5,000 mAh battery with 30W fast charge support.

The smartphone has a dual 5G SIM card support and an additional slot for MicroSD. It runs on Realme UI 2.0 which is based on Android 11. The smartphone is available in two variants – 6GB RAM + 128GB internal storage and 8GB + 128GB. The 6+128GB variant is priced at Rs. 19,999 and the 8+128GB variant is priced at Rs. 22,999.

Realme 9 5G SE first impressions

Realme 9 5G SE
Realme 9 5G SE  (Akash/HT Tech)
image caption
Realme 9 5G SE  (Akash/HT Tech)

The Realme 9 5G SE does not have an AMOLED display, which might be a concern for some people. However, even with a LCD panel, it manages to bring out really nice visual quality. The 144Hz can really be felt while gaming and creates a great experience. Especially if you play higher end games like BGMI, Genshin Impact or Call of Duty, you will not be disappointed by the visual element of what the smartphone brings.

One thing to mention is that there are quite a few pre-installed apps which send you loads of notifications, which can be a little frustrating to deal with sometimes.

Although I was not able to test out the camera quality completely but was happy with the images that it was able to take. Particularly, the night mode camera is very efficient and takes some beautiful shots (make sure to check out the full review for sample shots from the camera).

In the brief time that I managed to spend with Realme 9 5G SE, I was pretty impressed with its looks, performance and camera quality. The smartphone has all the ingredients of becoming potentially the best in its class, but for us to be able to state that confidently, more scrutiny is in the order. So stay tuned for an in-depth review of the smartphone.

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First Published Date: 10 Mar, 14:28 IST