Realme 9 Review: Good "All-in-One" recipe but lacks excitement
Since the beginning of 2022, we have seen smartphones taking a new turn towards 5G but with cost-cutting on other specs due to the high component prices. And this is evident, especially in the budget segment of smartphones. That's where 4G smartphones manage to onboard the innovative features, clean user experience, and value without the fear of striking a bargain against factors that matter more than just connectivity. And with no immediate hope of on-ground usage of 5G in India, it still makes sense to look out for a feature-loaded 4G smartphone.
Realme takes that opportunity of going after the innovative features instead of just doing 5G with the Realme 9, which brings a 108MP primary camera, larger battery, AMOLED display experience, and a Snapdragon 680 processor running on the latest Android 12 at the price of Rs. 17,999. In the sub-Rs. 20,000 space, which is full of competition from Xiaomi, Poco, Vivo, Samsung and even Realme, does this smartphone manage to bring something new to the table? Let's find out in the review..
Realme 9 Design
Realme 9 comes with a glossy look on a plastic body while keeping the overall design clean and minimalistic - just the rear camera module and Realme logo. I got Realme 9 in Sunburst Gold which is bright enough to grab your attention. When light falls on the rear panel, it brings a ripple effect while emitting different hues of its colour. If bright colour is not what you are a fan of, then you have options from Meteor Black and Stargaze White colour variants too. The rear camera module carries a design identical to what we have seen in many other Realme smartphones. While in front, Realme 9 features a hole-punch cutout display and a considerably thick bezel at the bottom rather than the sides. Overall, it feels light (178 grams) and comfortable to use even with one hand.
Realme 9 Display
When the 5G variant of Realme 9 misses out on an AMOLED display, it is the 4G version that fills the gap. With a 6.4-inches AMOLED display, the Realme 9 delivers a good viewing experience with a bright display that has 1000 nits peak brightness.
Even under the sunlight, the screen is visible enough to read, and look out for notifications at full brightness. Besides that, with its 90Hz refresh rate display, scrolling through pages and social media feeds make the experience smoother. Realme 9 display also supports Widevine L1, which means you can binge-watch all the HD content on OTT without any worries. It also comes with in-display fingerprint sensors which double as a heart rate monitoring sensor, which was earlier introduced in Realme 9 Pro+.
Realme 9 Performance
Widely found in the budget smartphone segment, the Snapdragon 680 Processor is packed inside the Realme 9. From daily usage such as calling, messaging, scrolling through pages and social media to moderate gaming sessions, the smartphone performs with ease. But, the minor lags while moving from one app to another are what check your patience. Also, if you are an avid gamer, who wants to continue their game for more than an hour, then Realme 9 won't be a good fit for you. After an hour of performance in Call of Duty: Mobile and BGMI, the rear panel starts heating up.
Realme 9 ships with the Android 12 based on Realme UI 3.0 which is simple and customisable. Options of multiple animations and themes help to give a new look to the display. While, the sad part is as usual Realme continues to throw bloatware, which can be uninstalled though. Its single speaker is just fine for occasional usage and the 3.5mm audio jack is good for audio performance. The smartphone comes with 4G connectivity while leaving 5G to other models of the Realme 9 series. The calling and internet experience with the 4G SIM of Vodafone was hassle-free.
Realme 9 cameras
The camera is one of the highlights of Realme 9 which features a triple-camera setup with a 108MP Samsung ISOCELL HM6 primary sensor paired with an 8MP ultra-wide and a 2MP macro sensor. The camera performs decently well for daylight photography which captures bright and natural colour shots. Well, its macro mode struggles to keep the colours intact and bring a mild yellowish colour array over the picture. The ultra-wide camera also works just fine until it faces the issues of lighting. Having said that, the night photography camera struggles to take noise-free pictures. Manage to bring enough light, and that's the only solution to maintain decent shots at night.
Its 16MP selfie camera is good to take selfies in natural light with detailing and true skin tone, but indoor shots miss out on this. Issues in edge detection in portraits are also what you can notice sometimes.
Realme 9 Battery
With the moderate use of the smartphone for messaging, listening to music, and 1-2 hours of calling can make it survive for more than one day with its 5000mAh battery. Even with the heavy usage including gaming, photography and watching movies, it can easily last for a day. You get a 33W charging option inside the box which helps to revive the battery from 10 percent to full in and around 1 hour 20 minutes.
Realme 9 takes a straightforward approach to an Android smartphone - a simple and feature-loaded experience that makes it perfect for everyday purposes. Plus, the addition of some specs that its 5G siblings of the Realme 9 series miss out under ₹20,000, such as an AMOLED display and 108MP camera makes it worth considering. With a clean user experience, good display with an in-fingerprint sensor, decent cameras, satisfactory performance for daily usage and, yes, long battery life, the Realme 9 doesn't disappoint. That flashy rear is another reason to consider it. That said, the recipe is still the same "Redmi Note" iteration, with Realme doing nothing special, or a gimmick to excite us. That for me is a missed opportunity, considering the focus is not on 5G for this one.
For those looking for something more at the same price, you can consider our one of the top recommendations under Rs. 20000, the Redmi Note 11 Pro, which offers a 120Hz refresh rate display, a more powerful MediaTek Helio G96 and a 67W fast charging option but with a dated Android 11 OS at the moment. And, if you still want it all, then with the Snapdragon 695 processor, a 64MP primary camera, and 120Hz refresh rate, the latest Poco X4 Pro 5G is still our favourite in this segment. Bring us something more enticing next time, Realme.
- Bright Display
- Good battery life
- Decent primary camera
- Poor Secondary cameras
- Lags in UI
Display6.4-inches AMOLED with 90Hz
Battery5000mAh, 33W wired charging
OSAndroid 12, Realme UI 3.0