Realme 9i Review: High on Style, low on price

    Realme 9i is light weighted, slim phone which can be considered worth buying if you want a phone with good battery life, storage, large display, among others.
    By: PRIYA KUMARI
    | Updated on: May 31 2022, 11:22 IST
    Realme 9i
    Should you consider buying Realme 9i? Read the review to know. (Priya/HT Tech)
    Realme 9i
    Should you consider buying Realme 9i? Read the review to know. (Priya/HT Tech)

    Realme has been grabbing eyes with its stylish phones in all price segments, especially in the affordable ones. And now the Realme 9i joins the list, which offers a balanced combo of style with some trendy features -- all that starting at a price less than 15,000. Though the phone does not support 5G connectivity, it ends up offering more features than competing 5G phones; features that actually matter today. It goes up against several recently launched affordable smartphones from Motorola and Xiaomi at an affordable rate.

    So how does the Realmi 9i fare? To answer this question, I have been testing Realme 9i for some time now, here is what I have to share.

    Realme 9i: Design

    At first glance, the glossy colour and stereo prism design attracts. The phone comes packed in a yellow-black box containing a transparent plastic back cover, charger, sim card ejector and manual. The Realme 9i is available in two colour options- Prism Blue and Prism Black. The phone has got a plastic body and is very comfortable to hold and carry. Realme 9i is light weighted with 190 gms and has got a slim design of 8.4mm. However, coming to the back panel, it does collect dust particles and you can easily spot fingerprint smudges on it. Just for the tip: you can use the back cover provided to protect the phone from fingerprint smudges and the phone even looks good with the same!

    Realme 9i
    Realme 9i (Priya/HT Tech)
    Realme 9i
    Realme 9i (Priya/HT Tech)

    You get a power button integrating the fingerprint scanner on the right side of Realme 9i. The phone also supports face authentication that works decently as long as there's good ambient light. Overall I did like the style and design of the phone as it gives you a premium look with beautiful colour choices.

    Realme 9i: Display

    The Realme 9i comes with an LCD display and offers a big screen size of 6.6 inches. With the large display, full HD+ resolution and refresh rate of 90Hz, I had an enjoyable viewing experience. The colour contrast and screen resolution appeared crisped and accurate. It can also be known that compared to Realme 8i, there is a downgrade in the refresh rate as Realme 8i has a higher refresh rate of 120Hz.

    The phone features a peak brightness of 480 nits. The brightness can be adjusted as per your requirements and you can even go for an auto switch between light and dark mode. In my testing period, the auto brightness feature did work well and felt adequate.

    Realme 9i
    Realme 9i (Priya/HT Tech)
    Realme 9i
    Realme 9i (Priya/HT Tech)

    While playing games like Subway Surfers, Race Master, Temple Run, among others and scrolling through social media as well, I did not witness any lag. However, you may face some animation or graphics issues while playing high resolution games. But, of course not everyone is a gamer!

    Realme 9i: Performance

    The Realme 9i is offering a Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 Octa Core 6nm chipset, supports Android 11 and runs on Realme UI 2.0. The phone comes with around 15 pre-installed applications; most of them can be uninstalled. Realme 9i is almost ad free while some of the pre-installed applications did give notification popups.

    On a daily basis, the Realme 9i performance was satisfactory and I did not come across any issue. Whether I scrolled through Instagram or played games for hours, the phone worked flawlessly and responded the way I wanted. Also, I did not notice the phone heating up even after using it for long sessions of watching movies, videos, gaming and even while charging.

    Realme 9i
    Realme 9i (Priya/HT Tech)
    Realme 9i
    Realme 9i (Priya/HT Tech)

    One thing which I liked about the phone was that the refresh rate of Realme 9i adapted itself according to the content I used. This provides a refresh rate from 30Hz to 90Hz. While playing games I can even switch the refresh rate manually by going into the settings between 60Hz and 90Hz.

    Now coming to the audio quality, the Realme 9i supports dual speakers and the audio quality is bang on for a phone of this price. I was able to hear the audio loud and clear, with and without the earphones. The call performance has also been satisfactory along with reliable internet connectivity.

    Also the phone does not support the 5G network which some competitors are providing at this price range.

    The overall performance of the phone is pretty satisfactory for the price range the phone is being offered. You can get the 4GB/64GB variant for Rs. 13,999 while the 6GB/128GB variant is priced at Rs. 15,999. I have been using the latter one.

    Realme 9i: Camera Performance

    The Realme 9i has a rectangular shaped camera hump containing three lenses. It looks almost similar to the Realme GT Neo 2. Two of the lenses are almost of the same size. But wait, don't judge on the looks. Though the cutouts are of the same size, the camera megapixels vary.

    The rear cameras include- a 50MP main sensor paired with a 2MP portrait camera and a 2MP macro camera. The phone does not support an ultra-wide camera, which is a major miss for me and for those who love capturing wide angle pictures. Also, at a time when almost every phone is coming up with more megapixels, Realme 9i offering a 2MP camera sounds disappointing.

    Realme 9i
    Realme 9i (Priya/HT Tech)
    Realme 9i
    Realme 9i (Priya/HT Tech)

    While the front camera features a 16-megapixel selfie camera. The phone provides several camera modes like portrait, panorama, night vision, ultra macro, extra HD, among others.

    Photos come clear and fine under daylight but the camera struggles to capture bright colours like orange, red, green, among others to its full extent. While clicking images at night or in dark at normal mode, the photos did show some noise. But the Night mode helps bring more clarity and details and for a phone of this price, this is acceptable. You can check out the samples here.

    The 16MP selfie camera is decent. However I felt that the image gets a pinkish-reddish effect, even when you click pictures by turning off the AI retouching.

    Realme 9i: Battery

    This smartphone is equipped with a 5,000mAh battery and a 33W fast charger. Based on my usage on an average working day, i.e., almost an hour of social media browsing, some gaming and watching YouTube, Jio TV, Disney+ Hotstar for fairly long sessions of 3-4 hours, the phone provided me approximately 2 days of battery backup on single charge.

    Realme 9i
    Realme 9i (Priya/HT Tech)
    Realme 9i
    Realme 9i (Priya/HT Tech)

    Even on the extensive usage of the phone on the weekends the phone survives for a day and half. The 33W fast charger does help in charging the phone quickly. It takes almost an hour for the Realme 9i to charge from under 20 percent.

    Verdict

    The Realme 9i is a considerable option for people who want to buy a big smartphone with a good feature set and great looks at an affordable price. The large display and dual speaker makes for great multimedia experiences, and the long battery life with fast charging is a boon. If you are looking for these things in your next smartphone, there's nothing better than the Realme 9i at this price.

    That said, the camera output is sub-par and the lack of an ultra-wide camera is missed. The rest of the lackluster appeal makes it difficult for us to recommend it over other "comparatively exciting" 4G and 5G phones available at this price, especially when value for money is concerned. Those looking for a faster refresh rate of 120Hz, 5G networks and better cameras at a similar price range can go for the Moto G51 5G, Redmi Note 11S, and its predecessor -- the Realme 8i, among others.

    Rating
    3.5 out of 5
    Price
    INR 13,999/-
    Product Name
    Realme 9i
    Brand Name
    Realme
    Pros
    • Long lasting battery
    • Sound quality
    • Large display
    • Processor
    Cons
    • Missing ultra-wide lense
    • Does not support 5G network
    Specifications
    • DISPLAY
      6.6 inch
    • BATTERY
      5000mAh
    • CHARGING
      33W
    • PROCESSOR
      Snapdragon 680
    • REAR CAMERAS
      50MP + 2MP + 2MP
    • OS
      Android 11
    • RAM/STORAGE
      4GB/64GB and 6GB/128GB

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    First Published Date: 24 Jan, 10:39 IST
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