Realme has been catching people’s attention with its beautiful smartphones in different price ranges, especially the budget ones. Realme 9i is the latest addition to the list, featuring a well-balanced mix of style and trendy features starting at just 13,999 rupees. Despite the fact that the device does not support 5G, it has more features than other 5G phones in the same price bracket. It competes against a number of newly launched budget phones from Xiaomi and Motorola.
The phone features a triple camera layout, a big battery size, and a beautiful IPS LCD display. It also has an expandable RAM feature. All of the mentioned features will be available for less than Rs. 15,000, which sounds quite impressive. So, should you pick the Realme 9i for your next buy, or is there a better option? Let’s find out.
In India, the Realme 9i‘s base 4GB RAM + 64GB storage variant costs Rs. 13,999. For Rs. 15,999, you can get it with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. It will be available in two colour options: Prism Black and Prism Blue. The Realme 9i is available in India for purchase on Flipkart, Realme.com, and offline stores.
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You will get the following items inside the box of Realme 9i:
- 33W Charging Adapter
- USB Cable
- Quick Guide
- SIM Card Ejector Tool
- Screen Protect Film
Before we talk in detail about the Realme 9i, let’s see what the on-paper specs look like:
- Display: 6.6-inch LCD
- Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 680
- RAM & ROM: 4GB RAM+64GB storage, 6GB RAM+128GB storage
- Software: Android 11
- Rear camera: 50MP+2MP+2MP
- Selfie camera: 16MP
- Battery: 5000mAh
- Weight: 190 grams
- Dimensions: 164.4×75.7×8.4mm
The Realme 9i has a stylish look. Although the device has a plastic body, it seems to be well-built. The Prism Blue colour looks amazing and is less likely to pick up dust and smudges. The device will somewhat look good without a case. The bezels are quite thick, and the chin is noticeably thicker. The upper left corner has a punch-hole cutout to house the selfie camera, which we’ll talk about in the camera section.
The power button, which also serves as a fingerprint sensor, is located on the smartphone’s right side. The Realme 9i has volume rockers and a card slot on the left side that offers dedicated dual SIM cards as well as a dedicated microSD card. The positioning of the power button-fingerprint reader is excellent, and it is easily accessible from either hand when holding the phone. On the other hand, the device has a triple rear camera layout with an LED flash on the back. The Realme logo is visible in a silver finish on the back at the bottom left. At the bottom, you’ll find a USB Type-C port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and speaker grilles.
The Realme 9i is available in two colours: Prism Blue and Prism Black, and it boasts a new Stereo Prism design. I went for the Blue option because I love the subtle pattern at the back that shows up when light hits on at the right angle. The device is also relatively thin, measuring 8.4mm in thickness and weighing 190 grams, which is decent for its price. Because of its plastic construction, the Realme 9i has a sturdy feel to it. I couldn’t find anything to complain about in terms of build quality.
The Realme 9i boasts a 6.6-inch bezel-less FHD+ LCD panel with a resolution of 2412×1080 pixels. It features a 180Hz touch sampling rate and a 401 PPI screen. Even though it has a refresh rate of 90Hz, the good news is that this is an adaptive refresh rate. For different smartphone activities, there are five different tiers of refresh rate. For example, it was 48Hz while movie streaming but rose to 60/90Hz during gaming.
The smartphone was able to save battery life as a result of this. The LCD screen’s contents were clear and vibrant in colour. I watched movies, viewed music videos, and did some light gaming, all of which had pleasing visuals. It has WideVine L1 certification, which is required for HD content streaming on OTT platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Videos.
However, the brightness of the screen is not very high, making using the screen in direct sunlight hard. Otherwise, the display quality is good and comparable to that of other budget smartphones on the market.
The bezels on three sides are quite thick, and the chin is large as well, which does not look very nice for a smartphone launching in 2022. Given that the predecessor, the Realme 8i, had a higher 120Hz refresh rate, the brand could have done the same with the display of Realme 9i. Aside from that, the screen is protected by Dragontrail Pro glass, which is strong and durable. While the display performs well, a higher refresh rate would have been ideal.
The Realme 9i is the very first smartphone to include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 octa-core processor. This chipset is the successor of the Snapdragon 662. The Snapdragon 680 SoC is noteworthy for its 6nm design. Other hardware features include 4/6GB of RAM and 64/128GB of storage respectively. Users can also use the Dynamic RAM Expansion (DRE) feature to add more RAM.
Considering the affordable price, the 90Hz refresh rate panel gives it a more snappy feel. I was also able to play a couple of games on the phone without any problems. However, in terms of performance, it cannot compete with gaming smartphones and cannot handle graphics-intensive games very well. The gaming experience was not really enjoyable. I tried a few popular games, like Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) and Call of Duty: Mobile. It could only run these demanding games with high frame rates and with smooth graphics.
I used Battlegrounds Mobile India to evaluate the Realme 9i’s gaming capabilities (BGMI). Smooth Graphics with a High (30fps) frame rate is the highest option it can muster. The Realme 9i seems to be the same as a number of previous Realme smartphones that were not optimised to handle heavy games at high graphics settings. Perhaps future software updates will address the issue, but for now, the Realme 9i is not the best choice if you want to play the graphic demanding games on a budget. Well, not everyone is looking for a gaming smartphone. On the other hand, I experienced no lag while playing light games such as Subway Surfers, Candy Crush, and Temple Run, among others.
The Realme 9i performed admirably on a daily basis, and I faced no issues. The smartphone worked flawlessly and functioned just how I wanted it to, whether I was scrolling through Instagram or watching movies for hours. Also, even after lengthy periods of watching movies, YouTube videos, and charging, I did not feel the phone heating up.
The phone runs Realme UI 2.0, which is based on Android 11. Realme has worked hard to make its interface look cleaner while also improving the user friendliness of the design aspects. Realme UI offers a great level of personalization, so users who enjoy messing with their UI, home screens, and themes will be really happy with it. However, bloatware remains an issue. The smartphone comes pre-loaded with a slew of apps, including Josh, Snapchat, Share Chat, Taka Tak, Phone Pe, and some others. It’s a relief that there are no pre-installed games. If you don’t need these preinstalled apps, you can also uninstall them. However, applications like Finshell Pay and the ‘Hot Apps’ shortcut, as well as other Realme system apps which you may never use, cannot be uninstalled.
You may change the colour tone of the display and perhaps even set it to 60Hz. If gestures are enabled, you can use them to trigger a variety of things. In addition, Realme has included a Game Mode that will mute incoming calls as well as notifications so you can play uninterrupted. Based on Realme’s update roadmap, users can expect the company to deliver timely updates for this smartphone.
The Realme 9i has a triple camera layout that includes a 50-megapixel main camera, a 2-megapixel macro lens, and a 2-megapixel portrait lens. It sports a 16-megapixel front-facing camera for selfies. I found that the Realme camera app is pretty simple to use. You get quick options for HDR and AI scene enhancement. The phone quickly locked focus and was able to set the proper exposure.
The 50MP camera lens from Samsung captured average shots in daylight. The details are good, but the colours are not up to par. Like with most budget devices, the better the ambient light, the better photo it clicks. When taking shots in bright light, the phone automatically enabled HDR and handled exposure properly. An ultra-wide-angle lens would have boosted the setup, but that option is sadly not available.
Close-up shots were clear and detailed. Portraits had great edge detection, and you can adjust the intensity of background blur before clicking a photo on the phone. In daylight, the 2MP Macro lens delivers satisfactory close-up shots. The picture quality in low light isn’t up to par. The third sensor is a 2MP portrait lens, which doesn’t add any good. The primary goal of this lens is to capture bokeh, which is perhaps a hit or miss.
Low-light images captured with the Realme 9i were blurry, with distant objects barely identifiable. Objects within the shadows looked blurry as well. The details in the shadows improved a bit after using Night mode.
The selfie camera on Realme 9i offers good quality shots outdoors. The subjects were well focused with good detailing. The more natural light you have, the better your photos will be. The Portrait mode did a wonderful job of separating the subject from the background. Selfies taken in low light were strictly average.
Both the primary and selfie cameras can record video at a maximum of 1080p. The video was shaky since there is no sort of stabilisation.
The battery performance is a significant element of the Realme 9i, and it performs well in this department. A 5000mAh battery provides power to the smartphone, which also supports 33W Dart Charge. On a single charge, the phone offered me around 2 days of battery backup based on my usage on a typical working day, which included roughly an hour of social media scrolling, some gaming, and streaming videos on YouTube and Netflix for a couple of hours. Even when the phone is used heavily on weekends, it lasts for around a day and a half.
When it comes to charging, the Realme 9i has a 33W Dart Fast charger that can get you from 0 to 100 per cent in roughly an hour and fifteen minutes. Its predecessor, Realme 8i, came with 18W fast charging. So it’s good to see an improvement here.
When it comes to sound quality, the Realme 9i has dual speakers, and the sound quality is excellent for a phone at this price point. I could hear the audio clearly both with and without my earphones. The call quality has been acceptable, and so has the reliability of the internet connection. Furthermore, the smartphone does not support 5G connectivity, which is offered by some of its competitors in this price bracket.
On the right side of the Realme 9i, there is a power button that also houses the fingerprint scanner. Face authentication is also supported by the phone, which works well as long as there is sufficient ambient light.
- 90Hz refresh rate
- 5000 mAh battery
- 33W fast charging
- 50MP triple rear camera
- Not meant for heavy gaming
- No Gorilla Glass protection
- No 5G connectivity
The Realme 9i, which starts at Rs. 13,999, is an affordable option with good looks and long battery life. It delivers acceptable performance with its Snapdragon 680 chipset, however not on par with some of its competitors. Although the design is simple, the bright colour with a glossy finish is likely to attract the majority of users. However, it could have been released with a better camera performance and display to make it a more appealing smartphone.
It has features that are hard to get by at this price point. It is ideal for day-to-day tasks such as Instagram, WhatsApp chat, and, most importantly, binge-watching. And if you’re looking for a phone that meets all of these requirements, Realme 9i is the one to get.