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Realme 9 5G – Does it deliver on all key aspects?

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The Realme 9 5G smartphone sits nicely beneath the Realme 9 Pro 5G, offering a comparable sleek design and 5G connectivity at a lower price range. If you love Realme’s minimalist style, the Realme 9 5G will not disappoint. But, like any new phone at this price, it begs the issue of whether 5G is truly worth the unavoidable compromises that come with the nature of budget phones.

Quick glance:

Adjustments have been made in the process of cramming in that 5G connection, as evidenced by the availability of a non–5G variant for the same price. Instead of OLED, you get an LCD display, although one that is clear, precise, and fluid.

You also receive an 18W charger instead of the 33W charger included with the 4G model, which means you’ll need to charge it every night. Fortunately, a 5,000mAh battery should last a whole day, even for heavy phone users.

Another compromise is a 50MP camera rather than the 108MP camera seen in the 4G variant. The 5G model also does not include an ultra-wide camera. Nonetheless, the Realme 9 5G smartphone can take balanced, detailed photos in excellent lighting conditions.

Although performance isn’t spectacular, the Realme 9 5G’s Snapdragon 695 CPU delivers a rather painless navigating experience. However, gamers may want to seek elsewhere because that small CPU is accompanied by only 4GB of RAM.

Comes in two colors: Stargaze White and Meteor Black.

Realme’s custom UI is one of the cleanest efforts on the cheap market, and it is perhaps more attractive than the MIUI OS featured on competing Poco and Redmi devices.

Realme 9 5G – Price and Availability

The Realme 9 5G smartphone, which is released today May 16, 2022, will cost £249 for a single unit with 128GB of storage.

It’s worth noting that there’s also a non–5G variant that costs the same but has some superior components. Realme is giving the option of an inferior phone with 5G or a good phone without it.

In terms of location within the larger range, the phone falls nicely between the £299 Realme 9 Pro 5G and the £199 Realme 9i.

Aside from internal rivalry, the Realme 9 5G has a direct competitor in the equally priced Poco M4 Pro 5G, whereas the 4G-only Redmi Note 11 Pro prices a comparable £259.

Design

Unlike some of its inexpensive competitors, Realme has kept a similar design aesthetic across the Realme 9 series.

The Realme 9 5G resembles the Realme 9 Pro 5G and, indeed, the Realme 9 Pro Plus 5G in appearance and feel. When comparing the latter range-topper to the Realme 9 5G, it’s difficult to see why there’s a £100 distinction between them.

This is a sturdy, well-made phone, although with a plastic frame and back. Our model is dressed in the Stargaze White hue, which has a nice iridescent rainbow shimmer to it as well as a nice matte feel.

It wears fingerprints less lightly than many darker models, but they’re still visible, including the razzle-dazzle effect when you tilt the phone.

Dimensions

This phone is larger than the Pro Plus, having dimensions that equal the Realme 9 Pro 5G (164.3 x 75.6 x 8.5mm). The phone weighs 192g, which is slightly on the heavier side.

Realme has opted for a side-mounted fingerprint sensor hidden beneath a wide and flat power button. This technology works well. However, it’s worth noting that the 4G model has a purportedly more advanced in-display solution.

Headphone Jack & Speakers

While there is a 3.5mm headphone jack, the lack of dual speakers is disappointing. We don’t anticipate such a feature at this price point, but the Poco M4 Pro 5G has demonstrated that it’s doable, even with 5G included.

Aside from the flashy finish, the design is quite plain, if not conventional. However, at this price point, quality and feel are more important than visual flare, and the Realme 9 Pro 5G passes with flying rainbow colours.

Display

The first and possibly most significant change between the Realme 9 5G and non–5G models is found here. The 4G variant has a 6.4-inch Super AMOLED screen, whereas the 5G model has a 6.6-inch LCD.

Both displays feature an FHD+ resolution. However, the 4G variant has a refresh rate of 90Hz, while the 5G model has a refresh rate of 120Hz.

The Realme 9 5G display may be bigger and more responsive, but make no mistake: it is a point of compromise. Its blacks aren’t as deep, and its colours aren’t as vibrant as those of its sister. Indeed, its screen seems more like the £149 Realme C35 than the Realme 9.

This, like the cheap phone, has a good-quality IPS LCD display with good colour accuracy. I measured a maximum brightness of 448 nits, and with auto-brightness enabled, it will go a bit brighter under bright settings.

However, this screen obviously lacks the pop & sheer dynamic range of comparably priced smartphones equipped with OLED panels.

This is one of the fundamental trade-offs you make with 5G in 2022, and it’s one that the Poco M4 Pro 5G has already made. When determining how to spend your £250, you should consider how much 5G is to you.

Cameras

In name only, the Realme 9 5G is equipped with a triple camera system. It’s fronted by a solid 50MP primary (wide) camera. However, the 2MP depth and macro sensors are primarily there to take up space and checkboxes.

When it comes to the main 50MP sensor, it looks to be the 1/2.76″ Samsung ISOCELL S5KJN1 used in many low-cost phones. This is the same sensor found in the Moto G22, Realme 9i, and Realme 8i before it.

As the name implies, it falls far short of the primary sensor on the Realme 9 Pro Plus 5G. More importantly, it is not of the same class as the 108MP primary sensor on the non–5G Realme 9.

With these limitations out of the way, the Realme 9 5G produces very acceptable images in bright light. Even in mild indoor lighting, its images have a good natural tone. However, those colours can undoubtedly explode when needed.

Virtual Assistant Button

For that purpose, an optional AI assistant may be enabled with a simulated button press, which tends to amp up the hues. Even so, the effects are usually within acceptable bounds, and it helped to brighten up some of the images we took on a cloudy day.

Night Mode & OIS

With no OIS, a relatively tiny sensor, and low processing power, the Realme 9 5G camera struggles to maintain clarity when shooting in Night mode. However, the tone is kept very natural, without any of the fake-looking pumped-up brightness found in some inexpensive rivals. Realme’s algorithms are mostly correct.

No TelePhoto Lens

Because there is no telephoto lens when you press the 2x button, the phone crops in on the primary sensor. There are just enough pixels here to make the findings useful in a social media/phone display viewing environment, but you wouldn’t want to magnify them any further.

For some, the absence of an ultra-wide clause will be even more frustrating. The Poco M4 Pro 5G has an 8MP ultra-wide camera, thus it is feasible at this price and with the 5G tax included. It’s also worth noting that the non–5G Realme 9 has an 8MP ultra-wide camera.

16MP Selfie Sensor

On the front is a 16MP camera, which is typically adequate, though it gave my fair skin tone a weirdly brilliant pink shine and grain on the aforementioned cloudy day.

Performance & Specifications

The Realme 9 5G is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 processor and 4GB of RAM. This is a different configuration from the non–5G variant, which comes with a Snapdragon 680 and 8GB of RAM.

The Snapdragon 695 is the same as used in the more costly Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G and Poco X4 Pro 5G. However, it is still a cheap 5G chip with a limited feature set. Returning to the camera for a moment, the Snapdragon 695 only supports 1080p video recording at 30fps.

However, if you are a gamer, this is not the phone for you. On its default Low settings, Genshin Impact operates slowly. This might be due to the phone’s insufficient RAM, as increasing the graphics to Medium didn’t appear to make the performance substantially worse, indicating that the GPU isn’t the bottleneck here.

In any case, keep in mind that the 4G model comes with 8GB of RAM and maybe a better option for budget-conscious gamers. You should consider long and hard the true worth you gain from a 5G connection. At this end of the market, we believe the trade-offs are not worth it. You receive the same capacity as the 4G model with 128GB internal storage.

Software

The Realme 9 5G smartphone is powered by Android 12 with Realme UI 3.0 on top. This is hardly the most obtrusive custom Android skin on the market, and it is significantly more visually appealing than Xiaomi’s MIUI, which is found in Redmi and Poco phones.

The menus are clean and stock-like, and there are no duplicate or third-party programmes. There is also no controversial split notifications pane like in MIUI.

There is no Google Feed to the left of the home screen. Even the low-cost Realme C35 has it, and we were continuously bumping up against the bouncy animation that appears when you can’t go any farther.

With Android 12, you can change the colour of menu toggles based on your background, which is a nice feature – especially when contrasted to the numerous Poco and Redmi phones that still run Android 11.

Battery life

The Realme 9 5G smartphone has an excellent battery life and may easily last a day and a half on a single charge. The phone lasts 16 hours and 38 minutes, which is an excellent result. The included 18W charger can charge it to around 27% in 30 minutes and approximately 52% in an hour. It takes little more than two hours to fully charge the phone.

You might be able to go through two days of low to moderate usage on a single charge, and even heavy users should be able to get through a day with plenty to spare. Again, nothing out of the ordinary in a market where capacity is plentiful, but it’s a plus nonetheless.

When it comes to charging, the 5G fee is evident. Realme smartphone has included an 18W charger, similar to last year’s Realme 8 5G, which will take almost an hour to charge from empty to full.

This is in contrast to the simple Realme 9 smartphone, which has a faster 33W option. As does the Poco M4 Pro 5G, which doesn’t even require you to use 5G.

Conclusion

The Realme 9 5G is a trendy, low-cost 5G smartphone that oozes comforting competence on all fronts. The Poco M4 Pro 5G outperforms it in a few areas, but it’s still a solid choice. The performance is not awful for the price—the screen and battery life should satisfy the majority of consumers. And, sure, it is 5G ready, if that is important to you right now. The selfie camera is also rather good.

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