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Realme 9 5G Review: Mid-Tier 5G Smartphone With Good Battery Life
Realme 9 5G and the Realme 9 5G Speed Edition are the latest 5G-ready smartphones in India. These smartphones have a balanced specs sheet to offer great day-to-day performance. These numbered series smartphones from Realme also have a few highlights, which helps distinguish them from the competition.
- Best-in-class performance
- Good battery life
- Dedicated microSD card slot
- No ultrap-wide angle lens
- IPS LCD screen
I have been testing the Realme 9 5G, powered by the Mediatek Dimensity 810 5G SoC, which retails in India for Rs. 17,499 and offers 6GB RAM and 128GB internal storage. Can Realme 9 5G handle the normal day-to-day tasks? Can you game on Realme 9 5G? Here is my comprehensive review of the Realme 9 5G.
Realme 9 5G Review Design: Nothing Exceptional
For a phone that costs over Rs. 17,000, the Realme 9 5G's plastic finish feels a bit cheap. Do note that, there are phones with a black panel that looks much more premium. The Stargaze White variant of the Realme 9 5G has a matte finish, and it can easily get scratched if used without a case.
There is a quad-camera-like setup at the back with a 48MP primary camera a pair of macro and portrait lenses. The smartphone has a USB Type-C port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and the main speaker at the bottom part. The power button is on the right side, which also doubles as a fingerprint sensor and volume buttons are on the left along with the SIM card tray.
The Realme 9 5G has a triple SIM card slot that accepts two nano-SIM cards with 5G support and a dedicated microSD card slot. Hence, one can even get the 64GB storage model and expand the storage later on up to 1TB using a microSD card slot.
From the front, the Realme 9 5G looks as modern as most smartphones at this price range. However, the back panel looks plasticky, and it can easily get scratched. Given most users look at the front of the phone rather than the back, the Realme 9 5G will get its job done.
Overall, the Realme 9 5G is a pretty modern-looking smartphone, and the company should have worked a little more to make the phone feel a bit more premium.
Realme 9 5G Review: Display
I have mixed feelings about the Realme 9 5G's 6.5-inch "medium-sized" display with a resolution of 2400x1080p with a 90Hz refresh rate. The display has a 90.5 percent screen-to-body ratio with a 180Hz touch sampling rate, which should help amateur gamers.
The high refresh rate display on the Realme 9 5G makes social media scrolling look smooth and will also help gamers to an extent. Even in terms of brightness and color accuracy, the display does a good job. However, the display isn't that bright, this is visible, especially when using the smartphone under direct sunlight.
At the asking price, I feel the company should have included a 90Hz AMOLED display instead of an IPS LCD screen. It looks like the inclusion of an LCD panel instead of an OLED panel is a cost-cutting decision. If you are keen on content consumption, then it is best to get a phone with an OLED display, which will deliver deeper blacks and a higher contrast ratio.
Realme 9 5G Review: Cameras
Although the camera module on the Realme 9 5G might confuse you for a quad-camera setup, the smartphone has a triple camera setup with no dedicated ultra-wide angle lens. The phone has a 48MP primary sensor, a macro lens, and a depth sensor. At the front, the device has a 16MP selfie camera with support for 1080p video recording.
The 48MP primary sensor does an average job of capturing a lot of details, especially in daylight situations, and the portrait mode also does a good job of offering a natural-looking bokeh. The video recording capability on the Realme 9 5G is limited to 1080p 30fps, which is again another drawback of the Realme 9 5G's camera setup.
The 2MP macro camera is pretty average with a 4cm focus distance. Given how much the Realme 9 5G costs, the company should have included at least a 5/8MP ultra-wide-angle camera. The primary camera setup on the Realme 9 5G is definitely below average.
Lastly, the 16MP selfie camera does a good job of capturing selfies and offers a lot of customization options like beauty mode. Just like the primary camera, the video recording on the Realme 9 5G is limited to 1080p resolution. At around Rs. 17,000, there are definitely a lot better smartphones, especially when it comes to camera capabilities.
Realme 9 5G Review: Performance
If there is one reason to get the Realme 9 5G, it is the performance. On synthetic benchmarks like AnTuTu, the Realme 9 5G outperformed the Redmi Note 11 Pro+ 5G. On Geekbench 5, the performance of the Realme 9 5G was almost similar to the Redmi Note 11 Pro+ 5G, which costs at least Rs. 4,000 more than the Realme 9 5G.
Not just synthetic benchmarks, the Realme 9 5G can even handle games like COD: Mobile at high graphics settings and continuously deliver 60fps for over an hour. The Mediatek Dimensity 810 is not just a great mid-ranger chip, it is also a chip that can sustain peak performance for an extended period.
Realme 9 5G Review: Software
Just like most of the mid-range 5G smartphones launched this year, the Realme 9 5G also ships with Android 11 OS with custom Realme UI 2.0 skin on top. In terms of custom UI, I prefer Realme UI 2.0 over MIUI 13 any day, the Realme UI looks much refined, and there is some sort of uniformity across the app icons, settings menu, and it also has that gimmicky virtual RAM technology.
The Realme 9 5G has Widevine L1 certification, which allows HD content streaming on platforms like Hotstar, Prime Video, and Netflix. Do note that, the smartphone does not support HDR streaming on either of these platforms. The Realme UI 2.0 does have a few third-party apps which cannot be uninstalled, which has been haunting most smartphones of this price range.
Overall, in terms of software, the Realme 9 5G offers an above-average performance. Again, make sure to disable recommendations while setting up the device to see fewer ads on the Realme 9 5G. Given the time of launch, the company should have launched the Realme 9 5G with Android 12 OS instead of Android 11 OS.
Realme 9 5G Review: Battery Life And Connectivity
The Realme 9 5G comes with a 5,000 mAh battery with support for 18W fast charging via the USB Type-C port. The device on most days offered me over seven hours of screen-on-time, and most users should be able to get an all-day battery life out of the Realme 9 5G.
The Realme 9 5G supports six 5G bands, and the phone also offers other wireless connectivity features like dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.1. Again, there is no support for Wi-Fi 6 or NFC, which would have taken the Realme 9 5G a notch above the competition. I used Realme 9 5G with the Jio network and did not face any issue with network reception.
When it comes to call quality, I had no issues with the Realme 9 5G. Overall, in terms of connectivity, the Realme 9 5G is on par with the competition and supports a 5G network on both SIM card slots. Do note that the first SIM slot supports six 5G bands, while the second SIM slot only supports five 5G bands.
Realme 9 5G Review: Verdict
The Realme 9 5G seems to be focused on the 5G networking capability and performance over the other aspects. The battery life is also above average. However, with 18W fast charging support, the Realme 9 5G is definitely not the fastest charging smartphone in the market.
If you want a phone with an emphasis on display or camera, then the Realme 9 5G might not be an appealing offering. However, if you are a gamer and want a phone which can handle most games at medium-to-high graphics settings, then the Realme 9 5G is one such device.
Although the Realme 9 5G is not the most affordable 5G capable smartphone in the market, it does offer the right blend of performance and networking capability. Overall, a good mid-range 5G smartphone, focused mostly on "5G" networking capabilities.