Realme 9 5G review: Budget ‘5G-ready’ phone, but is it worth considering?

Technology


Exactly what qualifies as a ‘good’ device at a specific price point can often be a matter of intense debate. Is it about the specifications alone? What about software? Are you willing to compromise on the camera? As someone who reviews a fair number of phones priced in the Rs 20,000 and under segment, there are no simple answers to these questions. In my view, this particular segment has gotten a lot more complicated this year for a variety of reasons.

For one, there are several 5G phones being introduced under Rs 20,000 and some at a little higher price. The specifications at times are very similar, with a few tweaks here and there across brands. All of this only creates confusion for users. So where does the Realme 9 5G fit in and does it fulfil all the qualities of a ‘good’ device? Here’s my take.

Realme 9 5G specifications: 6.5-inch full HD+ display at 90 Hz refresh rate | MediaTek Dimensity 810 chipset | 4GB or 6GB RAM+ 64GB or 128GB storage |48MP+portrait+macro camera | 16MP front camera | 5000 mAh battery | Realme UI 2.0 with Android 11

Realme 9 5G review, Realme 9 5G price in India, Realme 9 5G specifications The Realme 9 5G has a 6.5-inch Full HD+ display. (Image credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

Realme 9 5G price in India: Rs 14,599 for 4GB RAM, and Rs 17,499 for 6GB RAM

Realme 9 5G: What’s good?

The Realme 9 5G has what I’d call a fairly standard design for this particular segment. The curved back fits well into your hand and the camera module is not very huge, which is refreshing to see. I liked that this is not particularly bulky either. The phone comes in the ‘Stargaze White’ colour variant. This does change colour based on light and has hues of purple, similar to countless other phones I’ve seen this past year. The fingerprint sensor is part of the power button and works accurately to unlock the device.

Realme 9 5G review, Realme 9 5G price in India, Realme 9 5G specificationsRealme 9 5G review, Realme 9 5G price in India, Realme 9 5G specifications The phone’s performance is good enough for daily tasks. (Image credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

The phone has a 6.5-inch Full HD+ display with a 90 Hz refresh rate. Realme is letting users stick with an auto-refresh option for this, which is better for battery life, though one can go into the settings can change this as per preferences. The display is acceptable for the price and should be good enough for users who wish to watch content on YouTube and Netflix as well as for regular social media scrolling. It is legible in bright sunlight.

The phone is powered by the Mediatek Dimensity 810 5G ready processor and the performance is solid, given that it is priced under Rs 20,000. Playing games such as Genshin Impact, Asphalt 9, etc was not a problem on this device. I did not notice any significant lag or stutter, though I kept the game settings to the basic levels and did not ramp up graphics on either. As a daily driver, this phone lives up to most expectations.

Realme 9 5G review, Realme 9 5G price in India, Realme 9 5G specificationsRealme 9 5G review, Realme 9 5G price in India, Realme 9 5G specifications Genshin Impact running on the Realme 9 5G. (Image credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

Realme 9 5G gets a 5000 mAh battery, which will again last more than a day with moderate to heavy-duty usage. What’s not so impressive is the 18W charging support. More on that later in the review.

The Realme 9 camera is a 48MP setup with a portrait and a macro lens. The main camera does have some inconsistencies in performance, especially with focus at times, but the results are not bad overall. The images do pack details, the colours look sharp (a bit too sharp at times) and the portraits and night mode shots were quite nice. They are not perfect, but keeping the price in mind this camera does perform well. The selfie camera is not too bad either, especially if you are fond of adding some effects to your photos and want the face to look a bit thinner, but not completely artificial.

Realme 9 5G review, Realme 9 5G price in India, Realme 9 5G specificationsRealme 9 5G review, Realme 9 5G price in India, Realme 9 5G specifications Realme 9 5G camera sample take in bright outdoors. (Image credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)
Realme 9 5G review, Realme 9 5G price in India, Realme 9 5G specificationsRealme 9 5G review, Realme 9 5G price in India, Realme 9 5G specifications A Realme 9 camera sample taken in bright sunlight. (Image credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)
Realme 9 5G review, Realme 9 5G price in India, Realme 9 5G specificationsRealme 9 5G review, Realme 9 5G price in India, Realme 9 5G specifications Realme 9 camera sample, where the focus was an issue. (Image credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)
Realme 9 camera sample. (Image credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)
Realme 9 5G review, Realme 9 5G price in India, Realme 9 5G specificationsRealme 9 5G review, Realme 9 5G price in India, Realme 9 5G specifications Realme 9 camera sample taken indoors. (Image credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)
Realme 9 5G review, Realme 9 5G price in India, Realme 9 5G specificationsRealme 9 5G review, Realme 9 5G price in India, Realme 9 5G specifications Realme 9 camera sample taken indoors. (Image credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

Realme 9 5G: What’s not good?

Realme 9 runs on the company’s own Realme UI V2.0, which is still on Android 11. This is a miss in 2022, though Realme is not the only one guilty of doing this. I’m not a fan of all the pre-loaded apps, but this is something most users have to live with across price points. Though you can uninstall some of these, I would have preferred if Realme wasn’t pushing so many apps on a user.

The Realme 9’s slow battery charging is another issue. The 18W charging is too slow for the 5000 mAh battery and will take two hours or more to get a full charge so do keep this in mind. The older Realme 8 5G had the same option. I’m guessing the brand is in no mood to upgrade this particular aspect.

At times the rear camera had an issue with the focus. (Image credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

Finally, the camera did have some issues with focus during my usage and at times it would struggle to lock the focus on an object. The macro camera is not impressive either.

Realme 9 5G: Should you consider it?

The Realme 9 5G has some positives. The performance is not bad for the price—the display and battery life should keep most users happy. And yes, this is a 5G ready if that matters right now to you. The selfie camera is not bad either.

But the rear camera delivers an average performance in my view. The slow charging will also be a disappointment for some users. Consider the Realme 9 5G if you are looking for a 5G phone for under Rs 18,000. I would say it is better to get one with extra RAM and storage, though the 4GB RAM option costs Rs 14,999 and does make it appealing. The 6GB RAM+128GB storage option costs Rs 17,499. Other options to consider are the Redmi Note 11T, which has the same MediaTek chipset, and there’s the Poco X4 Pro 5G and Vivo T1 5G.

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