Back in March, we reviewed the realme 9 Pro and Pro+, the premium models of realme’s main mid-range series. Now though, realme has launched the 9i in the Philippines, a more affordable option of its 9 series, and the successor to last year’s 8i.
While this phone is a bit more budget-friendly than the Pro models, it still promises to be a compelling smartphone buy with its wealth of premium features. For starters, the phone’s screen has a fast 90Hz refresh rate, and it packs a Snapdragon 680 processor which should be powerful enough for today’s games. For its cameras, the 9i features a 50MP main shooter. Plus, the phone has a large 5,000mAh battery which promises all-day battery life.
The realme 9i should be a great phone based on its specs sheet. Though of course, having great specs on paper isn’t a guarantee that a phone will be good. So, with this in mind, does the realme 9i deliver in actual use? And is it a compelling smartphone purchase for users who want a new phone that won’t break the bank? Find out here in our review!
To start off, let’s take a look at the phone’s design. When viewed from the back, the realme 9i shares a similar look as the 9 Pro and Pro+, with the camera module on the 9i and the Pro models being quite similar. Though when you take a closer look, you’ll see that the 9i has a markedly different pattern (and that’s not just referring to the lighter blue color on the 9i).
Upon closer inspection, you can see that the realme 9i has a vertical line pattern that’s subtle yet nice to look at. While it may not be as eye-catching as realme’s other phones (which are often quite shiny), the realme 9i is still a great-looking phone. What I like about it even more is that the phone’s back is not a fingerprint magnet, even though it can look a bit glossy in pictures. This is great as the finish makes the phone easy to grip, even if you go caseless.
At the front, you have the phone’s 6.6-inch display with slim bezels and a small holepunch notch at the top left corner. As we often mention in our smartphone reviews, this notch placement is our preferred one as it is less distracting compared to iPhone-style notches or having a front camera cutout right on the middle.
Speaking of the display, the 9i’s 6.6-inch screen is an LCD display with a Full HD+ resolution. Given that it’s an LCD display, you shouldn’t expect the vibrant colors and deep black of an OLED panel, but for most users, the phone’s display should be good enough for watching the latest movies or anime. The display is also fairly big so you get a larger screen for better binge-watching.
For audio, the phone surprisingly comes with stereo speakers. This is unexpected given that other phones that are much more expensive often have only one bottom-firing speaker. While the audio quality is just okay, the stereo speakers means that it gets fairly loud which is nice if you want to watch a video and you don’t have any headphones with you.
Of course, having headphones or external speakers is recommended for the best viewing/listening experience. Good thing the phone still has a 3.5mm headphone jack so you won’t be limited to using a pair of wireless headphones.
Powering the realme 9i is a Snapdragon 680 processor, Qualcomm’s mid-range chip that should have enough power to run today’s popular games.
For Wild Rift, the 9i has enough power to run the game at a smooth 60FPS frame rate while on the Medium graphics quality setting. If you play other MOBAs such as Mobile Legends, the 9i should have enough power for the High graphics setting.
Meanwhile, Call of Duty Mobile ran fairly smoothly on the Medium Graphics setting. While this result means you’ll have no worries running today’s popular games, the 9i might not have enough power to run the most hardware-intensive games such as Genshin Impact.
Though there is an advantage with gaming on the 9i, and that is its screen. The phone packs a 90Hz refresh rate display, so if you play games which support over 60FPS frame rates, you should be able to enjoy them more on the 9i (provided that they’re not too hardware intensive).
Geek Photoshoot Capabilities
Similar to the 9 Pro and Pro+, the 9i also has a triple rear camera setup. Though there is a difference, and that is the fact that the 9i does not have an ultrawide camera. Instead, the phone has a 2MP macro and a 2MP depth sensor to complement the 50MP main camera. Meanwhile, the front has a 16MP selfie shooter.
For daytime and indoor shots with lots of light, the realme 9i delivers quality photos with a good amount of detail.
For low light photos, the 50MP main camera captures decent images when using the Auto mode. But for the best results, Night Mode is recommended.
As you can see in the images above, Night Mode shots have more vibrant colors and better detail with less noise.
The 2MP macro camera performs as you would expect, with close-up shots being good, so long as you have enough light.
Selfies are decent on the realme 9i, though you may want to play around with the settings or choose the right angle for the best results. As for portraits, the 2MP depth sensor allows for some decent photos with a background blur effect.
For everyday use, the realme 9i did not disappoint as the phone handled most day-to-day tasks with no issues. In my time with the phone, it did not slow down or freeze at any point.
As for its UI, the phone runs on realme UI 2.0 based on Android 11. While it would’ve been better if the phone was already updated to Android 12 like its Pro counterparts, the realme 9i’s OS is still usable for casual users.
Now for battery life. Thanks to the large 5,000mAh battery, the 9i was able to last for well over a day of use. Though that’s on the auto select screen refresh rate mode which switches between 60Hz and 90Hz depending on use. If you select it to always be at 90Hz, the battery may drain a bit faster, but the phone should still last for a day.
If you do need to charge, the 9i supports 33W fast charging, so you can get to 100% in just a bit over an hour.
Final Geek Lifestyle Verdict
The realme 9i may not have the most exciting features compared to other smartphones, but it has a lot going for it, including its nice display, capable cameras, and good performance. Along with these features, the realme 9i has an attractive design, and an impressive battery life.
At its price of PHP 11,990, the realme 9i is worth taking a look at if you’re in the market for a phone that’s still on the budget-friendly side. While there may be phones that give more bang-for-buck in terms of performance, the 9i is still a phone that you may wan to check out.
realme 9i Specs:
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 Processor
- Adreno 610 GPU
- 6GB RAM
- 6.6-inch IPS LCD FHD+ display, 90Hz refresh rate
- 128GB RAM (expandable via microSD)
- 50MP f/1.8 wide + 2MP f/2.4 macro + 2MP f/2.4 depth sensor triple rear camera setup
- 16MP f/2.1 wide front camera
- 3G, LTE, Dual SIM
- WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, fingerprint scanner (side), USB Type-C
- 5000mAh battery with 33W fast charge support
- Android 11 with Realme UI 2.0
- Black, Blue