Realme 9 5G review

Exactly what qualifies as a “good” device at a given price point can often be the subject of heated debate. Is it just the specs? What about software? Are you willing to compromise on the camera? As someone who reviews a whole range of phones in the Rs 20,000 and below segment, there are no easy answers to these questions. I think this particular segment has gotten a lot more complicated this year for a variety of reasons.

For one, several 5G phones will be launched under Rs 20,000 and some at a slightly higher price. The specs are sometimes very similar, with a few tweaks here and there between brands. All this only leads to confusion among users. So where does the Realme 9 5G fit in and does it have all the qualities of a “good” device? Here’s my opinion.

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

The Realme 9 5G has a 6.5 inch Full HD+ display. (Photo 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 is good?

The Realme 9 5G has what I would call a pretty standard design for this particular segment. The curved back feels good in the hand and the camera module isn’t very huge, which is refreshing to look at. I also liked that it is not particularly bulky. The phone is available in the color variant “Stargaze White”. This changes color depending on the light and has purple hues, similar to countless other phones I’ve seen over the past year. The fingerprint sensor is part of the power button and works precisely to unlock the device.

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

The phone sports a 6.5-inch Full HD+ display with a 90Hz refresh rate. Realme lets users stick with an auto-refresh option for this, which is better for battery life, although you can go into the settings and do this as you please can change. The display is acceptable for the price and should be sufficient for users who want to watch content on YouTube and Netflix, as well as for regular scrolling on social media. It is readable in bright sunlight.

The phone is powered by the Mediatek Dimensity 810 5G-enabled processor and performance is solid considering it costs under Rs 20,000. Playing games like Genshin Impact, Asphalt 9, etc. was not a problem on this device. I didn’t notice any significant lag or stuttering despite keeping the game settings at the basic levels and not cranking up the graphics 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 specifications Genshin Impact runs on the Realme 9 5G. (Photo credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

Realme 9 5G gets a 5000 mAh battery, which again lasts more than a day with moderate to heavy use. What’s not as 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 macro lens. The main camera does have some inconsistencies in performance, especially focus, but overall the results aren’t bad. The pictures pack a lot of detail, the colors look sharp (sometimes a bit too sharp) and the portraits and night mode shots were quite nice. They’re not perfect, but keeping the price in mind, this camera works well. The selfie camera isn’t bad either, especially if you like adding effects to your photos and want the face to look a bit thinner but not totally artificial.

Realme 9 5G review, Realme 9 5G price in India, Realme 9 5G specifications Example of a Realme 9 5G camera in a bright outdoor setting. (Photo credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)
Realme 9 5G review, Realme 9 5G price in India, Realme 9 5G specifications A Realme 9 camera sample captured in bright sunlight. (Photo credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)
Realme 9 5G review, Realme 9 5G price in India, Realme 9 5G specifications Realme 9 camera example where focus was an issue. (Photo credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)
Realme 9 camera example. (Photo credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)
Realme 9 5G review, Realme 9 5G price in India, Realme 9 5G specifications Realme 9 camera sample shot indoors. (Photo credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)
Realme 9 5G review, Realme 9 5G price in India, Realme 9 5G specifications Realme 9 camera sample shot indoors. (Photo credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

Realme 9 5G: what’s not good?

Realme 9 runs on the proprietary Realme UI V2.0, which still runs on Android 11. This is a 2022 failure, although Realme isn’t the only culprit. I’m not a fan of all the pre-installed apps, but that’s what most users in all price ranges have to live with. Although you can uninstall some of them, I would have preferred it if Realme didn’t push so many apps onto one user.

The Realme 9’s slow charging battery is another issue. 18W charging is too slow for the 5000mAh battery, taking two hours or more to fully charge. So keep that in mind. The older Realme 8 5G had the same option. I suspect the brand isn’t in the mood to improve on that particular aspect.

Sometimes the rear camera had a problem with the focus. (Photo credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

Finally, during my use, the camera had some issues with focus and at times it struggled to get focus on an object. The macro camera is not convincing either.

Realme 9 5G: should you consider it?

The Realme 9 5G has some positive qualities. Performance isn’t bad for the price – the display and battery life should satisfy most users. And yes, this is 5G ready, in case that’s what matters to you right now. The selfie camera isn’t bad either.

But the rear camera delivers an average performance from my point of view. Slow loading will also disappoint some users. Consider the Realme 9 5G if you are looking for a 5G phone for under Rs 18,000. I’d say it’s better to get one with extra RAM and storage, although the 4GB RAM option costs Rs 14,999 and makes it attractive. 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.