A few days ago, a friend was in urgent need of an inexpensive phone that should last sometime and wanted to keep the 5G option for next year when the technology should be widely available. His requirements are simple — a phone that should be able to capture decent photographs, sport a battery that will see him through (at least) the day, streaming is not a priority, and pump out acceptable sounds. It seemed like a good job for Realme 9i, which has all these features covered and some more.
The under-15K category is a dog-eat-dog world that’s tough to survive but Realme is doing a fairly good job. I didn’t expect anything more than plastic back and a side-mounted fingerprint scanner. The overall design language mirrors the more expensive Realme GT Neo. Even though a budget phone, it’s good to find a 90Hz 6.6-inch full HD+ display (has five-level fresh rates — 30Hz, 48Hz, 50Hz, 60Hz, 90Hz) that’s bright enough in most scenarios (but one must point out that Realme 8i came with 120Hz refresh rate). More impressive is the audio treatment given to the phone. Equipped with stereo speakers, streaming music is a pleasure and this exercise edges out video streaming slightly because the screen is just about reasonable for the price.
In the camera department, a 50MP sensor is the headliner, which is able to capture decent photos under bright conditions but uneven lighting can be tricky. Then comes the gamble of leaving out an ultra-wide camera in favour of a 2MP macro sensor and a 2MP B&W lens, both of which don’t add much to the overall quality of the camera. The 16MP selfie shooter is quite good and the output has respectable skin tones.
Brownie points are won when it comes to performance. Powered by Snapdragon 680 processor, this is definitely not a gaming phone but you can enjoy most titles on reduced frame rates. Other than gaming, all tasks are tackled well by the processor and you will hardly notice any lags. It would have been a bonus had the phone offered Android 12 out of the box.
Should you buy it?
The phone comes with a 5,000mAh battery, which easily lasts a day and a half because the processor is not power hungry. There will always be a section of users whose connection with phones will remain limited to a small degree of photography and streaming; it is all about staying connected with the world, be it in way of the Internet or calls. And that’s what this phone helps to achieve. Realme 9i is that uncomplicated friend we like having around.
Sample shot taken using Realme 9i.
At a glance
Device: Realme 9i
Price: Rs 13,999 (4GB+64GB; available January 22, noon onwards)
• Stereo speakers
• Good battery life
• Acceptable everyday performance
• Android 11 out of the box (with Realme UI 2.0)
• No ultra-wide camera