Realme 9 5G First Impressions: A Budget Phone for 2022

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Realme has just launched a bunch of relatively affordable phones in India – the Realme C35, Realme 9 5G, and Realme 9 5G Speed Edition. The company also already has the Realme 9i (Review) and several older models still on sale at around the same price level. Today, we’re getting a quick first look at the new Realme 9 5G. This is meant to be an affordable all-rounder, but what does that mean in 2022, and does it offer all the features and capabilities you might be expecting at this price level?

The Realme 9 5G is priced at Rs. 14,999 in India for the base variant which as 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage (introductory offer), and Rs. 17,499 for the second variant with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. SBI and ICICI Bank cardholders can get instant discounts of Rs. 1,500. It goes on sale for the first time on March 14. The more powerful Realme 9 5G Speed Edition is priced starting at Rs. 19,999 with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and goes up to Rs. 22,999 for 8GB of RAM and the same 128GB of storage.

As its name tells us, this is a 5G capable phone, which is interesting because not all the competition at or around the Rs. 15,000 will let you latch on to 5G networks as and when these go live in India, potentially later this year. However, does that mean you have to compromise in other areas? Let’s find out.

Realme has gone with a 6.5-inch full-HD+ 90Hz panel. The processor is a MediaTek Dimensity 810, which supports 5G. There’s a 5000mAh battery, but charging speed only goes up to 18W, and the charger you get in the box is pretty bulky. This phone also supports Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.1, and all the usual location services.

While the core specifications are slightly weaker than those of the higher-priced Realme 9 Speed Edition, both models seem to share the same camera configuration. You get a 48-megapixel primary camera, 2-megapixel macro camera, and what the company calls a “B&W portrait lens” on the rear. There’s no ultra-wide camera, which is somewhat disappointing. There’s a 16-megapixel front camera for selfies.

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The Realme 9 has a plastic body and three cameras in a raised module on the back

 

The Realme 9 5G is made of plastic, and while the build quality is fine, it isn’t especially impressive at first touch. Unlike previous models, there’s no attention-grabbing design flair here. The phone is available in Stargaze White and Meteor Black. The former finish, which is what I have with me, catches the light at certain angles and refracts pinkish-yellowish tones, while the latter is plain and simple. This phone is 8.5mm thick and weighs a reasonable 188g.

The rear panel curves on the sides to meet the plastic frame, making this phone relatively comfortable to hold and use. The fingerprint sensor is integrated into a recessed power button which is within reach. You’ll find volume buttons and the SIM tray on the left (with two Nano-SIM slots and a microSD card slot). The bottom has a USB Type-C port, 3.5mm audio socket, and speaker.

The Realme 9 5G isn’t going to turn any heads in terms of design. It also doesn’t have the sort of specifications that will immediately draw people in. However, it could be a solid 5G-capable workhorse for those who just want to use everyday apps and aren’t too particular about gaming or photo quality. We’ll soon put this phone through our full review process to check its performance, cameras, software, battery life, ease of use, and much more, so stay tuned to Gadgets 360.


Realme India CEO Madhav Sheth joins Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast for an exclusive wide-ranging interview, as he talks about the 5G push, Make in India, Realme GT series and Book Slim, and how stores can improve their standing. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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