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Realme 7 Review: Is the sequel any better?

Realme 7 AH HR Feature
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Realme 7 is a minor upgrade over the previous version depending on which region of the world you are in.

Realme 7
£179
Rating
star star star star star_empty
Pros
  • Beautiful hardware design and solid construction
  • Large 90Hz refresh rate display
  • 30W Dart Charge
  • 2-Day battery life is well within reach
  • Main camera performance is quite good in daylight
  • Connectivity options are great for a budget device
Cons
  • Some minor software kinks
  • Main camera is a downgrade in certain regions
  • Low light camera performance is not consistent
  • Audio quality from single speaker is not that great
  • The top end version starts to get expensive

Realme provided Android Headlines with a review unit of the Realme 7. This review was written after using the device for more than 7 days. The phone is running realmeOS version 1.0 with Android 10 and October 2020 security patch.

Realme 7  series of phones is now available for sale in the UK. AndroidHeadlines just reviewed the Realme 7 Pro. In addition to the Pro device, Realme also sent us the Realme 7 device for review.

Realme 7 is though is an oddball device in the new 7 series lineup from Realme. Why? Because it basically is the Realme 6 with a slightly different exterior, a bigger battery, and an overclocked GPU. That’s it. The rest of the device is basically unchanged from the Realme 6 released earlier in 2020.

Realme continues to rely on its tried and tested formula of offering some great specs for the price. So with the Realme 7, we get a big 90Hz refresh rate display, a decent mid-range gaming processor, a crazy large 5000 mAh battery, 30W Dart charging via USB-C port, quad-camera array, and a headphone jack. On paper, this is a lot of smartphone for the money.

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Alas, the budget segment is crowded with a lot of really good devices these days. So let’s dive into the review to see how good the sequel to the excellent Realme 6 is.

Unboxing Experience

Realme 7 AH HR UB

Inside the box you get the Realme 7 smartphone, 30W Dart charging brick, USB-C cable, SIM ejector tool, and paperwork. And as is usual with Realme you get a factory-installed film screen protector and a clear TPU case which are excellent extras, especially in the budget segment.

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Realme 7 hardware design makes it look like a premium device

Realme sent us the Mist White version for review. One thing Realme does well with each new phone is how they give you unique colors and gradients which shift depending on the lighting conditions. The Mist White version shifts color subtly depending on the light in which you are viewing. My review unit reminds me of the Prism White that Samsung introduced with the S10 series in 2019. Besides the new colors, the back also has a brushed or matte texture which helps hide fingerprints well.

Realme 7 now has a new camera module layout compared to the previous version. The new module is slightly wider and includes the flash in the camera bump. I like the new module since it also creates less wobble compared to the previous design.

The fingerprint scanner is incorporated in the power button in a small recess. In addition, the location of the power button is at an easily accessible height on the right-hand side. And with the current COVID-19 pandemic I prefer the fingerprint scanner over face unlock anyway. Volume buttons are over on the other side of the phone and right above those is the Dual-SIM slot with SD card slot as well. Button tactile feedback is spot on and the location of the buttons did not cause any accidental presses during my time with the phone.

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At the bottom, there is the USB-C charging port, cutouts for the single speaker and microphone, and something that is rare these days – a 3.5 mm headphone jack.

On the front, we get the same 90Hz refresh rate LCD with a hole punch cut out in the top left corner for the selfie camera. Bezels on the top and sides are thin and uniform. The bottom bezel is a bit chunkier but it is not as thick as some other budget devices which is a plus.

Realme is offering two color variants with this iteration – Mist White and Mist Blue. My review unit is Mist White in color and it reminds me of my old S10+ in a good way.

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Overall the Realme 7 has excellent in-hand ergonomics due to the smooth edges, rounded corners, and superb weight distribution despite having a massive 5000 mAh battery.

Realme 7 keeps the 90Hz refresh rate 6.5″ IPS Display

One thing Realme has done well is to equip this phone with a 6.5-inch FHD+ (2400 x 1080) IPS display panel. This 405 ppi density panel is capable of 90Hz refresh rate which is a rarity at this price point. Realme also provides an option to toggle the refresh rate down to 60Hz to increase battery life. However, now that the battery capacity is 5000 mAh, I left it at 90Hz for my review.

Realme 7 AH HR Display

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Besides the high refresh rate, the panel boasts 480 nits brightness and a respectable 1400:1 contrast ratio which makes it quite readable in sunlight and the blacks don’t look like washed-out greys which is common for budget devices with LCD displays.

One downside of the Realme 7 is that there aren’t any settings for color correction. The factory color calibration is your only option. Having said that, the color reproduction is decent with a little bit of saturation. However, the colors aren’t super accurate and there seems to a slight shift towards blue. But Realme will let you adjust the screen color temperature towards cool or warm settings. I left it at the default setting for the review.

As usual, Realme has quite a few software features to tweak the display settings to your liking. Dark mode, eye comfort mode, and the slightly controversial OSIE Vision Effect – tracking eye movement in certain apps via AI is still here. However, I did not use the OSIE feature during my test drive.

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Touch responsiveness was excellent and I did not encounter any major hiccups during my time with the Realme 7. On the top left corner is a punch hole for a single selfie camera which has a light-up camera ring similar to the 7 Pro.

All in all, I think the display panel provides an amazing experience when you take the price of the device into consideration.

Performance is actually slightly improved

Realme 7 AH HR Performance

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Realme 7 uses the new MediaTek Helio G95 processor which is an overclocked version of the Helio G90 chip in the Realme 6. The G95 is a gaming capable SoC for mid-range smartphones. It is a 12nm FinFET processor from Taiwan Semiconductor. The G95 packs an octa-core CPU with two high-performance Cortex-A76 cores ticking at 2.05GHz and six energy-efficient Corext-A55 cores working at 2.0GHz which is the same as G90.

However, the Mali-G76 MC4 GPU is now clocked at 900MHz – up from 800MHz in the G90 processor which was in Realme 6. Performance is more than adequate for this class. Just keep in mind that games are likely to stay around the 60fps mark so benefits of the 90Hz refresh rate might not materialize.

The Realme 7 is available in three memory configurations – 4GB/64GB, 6GB/64GB, and 8GB/128GB (ours).

From a benchmark perspective, it actually performs quite well to Snapdragon 720G processor which is in the Realme 7 Pro. So expect performance to be quite good for a budget device. The only weird lag I noticed was swiping left on the home screen to access the Google Discover feed. I chalk this to probably some software related issue rather than hardware performance because besides this there wasn’t a single hiccup during the review period.

As far as gaming is concerned, Realme includes ‘Game Space’ setting which optimizes gameplay by limiting interruptions. You can also customize what settings are important to you – notifications, brightness, battery life, or performance – while gaming which is a nice feature.

Long story short, for an average smartphone user the daily performance including gaming should be quite good at this price point.

Battery life is the best improvement by far on this phone

Realme 7 AH HR Battery

Realme 7 sees a bump in battery capacity of 700 mAh in comparison with Realme 6. With a 90Hz high refresh rate screen, this bump in battery capacity from 4300 mAh to 5000 mAh means 7+ hour screen on time is well within reach. On one particular day, 2 hours of streaming video at 1080p resolution along with 2 hours of gaming saw this device drop from 100% to 59%. As usual, you can stretch the battery life even more by toggling on Super power-saving mode in the Battery settings.

Thanks to 30W Dart charging the total time to top the battery from zero is still a respectable 65 minutes. If you are in a bind, you can still manage zero to 50% charge in under half an hour. Overnight I saw around a 3 to 4% drop which compares well with other devices in the budget segment

So to summarize, the battery life is one area where I think Realme 7 Pro directly outclasses its predecessor.

Audio quality is acceptable considering the price

Realme 7 AH HR Audio

Budget devices tend to have underwhelming audio quality and Realme 7 is no different in this regard. The single bottom-firing speaker isn’t too loud and the overall sound profile is flat. The high tones sound teeny and shrill and the bass is totally lacking.

What is surprising is that the audio output from the headphone jack out of the box. The audio output felt like being submerged in a foot of water. This was also the same experience when connected via Bluetooth 5.0. But a quick visit to the Sound & Vibration settings and toggling on ‘Real Sound Technology’ option fixes this issue. These audio equalizer settings are the result of Realme collaboration with Dirac Research AB. The ‘In-ear monitoring’ option which improves live karaoke experience also carries over from the previous version of this device.

Call quality via the earpiece is satisfactory and the same goes for speakerphone mode. Albeit the speaker output is still a bit on the low side. This is one area where Realme could have definitely improved by just porting over audio-related components from the Realme 7 Pro.

Realme 7 software experience is great barring one minor annoyance

 

Realme 7 AH HR Software

My Realme 7 review unit is running realme UI Version 1.0 on top of Android 10 and Android security patch for October 2020. The software experience is pretty much identical to that of the prior Realme 6 and the Realme 7 Pro I just reviewed.

Software on the Realme 7 mimics other devices running Android One software minus the settings menu. This includes the Google Discover feed as you swipe left on the home screen. However, this swiping left function was laggy, and scrolling through the feed also felt quite slow compared with the rest of the Realme 7. I chalk this up to a software issue since most Realme devices have the Realme Smart Assistant show up when you swipe left which for some reason isn’t the case with this device.

All the usual features for performance and battery life optimization are still here. These options are a carryover from ColorOS which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Game Space which is a Realme staple for a great gaming experience is still here. One feature I like a lot is the Smart Sidebar and is a very useful way to access apps quickly with a single swipe.

There are only 3 or 4 Realme Apps such as Phone Manager, Music, Videos, File Manager. Pre-installed apps include Facebook and WPS Office which means bloatware is the bare minimum. Additionally, both of these can be uninstalled so that you can enjoy a fairly stock Android experience. All the standard Googe Apps along with Android 10 features such as Digital Wellbeing, Dark Mode, and Google Assistant are available out of the box.

Overall, the software experience on the Realme 7 is quite good. For the most part, the software on the phone just works aside from the one issue noted earlier. Bloatware is only a couple of apps and both can be uninstalled. Additionally, Realme has a reasonable track record of providing security patch updates. But so far no word on when the next version of the realme UI based on Android 11 will arrive.

Camera offers a good experience in daylight but low light photography has mixed results

Realme 7 AH HR Camera

Let’s get one thing out of the way. Realme 6 had a 64MP main sensor but this time around things are a bit different. In Europe, the Realme 7 has a 48MP Sony IMX 586 while in Asia the Realme 7 gets the newer Sony IMX 682 sensor for the main camera. So depending on which region you are located the Realme 7 may or may not be a downgrade. The main 48MP camera has a Quad-Bayer sensor behind an f/1.8 26mm lens. Phase-detection autofocus is available for only the main camera.

Next is the 8MP Ultra-Wide camera behind an f/2.3 16mm lens and the focus is fixed at infinity. There is a 2MP macro camera with an f/2.4 lens. Last but not least is an additional 2MP mono camera primarily for depth sensing for portrait shots. The front selfie camera is a 16MP Sony IMX471 sensor with a Quad-Bayer filter and f/2.1 aperture with fixed focus.

In good lighting conditions indoors or outdoor the results from the main camera are actually quite good. Colors are generally quite accurate and there is just about the right amount of sharpening. Ultrawide camera yields mixed results however and low light ultrawide pictures are generally quite poor. The macro camera actually performs quite well in daylight provided the subject is still and you are about an inch and a half away from it. The selfie camera is good enough for both photo and video.

Portrait mode is available for both front and rear main camera and results are surprisingly decent for the price range. Video output is 4K for the rear main camera and 1080p 30fps for UltraWide and front selfie cameras. For the price, the video quality is quite reasonable for social media clips. There is only one microphone though and it is quite sensitive so you will see a lot of noise close to the mic being picked up in your videos. As usual switching between the Main and UltraWide cameras during video mode is not possible. So you need to pre-determine which camera is going to shoot the video.

Low light photography yielded mixed results indoors and outdoors. The results depend on the amount of light and what object/subject is in focus. On average I think 1 or 2 good pictures for every 5 photos is possible. A tripod will improve the results substantially. Additionally in low light using the Pro mode on a tripod can also yield good results occasionally. Overall though this was the main weak spot in terms of overall camera performance. In general, the granularity, pixelation, loss of detail in low light mode was pretty severe more often than not.

Realme 7 Camera Samples - Flickr Gallery

I am not sure if a future software update can improve the results anymore but there certainly is some hope since the Realme 7 Pro performance in this regard is definitely superior. In summary, if you are looking at this phone for its camera I think there might be some other options to consider.

For a global phone, US connectivity is great

Realme 7 AH HR Connectivity

Realme 7 has dual SIM support. There are two nano-SIM card slots in the three slot tray. In Southern California on T-Mobile, I mostly got 4G with download speeds comparable to the Nuu G5 and Teracube 2e. So for a non-USA device, connectivity seems to be on point. VoLTE or Wi-Fi calling is not possible at least on T-Mobile. But this is likely a carrier issue and globally this device could very well be compatible with these two features.

In the 7+ days of usage, I had no issues with calls, texts, speed tests, app downloads, watching YouTube videos, or streaming music via Spotify, Amazon Music during my daily run. Phone calls were fine in either handset or speakerphone mode. My Soundcore Q20 headphones and Enacfire E60 earbuds paired quickly without any issues.

The best thing about the Realme 7 is the availability of NFC! This is one feature more budget handsets lack and it is great to see it available on this phone. Of course since there is NFC file sharing is easy via Android Beam. Realme UI also has Screen Cast, Realme Share, and Nearby Share in the quick settings menu.

So from a connectivity standpoint, I believe the Realme 7 is easily as good as phones twice the price.

So is the Realme 7 a better sequel to the original?

Realme 7 AH HR Verdict

Realme 7 keeps all of the goodness of the Realme 6 and delivers a quantifiable leap in battery life. It checks pretty much all the boxes in terms of what constitutes a good smartphone – great hardware design, a 90Hz refresh rate display, snappy performance, and stellar battery life. In addition, it has great features such as a fingerprint scanner, NFC, 30W fast charging and a headphone jack.

But one area where it falls slightly short is photography. Our review version has a 48MP main camera whereas in Asia the main camera is 64MP which is what the Realme 6 has. Also, the £179 version of Realme 7 has 4GB RAM/64GB storage. The review unit would most likely be closer to £239 at which price jumping one level up to the Realme 7 Pro perhaps makes more sense.

So if in your region the Realme 7 is available with the 64MP main camera then absolutely go for it since the battery life jump is quite significant. However, if the main camera is a downgrade to 48MP then the choices become a bit trickier. For slightly more money get the Realme 6 Pro or the Realme 7 Pro.