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Realme 9 5G Review: A New Mid-Range Contender Emerges

Realme 9 5G AH HR Verdict
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Realme 9 5G is one of the best mid-range devices you can buy for under €300.

Realme 9 5G
€260 and up
Rating
star star star star star_empty
Pros
  • Excellent ergonomics, weight distribution and button placement
  • 6.6" 120HZ display is bright and color accurate
  • Headphone jack and micro SD card slot in 2022 is nice to see
  • Performance is quite good thanks to the Snapdragon 695 chipset
  • Battery life is definitely all day with juice to spare
  • Software experience is pretty uncluttered and close to stock Android
  • Main camera delivers really good photo & video results in daylight
Cons
  • Selfie camera is kinda okay
  • 18W charging is a bit slow these days
  • Audio and haptic motor could be a bit better

Realme provided Android Headlines with a review unit of the Realme 9 5G 4GB RAM and 128GB storage. As usual, they didn’t have a say in our opinion nor saw an advance copy of the review before you. The review device was used for over two weeks before composing this review. The review unit runs realme UI 3.0 with the March 2022 security patch.

Realme 9 5G is perhaps one of the best mid-tier 5G smartphones available globally. Just a few weeks ago AndroidHeadlines reviewed some unique and top-shelf devices like the Realme GT2 Explorer Master and the Realme GT Neo 3 Naruto Edition. So when Realme asked to review their entry-level 9 series 5G device, I agreed. Also, I wanted to see how the Realme 9 5G compared to the Realme 7 from about 2 years ago.

Realme 9 5G retails for around € 260 for the base 4GB/64GB model. At this price point, there is a fair amount of competition from POCO, Xiaomi, and Motorola. So let’s unbox the Realme 9 5G and see how it stacks up against the competition.

Unboxing the Realme 9 5G

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Inside the familiar yellow and black retail box you get the Realme 9 5G smartphone, 18W charging brick, USB-C cable, SIM ejector tool, and paperwork. There is a really good quality smoke-gray TPU case in the box as well which is a great bonus. And as usual, a factory-applied film screen protector is on the phone.

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Realme 9 5G hardware design has a premium feel to it

Realme 9 5G AH HR HW1

Our Meteor Black Realme 9 5G review unit has excellent in-hand ergonomics. And at first glance, you can easily mistake it for a premium device costing hundreds more. The only telltale sign that this isn’t a premium device is the headphone jack on the bottom rail. And I am actually quite happy that Realme has kept a functional headphone jack on a 5G device in 2022.

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Besides the headphone jack, there’s the microphone, USB-C port, and speaker grille on the bottom rail. The right-hand side rail has a power button with an integrated fingerprint scanner. On the top is the second microphone. Lastly, on the left-hand side rail, we get the dual-SIM/micro SD card slot and the volume buttons.

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Realme 9 5G AH HR HW8The triple camera module on the back is tastefully designed and gives off premium vibes. The plastic back cover has a matte finish but isn’t that great at resisting fingerprint smudges. I also like the non-garish realme logo on the back cover, giving the phone a nice clean look on the back.

Realme 9 5G AH HR HW7

On the front, there’s a large 6.6-inch display with a selfie camera hole in the top left corner. The bezels are a bit thick on the top and sides but uniform in size. The only other sign that this isn’t a premium device is the bottom chin which is noticeable but not as chunky as devices from Motorola or POCO.

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Realme 9 5G has a 120Hz refresh rate 6.6-inch display

Realme 9 5G AH HR Display

Realme 9 5G has a large 6.6-inch IPS LCD display. While we would all prefer an AMOLED display, this is probably one of the best LCD panels I have seen in 2022. It is bright, the colors are punchy and the 120Hz refresh rate, along with the 240Hz touch sampling rate provides an excellent viewing experience.

The display panel has a resolution of 2412 x 1080 with a 400 ppi pixel density. With relatively slim bezels the Realme 9 5G has an excellent 90.8% screen-to-body ratio. You will find that there is ample room for watching videos or scrolling through social media.

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Software on the Realme 9 5G is Android 12

Realme 9 5G AH HR Software

Realme 9 5G is running a custom realme UI 3.0 based on Android 12. You get all of the goodness of Android 12 with a few custom features from Realme. Overall I like the look and feel of the user interface as it is pretty close to what you get from Google.

There is a full suite of Google apps and no duplicate apps for the same functionality. Bloatware is minimal, only 6 apps are present. And you can uninstall every single one of them. So kudos to Realme for offering an uncluttered software experience right from the get-go. And unlike devices from Xiaomi or POCO you don’t get ads peppered throughout the UI which is quite nice.

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There are a couple of annoying bits though. First off, a left swipe from the home screen does nothing, no Google Discover is available for some inexplicable reason. Secondly, it is August at the time of writing this review. However, our review unit is still stuck on the March 2022 security patch. This is definitely not great news from a security/software update standpoint.

Performance is great for daily tasks including gaming

Realme 9 5G AH HR Performance

Realme 9 5G uses a Snapdragon 695 5G processor (6nm process). The octa-core (2×2.2 GHz Kryo 660 Gold & 6×1.7 GHz Kryo 660 Silver) processor also has the Adreno 619 GPU. Geekbench scores are actually quite good. My daily driver currently is a Pixel 5 running on Snapdragon 765. And the Realme 9 5G benchmark scores are higher so performance wise there should be zero issues for daily tasks.

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Realme 9 5G is available in two variants 4GB/64GB and 8GB/128GB. The higher storage option is only € 20 more expensive so I recommend getting that even though there is a micro SD card expansion slot onboard.

There isn’t a dedicated gaming mode. However, you can go into the Battery settings > Advanced settings > Performance Mode to crank up the performance while gaming. I doubt that users will have any issues playing games or performing daily tasks. While base RAM is only 4GB there is the option to add 3GB RAM using the Dynamic RAM function in the settings menu.

Battery life is excellent although charging speeds could be better

Realme 9 5G AH HR Charging

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You will not have battery anxiety with the Realme 9 5G. The Snapdragon 695 is fairly power efficient and with the large 5,000 mAh battery capacity, this device will easily last morning to night. For moderate users, even 2-day battery life is quite feasible.

My main gripe is that prior versions had 30W charging brick so I was a bit puzzled to see an 18W charging brick in the box with the Realme 9 5G. A 30-minute charge will only get you up to 50%, contrast that with the zero to 50% in 5 minutes on the Realme GT Neo 3 Naruto Edition. And a full charge takes a whopping 1 hour and 20 minutes so I am guessing it is best to charge the phone overnight. That way adaptive charging can help preserve battery health.

Audio performance is adequate

Realme 9 5G AH HR Audio

Since this is not a flagship device, there is only a single bottom-firing speaker. The audio output is satisfactory for a single speaker and yes it gets quite tinny if you cover the speaker grille at the bottom.

On the flip side, there’s a headphone jack and the audio output from that port is great especially if you have a pair of decent wired earbuds. Thankfully the ‘Real Sound Technology’ setting in the Sound & Vibration menu gets activated by default once you plug the earbuds in. Audio output via Bluetooth is quite good, for the review I used a pair of Realme TWS earbuds.

Realme 9 5G Camera performance is quite good for the most part

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There is a triple camera setup on the rear. Unfortunately only the 50MP main camera is the one you will end up using the most. This is because the other two are 2MP for macro and depth sensing. duties. On the front there is a 16MP selfie shooter which is adequate for occasional social media sharing.

Realme 9 5G Camera Samples - Flickr Gallery

The main camera on the back does produce good quality results (photo and video) in daylight and cloudy/rainy days. It even manages to take decent shots at night but requires a bit of practice. Overall pictures are good for sharing on social media, granted they are a bit soft but color composition, white balance, and contrast are quite good. Take a look at the sample pictures in our Flickr gallery and decide for yourself.

Connectivity options are plenty on the Realme 9 5G

Realme 9 5G AH HR Connectivity

So despite having a Snapdragon 5G processor, I wasn’t able to get 5G on the Realme 9 on T-Mobile in Southern California. But I think that should not be an issue in parts of the world where this device is directly available for purchase from Realme.

I was able to get a 4G connection right away though, and the 4G speeds were comparable to other 4G devices I have reviewed. From an actual use case perspective, there are no issues with the device. In fact, I used this phone in Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, and Arizona without any hassles.

Phone calls were fine in handset or hands-free speakerphone mode. Bluetooth pairing with the car or headphones was easy as well. NFC onboard worked fine for Google Pay for contactless payments. You also have Screencast and Nearby Share options available for viewing media or sharing files. While it may seem that there are fewer options in comparison with older Realme devices for the most part you shouldn’t have too many problems from a connectivity standpoint.

Should you buy the Realme 9 5G?

Realme 9 5G AH HR Verdict

Realme 9 5G checks a lot of boxes in terms of what a great smartphone should be. It has good hardware design language, stellar battery life, fairly zippy performance, clean bloatfree software, and a 120Hz refresh rate display. It also has NFC, a headphone jack, and a fast and responsive fingerprint scanner.

The camera experience is quite good, there is an expandable storage option available and 5G connectivity is built-in. Sure the haptic motor could be stronger and a dual speaker setup would be nice but overall these are minor issues considering the price.

For the price, it is definitely a great smartphone to get. But if 5G connectivity isn’t that great in your area the regular Realme 9 is a great option to consider since it has a better AMOLED display.