realme 9i Review: Budget-friendly Capable Smartphone

The realm 9i is the company's latest addition to the growing realme 9 series of smartphones. It's a modest smartphone with Snapdragon 680 4G chipset, FHD+ display, 50MP triple AI camera system, and 5000 mAh battery. From the looks of it, the realme 9i promises a lot in terms of value-for-money features for its Php 11,990 price tag.

realme 9i Review: Budget-friendly Capable Smartphone

realme 9i Review

In this review, we'll gauge this new smartphone if it could be your next device. And we'll also answer if it's a worthy upgrade from the realme 8i. Join us!

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Review Summary

Pros

  • Ergonomic Design
  • Capable Camera
  • High Quality LCD Display
  • Great Battery Life

Cons

  • Fingerprint magnet
  • No 5G connectivity

Design

The realme 9i is another beautiful smartphone under the brand's number series. It is positioned slightly above the Php 10K segment with its Php 11,990 price for the 6+128GB variant. The smartphone looks like its other brethren in the series - curved back, glossy finish with intricate laser-printed backing, and no-nonsense button positioning.

realme 9i Review: Budget-friendly Capable Smartphone

The smartphone touts the "Stereo Prism Design" which features multiple vertically-projected light rays on the back panel. The realme 9i is definitely a fingerprint magnet especially the Prism Black model that we have tested. The Prism Blue variant, on the other hand, underwent an 8-layer optical coating process which, in turn, gives your smartphone high color saturation and dazzling effect. The back panel also features a camera bump for the triple camera set-up.

realme 9i Review

The power button which doubles as a fingerprint sensor is located at the right side. This module is quite zippy in sensing fingerprints. The left side is a home to the volume rocker and the dedicated SIM tray. The bottom side has the USB-C port, primary microphone, speaker grille, and the 3.5-mm audio jack; there's also a secondary microphone on the top side.

realme 9i Review

Aside from the curved backing, the frame of the handset is also curved unlike the 9 Pro+. This allows the realme 9i to have better handling. It's not a big smartphone, though you may want to use it with two hands to have full access to the screen real estate.

Display

Speaking of the screen, the handset frames a 6.6-inch FHD+ IPS LCD display with 90.8% screen-to-body ratio. The display also boasts of the 90Hz refresh rate and 180Hz sampling rate. In addition, the phone features 5 dynamic refresh rate levels which match the different frame-rate requirements of your display. In turn, this allows the smartphone to conserve battery.

realme 9i Review: Budget yet Capable Smartphone

Just like any other realme LCD display, this one is bright enough to take on several lighting conditions; in fact, it has a peak brightness of 800 nits. The display also has good contrast and color saturation. This is very evident when consuming content from my favorite streaming apps like YouTube and HBO Go. However, its version of the software seems to be having an issue in downloading Netflix.

Moreover, the viewing angles are very welcoming; thus, sharing movies or YouTube content to friends and families could be worthwhile.

realme 9i Review

The 90Hz refresh rate lets you game competitively with supported apps. On top of that, you can also perceive additional smoothness on the screen when scrolling through the interface. The bezels are also thin, except for the sizable chin; and there's also a provisioned hole on the upper left corner of the screen for the selfie camera.

realme 9i Review: Budget Yet Capable

Performance

The realme 9i is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 4G; and based on the moniker, we won't be seeing any 5G capability here. However, the chipset is fast enough to handle essential smartphone processes. Gaming with the realme 9i is possible depending on the gaming apps you used. Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and League of Legends: Wild Rift both run smoothly with this smartphone.

realme 9i Review: Budget-friendly Capable Smartphone

realme 9i Black

There can be accumulation of heat but it's something you wouldn't mind. However, high graphics games like Genshin Impact could pose a challenge with the chipset. It is also worth-noting that we are using a 4GB RAM variant of the phone; the retail unit will have 6GB RAM, thus the experience could be better.

realme 9i Review

In terms of audio, the smartphone supports stereo speakers. Though I think that this is a great feat for a smartphone in this segment, I'm not quite impressed with the sound quality. Sure, it could be better than most mono speakers in its price range but this is a missed opportunity. Having said that, I could still say that the realme 9i is a great capable multimedia device.

realme 9i review: Benchmark Test

When we talk of synthetic benchmarks, the realme 9i scores 381 single-core and 1504 multi-core in Geekbench 5. On the same platform, it also garnered 429 OpenCL score.

Camera

The realme 9i has an exciting mix of camera sensors. There's the 50MP primary camera with f/1.8 aperture, 2MP B&W camera with f/2.4 aperture, and 2MP macro lens. On the front, there's a 16MP AI Selfie Camera.

realme 9i Camera Sensor

Photos from the main camera come with good detail and color saturation. In good lighting condition, photos are stunning; in low-light, details tend to drop and colors become muted. You can use the Night mode to give your shot more exposure; and there's also a full-resolution 50MP mode in case you need shots with bigger pixel resolution. The phone also shoots decent portraits with passable background blur.

Of course, you still have other niceties like the Ultra Macro mode, Timelapse, Pro Mode, Slo-Mo, Extra HD, and Pano Modes. You can activate the AI Enhancement to get punchy-colored photos; there are also filters to play around. Lastly, the 16MP front camera gives amazing selfies good for social media use; it's still complemented with beautification toggles most selfie shooters will love.

Check out the sample photos:

realme 9i review sample photo

realme 9i review sample photo

realme 9i review sample photo

realme 9i review sample photo

realme 9i review sample photo

realme 9i review sample photo

realme 9i review sample photo

realme 9i review sample photo

Software and Battery

The realme 9i boosts with realme UI 2.0 running under Android 11. With the hardware of realme 9i, the UI is quite fluid with every icons and elements put into place. If you're a realme UI user, you'll find yourself at home with this version of the software. Of course, there's still a number of bloatwares, some of them you can't uninstall.

realme 9i: Decent Budget Phone

You can choose between button navigation and gesture navigation; I always use the latter since swiping is more convenient for me. On top of that, you can take advantage of other Android staples like the Dark Mode, app drawer, and notifications shade.

realme 9i review

The realme 9i excels when it comes to battery life. Its massive 5000 mAh battery could give you more than a day of moderate usage. It also supports 33-watt fast charging wherein you can fully charge the phone in 70 minutes. Given this battery capability, you can do more without having to worry about charging your phone for a considerable amount of time.

realme 9i Review

Verdict: Should You Buy The realme 9i?

The realme 9i is a reasonable addition to the realme 9 series. With its Php 11,990 price tag, it caters to the budget-friendly segment while also bringing in some premium features from its more expensive brethren.

Is it a good upgrade from the realme 8i? Not so much. But for sure, it can be a great device to those looking for a useful yet modest phone with flashy design and capable camera.

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