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realme 9i Review Philippines: Budget Battery Warrior

by Duey Guison  May 4, 2022

Review Verdict: The realme 9i is a decent budget phone in the Philippines as long as you don’t care about playing games and prioritize more on photography and battery endurance.

Pros

  • Excellent battery life
  • Good dynamic range (for the main camera)
  • Decent stereo speakers

Cons

  • No ultra-wide-angle camera
  • Limited video features
  • Not great for gaming

realme 9i Review Philippines Specs

  • Snapdragon 680 processor
  • 6GB LPDDR4X RAM
  • 128GB UFS 2.2 storage
  • 6.6-inch Full HD+ 90Hz IPS display
  • 50-megapixel f/1.8 main camera w/ PDAF, 2-megapixel f/2.4 macro camera, 2-megapixel f/2.4 Mono camera
  • 16-megapixel f/2.0 selfie camera
  • 4G, LTE
  • WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0
  • Stereo speakers, side-mounted fingerprint scanner
  • 5000 mAh battery
  • 33W fast charging
  • Realme UI 2.0, Android 11

realme’s numbered series for 2022 is finally complete with the arrival of the 9i in the Philippines. As the brand’s most affordable offering, the 9i promises an excellent battery life and a capable set of cameras. Does it live up to what it promises to prospective buyers?

Design

As we mentioned in our quick review, we like the camera design of the realme 9i (and the rest of the 9 series) more than its predecessor, as it looks more premium than ever. The pinstripe design on the polycarbonate back panel adds style points to the realme 9i, though its finish does attract fingerprints. That should not be a big deal, as the included case is transparent enough to showcase the pinstripe design AND to keep the back panel free from smudges.

Aside from the much-needed design makeover, the realme 9i gets upgraded to a stereo speaker setup. Aside from that though, the button and port layout of the realme 9i is similar to its predecessor.

Display and speakers

Sizewise, the realme 9i’s display is the same size as the realme 8i at 6.6-inches, though the former’s IPS panel comes with a lower 90hz refresh rate. It’s a downgrade for sure (the realme 8i has a 120hz refresh rate) but the tradeoff here is that the lower refresh rate consumes less power, and 90hz is the ideal refresh rate for phones these days as you barely see any difference between 90hz and 120hz.

realme’s other budget phones often fall short when it comes to overall display brightness, but the 9i’s panel is bright enough to be used under direct sunlight. It has decent color vibrance for an IPS panel, though we can’t verify if it supports Widevine L1–we could not install Netflix on our review unit as of press time.

Moving to audio, we’re glad that the realme 9i gets stereo speakers sound decent enough even when the volume is pushed to around 70-80%. Overall audio fidelity is decent for a budget phone, and users also have an option to use wired cans with the headphone jack.

Cameras

The realme 9i retained the same front and rear camera setup used by its predecessor. We find it disappointing since we still don’t get an ultra-wide-angle camera. It would have been better if realme decided to go for a dual rear camera setup and have an ultra-wide-angle camera as the second shooter than stuffing the phone with two virtually useless 2-megapixel cameras.

Focusing on the 50-megapixel main camera, the realme 9i produced very decent snaps for a budget phone. HDR mode kicks in very well in mixed lighting conditions, balancing exposure without blowing up the highlights or making the image look artificial.

The realme 9i’s video capabilities are pretty limited, as you don’t get any additional features other than the ability to shoot at Full HD 30FPS. EIS is absent on the realme 9i, so you will need a gimbal or rock steady hands for smooth handheld shooting.

Internals and Battery Life

Unlike the 8i last year, realme is only bringing over a 6GB/128GB variant for the 9i. Powering the realme 9i is a Snapdragon 680 processor that boasts a modern 6nm process. Depending on how you look at it, the Snapdragon 680 trails behind the Helio G96 in most benchmark tests. This makes Qualcomm’s 6nm mid-range processor more suited for everyday productivity and than for gaming.

Just like our experience with every Snapdragon 680-powered phone, the realme 9i struggles when running demanding titles. We tried to play Genshin Impact at the lowest graphics settings, and we incurred so many frame drops that it disrupted overall gameplay. The same can be said with Asphalt 9, where the game tends to crash even at low graphics.

The biggest strength of the realme 9i is battery life. While a 5000mAh cell is a standard for smartphones these days, the realme 9i pulls off incredible endurance: in PCMark’s battery test, we manage to score close to 24 hours of battery life. That makes the realme 6i second to the vivo Y21T as far as battery life in a smartphone for 2022 is concerned.

Battery charging is also a strength of the realme 9i, as its 33w wired charging solution can top up the battery from flat to 100% in a little over an hour.

Wrap up and Conclusions

The realme 9i feels more of an iterative upgrade to last year’s 8i. The 9i sacrifices gaming performance for vastly better battery life and small upgrades like stereo speakers and faster charging speeds. Its pricing does put it in a tight spot, especially since there are 5G phones that are available locally for roughly the same SRP.

realme 9i Review Price Philippines

The realme 9i is priced at Php 11,990 and will be available at all realme official stores and partner dealers nationwide starting May 5. As an early bird offer, those buying the realme 9i via the brand’s official Shopee store can get the phone for Php 10,790 from May 5 to 7.

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