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realme 9i Unboxing, Quick Review Philippines: Subtle Refinements

by Duey Guison  April 29, 2022

Initial Verdict: the realme 9i has the key qualities of being a decent budget phone in the Philippines for 2022 as long as the brand releases it with a moderately aggressive price.

Pros

  • Stereo speakers
  • Fast 33w charging

Cons

  • No ultra-wide-angle camera
  • Debatable processor of choice

 

realme 9i Philippines Specs

  • Snapdragon 680 processor
  • 6GB RAM
  • 128GB 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 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 completes its numbered series for 2022 with the 9i in the Philippines. As the brand’s most affordable offering, the realme 9i refines the things we liked about the 8i last year.

Unboxing and packaging contents

If you’ve seen one realme box, you’ve seen them all – the phone still uses the brand’s trademark bright yellow box that had “9i” printed in large, bold letters in front. Inside the box, the contents are the same as every realme phone: you get documentation, SIM ejector tool, USB-C cable, wall charger, and the phone itself.

Design

While we liked how premium-looking the 8i was, we felt that the camera module design felt generic compared to the other devices in the market. The realme 9i’s new camera module design looks way better now. The polycarbonate back panel comes with a frosted finish that conceals a pinstripe design behind it on our Prism Blue review unit. The finish does attract fingerprints, but not as crazy as the mirror gloss finish of its predecessor.

The port and button layout are practically the same as the 8i, with the key change being the inclusion of stereo speakers. That’s a nice feature to have on a budget phone–on top of a decent Full HD+ display.

Display

Despite what appears to be practically the same 6.6-inch Full HD+ IPS panel, the realme 9i has a lower 90hz refresh rate instead of the blazing-fast 120hz refresh rate found on the 8i. The main reason for the downgrade is that the Snapdragon 680 only supports refresh rates up to 90hz–the Helio G96 used on the 8i, on the other hand, natively supports 120hz.

The slight downgrade is not bad, as 90hz offers a good balance of smoother scrolling and better battery life in the long run–on top of having incremental refresh rate adjustments depending on what app is actively running.

Refresh rate aside, the realme 9i’s display is reasonably bright and delivers good color accuracy for watching videos.

Cameras

You get the same set of cameras on the realme 9i: a 50-megapixel main camera, a pair of 2-megapixel cameras, and a 16-megapixel selfie shooter. We would have happily settled for two cameras at the rear if it meant we got a wide-angle shooter instead of the two 2-megapixel stat stuffers, but you can do quite a lot with the 50-megapixel main camera. Here are a few shots we took.

Our initial impression of the realme 9i’s camera performance is that they produce a good amount of detail in daylight, and its auto HDR setting helps a lot when shooting in mixed or harsh lighting conditions. We’ll reserve our verdict on the realme 9i’s camera performance in our full review soon, so stay tuned for that.

Internals

The realme 9i is powered by a Snapdragon 680 processor, which is the de facto choice for most entry-level phones in 2022. The variant that’s coming to the Philippines comes with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage.

While there will be mixed opinions on whether the processor is considered an upgrade or downgrade from the Helio G96, the Snapdragon 680’s main edge is its 6nm process. That’s a big leap over the 12nm process used on the Helio G96, which should theoretically translate to significantly better battery life on the realme 9i.

Speaking of the battery, the realme 9i retains the same 5000mAh cell, but upgrades charging speeds to 33w–letting you juice up the battery at almost twice as fast compared to the 8i’s 18w charging solution.

Wrap up and Initial Verdict

With a few tweaks here and there, the realme 9i has the qualities of a decent budget smartphone in the Philippines for 2022. The official price of the realme 9i will be crucial in determining this phone is a solid budget contender.

realme will reveal the official price on May 4 at their live stream, so stay tuned to the site for updates.

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