Realme launched the 9i in January and followed up with the 5G version last week. It has Soulful Blue, Rocking Black, and Metallica Gold color options, but Realme is currently only selling the latter two models, with the blue variant coming at some later point. We got a chance to spend some time with the Metallica Gold version, so here are our first-hand impressions.
The Realme 9i 5G comes in a yellow-colored box similar to its 4G counterpart, including a protective case, a SIM card ejector tool, a USB-C cable, an 18W power adapter, and some paperwork.
The Realme 9i 5G is built around a 6.6″ FullHD+ LCD protected by Panda Glass. Realme advertises 400 nits of brightness for the panel, which is 80 nits less than the 4G model, but the company told us that the actual peak brightness will reach around 600-700 nits in bright conditions.
The 9i 5G’s display comes with a 180Hz touch sampling rate and a 90Hz screen refresh rate. However, you can set it to 60Hz to conserve battery or leave it on Auto mode to let Realme’s algorithm dynamically adjust the refresh rate depending on the app you are using.
Unlike the 9i 4G, which sports a punch hole for the selfie camera, the 9i 5G’s screen has its 8MP front camera mounted on a notch, which in 2022 looks dated.
Moving on to the other side, we have a flat back cover flaunting what Realme calls a Vintage CD Design, which – you guessed it right – is inspired by compact discs. Our Metallica Gold variant looks glittery and blingy and reflects light at different angles. It looks cool, and since it’s shiny and reflective, you can actually see yourself when looking at it.
However, the panel is made of polycarbonate and is prone to fingerprint smudges. The smartphone is slim and lightweight, but the flat frames aren’t for everyone. We found the 4G variant with a curvier back cover to be more comfortable.
The back panel also houses a triple camera setup, which is a combination of a 50MP primary camera joined by portrait and macro units. These aren’t placed inside a camera island like the cameras on the 9i 4G and make the 9i 5G wobble when used on a flat surface.
That said, the placement of ports and buttons on the Realme 9i 5G is the same as the 4G model. Its left-side frame has a triple card slot (microSD + two 5G SIM) and volume keys, with the power button located on the right side. The power key has the fingerprint reader embedded, which we found to be fast and accurate at unlocking the phone.
At the bottom of the Realme 9i 5G is the USB-C port, flanked by the speaker, microphone, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. However, unlike its 4G counterpart, the 9i 5G doesn’t come with stereo speakers.
On the inside, we have the Dimensity 810 SoC paired with 4GB or 6GB of LPDDR4X RAM. The 4GB model comes with 64GB of UFS 2.2 storage, while the 6GB version has 128GB of UFS 2.2 storage onboard. Both have a dedicated microSD card slot for storage expansion up to 1TB, and they also support virtual RAM expansion, which hardly makes any difference in real world.
The Realme 9i 5G boots Android 12-based Realme UI 3.0 out of the box with the July 2022 Android security patch. However, Realme has released a software update that bumps up the Android security level on the 9i 5G to August 2022.
The software experience on the Realme 9i 5G is similar to what you get on other Realme smartphones running Realme UI 3.0. And yes, this will receive the Android 13 update since Realme told us the smartphone will get two years of Android version updates and three years of security patches.
Fueling the entire package is a 5,000 mAh battery, which charges slower than the 9i 4G’s 5,000 mAh cell (18W vs. 33W). You can head this way to check the detailed specs of the Realme 9i 4G and Realme 9i 5G.
The Realme 9i 5G’s 4GB/64GB model is priced at INR14,999 ($190/€190), and the 6GB/128GB variant at INR16,999 ($215/€215). Both are available for purchase through the company’s official website.
The Realme 9i 5G comes at a time in India when the country is preparing for the 5G rollout, and a smartphone in this price range should certainly help more people experience the next-gen network. Affordable 5G mobile data and widespread network coverage will obviously play an important role in getting more users on the 5G bandwagon, but that will only be possible when more people can purchase 5G-ready smartphones.
You can expect to see more affordable 5G smartphones from Realme and other brands in the coming months.