realme 9i review: budget phone with 90Hz screen, stereo speakers and excellent autonomy

By: Alex Chub | 11.05.2023, 22:51
realme 9i review: budget phone with 90Hz screen, stereo speakers and excellent autonomy

Clear strengths include a solid, bright IPS display with a refresh rate of 90Hz, a full set of essential wireless interfaces, including NFC for contactless payment (in the global version), stereo speakers, as well as long battery life and fast charging. But you must remember that this is still a state employee. And miracles from smartphone cameras are definitely not worth waiting for. Exactly like performance in demanding games. For a smartphone for such purposes, you will have to pay a larger amount.

realme 9i
realme 9i
realme 9i is an Android smartphone with a 6.6-inch FullHD+ IPS display with a refresh rate of 90 Hz, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 octa-core processor, 4 GB of RAM, 128 GB of internal storage, and a microSD slot. It is powered by a 5000 mAh battery and supports 33W fast charging. Works on Android 11 OS with proprietary shell of Realme UI 2.0. Equipped with a triple main camera.

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4 reasons to buy realme 9i:

  • solid IPS-screen with a refresh rate of 90 Hz;
  • long battery life and fast charging;
  • stereo speakers;
  • the presence of NFC, dual-band Wi-Fi and a slot for MicroSD.

2 reasons not to buy realme 9i:

  • modest opportunities for photo and video shooting;
  • you need a smartphone with a higher level of performance.

Fast passage:

  1. What's included?
  2. What does realme 9i look like?
  3. How good is the screen?
  4. What are the unlock methods?
  5. What about performance, memory, sound and autonomy?
  6. What's with the interface?
  7. How good are the cameras?
  8. In the dry matter

What's included?

realme 9i is packaged in a bright yellow box of standard sizes, similar to most realme smartphones (except flagships). The kit includes the smartphone itself, a power supply with support for fast charging at 33 W, a USB Type-C cable, a transparent silicone bumper, a protective film (already on the screen), documentation and a paper clip to remove the tray.

What does realme 9i look like?

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Externally, realme 9i is a typical modern smartphone without any design or constructive frills. Large screen with rounded corners and relatively thin bezels on the sides and top. The "chin" is slightly wider, which is typical for inexpensive models. In the upper left corner of the screen there is a round hole of the front camera, above the screen there is a speaker, which is also used to play stereo sound. The front panel is protected by Dragontrail Pro glass, all other parts of the body are made of plastic.

realme 9i review: budget phone with 90Hz screen, stereo speakers and excellent autonomy-7

The frame is matte, in our case, blue. The arrangement of functional elements on the upper and lower faces is standard. Above is an additional microphone, below is Type-C, a spoken microphone, a main speaker and a standard 3.5 mm headphone jack.

The volume and power buttons are located on opposite sides of the smartphone, a familiar pattern for realme and OPPO smartphones. The power button is combined with a fingerprint scanner. It is placed at a quite comfortable height, you don't have to reach for it either with your thumb when using the smartphone with your right hand, or with your left forefinger. The tray is placed on the left side, just above the power buttons.

It can simultaneously install two SIM-cards and a memory card.

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We have a blue plastic back cover, there is an even more discreet black version. The entire lid is covered with vertical decorative stripes. On the blue version, the prints are not too visible. Black, I think, is more easily soiled.

realme 9i review: budget phone with 90Hz screen, stereo speakers and excellent autonomy-17

The main camera block is similar to other current models of the manufacturer: a glossy rectangle with rounded corners:

realme 9i review: budget phone with 90Hz screen, stereo speakers and excellent autonomy-18

realme 9i looks pretty decent, albeit not very original. Quite high-quality plastic is used, the back cover does not bend. Protection against dust and water is not provided.

How good is the screen?

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The realme 9i screen has a diagonal of 6.6 inches and resolution FullHD+, 2412x1080 (20:9 aspect ratio), pixel density is about 400 ppi. It uses an IPS-matrix with a refresh rate of 90 Hz and a sensor polling rate of 180 Hz. They promise a maximum brightness of 480 cd / m² and color gamut 100% DCI-P3 color space. In the screen settings there is a dark interface theme, eye protection (blue filter), color temperature adjustment, OSIE video enhancer, choice of font size and scale of interface elements. Hidden in the "More" tab is the selection of the screen refresh rate (60, 90 and auto), as well as two available color modes: "Vivid" (with color gamut DCI-P3) and "Tenderness" (sRGB).

The picture, of course, is not as saturated as on modern AMOLED displays. But the margin of brightness is very decent and the viewing angles are maximum. But at angles, the contrast drops, which is usual for IPS. Color rendition visually feels quite natural. In "Bright" mode, the maximum brightness was: 445.036 cd/m², black field brightness — 0.428 cd/m², and the static contrast ratio is 1040:1. The color gamut is indeed significantly wider than sRGB. But the screen goes a little cold shades. Which, if desired, can be corrected with color temperature settings.

Comparison with other models:

Device name Brightness of the white field,
Black field brightness
realme 9i 445.036 0.428 1040:1
POCO X3 Pro 435.56 0.361 1207:1
POCO M3 362.062
0.27 1341:1
realme X3 SuperZoom 364.375 0.405 900:1
Nokia 5.3 384.335 0.397 968:1
realme C3 421.453 0.409 1030:1
Realme 6 415.488 0.38 1093:1

What are the unlock methods?

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Realme 9i can be unlocked using the fingerprint scanner and face recognition of the owner. The scanner is classic and is located in the power button. Works instantly and accurately. Face recognition is performed only by the front camera, so we are not talking about increased security. But it also works quickly and accurately in most cases. For insufficient lighting, there is an auto-brightness function (the screen is filled with white and highlights the face). You can also enable a feature that will not detect a face with closed eyes.

What about performance, memory, sound and autonomy? 

realme 9i has a fresh but relatively modest processor Snapdragon 680, which Qualcomm introduced last fall. This is an eight-core processor, which is manufactured using a 6-nm process technology, includes four Kryo 265 Gold cores at 2.4 GHz and four Kryo 265 Silver cores at 1.9 GHz. The Adreno 610 accelerator is responsible for the graphics. In fact, you can call it a kind of updated version of the old 11-nanometer Snapdragon 665: updated Kryo 265 cores (replacing the Kryo 260) operating at a higher frequency, the same graphics accelerator and a new process technology. RAM - 4 GB, which is not enough by today's standards. There is a function of expanding the RAM due to the internal storage by 1/2/3 GB, but this does not really change anything. The capacity of the built-in storage is 128 GB, there is a slot for memory cards. The results in synthetic performance tests are not high:

The smartphone cannot be called lightning fast, but the interface works smoothly, without slowdowns. Applications do not start instantly, but rather quickly. The exception is the camera app. There were a couple of cases when it ran for more than 5 seconds. There is hope that they will fix it with future updates. realme 9i was clearly not made with a focus on the gaming audience, but you can play modern games. On low graphics settings, of course. In Genshin Impact, you can get about 30 FPS (although sometimes there are friezes). CoD Mobile - 55-60 FPS.

With the stability of work under loads, everything is fine. In the CPU Throttling Test, there is no noticeable overheating, performance can drop up to 93%. The smartphone itself becomes barely warm.

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Interfaces: dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz (no support for Wi-Fi 6), Bluetooth 5.0 LE, and NFC module for contactless payment. NFC is not available in all versions of the smartphone, but it looks like they will bring us just such a one, which cannot but rejoice. Global positioning systems GPS, GLONASS and Beidou are supported. There is a 3.5 mm headphone jack, the smartphone can reproduce stereo using the main and conversational speakers. It cannot be said that the sound is super-quality or very loud, but the bonus is nice. There are various sound profiles.

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realme 9i is powered by a 5000 mAh battery. A 33 W power supply is included, from which the smartphone is fully charged in about 1.10 hours. A very good indicator for an affordable model. With autonomy, everything is also in order. On the first day of use (performance tests, games, camera, etc.), the battery was discharged only by late evening. With a more gentle "everyday" use of a smartphone, it lasts for one and a half to two days without problems.

What's with the interface?

The smartphone runs on Android 11 with realme UI 2.0 proprietary shell. We recently reviewed it realme GT Neo 2, so there is no point in going into details. The core Android logic is in place. There is a choice between desktops, desktops with application menu and simple mode. Button and gesture navigation, additional gestures (including on the screen off), abundant options for customizing the appearance. The shell is clear and easy to use. 

How good are the cameras?

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Realme 9i has a rather modest set of cameras. Formally, there are three modules at the back. But two of them - a macro and a 2 MP depth sensor with an aperture of f / 2.4, are not very useful from them. The main one is 50 megapixels with f / 1.8 aperture, size 1 / 2.76 ″, 0.64µm, there is a PDAF phase detection autofocus. Standardly takes a photo in a resolution of 12.5 MP, there is a separate 50 MP mode. There is no optical stabilizer. Front camera - 16 MP, f / 2.1. The maximum video resolution is FullHD. The camera application is absolutely familiar: all the main controls are on the main screen (HDR, flash, filters, digital zoom and mode roulette). Additional modes - in a separate menu "more".

Looking at the cost of realme 9i, we can say that the main camera is quite consistent with its class. In sufficient light, quite good pictures are obtained with natural color reproduction, although not with the widest dynamic range. Night photos suffer significantly in detail, there is an abundant amount of noise and grain. Although with a good focus (or tripod) you can get a good shot. The original photos are available at link.

Blurring the background in most cases works adequately:

Macro camera, the optimal distance to the subject is 4 cm:

When recording video, no stabilization is provided, as can be seen from the results:

realme 9i
realme 9i
  • Solid IPS display with a refresh rate of 90 Hz
  • Long battery life and fast charging
  • Stereo speakers
  • The presence of NFC, dual-band WLAN, and a slot for MicroSD

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In dry residue. Three things to know about realme 9i.

  • realme 9i is a low-cost smartphone with a 6.6-inch 90Hz IPS screen and a Snapdragon 680 processor.
  • The smartphone supports 33W fast charging and lasts up to two days on a single charge.
  • It is equipped with a 3.5mm headphone jack and plays stereo sound.
Specifications realme 9i
Display IPS, 6.6 inches, 2412x1080, 400ppi, 90Hz
Frame dimensions: 164.4x75.7x8.4 mm, weight: 190 g
CPU 64-bit 6nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 680, 4xKryo 265 Gold, 2.4 GHz, 4xKryo 265 Silver 1.9 GHz, Adreno 610 graphics
RAM 4 GB + 1/2/3 GB
Flash memory 64/128 GB UFS 2.1/2.2
Camera 50 MP, 1/2.76", 0.64 µm, aperture f/1.8, PDAF; macro camera 2 MP, f/2.4; depth sensor: 2 MP, f/2.4; video FullHD; front camera: 16 MP f/2.4
Wireless technologies Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (dual-band, 2.4 and 5 GHz), Bluetooth 5.0 LE, NFC
Battery 5000 mAh, non-removable, 33 W fast charging
Operating system Android 11 + realme UI 2.0
SIM card 2xNanoSIM
Additionally Stereo sound

For those who want to know more:

realme 9i
Budget phone with 90Hz screen, stereo speakers and excellent autonomy