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Realme 5i unboxing and first impressions: the Realme 5 gets a makeover

Realme has an impressive track record with its 5-series smartphones, including Realme 5s, Realme 5 (review) and Realme 5 Pro (first impressions). The brand recently announced that these smartphones sold over 5.5 million units globally since their launch, which is quite an impressive number. Now, with the new decade kicking in, Realme has decided to replace the Realme 5 with its latest launch, the Realme 5i. The new launch retains all the core specifications of the older device, with the only differences being in the design of the back panel and the selfie camera. Realme sent over the 5i, to our premises and here’s what you need to know about the latest launch.

First things first, with the Realme 5i, the brand has completely changed the packaging. Unlike the white box with phone graphics on top of the past, Realme has resorted to its signature yellow colourway for the packaging with minimal branding all around. As you lift the lid, you will find a cardboard sheath containing the documents lying atop the Realme 5i. Below the smartphone, you will find the micro-USB cable and the wall charger. There’s no protective case or earphones provided in the box, but you do get a screen protector pre-applied on the display.

I for one didn’t mind the missing protective case, because while Realme has retained the plastic body, it has omitted the glossy diamond finish on the back. Instead, there are very fine wavy lines embossed on the panel with enough sheen to reflect light and create a sun ray like pattern, which is where it gets the name ‘Sunrise Design’ from. The textured back keeps smudges at bay and also offers a good grip, unlike the glossy finish on the Realme 5. The brand is offering the smartphone in two colour options – Aqua Blue and Forest Green. I received the former and it looks quite stylish.

At the rear, you will find a quad-camera setup in the top left corner, a circular fingerprint scanner towards the centre and Realme branding in the bottom left corner. The power button is located on the right edge, whereas the volume keys are on the left along with the dual nano-SIM tray featuring a dedicated microSD card slot. The top is bare, while the bottom edge houses a 3.5mm audio jack, micro-USB port and loudspeaker grill.

On the front, the Realme 5i is features a 6.52-inch display with HD+ screen resolution. There is a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for protection against scratches. While the waterdrop notch and thick chin is carried forward from the Realme 5, the brand claims that the notch is actually 39 percent smaller on Realme 5i. I also found the brightness, colours and viewing angles good, just like the older phone.

Coming to the core specifications, the Realme 5i retains the Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 SoC from the Realme 5, and is only being offered with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage, of which around 52GB is available to the user. Out of the box, the handset runs ColorOS 6.0.1 based on Android 9 Pie. Realme announced that the smartphone would receive the custom Realme UI soon, but didn’t commit to a time frame. While not much is known about the new software yet, the Realme UI launcher is based on ColorOS 7 built on Android 10. As was my experience with the Realme 5, the Realme 5i also handles day to day usage, multitasking and casual gaming without breaking a sweat.

Powering the Realme 5i is a massive 5,000mAh battery, which should easily last all day and some more if you are a casual user. Unfortunately, Realme hasn’t upgraded the micro-USB port to Type-C on this device, or added fast charging.

As for the imaging, you get the same combination of a 12-megapixel primary sensor with f/1.8 aperture, an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, 2-megapixel depth sensor and 2-megapixel macro lens. You get a similar set of features like Beauty, HDR, Portrait, Time Lapse, Slo-mo, NightScape 2.0 and Expert. Realme has swapped the 13-megapixel selfie camera from the Realme 5 with an 8-megapixel shooter. The imaging prowess of the smartphone remains the same as Realme 5; it clicks impressive daytime images but struggles a bit when the sun goes down.

Realme has priced the 5i at Rs 8,999, which is the same as the base variant of the Realme 5. Like its predecessor, the Realme 5i will go up against Xiaomi’s Redmi 8 (review) and the Redmi Note 8 (review), both of which are popular in the sub-Rs 10k segment. It’s unclear exactly why Realme chose to launch the 5i in India, given its negligible differences with the Realme 5. However, we do know that Realme plans to phase out the latter once stocks run out, so both devices won’t be on sale together for too long.

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Abhiman Biswas

Abhiman is obsessed with all things tech. His hobbies include reading on his Kindle and clicking random pictures on his phone. His secret superpowers happen to be mixing great cocktails and lip reading. In his spare time, you are likely to find him cleaning his aquascape, researching new species of aquatic fishes and planning which aquatic plants to buy next.