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Realme 7 review: the new mid-range king

On: September 3, 2020

Realme has been relentlessly launching at least a couple of new devices in India every month for the last few months. Not even six months have passed since the launch of the Realme 6 and Realme 6 Pro, and Realme has now launched their successors, the Realme 7 and Realme 7 Pro in India. The Realme 7 duo arrive as an iterative upgrade over their predecessors in terms of design, performance, and cameras, among other features.

Also read: Redmi 9 Prime review: a ‘Prime’ budget contender

The Realme 7 is the first to feature the new MediaTek gaming processor, the Helio G95. The Realme 7 is also the first TÜV Rheinland Reliability verified device, which means it has passed 23 major and 72 minor tests of common usage case scenarios. I have been using the standard Realme 7 for the last week to find out if it’s a worthy successor to the Realme 6.

Design and display

The Realme 7 follows the new direction that the brand is taking in terms of design. The dual-band finish that we saw on the Realme C11 (review) is back on the Realme 7, but the textured plastic has been replaced with a matte glass back panel. Realme is calling the new design ‘AG Split Design’, which is inspired by mirrors. There’s a smoother band on the left-hand side housing the Realme logo, which has a slightly more glossy finish compared to the other side. The brand is offering the Realme 7 in two colours – Mist White and Mist Black. I received the former and it does a good job of hiding smudges.

Speaking of design changes, the Realme 7 still comes with a vertical quad-camera module at the top-left corner on the back. However, this time around, the camera module is wider and rectangular instead of pill-shaped. This is a welcome change for Realme fans who have been asking for a camera module design change for a while now.

Realme has retained the curved back panel from the Realme 6 on the Realme 7 as well. Thanks to the even weight distribution, the smartphone feels very ergonomic despite having the signature heft of Realme smartphones.

Coming to the front, the Realme 7 looks exactly the same as its predecessor, with a single punch-hole cutout in the top left corner. The handset features a 6.5-inch LCD display with a 20:9 aspect ratio. The screen offers FHD+ resolution of  2,400 x 1,080 pixels and a screen-to-body ratio of 90 percent. However, the headlining feature of the display is its 90Hz refresh rate, which makes the whole interface feel snappy and smooth.  The LCD panel offers good contrast, sharpness, viewing angles and brightness (both indoors and outdoors). Users who stream a lot of videos on Netflix, Prime Video, etc., will appreciate the presence of Widevine L1 certification and HDR10 support.

As for the other elements, the Realme 7 is pretty identical to the Realme 6. The volume buttons with an ejectable SIM card tray are on the left, and the power button with an integrated fingerprint scanner is on the right. My thumb naturally came to rest on the fingerprint scanner, and unlocked the phone without any effort on my part. The SIM tray houses two nano-SIM card slots and a dedicated microSD card slot. At the bottom, you’ll find a 3.5mm audio jack, USB-C port and speaker grill.

Cameras

The Realme 7 features a quad-camera module on the back with a Sony IMX682 64-megapixel primary sensor at the helm. This is an upgrade over the Samsung GW1 64-megapixel camera on its predecessor. The main unit is accompanied by an 8-megapixel f/2.3 ultra-wide camera, 2-megapixel mono portrait sensor and 2-megapixel macro lens. The new launch also retains the 16-megapixel camera from last year. The camera app offers a standard set of features like AI scene recognition, portrait, 64MP, ultra macro, slo-mo, expert and chroma boost, among others.

The 64-megapixel primary camera captures 16-megapixel pixel-binned images by default. The pictures taken during the daytime retain plenty of details and have good dynamic range as well. However, I did feel that the images were a tad over-sharpened for my liking. The low-light shots in normal mode are practically unusable with a high amount of grain and blurry shadow areas. Toggle the night mode on, and pictures improve exposure-wise with more details in the shadows, but the noise issue remains. Realme has also brought the Starry Mode from Realme X3 series to the Realme 7 series, which I couldn’t test because of cloudy skies.

Coming to the other cameras, the ultra-wide lens does its job perfectly with no visible barrel effect on the edges. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that the 8-megapixel ultra-wide sensor was able to handle white balance well. Coming to the 2-megapixel portrait sensor, it was able to detect edges quite accurately and apply aesthetic blur to the background, resulting in pleasant bokeh images. The macro lens is pretty standard with a 4cm focus distance, and captures decent close-up shots.

The 16-megapixel sensor on the front captures natural skin tones and highly detailed selfies. I did notice the camera struggling to detect edges when clicking selfies in portrait mode. There’s an AI beautification mode onboard, and I suggest turning it off if you prefer natural-looking selfies.  There’s some beautification even when the mode is turned off, but it’s not too aggressive.

As for video recording, the Realme 7 supports up to 1080p recording at 30fps and offers slow-motion video recording as well.

Performance, software, and battery

The Realme 7 is the first smartphone to be powered by MediaTek’s 12nm octa-core Helio G95 SoC. The chipset is essentially the same as the Helio G90T, with a slightly overclocked GPU offering a 5 percent improvement in performance. Realme is offering the smartphone in 6GB + 64GB and 8GB + 128GB configurations. I received the latter, and it offers around 110GB of free space out of the box. In my daily usage, the Realme 7 handled the heavy multitasking I threw at it without breaking a sweat. I particularly love the smooth animations and transitions between apps while multitasking, thanks to the 90Hz refresh rate.

The Helio G95 scored 2,682 in Sling Shot Extreme OpenGL and 2,714 in the Sling Shot Extreme Vulcan on 3DMark, which is a gaming benchmarking app. To put things into perspective, the Helio G90T scored 2,377 and 2,454 in OpenGL and Vulcan, respectively. The numbers reflect in the real-life gaming performance as well, with PUBG Mobile opening in the highest graphics setting by default and handling the load well too. I didn’t notice any lags or frame drops despite playing PUBG for around 30 minutes every day. The phone does get slightly warm after a longer gaming session, but that doesn’t affect the performance.

The Realme 7 comes with Realme UI based on Android 10 and ColorOS 7. In a nutshell, Realme UI is a much cleaner version of ColorOS in terms of UI elements. There is a fair bit of bloatware on the handset, including Realme’s own stock apps and third-party apps. While the latter can be easily removed to free up resources, you’ll have to make do with the former. You also get features like lockscreen magazine, gesture support, smart sidebar, assistive ball, Digital Wellbeing & parental controls, Game Space and Split Screen, among others.

The Realme 7 is equipped with a 5,000mAh battery, which the company claims can offer up to 48 hours of call time, 15.6 hours of YouTube, 81 hours of music streaming, 13.5 hours of Instagram and 9.1 hours of PUBG. While I couldn’t test all of these figures, the 5,000mAh battery on the Realme 7 lasted 12.5 hours on the PCMark Work 2.0 Battery Life test. This is par for the course and on a full charge, the Realme 7 lasted me a whole day.

The brand has equipped the battery with support for 30W Dart Charge fast charging technology. The battery takes close to an hour to charge fully with the bundled charger.

The competition

The Realme 7 has been launched in India with the base model priced at Rs 14,999 and Rs 16,999 for the 8GB model. At this price point, the top contenders for the Realme 7 are the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max and POCO X2.

The Redmi Note 9 Pro Max comes with a larger 6.67-inch FHD+ display but misses out on a 90Hz refresh rate. Powering the handset is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G chipset, which doesn’t match up to the Helio G95 in terms of benchmark scores, but is a capable day-to-day processor. There is also a higher resolution 32-megapixel selfie camera on offer. In the battery department, it gets slightly larger 5,020mAh unit with 33W fast charging.

Coming to the POCO X2, the smartphone offers a 6.67-inch FHD+ display with a 120Hz refresh rate. It’s powered by the Snapdragon 730G, which again is a capable gaming processor but also scores less on benchmarks compared to the Helio G95. The POCO X2 also has a 64-megapixel quad-camera array, but with the Sony IMX686 64-megapixel primary lens. The smartphone also offers a dual selfie camera on the front with a higher resolution 20-megapixel primary lens.

Bottomline

To sum it up, the Realme 7 is just an iterative upgrade over its predecessor. You get a primary camera that captures slightly sharper images, a bigger battery and a minute improvement in performance. While Realme 6 users may not have much incentive to upgrade, the  Realme 7 is an easy recommendation at its starting price of Rs 14,999. For the money you pay, you get a 90Hz display, capable gaming processor, a versatile 64-megapixel quad-camera module, and a beefy battery.

Pricebaba’s rating:  8 / 10

What works:

  • Ultra-smooth 90Hz display
  • Versatile 64-megapixel cameras
  • Good gaming performance
  • Beefy battery

What doesn’t:

  • Bloatware in Realme UI
  • Persistent beautification in selfies
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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.