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Realme 8i review: reliable, all-day performance

Realme is back with yet another mid-range phone which is part of the ever expanding 8 series lineup. The Realme 8i is the successor to the Realme 7i and gets quite a few upgrades this year. The company has made a habit of launching multiple devices in both 4G and 5G options, and the new Realme 8i launched alongside the Realme 8s 5G is part of the same formula.

Also read: Samsung Galaxy F42 5G vs Realme 8s 5G vs iQOO Z3 5G: price in India, specifications and features compared

Unlike its recent products, Realme 8i is a hard-core 4G device that relies on a MediaTek Helio chipset for performance, which invariably gives you decent value. But with the sub Rs 15,000 market flooded with so many 5G phones, as well as other competent 4G devices, can the Realme 8i find its own footing in the market, and give you excellent value for the money? We search for answers in our detailed review.

Design and display

  • 164.1 x 75.5 x 8.5 mm, 194 grams
  • 6.6-inch LCD FHD+, 120Hz refresh rate, 600 nits brightness

Realme 8i is just your average-looking smartphone. The company uses a glossy plastic panel at the back which is fingerprint magnet. The frame is also made of plastic, and on the front, the display comes without any extra protection. It has a punch hole cutout at the top-left.

Going by dimensions, Realme 8i is fairly big, but when you hold it in the hand, all those apprehensions go away. It can easily be used with one hand and the balance goes a long way in making sure Realme 8i is ergonomic.

The main connectivity ports are at the bottom, and you have the fingerprint sensor built under the power button on the side. The display comes with 84.6 percent screen to body ratio which is pretty decent in this price range.

Talking about the display, Realme has strangely gone for an LCD panel, even though this is a 4G phone. However, the screen gets 120Hz adaptive refresh rate support, which makes up for the lack of a high-quality panel on board. Because of an LCD panel, you start noticing the blacks are dull and there is a greyish tint in the backlight which is not ideal.

The screen refresh rate switches between 60Hz and 120Hz based on what you are doing on the phone, and it works quite effectively to conserve power. The overall display quality is dull and 600 nits brightness level means outdoor legibility is rather mediocre. You can watch Full HD content on platforms like Netflix thanks to the Widevine L1 certification. To be honest, we have seen better looking phones in this range this year.

Camera

  • Rear: 50-megapixel wide sensor, 2-megapixel macro sensor, 2-megapixel depth sensor
  • Front: 16-megapixel sensor

Realme 8i gets the new 50-megapixel wide sensor as the primary camera. The square camera module includes three sensors and LED flash. The primary camera offers modes like 50MP, wide-angle, dual-view video, slo-mo, time-lapse, ultra-macro and pro among others. In the front, the phone has a 16-megapixel shooter.

Using the main 50-megapixel sensor gives you positive results, albeit with a few compromises. All the images shot gave us ample details, with a sharp focus on the subject. However, the colours are highly saturated and you can see below the greens are brighter than they actually were to the naked eye. Colour tuning with the help of software upgrade should help fix that.

In low light, the main sensor requires assistance from the night mode to deliver quality and produce details. The other two sensors are there to make up the numbers, and their overall use is fairly limited and lack quality.

The front 16-megapixel camera allows you to shoot wide selfies and the details offered from the sensor are decent. It has built-in flash to produce images in low light as well, but that is just a handy option if you ever need it.

Performance, software and battery

  • Android 11 with Realme UI 2.0
  • MediaTek Helio G96 SoC
  • 4GB + 64GB, 6GB + 128GB
  • 5,000mAh battery, 18W fast charging

The Realme 8i  is powered by the MediaTek Helio G96 SoC along with 4GB and 6GB RAM options. We were pleasantly surprised at how well the hardware performs and manages to give you the right level of power efficiency. During our time with the 6GB RAM and 128GB storage variant, we did not feel any discomfort using the phone; notice any major lags or encounter any unexpected heating issues.

You can even enjoy gaming on the phone at mid settings, because Realme has managed to tune the chipset to deliver optimum results, which is the ideal way to go about for users in this segment. You can open multiple tabs open on Google Chrome, switch between social media, and more.

When it comes to the software, the script is well documented for the Realme UI 2.0 interface built over Android 11. As we have repeatedly pointed out, the software on Realme phones have improved but the amount of bloatware continues to irritate, even if you can delete most of the apps. The software also plays its role with image processing, and those still need to be worked on by the company.

It is refreshing to get a 4G phone for review these days. Powering the Realme 8i with an efficient chipset allows the built-in 5,000mAh battery on the phone to give you long life on a single charge. Speaking of which, Realme has unfortunately given the device only 18W fast charging support. For a phone that costs over Rs 14,000 and doesn’t support 5G connectivity, we expect better.

During our video loop test, Realme 8i lasted us for well over 5 hours on full brightness. And while using the phone as our primary device, we got consistent screen-on time of over 4 and half hours. Going by these estimates, average users can get well over a day’s battery life.

Bottomline

The Realme 8i features a smooth a 120Hz display, albeit with an LCD panel. The use of the Helio G96 chipset makes it an effective performer in daily conditions. You get it with 4GB/6GB RAM and the storage is expandable. Realme has added the new 50-megapixel sensor at the back, which delivers mixed results, depending on the conditions.

Realme UI running Android 11 does come with a fair bit of bloatware. And while the the 5000mAh battery gives you decent backup, the 18W fast charging is not ideal for this price nowadays.

When you compare these features with other devices in the market, Realme 8i gets overshadowed by the Redmi Note 10 (review) which has a Super AMOLED display and quality rear cameras. Then you also have the Realme 8 5G (review) which brings more features for a similar price. Redmi 10 Prime (review) is another contender in this price bracket.

What works:

  • Adaptive 120Hz display
  • Reliable performance
  • Decent primary camera
  • Long battery life

What doesn’t:

  • Plastic build
  • LCD panel
  • 18W charging is too slow
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