Realme launched the realme 9 Pro+, the company’s latest smartphone in the realme 9 series, in India earlier this week. This is the first Pro+ series phone in realme’s number series. This is a major upgrade from the realme 8 Pro when it comes to display, processor, camera, charging and what not. Is this the best smartphone to buy in the Rs. 25,000 price range? Let us dive into the review to find out.
- realme 9 Pro+ 8GB + 256GB version in Sunrise Blue color
- 2-pin 65W SuperDart charger (10V-6.5A)
- USB Type C Cable
- SIM Ejector tool
- Protective case
- User Guide and Warranty information
Display, Hardware, and Design
The realme 9 Pro+ sports a 6.43-inch (1080 x 2400 pixels) Full HD+ 20:9 aspect ratio AMOLED display with 90Hz refresh rate, 360Hz touch sampling rate and 409 PPI. The display is bright since it has up to 430 nits typical and up to 1000 nits peak brightness. It offers good colour output since it has 98% NTSC wide Colour Gamut and the sunlight legibility is good as well. You can select from vivid, Natural and Pro screen colour modes.
There is also DC dimming, but you need to enable it from the realme Labs. The 90Hz refresh rate and 360Hz touch sampling rate offers a buttery smooth user experience, especially when you are scrolling through the UI and when gaming, but some might miss the 120Hz display which is present in several phones. It doesn’t have adaptive refresh rate.
It also has HDR 10 support, which works for YouTube, but it doesn’t work with Netflix. You can enable video color enhancer from display settings, which increases the colors when playing SDR videos to make them look like HDR. The phone has Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection on the front.
The phone doesn’t have a notification LED, but this has always-on-display, which is called ambient display that shows contextual info and notifications all day or as per schedule, and there is also edge light lighting that glows when you receive notifications. There is also a new portrait silhouette option that we had seen in the OnePlus phones. It doesn’t consume a lot of power since this is an AMOLED screen, but the company says that it increases the power consumption.
The phone has a tiny punch-hole on the left that houses a 16-megapixel camera. Above the display, there is an earpiece on the top edge that doubles up as a secondary speaker. It has an in-display fingerprint scanner which is quick to unlock the phone immediately when you place your finger. You can also notice a small bezel below the screen. The haptic feedback is good as well, thanks to X-axis linear vibration motor.
Coming to the button placements and ports, the power button is present on the right side, the volume rockers are present on the left along with the dual SIM slot, secondary microphone is on the top, primary microphone, USB Type-C port and the loudspeaker grill are present on the bottom. The phone doesn’t have an expandable storage.
The phone has a polycarbonate frame which feels a bit cheap. The phone has a glass back, but it feels like plastic since it has a glossy finish. This phone is just 7.99mm thin and weighs 182 grams. The company says that it uses advanced structural stacking technology and refined components to keep the phone slim, light, and comfortable, even with its 4500mAh battery.
realme says that it uses a 3-layer process that creates a color-filled shine with a vibrant vertical beam that gleams from every angle. It weighs 182 grams, even though it has a 4500mAh battery.
The Sunrise Blue version that we have has a Light Shift Design, so under normal sunlight or ultraviolet light, the back cover turns for blue to red in about 3 seconds; under no sunlight, it will fade in 2-5 minutes, says the company. The phone also comes in Aurora Green and Midnight Black colours. The phone doesn’t have IP ratings.
- 50MP camera with f/1.8 aperture, Sony IMX766 sensor, OIS
- 8MP ultra-wide camera with Sony IMX355 sensor f/2.2 aperture
- 2MP 4cm macro camera with Galaxycore GC02M1 sensor, f/2.4 aperture
- 16MP front-facing camera with Sony IMX471 sensor, f/2.4 aperture
The camera UI is slightly tweaked in the realme UI 3.0. It has features like dual video, AI color portrait and bokeh flare portrait for images. There is also Dynamic bokeh option for photos. The Street Photography Mode 2.0 offers long exposure mode, Peak & Zoom and 90’s Pop Filter. For video, you only get bokeh flare portrait and AI color portrait. The rear camera offers 12.5MP output after pixel binning, and the front camera images are 16MP in size.
Daylight shots came out well, thanks to the 50MP Sony sensor, and the dynamic range is better with auto HDR. There is AI mode which recognizes different photo scenes and automatically adjusts camera settings to make boost the colours. 2X is good, but once you zoom after that the quality degrades since it is digital zoom. The portrait mode is decent and the 2MP macro camera is useless, so it is recommended to use 2X zoom with the normal camera.
Low light shots are good with a lot of details and less noise, and the OIS helps as well to stabilize the images. The night mode is useful, but it takes a few seconds to process. There is also a pro mode in night mode for manual tuning.
The front camera is also good in daylight, and there is also HDR mode, but there is not much improvement from the predecessor since it uses the same sensor. The bokeh shots were decent, but the edge detection is not the best since it is just uses software.
It can record videos in up to 4K 30 fps, slow motion 1080p at 480fps, 720p at up to 940 fps, which should converted, and the front camera can record 1080p 30fps videos. Portrait video mode is limited to 720p. There is also AI mode and ultra-wide video shooting, but these are limited to 1080p 30fps. It uses EIS for videos, which does a decent job, but stabilization feels jittery. Wish it had used OIS for videos as well for a better stabilization. There is also no ultra steady mode.
Software, UI and Apps
This is the first realme phone to run Android 12 based realme UI 3.0 out of the box. It has Android security patch for January 2022. relame UI 3.0 adds 3D icon, personalization on AOD, AI Smooth engine, floating window 2.0, smooth animation engine, security and privacy features, phone manager 2.0 and app permission recording.
Apart from the usual set of realme apps and Google apps, it comes with Amazon Shopping, Booking.com, Josh, Facebook, LinkedIn, Snapchat and Moj. Most apps can be uninstalled, but the Finsell Pay app can’t be uninstalled since it is a system app. However, you can use the ADB commands to remove them.
Out of 8GB LPDD4X RAM, you get 7.5GB of usable RAM, and about 4GB of RAM is free when default apps are running in the background. It also has DRE or dynamic RAM expansion feature, which uses the built-in storage as RAM. This has up to 5GB of additional RAM expansion. Out of 256GB, you get about 225GB of free storage. The phone uses UFS 2.2 storage, and we got sequential read speeds of about, 1025 MB/s.
Fingerprint sensor and Face unlock
It has an in-display fingerprint sensor that unlocks the phone quickly, but it is not as fast as a physical fingerprint sensor. You can add up to 5 fingerprints. You can also use the fingerprint for app local and payments in apps. Furthermore, you can change the fingerprint animation, but you can’t disable it.
In the realme Labs, there is a heart rate measurement option that lets you use the fingerprint sensor for heart rate tracking. You can also save it, and it shows up in the history. The phone also has face unlock feature.
YouTube Music is the default Music Player that has Dolby Atmos with customizable Smart, Movie, Gaming and Music modes. It doesn’t have FM Radio support. Audio through the stereo speakers is good without any distortion even in full volume. Audio through earphones is good as well, and there is Dolby Atmos for both wired and wireless headset, but it doesn’t work for speakers. This has Widevine L1, so that you can play HD content on Netflix and other streaming apps. It supports HDR content on YouTube, but this doesn’t work on Netflix.
The realme 9 Pro+ has support for several 5G bands that includes for n1, n3, n5, n7, n8, n20, n28, n38, n40, n41, n77, n78, n66 Network Bands in India. It has 4G Wi-Fi and VoLTE with support for Carrier Aggregation on 4G. Other connectivity options include Wi-Fi 6 802.11 ax (2.4GHz + 5GHz), VoWiFi / Wi-Fi calling support, Bluetooth 5.2, GPS / GLONASS / Beidou. It has OTG support, doesn’t have NFC support. Moving on, the call quality is good, and we did not face any call drops and the earpiece volume was loud.
The realme 9 Pro+’s body SAR is 0.727W/Kg and head SAR is at 1.188/Kg, which is well under the limit of 1.6 W/kg (over 1 g) in India.
Performance and Benchmarks
This is one of the first phones to be powered by the MediaTek Dimensity 920 6nm SoC, which is just an overclocked Dimensity 900. It has 2 x A78 CPUs clocked at up to 2.5GHz, 6x A55 CPUs clocked at up to 2GHz. It has Mali-G68 MC4 and up to 8GB LPDDR4X RAM.
The phone 5-layer Vapor Chamber Cooling System with large, 13029 mm² heat sink area that can cover 100% of core heat sources to significantly reduce the core temperature by up to 10°C reduction, according to the company. It gets a bit warm on intensive gaming and 4G data use, but it doesn’t get too hot to handle. We did not face any issues or frame drops in the graphic-intensive games like COD, BGMI and Genshin Impact. It reached maximum 45º in our testing indoors in Wi-Fi, but this might vary outdoors in 4G. That said, check out some synthetic benchmark scores below.
Coming to the battery life, the phone packs a 4500mAh (typical) built-in battery, same as the 98 Pro. It lasts for a whole day with Wi-Fi, but with 4G and dual SIMs, and heavy multimedia use, it might not last the whole day. I got over 5 hours of screen on time with over a day of use on Wi-Fi and in 90Hz. Since the phone has support for 60W SuperDart Charge, it can charge from 50% in 15 minutes and up to 100% in about 40 minutes with the bundled 65W charger.
At a starting price of Rs. 24,999, the realme 9 Pro+ offers a great value if you want good camera performance, especially in low-light, thanks to OIS. However, the video camera performance is just average, especially when it comes to stabilization since it only uses EIS for videos, and there is no support for ultra steady mode in videos. The 90Hz AMOLED screen offers a good multimedia performance as well, and the phone offers smooth performance and a lag-free experience. It also doesn’t get heated ,and comes with Android 12 out of the box. Wish the company had improved the front camera as well.
Pricing and availability
The realme 9 Pro+ is priced at Rs. 24,999 for the 6GB + 128GB model, Rs. 26,999 for 8GB + 128GB model and Rs. 28,999 for the 8GB + 256GB model. It will go on sale starting from February 21st on Flipkart, realme.com and offline stores.
The Xiaomi 11i is a direct competition in the same price range that offers a 120Hz screen and a bigger battery. The Xiaomi 11 Lite NE 5G has a better Snapdragon 778G SoC, Dolby Vision, Sleek and ultra-light body and a promise of 3 years of Android updates and 4 years of security patches.
- 90Hz AMOLED HDR display is good
- Smooth performance
- Good camera in daylight and low-light
- Sleek design
- Android 12 out of the box, 2 years Android updates
- OIS doesn’t work for videos
- Same old front camera
- Some might miss 120Hz refresh rate screen