Realme follows one primary strategy: bombarding the budget segment with a plethora of phones. Sure, it gives buyers plenty of options to choose from, but not without added confusion. The same is the case with Realme’s 9 series, which has already seen six handsets in just a few months (all closely priced), including the newly launched Realme 9 – the only 4G variant of its 5G sibling. Without the 5G tax, Realme has been able to reveal many other aspects of the phone, from display quality to charging speed. However, these improvements don’t necessarily stand out for other phones from Xiaomi, Samsung and even Realme.
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The Realme 9 4G is mostly a mixed bag of good things, but it doesn’t stand a chance against the competition as a complete package.
- Storage: 128GB UFS 2.2, dedicated microSD card slot
- CPU: Adreno 610 . with Snapdragon 680
- Commemoration: 6/8GB
- Operating System: Android 12 with Realme UI 3.0
- battery: 5000mAh, 33W Dart Charger Included
- Port: USB Type-C, 3.5mm audio jack
- Display(size, resolution): 6.4-inch OLED, 2400 x 1080, 20:9, 90Hz
- Camera (front): 16MP
- Camera (Rear): 108MP Samsung HM6 sensor, f/1.75 (main); 8MP, f/2.2, 119.9º (UW); 2MP (Macro)
- cost: Starting From ₹17,999 (~$235)
- Connectivity: 4G, Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.1
- Other: in-display fingerprint reader
- Dimensions: 160.2 x 73.3 x 7.99 mm
- colour’s: yellow, white, black
- weight: 178g
- 90Hz OLED screen looks good
- Android 12 . comes preloaded with
- good performance
- In-display fingerprint reader works well
- Excellent Battery Life Good Daylight Shots
- Realme UI comes with a lot of bloatware
- Lowlight camera performance is poor
- no stereo speakers
- no nfc
buy this product
Design, Hardware, What’s in the Box
The outer shell of the Realme 9 4G is similar to that of the Realme 9 Pro, down to the port layout and camera island. However, it has a plastic back instead of glass. I’m not too concerned about Realme’s choice of material as the phone feels solid with great fit and finish, and more importantly, the plastic helps keep the weight under control despite a bigger battery.
A really nice looking OLED screen takes up most of the front, but there’s still a noticeable chin bezel. The screen has a 1080p resolution and can refresh at 90Hz. It’s as good as the Realme 9 Pro+ we reviewed a few weeks ago, with pleasant colors and wide viewing angles, which there is little to complain about. One advantage of having an OLED screen is that you get an in-display fingerprint reader – it’s optical and works flawlessly.
I wish Realme had gone for a stereo speaker pair instead of a single bottom-firing setup up the entertainment quotient. Audio output is on the loud side, and the speaker tends to rattle a bit if you play music at max volume. If it helps, the phone gets a 3.5mm headphone jack and a dedicated microSD card slot – which are a rarity these days.
One minor oddity here is that you need to hold down the Power key. And On recent iPhones and Samsung devices such as the Volume Up key (which maps the button to Bixby by default) to view the power menu. While the occasional phone restart isn’t a big deal, it defeats the purpose of the shortcut if you regularly use the power menu to control your smart home devices.
In a typical bright yellow box from Realme, you get the phone, a USB-A to USB-C cable, a 33W fast charger, a clear case, and some documents.
Software, performance and battery life
It is common for most phones in this category to launch with older Android versions, but Realme is thankfully bucking the trend. The 9 4G runs on Realme UI 3.0 on top of Android 12 (Realme 9 5G gets Android 11), and the company also released the April patch last week. It was wonderful to see several Google apps pick up the accent colors for their interface (not app icons) from wallpapers as part of Material U’s dynamic theme engine.
While it’s refreshing to see brands embracing one of Android 12’s best features, the overall Color Vibe doesn’t quite mask the problems with the software. Firstly, the phone comes loaded with bloatware like Moz and Josh (Indian TikTok clone), which requires you to take the time to uninstall or disable them manually. The Realme 9 also had several performance issues at launch, most of which have been addressed with the April update, but some still remain. For example, the phone hangs for a few seconds when making system-wide changes like dark mode or focus mode, making the phone feel sluggish for a while.
The performance hitch is most likely thanks to the Snapdragon 680 processor that we saw on the Realme 9i, whose performance was quite disappointing. However, due to better software optimizations on the Realme 9, this SoC is now livable with your normal social media and entertainment services and switching between apps working without any hiccups.
The problem comes when you push the CPU and GPU to their limits with games like Call of Duty and Asphalt 9. Frame rates vary greatly in both games, and Asphalt 9 doesn’t support anything over 30 fps. While it didn’t kill the gaming experience, the Realme 9 is not a gaming phone and is good enough only for occasional sessions. After an hour of stress testing, the Realme 9 didn’t get uncomfortably hot, which says a lot about the phone’s ability to endure the harsh Indian summers.
The phone’s battery management is a bit aggressive with app notifications. On some occasions, some non-essential notifications (such as app alerts and promotions) arrive minutes after the app has been sent. This wasn’t a problem with the more time-sensitive updates, including messages, emails, and reminders.
The Realme 9 may shed light on battery management as the 5000mAh cell offers excellent battery life. I found it very hard to kill the battery throughout the day with my normal usage and had to use the Battery Drain app for one of my charging tests. I regularly ended my day with 40% battery and on screen time for 4-5 hours after a day of light to moderate usage. The in-box 33W charger takes about 1 hour 20 minutes to charge the battery, which is equally fast for a phone in this price bracket.
The camera position in the Realme 9 is a bit awkward. The main sensor has a resolution of 108MP, but the Snapdragon 680 only supports a maximum resolution of 64MP. Realme hasn’t clarified yet how it managed to do this. There’s a 108MP mode in the camera app, but shots don’t look any more detailed than in the normal 12MP mode. So for this review, we’ll focus on the resulting unshot shots that most people will see.
As is the case with budget phones, the primary camera of the Realme 9 takes some good looking pictures in daylight, which is less than what you actually see. The images don’t have an artificially vivid, oversaturated look, which may not please some users. The phone’s skin tone is fair and has a decent dynamic range, capturing plenty of detail in shadowy areas, but it’s sometimes difficult to achieve consistent white balance in challenging lighting.
Images from the main camera also look a bit blurry and soft along the edges when inspected closely, no matter how good the ambient light is. This problem gets aggravated indoors and in low light, where the phone struggles to lock focus as well. If you usually snap and go, you’ll want to check the photo one more time before proceeding. With a little extra capturing time when using Night mode, the camera achieves perfect focus, but this can result in blurry shots.
Plus the 8MP ultrawide camera takes unusable pictures. Shots have a watercolor effect and preserve little or no detail in the process, but it’s fine for outdoor shots and distant landscapes. As for the 16MP selfie camera, photos taken with it have a slightly muted tone, but they don’t look overprocessed, at least unless you’ve enabled its various beautification features.
should you buy it?
maybe. Compared to its 5G sibling, the Realme 9 4G adds a nice OLED panel, an in-display fingerprint reader, Android 12, and a speedy 33W charger. These are some solid reasons to get the 4G model, especially considering that it costs just ₹500 (~$7) more and there is no 5G connectivity anywhere in India. However, all other aspects of the phone are holding it back. The lack of a stereo speaker pair already puts it behind the competition, and Realme’s decision to use a medium processor (when its own 9 Pro uses a beefier chip for the same price) doesn’t feel right. .
Giving buyers a lot of options is understandable, Realme has to draw the line somewhere. In the current situation, there are several phones from the company in the sub-₹20,000 segment, and the Realme 9 4G is probably the most confusing of them all. It’s not purely for entertainment (without the stereo speakers) nor is it good for gaming (thanks to the processor), and above all, low-light camera performance is the weakest on any phone this price. .
Then who is this phone for? If you want a no-talk phone with the latest software that can handle your basic social media and working apps, then go for the Realme 9 4G without a thought. But if you often find yourself listening to music on speakers or playing heavy games, then you have many other options from Xiaomi, Samsung and even Realme to choose from.
Buy it if…
- You don’t keep your phone for more than two years.
- Your needs are basic – calling, messaging, managing email, social media, and more.
Don’t buy it if…
- You take a lot of pictures at night.
- Are you fond of mobile gaming?
Question: How does the Realme 9 4G compare with the Realme 9 Pro?
The Realme 9 Pro has a slight edge with the Snapdragon 695 processor, which is much better than the SD680 on the Realme 9 4G. It also takes better pictures in different lighting conditions – that’s not too far from how the Realme 9 Pro+ performs. However, the Pro model has a 120Hz LCD panel (and a side-mounted fingerprint reader), which may not sound as good as the OLED. Considering that both the phones are priced the same in India, the 9 Pro makes for a better all-rounder package.
Question: How does the Realme 9 4G compare with the Samsung Galaxy M33?
The Galaxy M33 is also running Android 12 out of the box, and given Samsung’s recent track record with software releases, Galaxy phones should be supported for a long time. The handset features a 120Hz LCD and packs a 6000mAh battery, which should be enough for two days of use. Samsung has used its in-house Exynos 1280 chip, which made our Galaxy A53 . I have proved my mettle review,
Question: How does the Realme 9 4G compare with the Redmi Note 11 Pro?
Redmi Note 11 Pro is probably the most packed phone of them all. This gets you 120Hz OLED, stereo speakers, fast 67W charging, 108MP camera and even IP53 rating for the same starting price of ₹17,999. However, the phone still comes with Android 11 (though with MIUI 13), which is a big step up from Realme’s new software.
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Karandeep Singh (442 articles published)
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