realme 9 Pro+ review: A street photographer’s dream come true

TBA March 15, 2022
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PHILIPPINES – realme raises the once more for mid-range smartphones by introducing OIS (optical image stabilization) into its numbered series, starting with the realme 9 Pro Plus.

Featuring a 50MP Sony IMX766 sensor, its stock camera app features a new Street Photography mode which makes it so much easier to capture moving shots and light streaks, resulting in stunning, dramatic photos that normally require more expansive gear and in-depth technical knowledge.

Front close-up – realme 9 Pro Plus (Philippines)

We are on our first week with the phone so far, and you can continue to read our thoughts, or if you prefer watching our realme 9 Pro Plus video review, simply hit play or head over to the TechKuya channel on YouTube.

Design and display

Design-wise, the phone makes one major change over its predecessor, the realme 8: The obnoxious DARE TO LEAP branding is gone, replaced by a cleaner aesthetic featuring a 3-layer ‘photochromic’ layer that gives the illusion of depth and movement.

realme 9 Pro Plus comes in two colors: Aurora Green and Sunrise Blue, but the latter has a trick up its sleeve: hold it under the sunlight and it will change color to a reddish hue, returning to its original blue once taken back into the shade.

realme calls this “Light Shift Design”, and while color changing paint is not new, we’ve never seen its application on smartphones until now.

Like the realme 8 Pro, this phone touts a Super AMOLED display panel with a hole-punch notch, but it gets a slight spec bump, with a refresh rate that goes up to 90Hz. The screen hides an in-display fingerprint scanner which also doubles as a heart rate monitor (experimental feature).

Performance and benchmarks

AnTuTu benchmark – realme 9 Pro Plus (Philippines)

Performance also gets some love and for the Pro Plus, the product team went with Dimensity 920 5G, MediaTek’s mid-range 6nm chipset. It’s the affordable choice if you want to get the most performance for your peso, and a relatively power-efficient design until 4nm chipsets become the norm.

Initial hands-on experience has been satisfying so far, and the 90Hz display pairs well with it, making the overall experience smooth and snappy.

realme 9 Pro Plus (8+126)11077520625871769322264123871
SAMSUNG Galaxy M52 5G (8+128)8917399925995470514169040990
SAMSUNG Galaxy Z Fold3 (12+256)70973102173351075283469579385
Comparison: realme 9 Pro Plus vs Galaxy M52 5G vs Galaxy Z Fold3

We managed to score a whopping 500k points on our first run on AnTuTu benchmark – it wasn’t too long ago when scores like that was considered flagship-level. Performance gaming phones like the Legion Phone Duel 2 and the ROG Phone 5 do 800k, but this is the first mid-ranger in 2022 that we’ve seen break 500k.

What really took us by surprise are the CPU, memory, and disk performance results, scoring 5206, 25871, and 76932 points, respectively. For reference, the Snapdragon 888-powered Galaxy Z Fold3 does 3102 CPU, 17335 memory, and 107528 disk, while fellow mid-ranger and Galaxy M52 5G does 3,999 CPU, 25995 memory, and 47051 disk, respectively.

Mobile gaming

Genshin Impact – realme 9 Pro Plus (Philippines)

Gamers will no doubt be satisfied with the realme 9 Pro Plus, thanks in part to improved thermal management brought about by its Vapor Chamber Cooling System and tighter haptics from its X-axis Tactile Engine.

We were able to push the boundaries of graphically demanding AAA games such as Genshin Impact to its highest possible settings at 30 FPS, although it drops down to something like 15-20 FPS (frames per second) during intense battles.

Dropping down to Medium seems to deliver a more consistent 30 FPS, while dropping to Low takes that average up to 40.

Photography and content creation

50MP Sony IMX766 OIS rear camera – realme 9 Pro Plus (Philippines)

The camera is really the highlight of the show: that 50MP Sony IMX766 OIS main sensor is pure bliss, delivering usable shots even with limited light.

realme 9 Pro Plus takes this a step further by using OIS to make it easier for user to take street photos create light paintings. It has its own dedicated mode, aptly named “Street”, which simulates shutter drag in DSLR or IC (interchangeable) lens cameras during the day or night.

Unlike Night mode which essentially stacks exposures to make the entire scene brighter, Street mode tries to capture movement, so the result can be quite dramatic.

By default, Street Mode enables “DIS” which we are guessing means “dual image stabilization”, engaging both hardware OIS and software EIS (electronic image stabilization)

Not to be left out, video mode now supports software simulated bokeh which you can preview and change in real-time. This will prove useful to content creators who want to eliminate unwanted distraction in the background while shooting videos.

Battery and fast charging

We are only on our third day with the realme 9 Pro Plus as of writing, but we’ve been hammering the phone running benchmarks, games, and using it as a 5G mobile data hotspot and so far it managed to hold for at least a day before dying.

Charging the 4500 mAh battery seems to take an hour and a half, which was surprising. Perhaps we expected the 60W Super Dart to be faster, but once again – we’ve only had the phone for 3 days, and draining it is … well, challenging. We plan to test this further.

Philippine price, availability

Back handheld – realme 9 Pro Plus (Philippines)

realme 9 Pro Plus is already visible on Lazada in anticipation of its launch, which happens 6PM on March 15 via livestream on the realme Philippines official Facebook page.

realme Philippines will be revealing the price by then, but we anticipate a price range of 17-20 thousand pesos based on the converted rates from its Indian launch.

realme 9 Pro Plus specs

  • Display: 6.4 inches; 1080 x 2400 pixels; 90Hz; Super AMOLED, Gorilla Glass 5
  • SIM: Dual SIM (nano-SIM, dedicated slots)
  • OS Android 12; realme UI 3.0
  • Chipset (SoC): MediaTek Dimensity 920 5G
  • CPU: Octa-core (2×2.5 GHz Cortex-A78 & 6×2.0 GHz Cortex-A55)
  • GPU: Mali-G68 MC4
  • Memory (RAM) + storage: 8 GB + 256 GB
  • Expansion: none
  • Main camera (rear): 50MP f/1.8 Sony IMX766 OIS (wide) + 8MP f/2.2 (ultrawide) + 2MP f/2.4 (macro)
  • Selfie camera (front): 16MP f/2.4
  • Connectivity: 2.4/5 GHz Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac/6; Bluetooth 5.2
  • I/O: USB Type-C; 3.5mm audio jack; fingerprint scanner (under-display)
  • Battery: 4,500 mAh; 60W Super DART Charge
  • Colors: Aurora Green, Sunrise Blue
  • Price (Philippines): TBD