realme 9 review: Should you upgrade? [video]

realme 9 arrives hot on the heels of realme 9 Pro Series, which came out in March in the Philippines. During that three month period, realme has released at least four smartphones bearing the realme 9 monicker, which includes the realme 9 Pro+, the realme 9i, and the realme 9 Pro+ Free Fire Edition.

So with all of that anticipation building up, it is only fair to say that we are looking at the realme 9 with certain expectations.

realme 9 Pro+ review: A flagship in disguise?

Hit play to watch our realme 9 video review, or head over to the TechKuya channel on YouTube for more tech news and reviews. Otherwise, read on for our full review.

Flatlay front – realme 9 (Philippines)

realme 9 follows the same structural blueprint established since the realme 6, from the  6.4-inch screen with a notch in the upper-left corner to the plastic rear panel that shifts its hues as you move it in the light. Aesthetically speaking, all the changes are very minor, though we must say that we appreciate the product team’s decision to go with a satin finish this time around.

Both the Sunburst Gold and Stargaze White variants appear to be equally popular among members of the media, though the Stargaze White unit that we posted on our social media accounts has received quite a bit of praise among our followers.

Button layout has also remained constant: volume rocker on the left edge, power button on the right, and the USB-C port at the bottom flanked by the 3.5mm audio jack and loud speaker. Like the realme 8, this device uses an optical under-display fingerprint scanner for biometric security.

It’s a really good design, and that may be why it has held up so well until now. However, it has been four generations since the realme 6, and it’s starting to look dated.

While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with sticking to a proven formula, it just does not feel like the same realme that disrupted the market in 2020. We feel that part of the reason the brand was so successful is because it took risks. Perhaps that hunger was satiated now that realme has reached the top of the sales charts for two consecutive years?


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by TechKuya (@techkuya)

Whatever the reason, we would like to see realme take more risks design-wise: make it thinner, move the notch to the center, remove the notch, make the chin thinner, use a curved display panel. Whatever, just try something. The keyword is try. Even if it fails, it is bound to make an impact that can be seen as a learning activity.

If not with the numbered series, then perhaps in the lower tier models. As it stands, the realme 9 is just another mid-ranger in the sea of mid-range lookalikes with no unique differentiator.

realme 9 technical specifications (Philippines)

  • Display: 6.4 inches; 1080 x 2400 pixels; Super AMOLED, 90Hz, 1000 nits, Gorilla Glass 5
  • SIM: Dual SIM (nano-SIM, dedicated slots)
  • OS Android 12; realme UI 3.0
  • Chipset (SoC): Snapdragon 680 4G (6nm)
  • CPU: Octa-core (2×2.05 GHz Cortex-A76 & 6×2.0 GHz Cortex-A55)
  • GPU: Adreno 610
  • Memory (RAM) + storage: 6 GB + 128 GB
  • Expansion: microSD (dedicated slot)
  • Main camera (rear): 108MP f/1.8 (wide) + 8MP f/2.2 (ultrawide) + 2MP f/2.4 (macro)
  • Selfie camera (front): 16MP f/2.5
  • Connectivity: 2.4/5 GHz Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac; Bluetooth 5.1
  • I/O: USB Type-C; 3.5mm audio jack; fingerprint scanner (under-display)
  • Battery: 5,000 mAh; 33W fast charging (100% in 75 minutes)
  • Colors: Sunburst Gold, Stargaze White
  • Price (Philippines): 14,999 PHP (6GB + 128GB)