The Realme 9i is the first launch from Realme in 2022 in India. It is also the first smartphone in the new 9 series. As its name suggests, this is the successor to the Realme 8i, which was a good all-rounder and scored well in our review. So is the Realme 9i a good upgrade? I got my hands on this smartphone and here are my first impressions.
Realme 9i price and availability
The Realme 9i starts at Rs. 13,999 in India for the base variant which has 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. The other variant comes with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage and is priced at Rs. 15,999. The smartphone will go on sale starting Jan 25,2022 on Flipkart.
Realme 9i design and features
The Realme 9i has a new ‘Stereo Prism' design and is available in two colours, Prism Blue and Prism Black. The back panel has a hidden pattern that becomes visible when light hits it at the right angle. I found the phone to be fairly slim at 8.4mm in thickness, and the weight of 190g was manageable. You get a plastic frame on the Realme 9i, which is acceptable given the price of this smartphone.
The front is dominated by a 6.6-inch LCD panel with a hole for the 16-megapixel selfie camera in the top left corner. The display has thin bezels on three sides while the chin at the bottom is thicker. It has a full-HD+ resolution and a maximum refresh rate of 90Hz which can change dynamically depending on the content on the screen. This seems to be a downgrade, since the Realme 8i (Review) had a higher 120Hz peak refresh rate. The display is also protected by Dragontrail Pro glass which should help prevent scratches.
The Realme 9i has a side-mounted fingerprint scanner
You get a side-mounted fingerprint scanner on the Realme 9i, integrated into the power button on the right side. It is well positioned and my thumb rested on it naturally while holding the device. There are volume buttons on the other side and those too were easy to reach. The Realme 9i has a 3.5mm headphone jack, USB Type-C port, primary microphone, and loudspeaker on the bottom of the frame. You'll find only the secondary microphone at the top.
Realme has curved the edges of the back panel which makes the 9i comfortable to hold. The camera module here resembles the one we've seen on the Realme GT Neo 2 (Review). It has two large cutouts and one smaller one for the cameras. This phone features a 50-megapixel primary camera, a 2-megapixel portrait camera, and a 2-megapixel macro camera. An ultra-wide camera is missing. The rear panel also has a Realme logo in landscape orientation.
The Realme 9i packs in a 5,000mAh battery, and supports 33W fast charging. Realme has also bundled the required charger in the box.
Powering the Realme 9i is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 octa-core processor clocked at 2.4GHz. You get two variants, as I mentioned before, but only the higher-priced one with 6GB of RAM supports the "virtual RAM extension" software feature which allocates part of your storage as additional RAM. The Realme 9i is a dual-SIM device with support for two Nano-SIMs and there's also a dedicated microSD card slot for storage expansion. You also get stereo speakers on the Realme 9i, as the earpiece doubles up as the second speaker.
The triple camera setup at the back protrudes slightly
The Realme 9i ships with Android 11 and the Realme UI 2.0 skin on top. My unit had the December 2021 Android security patch. This phone has a number of preinstalled apps and most of them can be uninstalled. In the brief time I have spent using the 9i so far, I have not faced any issues while navigating the UI, and everything has worked smoothly.
The price of the Realme 9i starts in the sub-Rs. 15,000 segment, and here it faces some stiff competition from the Redmi Note 10S (Review), its own predecessor the Realme 8i, and its siblings from the Narzo series. The higher variant of the Realme 9i is in the same price range as the base variant of the Redmi Note 11T 5G which boasts of 5G connectivity as well. So should you put your money on the Realme 9i? Or would you be better off with the alternatives? Stay tuned for the full review, coming soon.