Realme has been consistently challenging Xiaomi with its smartphones over the past few years. Sometimes it wins and sometimes it doesn’t. In 2021, the Redmi Note 10 series was consistently beating most other phones, including Realme devices, in the sub-₹20,000 price segment. Realme is now trying to end Xiaomi’s successful run and take the mid-range smartphone crown with the Realme 9 Pro series that was unveiled earlier today.
The Realme 9 Pro series consists of two smartphones: Realme 9 Pro and Realme 9 Pro+. The Realme 9 Pro+ starts at ₹24,999, while the Realme 9 Pro is priced at ₹17,999. We had a chance to try out one of the new Realme smartphones over the past two weeks, and here’s our Realme 9 Pro+ review.
Realme has done some experimentation with the Realme 9 Pro+’s design. It has a colour-changing back on the Sunrise Blue colour variant, but we received the Aurora Green version for review.
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There is a sparkle-like pattern on the rear, which makes the phone look interesting when there is light reflection. Otherwise, it is similar to many other phones in the price segment. There’s a full-screen display on the front with slim bezels around (except for the bottom), a plastic frame, and a plastic back.
The phone is quite slim (7.9mm) despite a big battery and a big camera sensor. The phone has curved corners and edges, which makes the phone feels quite comfortable, at least compared to phones with bigger batteries or sharper edges.
The Realme 9 Pro+ lacks an IP rating for dust and water resistance, something that’s present on the similarly-priced Samsung Galaxy A52. It would be great to see other brands following up with an IP rating for worry-free usage.
Display & Audio
The smartphone sports a 6.4-inch OLED display with Full HD+ resolution and a 90Hz refresh rate. There’s a punch-hole-shaped cutout in the top-left corner of the screen to accommodate the front-facing camera. The bezels are thin on the top, left, and right sides of the display, but the bottom bezel is sizeable. We expect a similarly-sized chin in the price segment, though.
The screen looks bright, sharp, colourful, and smooth. It can go as bright as 1,000 nits when playing HDR content, but there’s no HDR certification from Netflix and other media streaming services.
There is support for up to a 90Hz refresh rate, which means that scrolling, swiping, and gaming are much smoother than standard 60Hz displays. The Realme 9 Pro+ is among the few phones in the price segment to feature an in-display fingerprint reader, and it worked fast and is quite accurate.
For a well-rounded multimedia consumption and gaming experience, the Realme 9 Pro+ also comes with stereo speakers. The audio through the loudspeakers was loud and clear, but don’t expect the same level of depth (especially in the low-end audio frequency spectrum) and separation as you get in flagship smartphones.
There is a 3.5mm headphone jack, and it is Hi-Res certified, which means that you can play Hi-Res music via streaming services like Apple Music using your usual earphones. The phone also features Dolby Atmos for improved audio performance. There are various audio presets and you can customise audio using a graphic equaliser.
The Realme 9 Pro+’s camera is its most important feature. It has a triple-camera setup on the rear, consisting of a 50MP 1/1.56-inch primary camera (Sony IMX766) with phase-detection autofocus and OIS, an 8MP ultrawide camera, and a 2MP macro camera. The primary and ultrawide cameras can record 4K 30fps videos. At the front, the phone uses a 16MP camera with Full HD video recording.
The phone’s primary camera uses the same sensor that is used by many high-end smartphones, and it shows in the image and video quality. Thanks to the bigger native pixel size and the inclusion of OIS, the Realme 9 Pro+ consistently captures better images and its rivals, which includes the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro Max and the Mi 11i with 108MP cameras.
The images were sharp and had pleasing colours. Realme has tuned the camera system in such a way that colours pop a bit more than reality, so they’re pleasing to look at and share on social media without a need for post-processing. The dynamic range is quite wide, too, so even if you are in a situation with extremely bright and dark areas, both parts of the image will be well-exposed.
The autofocus mechanism was quite reliable even in dark situations. Portrait images showcase a good separation between the subject and the background, and even the dynamic range is wider compared to the competitors.
In low-light conditions, the Realme 9 Pro+ captured amazing shots, at least according to the phone’s price. I tested the phone’s cameras in both Auto and Night Mode. In comparison, the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max, which has the same primary camera as the Xiaomi 11i 5G, captured darker and noisier shots with washed-out colours. The Realme 9 Pro+ consistently captured better-looking images using the main, wide, and front-facing cameras.
Selfies were better exposed and had better dynamic range and colours when compared to other phones in the price segment.
Videos captured using the smartphone in daylight conditions were sharp and colourful. Dynamic range was decently wide, too. I didn’t notice any glaring issues in those videos.
Since Realme said that it used a flagship camera sensor in the Realme 9 Pro+, I compared its camera quality with the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max and the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Both higher-end phones captured better shots due to better image processing and faster ISPs. Still, it is clear that the Realme 9 Pro+ has the best overall camera system in its price segment.
The Realme 9 Pro+ comes with Android 12-based Realme UI 3.0 out of the box. The company has come a long way from its early days when it comes to the software experience. Realme UI 3.0 offers a good combination of performance, eye candy, and features. The company is also promising two major Android OS updates for the Realme 9 Pro+.
You can find all the features that one would expect from an Android smartphone. You can customise the looks with wallpapers, themes, and the new Wallpaper Color Picking feature (based on Google’s Material You design). You can switch between Dark and Light modes or set them to switch automatically based on the time of the day.
You can change the font, fingerprint reader animation, Always-On Display mode clocks and widgets, and the colours of the quick setting toggles. Speaking of quick setting toggles, Realme offers a lot of them and their placements can be changed as per your liking. Home screen transitions, app grid size, and lock screen app shortcuts can be customised, too.
Additional features include App Lock, App Cloner, Quick Return, Quick Launch, Smart Sidebar, Kids Space, Simple Mode, and Notifications History.
There are plenty of other features and I can’t go into detail about all of them here, but you can have a look at them in our dedicated article related to Realme UI 3.0 features. Overall, I quite like the looks and feature set of Realme UI 3.0.
There’s one thing I don’t like about Realme UI 3.0: bloatware apps. It would be great if the company dials down on pre-installing unnecessary apps and push notifications.
The Realme 9 Pro+ is equipped with the MediaTek Dimensity 920 processor with two ARM Cortex-A78 CPU cores, six ARM Cortex-A55 CPU cores, and the Mali-G68 MC4 GPU. There is 6GB/8GB RAM and 128GB/256GB internal storage. It has a microSD card slot, too, for storage expansion.
In my testing, both the real-life and synthetic performance of the Realme 9 Pro+ has been excellent. The best thing about its performance is that there’s almost no throttling even under sustained load. Even after an hour of gaming (Call Of Duty Mobile), the phone didn’t slow down and maintained consistent frame rates.
In synthetic benchmarks, the phone maintained 99.7% stability even after 20 loops of the 3DMark Wild Life Stress Test. In CPU Throttling Test, the Realme 9 Pro+ maintained 88% of its peak performance after 30 minutes of CPU stress testing. In Geekbench 5.4.4, the phone scored 812 points in the single-core CPU test and 2,250 points in the multi-core CPU test.
The phone has a dual-SIM card slot with dual-5G connectivity and support for 13 5G bands, so it is future-proof. It has Wi-Fi 6, too, which is great to see but to take its advantage, you’ll need a Wi-Fi 6 router and an internet connection that’s fast enough for you to see an improvement.
Realm has also used an X-axis vibration motor in the Realme 9 Pro+. It offers excellent haptic feedback, similar to many other high-end smartphones. The company has also implemented it in various places (scrolling and typing), and it is calling the feature (O-Haptics).
Battery Life & Charging
Realme has equipped the smartphone with a 4,500mAh battery, and that’s enough to last a whole day. Even with my heavy usage, the Realme 9 Pro+ lasted by the end of the day and had some battery left. I was getting over five hours of screen-on time with the refresh rate set to 90Hz. If you choose the Auto-Select refresh rate setting, you can get an even longer battery life.
The device is compatible with up to 60W SuperDart charging, and a 0-100% charge takes around 46 minutes. In comparison, the Mi 11i HyperCharge supports 120W fast charging and takes around 21 minutes for a full charge.
Of course, the phone comes bundled with a 65W charger. The Realme 9 Pro+ also supports 30W Dart charging and up to 18W USB PD 3.0 fast charging. It’s good to see that Realme is also supporting the more widely-used USB PD fast charging standard, so if you forget to take the charger, you’ll still see some degree of fast charging on the Realme 9 Pro+.
The Realme 9 Pro+ is a great smartphone for the price. It has a decent design, a good display and speaker combination, class-leading cameras, excellent performance even under sustained load, good battery life, and fast charging.
The company has even focussed on improving little things by using improved haptics and an in-display fingerprint reader. It is even promising two major Android OS updates for the phone. Most importantly, the Realme 9 Pro+ has no glaring issues on any front, which makes it among the best phones you can buy for under ₹25,000. The only thing I want Realme to improve is the number of bloatware apps and services that come pre-installed on its smartphones.
As of now, I would rate the Realme 9 Pro+ better than the Xiaomi 11i. However, if your priority is gaming more than balanced performance, you would be better off with the Realme GT Master Edition, Realme X7 Max, Xiaomi 11 Lite NE 5G, Xiaomi 11X 5G, or the POCO X3 Pro because they all come with faster processors for higher frame rates.
Realme 9 Pro+
The Realme 9 Pro+ is a great smartphone for the price. It has a decent design, a good display and speaker combination, class-leading cameras, excellent performance even under sustained load, good battery life, and fast charging. The company has even focussed on improving little things by using improved haptics and an in-display fingerprint reader. It is even promising two major Android OS updates for the phone. Most importantly, the Realme 9 Pro+ has no glaring issues on any front, which makes it among the best phones you can buy for under ₹25,000.
- Excellent display and in-display fingerprint reader
- Stereo speakers improve the multimedia experience
- Class-leading camera quality
- Excellent performance with minimal throttling under sustained load
- Android 12-based Realme UI 3.0 looks good and has loads of features
- Great haptics implementation
- Good battery life and fast charging
- Comes with a fair amount of bloatware
- No HDR certification for video playback