Realme 8 5G Review

I went to cover the Realme Pro 3 back in 2019 at its UK launch event but since then Dom has primarily covered a whole host of their devices. Whilst the Pro 3 seemed like a fairly standard device, Realme’s branding differentiated it in the market. Now 3 years old, Realme has a lot more experience under their belts, so where does the Realme 8 5G stand in this ever competitive market?

Realme 8 5G
+ FOR
  • Big Battery
  • Great Display
  • Stunning Back
- AGAINST
  • Slow Charging
  • Average Camera
  • Smudge Magnet

<Add Orange Call To Action Buy Button here>

Disclaimer

The Realme 8 5G was sent to us by Realme’s PR team in order for us to review it over a period of around 1 month. No money has exchanged hands and the review has not been seen by Realme before publication.

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Overview & Unboxing

Box Contents:

  • Realme 8 5G Smartphone
  • Clear Plastic Case
  • SIM Ejector Tool
  • Quick Guide
  • Important Information Guide
  • USB A to USB C cable
  • Mains Plug

Spec Sheet

  • 6.5” 90Hz FHD+ (2400 x 1080) IPS LCD Display
  • MediaTek MT6833 Dimensity 700 5G Octa Core 7nm Processor
  • Primary Rear Camera: 48MP f/1.8 wide-angle camera (26mm equivalent)
  • Secondary Rear Cameras: 2MP f/2.4 macro camera, 2MP f/2.4 depth camera
  • Front Facing Camera: 16MP f/2.1 wide angle camera (26mm equivant) 
  • USB Type C 2.0
  • 5000 mAh battery 
  • 18W Fast Charging
  • Realme UI 2.0 based on Android 11
  • MicroSDXC card support 
  • Headphone Jack
  • NFC
  • Bluetooth 5.0 & WiFi 5 802.11ac 
  • Side Mounted Fingerprint Scanner


In-Hand Feel

The Realme 8 5G features a completely plastic chassis that weighs just 185g and when I initially picked it up, it almost felt like the phone was lacking a battery which was due to the fact that I have gotten used to glass sandwiches which weigh a significant amount more. Whilst plastic may have benefits such as the fact that it is significantly less likely to crack and will likely fare better if you end up dropping it, it does also then result in the phone feeling a lot more budget orientated and closer to its retail price.

The narrow width of the phone does make it fairly easy for you to hold and I can reach around the phone fully. The length of the phone is very close to my 6.5” daily driver so it feels super familiar but if you are used to a sub 6” phone then it will seem a little on the tall side. The weight distribution of the phone is fairly equal and this means the phone can easily be used with one hand without feeling like you are going to drop it. 

On both the top and the phone, the chassis is concave which initially seems like a weird design choice because the left and right-hand sides of the phone’s have (partially) flat edge. Then after I studied the design language a little bit further, the concave design makes the phone seem shorter and hence creates a more compact look compared to having a flat top and bottom edge. 

The back of the phone is stunning, from afar it looks like a fairly bland back, but looking closely at the phone, there is a radial design that originates at the camera sensor.  Under normal circumstances, the phone’s back looks like a dark grey but under sunlight, this changes and makes the phone look shades of blue and even silver.

The phone’s pre-applied screen protector and the back of the phone smudge incredibly easily which means you will constantly find yourself wiping it to ensure the phone doesn’t look like a complete greasy smudged up mess. You will probably notice some of these smudge marks in the phone’s photos. The rear of the phone also picks up a lot of dust around the camera lens especially and this will be exacerbated if you are using the included case.

Performance & Use

Display:

Realme has definitely put a lot of thought into the 8 5G, giving it a 6.5″ display that features a 90Hz refresh rate (albeit its predecessor featured a 120Hz panel), a full HD+ resolution of 2400 x 1080 and the panel being of IPS LCD technology. I was actually quite impressed when I looked at the spec sheet of this phone as I wouldn’t have expected a higher refresh rate display on a phone at this price point. 

I looked at a phone which has a very similar target market but from a household name, the Samsung Galaxy A32 5G. Like the Realme phone, it features both a 4G and 5G model which have more variations than just the cellular modem. The A32 5G definitely comes with a ‘brand tax’ as the display is worse on paper in almost every aspect, it has a lower resolution at just 1600 x 720 resulting in a density of 270 ppi, it features a slower 60Hz refresh rate and a TFT LCD display. Realme has really put Samsung in a difficult position offering a significantly better display without compromising on price.

I am actually quite shocked at how quickly the industry has switched over to high refresh rate displays considering the transition from micro USB to USB C took a significantly longer amount of time even though its arguably more beneficial to the end-user not least considering the fact that it’s easier to use and more durable. I would say the cost difference is likely going to be main difference, firstly from a difference in the actual display and then the cost to integrate it into the phone, which will likely be next to nothing since the panel doesn’t have different dimensions (as far as I know) for a higher refresh rate panel whereas a port change requires new tooling and moulds and chips which are fairly expensive. If high refresh rate displays are being included at no extra cost to the end-user then I am all for them being included alongside the benefit to the manufacturers as it’s another box that they can tick off in the spec sheet.

The vibrancy and off-axis viewing angles of this phone are really good. I honestly am shocked at how much the colours pop without seeming excessively oversaturated which is down to the fact that it is an IPS LCD rather than an AMOLED display with the former tending to have better colour accuracy. The 480 nit peak brightness on this phone does become a little bit of an issue outdoors as I found myself squinting and constantly trying to cover the display in some sort of shade in order to view it on sunny days. When taking photos outdoors I was almost framing the shot and then hoping for the best and taking quite a few photos hoping for the best. 

The 90Hz display refresh rate makes the phone feel very fluid throughout general use and the fact that it is variable means you don’t have to worry about it draining the battery running at full blast all of the time.

The display does have a little bit of fringing around the edges which I honestly didn’t really notice unless the phone was on a light coloured background and I was looking at the phone off-axis. The same can also be said for the cutout around the front-facing camera which suffers from the same effect. I think it might be down to where the display actually extends beyond the outside bezel (or the front-facing camera) and subsequently a shadow is caused by the bezel. 

The chin is something that is a bit of a pain point for me. When the display is off, it seems almost seamless and looks like the phone has an ‘edge-to-edge’ display but once you turn it on, that couple of millimetres does stick out. I don’t want to come across as too harsh as I know this is a mid-level phone and the display electronics need to go somewhere but if you are coming from a flagship device to this, you will likely notice it too.  

Benchmarks

I decided to set this phone up from scratch rather than transfer my apps from a Google Drive backup or copying them directly from another phone. Then when I went to download Antutu which is one of my standard benchmarking tools, I realised that it was missing from the Google Play Store and as I did a bit of research and it turns out it has been off the Play Store for at least a year due to their connections with Cheetah Mobile which Google had repeatedly warned about policy violations and as Cheetah Mobiles CEO was also listed as Chairman of Antutu Technology Co., Google put two and two together and bam, Antutu was gone.

The Antutu website does have the APK files for download so I ended up grabbing the files from there to be able to run the tests. 

Geekbench

  • Single Core Score: 569
  • Multi Core Score: 1761

Antutu

  • CPU: 360016
  • CPU Mathematical Operations: 32405
  • CPU Common Algorithms: 20771
  • CPU Multi Core: 53770
  • GPU: 78024
  • Terracotta – Vulcan: 32774
  • Coastline – Vulcan: 27363
  • Refinery – OpenGL ES3.1+AEP: 17887
  • Memory: 69571
  • RAM Access: 35392
  • RAM APP IO: 6336
  • RAM Sequential Read: 12954
  • RAM Sequential Write: 3120
  • ROM Random Access: 11769
  • UX: 105475
  • Data Security: 19058
  • Data Processing: 20586
  • Image Processing: 26536
  • User Experience: 24680
  • Video CTS: 8000
  • Video Decode: 6615

The phone features 8GB of RAM and Realme has equipped it so that if the 8GB becomes full then you can ‘borrow’ some memory from the storage. This is similar to what has been done on desktops and laptops for years and it does make sense but I would struggle to think of a situation where the phone would use up 8GB let alone more. You can enable it to ‘borrow’ 2GB, 3GB or 5GB from the storage depending on if you have the free space available or completely disable it if you don’t want it.

I found the Mediatek Dimensity 700 Octa Core 7nm Processor to be more than capable to deal with everything I threw at the phone, the phone never once stuttered or had any hiccups in the time I used it.

Asphalt 9: Legends played really well on the phone, I found a few frames did drop here and there and the screen did max out to 60Hz when carrying out the recording, but otherwise it was very playable.

8GB of RAM being used on this sounds hilarious because if you were looking to buy a laptop with the same amount of RAM, you would be looking to spend probably double the price of the phone. 

Network

As the phone supports 5G thanks to the MediaTek Dimensity 700 5G processor I wanted to see how far it is possible to push a mid-level chip and how this compares to a flagship device.

The Dimensity 700 is theoretically capable of up to 2.77 Gbps download speeds but unless you were standing directly underneath a 5G tower in ideal conditions with the network infrastructure to support it, these kinds of speeds in an everyday situation are still a while away.

I ran a total of 6 speed tests on the Realme 8 5G, the first three tests were with the Realme 8 5G’s modem switched on, with the secondary three being with the phone limited to 4G through the settings. Ookla’s Speedtest is the application I used to carry out these test. I also ran the same tests on the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max and Oppo Find X3 Lite. The Oppo Reno 2 was also part of my test but as it does not have 5G support, I was only able to test the 4G speeds and compare those against the rest of the lineup.

DeviceRealme 8 5GApple iPhone 12 Pro Max Oppo Find X3 LiteOppo Reno 2 (Only 4G Compatible)
Download (Mbps)Upload (Mbps)Download (Mbps)Upload (Mbps)Upload (Mbps)Download (Mbps)Upload (Mbps)Download (Mbps)
Test 1 – 5G33451.2 41276.851568.5
Test 2 – 5G32852.5 40378.650866.6
Test 3 – 5G29746.9 39594.449366.2
Average319.6650.2403.3383.26505.3367.1
Test 1 – 4G15828.44464228839.926927.4
Test 2 – 4G20029.345742.424638.623727.4
Test 3 – 4G18728.345942.326741.727121.1
Average181.6628.6645442.3326740.0625925.3

It becomes quite apparent that between the 3 5G supported phones, there is a fairly significant difference in the average download and upload speeds. The Realme 8 5G received the lowest average score at 319.66 Mbps, followed by the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max at 403.33 Mbps and then the Oppo Find X3 Lite at 503.33. There is about a 26% increase from each model to the next with an overall 60% increase in speed from the Realme 8 5G to the Oppo Find X3 Lite.

However, the speeds that every single one of the phones have achieved far exceed the average UK mobile download speeds which were measured by OpenSignal to be just 23.1 Mbps on a 4G connection in 2018. Hence, those speeds that have been achieved are a magnitude faster than what you would get in a real-world situation with the real difference in normal speeds being marginally different between these devices.

Although the Realme 8 5G did end up scoring the lowest download and upload speeds in the speed test comparison, having 5G available at all on a device with such a relatively low price point is something we should be glad to see. Especially as 4G took a while to become included within devices below the flagship level.

It also does prove that there is a significant performance difference based on the 5G modem used within a smartphone, however the price of the phone doesn’t dictate the performance. The Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max costs around 5x the cost of the Realme 8 5G but only delivers a 26% increase in performance.

Biometric Authentication

The Realme 8 5G has both facial unlocking alongside a side-mounted fingerprint. I did find the facial unlocking wasn’t the most secure as I found that the phone unlocked even when I had a face mask on (albeit I pulled my mask down to halfway up my nose as I was trying to see where my mask had to be positioned so it would unlock), so in the rare occurrence that somebody with a similar face to you tries to unlock your phone, they may end up getting in. 

The fingerprint unlock is super convenient placed on the side of the phone and I much prefer this over a rear mounted fingerprint scanner. I found it unlocked every single time and the accuracy of Android fingerprint scanners are now almost in line with the industry leader in Apple’s Touch ID 2 and the speed of this is insanely quick at less than 1/2 a second. The included silicone case makes it very easy for you to be able to find this because of the cutout in the case but even if you use the phone without a case, the slight dip in the outer shell makes it relatively easy to find it. If you do end up placing a finger that has not been registered on the scanner, it will vibrate to indicate that fact.

The fingerprint scanner is always on, so even from a locked state you can put your registered finger on the scanner and unlock the phone without the need to press the power button. This means you can essentially unlock your phone when you pull it out of your pocket so it is ready to go by the time you are holding it in your ‘normal phone holding position’.

Speakers

There is only a singular bottom-firing speaker on the Realme 8 5G which I have almost come to expect on anything less than a flagship. For some bizarre reason though, Realme has made the top earpiece cover around 70% of the top of the phone which means they could have easily housed a secondary speaker in here to provide stereo audio.

When playing audio on the phone, I found that there was a fairly weird effect in which it felt like the sound was bouncing around the inside of the phone before exiting through the grills at the base. It almost feels hollow as if you were sat inside an empty room. The audio was fairly tinny and lacked any sort of bass at all. Whilst I would be okay using this speaker for YouTube videos & Netflix, I wouldn’t really say that it can be trusted to portray music accurately.

The maximum volume of this phone did cap out at 129 decibels which can be directly compared to ambient noise in a sports crowd. So the phone can definitely get loud but unless you are outdoors I wouldn’t recommend using the audio at full volume excessively as it will definitely cause hearing damage.

Call Quality:

The earpiece also suffered from internal reverberation. I could feel the vibrations roughly 40% down the phone. It was however able to replicate the vocal tones and sound signatures of the person on the other side really well alongside being plenty loud so I would be confident that in loud environments you will still be able to hear the other person clearly. I was told my voice sounds fairly natural too if a tad bit tinny.

Camera & Samples

The rear camera setup initially makes it look like there are 4 cameras on the back of the phone but actually, the top right hand ‘sensor’ is actually just a logo with ‘AI’ written on it. It is fairly clever and I believe it’s probably down to the fact that Realme has probably repurposed the camera glass from another smartphone in order to keep costs down and honestly it doesn’t impact the end-user in any way (apart from a potentially lower end price), so good on you Realme. 

The Dimensity 700 is capped to 1080p resolution for any video capture which does seem bizarre considering the photo resolution for the primary sensor is 48MP. The slightly more powerful Dimensity 720 allows for 4K capture but that also would probably have increased the price of the phone a fair bit above its current price. 

The rear-facing camera was a mixed bag. In some situations, the colours look a little over-saturated which can make the images look like they have a filter on them and so you may need to play around with them a little to make them closer to real life. I found that even with plenty of natural light the end result still varied hugely. 

The 48MP mode is average. All the photos I took whilst they looked good when fully zoomed out, when I zoomed into the photos, I found that text within the images wasn’t any more legible and no further detail was really captured. The only main difference I found was that you could not zoom in after the fact within the integrated photos app. 

With a little bit of practice and precision, you can get some really good shots out of the Realme 8 5G but I don’t have the same confidence in pointing and shooting as I would with my iPhone and getting a usable, properly contrasted image.

The front-facing camera I found to be good in general. There was okay colour accuracy but the photos do tend to lack sharpness and tend to be blurry even with plenty of natural light. In darker situations, the standard camera displays a circle which essentially acts as a front-facing flash. I actually prefer this over the iPhone’s front-facing flash which basically blinds you when the whole display flashes. This also allows you to see a live preview of the end picture which differs hugely from the iPhone which you can only see the end photo when you actually take it. Thumbs up Realme. But this is only available in the standard photo mode.

Front-facing night mode is not great at all and I would pick the display light rather than extending the shutter speed because the increased light from the phone eliminates the need for an extended shutter speed. The front-facing video isn’t fantastic either and would only be suitable for video calls with friends and family.

Software

This is the first phone I have used with Realme UI and at the time of reviewing it was running V2.0 on top of Android 11. Honestly, it seems super simple and almost stock which probably helps significantly with the system feeling so smooth throughout. The 8GB RAM with a potential additional 3GB which is ‘borrowed’ from the UFS 2.1 internal storage if you need it.

I honestly struggled to find anything wrong with the OS, it performed admirably on this hardware. The Realme 8 honestly felt like a flagship from a software point of view. OnePlus has forever had a stronghold on the ‘Stock Android+’ experience with a limited number of additional features that were designed to benefit the user and to reduce the bloatware on the phone to keep it running smoothly throughout its usage. Realme has definitely included a few extra applications such as Phone Manager, Game Centre, Game Space, App Marketplace and ORoaming. Some of these can be uninstalled but others are there to stay for good.

Realme has also thought about the game experience a fair bit with two applications designed for this purpose. Game Assistant automatically activates in an app that allows you to quickly change the brightness level, see your current CPU & GPU usage levels, the current FPS, alongside disabling specific applications notifications and screenshots/screen recordings. Game Space is where you can see all of the games you have downloaded and set up optimisations & notification preferences for when you are gaming.

Apart from that Realme has done a pretty good job at the software and the key features that their software team have brought out for Realme UI 2.0 includes the following:

  • Dark Mode – 3 variations are available; enhanced, medium and gentle with automatic adjustment support which varies the contrast based on your ambient light
  • Global Theme Colours – You can manually configure the colours for the main UI, shortcut buttons, notification bars and 24 other interface objects. 
  • Sleep Capsule – A digital wellbeing feature that allows you to track your daily health and sleep cycle
  • Floating Window – You can stay in touch with your family and friends whilst watching videos or playing games at the same time 
  • Deep Sea Privacy Plan – A hybrid of Invisible Door, Private Space and Security Shield from Realme to ensure that your data is private and secure.
  • New Fonts & Icons – You can customise icons and fonts to your preference. Third-party launchers also get access to Realme’s desktop design which allows them to also play around with the notification bar.

Battery

A 5000 mAh battery is definitely nothing to scoff about and with 5G requiring more battery power than 4G, the larger battery capacity definitely doesn’t hurt. The standby time for this phone was really good. After 5 days of standby connected to WiFi, the phone lost about 45% charge.

In terms of real-world use, after hitting it hard all day with a mix of 4G, 5G and WiFi usage for a range of social media, YouTube, browsing and maps I ended up with about 20% charge which I was pretty happy with. The combination of a display that doesn’t get ridiculously bright, variable refresh rate and a very efficient processor results in an average SoT of roughly 7-8 hours for me. 

Charging

Note: The unit I received contained a US 18W fast charger however I did receive an additional UK 18W plug so I was able to conduct all of my battery and charging tests with the UK mains plug. The UK retail units will contain the UK 18W plug inside the main box.

  • 0:00 – 0% 
  • 0:08 – 9%
  • 0:19 – 20% 
  • 0:48 – 44%
  • 0:53 – 48%
  • 1:11 – 62%
  • 1:28 – 75%
  • 1:42 – 85%
  • 1:45 – 87%
  • 1:53 – 92%
  • 2:07 – 97%
  • 2:12 – 100%

I was a bit surprised that the phone took such a long time to fully charge. I did rerun the test and got essentially identical scores which was disappointing as I would have expected the 18W fast charger to be a little faster per se. Potentially in the long term this may be better for the battery as it will heat up less during the charging process.

Miscellaneous 

The front-facing camera is a whole punch within the display in the top left corner and this from straight on looks incredibly precise and there is no distortion or shadow around it, but when you look at the phone off-axis you can notice some shadowing around the camera. This is super insignificant and honestly, unless you are looking for it, you will really never notice it but it is there. 

Final Thoughts

Realme has really set the bar high for a phone of this price, well really any price. They have proved that just because a phone is built to a budget doesn’t mean it has be a bad phone, quite the opposite, they have pushed the boundaries of what a £200 phone can be. It wholeheartedly has my recommendation.

About Siddu Munjal

Reviewer & Partner Outreach for MobileTechTalk - Tech is a key part of my everyday life and I would probably be extremely lost without it.

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