Realme 8i Review – Reclaiming the Throne

If you are a frequent viewer of MobileTechTalk, you will know I have reviewed a couple of Realme phones up until now. In my eyes, Realme have a brilliant track record for making amazing budget phones and getting the most value out of a device for the price tag. When I reviewed the Realme 6i back in 2020, I wasn’t a huge fan of the device, because the display was horrible and was nigh-on unusable and ruined the whole experience. Realme have now come back with another ‘i’ device, attempting to change the perception of the ‘i’ from ‘inconsistent,’ to ‘impeccable,’ and boy did they do that. Let’s get into it.

Realme 8i
+ FOR
  • Interstellar Hardware
  • Gorgeous Display
  • Enduring Battery Life
  • Great Gaming Performance
- AGAINST
  • Underwhelming Camera System
  • Major Stuttering in Certain Scenarios

Buy on Amazon – £230

Disclaimer

This device was sent by Realme, free of charge, in exchange for a full and fair review.

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Spec Sheet

  • Release Date: September 2021
  • Display Size: 6.6″ IPS @ 1080 x 2412 – Up to 120Hz Refresh Rate
  • CPU: Helio G96
  • GPU: Mali-G57
  • Memory: 64/128 GB (SD Card Slot Included)
  • Camera: 50MP Wide, 2MP Macro, 2MP Depth
  • Selfie Camera: 16MP
  • Battery: 5000mAh
  • Software: Android 11 Realme UI 2.0
  • Dimensions: 164.1 x 75.5 x 8.5 mm
  • Weight: 195g
  • Charging: Fast Charging 18W
  • Colours: Space Black, Space Purple

Hardware

The one thing I always adore consistently when it comes to any Realme device I have had my hands on in the past is the design of the hardware. Each time, Realme always think of different unique ways to make the device ‘pop’. The Realme 6i has a striped green look, the Realme 7 has a two-tone gradient effect and now the 8i has a distorted Intergalactic look, aptly named either Space Black or Space Purple. My review unit is the Space Purple, there’s no other word to put it than ‘awe-inspiring’ in my opinion. I appreciate not a lot of people will like the Purple colour with the amount of sheen it gives off, but it’s something Realme do every year now, it’s the most exciting part of the reveal of the device is asking the question to yourself ‘How will Realme make this device look even more unique?’.

Realme

Much like the Realme 7, the gradient effect returns this year-round but instead of going from left to right, it’s now from top to bottom; starting with a light Purple, gradually doing to a darker purple colour nearer the bottom. What I love about the look of this device is that it just screams Realme. No other company can make a device have its unique identifier and you know instantaneously which company made it without even a second thought. Again, Realme has knocked it out of the park with the look and feel of the device.

Speaking of look, the hardware is fairly insignificant with a standard plastic back, and a small glass enclave where the camera sensors are, the sides are also plastic. Moving to the front, it is protected by a Gorilla Glass 5 Display at a whopping 6.6 inches and a 90.8% screen-to-body ratio.

Realme

In terms of buttons, switches and ports – it’s a pretty standard affair like most smartphones nowadays, at the bottom there is a USB Type-C Port, with a single speaker residing just next to it. The right-hand side is a fairly substantial power button with an in-built fingerprint sensor. On the left, there are 2 clicky volume buttons, and just above that is the SIM/SD Card Port. This device supports up to 2 SIM cards.

Realme

Overall, Realme are continuing the trend of having a unique look for each device they reveal. In a world where smartphones are much of the same with no real innovation in the slab design, Realme took that as an absolute challenge to be trendsetters in the overall design of a device. The Stellar Purple colour is something out of a vaporwave screensaver and I am all for it.

Display – So Good It Hz

Puns aside, the Realme 8i has a whopping 6.6″ display, which has a display refresh rate of up to 120Hz. Yes, you read that correctly. A phone that costs a fraction of a flagship has a high refresh rate and works well in most, if not all situations you throw at it.

Much like a lot of smartphones out there on the market with a high refresh rate, the one in the 8i is adaptive to preserve battery life. For example’s sake, if you are reading a news article the display will default the 30Hz and ramp up from there if you are scrolling. This is purely a background process so, in terms of actually seeing the refresh rate change, it’s made to be a seamless process so it’s like it’s always been at 120Hz all along. Realme have coded this part exceptionally well. When putting this against a flagship of the same calibre display, which is the iPhone 13 Pro in this situation, it acts in the same way. Although the 13 Pro defaults down to a lower frequency when in an idle state.

Realme

In terms of the display itself, the device has an IPS panel. I get why they used IPS in this situation for a device so cheap, and honestly, the colours that the display produces is something that not even some flagships have nailed down yet. True to life colours, with beautifully crafted whites and AMOLED-like blacks is something a lot of phones strive towards. Realme continue the trend of putting great displays on their devices. Being a company that is very much making a ‘value for money phone, they know it’s in the eye of the beholder to make a lasting impression, and the display is one of the main focal points for any person using the device.

Realme

The only minor downside to having this huge display is the fact that it’s only a 1080p panel, weighing in at 2412 x 1080. This isn’t necessarily a huge downside as unless you are looking at this under a microscope, you won’t notice the lacking pixel density.

The display goes up to 600 nits, which is quite the average for a smartphone these days and using it outside will be a breeze. One thing I do like as an additional feature with the brightness is that it goes all the way down to 1 nit, meaning that even if you are in bed growing on your phone, it won’t allow any strain on your eyes while browsing those memes you love the most.

Realme

I have never been disappointed in a Realme display and they have blown it out of the water once again. Amazing colour reproduction, the great variance of deciphering each colour and the whites sheen and the darks are as shadowy as Batman himself. Exceptional from start to finish.

Performance & Use

Say hello to the Helio G96; a processor that isn’t anything to write home about in terms of performance, but it gets the job done.

One thing a lot of devices in this price range tend to fall on when it comes to the main parts of the device is either display or performance of the chipset. Thanks to its 12nm production process, the Helio G96 is no slouch in any given situation.

In conduction with the very well-optimised software of Realme UI 2.0, and the overall improvements are given on this new device, there weren’t any situations I threw at this phone where it struggled. From playing Call of Duty Mobile to browsing Twitter, the Realme 8i didn’t even think twice during any process.

Now, there are some things about the performance of this device that do make me slightly concerned, but not without a small software fix to sweep that under the rug. The main problem I had was with multi-tasking, namely switching from one app to the other. When you are in the said app, the performance is admirable. It’s when you switch to another app from the multitasking menu where the troubles begin to show. There’s a major stutter which takes up to 2 seconds to bring itself back down to earth. When moving from TikTok over to Twitter, you can’t even scroll properly until the aforementioned stutter fixes itself.
I’m sure this is a simple coding error, and it seems to be like the app is in a frozen state and is taking longer than expected to communicate with the software. I found it easier to go back to the home screen and open the app from the app drawer because that took less time to get to where you need to be.

Gaming performance is exceptional as ever like any Realme device I have reviewed in the past. You get a consistent 30FPS on high graphics quality in Call of Duty, and reducing it slightly will ramp that up to 60 without any frame drops.
The benchmark for any games, of course, is Asphalt 9. I was pleasantly surprised to see a consistent 60FPS even on the highest graphic setting. The device itself gets lukewarm, the only time it got slightly hot was when running 3D Mark Stress Tests, which is par for the course for such a stressful toll on the device during that 3-minute test.

Standard apps like Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and TikTok don’t even make the device flinch which is brilliant to see.

Performance-wise overall, as soon as the stuttering issue is fixed, this phone will be up there with the budget Poco offering with the Snapdragon sibling which has a proven track record for being consistently great.

Camera & Samples

With a 50MP AI Camera, much like previous devices in Realme’s arsenal, this is one part of the phone that I was impressed with, but also severely disappointed in others.

The camera software is much like any previous versions Realme have come up with in the past. Simple, easy to access settings and plenty of different options to choose from. To be honest, I used the auto and AI mode to let the phone decide the amount of vibrancy needed for the shot taken.

In standard photo mode, Realme claim that the 50MP Camera is the main focal point of the affair, but I beg to differ. There’s a separate ’50MP’ mode that does use the full capability of the sensor, but in standard mode, the photos just lack any form of character. The colours are muted, uninspiring, and just left a sour taste in my mouth. I understand the standard mode can’t take advantage of the full 50MP due to software processing, but no shot I took, no matter the condition I took it in, just left me completely uninspired.

Now don’t get me wrong, using the 50MP mode did redeem the device by quite a significant amount as thanks to AI, it did adjust the vibrancy of the shot to make the colours not look as dead as a winter’s day.

The macro lens is incredibly impressive and went toe to toe with the iPhone 13 Pro’s macro offering.

The 16MP front-facing selfie camera is where things get inspiring for me. I’m not a selfie-taker by any stretch of the imagination, but the front-facing camera makes you want to take more with how true to life the pictures it takes. Any selfie love will adore this camera for sure, as much as the main camera can leave little to be desired.

Video capabilities go up to 1080P at 60FPS, and much like the standard camera sensor mode for pictures, there’s no real inspiration for the videos you are taking. Everything just looks flat and muted and it was overall quite disappointing.

Software

I won’t go too much into the software, as I have reviewed it largely in my previous Realme reviews. Realme UI 2.0 is in full view here, with plentiful customisation options for anybody’s personality traits.

I will say that Realme’s customisations are the most full-fledged of any smartphone I have reviewed or used in the past. Icon Packs galore, vast amounts of default widgets, and a colour for any part of the rainbow. One thing I do like about the software this time around is the adaptive colour switching depending on your wallpaper, so you don’t have to do this all manually.
Android 11 is front and centre here, and Realme do a brilliant job not to take away from the overall aesthetic of Google’s vision of Android, but adding the usual Realme spin as usual.

One thing Realme have made me aware of whilst reviewing this device for the past couple of weeks is the new AI Application Pre-Start which makes it a seamless switching experience. In a nutshell, AI Pre-Start is a 100% background service that uses the Artificial Intelligence of the Helio G96 to determine which app you will use next based on your usage habits. Although tiny in the eye of the customer, it’s a huge thing for the processor to handle so it’s worth a shoutout.

Battery

One thing Realme have always impressed me with is their battery efficiency, and with AI taking the front seat in the 8i, it can only bode exceptionally well for the device. I’m here to tell you that it does.

With a gargantuan 5000mAh battery, I consistently ended my day with 5-6 hours Screen On Time with constant heavy usage. My heavy usage consists of a lot of gaming, social media scrolling and posting and taking plenty of pictures of my newly-acquired energetic Puppy.

I wake up and start my days at 6 am, taking the dog for a walk listening to music in the process. The walk usually lasts for an hour with music on for the same amount of time via Spotify. I get home around 7 am and the battery only loses 2% battery down to 98%.

Throughout the day, I’m constantly playing games from the most intensive, to the easily accessible ones. By the end of the day, I’m usually left with anything from 40 to 30%.

Extremely impressive. On the days where I don’t use it as much, it would last me a whole 2 days without needing to charge it. Thanks to the 18W Fast Charger included in the box, an hour of charge would take me from 0 to 100% or thereabouts

Final Thoughts

From the interstellar design language to the beefy performance of the Realme 8i; I immediately fell in love with this device. I have become the resident Realme reviewer around these parts and I know how these devices tick. Each time they release a new entry-level device, Realme always impresses me and the 8i continues that trend and then some.

It’s bewildering how a device for a little £150 for the phone, it’s really hard to say not to buy this phone. It can take a mean selfie, it looks stunning and unique in its Realme way, and has features that not even flagship devices have (looking at you, headphone jack).

Realme

Apart from the single firing speaker, and the lacklustre camera in some situations, this device is highly recommended by me and I would like to thank Realme for giving me another opportunity to review their amazing line of devices.

The Realme 8i is budget brilliance, and it’s easy to see why.

About Kurt Colbeck

Cynical, bitter, and speaks his mind. And those are my good points! I like to ramble and I love technology, so this is why I'm here.

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