Say hello to the latest value offering from realme, the 8i
Before I start, let us get the elephant out of the room – This phone is not a flagship killer, bleeding edge, top of the line or revolutionary, nor is it meant to be. What it does pack in for the price, I will come on to price later, could make even the biggest specs snob or apple fan question their recent life choices of a daily driver.
First off let’s look at what you are getting, for those of you that do like to talk figures:
- MediaTek G97 8 Core 12nm CPU
- 6GB Ram/128GB Storage or 4GB Ram /64GB Storage
- 120Hz 6.6” Display at 600 nits
- 5000mAh battery
- 18W fast charge
- Triple Camera Rear Setup
- 50MP f/1.8
- 2MP B&W f/2.4
- 2MP Macro
- 16MP Hole Punch Front Camera
- Side Fingerprint Sensor / Power Button
- Dual SIM
- A Dedicated Micro SD slot giving you the choice to add up to 256GB additional storage
- All running on realme’s own Android 11 OS called realme UI 2.0
As you can see its packing a few features even the latest iPhone owner has only just recently started bragging about, however the 8i comes in at only £168/€199!
Yes, you heard right, only £168/€199 for all of that, so how is this possible?
Obviously, some compromises are being made here, but for realme’s target audience of this device, it is in no way a deal breaker.
Its sitting somewhere in the middle of the existing realme 8 line, that we covered previously. The 8i has more user apreciable features than some of its more higher specced brothers and sisters, while at the same time having less than them.
This is where realme do tend to confuse reviewers and customers alike, by offering such a wide range of devices in one particular line, each having pros and cons over each other.
Who are realme aiming the 8i to, well to be honest anybody who needs a no-nonsense daily driver, that will handle pretty much everything your normal user wants to do, without being too ashamed to pull out in public. I haven’t gone into the looks and build yet, but in summary you would be hard pushed, not to think this was a premium device at first glance.
Let’s look a little deeper into what you are getting and where some of the compromises are being made, to keep the price so low.
It’s running on a MediaTek Helio G96, MediaTek is a well-known and much cheaper alternative to the chips produced and used by other big names.
MediaTek chips perform almost as well as the more expensive rivals in most use cases. During my time with the phone, even under heavy load and testing with intensive apps like PUBG and COD Mobile. I couldn’t perceivably notice any significant drops in performance no more so compared to my own daily driver, that features a more mainstream 8 Core QUALCOMM 865.
Now the geeks among you, that know your chipsets might have clocked already that the Helio G96 although packing some pretty decent hardware specifications such as 12nm manufacturing and a Mali G57 GPU, is designed as a 4G chipset only, this is where you make another slight compromise.
No 5G connectivity, yep this is a 4G only phone in 2021, again not entirely a deal breaker if 5G is not available to you, signal or contract wise and Wi-Fi is your primary data connection.
Boasting 4 in total (3 on the rear, 1 on the front) its Megapixel count is looking good already, especially considering the primary camera boasts a whopping 50MP, the front punch hole camera can take a selfie at a very respectable 16MP. We won’t mention the 2MP Macro or 2MP B&W units as they appear to be just adding to the cosmetic quad camera look, that’s all the rage.
I’m no David Bailly, so I rely very heavily on the camera and onboard software to make up for my artistic shortcomings, so it’s probably better for you to decide for yourself from the shots I have taken, and judge whether you think it’s any good or not.
The built in camera app in the realme ui 2.0 OS is simple to use and has the look and feel of most android camera apps. It has all those nifty little features you will probably never use in real life, but they are included, should you feel the need to make your nose smaller and chin narrower or even make your face look unnaturally plastic, with aid of the AI Beauty features.
There is no doubt this is the star of the whole package, no compromises have been made here. Boasting specs normally only found on some of the current high end devices.
You get 6.6 inches of 120Hz goodness with a nit range from 1 to 600 allowing you to use outside or comfortably in the dark.
Browsing the web or twitter is buttery smooth, Amazon and YouTube just pop out from the screen with amazing vivid colours, separation and tones.
Featuring a single bottom firing speaker, although not brilliant, does give a nice clear mono sound with ringtones loud enough to be heard in most environments.
A 3.5mm headphone jack can also be found at the bottom of the device, should you need it.
Yes, it’s plastic, but it’s a very nice plastic. At first glance, you would be hard pushed to tell it apart from one of its glass backed, aluminum framed counterparts.
My review unit is a misty grey black, that realme call Space Black it mimics the 2 tone reflectiveness of a glass back and catches the light nicely, the sides feature a grey aluminum appearance, again making the device appear more premium.
Another version called Stellar Purple will also be available at launch.
I’m not too sure how it would hold up with daily life, scratches and chips are inevitable due to the nature of the material.
However, realme do include a clear tpu case in the box, to give you some added protection and smooth off the protruding camera lenses.
Talking of the included case, a nice touch is the little dust flaps that protect the exposed ports on the bottom of the device.
The power button on the right-hand side incorporates the fingerprint sensor, which makes turning on the screen and getting past the security lock, a simple one press operation with a high degree of accuracy.
The inbuilt 5000mAh ‘mega’ battery gives the device a nice weighty feel, that makes it feel like a more solid unit, this capacity combined with some added software power saving features, should easily last you a whole day under real world conditions, realme are claiming that you could watch 18 movies or listen to 1200 songs on a single charge.
Charging isn’t going to be an issue, as the phone is 18w USB-C fast charging capable, with promises of a 50% charge in around 30 mins should you need a boost. Again not incorporating some of the faster charging tech seen in other models, it’s still plenty quick enough and may even preserve the lifetime of the battery, that other rapid fast charging devices tend to suffer from.
In conclusion, a decent premium ‘looking’ budget device with a few compromises here and there, it’s been built to keep below a specific price point, but still focus on what a user will appreciate and need the most.
A screen that makes consuming internet content highly enjoyable, a camera that I personally think takes nice crisp pictures, a battery to see you through an entire day and possibly longer, and a CPU that can cope with demanding games, it’s everything a daily driver needs to be at a very reasonable price.
If this phone sounds right for you, it’s available as of today (14th October) direct from realme or very soon on amazon for €199 / £168 – but do keep your eyes open for some special launch, flash deals that realme often run.