We started getting acquainted with the first smartphones of the 9th series from realme at the beginning of 2022, but the manufacturer stretched this announcement for several months. In January, it introduced the basic realme 9i, in February two advanced realme 9 Pro and 9 Pro+ at once, and only in April, the realme 9 4G was revealed. So, what’s so interesting about it?
Design, materials, and build quality
As I already noted in the realme 9 Pro review, all smartphones in this line are similar to each other. Especially with regard to Pro-versions, because they look almost identical and differ only in size and partly in materials.
However, this does not apply to the design of the front panel of the smartphone. Everything here is in the usual style for realme: a front camera embedded in the upper left corner of the screen, thin bezels on the left and right, a slightly thicker area at the top, and a very wide indent from the bottom.
I can’t say that I expected something different. Even the best smartphone in this line, the realme 9 Pro+, distinguished itself with an equally wide area at the bottom. If it were a budget device with an IPS screen, there’d be no questions, but a mid-ranger with an AMOLED display… strange, very strange.
The back panel in this case is bright and memorable in every sense: both in color and in the effect used. The effect is diagonal waves that shimmer in the light. Our model is yellow with a slightly golden sheen, and this color scheme is called Sunburst Gold.
There is also a light gradient in the performance: light – on top, dark – on the bottom. In this case, some other effect is used under the camera block, already in the form of wide vertical “beams”. The frame around the perimeter is no longer painted in the main yellow color, but in a more neutral golden one.
The smartphone does not really stand out from the rest when it comes to the materials. Corning Gorilla Glass 5, a plastic frame, a plastic back. Only the realme 9 Pro+ has glass on the back. But what makes the original 9 stand out is the matte finish of not only the frame, but also the back.
In terms of usability, the realme 9 4G is hardly different from 9 Pro+. They even have identical body dimensions: 160.2 × 73.3 × 8.0 mm.
The smartphone is quite comfortable to use. Light, relatively thin, and thanks to the narrow edges and curved edges of the back, it feels even thinner in the hand. You will only have to get used to the placement of the in-screen fingerprint scanner. It is lower than we would like, but after a few hours of use, you can get used to it.
The realme 9 4G has a 6.4″ display with a Super AMOLED panel and Full HD+ resolution (2400 × 1080 pixels). The aspect ratio common for realme smartphones is 20:9, the pixel density is about 411 ppi. Notice the increased refresh rate of 90 Hz and a sampling rate of 360 Hz.
In all respects, this is exactly the same display as the realme 9 Pro+. It is very bright and the information on the screen is perfectly visible even on the street on a bright sunny day. You also get the overall contrast and black depth of the Super AMOLED.
The color reproduction is bright and saturated. The user is offered several color display modes to choose from: vivid colors, natural color mode, and Pro mode. The former is close in color coverage to DCI-P3, while the latter offers calmer and softer colors.
In terms of hardware, the realme 9 4G is unlikely to be able to pleasantly surprise anyone. It has the same chipset as realme 9i, Qualcomm SM6225 Snapdragon 680 4G. It is a 6nm 8-core platform with 4 Kryo 265 Gold cores with a maximum clock speed of up to 2.4GHz and 4 Kryo 265 Silver cores with a frequency of up to 1.9GHz. The video accelerator is the base Adreno 610.
The chipset was introduced last fall and even then it wasn’t amazing. It is not much stronger than the Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 or the Snapdragon 662, so the results are modest in the tests. For a budget smartphone, it’s barely enough. For this class, it’s not good enough.
In normal operation for 15 minutes, productivity decreased by a maximum of 9% of the maximum, and for half an hour under the same conditions – by a maximum of 15%. Not to say that very excellent performance, but at least more stable than realme 9i.
Despite not the best performance in class, in everyday use, the smartphone works well. The shell is fast and almost always smooth.
You can game on realme 9 4G, but you need to understand that for heavy games, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 is not enough.
The realme 9 4G main camera unit has three modules for different purposes. True, two of them, ultra-wide-angle and macro, do not change at all from smartphone to smartphone in terms of parameters, but the main wide-angle one is different for everyone and has its own characteristics.
Photos are saved at 12 megapixels by default, and you can get the full 108-megapixel resolution in a separate mode. The difference between the pictures is noticeable upon closer examination. In full resolution, the detail is higher, but in terms of color reproduction and white balance, they are completely identical. So for the best detail, it makes sense to use the 108 MP mode.
But keep in mind that such photos take up much more space. So using this mode all the time is probably not the best option. Unless, of course, you are going to somehow crop the pictures and process them in the future.
In general, the main camera shoots quite well with proper lighting.
An ultra wide-angle camera is best used only with excellent lighting because in other situations the quality of the photos will be poor. Color rendition is slightly less natural, even colder, and there is not enough detail and clarity. There is a bit too much noise in the shadows even under normal conditions, not to mention some evening scenes. Night mode works, but does not significantly change the situation.
The macro camera shoots extremely poorly. The resolution of the shots is too low, the automatic white balance is often wrong, and the color reproduction is faded. The focus, as always, is fixed and for a successful shot, the distance between the camera and the subject should be about 4 cm.
You can record video in a maximum resolution of 1080P with 30 FPS on both wide and ultra-wide cameras, which is no longer enough for a modern mid-ranger
The fingerprint scanner in the smartphone is located in the screen, just like the realme 9 Pro+. The type of scanner is optical and when you put your finger on it, an additional bright white backlight is activated. As I noted earlier, the location of the scanner is too low.
In general, is exactly the same: relatively fast and fairly stable. Here it is important to put your finger on the scanner completely and do not forget to enable the quick unlock function in the settings, as it directly affects the unlock speed.
The scanner can also be used to measure heart rate in real-time based on light absorption statistics collected by the fingerprint scanner. The light source is bright green illumination in the scanner area, and the function itself is located in the “realme Lab” section. The results aren’t bad.
The battery in realme 9 4G is 5000 mAh and this is a good standard for many modern smartphones. Interestingly, with dimensions similar to realme 9 Pro+, the battery here turned out to be 500 mAh larger. And you can feel it.
I would even say that this phone has the best battery life in the entire 9-series.
Sound and data
The earpiece speaker is standard, and ordinary in quality. It is quite enough for conversations, but that’s about it. It does not participate in multimedia playback.
You get Android 12 with the manufacturer’s proprietary shell called realme UI 3.0. We have already talked about it more than once in reviews of other realme smartphones, and in general, this smartphone is no different in terms of software from older models with the Pro prefix.
The shell has its own personalization tools, many useful functions that make it easier to perform certain actions, an advanced game hub, system cloning, and a large set of various gestures. Realme Lab contains several experimental features. Interestingly, on the latest firmware version, the screen flicker suppression item (aka DC Dimming) has disappeared.
The realme 9 4G fits perfectly into the series and is not much inferior to the more advanced Pro versions. It has the same quality Super AMOLED with a 90Hz refresh rate as the realme 9 Pro+. A good main camera that can compete with the 9 Pro. In addition, it boasts excellent battery life.
But the performance of the smartphone is average for its class, and this is probably its main drawback. There is also no stereo sound and very limited video recording capabilities.