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Realme 5i Review

Realme’s latest entry-level smartphone can game, take good pictures, and more

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The Realme 5i is now in the country to give Filipinos a capable device that doesn’t break the bank.

It’s an addition to the company’s growing portfolio of smartphones. Realme is aiming to sell more than 50 million smartphones this year, and an entry-level smartphone like the Realme 5i will surely help them achieve that goal.

With that, here in our Realme 5i review, we want to see what this device has in store for us. Let’s begin.

Realme 5i Specs

  • Android 9 Pie, ColorOS 6
  • Dual SIM, Dual Standby
  • 6.5-inch HD+ IPS display, 1600 x 720 pixel resolution, ~269ppi
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 3+, 89% screen-to-body ratio
  • 2.0GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 octa-core processor
  • Adreno 610 GPU
  • 3GB/4GB RAM
  • 32GB/64GB/128GB internal storage, expandable via microSD up to 256GB
  • 8-megapixel front camera
  • 12-megapixel (f/1.8, PDAF) + 8-megapixel (ultra-wide, f/2.25) + 2-megapixel (depth sensor) +
  • 2-megapixel (macro) rear cameras, LED flash
  • AI scene detection, Chroma boost, Super nightscape
  • Rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, Face unlock
  • Headphone jack
  • 4G LTE
  • WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • GPS, BDS, Galileo, A-GPS
  • microUSB
  • Dimensions: 164.4 x 75.6 x 9.3mm
  • Weight: 198g
  • Colors: Green, Blue
  • 5,000mAh non-removable battery, 10W fast charging

Design and Build Quality

The Realme 5i has tons of similarities with the Realme 5. It’s basically the cheaper version of the former that is already affordable on its own.

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But to set each device apart, Realme changed the design on the back. It features a new ‘Sunrise Design’ that has a more subtle look than the Diamond-cut aesthetic that the Realme 5 had.

The sunray design shows as it reacts to light. The back panel has a textured design etched in this plastic material. We commend Realme for coming up with a new design just months after the Realme 5 came out.

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What we have here is the Forest Green Realme 5i color option, while an Aqua Blue model is also available. The back panel might be plastic, but the sides and the chassis that holds everything together are made of metal. It makes the Realme 5i feel sturdy and solid.

The Realme 5i feels large and bulky when compared to other devices in its category. That’s forgivable considering that we’re getting a large display and battery out of it.

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Speaking of which, we have a large 6.5-inch HD+ IPS screen on the front. The bezels surrounding it are relatively thin — besides that waterdrop notch on top that houses an 8-megapixel selfie camera.

The top is clean, while on the bottom we have the 3.5mm headphone jack, built-in microphone, mediocre speakers and, disappointingly, a microUSB port instead of USB Type-C.

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On the left side, we have the volume controls. It’s below the SIM tray that can house two nano SIMs and a microSD card (up to 256GB) all at once.

While on the other side, we only have the lock/power button. You can notice that the physical buttons are inside a small hollow. A small detail that we surely appreciate.

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On the back, we have the Realme logo and the cameras in their usual locations. The quad-camera setup is inside a vertically-oriented camera bump, adjacent to the Realme stamp on the bottom.

Next to the cameras is the camera logo and the LED flash. While in the middle, there’s the fingerprint scanner. You can use your index finger to unlock the device, although I wish it was placed a bit lower for those who have smaller hands.

See also: Realme 5i vs Xiaomi Redmi Note 8: Specs Comparison

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The Realme 5i, despite its large size, got the design department right.

Display Quality

As stated earlier, the Realme 5i sports a gigantic 6.5-inch HD+ IPS screen. It has a resolution of 1600 x 720 pixels, with ~269ppi, Corning Gorilla Glass 3, and an 89% screen-to-body ratio.

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The display quality is not the best but is acceptable for the price. Having an HD+ resolution, instead of FHD+, on a screen this large is a bit lacking. You can notice that small details, especially texts, lack clarity and sharpness.

Color quality is also fine, but we’ve definitely seen other IPS screens deliver better saturation and contrast. But on the upside, the large display provides a lot of screen real-estate for playing games, watching movies, or doing other tasks.

Performance and Hardware

The Realme 5i uses the same processor that the Realme 5 has, albeit with lower RAM capacity. It’s powered by a 2.0GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 octa-core processor and an Adreno 610 GPU.

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Realme said that the one we’re getting in the Philippines is the 3GB/64GB model as the 4GB variant will be exclusive to India. However, the review unit we got is the 4GB/64GB model. Not sure if this is an early sample unit, but it’s important that you know.

With that, the performance that we got out of our Realme 5i was acceptable. You can experience some occasional lags, but nothing too annoying, especially when you remember that this device only costs Php6,990. Although we expect a slightly slower productivity performance for the 3GB.

Realme 5i benchmark scores

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On the upside, the gaming performance of the Realme 5i was good. We were able to run popular titles like Call of Duty Mobile and Mobile Legends at playable frame rates, although you have to settle for the graphics settings set to low and medium instead of high.

Software and User Interface

The Realme 5i runs on Android 9 Pie with ColorOS 6.0.1. But since this is a new device, we expect it to be updated to the new Realme UI in the future. A skin that’s on top of the latest Android 10 operating system.

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The home screen looks clean. Swipe up to reveal the app drawer. While on the far left of the home screen there’s the Smart Assistant with a search tab for local and internet search, widgets for the weather, date, step tracker, and more.

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We have the control center on the top, below that is the notification center. The settings menu look clean and organized. The lock screen is also straightforward with large tabs for your incoming notifications.

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Smart Driving is here for a simplified UI when you’re on the road. Digital Wellbeing lets you monitor your smartphone usage, while Parental Controls will help you control what your kids can access if you plan on getting them a Realme 5i.

The Realme 5i uses the standard Google Keyboard which is convenient and easy to type on.

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Realme 5i’s camera app is familiar and easy to use, although I wish the ultra-wide toggle is next was included to the zoom switcher for easier access.

Camera Quality

Despite its budget price tag, the Realme 5i gets to have a quad-camera setup. Leading the charge is the 12-megapixel main shooter, with a 5P lens, a bright f/1.8 aperture, and PDAF.

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We also have the 8-megapixel sensor with a 119-degree ultra-wide-angle lens and f/2.25 aperture. Plus, the usual inclusions such as a 2-megapixel portrait camera and 2-megapixel macro. The image quality you can get from the Realme 5i are not the best, but definitely great for its price.

The 12-megapixel primary shooter takes images with plain colors that are close to reality. This mean there is no software cheating was done to enhance image quality. But you can enable the AI Scene Detection and Chroma Boost to spice up the colors a little more.

Contrast is a bit lacking, but the dynamic range is passable with HDR mode turned on.

The quality from its 8-megapixel ultra-wide shooter is not too good. Details are a bit soft although the contrast is fine. Still, it gives you the flexibility to shoot larger subjects like landscapes, tall buildings, wide dining tables, and more.

We also have a 2-megapixel macro camera, which you might never use. It’s only usable in very specific scenarios.

It lets you get close to a subject by up to 4cm. However, the quality is so bad that you might be better off using the primary camera. Go as close as the focus permits, and crop the photo to zoom in.

On the upside, the 2-megapixel depth-sensor did a great job of isolating the foreground from the background. Thus creating a blurry background with clean edge detection.

Lastly, we have the 8-megapixel front camera. It’s one of the compromises that the Realme 5i has over the Realme 5. But still, I was able to take clean selfies out of it, with clean details and colors.

You can also play with the camera app’s face beauty features. Plus, Portrait Mode works well on this camera despite the lack of a dedicated depth sensor.

Related

Connectivity

Dual-band WiFi used to be exclusive in premium and midrange handsets. Well, not anymore. The Realme 5i now has it, as well as Bluetooth 5.0. Both worked well during our testing.

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The Realme 5i also comes with GPS, A-GPS, BDS, and Galileo. It also has a built-in FM radio, although you’d need a headset for it to work.

Probably the only annoying part about the Realme 5i is the use of microUSB. We’ve already seen other devices in this price category that already comes with the more dated USB Type-C port.

Battery

The Realme 5i comes with a generous 5,000mAh battery. And with its low-resolution screen and efficient processor, you kind of already know that it can provide reliable battery longevity.

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We were able to use the Realme 5i for an entire day with still 20% to 30% battery left as we reach midnight. That’s a day of casual web browsing, checking emails, taking pictures, running benchmark apps, and an hour or two of playing games.

Heavy gamers can expect long gaming sessions out of the Realme 5i. Although you might have to reach for the charger every night.

Verdict

The Realme brand was born to come up with budget-friendly smartphones that packs a punch — and they are delivering to that promise with devices like the Realme 5i.

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For its entry-level price tag, you are already getting a gigantic display and an equally enormous battery that can easily last you for a day or more.

Those who’ve been wanting to play mobile games have been given a chance to do so, thanks to the Realme 5i’s capable processor and attainable price tag. And if that’s not enough, the Realme 5i also comes with capable photography prowess with its quad-camera setup on the back.

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However, it’s still not a perfect device. If we have to nitpick, we really wish that it came with a USB Type-C port instead of the older microUSB. But other than that, the Realme 5i is easy to recommend for those looking for a capable smartphone with an affordable price tag.

Realme 5i pricing and availability in the Philippines

The Realme 5i has an official price of Php6,990 in the Philippines. You can get it online flash sales from January 30 to February 1, 2020, at 12NN and 6PM.

It will then be available in tons of Realme stores and kiosks nationwide starting February 1, 2020.

Pros

  • Unique design
  • Large display
  • Capable performance
  • Long battery life
  • Decent cameras

Cons

  • Still microUSB

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