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Realme 8 5G Review

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The Realme 8 5G arrives as the brand’s second 5G phone in the market and one of the many budget 5G phones available.

Realme aims to offer a complete and futureproof smartphone. Is it up for the task? We find out in our Realme 8 5G review.

Realme 8 5G Specs

  • Android 11, Realme UI 2.0
  • Dual SIM, Dual standby
  • 6.5-inch FHD+ IPS display, 2400 x 1080 pixel resolution, 405ppi
  • 90Hz refresh rate, 600-nits
  • 2.2GHz MediaTek Dimensity 700 octa-core processor
  • 8GB LPDDR4X RAM
  • Mali-G57 GPU
  • 128GB UFS 2.1 internal storage, expandable via microSD
  • 16-megapixel front camera
  • 48-megapixel (f/1.8, PDAF) + BnW + macro rear cameras, LED flash
  • Side-mounted fingerprint scanner, Face unlock
  • Single loudspeaker, Headphone jack
  • HSPA+, 4G LTE, 5G
  • WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band
  • Bluetooth 5.1
  • GPS, A-GPS, GALILEO, QZSS, GLONASS, BDS
  • NFC
  • USB Type-C
  • Dimensions: 162.5 x 74.8 x 8.5mm
  • Weight: 185g
  • Colors: Supersonic Black, Supersonic Blue
  • 5,000mAh non-removable battery, 18W fast charging

Design and Build Quality

It’s hard to tell the Realme 8 5G apart from other budget Realme phones. It has the same glass-like design on the back and a shiny finish that reflects light. It may be prone to hairline scratches over time and can attract fingerprint marks, so we suggest you use the included clear case.

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Despite the case, the device still feels relatively light and compact.

We also have the square camera glass on the back with a lip for the LED flash and the 48-megapixel branding. A smaller Realme logo is on the bottom — not as bold as what the Realme 8 and 8 Pro models have.

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The screen dominates the front with acceptable bezel thickness. It’s said to be protected by Corning Gorilla Glass, but the exact model used was not mentioned. We suspect it’s at least CG3, like what most budget phones are. There’s a pre-applied screen protector for extra peace of mind.

On the top left corner is a punch-hole for the selfie camera. Instead of the middle, having it here makes it less distracting, so you can enjoy the IPS display more.

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The top is clean, while the bottom has the 3.5mm headphone jack, built-in microphone, USB Type-C, and the only loudspeaker.

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On the left, there’s the SIM tray on the top for two nano-SIM cards and a dedicated slot for the microSD. Right in the middle is the volume controls, adjacent to the lock/power switch on the left that doubles as the fingerprint scanner.

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We wish the volume controls were separated instead of a single slab of metal. Still, it feels tactile enough but not as satisfying to press as the others.

We also wish the lock/power button was protruded a little further to make it easier to press, but you can easily get used to it.

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Display and Sound Quality

It may not be an AMOLED panel, but the 6.5-inch FHD+ IPS screen on the Realme 8 5G offers vibrant colors and deep contrast thanks to the “Vivid” color settings enabled by default. Although, this will make you misjudge how colorful photos were taken with it are. So if color accuracy is important, you can switch to Gentle mode with sRGB colors.

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The smoothness of the 90Hz refresh rate is noticeable when flicking through social media feeds, websites, and watching videos.

However, running on 90Hz all the time can affect the battery connection. That’s why, by default, the refresh rate setting is at “Auto select.” It intelligently switches to 90Hz or 60Hz, depending on what you’re doing for battery efficiency.

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As for audio, we’re quite disappointed by the lack of stereo speakers for the price. Thankfully, the single bottom-firing speaker has more than enough volume for solo listening. However, the quality is mediocre. The mids are audible, but the highs/treble and lows/bass are dull.

There’s a port to plug headphones on, but it doesn’t come with one on the box, so you have to purchase that separately.

Hardware and Performance

The Realme 8 5G boasts a MediaTek Dimensity 700 octa-core processor, with the one reviewing here sporting an 8GB/128GB RAM and storage configuration. A cheaper 4GB/128GB version is also available.

Realme 8 5G benchmark scores

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It provides relatively smooth performance, especially with basic apps and tasks you’d be using on a daily basis.

But, we can feel it being overwhelmed when we’re trying to fire up multiple apps simultaneously and switch between them. We were able to iron this out by enabling Performance Mode in the settings menu.

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Call of Duty Mobile on Realme 8 5G

Gaming performance was passable. We ran Call of Duty Mobile at Medium graphics quality and High frame rate — the highest setting that can be set on the game, and it played smoothly.

Connectivity

The Realme 8 5G features dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 5.1, USB Type-C, and NFC.

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Realme 8 5G network speed test

Of course, the main event here is the 5G connectivity. It’s a nice inclusion, especially if you live/work in an area with 5G coverage. Personally, I was able to find a 5G signal. Sadly, finding one was really hard, and the one I found had poor speeds despite being on a 5G area.

But don’t let this discourage you, as local telcos are amping up their operations to improve the 5G availability in the Philippines. Once Smart, Globe, and other telcos add your areas to the 5G areas list, you’re phone will be ready.

Software and User Interface

The Realme 8 5G runs on the latest Android 11-based Realme UI 2.0. It looks straightforward to use while offering a high level of customization.

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Swiping up from the home screen easily reveals the app drawer. A simpler home screen layout can be set on the settings menu.

While swiping left reveals the Google screen with a search tab on top and relevant news.

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There’s a special menu for Personalization that lets you customize themes, wallpapers, icon styles, colors, fonts, and more.

It also offers deep Dark mode customization that lets you choose between different darkness contrasts.

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Smart Sidebar is disabled out of the box. You can enable it on the settings menu so you can easily access quick commands like screenshots, screen recording, selected apps, and more. The traditional Assistive Ball is also here.

Split Screen can be enabled by swiping up three fingers, holding the Recent button, through the multitasking screen, and via the Smart Sidebar.

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OPPO and Realme’s HeyTap Cloud service, its own take on Apple’s iCloud, is also here for easy media and settings backup.

As for storage, 11.9GB of 128GB is reserved for the system. The rest is yours to fill.

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By default, it uses Google Keyboard that’s convenient and easy to get used to. The camera app, the app most people would use a lot of the time, is intuitive.

Camera Quality

It may not be a camera-centric phone, but the Realme 8 5G is equipped with the right hardware for those who like taking pictures.

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Around the back, there’s a 48-megapixel Samsung ISOCELL Plus S5KGM1 main shooter with f/1.8 aperture and PDAF. Next to it are the BnW sensor, macro cameras, and dual-tone flash. The fourth circle is the AI logo to complete the quad-camera illusion. Sadly, there’s no ultra-wide lens on this thing.

While on the front, there’s an apt 16-megapixel selfie camera sitting on a punch-hole.

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The camera quality from the main shooter is great, but not the best. It’s equipped well enough to cover the camera department well, considering all the other things it already has.

As per usual, it takes photos in 12-megapixel with pixel-binning technology. A 48MP mode is still present if you want to take full advantage of that sensor.

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48-megapixel main camera
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48-megapixel main camera | AI Scene Detection

Under the screen’s default “Vivid mode,” images would look extra vibrant and saturated. Going with “Gentle Mode” reveals the actual colors, which actually look realistic. The dynamic range is wide, and the noise is acceptable. You can use AI scene detection for an added splash of colors.

Low-light shots accelerate the noise levels a bit but are still bearable. You can use the Night Mode for a cleaner shot and offers more regulated highlights, and amps up the colors.

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48-megapixel main camera | Low light
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48-megapixel main camera | Night Mode

The 16-megapixel front-facing camera takes sharp images with accurate skin tones, great contrast, and impressive dynamic range. You can play with the AI Face Beauty settings if you want to, but expect a drop in details.

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16-megapixel front camera
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16-megapixel front camera

Battery

The Realme 8 5G features a 5,000mAh battery — a standard capacity on devices of this caliber. PCMark’s battery loop test gave it a score of 13 hours and 35 minutes of screen-on time with the WiFi and Bluetooth off and the screen brightness and volume set to 50%.

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PCMark battery test

But if you browse on 5G a lot, expect a faster discharge on this device. Still, you can expect hours of high-speed internet browsing on this thing.

Moreover, the phone has an 18W charger, one of the main compromises over the 4G-only model with a 30W adapter. That said, charging speeds are not the fastest, but not the slowest either. A full 0% to 100% will take about two hours.

Verdict

The Realme 8 5G has all the right attributes to be a futureproof 2021 smartphone. It has a sharp and fast display, capable performance, great cameras, good battery life, NFC, and of course, 5G connectivity and an affordable price tag.

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We just wish it had an ultra-wide camera, faster charger, and stereo speakers if we were to nitpick. But other than that, the Realme 8 5G is easy to recommend to those looking for a capable smartphone in this price range.

Realme 8 5G pricing and availability in the Philippines

The Realme 8 5G 8GB/128GB model, the one we just reviewed, is available in the Philippines for Php11,990. A cheaper 4GB/128GB model arrived weeks after for Php10,990.

Pros

  • Sharp and fast display
  • Capable performance
  • Reliable battery life
  • Great camera
  • NFC
  • 5G

Cons

  • Charging speed could be faster
  • No ultra-wide camera
  • No stereo speakers

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