Realme expands its popular series with the introduction of the Realme 9 Pro Plus model.

A first in the series, the device offers high-end features without leaving the premium mid-range segment. Still, with its SRP of Php23,990, it’s the most expensive of the Realme 9 family. But is it worth it spending more on the Plus model, or are you better off settling with the non-Plus variant that’s Php7,000 cheaper? Let’s find out in our Realme 9 Pro Plus full review.

Realme 9 Pro Plus Specs

  • Android 12, Realme UI 3.0
  • Dual SIM, Dual standby
  • 6.4-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED display, 2400 x 1080 pixel resolution, 411ppi
  • 90Hz refresh rate, 360Hz touch sampling
  • 2.5GHz MediTek Dimensity 920 5G octa-core processor
  • Mali-G68 MC4 GPU
  • 8GB RAM
  • 256GB UFS 2.2 internal storage, non-expandable
  • Vapor Chamber Cooling System
  • 16-megapixel front camera
  • 50-megapixel (IMX766, OIS, f/1.8) + 8-megapixel (ultra-wide, f/2.2) + 2-megapixel (macro) rear cameras, LED flash
  • In-display fingerprint scanner, Heart-rate sensor
  • Stereo speakers, Dolby Atmos
  • Headphone jack, Hi-Res audio
  • X-Axis linear motor
  • HSPA+, 4G LTE, 5G
  • WiFi 6, dual-band
  • Bluetooth 5.2
  • GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS
  • USB Type-C
  • Dimensions: 160.2 x 73.3 x 7.22mm
  • Weight: 182g
  • Colors: Sunrise Blue, Aurora Green, Midnight Black
  • 4,500mAh non-removable battery, 60W SuperDart charge

What’s in the box?

The Realme 9 Pro Plus ships with Realme’s signature yellow box. Only this time, it now comes with distinct black labels that rightfully brags the device’s 5G features and model number.

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Everything inside is quite standard. There’s the unit itself, a smoked clear case, SIM ejector tool, a standard 6.5A USB Type-C to Type-A cable, and the surprisingly compact 65W SuperDart charger.

Design and Build Quality

One of the highlights of the Realme 9 Pro Plus is its color-changing feature, which is exclusive to the Sunrise Blue color. Sadly, the one that we got here is the Aurora Green color.

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It still looks nice, though. The green is dominated by black for a stealthier look. It provides a fancy feel with glitter-like accents on the paint. The dark color also makes fingerprint smudges less visible, especially on a glass-back device like this.

On the top left, we have the camera island that houses two large lenses for the 50-megapixel main shooter and ultra-wide lens. Next to it is a smaller circle for the macro. We also have the LED flash and the print that mentions the camera’s best features.

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The depth of the lenses is visible from the sides as it has a transparent and very thick camera bump. This is forgivable since the device is noticeably thin at only 8mm.

Speaking of the build, the Realme 9 Pro+ sure feels like a premium smartphone. The metal chassis, glass-on-glass material, and curved edges feel good in the hands — so much so that it feels scary to use it on a daily without the free case. If you have butterfingers, use the included case in the box. Don’t worry, it protects the device well (even the screen) without adding too much bulk.

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That said, the Realme 9 Pro Plus comes with a 6.4-inch screen. It’s just the right size to make this midrange device feel compact without being too small. For a perspective, most midrange phones do come with 6.5-inch to 6.6-inches displays.

The fingerprint scanner is built right underneath the screen. The front-facing camera is peeking from a punch-hole on the top left, which also made the bezels ultra-thin. Oh, and there’s also a wide grill on the top for the earpiece that doubles as the secondary speaker for the stereo setup.

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So you don’t have to, Realme pre-applied a screen protector on this one. But even without it, the screen should still withstand minor scratches as it’s protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5.

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On the top, we only have the secondary mic for noise isolation on calls.

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The volume controls are on the left side, separated as they’re two individual pieces of metal. The SIM tray is on top of it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with a microSD card slot for storage expansion, which isn’t surprising since fancy phones don’t come with one for some reason.

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Sitting alone on the right side is the lock/power switch. All physical buttons on this smartphone feel noticeably small, so first-time users may have a little hard time finding them at first. On the upside, they are well-made and clicky.

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At the bottom, we have the 3.5mm headphone jack, primary microphone, USB Type-C port, and loudspeakers.

Overall, the Realme 9 Pro Plus is a sleek and well-crafted smartphone — as it should be for a smartphone at this price point.

Display and Sound Quality

The Realme 9 Pro+ comes with a 6.4-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED panel, with a 2400 x 1080 pixel resolution at 411 pixels-per-inch (ppi). It’s similar to its predecessors but this time, it boasts a 90Hz refresh rate, 360Hz touch sampling for improved responsiveness, DCI-P3 coverage, and HDR10 support.

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Needless to say, the display is unsurprisingly gorgeous. It has vibrant colors, deep contrast, and acceptable brightness. The HDR10 also works on most apps, but oddly not on Netflix. Full HD streaming works though thanks to Widevine L1 DRM support.

There’s also the O1 Ultra Vision Engine that enhances SDR images to HDR. The difference is barely noticeable and only works on select apps like Instagram and TikTok as of writing.

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What we really like is the 90Hz refresh rate. We’ve seen this feature in a lot of cheaper smartphones, but you can’t appreciate the smoothness unless you have a powerful-enough processor like what this device has.

While not a lot of apps utilizes its full potential, how it was able to make animations and basic scrolling buttery smooth makes day-to-day use enjoyable. We left the settings to “auto-select” but you can opt for “High” if you always want it at 90Hz, as long as you don’t mind the extra (minor) battery drain it comes with.

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Possibly its one killer feature — and a major upgrade over the Realme 8 Pro — are the stereo speakers. It complements that fast and colorful display with its loud volume and balanced sound. Stereo separation is also audible.

If you spend a lot of time watching vlogs, binge-watching shows and movies, the audio and video features of the Realme 9 Pro Plus will definitely satisfy you.

Hardware and Performance

The Realme 9 Pro+ is powered by a 2.5GHz MediaTek Dimensity 920 processor. It’s a 6nm chipset that consists of 2x Cortex-A78 performance cores, 6x Cortex-A55 efficiency cores, a Mali-G68 GPU with four cores, and an integrated 5G modem. It also comes with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of UFS 2.2 storage.

Realme 9 Pro Plus benchmark scores

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The Realme 9 Pro Plus may not have the most powerful chipset for the price, but the Dimensity 920 feels like an ample choice for this device. Paired with a fast display, everything about this device just feels snappy.

Tasks you’d be doing on a daily are executed quickly. Taking pictures is snappy, social media scrolling is smooth, streaming content is fast, and more.

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The gaming performance of the Realme 9 Pro+ is also great. Call of Duty Mobile runs at “High” graphics quality and “Very High” frame rates under realistic texture. Under those settings, the game ran almost fluidly, even at fast-paced actions.

What’s surprising is, the device kept its cool even after long minutes of playing. Overheating is no issue thanks to its vapor chamber cooling system.

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Like a lot of newer phones, the device also comes with Dynamic RAM Expansion, which borrows space from the storage and turns it into virtual RAM. The feature is set to Expand by 3GB by default, but you can opt to add 2GB or 5GB in the settings menu. You may also choose to disable it, as 8GB RAM is often enough for most use cases.

Software and User Interface

The Realme 9 Pro Plus comes with the latest Android 12-based Realme UI 3.0. While it essentially looks the same as before, it has a smoother interface, improved privacy settings, and more.

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A couple of its software features take advantage of the impressive hardware. Thanks to the OLED panel, the device gets to have Edge Lighting, which lights up the sides of the screen without waking the entire panel when you receive a notification. It also has a vast always-on display setting that lets you customize designs and the information you want to see when the device is idle.

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One cool feature is the Portrait silhouette feature. It analyzes a portrait to create a sketch version that will be used for AOD. When you unlock the device, it will transition to the photo it was based on.

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A feature this device has that you probably didn’t realize it comes with is heart-rate monitoring. The sensor is hidden on the in-display fingerprint scanner, while the app companion is buried in the Realme Labs section of the settings menu.

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Floating mode | Split screen

To take advantage of its 8GB of RAM and Dynamic RAM expansion technology, the Realme 9 Pro+ comes with several multitasking tricks.

There’s the Floating Window 2.0 that keeps select apps open on a tiny window while you’re using something else, useful for things like monitoring a group chat while watching a movie or using the calculator while editing a document. In addition, you can use the split-screen mode so both apps share the same size and run at the same time.

The Realme UI 3.0 is a polished version of the 2.0 version. Here’s to hoping we’d see further improvements on the 4.0.

Camera

One of the key features of the Realme 9 Pro Plus is its cameras, primarily, the 50-megapixel one. This uses a Sony IMX766 1/1.56-inch sensor with a Quad-Bayer filter. It is paired with a 24mm equivalent lens with 6-element glass, f/1.8 aperture, and more importantly, optical image stabilization (OIS).

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Next to it is an ultra-wide lens behind the 8-megapixel Sony IMX 355 lens with a 16mm equivalent at f/2.2 aperture. There’s also a 2-megapixel macro camera from OmniVision. Thankfully, Realme is sparing us from the useless depth sensor.

That said, the image quality from the main camera is really impressive. Images taken from the 50-megapixel sensor are saved in 12.5-megapixel files, which results in clean and sharp detail, lively yet pretty accurate colors, and high contrast.

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50-megapixels
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50-megapixel w/ Portrait mode
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50-megapixel | Indoors

What’s impressive is the OIS and shutter speed, as we were able to take an image of constantly moving subjects (i.e. dogs) at night without it being blurry — one of the main issues we found in a lot of Android cameras.

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50-megapixel w/ Night Mode

Speaking of OIS, this handset makes low-light shooting a delightful experience with the Realme 9 Pro Plus. It lets you take 5-second long exposure shots even without a tripod with its night modes: Neon trail, Light trail portrait, rush hour, and light painting. For a better effect, you can stretch the shot for up to 12 seconds.

Also thanks to OIS, the device now comes with Nightscape video and Smart Long Exposure for Night Mode.

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50-megapixel w/ Neon Light Trail

The night mode also works with the 8-megapixel ultra-wide. Thanks to the intelligent software and hardware, it takes bright and sharp night mode shots, despite the low-resolution sensor.

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8-megapixel ultra-wide w/ Night Mode

Realme 9 Pro Plus takes even better images at daylight. It looks surprisingly sharp, with similar image characteristics from the main camera: natural colors, good contrast, and acceptable dynamic range. Edge distortion correction also worked well.

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8-megapixel ultra-wide
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8-megapixel ultra-wide

The 2-megapixel macro takes decent close-up shots, once you get used to its 4cm focusing distance.

Again, quality is fine but nothing to brag about. Still, we’d rather take it than have a depth sensor.

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2-megapixel macro

On the front, there’s a 16-megapixel camera with a Quad-Bayer sensor. With all the beauty modes off, the selfies you can get out of it are sharp and detailed with pretty accurate colors, nice contrast, and almost free from noise as the screen flash is automatically activated when it notices the environment is dark.

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16-megapixel front camera | Indoors
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16-megapixel front camera w/ Face Beauty | Outdoors

Overall, the cameras are one of the biggest strengths of the Realme 9 Pro+ as it takes great images not just in daylight, but also at night.

Connectivity

Thanks to the Dimensity 920 5G chipset, the Realme 9 Pro Plus gets to have 5G connectivity. As long as you have enough 5G network coverage, you can browse on 5G with stellar speeds with little to no overheating.

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Also on board is WiFi 6, which should be useful if you have the right modem. Still, it provides a seamless connection with standard dual-band WiFi 5 networks.

Realme also included Bluetooth 5.2 for seamless and low-power connectivity to accessories. Plus, NFC cashless payments and pairing with other gadgets.

Battery

Due to its sleek profile, Realme only managed to put a 4,500mAh battery on the Realme 9 Pro+.

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As is, the battery capacity is actually quite decent. PCMark’s battery loop test gave it a score of 11 hours and 10 minutes before dropping to 20% from 100%.

But that’s with any of the connectivity features turned off. If you plan on browsing on 5G a lot, you might have to reach for the charger before the day ends.

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Thankfully, charging this thing is no hassle as it comes with a 60W SuperDart adapter — a charger so powerful that you can even use it on some laptops. You can check the charging speeds below.

Realme 9 Pro Plus charging speed (from 0%)

  • after 15mins: 36%
  • after 30mins: 64%
  • after 45mins: 87%
  • after 55-58mins: 100%

Verdict

The Realme 9 Pro+ is easily one of the most complete and competent smartphones you can get in the market. It has a sleek and eye-catching design, a colorful and fast display, an impressive stereo speaker setup, seamless performance that doesn’t overheat, fast charging, and of course 5G connectivity and great cameras.

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If we were to nitpick, we wish they didn’t remove the microSD card slot. A larger battery could have been nice and included water splash protection at the very least.

Realme could have also positioned the device at a more competitive price range. But if you can handle the price, the Realme 9 Pro Plus will serve you well, even for the years to come. If you really want a more affordable alternative, you can check our full review of the non-Plus variant.

Realme 9 Pro Plus price and availability in the Philippines

The Realme 9 Pro Plus is only available in a single variant that comes with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, which has an SRP of Php23,990. As an early-bird offer, you can get it at Php2,500 off in Lazada from March 16 to 18.

It will be released in physical stores with a free Realme Cobble Bluetooth speaker, Realme Cooling Back Clip Neo, and a 1-year extended warranty from March 16 to 20.

Pros

  • Sleek, eye-catching design
  • Smooth and vibrant display
  • Reliable performance, no heating issues
  • 5G connectivity
  • Great cameras even in low-light
  • Fast charging

Cons

  • More expensive than usual
  • Battery could be bigger
  • No microSD card slot for storage expansion
  • No water protection



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