Realme 8i smartphone review – 120Hz on a budget

Budget handset, premium features.

Realme 8i review

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Realme is the king of budget handsets without negotiating on quality. Its current flagship, the Realme GT Neo 2, can be found for around $500 when stock is in your favor. The issue with Realme is distribution. Although they are making their presence known in the UK and US, you won’t find Realme at large brick-and-mortar retailers as its major market lies in the eastern parts of the world, particularly China and India, which means a quality smartphone without brand tax. Don’t fret though, online retailers such as Amazon stock Realme handsets here.

A silicone case comes included.

Realme 8i Specifications

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of this bargain handset, here are some specifications to feast on:

Network TechnologyGSM/HSPA/LTE (Up to 4G)
Body Dimensions6.46 x 2.97 x 0.33 inches
Weight194g
Build MaterialsPlastic frame/black with a glass screen
SIMDual Nano SIM w/ dual stand-by
Display TypeIPS LCD, 120Hz, 600 nits (Peak)
Display Size6.6 inches (84% screen-to-body ratio)
Display Resolution1080 x 2412 pixels, 20:9 ratio
Operating SystemRealme UI 2.0, powered by Android 11
ChipsetMediatek Helio G96
CPUOcta-core (2×2.05 GHz Cortex-A76 & 6×2.0 GHz Cortex-A55)
GPUMali-G57 MC2
Memory Card SlotmicroSDXC
Internal Memory And Storage64GB 4GB RAM, 128GB 4GB RAM, 128GB 6GB RAM (running via UFS 2.1)
Main Cameras50 MP, f/1.8, 26mm (wide), 1/2.76″, 0.64µm, PDAF
2 MP, f/2.4, (macro)
2 MP, f/2.4, (depth)
Main Camera FeaturesLED Flash, HDR, Panorama, 1080p @ 30 FPS video
Selfie Camera16 MP, f/2.1, (wide), 1/3.0″, 1.0µm
Selfie Camera Features Panorama, 1080p @ 30 FPS video
Features3.5mm Jack, Fingerprint (side-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
BatteryLi-Po 5000 mAh, Non-removable with 18w fast charging
CommunicationsWiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, hotspot, Bluetooth 5.1, GPS and USB-C 2.0.

Show us what you’re made of

The Realme 8i is the most budget offering on the company’s current 8 series meaning we won’t be seeing full metal and glass bodies. With that being said, Realme has made the best of it with a reflective plastic back panel that catches the eye but unfortunately, fingerprints too. Whilst it’s not the best feeling in the world, it doesn’t feel flimsy at all thanks to its weight. At 194g, it’s light enough to comfortably handle in one hand whilst negating that cheap, throwaway cadence other budget handsets are guilty of.

Realme packs a lot into a small box

Luckily, anyone in their right mind needs to pop a case on their smartphone to protect against drops (and grubby hands). Realme knows this, which is why a silicone case is provided in the box. Speaking of the box, the bright yellow package contains an 18w power brick, USB-C to USB-A charging cable, some documentation, a silicon case, and the sweet satisfaction of a brand new handset.

The first thing buyers will notice when unpacking Realme 8i is the massive 6.6-inch display. Bearing in mind this is a budget handset, that 6.6-inch is not only a nice inclusion but it is also a variable 120Hz display. This means it can adjust its refresh rate depending on app and UI support, which saves battery and unnecessary eye strain. This IPS LCD screen isn’t going to pop like its LED sibling but does the job at around 600 nits of brightness.

It’s good, but is it flagship good?

It’s surprising to see this kind of performance in a smartphone, but as with all budget phones, it has to compensate somewhere. Whilst the quad-camera array features a 50MP wide-angle lens, the other 2MP companions take any form of macro and depth perception back a few years when it comes to quality. 

The IPS LCD 120Hz screen really pops

While the screen is surprisingly stellar, when it comes to photography, the 8i certainly wasn’t put on the market for its photography gains. Whilst it takes half-decent pictures, it’s far from the handset’s best quality. Taking wide-angle pictures in well-lit areas will provide adequate photos for casual users in most cases but this is not a handset for nighttime or close-up photography by any means.

The selfie (or front camera) on the other hand is 16MP with panorama and more than does the job. Whilst we’d like to see more in a front camera for crystal clear portraits, it does enough for the budget target that Realme is aiming for with the 8i.

Performance positives

Bringing the review back round to a positive, Realme 8i performs really well when taking on bigger tasks such as gaming. Granted, no one should expect the performance of a big brand flagship handset here, but it does the job. 

You can forgive fingerprints for that lovely finish

Playing titles such as Call of Duty Mobile and Eternium felt smooth for the most part, albeit with slight frame rate drops during hectic moments. Whilst it wasn’t game-breaking, someone looking for a smooth gaming experience on mobile no matter what should set their sights on something more powerful.  

The Mediatek Helio G96 delivers the performance of an Octa-Core processor whilst delivering graphics from the Mali-G57 MC2 GPU. This combination is sufficient to tackle streaming and endless Facebook feed scrolls. In fact, it’s enough to tackle most Android games too, making this a great phone choice for younger members of the family. 

How long can Realme 8i perform for?

If you go for the highest-priced Realme 8i, you’ll get 128GB of UFS 2.1 storage alongside a mighty 6GB RAM. Providing the video output of the main camera is 30 FPS @ 1080p, this is more than enough room to record as much video as you’d like, within reason. The lower end of the Realme 8i scale all comes with 4GB RAM as standard, which is more than enough to deal with the memory access requests of most modern apps. Whilst 6GB is overkill for these kinds of tasks, it certainly comes in handy for gamers and power users. 

Seeing a 3.5mm headphone jack is a blessing in 2021

Real8i is a 4G phone, so it’s pointless paying extra for a 5G service you can’t use. On the other hand, this is a dual-SIM device that comes in really handy for balancing work and personal numbers without having two handsets. 4G is nothing to be sniffed at, however, with speeds running at around 5-12 MBps. These kinds of speeds are just fine for streaming music, videos, and having a cheeky multiplayer game of your choice. 

One of the most important features of any smartphone is the battery, with Realme 8i sporting a fast-charging compatible Li-Po 5000 mAh battery. For gamers, this means around eight hours of constant playtime. For casual smartphone users, you can get roughly 20 hours out of the Realme 8i depending on video and music streaming.

Our Verdict

Recommended

Realme 8i

A budget smartphone with some flagship features

4/5

Realme 8i is a great sub $250 handset that blows a lot of its big brand competition out of the water with its performance and 120Hz variable IPS LCD display. We would definitely recommend it for casual and light mobile gamer users but not for anyone seeking perfect picture/video quality and peek performance. What you see is what you get with Realme 8i, which is a lesson bigger brands could do with learning.

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