Realme 9 5G SE Review
There have been a lot of new devices from Realme recently. There are a lot of phones in the Realme 9 series and the Realme 9 5G Speed Edition, or just the Realme 9 5G SE, is one of them.
The smartphone is equipped with some of the finest hardware available in this price range and is quite probably among the most powerful devices available in India for under Rs 20,000.
On paper, the Realme 9 5G SE is a powerhouse when it comes to performance. But has Realme been able to find a good balance between solid performance and a nice user experience? Let’s see what our Realme 9 SE review has to say.
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Realme 9 5G SE Price in India and Variants
Realme 9 5G SE has a starting price of Rs. 19,999 for the base variant with 6GB RAM + 128GB storage and Rs. 22,999 for the top variant with 8GB RAM + 128GB storage in India.
The phone will be available in two colour options: Azure Glow and Starry Glow. It will go on sale starting March 14 through both online and offline platforms like Flipkart, Realme.com and retail stores.
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Realme 9 5G SE Box Contents
The all-new Realme 9 5G SE brings the following items inside the box:
- 30W Adapter
- USB Cable
- Sim Card Tool
- Screen Protect Film
- Important Info Booklet with Warranty Card
- Quick Guide
Realme 9 5G SE Specs at a glance
Before we talk in detail about the Realme 9 5G SE, let’s see what the on-paper specs look like:
- Display: 6.6 inches IPS LCD
- Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G
- RAM & ROM: 6GB 128GB, 8GB 128GB
- Software: Android v11
- Rear camera: 48MP + 2MP + 2MP
- Selfie camera: 16MP
- Battery: 5000 mAh
- Weight: 199 grams
- Dimensions: 164.4 x 75.8 x 8.5 mm
Realme 9 5G SE Design and Build
Realme has done a great job with the design of the device. First and foremost, we appreciate Realme’s decision to use a matte finish on the back rather than a glossy one, which prevents fingerprints and other smudges. The smartphone is available in two colour options: Starry Glow and Azure Glow. Both colours are based on the company’s Starlight design aesthetic, which shimmers under the sunlight.
The camera island is in the shape of an upside-down L. The Realme logo is located in the lower-left corner of the back panel, while the 48MP Matrix AI camera labelling is located on the camera unit. It wobbles a little on a level surface since the camera module protrudes a bit.
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The smartphone has a plastic finish and a build quality that is above average. The next thing you will notice about the Realme 9 5G SE is how bulky it is. It weighs about 200 grams, which makes it one of the heavier phones in its class.
The Realme 9 5G SE is equipped with a side-mounted fingerprint scanner, which is housed on the power key on the right side of the phone and the volume buttons on the left side of the phone. The Type-C port and the 3.5mm audio jack are located at the bottom of the device.
Realme 9 5G SE Camera
The Realme 9 5G SE has a triple camera layout on the back of the device. It has a 48-megapixel main camera, a 2-megapixel macro lens, and a 2-megapixel monochrome lens at the back. There is a 16MP camera on the front of the phone that can be used to take selfies. Given the smartphone’s price tag, Realme should have added a dedicated ultra-wide-angle lens.
Let’s start with the primary 48MP lens. The primary camera performs really well in bright sunlight. This camera delivers images that are clear and detailed, even though they are sometimes oversharpened. Generally speaking, the camera did a decent job of capturing colours. It was good to see the quick shutter speed.
Next is a 2MP monochrome portrait camera, which sounds a little gimmicky at first, but the photos taken with it are actually quite good. The images captured by the 2MP macro lens are totally useless. They are frequently overexposed, and there isn’t enough detail to be found in them.
The lack of optical image stabilisation (OIS) and a smaller sensor results in noisy photos with blurred details when photographing in low light. The photos also have a green hue to them. Using Night Mode allows you to get more details and control the highlights. Even so, the picture quality is far from acceptable.
The front-facing 16-megapixel camera is capable of capturing decent selfies with a good amount of detail and sharpness. The front-facing camera is capable of taking decent portrait shots. The bokeh effect is correctly applied and has a good level of detail.
The smartphone is capable of recording in 720p and 1080p at 30fps and 60fps, as well as 4k video at 30fps. There are a bunch of features for the videos like bokeh video, AI highlight, ultra steady, and live filters.
Realme 9 5G SE Battery and Charging
The battery performance and optimization of the Realme 9 Speed Edition will grab your attention. The Realme 9 5G SE has a 5,000mAh battery and can easily last a full day of heavy use. If you’re not a heavy user, it may even last two whole days on a single charge.
The battery optimization on this phone is also quite impressive. Even on the days when I used the smartphone a lot, it still had about 20% battery left by the end of the day.
The phone features 30W Dart charging, which is always a welcome addition at this pricing point. Putting the phone on charge for 30 minutes takes it from 0 to about 50 per cent. Using the 30W rapid charger, the Realme 9 5G SE goes from 0 to 100 per cent in about 90 minutes.
Realme 9 5G SE Display
The Realme 9 SE 5G has a 6.6-inch IPS LCD display with a 144Hz refresh rate. It features a Full HD+ resolution with a peak brightness of 600 nits. You won’t have any trouble using the phone outside in direct sunlight.
There is also a variable refresh rate feature, which changes the refresh rate from 60Hz to 120Hz in a smart way. You can expect a buttery smooth experience whether you’re scrolling through social media or playing games.
In addition, this is the first 144Hz refresh rate display in the budget segment. However, if you are not heavily involved in gaming or content consumption, you may not notice a significant difference between 120Hz and 144Hz.
It would have been better if Realme had used an AMOLED display with a refresh rate of 90Hz or 120Hz instead of an LCD display with a 144Hz refresh rate. The FHD+ LCD screen offers a wide viewing angle and good colours. However, it doesn’t have the depth and richness of an AMOLED screen.
The display has Widevine L1 support, meaning you can stream high-definition content via OTT platforms. On the other hand, Netflix does not support HDR content, which is a drawback.
Realme 9 5G SE Performance
The Realme 9 5G SE is among the best-performing smartphones in its price range because of the Snapdragon 778G chipset. The Realme 9 5G SE is available in two RAM variants: 6GB of RAM and 8GB. It is paired with 128GB of UFS 2.2 internal storage, which can be further expanded with the help of a microSD card.
With the help of the virtual RAM feature, the RAM can be increased up to an additional 5GB. Everyday tasks are easy, even if you have a number of apps running in the background. As a result, there is no need to worry about RAM management because background apps remain in memory and do not reload when you go to them.
Apps loaded quickly, and everything seemed silky smooth, thanks to the high refresh rate of 144Hz. There were no stutters or slowdowns that I noticed. The animations, scrolling and navigating through the UI were buttery smooth. No matter what I was doing, whether it was multitasking or playing graphic demanding games, the phone ran flawlessly.
The 144Hz refresh rate will probably not be as useful as you expect it to be, because while some games do support 144Hz, the popular titles such as BGMI and Call of Duty Mobile will simply not allow you to take advantage of it.
I played Asphalt 9, BGMI, and Call of Duty: Mobile on the Realme 9 SE 5G for checking gaming performance. Playing with high graphics settings, BGMI and Call of Duty both ran at 60fps. Asphalt 9 also runs smoothly, even when played at the highest graphic settings.
BGMI could run at its highest settings for HDR and Ultra, and it consistently offers 40 fps. However, we switched it back to the Smooth setting with Extreme Frame Rates for a smoother 60 fps experience.
I didn’t notice any overheating or performance throttling while using the phone. High-Performance mode allows you to squeeze more power out of the phone, but we choose to leave it on the Smart Performance mode option so it provides a decent balance between battery and performance.
Realme 9 5G SE Software and UI
The Realme 9 5G SE comes preinstalled with a custom Realme UI 2.0 UI based on Android 11. It’s disheartening to see a new phone running Android 11 while we’re just months away from Android 13’s official launch. My overall thoughts of the smartphone were positive: it was easy to use and responsive.
Many features and options are available for customising the interface, including dual-mode audio, a smart sidebar, the sleep capsule, and more.
Realme has made significant gains in terms of cleaning up the UI and removing bloatware; but there are still some third-party applications such as SoLoop, Josh, Max Takatak, and others. Fortunately, you can uninstall these third-party apps to free up some space.
In addition, you also get the virtual RAM feature that can extend the RAM up to 5GB by using the internal memory of the phone.
Realme 9 5G SE Audio, Connectivity, Biometrics
The Realme 9 5G SE has a single loudspeaker that isn’t particularly impressive. The sound quality is quite average. Even while it is pretty loud, it falls short when compared to a stereo speaker. There is a good thing that Realme managed to keep the 3.5mm audio jack on the phone.
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The phone supports 5G, which makes it future-proof like most smartphones in this price range. It has the following 5G bands: n1, n28, n41, n77, and n78. In addition, the Realme 9 5G SE has Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth v5.20, and a USB Type-C port for other connectivity options.
This Realme phone has a fingerprint scanner built into the power button that is both fast and accurate. Face unlock is also available and works just as quickly.
You can see right away that the Realme 9 5G SE is all about speed and performance. The Realme 9 5G SE is a serious contender with the fastest display within its price range.
Those of you who enjoy mobile gaming will find the Realme 9 5G SE to be an excellent choice for them. It boasts a display with a high refresh rate, an impressively fast and reliable chipset, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a battery that lasts for a long time. It has a 5G connectivity, which makes it future-proof also.
However, the phone puts too much attention on performance and not enough on the role of the cameras. Sadly, the cameras on this phone aren’t up to the mark. Stereo speakers as well as an IP certification are also missing from the phone.
Overall, we’d only suggest it to avid gamers or performance buffs who don’t plan on using the camera much. For people who care about the cameras, there are many other options on the market that can be better than this one.