Realme's been on a tear in 2020; this year alone, they've launched 40 smartphones scattered around the globe, a sign that they're keeping pace with the best of them.
And to end this wild year, they're offering another one of its pocket-friendly devices, the Realme 7i. The China-based device maker has been ensuring it has a phone for every budget, and so far as we've seen in our previous reviews they've been quite delivering on it.
TALE OF THE TAPE
By all accounts, the 7i is a token upgrade compared to the 6i, which was also launched this year. Even their displays are virtually equal, save for a couple of things that are hairlines in differences.
The 7i has a 6.5-inch display with a typical Android vibe (hello, thick chin). The top and side bezels are slim enough to give it a good look in terms of screen aesthetics, since we're all used to and would want the most digital real estate at our disposal nowadays.
There could be an argument whether it's light or not, though it doesn't breach the 200g mark. It is also quite thick at almost 9mm. It has rounded corners running around its hard plastic body, and its glossy rear finish gives the impression it's covered in glass. At the centre towards the top is a fingerprint sensor.
On the left is the card tray that can house two nano-SIMs and an SD card, the latter of which you may need if you're the type who stores and stores stuff, especially media files. Opposite are the volume rocker and power button, while below are the slots for USB-C and a 3.5mm audio connector. (We told you, this is a clone of the 6i.)
Though officially listed as powered by Android 10 (technically, 'realme UI based on Android 10'), our unit came running on Android 9 Pie (weird), so we had to update it. Realme is also keeping its own OS take as simple as it can get, as it doesn't have any annoying bloatware.
Of course, you'll be happy without that especially when you know you don't have much storage. Fortunately, its base storage is at 128GB, eliminating the 6i's 64GB along the way. Something odd for us is the fact that there are two RAM options, 4GB and 8GB (region-dependent). This is a personal take, but if you'd choose to provide options between RAM or storage, it might as well be for the latter; a 64GB would be fine provided you have spare SD cards lying around.
In any case, the 7i still offers a smooth experience. There are times, however, when you'll feel some lags, particularly when you reopen an app that you've completely closed from the recent apps menu; it isn't an instant load and there's an up to one second wait before the app fully shows up. Scouring the Web — using any browser — also exhibits some speed bumps when you scroll up or down (we have the 8GB version, FYI).
From the home screen, swiping upwards reveals the app tray, and swiping downwards takes you to universal search; doing so from the top gets you to the control and notifications panel (as usual). Swiping to the left gets you to more top-level screens, while to the right takes you to the Google app (also exhibiting speed bumps).
And aside from the fingerprint sensor behind, you also get face unlock, both of which work pretty decently. The latter, however, will take a little more time if lighting conditions aren't that optimal.
Having a quad-lens setup on a phone of this price point isn't a surprise anymore, given the competition and the commodity it has become. Of course, whatever the spec sheet says, the real deal is in the actual results.
Details are quite crisp on the default zoom value and ultra-wide angle, but things get really mushy as you go up, especially at its max 10x.
You can also notice distortion on the ultra-wide angle lens, which is pretty much unsurprising, though on this device the warp is considerably noticeable, particularly at the centre.
At night, there's a nice view at standard zoom, but the same results as above are there as you zoom in or out.
Realme's proven its ultra-quick charging capabilities, as we've seen in our tests of the 6 (61 minutes), and the ridiculously-fast 7 Pro (37 minutes) and X2 Pro (33 minutes), but those used Flash, Vooc and SuperDart charging tech, respectively. So what happens when 'only' quick charge is on the 7i?
Yeah, quite expected. To be fair, it was never explicitly mentioned that the 7i would zip to max power in such a short time and, of course, this is a budget phone; that's one more feature stripped down.
Meanwhile, in our standard one-hour YouTube-at-full-brightness test, the 7i lost a rather big 13 per cent. Again, this is a budget device, so it's can be quite expected a result not in single-digit land.
Using it all day with a little bit of everything — okay, videos and games weighing more — showed us that we had less than 20 per cent at nighttime. You're good at about below 40 per cent if you don't abuse it as such, but by all indications you're sure to need to refill its energy before you go to bed.
The Realme 7i is a device, obviously, intended for the budget spectrum of users. It is important to note, however, that being in that category doesn't mean it's 'cheap'.
It a good one when you look at it from an overall perspective, but its camera and battery are weighing on it. Those, however, don't take away the fact that its performance is pretty decent. Pretty cool to have a phone with a quad-lens camera anyway, no?
GOODIES: Very affordable price, bright display, a good overall experience
GOOFIES: Iffy camera, battery a bit short on life, token upgrade over 6i
EDITOR RATING: Unless you don't care about zooming (in or out), you got a deal here. 4.0/5
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