Realme 8i Review: Treat for gamers on a budget

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Realme 8i Review: Treat for gamers on a budget
Shadab Rabbani
  • The Realme 8i features a 120Hz refresh rate display that feels buttery smooth.
  • It packs respectable hardware for gaming at its price, making it a treat under a budget.
  • Read the full review to find out what could have been have been better.
Realme has been serving the Indian customers with the tried and trusted - good hardware at a low price - product strategy and so far, the shipment numbers suggest that it’s working. Continuing the same trend, the company has launched the Realme 8i and Realme 8s 5G smartphones in India recently. The 8i is the most affordable device from the Realme 8-series.

The Realme 8i is the successor to the Realme 7i that launched last September. In comparison to its predecessor, the new 8i has come with some upgrades while doing away with one camera sensor. It competes with the Redmi 10 Prime, which was also launched recently in the country. Unsurprisingly, the Realme 8i packs respectable hardware for its price, and combined with features like 5000mAh battery and 120Hz refresh rate, it might just fit the bill for budget gamers. Let’s find out if it does, or not.

Pricing


The Realme 8i review unit I am using is the 6GB+128GB variant in Space Purple colour, which will cost you ₹15,999. The base model of 4GB+64GB carries a price tag of ₹13,999. The other colour variant is Space Black.
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Design


The phone has a polycarbonate back with a glossy finish and a single-tone flowing design that is glossy and reflective. Its camera bump is placed at the top left of the back and it houses a triple camera set-up with an LED flashlight. Due to its glossy finish, the back is prone to catching fingerprints and smudges, so it’s advised to use a cover with the phone if you wish to keep it tidy for long. The phone comes with a transparent silicon case and which should come in handy to keep it safe without compromising on the looks. However, these covers tend to get yellowish after a few months of usage, so that might be a recurring expense.

On the front, there is a 6.6-inch display that houses the punch hole type selfie camera. The phone has relatively thin bezels on three sides except the chin. The power button is at a comfortable position on the right side of the phone and it also features the side-mounted fingerprint scanner, which I found to be quite fast from the first touch.
The phone weighs 194g and is 8.5mm thick and is comfortable to hold. Single-handed usage is very much possible for chats, emails and browsing.
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Realme 8i Review: Treat for gamers on a budget
The SIM tray has three slots. <br />Shadab Rabbani
The left side of the phone houses the volume rockers and the SIM tray. The SIM tray has three slots — two for 4G LTE SIM cards and one for SD cards (up to 256GB).

It has the Type-C port at the bottom for charging along with a 3.5mm audio jack and a single speaker.
Realme 8i Review: Treat for gamers on a budget
It features an 18W Type-C charging port along with 3.5mm audio jack and single speakers.Shadab Rabbani
Overall, the form factor is easy to handle and the design at the back is an interesting addition that can make your phone stand out, but only if you like bling. Still, nothing changes in the camera bump except the loss of the ultra-wide sensor which did not see great reviews in its previous iteration.

Display


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Interestingly, the 6.6-inch FHD+ display on the Realme 8i comes with a 120Hz refresh rate, and can also be set to standard 60Hz to save battery. But I found the Auto-select option to be the best as it offers optimum performance and varies refresh rate according to the requirement of the app. Its predecessor, Realme 7i’s display had up to 90Hz refresh rate and supported 720p resolution.
Realme 8i Review: Treat for gamers on a budget
The 120Hz refresh rate offers a smooth experience.Shadab Rabbani

The Realme 8i display supports 2412x1080p resolution and has a screen to body ratio of 90.8%. It has a touch sampling rate of 180Hz, which feels exceptional given its low price. It offers a peak brightness of 600 nits. Even though most of my usage has been indoors, I didn’t find any problems while browsing the phone outdoors with auto brightness turned on.

With Realme’s UI, the display feels buttery smooth, and both the media viewing and gaming experience have been impressive.

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Performance


Realme is using the MediaTek Helio G96 chipset that supports the 120Hz refresh rate and gives power-efficient performance. In terms of everyday performance, I found the chipset to do a good job handling most tasks, be it the opening time of apps, gaming or streaming videos on OTT platforms. This is subject to change as the device gets older. The phone we tested was freshly out of the box and we’ll update the review if we find any inconsistency in the performance.
Realme 8i Review: Treat for gamers on a budget
The Realme 8i is powered by MediaTek Helio G96 processor that offers a versatile performance for its price.Shadab Rabbani
The MediaTek Helio G96 is an octa-core processor that only supports 4G LTE SIM cards and not 5G, unlike its counterparts Realme 8 5G and Realme 8s 5G. This is one of the trade-offs that you need to make to save money. In my opinion. It shouldn’t be a concern unless you’re keen to use the phone till 5G rolls out in India.

With 6GB and 128GB storage, the phone performs quite consistently across applications. I didn’t notice any lag while loading apps or switching between them.

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Gaming


Quite surprisingly, Realme offers good gaming performance. I tried graphically demanding games like Call of Duty: Mobile, Real Racing 3 and Asphalt 9 and was quite impressed by the experience. There was no lag, and the screen was very responsive to touches while gaming.
Realme 8i Review: Treat for gamers on a budget
The gaming experience with the 120Hz display.Shadab Rabbani
There was noticeable heating after about 30 minutes of gaming, but it wasn’t abnormal or unbearable. Gaming affected the battery life more than any other application, but that’s common on all devices.

Battery


The massive 5,000mAh was a revelation as it packs hours of screen time. I got about 10 hours of screen time with mixed usage that included browsing on Google Chrome, streaming on Amazon Prime and YouTube, and light gaming. It should take you through the day on a single charge with basic usage. Even though I am yet to test it, the phone features a Super Power-Saver mode that claims to provide hours of usage even after dropping down to 5% battery.
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Realme 8i Review: Treat for gamers on a budget
We got about 10 hours of battery life after the first full charge.Shadab Rabbani
The charging disappointed me, a 30W fast-charger would be a suitable fit for this massive battery, but Realme ships an 18W charger that takes almost two hours to charge from under 10% to 100%.

Camera


The Realme 8i has done away with the ultra-wide sensor that was present in its predecessor, the 7i. It features a triple-camera set-up with a 50MP AI primary sensor. The other two lenses are — the 2MP macro lens and the 2MP B/W lens. The front-facing camera is a 16MP sensor housed in a punch hole cut-out at the top left of the display.
Realme 8i Review: Treat for gamers on a budget
The Realme 8i features a triple-camera set-up at the back that performs well under natural lights.Shadab Rabbani
Talking about the modes, it lets you click photos in portrait mode that blurs out the background. An interesting feature in the camera is a dual-view video mode that can record a video with both front and rear cameras with a vertical divider. I haven’t tried the feature yet, but it could be useful for vloggers.
Realme 8i Review: Treat for gamers on a budget
The camera produces real colours while clicking pictures under natural light.Shadab Rabbani
The rear camera performance is above-par in natural light. The images that I clicked with a high contrast background turned out good-looking. The result was just about good in indoor lighting as I saw some inconsistency and there’s visible noise in darker areas.
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Realme 8i Review: Treat for gamers on a budget
Another decent image captured under natural lights.Shadab Rabbani
In low-light, I clicked images in both night mode and regular mode and the results were better with night mode on, as expected. Photos without night mode on were grainy, so it’s better to make use of the night mode in low light conditions for a decent result.
Realme 8i Review: Treat for gamers on a budget
Image captured in indoor lighting.Shadab Rabbani
The front-facing camera, like most budget smartphones, delivers artificially enhanced results. The spots on the face are blurred to make it look cleaner.

The camera app is responsive and it lets you choose between five shooting modes - night, video, photo, portrait and 50M - simply by swiping left or right. For other modes, you will have to select more options to find camera modes like slow-mo, timelapse, dual-view and film for videos and ultra-macro, panorama and Pro mode for images.
Realme 8i Review: Treat for gamers on a budget
This image was captured in night mode.Shadab Rabbani
It can also record videos in 1080p and 720p resolutions. In film mode, you can adjust the auto-focus and ISO manually. The videos that I captured using the video mode at 1080p reproduced the original colours in daylight but at night the output came out noisy.

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Overall, it’s a decent camera for its price segment. It doesn't click amazing pictures, but under natural lighting, it delivers usable results. So, it’s safe to say it’s not a camera centric device, but it justifies the price.

Software


It features Realme UI 2.0 running on Android 11 out of the box. The UI is clean with plenty of customizable options, such as the shape of the icons, in-built wallpapers, dark mode, and eye comfort mode for reading. The phone comes with pre-installed apps that include Amazon, Daily Hunt, Josh, Moj, Snapchat and others. There are a lot of bloatware apps, but most of them can be uninstalled except for some of Realme’s own apps like the Calculator, Compass, Clone Phone, HeyTap Cloud and others.

Verdict


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If you want an affordable smartphone with a high refresh rate display and versatile performance, the Realme 8i would be a great choice at ₹13,999, but note that the camera isn’t its most attractive feature. It’s an exceptional device for daily usage as you have plenty of hours on the battery. If only the charging time could be reduced, this would be a clear winner in the under ₹15,000 category. For people who stay on the go and want the fast charging option, I wouldn’t recommend the Realme 8i. Its biggest selling point would be the smooth 120Hz display and its above-average gaming performance at its price.

SEE ALSO:

Poco F3 GT review – a return to form for Poco

Realme GT Review — Pocketable powerhouse but not perfect
Oppo Reno 6 Pro 5G review – buy it if you want a mid-range smartphone with some interesting camera features
OnePlus Nord 2 review — catching up to the hype

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