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Realme 6i hands-on: A tough price to swallow

Realme has finally launched their latest entry-level smartphone, the Realme 6i. It’s an affordable device that packs a new MediaTek Helio G80 processor, a massive 5,000 mAh battery (finally, USB-C) and also an upgraded 48MP camera system. But, is it enough to live up to the bar set by its predecessor? Here’s what I think.

For those who can’t watch the video, here’s a summary of what I liked and didn’t like about the Realme 6i.

What I liked

For starters, the smartphone has pretty respectable specs for its price. The MediaTek Helio G80, though I’m not super familiar with it, was able to run most high-end mobile games at acceptable frames when you set the graphics right. However, FPS gamers should keep in mind that the touch polling rate doesn’t feel really good, and the gyroscope doesn’t work for Call of Duty Mobile.

I like that it has a big 5,000 mAh battery, and that it supports 18W fast charging via a USB-C port now. No more microUSB for this device. on top of that, having a version with 128GB of storage is great to complement the entry-level 64GB storage variant. You can also add more storage via microSD through the dedicated slot that doesn’t force you to sacrifice a SIM slot.

The camera definitely feels like an upgrade over the Realme 5i. Now, the Realme 6i features a 48MP main camera, an 8MP ultra-wide camera, a 2MP macro camera nad a 2MP depth sensor. That said, this is an entry level smartphone so don’t expect super high quality images. It’s OK at best and that’s really all you can realistically expect from a phone like this.

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It even has a decent 16MP selfie camera with a single button to clear all beautification which I really appreciate.

Realme UI also looks pretty good now with a built-in app drawer, dark mode and a stock-ish look. It’s definitely further from the typical Chinese Android skin, and that to me is a pro.

I also appreciate that there is a 3.5mm headphone jack and a body that’s extremely fingerprint resistant.

What I didn’t like

That said, while I’m OK with the design, I was very disappointed with the build. Yes, it’s an all plastic body, but the weird thing about this smartphone is the fact that I can feel the back panel move about. Almost like those phones with removable backs, I can feel the back creak and move about when I’m holding the device in my hand. I’m not sure if that’s because I have a lemon unit, but it is worth noting.

While I think the overall camera experience is an upgrade, the macro camera really leaves a lot to be desired. The lack detail, have awful exposure and honestly I think you’d get better results from taking a photo with the regular camera and cropping in.

Realme didn’t include 5GHz WiFi support on this phone which is just disappointing. You’re stuck with 2.4GHz so you won’t be able to make full use of dual-band WiFi.

Its display, while a nice 6.5 inches, only pushes a resolution of HD+. On top of that, the built-in single bottom-firing speaker sounds tinny and lacks any kind of oomph—which I think is actually below average even at this price point.

Realme 6i is priced at RM699 for the base model with 3GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. Meanwhile, the top spec variant with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage will retail for RM899. At that price point, the smartphone is in direct competition with Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 9S which I’d argue is an objectively better smartphone. The biggest weakness the Realme 6i has over the Redmi Note 9S is that its screen is only HD+ while the Redmi has a Full HD+ panel.

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Photography by Rory Lee with the Sony A6600.