In 2019, many OEMs came up with their sub-brands and online-only series of smartphones which eventually is working out well for the brands. Realme Mobiles brand was once such a company that was introduced under OPPO earlier last year. realme 1 was the first smartphone from the brand and later on, the company started to branch out from OPPO to start functioning independently. Within a year, realme launched an array of smartphones and the company is on a roll. After the launch of realme 5, realme 5 Pro, realme XT, realme X2 Pro, and realme X2, the latest smartphone from the company is a new budget smartphone – realme 5i.
realme 5i is positioned below the realme 5s and comes with a new ‘Sunrise’ design. But, is it just old wine in new bottle? Let’s find out in this review.
realme has changed the color accent of the box of the 5i and this time around, it has a striking yellow color all over the box and as usual, the key specifications and other details are mentioned. The packaging is minimalistic as upon opening the box, you will find the realme 5i, a 10W wall adapter, micro USB cable, SIM ejector, and the usual user manual and warranty information. Also, this time, our realme 5i review unit didn’t include a transparent case, and this could be a cost-cutting move.
- realme 5i
- Wall adapter (10W x 1)
- micro USB cable (x 1)
- SIM ejector (x 1)
- Screen protector (pre-installed)
- User manual
- Warranty information
Design and Physical Overview
realme has refreshed the design on the realme 5i with the new ‘Sunrise’ design to the rear and this is definitely a big departure from the crystal design that was seen on the realme 5 and the 5s. The ‘Sunrise’ design is inspired by the power and hope that the first rays of the sun bring, and offers a better grip. It adopts a mirror-polished rear shell, and each grain is processed by the industry-leading German five-axis precision radium carving machine, after 600 minutes of polishing. The design looks stunning and in our testing, we did not encounter any scratches or cracks. The smartphone feels top-heavy, but nonetheless, realme has done a great job with the design and build quality of the 5i.
Coming to the physical overview, to the front, there is a huge 6.5-inch HD+ display with a mini-drop notch. The power button is to the right and volume rockers are present to the left. We tested the Aqua Blue color variant of the smartphone and the buttons look amazing in this color accent. To the bottom, there is a 3.5mm headphone jack, microphone, micro USB port, and the speaker grill. The quad rear camera setup along with the rear-mounted physical fingerprint scanner is present to the rear of the realme 5i.
The display is the same as the realme 5 and 5s, and there is no change here. The realme 5i sports a 6.5-inch HD+ mini-drop display with a resolution of 1600 x 720 pixels and is protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3+. The quality of the panel used by realme is quite good as it gets pretty bright outdoors and has decent viewing angles. The colors are vibrant with a decent amount of sharpness and you can adjust the color temperature with the three options — Cool, Default, and Warm provided under Settings. As expected it has an ambient light sensor and has support for auto-brightness. But, the auto-brightness is kind of hit or miss and could be annoying at times. We faced this issue with realme 5s too and wished it would have been fixed with the 5i.
Regarding the display, as the resolution is on the lower side, the content is not sharp and is not the best display around there. We would have wished to see a FULL HD+ display on this one, but nonetheless, the quality of the panel offered by the brand on this smartphone is quite good, considering the price point at which it is selling.
Software, UI, and Apps
realme 5i runs on Android 9.0 (Pie) based ColorOS 6.0.1 with December 2019 security patch as of now. realme has already confirmed Android 10 update for realme 5 in Q2 2020, and we can expect a similar timeline for the realme 5i too. Color OS also offers various ways for navigation including gestures and comes with an array of features. It also has ‘realme Lab’ which brings Dark Mode to the realme 5s and the implementation is quite good. The best part is that the dark mode applies to most of the third-party apps and you can choose to turn it off at your convenience.
Out of 4GB RAM, around 2GB of RAM is free when default apps are running in the background.
Apart from the usual set of utility apps, realme has pre-installed some bloatware, like UC Browser, Dailyhunt, Opera News, and Helo but all these apps can be uninstalled easily. You can also uninstall apps like App Market, Hot Apps, Hot Games by following the procedure here without rooting the phone. realme 5i does not have Widevine L1 certification and this means that you cannot enjoy HD content on NetFlix and Amazon Prime.
Having said that, Color OS is loaded with a lot of options and nifty features, and the choice of custom skin varies from user to user.
The optics on the realme 5i are similar to the realme 5, except for a change in the front-facing camera which is now an 8MP shooter instead of a 13MP shooter found on the realme 5. The quad-rear camera setup is a combination of 12MP rear camera with Sony IMX386 sensor, f/1.8 aperture, PDAF, LED flash, EIS, 8MP 118° ultra-wide-angle lens with 1.12μm pixel size, f/2.25 aperture, 2MP depth sensor and 2MP camera for 4cm macro with 1.75μm pixel size, f/2.4 aperture.
The stock camera offers different modes like Nightscape, Chroma boost, HDR, Panorama and Expert mode, Nightscape and Chroma boost work even with the ultra-wide-angle lens. When it comes to daylight pictures shot with the realme 5i, the picture quality is good with vibrant colors and a good amount of sharpness and detail. The low-light pictures are strictly above average, but in extreme low light conditions, noise creeps in and there is a considerable amount of noise in the pictures. Having said that, Nightscape comes to the rescue and produces some decent shots.
Furthermore, the pictures taken with the stock camera app are slightly on the saturated side and with Chroma Boost turned on, the pictures are over-saturated. Also, there is a color difference between normal and wide-angle shots. You can check out the difference in the camera samples below. We mentioned the same in our realme 5s review too, and sadly it still holds true with the 5i too. But thankfully, there is support for Camera2API and you can side load a Google Camera mod to get pictures with natural colors and take advantage of the other goodness that Google Camera offers.
The quad-camera setup also includes an ultra-wide-angle lens and a macro lens. The quality of the pictures shot with the ultra-wide-angle is quite good and it is good to have an ultra-wide-angle lens that offers a much wider perspective. The macro lens allows you to get closer to the subject and it gets the job done. Coming to the front camera, it is a downgrade from the realme 5 and 5s, and is noticeable to an extent in the pictures taken too. Check out the camera samples below
Regarding the video, realme 5i records at 1080p at 30fps by default, but it can go up to 4K at 30fps as well, and there is support for EIS as well. You can also record slo-mo and time-lapse videos as well.
realme 5i has support for Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and does not support 5GHz networks. This definitely looks like a cost-cutting move and a con too. Considering, the broadband scenario in India is improved drastically now, we feel there wasn’t a necessity to remove the support for the 5GHz WiFi network. Moving on, it comes with Bluetooth 5.0 support and GPS/ GLONASS. Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 AIE features an integrated X12 LTE modem that has support for 4G connectivity and also has Voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) support for Reliance Jio, Airtel and supports Dual 4G VoLTE. This means that you can use 4G on both the SIMs on realme 5i. We tested with Dual SIM cards and there were no issues with call quality, and it worked flawlessly.
There is no support for Wi-Fi calling on the realme 5i as of now, but realme has promised that it will be enabled through an update in February. You can check out the timeline for all realme devices here.
realme 5i is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 AIE processor paired with 4GB RAM with 64GB storage, similar to the realme 5 and 5s, except for the storage options. Snapdragon 665 is a 11nm mobile platform based on FinFET technology with Adreno 610 GPU and it packs 4 Kryo 260 cores (performance A73-based) clocked at 2 GHz along with 4 Kryo 260 cores (efficiency A53-based) clocked at 1.8GHz.
In our realme 5s review, we mentioned there was inconsistency in performance and there were noticeable lag and sluggishness. Thankfully, we did not face such issues with the realme 5i. In our testing with casual applications used day to day, the realme 5i performed well without any issues. The apps loaded up quickly and thanks to the 4GB RAM, multitasking was quite good as well. realme got rid of the 3GB RAM option and has offered a single 4GB variant, which is a welcome move.
When it comes to gaming performance, the Adreno 610 GPU handles gaming well and you get decent gaming experience. We tested games like Asphalt 8, PUBG Mobile, Call of Duty, etc, and the gaming experience was quite good.
Check out the benchmark results below.
realme 5i packs a large 5000mAh battery and when it comes to battery life, it lasted over 1 and a half days with casual usage and with heavy usage, it lasts just over a day. It does not support fast charging and only has support for 10W charging. The charging times are quite slow which could be annoying for some and it takes 3 hours to charge from 0 to 100%. We wished realme offered fast charging with this smartphone considering the competition in this price range.
realme 5i achieved FoneArena One Charge rating of 19 hours and 46 minutes, which is almost the same as the realme 5 and 5s.
With the launch of the realme 5i, the company has discontinued the realme 5 smartphone (thankfully) and the 5i is positioned below realme 5s. So, should you buy the realme 5i now? realme has done a great job with the new ‘Sunrise’ design, and we hope, the company will keep experimenting with new designs. Having said that, realme has also done quite a few cost-cutting with the 5i. If you can get past the cons, and are looking for a smartphone under Rs. 9000, realme 5i is definitely recommended.
Realme 5i comes in Aqua Blue and Forest Green color options and is priced at Rs. 8999. It is available from Flipkart and realme.com.
- Stunning ‘Sunrise’ design
- Large display
- Quite a good performance
- Decent battery life
- No support for Dual-band (5GHz) WiFi
- Micro-USB port
- Lack of fast charging
If you are willing to extend your budget, you can consider one of the following alternatives
- Redmi Note 8
- realme 5s
- vivo U20