It is well known that Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi and Realme are racing to outdo each other in the market. Both the manufacturers have been launching new smartphone models at an unusually fast pace over the past year.
The latest smartphone to hit the market is the Realme 5i which is the fourth model in the Realme 5 series and the first model from Realme for this year. The new smartphone looks similar to the Realme 5 and the upgraded Realme 5s (which was launched recently) and also features a quad-camera setup.
This new model will replace the Realme 5, which should reduce the confusion for the buyers. Do we really need the Realme 5i, or could we do without it? We review this new model to find out.
realme 5i design
The design of the Realme 5i is similar to the Realme 5 (Review) and Realme 5s (Review). The display measures 6.52 inches and has a mini waterdrop notch at the top which is now smaller in size. This helps free up a bit more screen space, resulting in an 89 percent screen-to-body ratio. The panel of Realme 5i sports HD+ resolution and has Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for protection.
Like the Realme 5s, this model also packs in a 5,000mAh battery which makes it a bit heavy at 195g. Its thickness is 8.95mm. When you rotate it, you will notice that the trademark Realme diamond-cut pattern is missing, and the company has chosen a new Sunrise design pattern. The smartphone comes in two colors – Aqua Blue and Forest Green. We have the former for this review. Realme claims that it has added an anti-fingerprint layer at the back which is effective in keeping smudges away.
Like the Realme 5 and Realme 5s, the 5i is curved at the edges which makes it convenient to hold. The fingerprint scanner is on the back, but we found it to be a bit too high, and we needed to stretch it a bit to reach it. Next to it is the quad-camera module which protrudes slightly.
The Realme 5i houses the power button on the right while the volume buttons are on the left. These buttons are shallow but respond well when pressed. The SIM card tray is on the left side just above the volume buttons and houses two nano-SIM slots along with a microSD card slot.
Realme still uses a Micro-USB port at the bottom, which we wish was swapped out for a USB Type-C port. It also has a 3.5mm audio jack and loudspeaker at the bottom. The top of the smartphone is bare.
realme 5i specification and software
The Realme 5i shares most of its internals with the outgoing Realme 5 and 5s as well. The phone is also powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 SoC, with four Cortex-A73 cores clocked at 2.2GHz and four Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 1.8GHz. Realme is only selling the 5i with 4GB RAM and 64GB EMMC 5.1 storage for Rs. provides in. 8,999.
You have the option of expanding the storage up to 256GB using the dedicated microSD card slot. There is support for Bluetooth 5, Wi-Fi 802.11 ac and dual 4G as well as VoLTE. This phone is also packed in a 5,000mAh battery.
Compared to the Realme 5, the 5i offers more RAM and storage for the same price. The display and the quad-camera setup at the back are similar but the Realme 5i has to do with an 8-megapixel selfie shooter compared to the 13-megapixel one. The Realme 5 commands a Rs. 1,000 premium for a better selfie camera which is not worth the price if you are not willing to use it.
The 5i runs ColorOS 6.0.1 on top of Android 9 Pie. Our review unit had the November security patch which is now relatively out of date. The smartphone has plenty of bloatware like Dailyhunt, Opera News, UC Browser and Helo preinstalled. They push spammy notifications throughout the day after the first launch. The Realme 5i also has the company’s own Game Center and App Market which are alternatives to the Google Play Store for games and apps respectively. Realme offers Android’s Digital Wellbeing feature along with a system-wide dark mode.
Since the software is the same as what we have used in the past, you can check out our Realme 5 review for more details. Realme has said that the Realme 5i will receive the Realme UI update that will help it look and feel like stock Android very soon, but there’s no word on an update to Android 10 just yet.
realme 5i performance and battery life
The Realme 5i is a good looking smartphone and has the hardware to back it up. The Snapdragon 665 SoC manages to deliver decent performance without breaking a sweat. With 4GB of RAM on board, the device can easily multitask without closing apps in the background.
We found the display to have decent viewing angles, and it was quite bright when outdoors. The bottom-firing speaker is quite loud, which adds to the content viewing experience. We also found the fingerprint scanner as well as the face recognition feature to unlock the smartphone.
We ran our own standard set of benchmarks to measure the performance of the Realme 5i. In AnTuTu v8, it managed to score 1,70,480 points. In Geekbench 5’s single-core and multi-core tests, the device managed 309 and 1,345 respectively. For graphics benchmark GFXBench, the Realme 5i managed to score 12fps in the car chase scene and 49fps in the T-Rex scene.
We played PUBG Mobile on the 5i and the phone defaulted to the ‘Low’ preset, with the graphics set to smooth and the frame rate set to ‘Medium’. It was playable at these settings without any problems. We played the game for 20 minutes and noticed that the phone was barely hot to touch.
The Realme 5 and Realme 5s offer excellent battery life, and the Realme 5i is no different. With our usage which included an active WhatsApp account, using Google Maps and taking camera samples, the Realme 5i easily lasted a day and a half. In our HD video loop test, the Realme 5i lasted as long as the Realme 5s. It took us over two hours to charge the smartphone with the included 10W charger. Fast charging is not supported.
realme 5i camera
The Realme 5i sports a quad-camera setup at the back, similar to the Realme 5. It has a 12-megapixel primary sensor, an 8-megapixel wide-angle-camera, a 2-megapixel macro camera, and a 2-megapixel camera. depth sensor. The primary sensor has 1.25-micron pixels and f/1.8 aperture. The wide-angle-camera has an f/2.25 aperture, while the macro and depth sensors have an f/2.4 aperture. For selfies, this phone has an 8-megapixel front shooter with f/2.0 aperture.
Realme’s camera app remains unchanged and is similar to what we saw on the Realme 5s. It has quick toggles to switch on HDR, flash, and wide-angle-camera. It also has Nightscape and Portrait shooting modes.
Reality 5i locks focus fast while shooting. In daylight, the Realme 5i measures light accurately and photos have good dynamic range. The photos we took had a decent level of detail, which was still clear even after zooming in. The wide-angle camera offers a wider field of view but doesn’t deliver the same level of detail. The sides of the frame appeared to be slightly stretched. For close-ups, the Realme 5i managed good details and the results were good for a budget smartphone.
The macro camera lets you get very close to a subject and manages to take sharp shots. However, the macro camera resolution is only 2 megapixels. While shooting portraits, we noticed that the Realme 5i does not offer an option to set the level of blur before taking the shot. Portrait shots were a bit blurry, and portraits shot against light were not metered correctly.
Low-light camera performance was below average, and photos weren’t sharp at all. We used Nightscape mode and we got brighter pictures, however, they were still very grainy.
Selfies taken with the Realme 5i have beautification applied by default, which can be disabled. Photos were completely average and the background often got overexposed when shooting outdoors. The Realme 5i also offers Portrait Mode for the selfie camera, which was fine, but the edge detection was not up to the mark.
Video recording maxes out at 4K for the primary camera, but stabilization is only available when shooting at 1080p. Videos shot in the daytime were well-steady. There’s stabilization in the wide-angle-camera as well, but the output shows a slight flicker effect. The output was grainy in low light and we found the stabilization to be below average.
The Realme 5i is a watered-down Realme 5 at a more aggressive price. 8,999 for Rs. 8,999 the 5i packs quite a punch thanks to the Snapdragon 665 SoC and 4GB of RAM. The 5,000mAh battery also gives very good battery life. However, the camera performance is a bit poor.
The main aim of the Realme 5i is to offer powerful hardware at a more affordable price, and it succeeds to an extent at that. If you want a phone primarily for gaming, the Realme 5i should keep you happy. However, if you’re willing to increase your budget, the Realme 5s (Review) and Redmi Note 8 (Review) are better all-rounders.
Realme 5 or Redmi Note 8: Which one should you buy? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts either RSSDownload the episode, or just hit the play button below.