Introduction

Realme may not has as many product launches as other brands, but when they do, you’re sure to get something that offers great value for your hard-earned money.

realme 5i unit (30)The Realme 5i is the newest addition to the brand’s growing portfolio of smartphones that redefine whatever segment they are in.

Unboxing and First Impressions

Realme 5i is in the sweet spot of the brand's lineup!

Realme's first release of 2020 promises to once again disrupt the entry-level segment!

Posted by Gadget Pilipinas on Saturday, January 25, 2020

Its new design is a breath of fresh air, and so long as the hardware inside is concerned and the tons of features it offers, this one’s shaping up to be a stunner, especially considering its PhP6,990 price tag.

Specifications

Display 6.5″ IPS LCD HD+, 269 ppi, Gorilla Glass
Processor Snapdragon 665 AIE
RAM 3GB
Storage 64GB (Expandable)
Rear Camera 12MP Main
8MP Wide-Angle
2MP Portrait
2MP Macro
Front Camera 8MP
OS Android Pie + ColorOS 6.0.1
Battery 5,000mAh
Other Features Bluetooth 5
4K 30fps Video
120fps Slow Motion Video
EIS
10x Digital Zoom
Super Nightscape
AI Beauty
AI HDR
Chroma Boost
AI Scene Recognition
Reverse Charging

Design

realme 5i unit (31)In a way, the realme 5i does resemble the realme 5, (Of course, they belong to the same family) with the exception of its back panel, which is now made of a slightly less smooth and less glossy, but still metallic finish.

Does it make handling the device with one hand better? it’s less slippery, yes, but I’d still go for a case.

realme 5i unit (22)Power button is located on the right, while the volume rocker and triple slot SIM tray is at the left.

realme 5i unit (24)Down bottom, you still get a trusty headphone jack, along with a standard MicroUSB port, microphone and speaker.

realme 5i unit (15)While some brands have already shifted to in-display solutions, realme sticks with a more reliable physical rear-mounted fingerprint sensor.

realme 5i unit (21)Realme 5i uses a 6.5-inch IPS display. As such, colors are rightly saturated, brightness is ample, and text remains sharp enough. It’s only when you look closely that you’ll notice that not everything is as detailed, such as icons, thanks to HD+ resolution.

On the bright side, that means the processing package has less pixels to push, which in turn could give you a bit more uptime and improvement in performance.

Performance

Like the realme 5, realme 5i also runs on a Snapdragon 665. The only difference is that it has 1GB less RAM (at least for the variant that’s sold here in PH).

Will you be able to tell the difference? on a day-to-day usage scenario, probably not. Apps open quickly, UI runs smooth and snappy, and even running a few apps at the same time won’t cause any problems.

Its AnTuTu score places it in a decent spot, above the realme 5, and just slightly below the Redmi Note 8.

You still get 128GB of storage, which should be enough, unless you really have a ton of files (say, a large music or video collection).

Gaming-wise, we used GameBench to measure FPS and battery usage. For this test, we’ll try CoD Mobile and Mobile Legends.

CoD Mobile (Average FPS: 47.52, Stability: 78%)
realme_5i_CoDM
FPS Chart

At Medium + Max FPS setting, the experience was more than enjoyable. While the graph shows a lot of variation in terms of FPS, there were no noticeable stutters or slowdowns.

Mobile Legends (Average FPS: 59.64, Stability: 100%)
realme_5i_MLBB
FPS Chart

With everything cranked up to Max, and with HD Mode and HFR Mode both enabled, the phone ran the game well, at almost 60 fps on average. The chart shows a few dips, but those were not noticeable in-game.

Camera

Realme 5i also uses the same rear camera setup as the realme 5 – 12MP Main + 8MP Ultra Wide + 2MP Depth + 2MP Macro.

realme 5i camera sample (6)realme 5i camera sample (48)realme 5i camera sample (54)realme 5i camera sample (50)realme 5i camera sample (27)realme 5i camera sample (4)Quality-wise, you get a good amount of detail, the right sharpness, and a refined depth of field effect with decent edge-detection.

realme 5i camera sample (7)

I do have a couple of qualms about its cameras – its control on exposure, which tends to be a hit and miss, and poor dynamic range in certain scenarios.

realme 5i camera sample (45)realme 5i camera sample (46)realme 5i camera sample (41)Night shots also take a while to shoot, but you do get rewarding results. Of course, it’s not on par with say a flagship counterpart, as it tends to overexpose light sources, but this can hold its own agains some of the more expensive mid-rangers.

realme 5i camera sample (14)realme 5i camera sample (24)The front shooter has been downgraded to 8MP from 13MP on the realme 5, but you still get pretty good-looking selfies with lots of detail, plus good exposure and texture. I’d say this is actually one of the best in its price range.

Software

The device runs on ColorOS 6.0.1 on top of Android 9, and offers most of the features I’ve come to love from realme’s other devices.

There’s Game Space, which allows you to adjust performance profiles, lock the brightness, block notifications, and more.

Smart Sidebar is another very useful feature, and can be launched in-app or even from the home screen. It lets you take screenshots and even record what’s happening on screen.

Last but not the least is Digital Wellbeing, which literally tracks your app usage, and also lets you set a limit on how long you can use each app for a day.

Performance-wise, the interface runs fluid and smooth. Apps open as quick as they should, and switching between running apps did not pose any issues.

Battery

Perhaps one of the most impressive things about this phone, is how potent its 5,000mAh battery is.

realme 5i batteryUsing PCMark’s Work 2.0 test, which simulates basic video editing and data manipulation, realme 5i managed to score an astonishing 17 hours and 11 minutes. Your mileage may vary, depending on the apps you use.

realme 5i unit 17
Realme 5i Review
Our Verdict
With the realme 5i, realme once again proves its prowess of releasing devices that offer spectacular value for money. The phone looks and feels more expensive that it is, its got great performance for day to day use, and can even handle today's popular games with no issues. Despite some minor issues such as exposure and dynamic range, realme 5i's cameras are surprisingly decent for both daylight and low light photography. I'd dare say this can go toe to toe with some of the more expensive mid-rangers out there. ColorOS has been refined over and over, and offers nifty features that you will actually use, not to mention it runs buttery smooth and snappy. The icing on top of the cake, is its fantastic battery life, not to mention that it can also be used as a powerbank. In comparison to the realme 5, I'd say the 5i offers an even better proposition in terms of value. Sure, the one we have here in PH has less Ram, and the front camera has been downgraded, but I'm confident that it won't feel less.
Design
Performance
Camera
Software
Battery
Price
What's Good
Good day to day and gaming performance
Optimized software
Great battery life
Very capable cameras for its price
Good pricing
What's Not
Exposure control is a hit and miss
Dynamic range could use some work
A bump to a Full HD display would've been great
4.3

Emman has been writing technical and feature articles since 2010. Prior to this, he became one of the instructors at Asia Pacific College in 2008, and eventually landed a job as Business Analyst and Technical Writer at Integrated Open Source Solutions for almost 3 years.