The number series is a value play in the Realme’s smartphone line-up in India. Fresh in the portfolio is the Realme 9 Pro series, which brings a new edition along with the Realme 8 Pro’s successor. Named the Realme 9 Pro+, it is a 5G smartphone that has several interesting things going for it — colour-changing glass back panel, fingerprint sensor that doubles up as heart-rate monitor, flagship-grade 50MP primary camera with optical image stabilisation (OIS), 60W charger for fast-charging, and Android 12-based Realme UI 3. Do these things make a perceptible difference in everyday experience? Let’s find out:
The Realme 9 Pro+ boasts a flamboyant shiny design and thin-and-lightweight construction. Though a regular smartphone with polycarbonate frame and glass on the front (Gorilla Glass 5) and back, it has one thing that makes it look special – the colour changing glass cover on the back. The back cover is sensitive to sunlight and changes colour when exposed. It may be interesting from a novelty perspective, but there is no actual benefit to derive from it. Moreover, the phone warms up exponentially when kept outside under sunlight for long.
Display and audio
The Realme 9 Pro+ sports a 6.4-inch fullHD+ AMOLED screen of 90Hz refresh rate. The screen is bright. It remains legible under bright outdoor conditions. It is set to render vivid colours by default, and there are other colour profiles available in the phone’s display setting. To reduce eye fatigue, the phone ships with an ‘Eye Comfort’ built in the operating system; it adjusts the screen colour temperature (limiting the blue light) based on the time of day. There is also an option to custom-set the screen colour temperature here. As for responsiveness, the screen is smooth and works fine in everyday use. The 90Hz refresh rate may seem underwhelming to some, but there is no perceptible difference in screen of 120Hz and 90Hz and the latter works just as fine in everyday use.
The phone has an in-display optical fingerprint sensor, which is fast and accurate. Moreover, it doubles up as a heart-rate monitor. Its utility as a health monitor is still under testing. Therefore, it is kept as a separate feature under the Realme Labs option for testing by the users.
As for the audio, the Realme 9 Pro+ has stereo speakers powered by Dolby Atmos. Though not loud, the speakers have balanced output. They are good but not the best. Compensating for modest audio through speakers is the 3.5mm audio port with Hi-Res audio support for wired audio accessories.
The Realme 9 Pro+ has a triple-camera set-up on the back, featuring a 50-megapixel primary sensor (Sony IMX766) paired with an 8MP ultra-wide-angle sensor and a 2MP macro lens. On the front, the phone has a 16MP camera sensor.
Details aside, it is the primary 50MP Sony sensor that the Realme 9 Pro+ has going for it. It is because this sensor is backed by OIS, which makes a whole lot of difference especially in low-light conditions. Starting with daylight performance, the sensor takes detailed shots with sharp colours, modest dynamic range, and decent highlights and shadow details. In low light, it works well in scenarios where the subject is static. Frames with moving subjects in low-light are tricky to capture but the sensor delivers results better than most other smartphones in the segment.
The ultra-wide-angle camera sensor is good but not the best in its class. It captures good amount of details but there is a marginal distortion on the edges, and like most other midrange phones, there is no colour symmetry in the frames clicked through the primary sensor and ultra-wide-angle sensor. Unlike the primary sensor, the ultra-wide-angle sensor struggles in low-light conditions. Its low-light performance, however, lifts marginally through the phone’s built-in night mode.
The macro camera is there for novelty. It is not bad, but tricky to use and limited to stills. As for the front camera, it works well for both regular shots and portraits.
Coming to videos, the Realme 9 Pro+ can do up to 4K at 30 fps from the primary sensor, 1080p at 30fps from ultra-wide-angle, and 1080p at 30fps from the front camera. The videos recorded by the primary sensor look good but the ultra-wide-sensor disappoints here as well. Videos recorded from the front camera look fine but the sensor’s narrow frame of view (FoV) makes it less suitable for anything other than recording self.
Rounding up the package are the imaging-centric value-added features such as street mode with four pre-set exposure time setting for long exposure shots, tilt-shift mode for manual control on horizontal and vertical bokeh, film mode for recording videos in wide aspect ratio, dual-view video for simultaneous video recording from front and rear camera, etc.
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The Realme 9 Pro+ is powered by the MediaTek Dimensity 920 system-on-chip (SoC), paired with up to 8GB RAM (LPDDR4x) and 256GB (UFS 2.2) of on-board storage. The phone boots Android 12-based Realme UI 3.0 custom user interface.
Details aside, the Realme 9 Pro+ is a power-packed performer. It works without any hiccups for most day-to-day operations, and handles without ease heavy-duty tasks like gaming and multimedia editing. On extensive usage, especially while playing graphic-intensive games, the phone warms-up but not to a point where it becomes uncomfortable to hold and operate.
Complementing the performance is the user experience. The Realme UI 3.0 brings several personalisation options on top of Android 12 features. Importantly, it is optimised and has no snags. Therefore, the apps work as intended and the UI feels polished. On the downside, there is lots of bloatware in the UI, including some that cannot be uninstalled from the system.
Battery and charging
The Realme 9 Pro+ is powered by a 4,500 mAh battery, supported by a 60W fast-charger. The phone’s on-battery time is good, but not the best in its segment. It sails through a day and more on normal usage, but runs out of power quickly when used extensively for power-and-graphic intensive workloads. Thankfully, the phone ships with 65W fast-charge. It takes about 45 minutes to charge the phone’s completely drained out battery to 100 per cent. Besides proprietary fast-charging, the phone also supports other protocols for fast-charging. Therefore, it can be charged quickly with any other charger as long as the charger supports PD 3.0 standard. A caveat, the fast-charging through PD is capped at 18W. Therefore, it takes longer than proprietary charger to charge the battery fully.
Priced Rs 24,999 onwards, the Realme 9 Pro+ is a value-for-money proposition in Realme’s midrange smartphone line-up. It boasts a good AMOLED display of a 90Hz refresh rate, 3.5mm audio out port with support for Hi-Res audio, a primary camera of class-leading imaging prowess, and sleek performance. Overall, the Realme 9 Pro+ is an all-round package with something in store for everyone.