Realme 7i review: Battery powerhouse for less than €200
The Realme 7i is the newest and cheapest model from Realme's 7 series of smartphones. With this device, you end up with a battery powerhouse on chump change courtesy of the 6,000 mAh battery. Let us find out whether there is anything else compelling about this affordable smartphone in our review.
- Long-lasting battery
- Affordable price
- 3.5 mm audio jack
- Clean user interface
- No NFC
- Mediocre camera performance
- Display is not bright enough with narrow viewing angles
- Flat-sounding single speaker
With the Realme 7i , you will definitely receive a long lasting device at a minimal price. With a 6,000 mAh battery pack, you will be able to enjoy up to two days' worth of regular use without having to look for a nearby power outlet. Tipping the scales at slightly more than 200 grams, it does make you feel as though you paid more than €200 for this bad boy. Beyond that, however, there really isn't anything on the Realme 7i that makes it to the higher echelons of the sub-€200 smartphone list.
Who does the Realme 7i target?
With the Realme 7i, the Chinese once again flex their muscles by showing how one can pack in a lot of technology into a smartphone without having to cross the €200 mark. At that price point, this is a smartphone that targets price-conscious customers. The biggest benefactor from such a smartphone would be a user who uses WhatsApp regularly, dabbles with a bit of social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), enjoys a basic game from time to time (none of the heavy-duty titles such as Genshin Impact, PUBG, and Call of Duty: Mobile) while snapping photos occasionally.
What I have just described above is most likely a conservative user, because Realme, just like its competitors, is able to cram in plenty of goodies for less than €200. Take Xiaomi for instance and their value-for-money champion, the Redmi Note 9 Pro. Hence, before you are too eager to part with your hard-earned cash, perhaps it would be prudent to see just what the competition offers within this price range, as well as other devices from Realme, of course.
- Read more: The best smartphones under €200
What I like about the Realme 7i
What do you actually expect from a device that costs a relative pittance at €160? We have now entered the second month of 2021, that we know what a great handset feels like in our hands. Weighing 208 grams and sporting a 6.5-inch display, the Realme 7i is rather chunky, and yet it exudes a feeling of quality when you grasp it in your hand. The somewhat angular edges at the front segment were not to my liking, but then again taste is relative, so I would not classify this as a negative point.
Otherwise, the Realme 7i looks sturdy and well-made. The buttons are all located on the right side, and it feels solid pressing them as they do not end up wobbling around, with a reasonable level of pressure working well enough to get the job done. The entire back is made of plastic (you surely cannot expect more at this price point), but it doesn't feel overly cheap and in fact, does look nice. The fingerprint sensor is located at the back, where it is easily accessible and responsive enough. Located close to the camera bump that is in the upper left corner, I find it to be tastefully designed.
The plastic back of the Realme 7i is interesting, when light dances upon it, it will reveal a vertically elongated "V" shape that shimmers nicely in iridescent, bright blue tones. My review unit came in the "Victory Blue" shade, although you can also opt for "Glory Silver" if you so desire.
Amazing: A battery life of 2+ days
I'd like to ponder a little bit more on what goes on behind closed doors at company meetings whenever they hold a discussion about the color names for a particular handset. However, that would bore you, so I shall move on from that thought and get straight down to business: The battery life is most probably the best selling point of the Realme 7i. With a generous capacity of 6,000 mAh, Realme claims an astonishing standby time of 45 days! Now that is certainly rolling back the years to when the likes of a Nokia 3310 was able to last for a month on a single charge if it is left on purely standby mode, and perhaps up to 5 days' of juice with regular use.
Realme claims that the 7i delivers up to 43 hours of non-stop talktime. That is certainly amazing, but how many people actually spend that much time chit-chatting on a phone these days. Obviously at this price point, there is no such thing as wireless charging built into the device, although it is interesting to note that reverse charging is included, allowing other compatible hardware to benefit from this particularly generous battery. I do mull over the possibility of consumers touting that a large battery ends up as a con since it makes the whole smartphone heavier. Personally, I am willing to trade off 20 to 30 grams of additional weight for a superior battery life. How about you?
With an 18 watt charger, this is a far cry from what the fastest chargers in the market deliver, but the Realme 7i can still be charged to a third full in 30 minutes, so if you have an hour and a half to spare (during your lunch or at your desk), then it should not be an issue at all. Oh yes, Realme has included the charger with the smartphone. Take that, Apple!
Another thing that the Realme 7i impressed me with is expandable memory support with a triple card slot - allowing me to have two SIM cards and a microSD memory card slot work simultaneously.
Beautiful, simple software
As an Android purist, I really like the Realme UI, although it's a shame we're still looking at version 1.0 here that is based on Android 10. The software is pleasantly kept simple but has been augmented with nice features at selected points. For instance, a three-finger swipe will help you capture a screenshot, but if you keep those three fingers on the display for a longer time, you can then capture just a section of the screen. Should you hold the three fingers briefly and then swipe across the bottom edge, you can capture a scrolling screenshot.
Another feature that I liked: you can simultaneously use the 3.5mm jack for your headphones while someone else is connected to your device via Bluetooth. This is known as "Dual Mode Music Share" on the Realme 7i, allowing you to listen to music or watch videos together without having to share headphones. Nifty, isn't it?
Finally, what impressed me about the Realme 7i is the price tag. Even if I am working with a €160 budget, the competition in this market segment is stiff, and Realme has certainly delivered with the 7i. You really cannot go wrong with this hugely affordable all-rounder.
What the Realme 7i failed to impress me with
Now, we have arrived at the section on what does not particularly impress me about the Realme 7i. It is a no-brainer that the cameras on this device are unable to hold a candle to the results captured by a flagship smartphone, and the processor will obviously not be one from the flagship range.
Basically, I don't want to complain about the Helio G85 chipset as it performed reasonably well (relatively speaking) where basic smartphone tasks are concerned. Obviously having 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal storage are considered the bare minimum these days, but then again, those are par for the course in smartphones that fall within this price range.
Realme seems to want the 7i to compete in the cheap gaming smartphone niche, but I would advise serious gamers to steer clear. By the way, there is a global version of the Realme 7i that was first released in India in September 2020, where it comes with a Snapdragon 662 chipset. Between that and the Helio G85, there really isn't much difference in terms of performance.
The display is boring and bland
The Realme 7i that is available here also differs in other ways, too. For instance, while 6.5-inch LCD display offers the same HD+ resolution, the refresh rate stands at 60 Hz as opposed to the 90 Hz that is found on the global version. If you were to sniff around the Internet, you would find that the review unit we received is in fact, identical in construction and specifications to the Narzo 20. Yes, it does get rather confusing.
Let's continue talking about the display: It has a resolution of 1600 x 720 pixels and if you were to look at it from the side, the display ends up losing a lot of brightness. Generally, the panel, which has a screen-to-body ratio of 88.7%, is not the brightest available, and this does make it difficult to see everything properly when you are outside and under direct sunlight.
On top of that, we're dealing with a 720p panel here. Realme's decision to settle with this panel might have been made to ensure that it does not break the bank, but with it, you will have to make compromises when it comes to brightness, a low refresh rate, and poor viewing angles.
Camera performance: Meh!
The Realme 7i's triple camera setup is also not another thing that will impress you. Realme offers 48 MP and f/1.8 aperture in the main camera, accompanied by the 8 MP ultra-wide-angle cam and another basically useless 2 MP macro camera. While I liked how the cameras were arranged in a square as opposed to having them line up vertically, their performance leaves much to be desired.
If there is adequate lighting, then it is obvious how snapping decent-looking photos is possible. Even then, there are some details that tend to go amiss, and I found out that the blue sky always looks a bit too unnatural in sunny conditions, especially when snapping photos using the super wide-angle lens. I feel that the camera's photo processing algorithm tends to oversaturate the colours.
Have a look at some sample photos here:
In the final picture, you can see a photo I took with night mode turned on. In general, the colors are a bit brighter and unfortunately, some of the colors experienced distortion. It is a bit too gaudy and artificial for me. Here is a comparison - one without and one with night mode.
If you were to consider the image quality considering the price you're paying for this device, it is a perfectly adequate shooter as long as you do not plan on winning photography awards or aiming to be an influencer with stunning shots. Speaking of influencers: The front-facing camera comes with an 8 MP shooter, but it works best under good lighting conditions - that is all I'm going to say about it. The portrait mode works rather well, but the on-screen flash for night selfies floods the subject with a demonic-looking reddish glow. Okay, maybe my forehead is shaped in such a way that it reflects light in a weird manner, so I will share the blame between the Realme 7i and I.
This brings us to the hardest part of the review: sample selfies! In the first picture, you can see the normal selfie mode of the 8MP cam side-by-side, with the portrait mode next to it. You can see how the background blurs very nicely. However, I noticed that the sensor is sometimes unsure of what to detect, oscillating between sharp and blurred. Below that, you can check out a night selfie with flash turned on:
What other brickbats do I have to say about the Realme 7i? Probably points such as the lack of 5G support, which should not be included in a smartphone at this price point right now, and missing NFC connectivity - something that I would miss a lot if the smartphone was a daily driver.
I also find it a shame that Realme included only one speaker. Thankfully, the speaker is loud enough and often startled me with notifications. However, the sound does not turn out all right. Speech is all right, but when it comes to music playback, it sounds rather flat.
As is often the case with the placement of the single speaker on the underside, I'm annoyed by the fact that I often cover it by accident when gaming in landscape mode. I won't blame Realme as the sole offender in this department, as my large hands also do play a role.
Realme 7i technical specifications
Well? Confused by my verbose style of narration? Then here you have the most important specifications of the Realme 7i at a glance:
Datasheet Realme 7i
|Display||60 Hertz 6.5 IPS LCD with HD+ resolution (720 x 1,600 pixels)|
|Size (HxWxD)||164.5 mm x 75.9 mm x 9.8 mm|
|SoC & Memory||MediaTek Helio G85 / 4 GB / 64 GB, expandable up to 256 GB|
|Cameras||48 MP main / 8 MP ultra wide / 2 MP macro / 8 MP selfies|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth 5.0 , 2.4G/5G Wi-Fi / GPS / / USB-C|
|Audio||Dual mode music share, 3.5mm jack, mono speaker|
|Battery Capacity||6,000 mAh, charging at 18 watts, reverse charging, no wireless charging.|
|Operating System||Android 10 pre-installed, Realme UI V1.0|
|Price & Colors||159.99 euros, Glory Silver and Victory Blue|
Well, what else can I say about a smartphone considering the relatively low price of €160 thereabouts? There are praises to be sung about the generous 6,000 mAh battery, and everything else works decently for a smartphone in that price range for everyday use.
If you know that you are a professional gamer or that photography is your life, then you would also figure out that the Realme 7i will only be able to fulfill a fraction of your needs. However, if you want a smartphone just for simple usage - phone calls, messaging, web-surfing, then this handset does a solid job - no more, no less.
If you want to get more bang for your buck with a slightly larger budget, then there are other models in this range that are worth checking out, i.e. the Realme 7 and the Realme 7 Pro. Of course, I will also take this opportunity to shamelessly flog our "Best of" list, which showcases our smartphone recommendations that costs less than €200.