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Realme 6i Review - Disruptive budget phone!

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On schedule, realme released the realme 6i in the Philippines earlier. As expected, it arrived with a very competitive price tag.
Realme 6i Review - Disruptive budget phone!
Realme 6i

In particular, the base model of the handset retails at just PHP 7,990 (3GB/64GB) and the higher-end model is priced at PHP 9,990 (4GB/128GB). In the under PHP 10K smartphone realm, this device has killer specs.

Like what we previously mentioned, it could be the handset that will disrupt the local budget smartphone scene once more.

Here's our review and let's see if it is the new affordable smartphone to get.

For our review part 1: Realme 6i Unboxing and First Impressions

Here's our full review.

Multimedia Experience

A pretty punchy display

The display is super similar to the realme C3. It also comes with the same 6.5-inch IPS (LTPS) screen that enjoyable to use especially if you like viewing things on a bigger display. As mentioned in our unboxing article, it is a tall type of 20:9 display and HD+ 1600 x 720 resolution.

Not full HD, but it still has decent overall quality!

Some may think that it won't look that good because it is not using a full HD panel. But for me, they are wrong. Personally, I would have liked it better if it has an FHD+ 1080 panel, but this is still respectable crisp at 269 ppi.

Moreover, the output is what's more important here. In real life, this display renders images and videos pretty well. It delivered punchy colors, good contrast, decent brightness levels, and pretty good viewing angles.

Actually, my only slight complaint regarding its screen is the slightly thick chin bezel

Like most realme smartphones, it has a Dark Mode, Eye Care Mode, and a way to adjust Color Temperature in the Display and Brightness settings.

Similar to the realme C3, it has 10 points of multitouch for accurate touch, type, and swipe.

I just removed the pre-installed screen protector as its edges are slightly sharp and could be uncomfortable when swiping left or right.
Speaker grille, mic, USB-C, and 3.5mm headphone jack below
Speaker grille, mic, USB-C, and 3.5mm headphone jack below

Below, it uses a single down-firing speaker. Again, it is very identical to the output of the realme C3 speaker. It is fairly loud, but do not expect it to be the highest quality speaker around. The output is a bit muddy and grainy, but most wouldn't notice that. This type of speaker audio quality is acceptable for budget phones.

With wired headphones, it did a reasonable job. The sound signature is still a bit warm and bassy, but slightly more natural coming from the C3. The soundstage is a bit wider as well even if you turn off the Real HD Sound tech. Also, I noticed that its driver power is stronger. It makes my UiiSii CM8 shine at 50 percent loudness, unlike the C3 that will require you around 60 percent of volume.

By default, it still uses the Real HD Sound tech co-developed by realme and Dirac audio. It still provides an artificial increase in soundstage for a more 3D effect, but this is nicer than what I tried with the C3.

For wireless audio, no problem. It comes with a stable Bluetooth 5.0 solution unlike most budget smartphones that are still stuck with Bluetooth 4.2. Based on my experience, it pairs very well most TWS earbuds in the market. I tried it with the realme Buds Air, Huawei FreeBuds 3, and SoundPEATS TrueCapsule and it worked well.

Call quality is generally decent. The earspeaker is quite loud and clear. Microphone for recordings doesn't cancel noise too well, but our recordings are considered as okay for the price. You may see our video samples below with audio.

Camera

48MP quad-cam under 10K
48MP quad-cam under 10K

The realme 6i is the first realme sub-PHP 10K smartphone with a 48MP quad-camera setup. On paper, it looks better than the realme 5 and 5i. To be precise, it uses a 48MP f/1.8 primary camera with PDAF focus and 4-in-1 pixel binning tech, 8MP f/2.2 119-degree ultra-wide-angle camera, 2MP f/2.4 4cm macro camera, 2MP f/2.4 mono camera for depth, and an LED flash.


Moreover, it has most of the usual realme camera modes including the Auto HDR, Chroma Boost, Filters, Night, Portrait, 48MP, Ultra Macro, Expert (pro camera mode with up to ISO 1600 and 16s shutter), and Pano (panorama).

This is a pretty versatile camera setup that will allow users to shoot in nearly all lighting conditions.

Rear Camera Samples

Daylight 1
Daylight 1
Daylight ultra-wide 1
Daylight ultra-wide 1

In a nicely light lighting situation, the main camera of the realme 6i will shine. Focus is fast and mostly accurate. It has good details, accurate colors, and proper exposure. The dynamic range is pretty wide and the overall image won't look dull.

The ultra-wide camera is lesser in quality, but it doesn't mean that it is bad. It still did a decent job even if the details are lesser and the exposure is slightly dimmer. 
Daylight 2
Daylight 2
Daylight ultra-wide 2
Daylight ultra-wide 2

In this slightly against the light situation, the main cam of the device pushed its HDR a bit too much. It is a little bit overexposed for me and there's some sort of oversharpening. This time, its ultra-wide camera did a better job with better exposure and colors.
Close-up shot
Close-up shot

In this close-up daylight flower shot, details are crisp. But, it is slightly overexposed. The real color of the image is a little bit warmer in real life.
Normal vs 100 percent crop
Normal vs 100 percent crop

Of course, we checked if its pixel binning tech is really that good. Have a look at the normal and 100 percent crop comparison above. Not bad right?
Portrait shot with bokeh
Portrait shot with bokeh

Thanks to its fourth mono sensor, it can produce shots with decent-looking portrait mode. In fairness, its depth estimation and subject to background separation is considered as very good at this price point.
Indoor
Indoor
Indoor 2x zoom
Indoor 2x zoom
Indoor ultra-wide
Indoor ultra-wide

The shot using the main cam and the 2x digital lossless zoom mode are identical in quality. Realme did a pretty fine job in maintaining its details even on a condition with artificial lighting. Sadly, the ultra-wide camera faltered in this scenario. Details are softer and it has a little bit more grain than the primary camera.
Low light
Low light
Low light ultra-wide
Low light ultra-wide

At night, the main cam of this phone takes images with a decent level of sharpness. In our quick tests, it rendered good colors as well. The ultra-wide cam is a falls shorter here, but its quality is still considered as good for the price.
Night mode
Night mode 1
Night mode ultra-wide
Night mode ultra-wide

But if I were you, I will use Night mode always. It'll correct the exposure and provide more details and dynamic range in the dark. The oversharpening compare to older-generation Night modes from budget phones are lesser as well.

The Night mode is a very handy feature for those who like to take photos at night or other situations with challenging lighting condition. It is one of the fastest handheld Night modes around as well.
16MP selfie cam
16MP selfie cam

In the front, it sports a 16MP f/2.0 shooter. It is an upgrade coming from the 13MP of the realme 5. The modes are still similar. It still has the Auto HDR, Filters, Portrait, Beauty, and Pano modes. The AI Beauty mode is customizable where you can adjust the softening effect from 0 to 100. It can also make your face look slimmer, eyes look bigger, and more.

Selfie Camera Samples

Add caption

In daylight, it produces selfies with crisp details and decent colors. My issue is it makes my skin smoother even without turning on the Beauty mode. On the postive note, the HDR effect works well.
Indoor Portrait mode with AI face beauty 1
Indoor Portrait mode with AI face beauty 1
Indoor Portrait mode with AI face beauty 2
Indoor Portrait mode with AI face beauty 2

Its beauty mode can provide a glass skin effect though. This is for those who wants to instantly look on social media good even without putting a make-up on. However, it may look a little fake for some.
Low light
Low light 

In the dark, expect the quality of its selfie cam to drop. But for the price, this is still decent. Also, use the screen flash mode as much as possible in low light.

For taking videos, it has the ability to shoot up to 1080 at 60fps. It also has a slow-mo feature. Sadly, it doesn't have 4K anymore. Picture quality is decent and it focuses quite well with respectable exposure control.

However, there's no stabilization. Even at 1080p 30fps, you won't find EIS for some sort of stabilization as well. If you have a tripod or gimbal, use them.

In front, the selfie cam has minimal crop at 1080p 30fps and that's nice. It also has Filters to choose from. Sadly, face beauty is gone.

Video Samples


Performance

Monster AnTuTu and Geekbench scores for an under PHP 10K smartphone
Monster AnTuTu and Geekbench scores for an under PHP 10K smartphone

Another first for realme. This the first smartphone in the world equipped with the Helio G80 processor. To recall, realme is also the first to launch a smartphone with the Helio G70 chip with the C3.
PCMark Work 2.0 performance score and 3DMark scores
PCMark Work 2.0 performance score and 3DMark scores

As the name suggests, Helio G80 is the upgrade of the Helio G70. It an octa-core chip based on the 12nm manufacturing processor with up to 2.0GHz clock speed. It also uses the Mali-G52 2EEMC2 GPU.

They may sound the same on paper, but the G80 is better. It uses a higher clocked 6x Cortex-A55 core at 1.8GHz instead of 1.7GHz. This chip also comes a 950MHz GPU instead of 820MHz.

Coming from the realme 5 with Snapdragon 665, you will experience a 35 percent increase in CPU performance and a 25 percent upgrade in GPU performance.

To cut the long story short. This handset comes with a chip that is more powerful than any other smartphone under 10K yet.


In fact, it is the first to break the 200K mark at AnTuTu for the price. It has strong overall benchmark scores on different benchmarking apps as well.

Moreover, it goes with up to 4GB LPDDR4X RAM and 128GB storage. The RAM is a higher-end type of RAM that is commonly found on more expensive mid-range smartphones. The storage is still eMMC 5.1, but that's okay for a phone priced this low. At least you have a larger 64GB or 128GB storage instead of just 32GB or 64GB from other similarly priced smartphones.

Budget speed king!

What does this mean? This phone is fast for the price. In my experience, it feels buttery smooth against the competition. It can quickly open apps and multitask decently. The large storage will allow its users to install more apps and store more files

Moreover, this is a phone that can play several demanding games at high settings. This is really rare at this price point. In particular, I was able to run NBA 2K20 at max settings. As long as you are in a cool airconditioned place, gaming performance is consistent with almost no lag. In a hotter room with no airconditioning, it'll throttle a little.


For Call of Duty: Mobile, only the Low Graphic Quality with Medium Frame Rate is available. As expected, it is buttery smooth even in a non-airconditioned room.

Mobile Legends user? No problem. It has the HFR mode out of the box even if the Helio G80 is still a new chip.
Game Space
Game Space

To further improve the gaming experience, it has the Game Space Mode for an uninterrupted gaming experience. It can block notifications, calls, and banners. It will also allow you to switch from Competition, Balanced, and Low Power modes.

Another good news. This chipset has decent thermals. It will only make the phone a bit warm even after hours of gaming, even if you turn on the High-Performance Mode in the settings and play with 4G LTE turned on. It won't get uncomfortably hot.
Battery score
Battery score

Also, thanks to its massive 5,000mAh battery, you use this phone for days. On average usage, it can last for up to 2 days on a single charge. Similar to the realme C3, it can last for around 12 hours on Competition Mode, over 13 hours on Balanced Mode, and15 hours on Low Power Mode.

Exceptional battery life!

On regular usage with 4G LTE or WiFi all the time, it gave me a total screen on time of 14 hours.

Realme also improved its charging speed. It doesn't have a micro USB port with slower charging speeds anymore. Instead, the company has provided this phone a USB-C reversible charging port with faster 18W fast charging.

In our experience, it charges the phone from 0 to 100 percent in 2 hours and 10 minutes. That's not bad coming from the 3 hours charging time of other 10W phones with similar battery capacity.

For connectivity, it comes with WiFi 802.11 b/g/n/ac. Sadly, it still doesn't have a 5GHz WiFi. Well, we can't really have it all under 10K. It also comes with the Band 28 700MHz 4G LTE for better indoor signal reception and nicer overall LTE experience.

It also has Bluetooth 5.0, OTG, FM Radio, GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, and dual SIM. Bluetooth, call, and SMS quality is good.

Note: I haven't tried the GPS for Waze yet because of the quarantine though. We will update this post.
Realme UI is love
Realme UI is love

In the software department, this is the second realme budget smartphone with the realme UI 1.0 skin out of the box in the country. To recall, realme UI is the company's modified version of OPPO's ColorOS 7 skin based on Android 10 OS.
It looks this nice and clean
It looks this nice and clean

This interface has modern and neat icons and buttery smooth transitions. It is highly customizable as well. It is near stock-like, but there are bloats. Fortunately, most of them are removable. Having an extra market place aside from Google Play Store is common nowadays. But, I don't like that there are other app stores such as the Hot Apps and Hot Games app stores that are identical to App Market.

It also comes with easy gesture navigation, no drawer or no drawer mode, Themes, Private Space, Digital Wellbeing, Dual Mode Music Share, Icon Customization, Phone Manager optimization, and more.

Realme UI also has a way to 
"Get Recommendations" in the settings to avoid receiving app and content recommendations in system apps like "Download Management".

Lastly, it comes with a system-wide Dark Mode with an easy to toggle option when you swipe down from the main interface.

In general, this is one of my favorite Android skins.

Pros - Unique design, color-accurate display, powerful performance for the price, legit 5,000mAh battery, strong cameras for photography, realme UI is neat and fast, price for the specs

Cons - Selfie face beauty is a little too much, no video stabilization, no 5GHz WiFi, no LED notification, bloatware

Realme 6i Specs

Display: 6.5-inch 2.5D curved Gorilla Glass 3 protected IPS (LTPS) screen w/ HD+ 1600 x 720 resolution at 269 ppi
CPU: 2.0GHz 12nm Helio G80 octa-core processor
GPU: Mali-G52 2EEMC2
RAM: 3GB/4GB LPDDR4X
ROM: 64GB/128GB eMMC 5.1 expandable via microSD card slot up to 256GB (dedicated)
Back Camera: 48MP f/1.8 w/ PDAF + 8MP f/2.2 119-degree ultra-wide-angle + 2MP f/2.4 4cm macro + 2MP f/2.4 mono + LED flash
Selfie Camera: 16MP f/2.0
Battery: 5,000mAh w/ 18W fast charging
OS: Android 10.0 w / realme UI 1.0
Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 b/g/n/ac, 700MHz 4G LTE, Bluetooth 5.0, OTG, FM Radio, GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, dual SIM
Sensors: Accelerometer, light, orientation, proximity, gyroscope, sound, magnetic
Others: Fingerprint sensor, face unlock, splash resistance, Dirac HD Sound, USB-C, Colors: White Milk, Green Tea
Dimensions: 164.4 x 75 x 9.0 mm
Weight: 195 g
Price: PHP 7,990 (3GB/64GB), PHP 9,990 (4GB/128GB)

Verdict

Realme did it again as they have disrupted the local budget smartphone scene once more.

The realme 6i nearly did everything right for the price as it sports a unique design and solid overall upgrade in performance coming from its previous-generation bang-for-the-buck offerings.

It has a few above-mentioned shortcomings, but it will be very hard to find a brand new smartphone that can match the speed, gaming performance, battery, and cameras of this handset under PHP 10K today.

To know how you can avail of this phone, visit our report on this link.

Build/Design - 4.25
Multimedia Experience - 4
Cameras - 4.25
Performance 4.75
Average - 4.31/5
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