What the realme 6 should have been

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When the realme 6 was launched back in March, I reviewed the phone to be great budget smartphone with a focus on gaming with its 90Hz screen. About 5 months later, realme has launched the realme 6i, which is a less expensive version of the realme 6 with a few compromises. When you compare the spec sheet between the two smartphones, you’ll notice that it is nearly identical with the sole exception of the rear-facing primary camera, which has been replaced with a 48MP sensor instead of the 64MP sensor found on the realme 6.

For this reason, my review will focus primarily on the camera of the realme 6i, compare it with its more expensive brother, along with a few minor differences I noticed when reviewing this phone.

If you wish to know about the realme 6i’s build, design, display, biometrics support, multimedia and connectivity, check out my review of the realme 6.

The phones are basically identical. So let’s get on with the review.

Unboxing and Box Contents

  • realme 6i 4GB + 64GB in Eclipse Black colour
  • 2-pin 20W Flash Charger (5V-4A)
  • USB Type-C Cable
  • SIM Ejector tool
  • Clear protective case
  • User guide

Performance and benchmarks

The realme 6i is powered by the same MediaTek Helio G90T processor, which is an Octa-core processor with 2 Cortex-A76 cores running at 2.05GHz and 6 Cortex-A55 cores running at 2.0GHz. The GPU is also the same ARM based Mali G76 GPU that is clocked at 800MHz. For memory, realme offers both 4GB and 6GB, for storage there is only a 64GB option.

So if everything is the same, why am I bringing up the performance of the realme 6i? That is because realme solved one of the biggest issues that plagued the realme 6 — thermal performance. I was very pleased to see that the Helio G90T chip in the realme 6i stays well under control thermally with nearly no heating issues at all. This remained true even with continuous gaming sessions that lasted hours, which is impressive.

With the thermal issues solved, the chip managed to maintain its performance throughout my gaming sessions, which included a lot of Call of Duty, Asphalt 8 and PUBG mobile. There were reports of realme solving the heating issues in the realme 6 with a software update, but that does not matter as with the realme 6i you are getting the same performance and thermal performance for cheaper.

Check out some synthetic benchmark scores below

Software, Apps and UI

The software experience on the realme 6i is very similar to the realme 6. Day to day performance was good and the software seemed to be well optimised for the hardware. During setup, realme will prompt users to install a lot of applications from their App Market, which I immediately declined. And as usual, there were quite a few pre-loaded apps, which I promptly un-installed.

The realme UI is still too heavily skinned for my taste, but I understand that a lot of people do not mind it or in fact, some even like it. It is a subjective matter. However, I did get quite a lot of random advertisements and notifications from the Theme Store, realme’s own App Store and even from the native Browser app, which I found quite annoying. Sure, I could very easily just switch off notifications from these apps, and they are definitely not as obnoxious as full-screen ads, but in my opinion I should not have to with them at all.

realme has been quite regular with their software updates for the smartphones, bring their users up to date with Android Security patches fairly quickly. The realme 6i has already been updated with the July security patch and I expect the August patch to arrive soon.

Camera

The realme 6 has a quad camera setup, which includes a 48MP f/1.8 rear camera with 0.8μm pixel size, a 8MP f/2.3 wide angle lens that is capable of shooting with 119.1° field-of-view (FOV), a 2MP f/2.4 Macro sensor and finally, a 2MP f/2.4 monochromatic sensor that is used for depth sensing. The front camera module has a 16MP f/2.0 sensor with a 79.3° FOV. Regarding video, the realme 6i is capable of shooting up to 4K 30fps, slomo videos up to 120fps at 1080p and it supports UIS Video Stabilization.

When comparing the spec sheet between the realme 6 and the 6i, the primary difference is the downgrade from the 64MP sensor to a 48MP sensor. In my review of the realme 6, I was not satisfied with the camera performance. The photos looked over-processed and the loss of detail when zooming in was quite evident.

The story with the realme 6i is similar, and in my opinion a bit better overall. Starting with photos on the main camera, the sensor outputs 12MP photos by default. The photos still look over-processed with its sharpness, but the 6i does a better job with capturing some detail. Dynamic range is not great but the colours reproduction was quite satisfactory.

The ultra-wide performed similarly to the realme 6, which is to say that photos came out quite soft, which can be attributed to the fact that its only 8MP. The Chinese smartphone manufacturer’s obsession with 2MP macro sensors continues and the macro shots on the realme 6i still look like water colour paintings. Overall, my opinions about the realme 6i’s camera performance have improved slightly over the realme 6. The important point is that the 6i is cheaper, which makes its sub-par camera experience acceptable and a lot more forgiving.

Check out some camera samples (click the image to view the full resolution sample)

Battery

The battery capacity on both the realme 6 and realme 6i are the same — 4300mAh. The realme 6i performed identically to the realme 6, which is a huge positive. I consistently got over 7 hours with heavy use and the screen refresh rate set at a constant 90Hz.

Another cost saving measure can be noticed with the included charging brick. While the phone supports 30W flash charging, realme only includes a 20W flash charger in the box. Honestly, it is still plenty fast, with the phone charging up from 0-50% in less than 35 mins and 0-100% in just over 1 hour and 10 mins. With the 30W charger, it can charge the phone from 0 to 50 in just 22 minutes, and 0 to 100 in an hour.

In our One Charge Rating, the phone scored 19 hours and 42 minutes, which is almost same as the realme 6. We tested it in 60Hz refresh rate, so in 90Hz it should be slightly less.

Conclusion

Just like the realme 6 at launch, the realme 6i has a starting price tag of Rs. 12999 for the 4GB/64GB version. The positives of the realme 6 are very present with the realme 6i — smooth 90Hz screen, amazing battery life and great day-to-day performance. To add to this, realme has fixed the thermal issues and the camera has been slightly improved. It is quite hard to find a smartphone that can compete with the spec sheet of the realme 6i, making it look like a great offer. If you wish to spend a lot of time gaming, my recommendation would be to get the version with 6GB of RAM, but for that you can get the realme 6.

Availability

The realme 6i is available from Flipkart and realme.com priced at Rs. 12,999 for the 4GB RAM with 64GB storage version, but you get the 6GB RAM with 64GB storage version at Rs. 14,999, same as realme 6.

Pros

  • Brilliant battery life
  • Large punch-hole display running at smooth 90Hz
  • Good day-to-day  and gaming performance
  • Dedicated MicroSD card Slot

Cons

  • Plastic body that can get scratched easily
  • realme UI shows quite a bit of ads from native realme apps

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