FIRST IMPRESSIONS | Realme 5i smartphone

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The Realme brand has been synonymous with the mid-range and budget segment. Right after releasing two devices in the fourth quarter of 2019, namely the Realme 5 and Realme 5 Pro, it decided to make its first offering for 2020 with what seems to be a remake of the vanilla version from the series.

The Realme 5i isn’t really bringing anything major to the table, and the familiar price tag reinforces this.

With its predecessors’ lineup touting a “3D Crystal” design, the 5i went ahead with a new aesthetic language and instead used the “Sunrise” design for its plastic back.

The difference in the design brings a huge advantage for the newer model since the 5 and 5 Pro’s back panels were sure fingerprint magnets.

The grainy “matte-like” texture of the 5i is processed through a German five-axis precision radium carving machine and brings in more grip feel with less smudges.

Since the company has also been pushing the blue color option in almost all their offerings, the 5i is introducing a refreshed color scheme: the lighter Aqua Blue and the newer Forest Green.

Right of the box, however, Realme fans might look for that staple silicon case that comes with the majority of the brand’s devices. This accessory has been omitted, and only the 5V2A adapter and Micro-USB cable, plus the screen protect film and the warranties and guide, remain.

The adapter might make the charging process a little bit lengthy though, since the battery on the 5i is still a beefy 5000mAh battery and the 10W charging capability can only offer marginal improvements.

Some of the hardware cues that remain are the dewdrop notch on the display, a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, and the bottom-firing speakers.

The display on the 5i is bumped up to 6.5 inches with a decent HD+ 720p display and Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection. The fingerprint sensor is snappy and we did not encounter any issue whatsoever.

Although a 2020 phone with a Micro-USB port begs to be made obsolete, the 3.5mm headphone jack is still an advantage and its placement at the bottom of the device is a good call since it makes for easier phone operation while busting some tunes simultaneously.

When it comes to its shooters, although the quad-camera branding looks good on paper, it’s nothing to write about. Given that it offers small improvements from the previous models in the series, it still manages to cover basic photography needs of users and with quality good enough for social media postings.

The quad setup includes a 12MP main sensor equipped with the usual features like PDAF, Nightscape and Chroma Boost, an 8MP wide-angle camera, a 2MP macro lens, and 2MP portrait shooter.

One defining perk of combining its main and wide-angle sensors is the series’ ability to shoot videos up to 119-degree wide. Although 4K shooting is capped at 30FPS, Electronic Image Stabilization is usable for up to 1080p recording.

For the version available in the Philippines, the 5i is only at a 3GB+64GB RAM/ROM configuration, with the Indian offering capped at 4GB+128GB.

Although the ColorOS 6.1 on top of Android P runs smoothly and is known to have regular security updates, during the official launch, Realme Philippines representatives shared that there is an upcoming major Realme UI upgrade that will be integrating Android 10. This will bring additional features and performance enhancements, as well as boasting a more intuitive control over their devices.

Verdict

The Realme 5i seems like a late contender for Xiaomi’s Note 8 vanilla, since it retains the price at P6,990 with small improvements for the defined issues in the Realme 5. The 5i will still face a slow charging issue with its large-capacity battery and average camera performance.

However, for its price, the phone is able to deliver an almost complete set of basic features of a modern smartphone, coupled with a long battery life, a capable Snapdragon 665 chip, a set of cameras that offer many shooting modes, and a fairly large storage capacity.

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