Realme 8i was launched in India as the successor of the Realme 7i and a more affordable option than the Realme 8. This new smartphone's headlining features are its 120Hz display, MediaTek Helio G96 SoC, and 5,000mAh battery. What is also interesting is the Realme 8i's starting price of Rs. 13,999, which puts it in one of the most competitive segments in the market. Can the Realme 8i outshine the competition, or should you consider other options? I put the Realme 8i to the test to find out.
The Realme 8i is available in two variants. The base variant, with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, is priced at Rs. 13,999 in India, whereas the higher variant with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage is priced at Rs. 15,999. You have two colour options to choose from, Space Black and Space Purple. I had the top-end variant in Space Purple for this review.
The Realme 8i has grown slightly compared to its predecessor. It sports a bigger display with a hole for the camera in the top-left corner. The borders are thin at the sides but comparatively thicker at the top and the bottom. There's a fingerprint scanner mounted on the power button on the right, while the volume buttons are on the left. I found the button positioning to be very good as I could reach them without needing to stretch. The left of the frame also has the SIM tray. The frame is flat at the top and bottom, and while the top is blank, the bottom looks busy with a 3.5mm headphone jack, primary microphone, USB Type-C port, and loudspeaker.
The body of the Realme 8i is made of plastic and the rear panel has an “arc beam” texture that pops when light falls on it. This panel is glossy and picks up fingerprints rather easily. The light colour of my review unit made smudges visible very easily. The camera module is in the upper left corner and protrudes slightly. It might look like there's a quad-camera setup at first glance but this phone only has three cameras. One of the spaces has a flash positioned in it.
Realme has kept the thickness of this phone in check, and it measures just 8.5mm, but the weight, at 194g, is noticeable. The Realme 8i has a 5,000mAh battery and comes with an 18W fast charger in the box.
The Realme 8i has a 6.6-inch LCD display with a full-HD+ resolution and 120Hz refresh rate. This is an upgrade over the 90Hz 720p panel on the Realme 7i. The Realme 8i has a dynamic refresh rate feature which switches between six preset frame rates (30Hz, 48Hz, 50Hz, 60Hz, 90Hz,120Hz) depending on what you are doing on the smartphone. It also has a 180Hz touch sampling rate and a peak brightness of 600 nits.
Powering the Realme 8i is the MediaTek Helio G96 SoC, making it the first smartphone to sport this hardware in the country. There are two RAM and storage options: the base variant has 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, while the higher priced one has 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Realme offers a Virtual RAM feature that allows the smartphone to use some storage space as RAM. You can assign up to 5GB of Virtual RAM with the top variant.
Storage on the Realme 8i is expandable using the dedicated microSD card slot. It also has two Nano-SIM slots and supports 4G as well as VoLTE on both. There's also dual-band Wi-Fi ac and Bluetooth 5, and three satellite navigation systems.
In terms of software, the Realme 8i runs Realme UI 2.0 on top of Android 11. My unit had the September Android security patch. The smartphone came with a fair amount of bloatware preinstalled, such as Facebook, Snapchat, Amazon, Dailyhunt, Moj, Josh, and a few others. You can uninstall all these apps, but there are also some Realme first-party ones. During use, I did receive push notifications from the Themes and Realme Store app.
The Realme 8i did not feel slow at any point, and UI navigation felt smooth thanks to the 120Hz refresh rate. The device could keep app load times under acceptable limits, and multitasking was easy. Virtual RAM was enabled and set to 2GB by default on my unit, and that can be bumped up to 3GB or 5GB. The side-mounted fingerprint scanner is quick to unlock the smartphone. I liked the big display on the Realme 8i, which can get bright enough outdoors. There are two colour modes, vivid and gentle. You can also tweak the colour temperature of this panel. I found the speaker to be adequately loud. However, at full volume, sound was tinny.
I ran our standard benchmarks on the Realme 8i to see how it stands against the competition. In AnTuTu, the Realme 8i scored 337,297 points, whereas in Geekbench 5's single-core and multi-core tests it managed 538 and 1,714 points respectively. In PCMark Work 3.0 it scored 8,477 points. These scores are slightly higher than those of the Redmi Note 10S (Review), which I have tested previously. As for graphics benchmarks, the Realme 8i managed to score 3,332 in 3DMark SlingShot, and in GFXBench's T-Rex and Car Chases tests, it scored 55fps and 12fps respectively.
I did play BGMI on the Realme 8i, and it defaulted to the HD setting for graphics and High frame rate. The game was playable at these settings without any issue. I played for 28 minutes and noticed an 8 percent drop in the battery level. The phone did get slightly warm to the touch after that long.
Battery life on the Realme 8i was good. This phone could last me about 2 days with my usage. Even in our HD video loop test, the phone went on for 21 hours and 17 minutes. This is better than some of the other smartphones in this price segment. Realme supplies an 18W charger in the box, which is capable of charging the battery to 30 percent in 30 minutes and 56 percent in an hour.
While it looks as though the Realme 8i has a quad-camera setup, it only has three sensors. The primary one is a 50-megapixel Samsung sensor with an f/1.8 aperture. The other two are a 2-megapixel B&W camera and a 2-megapixel macro camera. The Realme camera app feels familiar. It has all the different shooting modes laid out at the bottom of the viewfinder making it easy to switch between them. There is an AI toggle at the top, and when enabled, the AI can detect what you are shooting and make adjustments accordingly.
The Realme 8i uses pixel binning to deliver 12.5-megapixel output from its 50-megapixel sensor. Daylight photos taken with the Realme 8i were average. Objects at a distance did not have much detail. The phone also sharpens images slightly. You don't get an ultra-wide-angle camera on the Realme 8i, but you can shoot at the full 50-megapixel resolution. Photos shot at full resolution did have better detail, especially in objects at a distance.
Close-ups taken with the Realme 8i were good. The phone managed colours well and added a soft depth to the background. You can shoot portraits with the Realme 8i and it lets you select the level of background blur before you take a shot. I found edge detection to be good and the subject was sharp as well. The macro camera lets you go super close to your subject and does manage decent results, but the output is limited to 2 megapixels in resolution.
Low-light camera performance was not the best I've seen in this price segment. The output did not have noise but it was low on detail. The phone also failed to capture darker areas of the frame properly. Using Night mode helped capture details in the shadows better, and images were brighter as well. It also had some improvement in details and objects were sharper.
Selfies taken with the Realme 8i in daylight as well as low light were decent. Portrait selfies had good separation between the subject and the background, though beautification is in by default.
Video recording tops out at 1080p for the primary as well as the selfie camera. Footage isn't stabilised by default, and shakes are visible. There is an Ultra Steady mode but that doesn't help stabilise footage to a great extent.
The Realme 8i has been launched in the super-competitive sub-Rs. 15,000 segment in India, and has to fend off a lot of competition. What's more, that isn't limited to other manufacturers, since Realme itself sells multiple smartphones in this price segment.
The strength of the Realme 8i is performance. Its MediaTek Helio G96 SoC and 120Hz display help deliver a smooth user experience. Battery life is good too, but the bundled 18W charger feels inadequate, especially when we've seen phones such as the Realme Narzo 20 Pro (Review) bundled with up to 65W chargers.
The Realme 8i is not a perfect all-rounder, and its cameras fell short of my expectations. If photo and video quality aren't all that important to you, you could consider buying this phone, but if you would prefer something that does it all at this price level you could also consider the Realme 7 (Review) which is an older model but one step up in Realme's hierarchy.