Realme 7i Review: A backward step

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The Realme 7i seems like a smartphone that has been released just for the sake of it. In many departments, it is a confusing phone, especially if you look at Realme’s track record over the last year. And considering its price tag of Dh799, Realme will have a hard time not only to convince new buyers but also for existing customers to upgrade.

Design and build quality

There is not much that is jaw-dropping about the Realme 7i from a design perspective. It is made from a plastic back panel that is easily scratched and smudged. The dual tone look of the smartphone is sharp and eye-catching but does not do much more than the initial impression. At 188g and 8.9mm thick, the phone is also fairly comfortable to hold in the hand. The quad-camera unit is found on the smartphone’s top left edge placed in close proximity to its rear fingerprint scanner. While the scanner is fast and responsive, we would have liked it to be a little lower for better reach.

The rear fingerprint scanner if placed a bit lower could have been more comfortable to use

The Realme 7i’s frame is also made from plastic, with the left edge sporting the power and volume buttons. On the bottom, you find the single mono speaker, the Type-C USB port, two microphones for talking and noise cancellation respectively and a 3.5mm headphone jack. While the top edge of the smartphone remains bare, the left edge sports a SIM card tray capable of housing two nano-SIM cards and a microSD card simultaneously. On the overall, the Realme 7i is not build like a tank by any means. But with a case for protection, it should be able to take a small tumble or two.

Display and multimedia

Protection is a good lead into what we get on the front of the Realme 7i. You find a 6.5-inch HD+ resolution panel which for this size seems a bit lacking. It comes with a pre-applied screen protector and Realme claims it has some form of Gorilla Glass protection. Where it struggles is with fine text or content rich applications like Instagram. For a screen of this size, the resolution is not quite fitting. But to Realme’s credit, there is one thing going for it. Its refresh rate goes up to 90Hz which makes general scrolling much smoother.

For extended multimedia consumption, the 720p IPS LCD panel on the Realme 7i is not good enough

However, with this being an IPS LCD display with a lower resolution than Full HD+, it is not something that we can recommend for extended multimedia consumption. Furthermore, the smartphone does not have stereo speakers which makes listening to audio difficult. You can however use the 3.5mm jack or your favorite pair of wireless headphones. Rather conveniently, you also get support for FM Radio which is great to have for offline consumption, something that is important at this budget.

Performance

Things do not get much better for the Realme 7i when it comes to performance either. It is equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 662 octa-core processor which scrapes through when it comes to general performance. Its performance is not bad when it comes to general navigation but a stutter here and there is quite obvious, even with the high refresh rate panel.

Day to day usage comes with noticeable stutter

You find 8GB of RAM on the phone with 128GB of storage however, taking full advantage of the RAM is a bit difficult. As soon as you start to multitask heavily, the phone shows signs of strain. And if high-end gaming is your priority, the Realme 7i will definitely disappoint. Its a phone for for absolute basic gaming like Temple Run or Angry Birds and nothing more. We also think Realme UI is the reason why it even manages to run at least as smooth as it does, due to how the software is optimized.

We do not recommend high-end gaming on the Realme 7i

But in the long run, you will face problems with performance on the Realme 7i, so it becomes difficult to recommend. This is a shame considering the older Realme 6i, in fact came with a better equipped processor. Of all the average things here, at least the smartphone does not heat up under said stress.

Camera performance

On paper, the camera is the most improved aspect about the Realme 7i compared to its predecessor. You find a 64MP primary camera alongside an 8MP ultra-wide lens, a 2MP macro lens and a 2MP depth sensor. The latter two lenses may just be to market the smartphone to have a ‘quad-camera’ setup but in good lighting conditions, the macro lens can do a decent job. In the same breadth, the primary 64MP sensor is also good in ideal lighting as long as you do not mind over-processed photos. But that 8MP ultra-wide angle sensor is a mixed back. Not only do you lose significant detail but you also completely see a shift in color tones compared to the primary sensor.

At night, the Realme 7i can use its Night Mode. The end result is fairly decent but that is about it. Photos still have noise and there is no wow-factor to them at all. For its Dh799 price tag, you cannot be too scathing of the picture quality. But standards at this price were once raised by Realme itself, so it is slightly worrying to see it now falter. Using the ultra-wide lens in this situation is a no-go.

The front facing 16MP camera works well during the day

Video capture on the Realme 7i is limited to 1080p as well. But it is a shame you cannot preview your capture footage at its full resolution given the display. While it may be good for snippets here and there, it will struggle to capture meaningful video, especially if you plan to post on social media regularly. Likewise, the front hole-punch 16MP sensor is a bit of a hit or miss. During the day, it works fine expect for portraits that require high dynamic range but during the night, it produces a sharp reflection on my eyes, making me look eery.

Battery life

For hardcore users, the battery life on the Realme 7i is going to be fantastic. This is because it sports a 5,000mAh battery which will easily last you two days of medium to heavy usage. In that respect, the smartphone is a champion. But once again, it is surprising to see the Realme 7i come with only 18W fast charging support. While 18W charging is no slouch, we have already seen 30W and 65W charging speeds from Realme at this price, making it seem like a backward step.

Conclusion

One thing is clear from the Realme 7i. It is a smartphone with a lot of sacrifices. When we reviewed the Realme 6 last year, we had said it was the most feature packed smartphone for its price tag. Yet, one year later, the Realme 7i cuts back on almost of the Realme 6’s feature set and yet is priced at a more expensive Dh799. For us, the Realme 7i is a smartphone that does not justify its price tag. If you really need a Realme device, we stand by our recommendation of the Realme 6 from earlier this year. And for those reasons, it is difficult to recommend the Realme 7i.