Realme 9 Pro+ Review – Affordable alternative to the Realme GT

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Realme 9 Pro+ Review Rating

Summary

The Realme 9 Pro+ is a massive improvement from last year's Realme 8 Pro. You now have an excellent balance of both chipset and camera performance and this is an ideal phone for anyone wanting a budget phone that is great at photography. 

Overall
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Pros

  • Dimensity 920 is a significant upgrade from last year's SD720G providing excellent general use performance 
  • Primary 50 MP Sony IMX766 can produce photos to the same standard as phones three times the price

Cons

  • Price is perhaps a bit too close to the OnePlus Nord 2, which has a more powerful chipset

Launched at the end of February, the Realme 9 Pro+ is the latest camera-centric phone from Realme.

With the camera spec identical to the Realme GT2 so, this feels like an affordable alternative for anyone that doesn't need the processing power of the Snapdragon 888.

It is also strikingly similar to the OnePlus Nord 2 5G being slightly more affordable but with a lower spec chipset. With each launch, it is becoming increasingly difficult to tell Realme and OnePlus apart.

Specification

 Realme 9 Pro+ OnePlus Nord 2
ChipsetMediaTek Dimensity 920 5GMediatek Dimensity 1200 AI
DisplaySuper AMOLED, 90Hz, 430 nits (typ), 600 nits (HBM)90Hz 6.43" flat AMOLED
2400x1080
Memory8GB 8GB
Storage256GB 128GB
Rear Camera50 MP, f/1.9, 24mm (wide), 1/1.56", 1.0µm, PDAF, OIS
8 MP, f/2.3, 119˚ (ultrawide)
2 MP, f/2.4, (macro)
50 MP, f/1.9, 24mm (wide), 1/1.56", 1.0µm, PDAF, OIS
8 MP, f/2.3, 119˚ (ultrawide)
2 MP, f/2.4, (monochrome)
Front Camera16 MP, f/2.5, (wide), 1/3.06", 1.0µm32 MP, f/2.5, (wide), 1/2.8", 0.8µm
Battery 4500 mAh 4500 mAh
Charging65W wired65W wired
Price £349 RRP£399 RRP

Design and Display

My review sample came in Midnight Black, and the overall design of the phone is smart and inoffensive. The phone also comes in Aurora Green and  Sunrise Blue, both of which will offer something a bit more visually impressive.

The rear of the phone is plastic with a moderate camera bump. One little thing I like about this is that the included case seems to fit seamlessly with the phone design. Several times I have picked it up and thought there was no phone case on it.

Being geared towards the affordable end of the market, Realme includes a 3.5mm headphone jack providing you affordable earphone options.

The phone feels nice in the hand, and the build quality is solid, but there is a complete lack of ingress protection, so you had best keep the phone away from too much water.

As for the display, this is a 6.4 inch 90Hz AMOLED screen, identical to the Nord 2. I think 90hz is more than adequate at this price point, and for day to day apps, I can barely tell the difference between 120Hz.

Camera

The star of the show is, of course, the 50 MP Sony IMX766 primary camera, which also has optical image stabilisation.

While I repeatedly bring up the Nord 2, this is the same sensor found on:

  • Realme GT2 / GT2 Pro
  • Honor Magic4 Pro
  • OPPO Find X3 / X3 Pro / X5 / X5 Pro
  • Xiaomi 12

Most of these phones cost hundreds more, some of which exceed £1k. So this is a fantastic piece of hardware to have on a phone costing £299-349.

Of course, it is not all about the hardware, software processing makes a big difference, and I have no doubt the £1k+ OPPO Find X5 Pro takes better photos than this. However, it still does an amazing job.

When you move beyond the primary camera, things are less impressive. The 8MP ultra-wide does an OK job but is a bit generic and uninspiring. Then the macro lens is little more than a gimmick.

Realme has previously been a bit excessive with the way it processes colours; greens used to look a bit radioactive. I wasn't opposed to this approach, the images looked impressive, but the Realme 9 Pro+ offers something a bit more natural.

Realme 3.0 has quite a lot of camera features baked into it. As well as the standard night, portrait and full 50MP resolution modes you have: Street, Title Shift, and Starry Mode.

Camera Samples

Performance and Benchmarks

I have covered the benchmarks of the Dimensity 920 more extensively in a separate post. However, it is a massive upgrade from the Snapdragon 720G found on last year's Realme 8 Pro, and the two generations prior. The SD720G was a good chipset and perfectly adequate for general use, but the Realme 8 Pro felt a bit lacking because of it.

With the Realme 9 Pro+, I feel more confident in the overall performance, and the benchmarks reflect the improvement. Geekbench results are 40% and 37% higher, respectively, for single and multi-core results, and 3Dmark Slingshot Extreme score 48% higher.

You can feel the difference too. As long as you are not playing any high-end games or some other intensive app, you'd struggle to tell the difference between the performance on this phone and a flagship device.

Software

I have three Realme phones on the go at once at the moment, and I reviewed multiple last years, plus OPPO and OnePlus phones. So I am quite familiar with Realme UI.

Like all the other Realme phones, there is more bloat installed than I'd like. None of this is too intrusive, it is just a bunch of apps you can uninstall. There is no built-in advertising or annoying app scanning service when you install things, like Xiaomi phones.

The phone is running Android 12 out of the box, and Realme has been better than average for keeping their phones up to date. The company promises two major Android updates for the handset.

Battery

You shouldn't have too much of a problem with the battery. The  4500 mAh battery is reasonably large for a power-efficient mid-range chip, and I comfortably get through the day with a medium level of use. I typically end the day with over 50% battery.

You also get an impressive 60W charge which is only fractionally slower than what Realme and other brands offer on their flagship devices. Realme claims this will give you 100% in 44 min.

Price and Alternative Options

The Realme 9 Pro+  has an RRP of  £349 with 8GB + 256GB. However, on launch day, it will be available for £299, and I would expect this to be regularly below RRP.

The OnePlus Nord 2 is £399 RRP, but recently, it has been consistently £369, both from OnePlus and multiple other ecommerce stores.

I'd say the Realme 9 Pro+  is a good buy when there is a £50 price difference, but if there is only a £20 difference, I'd be inclined to get the more powerful Nord 2.

The new Realme GT2 is £499 normally but will be available for £399 between 15th of March and the 21st of March. If you can stretch your budget, I’d say the £100 is worth it.

The Realme GT Master Edition is £325, currently but it has been as low as £219 on Amazon. I personally prefer the Realme 9 Pro+ as I want a good camera and good performance.

The Xiaomi Poco X4 Pro 5G would be the best option for people on a lower budget. You have a 120Hz AMOLED display, slightly less powerful Snapdragon 695 chipset, 108MP Samsung primary sensor, and big 5000mAh battery. Then the Xiaomi 11i is identical to Poco X4 Pro, but I am not sure about UK availability or price. Annoyingly, both of these phones are launching with the now outdated Android 11.

Overall

The Realme 9 Pro+ is a massive improvement from last year's Realme 8 Pro. While I liked the 8 Pro, it just felt disappointing that it was still using the ageing Snapdragon 720G, so the shift to the Dimensity 920 makes me happy.

For a phone that is potentially under £300, the camera performance is phenomenal, and I love how mid-range phones are starting to become great phones all around, rather than having to cherry-pick a specific feature you want.

The main issue this has is that it is hard to ignore the striking similarities with the OnePlus Nord 2 5G and similar pricing. If we take the RRP, I'd say Realme has priced the Realme 9 Pro+ just about cheap enough to be worth it over the Nord 2.

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