Technophile

Realme 8 Series: Two value phones with variants

Mala Bhargava | Updated on April 05, 2021

Specially good to hold because of their slight slim form, these well-priced devices are worth considering

All of March 2021, it’s rained. Not in water droplets, but in smartphones. Companies have launched them in bunches, making it difficult to keep track, distinguish and compare. But there are some bits of great news: we’re soon coming on to a time when you can’t go too wrong with a budget phone. Certainly one phone or the other may have some bit of hardware that stands out above the other, but the era of extremely compromised low-cost phones is all but gone. Realme’s recently launched 8 series phones are no exception.

For a mere starting price of ₹14,999 and ₹17,999 Realme has brought in two devices and their variants that update the 8 series for 2021 and come with a few high-end features. Both phones have come back with Realme’s in-your-face tagline etched into the back and taking up most of the real estate there: Dare to Leap. It’s executed very well on the Realme 8, but who wants it there in the first place is a good question. Someone who saw it remarked that it was like one of those too-loud t-shirts people wore to call attention to themselves.

 

Both Realme 8s have a plastic back. For the plain Realme 8 we got this is done in a metallic look, giving it the feel of two-tone chrome. It also catches light and reflects rainbow colours. I wouldn’t mind the look at all were it not for the Dare to Leap splashed from one end to the other. Unfortunately, the synthetic material seems to almost welcome finger smudges, which instantly makes the back look in need of a good bath. On the Realme 8 Pro, the plastic is textured and matte and doesn’t pretend to be anything other than plastic. It doesn’t look bad, again, but for the tag-line. This one doesn’t show fingerprints even if you rub your fingers into it. Except for the finish, the two phones have quite the same design language, including a square camera housing with four lenses sitting in them.

Realme launches Realme 8 series in India, first sale today

What’s different

Both phones are slim and light and easily grippable because of their just-right width. Both also have a 6.4-inch AMOLED 1080x2400 displays. AMOLED screens, with their colour strength and brightness, are a treat to see in phones under ₹20,000, which is happily beginning to happen more commonly now. Neither of these screens has a specially high refresh rate. But both are nice and do Android’s dark mode quite well. They both have a little front camera dot, thin bezels with the bottom bezel a little thicker, and support for always-on.

The difference between these two series 8 phones comes into play when we come to the processor. The 8 Pro runs on the Snapdragon 720G with either 6GB or 8GB RAM and 128GB UFS 2.1 storage. There’s a dedicated memory slot. Browsing and navigation is obviously not so fast as to make each progression invisible, but the phone isn’t jagged and stuttering either.

Smartphone player realme to focus on premium segment

The regular Realme 8 works with the Mediatek Hélio G95 with 4GB and 6GB RAM, 128GB storage and a dedicated memory slot. The step-down is pretty clear but it’s not as if you’ll feel the difference in everyday tasks like calls, mail, browsing, etc. It isn’t stuttering either and stays quite cool even with things like shooting video.

Other things of note

Both phones have the RealmeUI customisation on top of Android 11. It’s nice that a phone under ₹15,000 should be on Android 11 when several recently launched phones haven’t yet moved up from Android 10. RealmeUI isn’t overwhelmingly customised so it’s not bad. The settings aren’t arranged in any illogical or messy manner and everything is relatively easy to find. What does remain annoying is of course the pre-loaded apps, some but not all of which you can offload. Also severely annoying are the nagging notifications from the Themes app, the native browser, etc. This is, of course, a common enough scenario.

Other things of note are that the phones have an in-display fingerprint sensor that works quite fast, a headphone jack, and 4,500mAh battery for the 8 Pro with 50W fast charging and 5,000mAh for the 8 regular with 30W fast charging. That’s great value.

The two phones diverge when it comes to the main camera which is 108MP on the 8 Pro and 64MP on the 8. It very much looks like a 108MP is the new 12MP, seeing how it’s making an appearance on budget phones. It turns out the camera is really rather good with its Samsung sensor HM2 sensor. Both daylight and indoors shots are not at all bad. The shutter speed is quite fast — faster than many expensive phones, in fact. There are the usual companion lenses about which there’s nothing in particular to say and there’s a 16MP selfie camera. The camera app is good and does have features to play with. The regular Realme 8 has a 64MP main lens and that’s markedly below the one on the 8 Pro. It’s a little disappointing and seems to put a yellow veneer over everything indoors.

Price: ₹19,999, ₹17,999, 15,999, ₹14,999

Pros: Light and slim despite big batteries and durable build, great screens, 108MP camera works well, good battery with fast charging, variants, decent performance, good pricing

Cons: Dislike-able Dare to Leap branding, some colour variants show smudges, 64MP gives yellow tinge

Published on April 05, 2021

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