We are only three months into 2021 and Realme is already having a busy year. The company launched the Realme X7 and X7 Pro in early February. Earlier this month, the brand launched the Realme Narzo 30A and Narzo 30 Pro, the latter being the most affordable 5G phone in the country. Now, Realme is back with the Realme 8 and Realme 8 Pro (review). The phones succeed last year’s Realme 7 (review) and 7 Pro, respectively. Today, we’re taking a closer look at the Realme 8 and whether the phone offers the necessary upgrades over its predecessor to justify its existence and price tag.
The Realme 8’s AMOLED display looks great and the phone delivers plenty of power and storage under the hood for those looking for it. While the design may not be for everyone, the Realme 8 is a solid addition to the company’s portfolio under Rs 15,000. However, Realme 7 users may want to hold out for the Realme 9.
Starting off with the design, the Realme 8 looks quite different from its predecessor. Instead of a matt finish polycarbonate rear panel, the company has gone with a glossy finish. While the Cyber Black colour that I received for review looks nice from a distance, it does attract a lot of fingerprints and smudges. The Realme 8 comes with what the company calls the “Infinite Bold Design”, which sees a dual-tone finish. A strip on the right side has the “Dare to Leap” branding, which is not as loud as seen on the Realme 8 Pro. Personally, I’m not a fan of this design as I feel the Realme 7 had a more elegant look with a clean matte finish panel.
There’s a square-shaped camera module on the back, which gives it a slightly unique look. The power button and volume keys are present on the right side of the frame. You also get a Type-C port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a speaker grille on the bottom of the frame. The SIM tray can hold two nano-SIM cards and a microSD card. The phone weighs around 177 grams making it fairly lightweight and easy to hold for a long period of time.
Coming to the front, you get a 6.44-inch Super AMOLED screen with FHD+ (2,400 x 1,080) resolution, 180Hz touch sampling rate, and 1000 nits peak brightness. To recall, the Realme 7 offered an LCD display with a 90Hz refresh rate. So, while the Realme 8 does not come with a high refresh rate screen, the brand has upgraded the panel to offer better colour reproduction, improved contrast, and an overall brighter screen.
The Realme 8 does offer an attractive display, with punchy colours and inky blacks that one expects to see from an AMOLED display. With an AMOLED panel, you also get an in-display fingerprint sensor and the Always On Display feature. Overall, the Realme 8 offers a high-quality display with good brightness levels and viewing angles. The colours don’t look oversaturated and texts and images look sharp. I was able to stream content on Netflix in high definition and the experience was good, though the sound quality from the speaker leaves you wanting more.
The quad-camera system on the Realme 8 is similar to the one found on its predecessor. You get a 64MP primary camera with an f/1.79 aperture, an 8MP wide-angle lens, a 2MP macro lens, and a 2MP mono camera. The phone gets a 16MP front camera housed in the punch-hole cutout. The Realme 8 comes with a host of camera features, including Starry Mode, Neon Portrait, Dynamic Bokeh, Dual-view Video, and a new Tilt-shift mode.
The Realme 8’s main camera is a very capable shooter in daylight. You will be able to capture bright and colourful photos outdoors and the Chroma Boost feature is available to add a little more punch to the colours. Thanks to fast autofocus, you can capture decent stills even of moving subjects. The wide-angle lens is best used in daylight and you can expect the colours to look slightly washed-out compared to the main camera. A similar washed-out effect can also be seen with the macro lens.
The night mode does a good job at improving the exposure and reducing noise in poorly lit conditions. In the image above, you can see the comparison between a photo captured without night mode and the one captured with the long exposure mode enabled. Not only do the leaves look greener and clear, but the exposure of the street light has also retained some balance.
Under the hood, the Realme 8 comes with the same MediaTek Helio G95 chipset that powers the Realme 7. The gaming-centric processor impressed us on the Realme 7 and I was quite satisfied with the performance on this phone as well. Looking at the benchmarks, the Realme 8 outscores the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max’s Snapdragon 732G on AnTuTu but trails the Redmi phone in Geekbench. However, the Realme Narzo 30 Pro with the MediaTek Dimensity 800U fares better than both the phones with a score of over 3 lakh on AnTuTu.
Benchmark scores aside, the Realme 8’s performance will not disappoint. The phone is quite capable when it comes handling day to day tasks with ease. I saw no noticeable lag while opening apps and switching between them. You can run games like Call of Duty on high graphics without any stutters. After a half an hour session, the phone did not heat up and the battery drain was minimal at around 5-6 per cent. The Realme 8 comes with 128GB storage, which is plenty for storing photos and media.
The Realme 8 comes with a single bottom-firing speaker that is strictly average in sound quality. At higher levels, the sound lacks clarity and can get a little distorted. The in-display fingerprint sensor is quick and responsive, while the face unlock feature is as fast as you would expect.
The Realme 8 ships with Android 11-based Realme UI 2.0. It’s a fairly quick and responsive UI that comes with a few pre-loaded apps like Facebook, Snapchat, Soloop, Amazon, among others. You can uninstall these apps to make your home screen look cleaner or to replace them with apps that you actually use. Realme UI 2.0 brings more ways to customise your phone, with the ability to change the icons, accent colours, and choose between three dark mode styles. While the phone supports Always On Display, I wasn’t able to customise it with artwork – something Realme UI 2.0 is supposed to offer.
The Realme 8 packs a 5,000mAh battery and supports 30W fast charging, just like the Realme 7. In our PCMark battery test, the smartphone managed to last 14 hours and 32 minutes, which is respectable. The battery is good enough to last through a full day and then some on typical usage that involves frequent messaging and a few hours of consuming media. I managed to get around 5 hours of screen on time on most days during the review period. The 30W fast charger can juice up the phone from 1 to 100 per cent in just under 70 minutes.
Realme has played it safe with the Realme 8. The phone is not a major upgrade from the Realme 7 apart from the display moving from LCD to AMOLED. With respect to the chipset, cameras, and battery, the two phones are identical. This means that Realme 7 users have no reason to upgrade to this phone. The predecessor also comes with an arguably better design. The Realme 8 is not as exciting as the Realme X7 and Realme Narzo 30 Pro that launched earlier this year.
However, the Realme 8 is still a solid smartphone if you look at it in comparison to other devices in this segment. The closest competitor is the Redmi Note 10, which starts from Rs 15,999. By paying Rs 1,000 more, you get a 120Hz AMOLED display, a better set of cameras, and stereo speakers. The Realme 8 offers a great display, good cameras, and a decent performance, but it could have been a better successor to the Realme 7.