Realme has seen quite a meteoric rise in India in a relatively short period of time. The highly competitive company currently has a huge portfolio of smartphones, but I think that given the speed it is running at, it needs to pull the brakes a little and be more focused on its launch. I’m referring to the recently launched Realme 8 that was launched alongside the Realme 8 Pro. The company has managed to cover pretty much every single price point under Rs. 20,000, but the sheer number of phones sold now, including the 7 Series, X-Series, and Narzo models, means there is a lot of overlap, with only tiny differences between many of them.
The Realme 8 starts at Rs. 14,999 and, purely by specs, is essentially a sleeker Realme 7 with an AMOLED display. The Realme 7 itself is essentially a Realme 6 Pro with a MediaTek SoC instead of Qualcomm, and both models are still available at similar prices as well. The top-end variant of the Realme 8 that I’ll be reviewing costs Rs. 16,999. This means that it competes directly with the Realme Narzo 30 Pro, which happens to have a 5G SoC and a 120 Hz display. Do you understand what I mean? Choosing a Realme smartphone today can be a daunting task.
It’s time to see how the Realme 8 actually works, and whether you should dig into it or choose something else.
Realme 8 design and display
The design of the Realme 8 is heavily focused on making it slim and light, and it does a very good job here. The all-plastic housing ensures a comfortable weight of only 177 g and is not very thick at 7.99 mm. Both figures are big improvements over the hefty Realme 7. The plastic back is a bit of a disappointment as the edges have easily picked up scratch marks. A glass bottom could have prevented this. The buttons on the Realme 8 have good feedback. Below we have the speaker, headphone jack, and USB Type-C port.
The big change compared to the Realme 7 lies in the display, a 6.4-inch Super AMOLED panel with Full HD + resolution instead of an LCD panel. This is the first time Realme’s non-pro number series has received AMOLED treatment. With this display, you also get a fast on-display fingerprint sensor, but you sacrifice the 90Hz refresh rate offered by the Realme 7. A screen protector is pre-installed on the display, but there is no official mention of reinforced glass that was present on previous models. When we asked Realme, a company representative told us that the Realme 8 used Dragontrail glass.
I’m not a huge fan of the Cyber Silver paint I was given as the rainbow effect on certain sections of the back and the massive “Dare to Leap” tagline are a little too noticeable for my tastes. Fingerprints are a big problem even in this color. The Cyber Black option looks a bit more subdued and is probably the one I would go with.
The Realme 8 is one of the more comfortable phones I’ve recently reviewed and it should be easy to use, especially considering it has a 5,000 mAh battery. However, I think Realme could have done a lot more to increase the premium quotient, such as offering a glass bottom instead of plastic. The scope of delivery includes a 30 W charger, a Type-C cable, a housing and a SIM eject tool.
Realme 8 specifications and software
The Realme 8 uses the MediaTek Helio G95 SoC from the Realme 7, which has proven to be good enough for games at this price level. The Realme 8 is available in three RAM variants, all of which have the same 128 GB of UFS 2.1 storage. The 4 GB variant costs Rs. 14,999, the 6 GB variant is Rs. 15,999, and the 8 GB variant is Rs. 16,999. Realme sent me the top-end 8 GB version for this test. Further specifications are dual-band WLAN, Bluetooth 5.1 as well as the usual sensors and support for satellite navigation.
The Realme 8 (and 8 Pro) are some of the first phones to ship with Realme UI 2.0. It is based on Android 11 and looks very similar to the previous version on the surface. There are subtle design and animation changes, however. There’s an updated menu for customizing icons, and all of the security and privacy benefits of Android 11 have been implemented.
Unfortunately, the new version hasn’t lost any bloatware, and there are still a ton of pre-installed and redundant third-party apps. Most of them can be uninstalled if necessary, but some like the browser which is known for spamming you with unwanted notifications, but not.
Realme 8 performance and battery life
An AMOLED display instantly animates pictures and videos, making the Realme 8 a good device for media consumption. The contrast levels of the display are good and the brightness is more than sufficient for outdoor use. The built-in fingerprint sensor is very quick to authenticate and facial recognition is just as reliable. The bottom speaker gets decently loud, although it would have been nice to have stereo speakers.
In terms of performance, the Realme 8 feels snappy. I missed the fluidity of scrolling that a 90Hz display offers, but the ease of use was still good. The Helio G95 SoC also achieved good benchmark numbers and achieved 2.89.587 points in AnTuTu. I didn’t have any problems with the heating even when playing long distances. Speaking of which, the games went really well and looked good on this display.
The Realme 8 also offers solid battery life. The capacity of 5,000 mAh easily lasted for a whole day under heavy use and even longer if my use was a little less. In our HD video loop test, it ran for a total of 24 hours and 11 minutes. With 30 W fast charge, it can be fully charged in approx. 65 minutes. There is also support for fast charging USB Type-C Power Delivery (PD) (up to 15W).
Realme 8 cameras
The rear cameras are similar in terms of specs to what we saw on the Realme 7. On the back there is a 64-megapixel primary camera, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide camera, a 2-megapixel macro camera, and a 2-megapixel monochrome camera. However, the primary 64-megapixel sensor is made by Omnivision and not Sony like the one on the Realme 7. You get a 16-megapixel selfie camera. The camera app offers an extensive selection of recording modes, similar to previous Realme smartphones.
Unfortunately, the image quality is weaker than Realme 7. Landscape shots looked fine on the phone’s display, but upon closer inspection, details and textures on objects often appeared flat and not well defined. As expected, the ultra-wide camera produced even weaker details with visible running distortions at the edges. Close-ups performed much better in terms of detail, but tended to look heavily processed when zoomed in. The AI scene enhancer has a tendency to improve the colors. So if you prefer a more natural look, it’s best to leave it out.
Low-light photos were generally a bit grainy unless I used Nightscape mode. This also helped get usable photos in low light with the ultra-wide camera. When taking close-ups, the autofocus was not very accurate in less than ideal light, so it sometimes took a few tries to get a good shot.
The Realme 8 can record videos at up to 4K 30fps, but without stabilization. The video quality is pretty average. At 1080p the phone tries to stabilize the footage but ends up doing a pretty bad job. You can also record video with the ultra-wide camera, but the quality is subpar and there is no stabilization. Needless to say, low-light video quality is only the best if your subject or scene is very well lit.
Selfies taken during the day look decent, but low-light selfies are just average. The macro camera allows you to take extreme close-ups, but the quality is not particularly good. Portrait mode works well and there are different filters to play with.
Overall, the Realme 8’s cameras are definitely ready to go under the right conditions, but this model is no step up from the Realme 7 in terms of features and quality.
After a week with the Realme 8, you can safely draw the conclusion that it is only a Realme 7 (review) with an AMOLED display and slightly poorer camera performance. I think the Realme 7 is still a better choice as it’s cheaper, has a 90Hz display, and hopefully should get an Android 11 update soon. The only real advantage of the Realme 8 is that it’s slimmer and lighter than the 7. Realme is also preparing to launch a 5G version of the 8 very soon, the price of which could be between the Realme 8 and the Realme 8 Pro the least wait.
The top-end variant of the Realme 8 is much more difficult to sell than the base variant, as the Realme Narzo 30 Pro is available for the same price and offers a more powerful 5G SoC and a 120 Hz display. There’s also the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro, which is better than the Realme 8 in every way, at least on paper, and starts at Rs. 16,999. Apart from the primary rear camera, the Redmi Note 10 Pro is identical to the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max (test) that we have already tested and that we liked very much.
While the Realme 8 doesn’t have any groundbreaking flaws, it doesn’t offer anything special even compared to its own siblings, which makes it difficult to recommend.
Why did LG give up its smartphone business? We discussed this on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Later (from 10:00 p.m.) we’ll talk about the new co-op RPG shooter Outriders. Orbital is available in Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and anywhere you can get your podcasts.