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Realme 9 Pro+ review: An eye-catching and affordable mid-range 5G phone

It may be missing features like a MicroSD card slot and an IP rating, but the Realme 9 Pro+ gets a lot right.
sandra-vogel.jpg
Written by Sandra Vogel, Contributing Writer on
Pros
  • 90Hz AMOLED screen
  • Decent performance
  • Good battery life
  • 3.5mm headset jack
  • Affordable price
Cons
  • Average speakers
  • Disappointing macro camera
  • No IP rating for dust/water resistance
  • Inaccurate heart rate monitor

The Realme 9 Pro+ is yet another mid-range 5G smartphone – a sector that's packed with choice, but also contains some traps for the unwary. At £349 in the UK the Realme 9 Pro+ offers 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage, a 50-megapixel main camera and 90Hz Super AMOLED screen among its key features. 

[Note: Realme, originally a sub-brand of Oppo, says it is in "61 markets worldwide, including Asia, Europe, Oceania, Middle and East Africa, etc". The firm's phones are not officially available in the US, although you'll find some unlocked models online.] 

The Realme 9 Pro+ will appeal to those who like a bit of bling in the design of their phone -- but not too much of it, and thankfully Realme has decided not to plaster its 'Dare to Leap' marque all over the backplate, as on the Realme 8 range. 

Realme 9 Pro+

Realme 9 Pro+: 6.4-inch Super AMOLED screen with 90Hz refresh rate, MediaTek Dimensity 920 5G chipset, 6GB or 8GB of RAM, 128GB or 256GB of internal storage (no MicroSD slot); 50MP wide angle, 8MP ultra-wide angle, 2MP macro cameras at the back.

Images: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The backplate of my Aurora Green review model sported a colour-changing finish that incorporates a smattering of silver glitter. This lends the phone a slightly shimmering appearance indoors, and really shows itself when reflecting sunlight outside. A similarly shade-shifting Midnight Black option is also available.  

Realme 9 Pro+: outdoors

The Aurora Green backplate takes on a bluish hue in daylight.

Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Realme talks of a 'Light Shift Design' on its UK website, which means the backplate changes colour from light blue to red when exposed to sunlight. But this only works on the Sunrise Blue version, which is not available in the UK at the time of writing.  

The back is extremely slippery, which means that the phone found its way from the arm of my chair to the floor frequently and of its own accord. On the plus side, it didn't grab my fingerprints at all. 

There is no waterproofing, and the phone might benefit from the protection provided by a slip-over case. Realme provides one, which also reduces the propensity of the phone to slide around. 

The Realme 9 Pro+ measures 73.3mm wide by 7.99mm thick by 160.2mm tall and weighs 182g. Its protruding camera bump is off to one side of at back, resulting in noisy instability when you tap and swipe the screen with the handset sat on a desk. The case solves this issue but obscures the fancy backplate colour effects. 

It's good to see a 3.5mm headset slot on the bottom edge, which also carries one of two speaker grilles -- the other is tiny, along the top edge of the screen. The speakers put out plenty of volume, but audio is treble rich and loses definition at high volume. 

The 6.4-inch screen is a Super AMOLED panel, with FHD+ resolution (2,400 x 1,080, 411ppi) and a 90Hz refresh rate. The refresh rate can be set to 90Hz or 60Hz, or allowed to vary dynamically.  

Realme 9 Pro+: Realme Lab

Realme Lab lets you try out beta versions of features like the heart-rate monitor that's integrated into the in-display fingerprint reader.

Screenshots: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The in-display fingerprint sensor worked well for me, but an add-on feature, a heart-rate monitor, did not. This is a Realme Lab application – that is, a function which is in beta. I found the heart rate monitor very inaccurate, reporting my rate to be up to 10 beats per minute lower than a concurrent manual measurement. Hopefully Realme will be able to fine-tune this beta app before long. 

The Realme 9 Pro+ is based on MediaTek's fast mid-range Dimensity 920 chipset with 8GB of RAM. This delivered average Geekbench 5 scores of 813 (single core) and 2316 (multi core). These scores are close to those of the £299 OnePlus Nord CE 2 (719 and 2143), which uses MediaTek's Dimensity 900 chipset. 

My handset had 128GB of internal storage, of which 20GB was used for Android 12, Realme UI 3.0 and various applications and extras – of which there are a lot. My review unit had a range of social media and retail apps, some apps that duplicate standard-issue Android fare, including a video and music app, a couple of games and a Games app that brings all the on-board titles into a single interface and allows you to make some universal settings.

Fortunately you can uninstall many of the added applications, as there's no MicroSD card slot for adding extra storage.

There are three rear cameras: 50MP f/1.8 wide angle; 8MP f/2.2 ultra-wide angle (119° field of view); and 2MP f/2.4 macro. The front camera sits in the top left corner of the screen and is a 16MP f/2.4 unit with a 78° field of view. 

Realme 9 Pro+: main camera image

Main 50MP camera image with 1x (left) and 20x (right) zoom.

Images: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

It is good to see optical image stabilisation (OIS) in the main camera, and point-and-shoot photos were fine. You can zoom in up to 20x using the main camera, but quality suffers, and a steady hand is needed at that magnification. The ultra-wide angle camera is OK, but the macro camera, with a fixed focal length and an ideal shooting distance of 4cm, is less impressive. 

The 4500mAh battery kept the Realme 9 Pro+ going for 15 hours and 22 minutes under the PCMark for Android Work 3.0 battery life test. When asked to play YouTube video for three hours, it dropped 18% from a full charge, suggesting total battery life of just under 17 hours. These are very respectable figures. 

Realme's 60W charger took the battery from 22% to 60% in 15 minutes, and up to 92% after a further 15 minutes. 

Conclusions 

As a mid-range 5G smartphone, Realme 9 Pro+ is a solid all-rounder that offers good value for money at £349. Impressive battery life and a 90Hz Super AMOLED screen are highlights, while drawbacks include speaker quality and a poor macro camera. 


Realme 9 Pro+ specifications

ProcessorMediaTek Dimensity 920 5G
RAM6GB, 8GB
Internal storage128GB, 256GB
MicroSD card slotno
Display6.4-inch 90MHz Super AMOLED
ResolutionFHD+ (2400 x 1080, 20:9, 411ppi)
Screen to body ratio (claimed)90.80%
Screen protectionGorilla Glass 5
Touch sampling rate360Hz
Battery capacity4500mAh
Battery charging60W SuperDart (50% in ~15 minutes)
Rear cameras50MP f/1.8 wide angle (OIS/EIS), 8MP f/2.2 ultra-wide angle ( 119˚, EIS), 2MP f/2.4 macro (EIS)
Front camera16MP f/2.4
Networks2G GSM, 3G WCDMA, 4G LTE, 5G NSA & SA
SIM slots2x Nano-SIM
NavigationGPS/AGPS, Beidou, Glonass
Dimensions73.3mm x 160.2mm x 7.99mm (6.31 x 2.89 x 0.31 in)
Weight182g (6.42 oz)
Audiostereo speakers, dual mics
3.5mm audio jackyes
USBUSB-C
Buttonspower, volume up/down
Sensorsmagnetic induction, ambient light, proximity, gyro, acceleration
Securityin-display fingerprintreader (with heart-rate monitor)
IP ratingno
In the boxRealme 9 Pro+, 65W SuperDart Charger, USB-C cable, protective case, SIM card tool, screen protect film, quick-start guide, product information (inc. warranty card)
Price£349

Alternatives to consider

As the cost of living rises, many smartphone buyers are shifting their focus from expensive flagships to mid-range and budget handsets. There's an increasing range of choice at lower price points -- here are three leading contenders.

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