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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.
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 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.
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.
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 AndroidWork 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.
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.
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.