Realme 9 5G Speed ​​Edition review: The need for speed

The Realme 9 5G Speed ​​Edition, as the name suggests, is a more powerful version of the Realme 9 5G. Although these smartphones may seem similar at first glance, there are few differences in their design and some major changes in their hardware. That’s not all, the Realme 9 5G Speed ​​Edition also commands a higher price compared to the regular version. So, is it worth the premium, or would you be better off with an alternative at this price? I tested it to find out.

Realme 9 5G Speed ​​Edition Price in India

The Realme 9 5G Speed ​​Edition, or SE as we’ll call it for the rest of this review, starts at Rs. 19,999 in India for the base variant with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The other variant with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage is priced at Rs. 22,999. The Realme 9 5G SE comes in Starry Glow and Azure Glow colors and I got the former for this review.

Realme 9 5G Speed ​​Edition Design

The Realme 9 5G SE looks a lot like the Realme 9 5G (Review), which I recently reviewed. The only way to tell these two smartphones apart is from the back, since the camera modules are different. The Realme 9 5G SE has a rectangular triple camera module that protrudes slightly. Just like the Realme 9 5G, this phone is plastic and has the power button on the right side while the volume buttons are on the left. Realme has integrated a fingerprint scanner into the power button, which makes it easier to unlock the phone.

realme 9 5G SE gadgets360 back panel Realme 9 5G Speed ​​Edition Review

The Realme 9 5G Speed ​​Edition in the Starry Glow finish did a pretty good job of hiding fingerprints

The Realme 9 5G SE’s screen measures 6.6 inches and has a camera hole in the top left corner. It has thin bezels at the top and sides while the chin is slightly larger. The Realme 9 5G SE is slightly taller and wider than the Realme 9 5G and weighs 199g, which is noticeable in the hand.

At the bottom, the Realme 9 5G SE has a 3.5mm headphone jack, main microphone, USB Type-C port, and speaker. The top of the frame only has the secondary microphone. Realme has curved the frame and the edges of the back panel, which makes this phone comfortable to hold. The back panel of the Starry Glow variant has a color changing pattern in hues of orange, yellow, and purple when viewed under light. It hides fingerprints quite well.

Realme 9 5G SE specs and software

The Realme 9 5G SE has completely different internals compared to the Realme 9 5G. For starters, the larger 6.6-inch display sports Full HD+ resolution, a maximum refresh rate of 144Hz, and a touch sampling rate of 240Hz. The adaptive refresh rate can scale between 30Hz and 144Hz. Hz depending on what you are doing on the device. This panel has a peak brightness of 600 nits which was good enough when using the phone outdoors in bright sunlight.

The Realme 9 5G SE is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G SoC. This 5G compatible SoC offers very good performance as can also be found in the Motorola Edge 20 (Test). The Realme 9 5G SE has a 5,000mAh battery and supports 30W fast charging. Realme also bundles a 30W charger in the box.

realme 9 5G SE punch gadgets360 Realme 9 5G Speed ​​Edition Review

The Realme 9 5G Speed ​​Edition screen has a hole for the selfie camera

Other connectivity options with the Realme 9 5G SE include Bluetooth 5.2, dual-band Wi-Fi, five satellite navigation systems, and 5G support. It also offers dual 4G VoLTE. The Realme 9 5G SE has two Nano-SIM slots and a dedicated microSD slot for storage expansion that accepts cards up to 1TB.

You get Realme UI 2.0 running on Android 11, along with the March 2022 Android security patch. I found the interface (UI) easy to use and the options I needed in the Settings app weren’t just a quick search. Other software features are similar to those offered on the Realme 9 5G.

Unfortunately, the Realme 9 5G SE suffers from the same bloatware situation as its sibling. My device had almost fifteen apps pre-installed, in addition to the usual Google ones. Some Realme apps regularly sent notifications that looked spammy. You can uninstall most of these apps to declutter the phone.

Realme UI also offers Game Space which brings all your installed games together in one place, and a game assistant which can automatically mute incoming calls and notifications while you’re playing. You can change touch and swipe sensitivity for each game. I’ll talk about performance in the next section

Realme 9 5G SE performance and battery life

The Realme 9 5G SE offered good performance with daily use. My review unit had 8GB of RAM and multitasking was a breeze. Realme also offers a RAM expansion feature, and 3GB of storage is allocated as virtual RAM by default. It can be expanded up to 5GB on this variant, but I haven’t fiddled with it. The Snapdragon 778G helped even heavy games load fairly quickly, which should keep gamers happy.

realme 9 5G SE android 11 gadgets360 Realme 9 5G Speed ​​Edition review

You get Realme UI 2.0 on Android 11

The Realme 9 5G SE’s display had decent viewing angles and the color profile was set to Vivid by default. I was able to adjust the color temperature of the panel to my liking. Colors weren’t as punchy as an AMOLED panel, but the high 144Hz refresh rate helps this phone stand out from the competition. The refresh rate is set to “Auto Select” by default, which allows you to switch between different values ​​depending on the content displayed. It used to be 90Hz when just navigating the phone UI, but in some apps like Photos the refresh rate went to 144Hz. Alternatively, you can lock it to 144Hz, but at the cost of battery life. The Realme 9 5G SE has a single bottom-firing speaker that’s loud enough, but a stereo setup would have sweetened the deal.

I found the side fingerprint scanner to be quite responsive and it never failed to authenticate during the review period. Facial recognition was also quick to unlock the device.

The Realme 9 5G SE managed to score well in our benchmark tests. In AnTuTu, he scored 541,547 points, while scoring 12,115 points in PCMark Work 3.0. In the GFXBench T-Rex and Car Chase graphics tests, it achieved 115 fps and 28 fps respectively. These scores were in the same range as the Motorola Edge 20, which uses the exact same SoC.

You can run the most popular games on the Realme 9 5G SE without any issues. I played Call of Duty: Mobile, which had default “very high” graphics and “high” frame rate settings. I increased the frame rate setting to “Very High” and I could still play without any issues. I played for about 23 minutes which resulted in an 8% drop in battery level, which is slightly high. The phone was not too hot after this period. Those looking for a smartphone for gaming can consider the Realme 9 5G SE.

realme 9 5G SE sample camera gadgets360 Realme 9 5G Speed ​​Edition Review

The Realme 9 5G Speed ​​Edition sports a triple-camera setup on the back

As for battery life, the 5,000mAh unit lasted about a day and a half with my usage. If you’re a casual user, you might be able to last longer before needing to charge this phone. In our HD video loop test, the Realme 9 5G SE managed to last 21 hours and 51 minutes. Realme provides a 30W charger in the box which was able to charge the phone to 47% in 30 minutes and up to 85% in an hour.

Realme 9 5G SE Cameras

The Realme 9 5G SE sports a triple-camera setup on the back consisting of a 48-megapixel main camera with an f/1.8 aperture, a B&W portrait camera, and a macro camera. For selfies, it has a 16-megapixel front shooter. These specifications are similar to those of the Realme 9 5G. It lacks an ultra-wide-angle camera which would have helped make this device more versatile.

Daytime camera performance was good and the phone managed to capture decent dynamic range. Distant objects had faint detail that was evident in magnified photos. The AI ​​toggle boosts contrast in photos, which looks good on the phone screen, but is overkill when looked at more closely.

Realme 9 5G Speed ​​Edition daylight camera sample without and with AI enhancements (tap for full-size images)

Close-ups were detailed and the edges of objects were well defined. The colors were accurate, as was the background blur, as long as I maintained an appropriate distance from the object. Portraits had good edge detection and this phone managed good background separation. I could also adjust the blur level before taking a picture. The macro camera did not offer very good quality.

Realme 9 5G Speed ​​Edition close-up, portrait and macro camera samples (tap for full-size images)

Low-light photos had good colors but lacked detail in darker areas. Examining them closely, I found artifacts. Using Night mode made a noticeable difference and images came out brighter with better shadow detail. It takes a few seconds to complete the shot, during which you need to be perfectly still to avoid blur.

Realme 9 5G Speed ​​Edition low-light and night mode camera samples (tap for full-size images)

Selfies taken with the Realme 9 5G SE were good in daylight as well as in low light conditions. These were recorded at full 16-megapixel resolution and had good detail. Portrait selfies had decent edge detection.

Realme 9 5G Speed ​​Edition daylight and low-light selfie camera sample (tap for full-size image)

Video recording maxes out at 4K for the main camera and 1080p for the selfie camera. The camera app does its best to stabilize the footage, which caused parts of the clips to distort when walking. Panning while standing still was smooth. Low-light images were strictly average.


The Realme 9 5G Speed ​​Edition is significantly more attractive than the standard Realme 9 5G (Review) but there is a considerable price difference. This model incorporates a powerful SoC, a very high refresh rate display and a large 5000 mAh battery. It also supports 30W fast charging which is handy.

In my opinion, the base variant of the Realme 9 5G SE, priced at Rs. 19,999, is the one to get. This variant does not have many direct competitors and offers the best value for money if you are looking for good performance.

If you are considering the higher variant for the extra RAM, the iQoo Z5 (Review) would be a better option. It uses the same Snapdragon 778G SoC, but also has stereo speakers and faster 44W charging, for only a small increase in cost. On the other hand, if camera performance is a priority, you might consider spending a bit more for the Realme 9 Pro+ 5G (Review).


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