- Realme 9 SE is the latest addition to the 9 series of devices and is targeted towards heavy users and gamers.
- The Speed Edition sits right in between the Realme 9 Pro and the Realme 9 Pro+ devices.
- Realme 9 SE packs some interesting specifications for the price and we are going to review it to help you make the right purchase decision.
With these new additions, the number series now consists of a total of five devices to choose from, leading to more confusion for users. Furthermore, some of these devices contradict each other in the same price range, which is aimed at different target groups.
While the number series has remained more or less similar to last year, the latest addition to the device catalog is the Realme 9 5G Speed Edition.
As the name suggests, the Speed Edition is aimed at frequent users for whom performance is paramount. To meet these performance requirements, the Realme 9 5G SE is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G chipset, which is based on the 6nm manufacturing process.
But has Realme managed to strike a balance between good performance and overall user experience? Let us find out in our Realme 9 SE review.
Table of Contents
Realme 9se review: Display
Let us start unusually with the Realme 9 Speed Edition display because the competition from LCD VS AMOLED has become a hotly discussed topic. Like other budget Realme devices in 2022, the 9 SE relies on an LCD instead of an AMOLED display in favor of a higher refresh rate.
We like the tradeoff Realme has made here to provide a smooth 144 Hz refresh rate, which is the highest in this price segment. Besides that, the quality of the LCD panel is pretty good, and most users will not be disappointed, especially with the display quality.
While the 144 Hz refresh rate is a welcome change, the difference will not be very noticeable if you are coming from a 120 Hz screen. But in fact, it makes a significant difference when you are coming from 60/90Hz refresh rate displays.
Wondering if outdoor visibility is an issue? If so, do not worry because the brightness of 600nits is very good, and you will not have any problems using the display outdoors under direct sunlight.
Realme 9 SE: Design and Build Quality
As for the design, Realme has done a good job. First of all, we are glad that Realme opted for a matte instead of a glossy finish on the back, which avoids fingerprints or questionable stains on the back.
We have the device in the Starry Glow color, and it looks pretty good with the smooth, glossy, yet subtle finish on the back. Once the sunlight hits the back, a thin strip that looks very elegant glows across the back. Also, the camera bump blends in quite well with the overall color scheme of the device, which is always a nice touch.
As for build quality, the device is made entirely of polycarbonate, which we have come to expect in the budget segment. While using the device, we did not feel that the device had an obtrusively cheap build or any glaring build quality issues.
However, what struck us every time we picked up the device was its overall weight. At 200 grams, the device is undoubtedly heavy, and it’s hard to look past that.
The button layout is like any other Realme device. The power button, which also serves as a fingerprint scanner, is on the right side, while the volume rocker and SIM card slot are on the left side of the device. The speaker grill, 3.5 mm headphone jack, and USB Type-C port are located on the bottom of the device.
All in all, Realme has done a good job with the overall design and build quality of the Realme 9 SE 5G.
Realme 9 SE: Performance
As the name suggests, Realme has targeted the Realme 9 SE at the Need for Speed audience, and for this reason, the brand has chosen the Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G chipset. In fact, the processor is the only significant difference between the regular 9 and the Speed Edition.
The 6nm-based 778G does a great job for everyday tasks and we had no issues navigating through UI, switching between apps, etc. Apps launched in a snap, and everything felt smooth, thanks in part to the 144Hz refresh rate.
You can get more performance from the device by using High-Performance mode, but we left it on the Smart Performance mode setting as it offers a good balance between performance and battery life.
In addition to good everyday performance, gaming performance was also excellent. We tried a few games on the Realme 9 Pro+, including BGMI, COD Mobile, and Subway Surfers, and the experience was wonderful.
BGMI is maxed out on HDR and Ultra and consistently delivers 40 FPS, but we switched to the Smooth+Extreme setting for a smooth 60 FPS experience.
What about the thermals? Even thermals on the unit are also very good, thanks to the vapor cooling system. We ran the CPU Throttle app twice for 15 minutes and had no issues with thermal throttling.
Realme 9 SE: Software
When Realme launched the 9 Pro and 9 Pro+ last month, we were pretty impressed because the devices ran on Realme UI 3.0, which is based on Android 12, and was ready to go out of the box.
However, with the Realme 9 SE, the company has taken a few steps back and launched the device with Android 11, which is disappointing considering Android 12 has been around for some time.
Overall, the software experience was pretty decent, and Realme ironed out the bugs for a more stable experience. And yes, you still get a lot of bloatware, but that can be easily uninstalled.
We did not find any ads in UI, but if you notice ads in system apps like the file manager, you should uncheck the Get recommendations option, which should address the whole ads situation.
The trendy Virtual RAM feature is still there, and users can extend RAM up to 5 GB by using the RAM extension feature built into the Settings app.
Realme 9 SE: Battery Life and Charging
Like other budget devices from Realme, the 9 SE has a large 5000 mAH battery that can easily last a day without breaking a sweat. In fact, it can even last for two days on a single charge if you are not an intensive user.
While the battery life is excellent, we did have issues with general battery drain while idle, which affected the experience. We hope Realme fixes this issue soon with a software update.
Realme includes a 30W fast charger that can charge the device in about 1 hour, which is good, so no complaints.
Overall, the battery life and charging speeds of the Realme 9 SE are quite good, except for the aforementioned idle discharge issue.
Realme 9 SE: Cameras
The Realme 9 SE has a triple camera setup on the back, consisting of a 48MP primary lens, a B&W lens and a 4cm macro less. On the front, the device has a 16MP lens. Now let us find out how these cameras work in real life.
Let us start with the 48MP primary lens. In bright daylight, the main lens performs very well. Images are quite sharp if sometimes over-sharpened, with plenty of detail and a good dynamic range. Color reproduction was also good for the most part.
The camera also performs quite decently indoors and in low-light conditions and only struggles slightly in extremely low-light conditions.
While the Realme 8 had an 8 MP ultra-wide-angle lens, the 9 SE is unfortunately not equipped with an ultra-wide-angle lens, which is certainly a downgrade. On the other hand, an ultra-wide-angle lens is convenient in many situations and offers the user more flexibility when taking pictures.
The other two cameras do not make up for the lack of an ultra-wide-angle lens, as they are not as helpful, and their image quality is certainly not outstanding.
The 16 MP camera on the front is located in a recess in the display and takes decent selfies with enough detail and sharpness. However, we noticed that the background is a bit glossed.
[Click here for full resolution images + additional samples]
As for the video quality, the device supports a maximum resolution of up to 4K 30FPS, but unfortunately, the recordings are not very stable, although the color reproduction is acceptable. Therefore, we recommend switching to 1080P 60FPS to get the best video recording. There is also a built-in ultra-stability feature that helps to capture more stable footage.
Realme 9 SE: Speakers and Connectivity
Unfortunately, the Realme 9 SE only has a single speaker on the bottom, which is quite loud but can not compete with a pair of stereo speakers, and we missed those during our time with the device. Fortunately, Realme has kept the 3.5mm headphone jack on the device, which is nice.
Like most devices in this price range, the device supports 5G, making it future-proof. In addition, the device supports both WiFi bands, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. We tested the device on both, and it performed exactly as we expected. We have a 100 Mbps plan, and the device consistently delivered that speed. In addition, the device also supports carrier aggregation, and that worked as expected.
Realme 9 SE Review: Verdict
The Realme 9 SE is officially sold in two RAM and memory configurations; the 6+12GB variant is sold for Rs.19,999, and the 8+128GB is sold for Rs.22,999. The device ticks many boxes for this price and lives up to its SE day with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G chipset.
In addition to great performance, you get a smooth 144Hz display, excellent battery life, good build quality, and more. So if you are looking for a device for heavy tasks or gaming, you should buy the Realme 9 SE because it will not disappoint you.
However, if you are looking for a device for media consumption, you are better off with the Redmi Note 11 Pro/Pro+ as you get an AMOLED display and dual stereo speaker support.
- Excellent performance
- Smooth display
- Great battery Life
- Nice design
- Lacks stereo speaker support
- No ultra-wide-angle lens
- Sub-par low-light camera performance
Build & Design
Realme 9 SE packs some interesting specifications for the price and we are going to review it to help you make the right purchase decision.