With Singapore’s telecom industry focussing on establishing standalone 5G networks in recent weeks, smartphone manufacturers are expediting launches of affordable 5G-enabled models in the country. Realme’s response to this is the launch of an 8 series phone – the Realme 8 5G.
The phone is available to order at a price of SG$399 with their official resellers Lazada, Shopee and Red White Mobile, with us promoting the sale with a discount of SG$40 and complimentary Realme Buds Q worth SG$60.
Fashioned in a ‘Supersonic Blue’ body, the handset is only available with an 8GB+128GB configuration, although other countries have lower configs available. At first look, it may seem that this model is an upgrade for the Realme 7 5G which was released in November 2020, but buyers ought to keep in mind that the 8 series model is, in fact, a cheaper and lower-configured model which is designed to capture the market.
Realme 8 5G Singapore In a Nutshell:
Built around a MediaTek Dimensity 700 5G processor, the dual-sim phone packs an 8GB LPDDR4X RAM and 128GB of flash storage. Global versions offer combinations of 4GB or 6GB speeds and 64GB storage as well, but are not expected to go on sale in Singapore. The smartphone can work on two 5G networks simultaneously, as it is equipped with Dual-Standby technology. A 3-card slot holds two Nano SIM cards and one MicroSD card, with storage memory expandable up to 1TB.
The 6.5” FHD screen which has a punch-hole notch for the front camera, gives a screen-to-body ratio of 90.5%. The display, with a maximum resolution of 1080×2400 and a refresh rate of 90Hz, will handle gaming and streaming of videos comfortably.
The camera module houses a 48MP primary sensor, with two supporting sensors of 2MP each – a Macro Lens and a B&W Portrait Lens. The camera UI covers all the usual functions viz. Panoramic View, Timelapse, Portrait Mode, Expert Mode, HDR, AI Scene Recognition and AI Beauty, as well as Realme’s Super Nightscape mode. The Super Nightscape mode boasts of using superior software in entry-level segment phones to enhance low-light photography. The 16MP front camera holds the same features and can be expected to perform quite nicely, leaving out the Macro and Expert features.
The gadget is powered by a 5000mAh cell, available with 18W quick charging (which we must say is commonplace in most models nowadays). Weighing 185g with a thickness of 8.5mm, the Realme 8 5G looks and feels like the usual phone, with a power button that doubles as a fingerprint sensor. The phone is also stocked with an acceleration sensor, proximity sensor, light sensor, gyro-meter and a magnetic induction sensor.
The software is based on Android 11, and will have the latest version of the company’s interface, the realme UI 2.0. The 2.0 is a highly customizable version which comes along with improved security and enhanced performance. In the box you will find a 9V/2A charger with USB Type-C cable, SIM Card Needle, Screen Protector Film, Protect Case, Quick Start Guide and Important Product Info including the Warranty Card.
Realme 8 Design and Display:
In Singapore, the Realme 8 5G is sold only in Supersonic Blue, while the Global version is also offered in Supersonic Black.
The design doesn’t stray too far from the 7 series; a gloss-finish back panel with a rectangular camera module (which juts out rather awkwardly) and a punch-hole front camera placed above where the 3-Card Slot fits in. In comparison, the 8 5G is 10g lighter and 5mm slimmer than the Realme 7 5G. The brand’s lab marks the dimensions at 162.5mm x 8.5mm x 74.8mm (LxDxW) and 185g.
The frame has a matte finish which gives a secure feeling to the hold, while the glossy back panel may retain a few smudges and fingerprints. The left side has the volume adjuster, above which the card slot sits flush, and the right side holds the power button/fingerprint sensor. A Type-C port at the bottom is flanked by a microphone and a 3.5mm audio jack on one side, and a speaker on the other.
The 6.5” display covers 90% of the body and is not advertised to be protected by Corning unlike the 7 5G, so it would most certainly pay for users to opt for tempered screen protection. The Full HD display has a max resolution of 1080×2400, with a peak brightness output of 600 nits and a PPI of 405 which would be considered Good as per industry standards.
The 90Hz refresh rate supports gaming and videos on an everyday use basis, which is as much as could be expected for a phone in this segment. For gaming buffs and media enthusiasts, the 7 5G would be a better bargain with a refresh rate of 120Hz.
Realme 8 Software and Performance:
The realme 8 5G is powered by the Dimensity 700, MediaTek’s affordable 5G-enabled processor. This chip is a common choice between Xiaomi, Vivo, Oppo and Realme for its entry-level 5G phones. The MT6833 Dimensity 700 clocks up to 2.2GHz while running on eight cores, and runs graphics with an ARM Mali-G57 GPU. The engine, along with a 5G modem, gives a smooth experience all around. The Dynamic RAM Expansion Technology provides more juice for the multitasking experience, converting up to 5GB of read-only memory to random-access memory.
The model’s Image Competitors would be Realme’s own 7 5G, OnePlus Nord N10 5G and Samsung Galaxy A42 5G and benchmarking tests run by Geekbench and GFXBench show that the Realme 8 5G’s performance levels is lower than that of its competitors in terms of multi-core CPU usage, and performing better only to the Nord N10 in graphics tests. AnTuTu claims the overall performance is at par with its predecessor, the 7 5G as well as the Galaxy A42 5G, and better than the Nord N10 5G.
While developing the realm UI 2.0, Realme took a text-book approach for what’s needed to improve their UI, claiming that they worked on Creativity, Sociability and Productivity, and it has been paying off since its launch in September 2020. Noteworthy additions to the feature list are:
- Global Theme Colour – which lets you choose between 5 colour schemes and 10 single colours for the main interface.
- Always-On Display – realme UI catches up with MIUI to provide new themes for their AOD, and additionally offers custom pattern creation for it as well.
- Dark Mode – the UI has three pre-sets under Dark Mode – Enhanced, Medium & Gentle, and also automatically adjusts the contrast according to ambient lighting.
- Third-Party Launcher – Apart from its system launcher, the 2.0 gives third-party launchers access to its desktop design for added customizability, which also lets you play around with app icons and fonts.
The Deep Sea Privacy Plan by the UI offers an ‘Invisible Door’ which sends empty data to apps trying to read personal information, a special-password-protected ‘Private Space’ which hides all your secret apps in a separate vault and a ‘Security Shield’ which blocks spam calls and improves payment security.
The software also has a Floating Window function and professes to have achieved greater optimisation levels in comparison to realme UI (1.0), with a 45% increase in System Resources Utilisation Efficiency, a 32% increase in System Speed, a 17% increase in Frame Rate Stability and 23.63% increase for Apps’ launch speeds. New Notification Bar, Output Switcher, Digital Health and Sleep Capsule are the Android 11 features included.
Realme 8 Camera
Missing an ultra-wide lens unlike the 7 5G, the triple-camera assembly has a 48MP primary camera with two 2MP supporting sensors. The main camera clicks photos at 12MP, while the HDR mode uses 48MP to output only seemingly enhanced, 20MB versions of the 12MP shots. The depth sensor yields impressive, sharp portrait shots with sufficient contrast and blur and aiming higher than that may put the phone out of its depth (pun intended!). With a focal length of 4-5cm, the Macro lens is capable of clicking shots worthy of social media.
Low-light photography in smartphones is achieved by the camera’s algorithm clicking multiple pictures at different exposure levels, then picking the best elements from each frame and ultimately combining them into a single shot.
Realme assures us that their low-light photography gives better results than others by using superior software, thus advertising its Super Nightscape Mode. Besides the other modes in still photography such as Expert, HDR, Portrait Mode, Panoramic and AI Beauty, Realme gives us AI Scene Recognition. Earlier known as Chroma Boost, the AI improves balance of light and makes colours more vivid.
The Expert mode serves those who have intermediate knowledge about photography and prefer to manually tweak the sensitivity, shutter speed, white balance, focus and exposure value settings.
The camera may not have 4K video recording, but it does not leave you dissatisfied with 1080p recording at 30fps. The smartphone has image stabilization software settings (UIS Video Stabilization and UIS Max Video Stabilization) which contribute generously to the video quality, with shakiness kept at a minimum. Slow motion recording is supported at 720p at 120fps.
The front camera is a 16MP one which essentially has the same features as the rear primary camera, clicks splendid shots and also has Auto HDR enabled. The results in nightscape and portrait modes are quite notable, and the lens works with the Face Unlock feature fairly well.
Realme 8 Battery
MediaTek uses its PumpExpress power delivery system to provide quick charging capabilities, and the 18W charger can fully charge the 5000mAh battery in 2h20m which is lacklustre, to say the least. Its (slightly) costlier predecessor only takes 1h06m to get to 100% using its 30W charger.
Although the charging speed is slow, the battery lasts for a day at regular usage with tests showing that the phone lasts 118 hours in Endurance testing by GSM Arena.
The Smart 5G technology regulates usage of the 5G modem by switching between 4G and 5G networks automatically, thereby , reducing consumption by up to 30%. The Super Power Saving Mode allows usage of only basic functions, enabling 5% battery to last for hours.
Who is this phone for:
Singapore’s 5G performance was lagging a couple of months ago, with download speeds in the range of 55Mbps, while South Korea’s SK Telecom was able to manage up to 75Mbps in the same month. But the country’s telecom service providers have jumped to action in recent weeks, and so has Realme; by launching an affordable, sub-SG$400 handset into the market. At first look, it is not the cheapest or the most dazzling in the segment, but digging into the features and specs may give the Realme 8 5G the edge over its competitors.
You should buy the phone if:
- Utility is your highest priority and you are willing to overlook the lack of certain features
- You prefer to be an early-bird, interested in making the best out of the dual 5G phone with the increasing development of 5G networks in the country
- You have a requirement for high-speed internet at all times and are looking to switch immediately to a dependable option
You should not buy the phone if:
- You are looking for higher specs and are willing to forgo the latest 5G technology for it
- You are an aficionado who prefers to push devices to the limit
- You can wait for brands to out-do each other and themselves in this segment
Realme lost the race to provide the cheapest 5G enabled phone to Xiaomi, with the Redmi Note 10 5G being sold at SG$329 and we hope it can provide discounts or promotions to give itself a fighting chance against the cheaper alternative.
The brand has sacrificed a number of features from its previous 5G-enabled release to provide dual 5G connectivity at a lesser price. It has cut costs by choosing not to opt for the Dimensity 800U chip, the 120Hz Display with Corning Gorilla Glass, an ultra-wide lens and a charging system which supports 30W Dart Charge.
However, it is laudable that Realme put together a 5G Dual-SIM Dual-Standby handset, succeeding the 7 5G which had a hybrid slot supporting 1 Nano Card + 1 Micro SD/2 Nano Cards (Max. 5G+4G or 5G+MicroSD). The Samsung Galaxy A42 5G and OnePlus Nord N10 5G are priced slightly higher, which gives the Realme a decent advantage. The UI seems to have far fewer bugs and fixes than the MIUI 12, giving it an edge over the Xiaomi interface.
The Chinese company has chosen proven hardware, save the 5G technology which is fairly new to all smartphone manufacturers, and this makes the handset a reliable buy and users should have no complaints as the phone lives up to its specifications.