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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Realme 7 review: An unbeatable gaming package

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Realme’s business strategy is unlike any other smartphone brand. It aces R&D like there’s no tomorrow, thereby churning new phones every month. Earlier this year, it released the Realme 6 as its affordable offering in the sub-Rs 15,000 segment. It was (and is) a great phone for its price and I won’t be shying away from recommending it any time soon. Realme being Realme, isn’t content with that and has hence, come up with Realme 7. What’s with the new model, you wonder? It’s all about speed, as was the case with the older model. Also Read – Realme 7, Realme 7 Pro India launch tomorrow: All you need to know

The Realme 7 is 60 percent similar to the Realme 6, which is still good news for those who just got the latter. However, Realme has upgraded those areas where the older model lacked. It has got better camera hardware, more powerful chipset and a few other refinements. Most importantly, it finally gets a fresh new design for its rear. This combination of the upgrades already makes the Realme 7 the spiciest of choices in its class. All of that starting at a price of Rs 14,999 is a deal that can’t get sweeter. Also Read – Oppo Reno 4 Pro camera Review : डे-लाइट में शानदार परफॉर्मेंस, नाइट मोड करता है निराश

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As has been the norm, I have been living with the Realme 7 for more than two weeks now and my impressions are overall positive. Also Read – Realme X7, Realme 7 live images surface online ahead of launch

Killer looks

I have lived with a lot of sub-Rs 20,000 smartphones this year from Redmi, Realme, Motorola and what else can you name! Out of all those, the Realme 7 is the only phone I like looking at. Realme’s updated design language apes the Samsung Galaxy S20 series with a modern rectangular camera design. Personally, I feel this design has its own personality in a sea of glossy phones dressed with plastic.

Plastic is still a part of the Realme 7 but the designers have done a commendable job in getting the most out of it. The satin finish on the rear panel emulates the frosted glass you see on OnePlus 8 Pro. It is a fingerprint magnet like glass but it looks killer. Moreover, the new gradient pattern makes it look more civilized and flaunt worthy than past designs. This is the first Realme phone I would like to carry around without a case.

While the rear gets all the cosmetic upgrades, the front remains unchanged from the Realme 6. You still get the same 20:9 aspect ratio display with slim bezels and a punch-hole cutout for the front camera. The fingerprint sensor sits on the power button which itself feels satisfying to click. Sadly, the volume buttons feel plasticky while clicking. Additionally, this is still a heavy phone, by all means, weighing in at 196.5 grams.

In an era of extreme cost-cutting on smartphones, Realme has maintained the USB-C port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. You also get a screen protector pre-installed on the display. There’s even a TPU case inside the box if you swear by cases. Kudos to Realme.

Great display

The Realme 7 Pro is currently getting all the attention for its AMOLED display. However, the one on the Realme 7 is not inferior by any means. It measures 6.5-inches and has an aspect ratio of 20:9. This makes for a large display that does not feel wide in your hands. Realme has reserved Full HD+ LCD display from the Realme 6. It carries the 90Hz refresh rate as well with a touch sampling rate of 180Hz.

In my experience, I found it incredible. This is a good LCD panel with good levels of brightness and vivid colors. Viewing angles are wide and there’s no noticeable loss in color. Sunlight legibility has room for improvement. The faster refresh rate makes for smoother scrolling experiences. The presence of HDR10 ensures you get to see supported content on YouTube and other OTT platforms the way they are meant to. There’s also support for Widevine L1, which means you can watch HD content Netflix and Prime Video.

Realme 7

The punch-hole cutout for the front camera is still obtrusive. While playing games or watching movies, it often is a point of distraction. However, once you live with it, you start ignoring its presence. Additionally, the you can hide with letterboxing in videos, if you prefer it that way.

Realme 7 dominates with its performance

Of late, MediaTek’s chips are the ones to opt for if you seek raw performance for gaming. Realme sticks to MediaTek for its SoC choice but brings an upgraded Helio G95. This is the newest mid-range chip from MediaTek with improvements to graphics performance over the older Helio G90T. It retains the four Cortex-A76 cores but comes with a 900MHz GPU. In layman’s English, the graphics performance is five percent faster.

Surely then, I downloaded some of the most intensive games from Google Play. PUBG Mobile is playable at Balanced settings with Ultra frame rates. Of course, you can bump up graphics but the frame rates are limited to High. Call of Duty Mobile also stuck to High settings at ease fr longer sessions. Asphalt 9: Legends ran at High Settings too but the resolution was scaled down.

Compared to the gaming performance on the Redmi Note 9 Pro, the Realme 7’s Helio G95 puts up a better show. The 180Hz touch sampling rate also helps with the cause and overall, it is a pleasure playing on the Realme 7.

Realme 7


Of course, gaming isn’t the only thing you will do on this phone. Similar to all Realme phones, there’s Realme UI onboard based on Android 10. The user experience here is the same classic Realme experience from the past – snappy animations and a sorted interface layout. My unit with its 8GB LPDDR4X RAM and 128GB of UFS 2.1 storage was juggling through the apps and games I threw at it with ease.

After the Chinese apps ban drama, Realme UI  becomes more civilized than ever. You still continue to get advertisements and news items from the native browser. However, there’s no obscene content visible anywhere in the browser. Realme pre-loads its own apps such as Realme Link, Realme PaySa, and other Realme/Oppo native apps. Out of the box, I found WPS Office and Facebook pre-installed as third-party apps. I also found Facebook Services and Manager app that updates all Facebook apps in the background, both of which can only be disabled.

Realme 7

Audio performance from the single loudspeaker at the bottom was sufficient although a stereo speaker setup would have sealed the deal for gaming enthusiasts. The 3.5mm headphone jack performs well with good quality wired earphones. I hooked up the Realme Buds Air to the Realme 7 and I did not notice drops in connection or stability. I used my primary Jio SIM card and network performance was strong and reliable even in areas where my iPhone struggled at times.

64-megapixel mode is a blessing

Realme has boasted of its quad-camera setup since last year but it has failed to deliver in quality. With the Realme 7, there’s a notable hardware upgrade and the improvement is visible in just a single mode. The main 64-megapixel camera ditches the Samsung sensor in favour of a Sony IMX682 sensor with a size of 1/1.73-inches. The resultant 64MP mode from this sensor makes a lot of difference to details and colors.

In the normal mode, the camera is good enough in daylight conditions. Realme’s pixel binning trick isn’t good and it falls behind Redmi’s tuning. Hence, sharpness is average at best and if you zoom, there’s a notable loss in quality. In cloudy conditions, it becomes worse as the details go softer to conceal the grains. Even with Night mode, the sharpness isn’t on par with expectations and I ended up wanting a GCam mod. Realme’s classic oversaturated color profile is back and it makes photos look interesting in certain situations.

Realme 7

However, switch to the 64MP mode and this is where the Sony sensor gets to do its job. Detail levels are great for a phone of its price. Colors tend to be saturated than what the eyes see but they look good overall given the sharper details. The Starry mode that Realme boasts of is nowhere near Google’s implementation. In fact, it was unable to capture the stars my bare eyes could easily see in Noida’s skies.

Switch to the 8-megapixel ultrawide camera and it’s the same story as all previous Realme phones. Details take a hit and colors are always boosted further. Distortion towards the edges is minimal but you tend to lose out on sharpness as you move away from the centre. As light levels fall, it is best to avoid this camera for any purpose.

Realme 7

The sadness continues with the 2-megapixel macro camera too. With a focal length of 4cm, you cannot go as close as you expect from a macro lens. Moreover, the quality suffers with soft details and boosted colors. Low light conditions make the camera struggle badly and its best to avoid it at night. The depth camera works nicely with its depth detection and portrait mode photos turn out to be surprisingly good.

The Realme 7 can record 4K videos up to 30 fps. Quality on all modes is decent with adequate sharpness and Realme’s usual boosted color profile. That said, it pales in comparison to the video shooting quality of the Redmi Note 9 Pro.

The 16-megapixel front camera is a stark departure from the rear cameras. This one captures lots of details and boosts colors to make selfies look good. There’s some post-processing happening even with beauty mode turned off but I was happy with the performance. Subject separation in the portrait mode is good but it struggles with the background exposure.

More than a one-day phone

Realme has given the phone a bigger 5000mAh battery and on paper, it sure does look good. In my daily usage, the phone easily lasted me a day with 45 per cent juice to spare. My usage involved a lot of texting on WhatsApp and Slack, along with 30 minutes of PUBG Mobile sessions, social media browsing, an hour of music streaming to Bluetooth speakers and then some. I kept the display locked to 90Hz refresh rate for all apps and games. While the battery life is good, I feel Realme can surely optimize it further to get longer stamina.

Realme 7

Charging speeds is where Realme has nailed it. The 30W Dart Charging fills up this mammoth 5000mAh battery in just over an hour from nothing. A 30-minute top-up fills up to 50 per cent from nought. These are absolutely ballistic charging speeds for a phone having such a large battery. If you don’t carry the proprietary charger, there’s good news as Realme offers 15W fast charging via normal quick chargers. That said, the charging speeds slow down considerably and it’s always better to have the Dart Charging accessories around.

Verdict: Should you get the Realme 7?

The Realme 7 is an exciting smartphone for the price it sells. Starting at Rs 14,999, this is a great package for mobile gaming enthusiasts. The performance is up there with the best in the segment, thanks to the Helio G95 SoC. The battery performance is good as well and the addition of 30W fast-charging makes the deal sweeter. To add a cherry on top, the 90Hz LCD display just makes the user experience fluid.

Realme 7

However, I found the Realme 7 to be a one-trick pony. At similar prices, there’s the Redmi Note 9 Pro with much better camera performance and more premium glass build. The Redmi Note 9 Pro Max is a tad expensive but it offers an even better main camera and similar fast charging. These phones are much better all-rounders in general than the Realme 7. Realme’s decision to stick to a plastic body and the overall sub-par camera performance leaves a lot to be desired.

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Hence, I can recommend the Realme 7 to those who only care about gaming performance and faster charging. It is not an all-rounder like the Redmi Note 9 Pro but it blows everything else with its performance. Mobile gamers on a budget should look no further.

You Might be Interested

Realme 6

Android 10 (Q)

Octa-core, Up to 2.05GHz MediaTek Helio G90T Processor

64MP Ultra high-resolution wide-angle camera + 8MP Ultra wide-angle lens + B&W Portrait lens + 2MP Macro lens

Realme 7

Android v10 (Q)

Helio G95 Gaming Processor

64MP Primary Camera, 8MP Ultra wide-angle lens, Macro lens, B&W Portrait Lens

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