realme 9 vs. realme 9 5G: Which is better?

Realme is launching two new entry-level smartphones in Europe and other countries worldwide. They’re named realme 9 and realme 9 5G; both have very competitive prices and interesting technical features. The first is a 4G smartphone, while the second supports 5G mobile networks, as its name implies. However, even if their names and designs are similar, they’re not identical devices and have many surprising differences. In this article, I compare the two in order to help you choose the better model for you and your specific needs:

Display quality - Winner: realme 9

The display is an area with many significant differences between the realme 9 and realme 9 5G. For example, the realme 9 has an AMOLED display with a 90 Hz refresh rate, a resolution of 1080x2400 pixels, and a pixel density of 409 ppi, while the realme 9 5G has an IPS LCD with a 120 Hz refresh rate, a resolution of 1080x2412 pixels, and a ppi of 400. Their sizes also differ, with 6.4 inches for realme 9 and 6.5 inches for realme 9 5G. Also, the screen of the realme 9 is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5, while the one on the realme 9 5G is not.

realme 9 (top) vs realme 9 5G (bottom)

The AMOLED screen on the realme 9 uses more power, but it is brighter (1000 nits vs. 600 nits), with better color reproduction and more visibility in direct sunlight. Also, the more durable glass that protects it is a big plus.

Size, design, colors, and build quality - Winner: realme 9

When you look at both smartphones, there are no meaningful differences in materials and build quality. The realme 9 and realme 9 5G have the same shape and design and the same plastic back that feels good to hold in your hands and is NOT a fingerprint magnet. The two smartphones are available in similar colors too:

  • Realme 9 is available in three colors: Sunburst Gold (pictured below on the left), Stargaze White, and Meteor Black.
  • Realme 9 5G is available in two colors: Stargaze White (pictured below on the right) and Meteor Black.

Their almost identical sizes make it difficult to tell them apart. Only the camera system has some tiny differences: the stickers signal the different sensor sizes of the primary camera, and one of the cameras on the back of the realme 9 (left) has an ultrawide sensor, while on the realme 9 5G (right), there’s no ultrawide, only a depth sensor.

Can you spot the visual differences in the camera system?

However, the realme 9 is a bit tinier (6.4 inches vs. 6.5 inches) and slightly lighter (178 grams vs. 188 grams), making it a bit easier to use, especially for people with smaller hands. Also, the additional Sunburst Gold color looks great. Therefore, by a very slim margin, I declare realme 9 the winner of this section.

Performance - Winner: realme 9 5G

The hardware inside the two realme 9 smartphones is different. The 4G model is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm SM6225 Snapdragon 680 chipset and an Andreno 610 graphics chip. It’s a mid-range chipset with four cores running at 2.4 GHz and another four running at 1.9 GHz. On the other hand, the realme 9 5G has an octa-core Qualcomm SM6375 Snapdragon 695 5G chipset and Adreno 619 graphics. I’ve run several benchmarks, and you can see that realme 9 5G has more performance to offer. The difference is especially noticeable in single-core performance and mobile gaming.

realme 9 vs realme 9 5G - performance comparison

However, neither smartphone is a good choice for gaming, with the caveat that realme 9 is especially bad at mobile gaming. In terms of RAM and storage, the realme 9 5G can have 64 GB of storage space and 4 GB of RAM or 128 GB of storage and 6 GB of RAM. The realme 9 has 128 GB of storage space and 6 GB or 8 GB of RAM.

Battery life - Winner: realme 9 5G

Both realme 9 smartphones have generous 5000 mAh batteries that last quite a long time. However, the 4G version of this phone has an AMOLED screen that requires more energy. To test how many hours the battery lasts on both, I used the PC Mark Battery Life 3.0 test and ran it simultaneously with the smartphones placed one next to each other. The realme 9 5G was the winner, lasting 20 hours and 43 minutes, while the 4G variant lasted a respectable 18 hours and 39 minutes. Both smartphones shouldn’t have a problem lasting for a full day in real-life use. In lighter use, I expect the realme 9 5G to last about two days on a single charge, while the 4G variant should last a day and a half.

The battery on the realme 9 5G lasts longer

Charging - Winner: realme 9

The realme 9 features 33W fast charging, while the realme 9 5G has only 18W fast charging. Both smartphones have a charger in their box, which is excellent, but the charging experience you get varies significantly between the two smartphones, as shown in the table below.

realme 9 charges a lot faster than realme 9 5G

As you can see, the realme 9 charges a lot faster. Also, getting to about 34% in about 20 minutes of charging is very useful when you’re in a hurry.

Photo and video experience - Winner: realme 9

Neither smartphone offers a great photo and video experience. This is normal for devices in their price range. However, the realme 9 has a few significant advantages over the realme 9 5G:

  • The realme 9 sports a 108 megapixels main camera, while the one on realme 9 5G has 48 megapixels. The 108 MP camera uses a Samsung HM6 Sensor and takes better quality pictures in all lighting conditions, with improved color reproduction. Also, video recording on the realme 9 produces better results, even though the realme 9 5G has an Ultra Steady mode for image stabilization. The colors look closer to reality on the realme 9.
  • There’s no ultrawide camera on the realme 9 5G. The 4G realme 9 has an 8-megapixel camera that, although not great, can sometimes be useful. Instead, the realme 9 5G has a 2-megapixel B&W depth sensor in its place, which helps in shooting better portraits by separating the foreground subject from the background.
  • Both smartphones have a 2 Megapixel macro camera, but in my opinion, the macros are not great on either smartphone. However, they tend to look slightly better on the realme 9.
  • The selfie camera on the realme 9 5G takes better-looking selfies, which capture a bit more light and detail than the one on the realme 9. However, the selfie videos on the realme 9 look better because backgrounds tend to have sharper details than the ones recorded with the realme 9 5G. Also, in places with a lot of light, the resulting videos are less overexposed on the realme 9.

The two phones have very different cameras

Unlocking options - Winner: realme 9

The realme 9 and the realme 9 5G feature the same unlocking options: fingerprint reader and face recognition. Face recognition works the same way on both, and it’s generally fast and precise. However, we are not dealing with 3D face recognition; therefore, you can trick the smartphone into unlocking by using a picture of its owner.

On the realme 9 5G, the fingerprint reader is placed on the power button on its right margin, while on the realme 9 it is on the lower part of the screen.

Both a fingerprint reader and face unlock are available

Both fingerprint readers are similarly precise; however, the fingerprint reader on the lower part of the realme 9’s screen is more conveniently placed. Therefore, if you have small hands and use large smartphones like these, it is easier to touch the middle of the bottom of the display instead of the Power button, which is positioned relatively far away towards the top of realme 9 5G’s right edge. Also, the same remains valid if you use your left hand to unlock your smartphone. However, if you have large hands, you’ll find it faster to unlock your smartphone using the Power button, but only if you unlock it with your right hand.

TIP: The fingerprint sensor on the realme 9 also has an integrated heart rate monitor, which allows you to check your heart rate anytime. This is a neat feature that may be useful to some users.

Other aspects

Both smartphones come in similar packaging, and they have the appropriate charger in the box. You also get a protection case, a SIM tray tool, a quick setup guide, and warranty information. There’s also a protection film already applied to the screen of both smartphones.

The packaging of the two devices is identical

In terms of connectivity, both smartphones offer similar features: Bluetooth 5.1, NFC, GPS, Wi-Fi that works with all standards up to Wi-Fi 5 (not 6), and the same collection of sensors. In addition, they both have an audio jack on the bottom, a USB-Type C charging port, and a mono speaker. However, the speaker on the realme 9 5G is a bit louder.

Both phones have the same ports and sensors

Another difference is that the realme 9 is a dual-SIM smartphone with a microSD card (three slots in total), while the realme 9 5G is a single-SIM smartphone with a microSD card slot.

The software is the same on both smartphones: Android 12 is preinstalled with the realme UI 3.0, which is relatively close to the stock Android experience (a plus in my book). Another aspect I appreciate about these smartphones is that they have little bloatware on them, and many of the preinstalled apps can be removed with ease.

Which smartphone do you think it’s better? realme 9 or realme 9 5G?

The two smartphones also have very similar pricing, making choosing even more difficult. However, if I were to buy one of the two for myself, I would choose the 4G variant: realme 9. This model has a better screen, better camera system, faster charging, a dual-SIM plus microSD configuration, and a more conveniently placed fingerprint sensor. But what about you? Do you appreciate the 5G connectivity and the higher performance of its brother realme 9 5G, and do you consider it the better choice? Comment below, and let’s debate.

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