Realme is moving on, with their ongoing struggle to take a market piece in the mid-range section from Redmi and it looks as if they’re doing an excellent job. The subsidiary of OPPO has proven to be one of the top companies in the planet in growth rate and one of the few that were not affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Their secret? VFM devices. We have all seen this strategy before but Realme has a hidden ace on its sleeve.
The company does an amazing job bringing uniquely designed smartphones and tries to localize the software to the market. The design is now the top sale point of the company and is going all through their products. Realme 8 Pro is this year’s sequel of a very successful line and we got the phone for a full review.
As usual at the mid-range price category we expected a slight increase in specs plus the artistic note we mentioned above. The smartphone does much more since it carries an impressive 108MP camera sensor in a quad camera setup! Sadly, to keep the price at same level with last years Realme 7 Pro, 8 Pro has downgraded some of the other parts. The company advertises a lot of the phone’s camera abilities and we are curious to see if the camera spec bump is worth it.
Realme 8 Pro review – Specifications
- Dimensions: 160.6 x 73.9 x 8.1 mm
- Weight: 176g
- Material: front – glass panel, frame – hard plastic, back panel – plastic.
- Display: Super AMOLED 6.4” FHD+ (1080 x 2400), 411ppi, 3% screen-to-body ratio, 20:9 ratio, DCI-P3, 1000 nits max brightness,
- CPU: Qualcomm SM7125 Snapdragon 720G (8 nm), Octa-core (2×2.3 GHz Kryo 465 Gold & 6×1.8 GHz Kryo 465 Silver)
- GPU: Adreno 618
- RAM+ROM: 128GB 6GB RAM, 128GB 8GB RAM, UFS 2.1, microSDXC (dedicated slot)
- Battery: Li-Po 4500 mAh, Fast charging 50W
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot, HSPA 42.2/5.76 Mbps, LTE-A
- 2G: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 – SIM 1 & SIM 2
- WCDMA: Bands 1/5/8
- LTE FDD: Bands 1/3/5/7/8/20/28
- LTE TDD: Bands 38/40/41
- Biometrics: Under display Fingerprint Sensor, Face Unlock
- Main Camera: Quad Camera, LED flash, HDR, panorama
- Samsung GW1 Sensor, 108 MP, f/1.9, 26mm (wide), 1/1.52″, 0.7µm, PDAF
- 8 MP, f/2.3, 119˚, 16mm (ultrawide), 1/4.0″, 1.12µm
- 2 MP, f/2.4, (macro), 2 MP, f/2.4, (depth)
- Selfie Camera: 16 MP, f/2.5, (wide), 1/3.0″, 1.0µm, HDR, panorama
- Video: 1080p@30/120fps, gyro-EIS
- Selfie Video: 1080p@30fps, gyro-EIS
- Βluetooth:5.0, A2DP, LE
- GPS: dual-band A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS
- Ports: USB Type-C, 3.5mm jack
- Sound: 24-bit/192kHz audio
- Sensors: NFC, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
- Colors: Infinite Blue, Infinite Black, Punk Black, Illuminating Yellow
- Software: Android 11, Realme UI 2.0
The handset arrives inside the usual striking yellow box with a huge font announcing the model. The bottom part has the smartphone’s specifications, a huge sticker advertises Google compatibility ( a hint to Huawei’s inability? ) and another sticker has specific smartphone and production details. The Realme 8 Pro in our hands is the 8/128 GB version at Infinite Black color. There are some interesting details in the last sticker, for example we learn that this phone was produced on 10th of March.
Inside the box we can see the normal sum for most of the smartphones this price range:
- Realme 8 Pro smartphone
- USB-C to USB-A data transfer / charging cable
- SuperVOOC 65W wall charger
- SIM tray ejection pin
- User manual, Quick Guide
- Silicone soft case
A plastic screen protection film is pre-installed on the phone. The huge wall charger comes in white colour and it provides up to 65W of power, a bit more than the 50W the phone can use. The charging cable is quite chubby and works along the charger to provide the flash charge. The silicone soft case is very nice with extensions to protect the camera and the corners. The corners of the phone are not easy to place inside the case but the extra protection is worth the effort spent.
Realme 8 Pro – Design
Since the days of Reame X, Realme has invested a lot of money and attention to the exterior and has managed to design some of the best looking phones in the market.
The front is simple with minimal bezels in three sides and a wider “chin”. There is a hole on the top of the display for the selfie-cam – one of the smallest in the market. The display itself is flat and big. Over the display there’s a wide hidden horizontal line for the earphone, perfectly designed to listen to your caller without having to center a smaller earpiece to your ear. There is no second speaker in the phone or notification light as we had seen in the Realme 7 Pro. There is nothing else in the front.
On the left side we can see the tray where 2 SIM cards and an SD card fit. On the right side near the top there’s a volume button and under it a smaller power/lock button. The two buttons are exceptionally made without rattling. There are no visible bands because the smartphone sides are made of plastic. The top has a noise-canceling microphone. The bottom has a 3.5mm audio jack, a second noise-canceling microphone, a USB-C port and the speaker grille.
The back panel is amazing! The smartphone has an amazing greyish black, sandblasted texture. There is a huge logo on the right side “Dare to leap” in big font and capital letters and the contrast of materials has the effect to show it intensively. While the glossy area is a smutz magnet, the rest of the panel is smutz-free. The camera is on the top left with 4 lenses visible in a square pattern and under them a flash LED and the logo 108 MP quad camera.
The main sensor is on the top left, not visible from the others except from close distance. My opinion is that Realme should have a different pattern where the main 108MP and the main selling point of the phone is clearly visible and the rest smaller sensors are around it. The sand-blast texture and the logo makes a very beautify device and clearly Realme is focusing on the artistic / presentation of the devices.
The phone is thinner than the previous generations and feels light and compact. Remember we mentioned that the phone has backgraded the materials in order to keep its price low. The major part is the water-repellent coating. So you will not find any protection internally – you can understand this from the SIM tray, because there is no rubber seal. So guys, be carefull with water and in heavy rain.
The display originates from Realme 7 Pro. An excellent Super AMOLED panel, there was simply no reason to change it. The resolution is FHD+, it has only 60Hz refresh rate and the protection of it is unknown. Please buy a tempered glass for it as soon as possible. We can find the usual from Realme in the mid-category but the absence of 90Hz support is weird. Maybe the company was afraid that the energy consumption would not be worth it. The panel is bright, but not one of the brightest around, so if you use it externally in summer’s sun, you will need some shading. Colors and angles of view are very good. Generally this is a good panel for all usages.
A SoC that works
Snapdragon 720G SoC has not changed from Realme 7 Pro either. Guess what. It was the SoC of Realme 6 Pro too. A three year old processor? It is not bad, but we would like something better in the area. We can also find Adreno 618 for graphics and UFS2.1 for storage. The smartphone comes with 6/128 GB and 8/128 GB variants. We really don’t follow the logic for an older SoC. Is this a result of the market’s abundance of microchips due to the pandemic or this is an internal recipe to keep the prices low? Benchmarking shows that Realme 8 Pro is on par with other phones in the category.
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There is no lag or heating issues but at the same price we can find more powerful phones. Clearly one has to choose between photography or gaming. In the case of the latter, it is better to look at another model from the company.
8 Pro has a single loudspeaker unlike 7 Pro – another drawback. Sound in calls and video-calls is ok but nothing to brag about. Connectivity is excellent. Full signal in call conditions. Bluetooth is ok too – I ‘ve used the smartphone with my wireless headphones daily without interruptions. GPS is instantaneous.
There are two ways to unlock 8 Pro. Face unlock is very fast. There is no IR light for unlocking during the night, so in total darkness this method does not work. A minimal light source is enough, even the display from your notebook, to unlock the device with your face shape. Please remember that this is not the safest method to unlock your phone so it is not advised usage outside your usual premises. The other way is the in-display fingerprint reader.
Be careful here, you must do a good setup else the scanner is not working properly, as it did in my case. I deleted all data and entered my fingerprints again and the result was a very accurate and extremely fast process. The in-display sensor will meet your needs in all day usage – most of us wear masks – and it is very secure. My opinion is to use it and disable Face Unlock for the reasons I explained above.
It has passed a lot of time since I saw Realme UI first edition on Realme X2 Pro and into these months, the job done on the skin is amazing. Realme UI 2.0 has not only matured but is over the latest Android 11 version thus providing an excellent experience for old and novice users.
The customisation – in many ways looks like OxygenOS from the “sister” company OnePlus – it’s rich with many features, always-on display themes, skin themes, icons, dark mode tones that guarantee that you will not get bored of the phone. Android 11 gimmicks like floating windows are there along with the extra security added in this version. The launcher is good – reminds us of other good launchers like POCO launcher and the notification shade is full with options and versatility. Settings menu has a plethora of options but keeps itself minimal in view as to not tire the user. Similar to Samsung’s phones there is a sidebar with custom options and shortcuts. In house applications are ok and I personally loved the Kids Mode for obvious reasons.
Speed and animations are fast and in no case the phone stalled or seemed to slow down. Excellent job from Realme – a very promised product seems to rise up to the world of Android skins!
Realme 8 Pro – Camera
The 108MP sensor is the main selling point of this smartphone and follows the steps of Xiaomi that did the same – she was the first also to add immersive imaging sensors to mid-rangers with Mi Note 10 Pro. Remembering the review of that pioneer and our experience of mid-range SoC trying to handle hyper-large sensors, we were curious to see if there were stuttering or heating issues. Samsung’s ISOCELL HM2 is the star of the quad camera and the object of our curiosity. HM2 uses 9-to-3 pixel binning and can do up to 3x lossless zoom. The latter works by cropping 12MP photos that the 108MP sensor produces.
Extra software assist like: zoom clarification, astrophotography, time shift and tilt shift and a pack of portrait filters. The 12MP photos in daylight are simply amazing, proving that the large sencor recipe is excellent under all scenarios – the light absorbed by the sensor provides quality in colors and details. A detailed eye will see some noise in bright colored objects, we hope this will be fixed with a future software update.
AI produced pictures look better in my opinion – a “postcard look”, like Huawei used to offer – so please give it a try. The 108MP shot is huge in size, takes a lot of time, details are more than you need and the result is a bit noisy.
Try only the normal shot, the 108MP is for publicity reasons. Zooming is x3 and x5. X3 shots are amazing, following the normal shots in quality. We are very impressed here! X5 shots are magnified x3 optical zoom pic and not a digital one. The results were very good and we liked this technique. Night pictures are ok, better than most phones in the area and are much improved with AI on. Night mode is excellent, it takes some detail off but the result is a bright quality picture.
Realme 8 Pro Sample photos
A 8MP ultra wide sensor is standing next to the 108MP star of the show. The results day or night are mediocre – looks like Realme spent all of her efforts and money to the 108MP. While AI does not help at all, night mode makes ultra wide pics viewable and always use this mode for the purpose.
Two other 2MP sensors exist – they were put there for the “Quad-Camera” logo that sells phones to people and in our opinion as with most of them in the market they should not be there at all. The first one is a macro lens with 4cm focus, the result was unsatisfactory in all shots. The other one is a depth sensor for bokeh effects. It provides some assistance to the main 108MP shooter that does all the work. Portraits are excellent but we don’t know if and how much this 2MP offers to the results.
Selfies are good – the 16MP sensor and the software work together to offer bright images with very good color. Similar to the photography is the video. The main 108MP sensor can record up to 4K and along with the ultra wide camera, the video is assisted by EIS (Electronic stabilization). The 4K video is really really good! Zooming is possible but not without losses. EIS is added only in 1080p, there is an improvement in stability but the quality suffers a bit. Night results are the same in most ways.
Realme did manage to bring a camera phone to the market, but keep in mind that it is basically a single and not a quad camera. 108MP sensor is amazing in video and photography, and the small issues found, we hope that Realme will fix and learn from them.
Realme 8 – Battery
Realme 8 Pro is similar to 7 Pr. The battery and its main energy drainers (display and SoC) are the same and as a result the time the smartphone is open is almost the same to the minute. With 8 hours SOT it is a phone that will need charging every second day with normal usage. With games and heavy usage you will have to charge it at the end of day.
The huge 65W charger is not topping up at the smartphone, since it only provides support for 50W charge. That is another downgrade from 7 Pro. Realme 8 Pro is still ultra fast charging with 0 % to 100% in 45 minutes. A ten minute charge is enough for 30% up in capacity, an excellent number for when you are in a hurry. Basically with 30 minutes in day scenarios ( 10% to 90% ) the phone is charged saving you time and effort.
Realme 8 Pro review – Conclusion
Realme’s first try at an affordable camera phone is a success. Without the 108MP camera, we have a normal, balanced mid-range smartphone. With the huge lens, Realme 8 Pro becomes an excellent tool to record your daily life, family and travels. In all this device is solid if you love photography and video. What if you don’t love photography and video? Well the downgrade from the previous generation is obvious – SOC, charging, water protection, sound, all have suffered. We believe that this is another phone in Realme’s portfolio, with the 7 Pro and 8 Pro existing together in the same market, focusing on all around usage and photography respectively.
Looking outside the company, Xiaomi is the main opponent with POCO X3 Pro and F3 being in all parts better in the same price, except the quality of the 108MP camera. The final decision is yours, depending on whether you love photography, but on this price and competition it is difficult to support this device, however maybe a lesser price could help here. We will wait to see what Realme’s plans are for the future.
- 108MP camera
- 3X lossless zoom
- Realme UI 2.0
- 60Hz display
- No water protection
- Old SoC
- No stereo speakers