Two very attractive budget smartphones at slightly different prices. Which one is better?
Realme has launched its first smartphone for 2020, Realme 5i, which is positioned as a replacement for Realme 5 (Review). Compared to Reali 5 and even Realme 5s (review), the 5i makes minor design changes and specifications, but nothing much has changed. Naturally, this is the question – this is the best phone you can buy for Rs. 10,000 now? And how does it compare to its peers?
One of its competitors is Redmi 8 (Review), which costs a little, but looking at the specifications of both phones, it seems like Realme 5i (Review) offers better value in many aspects. The Redmi Note 8 (review) is priced against another competitor, Realme 5s, which is very similar to Realme 5i, but with slightly better specifications. You can see how all Realme models are equally in this quick comparison.
The Redmi Note 8, however, offers a high-resolution display, a glass back, and a USB Type-C port with fast charge – all features that are missing from the Realme 5i. So, does it make sense to buy Realme 5i or to invest a little more money and get Redmi Note 8? We decided to find out.
Realme 5i vs Redmi Note 8 design
Realme has slightly tweaked the design of the 5i compared to the 5i and 5s. It is a slimmer at 9mm and slightly lighter at 195g. The back is still made of laminated plastic, but the design is different. Instead of its trademark diamond-cut pattern, Realme has used a new ‘sunrise design’ that looks good as well. In fact, we like it better, because the matte finish is not reflective and fingerprints are not easily visible.
The Redmi Note 8, on the other hand, is slimmer and lighter than the Realme 5i, measuring 8.35mm in thickness and weighing 188g. The back has a glossy finish, which attracts fingerprints easily, but it is a Gorilla Glass 5 similar to the display, giving it a premium look and feel.
In terms of connectivity, both phones have two nano-SIM slots and a dedicated microSD card slot. Both also have a headphone socket but the Redmi Note 8 has some additional points as it has a USB Type-C port on the 5i as a micro-USB port. The Redmi Note 8 also has an IR blaster on the top side, which lacks 5i. Both phones have a single speaker at the bottom. The placement of the buttons is good on both and due to the camera module both have equally thick lumps on the back.
Realme 5i and Redmi Note 8 have similar sized displays, which are 6.5 inches and 6.3 inches respectively. However, there is a big difference in the proposals. The 5i has an HD + (1600×720) display with a density of 269ppi, but the Redmi Note 8 has a full-HD + (2340×1080) that works at 403ppi. When you look at side-by-side images and videos of two phones, the difference in sharpness and image quality is obvious. The default color tone of the Redmi Note 8 is slightly cooler, but you can tweak it in the Settings app.
Both phones have rear capacitive fingerprint sensors. A slightly better bundle in the Redmi Note 8 offers a retail package. You get a silicon case and an 18W fast charger, which does not come with the 5i.
Realme 5i vs Redmi Note 8 specifications and software
Both RealC 5i and Redmi Note 8 are equally matched when it comes to SoC. Both phones use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 665 processor, which is decently powerful and a minor upgrade over the popular Snapdragon 660 SoC.
The 5i is available in only one configuration, with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage at Rs. 8,999. The Redmi Note 8 starts with the same amount of RAM and storage, but Rs. 9,999. It has 6GB RAM and 128GB storage at Rs. 12,999.
Realme 5i has a 5,000mAh battery, which is bigger than 4,000mAh in Redmi Note 8. Both phones have dual-band Wi-Fi AC, Bluetooth 5, FM radio and similar sensors. Redmi Note 8 supports Google’s WideWine L1 authentication, so apps like Netflix can stream content in high-to-HD resolutions.
Realme 5i review cover 1578635075596 realme XTRealme 5i runs on ColorOS based on Android 9 Pie. It is lean and not as spam as Xiaomi’s MIUI
Both Realme and Xiaomi use Android skin optimized for their smartphones. Realme’s ColorOS has become lean over the years and the 5i version has an app drawer and system-wide dark mode. There are a lot of preinstalled apps from Realme and third-party vendors. Thankfully, Realme’s OS doesn’t spam you too much with ads or unwanted notifications. Spam notifications coming from apps can be disabled.
The Redmi 8 Note runs on MIUI 11, which is also based on Android 9 Pie. The interface is polished and you get plenty of options to customize the look and appearance of the UI. The problem with MIUI is that you get a lot of unwanted ads that spam your notification shade and within stock apps, which cannot be stopped. This can be very annoying after a while. Both phones are yet to receive Android 10 update.
Realme 5i vs Redmi Note 8 Performance
As an everyday function, the Realme 5i and Redmi Note 8 did a great job handling multitasking, and both loaded apps fairly quickly in our tests. Even though we were using the 6GB version of Redmi Note 8, we got similar numbers in the benchmark. In AnTuTu, the 5i received 170,480 points, while the Note 8 returned 174,277. In Geekbench 5, we got 310 and 1,308 points for the 5i and 309 and 1,324 from the Redmi Note 8 and 1,324 for the single-core test respectively. For the graphics test, Realme 5i played the lead role as it has to render the game at a lower resolution. Here, the 5i gave us 49fps while the Note 8 returned just 32 fps in GFXBench’s T-Rex test.
Due to the low-resolution display, Realme 5i performs slightly better in games. The Redmi Note 8 is also not bad, but we had to reduce the graphics settings slightly in games like PUBG Mobile to get similar framerates on the 5i. We did not notice any heating issues on the phone.
Face and fingerprint recognition was quick on both phones, but we found Realme 5i to be both TAD QUICK. The fingerprint sensor on the Note 8 is slightly smaller, and therefore it is not as easy to hit on the 5i.
Redmi Note 8 offers a better video viewing experience thanks to the higher resolution display. You will be able to stream full-HD videos from YouTube and other sources, which look crisp and vivid. The 5i would only stream from YouTube at 720p resolution and the video seemed a bit choppy at times. The speakers on both phones do not produce any form of bass, but the Realme 5i has a louder sound.
Talking about Realme 5i battery life, it is better than Redmi Note 8. Not only is the capacity higher, but it also lasted much longer (over 24 hours) than the Redmi Note 8 (about 13 hours) in our HD video battery loop test. Even with heavy usage, both phones will get you easily on a single charge throughout the workday, but Realme 5i will let you go for a while before recharging it. The Redmi Note 8 offers much faster charging (18W) than the slower 10W charge on the 5i.
Realme 5i vs Redmi Note 8 cameras
Both phones have a selfie camera and four rear cameras. Primary sensors are the only real big differential factor here. Realme 5i has a 12-megapixel sensor, while Redmi Note 8 has a 48-megapixel feature. The rest of the rear sensors are the same on both phones: an 8-megapixel wide-angle camera; 2-megapixel macro camera; And a 2-megapixel depth sensor. For the selfie, the 5i has an 8-megapixel camera, while the Note 8 has a 13-megapixel camera.
In broad daylight, the Redmi Note 8 did a better job capturing the landscape with better dynamic range, details and white balance. It did oversharp images, but as long as you don’t crop them too much, you should be fine. The 5i shot relatively soft images and did not correct the yellow tone in front of buildings. Even in close-up shots, the Redmi Note 8 managed better contrast, and the whites looked as they should. The Realme 5i once again had a slightly softer image with warmer color tones.
In portrait mode, the Redmi Note 8 produced a more natural-looking skin tone and better detail on our subject. The Realme 5i went on to make the skin a bit too smooth, and the tone was a bit too hot for our liking. Edge detection was handled decently on both phones.
As wide-angle cameras, we found that the Realme 5i worked much better with details and colors. However, when it came to macro cameras, it was the Redmi Note 8 that managed better details.
Realme 5i worked a little better with the selfie, as HDR on this phone worked better than Xiaomi’s implementation, especially when shooting against the light. Portrait mode on selfie cameras works well on both phones, but the Redmi Note 8 produced slightly sharper and brighter images.
Video recording goes to 4K on both phones, but none supports stabilization at this resolution. The quality of the video is good and the footage shot with both phones has color punch. Videos are stabilized at 1080p, and the Realme 5i here offers slightly better still footage than the Redmi Note 8. Wide-angle cameras on both phones can also be used to shoot video, and here the Redmi Note 8 offers better color but does a better job with 5i stabilization.
In low light, the Redmi Note 8 gave us better detail in general. Object shapers appeared and the noise was not as pronounced with Realme 5i. Using ‘Night’ mode on both phones, the Redmi Note 8 continued to deliver better overall images with better detail and less noise. Realme 5i also heavily crops images in this mode to compensate for shaking hands, so you get less of any view in your frame.
Even the selfies shot with the Redmi Note 8 looked better in less-than-ideal light. For video shot at night, the Redmi Note 8’s output was less noisy at 1080p than the Realme 5i. However, in 4K, both phones produced a lot of chromatic noise, rendering the footage somewhat unusable.
Realme has once again revised its formula a bit to make another very good budget smartphone. (Review) The tweaked design of Realme 5i looks good and at least asking the price of its Rs. The only 4GB RAM is 8,999 for the configuration, it offers good value. In addition, relatively lean software, excellent battery life, and decent gaming performance all work in its favor. Some things that could have made it better would have been the use of a Type-C port or at least fast charging. A full-HD + display can demand a lot at this price, but this is where it starts at Rs. 1,000 more counts for the Redmi Note 8.
Xiaomi’s offering is one of the very few phones at Rs. 10,000 to offer a Type-C port, fast charging, a glass back, decent cameras and a crisp full-HD + display – all in a very stylish and premium-looking package. If you can live with the spammy nature of MIUI, then you can spend Rs. 1,000 for Redmi Note 8 (review) and worth it.
There is no clear cut winner here, to be sure. If you want to save a little money, then Realme 5i is a good option, otherwise, for a bit more, you can get a more premium experience with Redmi Note 8. Realme also has 5s (review) for Rs. 10,000 with a 48-megapixel camera, but it still lacks features such as a glass back or a full-HD + display, which makes the Redmi Note 8 a better offering.
Realme 5 or Redmi Note 8: Which should you buy? We discussed Orbital.