Champagne such as Dom Perignon can be bought blindfolded but what about bubblies from, say, Spain? The same dilemma is being felt by users planning to buy a midrange-category phone. Of course, the very idea of what makes a midrange phone is under attack with a proliferation of devices with 108MP main shooters, the latest being Realme 8 Pro, which comes close on the heels of Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 10 Pro Max. Does it shine?
Powerful camera at a decent price
The camera is expected to be the distinguishing feature but with 108MP main shooters becoming common, it’s about how software treats the hardware. What you get on the Realme 8 Pro is a quad-cam set up, comprising 108MP primary camera, 8MP ultra-wide angle lens, a macro and a B&W lens.
During a few spins over a fortnight, I really appreciated what Realme has done with the main camera. What you get is nine-in-one pixel binning. In other words, while shooting a picture, nine megapixels are combined in groups of four, packing in a lot of detail in every shot. So data from groups of pixels on the sensor combine to create a smaller number of higher-quality pixels. It’s not a gimmick. There are some clearly visible benefits, especially in photos taken in good lighting. Plus, at night, pixel binning reduces noise. There is also the option of shooting at full 108MP but you will end up with picture files that are heavy. Also, it takes a couple of seconds to save a full-resolution picture.
What happens when we move to the ultra-wide mode? Things get complicated. There are fewer details and colour tones are not the same. The pictures are quite good but to a user — who doesn’t care about tech-term mutterings — it will be not as crisp as the main shooter.
The next question could be: What about iPhones? No, iPhones use a different technology and the same goes for Google Pixel phones. In fact, if you are looking for a phone that takes amazing pictures (no, not videos!), try Pixel phones, which don’t cost the sky.
Coming back to Realme, the camera is powerful and does a good job under all kinds of lighting. Given the phone’s pricing, the phone packs enough power.
In the video department too, the phone punches above its weight. There a few good filters available, which is necessary to make a midrange phone exciting. Also present is video bokeh, which does a decent job… no, not the best, because at times I’ve seen a bit of halo effect around the head. It’s possible to take 4K@30 fps but when you move into steady-video mode, it falls to 1080p.
As for the macro sensor, let’s just say it’s there to make the camera module look good, like on any other phone in this segment.
This and that
It’s good to see Realme going with a 6.4-inch super AMOLED full-HD+ display, which is crisp and the colours pop. In the same breath, Realme needs to understand that there is competition. Not that 120Hz display refresh rate makes a difference all the time but if competition is offering the same without charging too much extra, why not do the same? Also, Realme offers high refresh at a low pricing, so why not here? There is a smooth scrolling option but it’s not the same. Having said that, there is 180Hz touch sampling rate and 1000 nits peak brightness.
Coming to the performance, it’s all right. For day-to-day work and gaming, the Snapdragon 720G octa-core processor is good but if a customer wants to hang on to the device for three years, then one needs to be careful about the processor.
If there’s one thing that I didn’t like about the phone are the words “dare to leap” embossed in big lettering like the back panel. Some may enjoy it but I am not much of a brand-conscious person. In a crowd, it sort of leaps at the people around you, making them ask questions.
Should you buy it?
Good battery life and 50W SuperDart charging will fill up the battery in less than an hour. In the box is a 65W charger, which is helpful, but then why not let the phone take advantage of it? It’s a quibble and it doesn’t make any difference to one’s buying decision.
Personally, I like what Realme offers in way of customisation. From colour schemes to icon shapes, there is a lot of customisation in there. And the always-on display looks great. The company has also packed in custosmisation inside Dark Mode — enhanced, medium and gentle.
If you are already invested in Realme ecosystem products, then this is a great device. If you are free of such ecosystem lock-ins then also take a look at Redmi Note 10 Pro Max or Samsung Galaxy M31. One’s thing for sure: Realme 8 Pro wins with its level of customisation and camera chops.