We’re in a transitional period – 5G is becoming more common, but is not yet the prevalent option. This is why we often get both a 4G and a 5G version of phones and, sometimes, the difference between them goes beyond the modem.
That is the case for the Realme 8 5G and its 4G sibling. Part of it is unavoidable, most chipsets these days have built-in modems, so if you want a 5G modem, you need to switch to a 5G chipset.
The Realme 8 5G arrives at the office – an affordable phone that loves 5G above all else
Realme picked the Dimensity 700, MediaTek’s most basic 5G chip. The modem is fine – it has a theoretical peak speed of 2.77 Gbps and, considering most next-gen networks are in their infancy, we don’t think you’ll need anything faster in the next couple of years.
Speaking of which, this is the first Dimensity 700-powered phone in India, a country yet to launch its first 5G network. It is coming, though, current expectations are that the first network will go live in late 2021 or early 2022. It’s never too early to future-proof your phone, we guess.
But this chip can make or break the Realme 8 5G. It is the first Dimensity 700 we’ve benchmarked and while we’ll reserve judgment for the review, we have doubts that its GPU will make the best of the 90 Hz screen.
The 6.5″ IPS LCD has a 90 Hz refresh rate, but is it a proper replacement for the 60 Hz Super AMOLED?
Speaking of, the 90 Hz panel is an IPS LCD instead of a Super AMOLED like on the 4G phone. As we said, differences go way beyond the modem. The display has three modes, 60 Hz, 90 Hz and Auto, and at first glance isn’t nearly as bright as the AMOLED panel.
The camera is another concern. With no ultra wide module, we get a pretty basic setup with just a 48 MP camera (well, there are two 2 MP modules, but they barely count). Realme even arbitrarily cut some features like Starry Mode and Tilt-Shift Mode.
The 48 MP camera on the back really needed an ultra wide friend
We can live without them, of course, but it’s worth keeping in mind that the Realme 8 and Realme 8 5G cost the same – ₹15,000 in India and €200 in Europe. That is quite cheap as 5G phones go, mind you.
Realme 8 Pro and Realme 8 5G side by side • Side-mounted fingerprint reader (LCD, remember?)
But even so, every downgrade makes our wallets shiver. Even if you don’t see the screen as a downgrade (we know some prefer LCD over AMOLED), the camera clearly is. And so is the 5,000 mAh battery, which only goes up to 18W charging (down from 30W on the 4G model).
We do like Realme 8 5G. It has a sleek body and feels sturdier than the vanilla 8. The Supersonic Blue (the colorway we received) looks pretty and seems immune to fingerprints. We worry it might get scratched up, but it’s not that much of a concern since Realme included a case in the box. And an 18W charger too.
A well-stocked retail package, though we still would have preferred a 30W charger
Still, do we like it more than its 4G sibling? Or any of the other 5G phones in this price range? The answer to that will arrive soon in the form of a full review, stay tuned!