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Realme 7 review

Perfecting the recipe

(Image: © Future)

TechRadar Verdict

The Realme 7 builds upon an already admired formula with a phone that excels at gaming, has battery life to last you through the day, and a rare high refresh rate display. The cameras get a hardware upgrade as well but do require some software polishing. Overall, it is one of the best phones you can get under Rs 15,000.

Pros

  • +

    Great for gaming

  • +

    Reliable battery life

  • +

    90Hz display

  • +

    Fast charging

Cons

  • -

    Camera needs work

  • -

    Inconsistent performance

  • -

    Plastic body

Two-minute review

The Realme 7 aims to take the brand’s pedigree in the budget segment to the next level with meaningful upgrades across the board — an improved chipset, newer camera stack, bigger battery and features from its flagship siblings. While those hardware changes are undeniable, some of them fail to make an impact on real-life usage. Regardless, it still manages to chomp through everything thrown at it.

The Realme 6 from earlier in the year was amongst the best budget phones with admirable gaming performance, reliable cameras, fast charging and even rarer 90Hz panel. It’s not difficult to understand why it was very well-received in India. It took Realme’s number series to new heights, which its successor almost pushes further. Almost.

Once again we get a smooth 90Hz display, a feature that most of its competitors haven’t been able to catch up on. It’s a decent-sized LCD panel that is adequate for most uses such as gaming and media consumption but can feel insufficient for outdoor usage. Similarly, the display drops to 60Hz more often than we’d like.

The big talking point was the inclusion of the new MediaTek Helio G95 processor, making its global debut on the Realme 7. It is supposed to bring better graphics performance than its predecessor, which was already great at gaming. It does bring very consistent gameplay, but it seems like some games are yet to be optimized for this new chip.

We also get a new quad-camera stack, replacing the ageing Samsung ISOCELL GW1 image sensor with Sony’s new flagship offering for this segment. It too seems to suffer from lack of tuning as the results aren’t too different. For most scenarios, it is still an above-average camera, but it doesn’t blow us away. What’s more interesting is that the Realme 7 Pro uses the exact same camera array but produces far superior images, making us believe that it could be a chipset limitation.

The upgrade that does perform as promised is the bigger battery pack inside. Now rated at 5,000mAh, the Realme 7 is one of the marathon runners in this segment. The battery life was so great that it lasted us till the next day on almost every charge cycle. 30W Dart charging also makes the cut to take care of the refuelling when needed.

The Realme 7 seems like a phone in progress right now. Don’t get us wrong, it is still great at almost everything, but there’s definitely room for improvement. Based on how optimistic you are on that front, the Realme 6 might also be a great alternative which is also a bit cheaper. The Poco M2 Pro is another dependable offering in the same sub Rs 15,000 segment.

Price and availability in India 

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Check out the Realme 7 on Flipkart (opens in new tab)

6GB + 64GB: Rs 14,999

8GB + 128GB: Rs 16,999

Launched in India on September 3, the Realme 7 is available in two configurations. The base variant with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage is priced at Rs 14,999, while the 8GB + 128GB model retails for Rs 16,999. Colour options include Mist White and Mist Blue. Flipkart is the eCommerce partner, with the first sale scheduled for September 10. 

Design

  • New Split AG finish
  • Mist White and Mist Blue colours
  • 197 grams weight

With each new generation, Realme has brought a new design to its number series. The Realme 7 series introduces a new split design which asymmetrically divides the back into colours run in opposite directions. On the white variant that we reviewed, the split is subtle. But when the light hits it just right, the white finish shines with a beautiful blue and yellow glint. It’s one of the more minimal colourways we’ve seen this season and we love it.

It has an anti-glare coating on top for a smooth matte finish that doesn’t attract a lot of fingerprints while lending a touch of class. It isn’t particularly slippery. If you do happen to drop it, you’ll be glad to know that the back panel is made of plastic and not glass, increasing the likeliness of the phone surviving. Unlike some other polycarbonate backs, this one doesn’t feel cheap; instead, it feels a little hollow. A simple silicone case is also included in the box.

The camera bump also gets a slight redesign. Instead of a plain vertical quad-camera strip along the corner that has become a part of most Realme smartphones, the Realme 7 series opts for a more rectangular housing for the cameras that is also a little wider. This is a welcome move for at least some of its phones to finally look different.

The chassis is also made of polycarbonate, further reducing a few more points off the premium feel. It matches the colour of the rest of the body as added attention to detail. The volume buttons are located on the left while the power button is on the right. The bottom boasts of a 3.5mm jack along with a USB Type-C port and the loudspeaker grille.

The Realme 7 is a chunky phone weighing 197 grams and 9.4mm thick. You will notice it occasionally but the lesser width at least helps in holding the phone easier. Overall, we don’t get any major changes, but there’s a healthy serving of meaningful upgrades.

Display

  • 6.5-inch, 20:9 display
  • 90Hz refresh rate
  • Gorilla Glass 3

The Realme 6 held the crown for the cheapest smartphone in India with a high refresh rate display. Understandably, the same panel is carried forward to the 7. We get a 6.5-inch LCD panel with a Full HD+ (20:9) resolution. Unlike others in this segment, the Realme 7 offers a 90Hz display.

It is a decent LCD panel with great colours and contrast, though OLED users are unlikely to be impressed. The vibrance will not blow you away nor will they seem oversaturated. The black levels are fine for LCD standards too. Not extraordinary and neither did we expect it to be. While the colours are good, the max brightness leaves much to be desired. Using it outdoors or under direct sunlight is a hassle.

The inclusion of a 90Hz display is a game-changer, allowing more users to get on the high refresh rate bandwagon. While not a necessity, the improvements in the smoothness of the interface will definitely be noticed. Of course, not all apps and games support this, but even the general usage such as scrolling through apps, instant messaging, social media or webpages are all more enjoyable. However, it often dips down to standard refresh rates, reducing the apparent smoothness. 

There’s also Gorilla Glass 3 protection on the Realme 7’s display for added peace of mind from drops and scratches. The selfie camera is located in the top-left corner in a hole-punch notch. The bezels surrounding the display are average as is the chin on the bottom. The edges are slightly curved to make swiping easier. The width of 75.4mm makes it rather easy to use with one hand too.

AMOLED displays and higher refresh rates are yet to become mainstream in the sub Rs 20,000 segment, so it’s commendable to see the Realme 7 bring at least one of those attributes to the budget segment. There’s not much to complain about here.

Audio

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

The Realme 7’s audio experience is pretty standard fare. There’s a single mono downward-firing loudspeaker at the bottom which has average output and loudness. The quality is passable but does distort at higher levels. It’s also easy to muffle.

There’s also a 3.5mm headphone jack on the other side with great output, in case you haven’t already made the leap to wireless audio. If you already have, you’ll be pleased to know that Bluetooth playback is good; just don’t expect all the codecs.

Performance

  • First pone with the MediaTek Helio G95
  • Carbon fibre cooling system
  • LPDDR4X RAM, UFS 2.1 storage

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

With its predecessor being one of the best gaming phones in the sub Rs 20,000 segment, the Realme 7 steps into big shoes. This time, it is powered by the MediaTek Helio G95 chipset, which makes its global debut on a smartphone. If you’re looking for cliff notes, it brings a slightly more powerful GPU running at 900MHz (vs 800MHz on the Helio G90). It is a premium 4G chipset for gaming smartphones.

Needless to say, day to day usage is usually a breeze on the Realme 7, be it opening multiple apps, switching between them, social media or gaming, it gets them right. The RAM management was great too.  But, it gets choppy every now and then for no reason. The only gripe is that it falls back to sub 60Hz output far too often, though that is something that can be fixed via software updates.

Network reception and call quality were great too. However, the proximity sensor struggles to realise if the face is covering it during calls, resulting in frequent unintended touches and toggles. 

Gaming

  • Octa-core chipset
  • Mali G76 GPU
  • HyperEngine gaming

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

As expected, the Realme 7 shines on the gaming front. Supposed to be the best chipset in its class for gaming, it gets a lot right. Most games can run smoothly even at higher graphics. Even the frame rates are pushed consistently. More importantly, it doesn’t even heat up during gaming. The carbon fibre cooling system seems to be doing its job well. 

An odd issue that came up was that games such as PUBG Mobile do not support Ultra frame rates (60fps), which the Helio G90T easily did. It is still a very enjoyable experience but our expectations were higher.  It’s likely to just be the case of a lack of optimizations as this is a fairly new platform. As it stands currently, the improved GPU prowess seems untapped.

Even the touch response rate is 120Hz as opposed to 180Hz that most gaming phones offer. Most users will not notice the difference but in certain fast-paced games, it can feel like a bottleneck. 

Overall, the Realme 7 is one of the best budget gaming smartphones currently available. It could cement its position once more games are optimized to take advantage of its abilities and establish a lead over its predecessor.

Biometrics

The fingerprint scanner on the Realme 7 is embedded within the power button on the right. This is an active scanner which can detect fingerprints even when the phone is sleeping. A light touch is enough to unlock the phone and take you in quickly. There’s barely any lag in the detection. There’s also 2D face detection for convenience. It too works as advertised and across lighting conditions. 

Software

  • Realme UI 1.0, Android 10
  • Very customizable
  • No banned apps

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

The Realme 7 runs on Realme UI 1.0 (based on Color OS 7) atop Android 10. A few iterations in, it has become one of the better skins available. It takes Color OS’s design and animation choices and adds a layer of functionality on top. You’re left with a skin that is highly customisable. It can be tweaked to be feature-full or minimalistic based on your preferences.

And before you wonder, this version of Realme UI is devoid of any of the banned or sketchy apps, except a few first-party services. Stray notifications weren’t much of a problem either. We’re glad Realme followed the consumer feedback and promptly fixed the issues. 

In terms of adaptability, the interface allows for changing the icons and design, switch to a system-wide dark mode, add an app drawer, customize quick toggles in the notification shade, use gestures for navigation and a lot more. Other features include App cloner to have two instances of the same program, a game space to customize profiles, etc.

You also get access to Realme Labs which allows you to try out upcoming features in beta. It currently includes options for Smooth Scrolling to make use of the higher refresh rate, Super nighttime standby to put the phone in deep sleep at night and Dual-mode audio to connected to two audio devices at once.

One of the only bugs we encountered was that Instagram would start glitching when left untouched for a few seconds. The same would happen with YouTube picture-in-picture.

There’s a lot to like on the Realme 7. We’d implore you to spend some time exploring all the options in the settings and tailor the experience.

Battery life

  • 5,000mAh battery
  • 30W Dart charging

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

Another big upgrade over the Realme 6 is the inclusion of a bigger battery. The Realme 7 moves to a meaty 5,000mAh pack, which combined with the efficient chipset, provides excellent battery life. On each of our testing days, each cycle was longer than 24 hours, leading us well into the 1.5-day territory. Light users should be able to reach the end of the second day as well. Our usage resulted in 7 to 9 hours of screen-on-time on a single charge, which is one of the best in the segment.

In terms of charging, the phone supports 30W Dart charging which is a low voltage high current solution. It takes about 80 minutes to charge from 0 which is decent considering the battery size. There are also additional power-saving modes to get the phone to last longer at lower levels.

Camera

  • 64MP quad-camera setup
  • 2MP macro camera, 2MP monochrome
  • Many useful shooting modes

Realme has played a big role in democratizing high-resolution multiple-camera arrangements on affordable smartphones. After a year of offering 64MP quad-cameras on nearly every phone, the Realme 7 finally sees an upgraded primary sensor.

We get a 64MP f/1.8 camera implementing the Sony IMX682 image sensor at its heart. On paper, this is supposed to be a superior camera to the Samsung GW1, but the results were not too different. The colours and details are great, but there is a bit of over-sharpening. It doesn’t shy away from raising the shadows either to create a brighter image, albeit with lower contrast. Using the HDR and Night modes yields much better dynamic range. The 64MP mode didn’t seem to worsen the image quality either.

The 8MP ultra-wide camera is pretty standard with a bigger field-of-view, but the lower resolution holds it back. The colour profile is usually similar to the primary camera, but often sizzles the reds and greens.

On the front is a 16MP in-display selfie camera which is strictly average. It smoothens the skin and hair far too much. Shooting in anything but the most ideal lighting results in blurry results. Each time before we had to use the camera, we had to ensure that there were no smudges over it as well. It gets worse if you use a screen protector.

Low-light performance is also pretty good. The Night mode is legit and pulls a lot more information from the shadows without blowing the highlights. The noise control could’ve been better but it is still commendable. Features such as the starry night mode also trickle down to the Realme 7 series from the flagships. 

Overall, the Realme 7’s camera performance is above average and will serve you well; it just won’t blow you away.

Verdict

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

While the Realme 7 is a big upgrade on paper, real-life usage isn’t too different. That could change once the software is better optimized to make better use of the new chipset and camera sensor. Regardless, it is still a great phone in the sub Rs 15,000 segment.

Good alternatives include the Poco M2 Pro, the Oppo A53 and the Redmi Note 9 Pro.

Buy it if...

You game a lot

The Realme 7 is a solid gaming smartphone with high framerates and consistency. The 90Hz display helps take that further for the games that support it.

You need reliable battery life

The 5,000mAh battery is a blessing. Not only is it impossible to kill in a day, but also recharges quickly. It will easily last you to the second day.

You prefer higher refresh rates

The Realme 7 is one of the cheapest phones with a 90Hz panel. While it can be inconsistent, it does make the entire UX significantly smoother.

Don't buy it if...

You are looking for a premium design

Even if new, the Realme 7 does feel like a basic phone with a plastic body. If your preferences lean towards glass sandwiches, look elsewhere.

You were expecting a big upgrade

The Realme 6 will offer almost the same experience at a slightly lower price - Similar cameras, better performance on some games and fast charging.

Aakash Jhaveri
Aakash Jhaveri

Aakash is the engine that keeps TechRadar India running, using his experience and ideas to help consumers get to the right products via reviews, buying guides and explainers. Apart from phones, computers and cameras, he is obsessed with electric vehicles.