realme 8 Pro review - Is this phone worth the upgrade?

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By now, most budget users in Malaysia know of the realme brand or are fans of its products. In this review, we will be taking a look at the realme 8 Pro. It was heavily marketed as a camera-centric phone and was launched in April 2021. This device offers a somewhat attractive price for the features it has.

Having a 108MP camera in a phone is becoming more common nowadays. But what's impressive is it has made its way to the mid-range tier, and that's what the realme 8 Pro is about. At just RM1299, is this phone worth considering, or is it just another gimmick? Read on for our review of the realme 8 Pro below.

 

Design - That big imprinted slogan

When it comes to design, most phone brands would like to stand out and distinguish themselves from others. For the realme 8 Pro, a rather large DARE TO LEAP slogan is what makes it easily identifiable from afar. That can be a good or bad thing depending on your perspective, but for us, we are not big fans of that big imprinted slogan on the phone. If you do like it, then good for you.

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The back of the realme 8 Pro

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The slogan is too big for our taste

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The quad rear camera (and its bump)

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Your typical power and volume buttons

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USB Type-C port and a 3.5mm audio jack!

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The front display, nothing too special there

Besides the slogan, the back design is made of plastic but is very well done. It has a rough sandblasted surface that not only makes it look "premium" but should also offer a better grip for users. The device itself is quite lightweight at 176g, but the camera bump is rather noticeable. This is a common characteristic for many modern smartphones, which prevents you from laying them flat on the table.

 

Tech specs and features - Mid-range and customisation

Here is the official tech specs list of the realme 8 Pro:

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G chipset
  • 8GB LPDDR4X RAM
  • 128GB UFS 2.1 storage
  • Measures 160.6 x 73.9 x 8.1mm, weighs 176g
  • 6.4-inch Super AMOLED Fullscreen display
  • Quad rear camera - 108MP (main) + 8MP (ultrawide) + 2MP (macro) + 2MP (B&W)
  • Front camera - 16MP In-display sensor
  • Features 50W SuperDart charge, In-display fingerprint sensor, triple SIM card slot (2 nano + 1 microSD), USB-C
  • Supports 5G, 4G LTE, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 5.0
  • 4500mAh battery
  • realme UI 2.0 based on Android 11

So here's the thing, the realme 7 Pro and realme 6 Pro actually have the same Snapdragon 720G chipset. If you own either one of these, you probably shouldn't upgrade to the realme 8 Pro. However, the realme 8 Pro does have a Super AMOLED display in FHD+ resolution. Although the refresh rate is only 60Hz, don't fret too much about it since most popular mobile games can't go past that figure.

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Always-On display mode

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You can choose between Brilliant, Vivid (DCI-P3) or Gentle (sRGB) colour profiles

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Camera UI - You can access many modes such as Starry Mode, Dual-View video, and Time Lapse

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The realme UI 2.0 in a nutshell. On the very right, you can see that we used the multi-window function

The realme 8 Pro is using the realme UI 2.0, and it's pretty user friendly. Thankfully, there isn't much bloatware around. If you want to change the theme, you can easily do so on the app. You also change the shape of icons, icon arrangement, and more. This is a much welcome addition, and users who love customising their phone's UI would love it.

 

Performance - Good camera but slow

Before we get into the photography part, let's talk about the chipset. Since it's using a Snapdragon 720G (like many phones do nowadays), we didn't expect it to score high points in benchmark apps. Nonetheless, it's more than good enough for most people to get their daily social tasks done. Mobile gaming on it is also enjoyable, as you can set the graphics to the highest setting.

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Geekbench (left) and 3DMark (right) scores

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If you want max frame rates, you will have to lower the graphical settings

While it's okay for playing mobile games like Call of Duty: Mobile, you won't get the same experience on Genshin Impact. The latter is only playable in low graphics settings. If you try to push it to the max, the frame rate will be relatively low, which means it's not so fun. For higher frame rates in COD: Mobile game, the graphical settings will also have to be lowered.

In terms of battery usage, the realme 8 Pro can actually last up to two days with a full charge. But that's if you use it regularly or only for short gaming sessions. On paper, the 50W SuperDart charge should be really fast when recharging. But the charging adapter that we got is a China variant, so it didn't charge as quickly as we hoped, despite being plugged into a multipurpose adapter.

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Battery usage from 100% to 10% takes more than 2 days with regular use or almost 10 hours of screen on time

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Got a China charging adapter variant instead, so we couldn't really test out the exact charging speed

Now moving on to the cameras' performance, the 108MP sensor is the main highlight that realme Malaysia marketed. You can choose to turn on this mode and take some decent pictures. In particular, images taken in auto mode are good during the daytime (as expected) with good detail and a wide dynamic range thanks to the Scene Enhancement AI feature. If you prefer natural colours, you can always turn that off.

If you prefer using the 108MP mode, there is a tiny problem to take note of. In this mode, the phone takes a little longer to process photos after pressing the shutter button. Moreover, pictures in the 108MP eat up more storage space compared to auto-mode. This probably isn't a feature that everyone will fully use, except for mobile photography enthusiasts. It's also useful for users who do a lot of photo editing work.

If you want to use the realme 8 Pro to take photos at night, the camera in auto-mode can produce good images but with some noticeable noise. You can activate Night Mode to reduce the noise, as well as produce clearer and brighter images. However, this mode will take a few seconds to process, just like the 108MP mode. Anyway, check out the photo samples below!

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A 108MP photo

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The difference between an auto (left) and 108MP photo (right) when zoomed in

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Good colour contrast and dynamics!

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Another photo in auto mode

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Ultrawide mode

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Ultrawide mode indoors

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Automode shot no.2

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A close-up shot of a kitten

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Portrait mode on

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Selfie with portrait mode

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Selfie with portrait mode at night

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Night shot

Video mode testing the Electronic Image Stabiliser (EIS). The [email protected] recording mode is also quite good

 

Conclusion - Good phone, but not a significant upgrade

From our experience, the realme 8 Pro is quite a good phone. From doing basic social tasks to multimedia, it's an all-rounder that is decent for almost all kinds of users. If you consider its Super AMOLED display and sassy design, people may mistake it for a flagship.

Despite that, we think it's not that much of an upgrade compared to its predecessors because the chipset remains the same. And there's that slow camera software when taking photos in 108MP and Night Mode, which clearly signifies that the chipset and storage (UFS 2.1 only) isn't fast enough. Of course, that's not a deal-breaker. If you have the patience for that, then it's all good.

This phone's closes counterparts would be the vivo V21e, which has the same price tag and chipset. Since Malaysians are usually price-sensitive, the Redmi Note 10 Pro and Samsung Galaxy A32 5G are also great options at RM1099 and RM1199, respectively. In particular, the latter's 120Hz refresh rate and 5000mAh battery pack make it excellent value-for-money. Ultimately, the choice is yours.

But what do you think of the realme 8 Pro? Let us know in the comments below, and stay tuned for more tech gadget reviews at TechNave.com.

Realme 8 Pro Specs & Price >