Realme 9 and 9 5G cost just £249 each – but are very different phones

Looking for a budget Android handset? Realme's 9 series has some options, but the UK versions differ a lot.

Realme 9 vs Realme 9 5G UK release handsets on grey carpet
(Image credit: Future / Mike Lowe)

Realme shows no signs of slowing down its push for dominance in the budget phones market, with the Realme 9 and Realme 9 5G models (in addition to the (pricier) Realme 9 Pro and 9i) now official for the UK market – and priced at just £249 apiece. 

However, despite their prices being one and the same, the 4G and 5G models differ by a considerable marker across various specifications. Let's take a deeper look at what to expect from these cheap phones.

Realme 9 vs Realme 9 5G: What's the difference?

Surely one features 5G whereas the other does not? It's not as simple as that – otherwise the asking price wouldn't be one and the same. Here are the key differences for the European models (which differ from the earlier Asia versions):

Screen: the Realme 9 has a 6.4-inch AMOLED panel with 1080 x 2400 resolution and 90Hz refresh rate; the Realme 9 5G has a marginally larger 6.6-inch panel, but it's LCD not OLED, featuring the same resolution but a 120Hz faster refresh rate. 

Processor: the Realme 9 gets a Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 processor, while the Realme 9 5G gets the Snapdragon 695. Both are 6nm chipsets, the latter being 5G capable of course.

Cameras: the realme 9 gets the upper hand with a 108-megapixel main (Samsung HM6), an 8MP ultra-wide, and 2MP macro; the Realme 9 5G, by comparison, has a lower-res 50MP main, 2MP macro and a black and white portrait lens. Really different options!

Fingerprint scanner: the Realme 9 gets an under-display scanner (the perk of an OLED screen), whereas the Realme 9 5G's scanner is side-positioned on the power button. 

Design: the Realme 9 is just 7.99mm thick and weighs 178g; the Realme 9 5G is 8.5mm and weighs 188g, so hardly a huge difference. There's a 5,000mAh battery in both handsets, though, so no difference there (although the 5G model gets just 18W charging, whereas the Realme 9 offers 33W).

So there you have it: the Realme 9 and Realme 9 5G are very different beasts indeed – and different still to the handsets that launched in other regions earlier in the year. But if you're looking for an budget handset then both offer appeal, confusing as it is to have such similar names yet such different spec between them. 

Mike Lowe
Tech Editor

Mike has been writing about consumer technology for 15 years and is T3's Tech Editor. As a phones expert he's seen hundreds of handsets over the years – swathes of Android devices, a smattering of iPhones, and a batch of Windows Phone products (remember those?). But that's not all, as a tech aficionado his beat for T3 also covers tablets, laptops, gaming, home cinema, TVs, speakers and more – there's barely a stone unturned that he's not had a hand on. Previously the Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint for a full decade, he's also provided work for publications such as Wired, The Guardian, Metro, and more. In addition to his tech knowledge, Mike is also a flights and travel expert, having travelled the globe extensively. You'll likely find him setting up a new mobile phone, critiquing the next MacBook, all while planning his next getaway... or cycling somewhere.