The Realme 9 Pro is the high-spec, cheap Android phone you're waiting for

Great value, great design and a pretty great specification too. Is this the best Android phone for you?

Realme 9 Pro Plus in different finished on black background
(Image credit: Realme)

Samsung may have grabbed all the early phone headlines with its Galaxy S22, but with MWC 2022 on the horizon there are plenty of other contenders for the title of best Android phone. If you're looking for a high-spec, low-cost Android, the newly announced Realme 9 Pro and Realme 9 Pro Plus may be the phones for you.

We're particularly taken by the Realme 9 Pro Plus, which offers a very impressive specification for a very low price: when it launches in March in the UK it'll be £349 (roughly $470, AU$660). That's not a lot of money for an awful lot of phone.

Realme 9 Pro Plus specs and value for money

The first thing you'll notice is the case, which shifts from blue to red when it's exposed to direct sunlight. The rest of the device is more straightforward: a 6.3-inch display with 1080 x 2400 at 90Hz, a triple-camera assembly with a 50MP main camera (powered by a Sony sensor that's great for low-light shooting), 8MP ultra-wide and 2MP macro. The selfie shooter is a very respectable 16MP, and you can record video at up to 4K and 30fps, or 60fps if you drop down to 1080p resolution. 

The processor here is the mid-range MediaTek Dimensity 920, which delivers similar benchmarks to the iPhone XR and Samsung Galaxy S10 5G – so it's not exactly cutting edge, although it delivers speeds that would have seemed awfully impressive just a few years ago. It's still good for the price. There's 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, a 4,500mAh battery and 5G. It runs Android 12 with the Realme UI on top.

There are some odd differences between the Pro and the Pro Plus. The cheaper Pro gets a faster 120Hz display at 1080 x 2412 resolution, its battery is bigger at 5,000mAh and its best camera is 64MP. The processor is a Snapdragon 695, though, which benchmarks roughly 10% behind the MediaTek processor of the Pro Plus with broadly similar battery life. The difference in price isn't dramatic – in the UK it'll be £50 cheaper – but unless you really want a 120Hz display (and, really, 90Hz is easily good enough) the faster Pro Plus looks like it'll be the better buy.

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written thirteen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote another seven books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com (opens in new tab)).