The Realme 7 might be the phone for you if you need something even cheaper than the Realme 7 Pro: it has a slightly bigger screen and a bigger battery, while the specs inside and the rear camera array are a little more modest than what you get with the Pro.
It's another solid budget Android offering from Realme, which has been putting out affordable, well-built handsets for a couple of years now (and longer in China). The company was originally spun out of Oppo, another Chinese electronics manufacturer.
While the Realme 7 is of course quite modest in all the key areas – the screen, the internal specs, the camera quality – it nevertheless gives you plenty of smartphone for your money, and is going to be able to do everything you need it to if you make the investment.
Our full Realme 7 review is going to take you through everything you need to know about this handset – from how long the battery lasts between charges to how well the camera performs in low light – so you should be able to work out if it's the phone for you.
Realme 7 review: price and availability
The Realme 7 phone is out now and available to buy in the UK – you can pick it up unlocked and SIM-free for £179 and up. Amazon is one of the retailers stocking the phone, while you can also buy it directly from Realme. The phone isn't available in the US.
Realme 7 review: design and screen
While the thickness and the plastic of the Realme 7 will leave you in no doubt that this is a budget smartphone, Realme has done a respectable job in adding some premium-looking trimmings. The back of the phone is a nicely judged blue or white (depending on which model you go for), which catches the light in different ways as you move it. The rear camera array is neatly positioned up at the top left corner around the back, and in the hand this feels like a solid and well put together device.
The LCD display looks better than you would expect at this price, interrupted only by a punch hole selfie camera notch up in the top left corner. 6.5 inches of screen space certainly gives you plenty of room to work with, while the 1080 x 2400 pixel resolution and 90Hz refresh rate mean you get a sharp, smooth experience while using it.
The Realme 7 Pro has a smaller display but uses the superior OLED technology, which usually makes for brighter colours and deeper blacks. The panel on the Realme 7 isn't quite as good, but it's still perfectly fine for all the ways you're going to use your smartphone: playing games, browsing the web, sending and receiving messages and so on. It doesn't feel like a budget smartphone display.
Realme has embedded the fingerprint sensor inside the power button, a move which we're not particularly fond of – it makes it a bit more awkward to use as both a sensor and a button. You do get a headphone jack down at the bottom of the phone, together with a single speaker and a USB-C port. There's no waterproofing or dustproofing on the Realme 7, which is pretty much par for the course at this price point, so you might want to invest in a case as well.
- These are the best gaming phones available now
Realme 7 review: camera and battery
The Realme 7 camera won't let you down but doesn't really dazzle either. There are four cameras around the back – 48MP wide, 8MP ultrawide, 2MP macro and 2MP depth. Those ultrawide and macro lenses do give you some opportunities for experimenting with your photos, but in terms of end results everything is pretty standard and what you would expect at this price point.
HDR processing works reasonably well, so you won't lose parts of your pictures in particularly dark or light patches, and shutter speed and focus speed are good. Colours can be a bit too saturated at times, and the images won't hold up to the highest level of scrutiny in terms of noise and detail, but considering the price you're paying for this phone the camera quality is perfectly respectable.
Night and low light photography is where the Realme 7 starts to seriously struggle, with a lot more noise creeping in and a lot less detail being captured – there is a dedicated night mode but aside from a basic brightness boost it doesn't really help too much. If there is some light available then you can usually get some usable shots out of the phone, but don't expect too much in terms of low light photography.
Battery life impresses on the whole, with the 5,000mAh-capacity battery lasting well into a second day unless you're really pushing it. Forgetting an overnight charge isn't going to be a problem with the Realme 7, especially as 30W fast charging is supported (though there's no wireless charging available). In our two-hour, maximum brightness video streaming test the battery dropped from 100 percent to 79 percent, which is one of the better results we've seen.
- All the best 5G phones are listed right here
Realme 7 review: other specs and features
The Realme 7 comes powered by a Mediatek Helio G95 processor, plus a choice of three RAM and storage options: 4GB and 64GB, 6GB and 64GB, or 8GB and 128GB. The top option there is substantially better than the bottom option, though it is obviously going to cost you more as well. The device that we reviewed came with the top configuration of 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.
Geekbench 5 scores of 510 (single-core), 1612 (multi-core), and 2227 (OpenCL) reflect the budget processor inside the Realme 7, but we didn't notice any major blips or sluggishness in day-to-day use. The phone can cope with demanding apps and games, albeit with a bit more of a pause between screens, and overall performance is fine. Bear in mind budget phones will start to slow up sooner than more premium models over time though.
The phone comes running Android 10 (rather than the latest Android 11), with Realme's own Realme UI put on top. It's fine, in most respects, but like a lot of Chinese manufacturers, Realme tends to plaster its software with over-the-top visuals and redundant apps that you're probably never going to get around to using. We much prefer the clean and classic look of stock Android on the Pixels and selected other phones, though your tastes may differ.
You don't get 5G on board the Realme 7, which may or may not bother you based on whether the next-gen connectivity has reached your part of the world. 5G is by no means an essential feature at the moment, and most of us will be able to get by with the still-very-speedy 4G for the next couple of years at least. You can get budget phones with 5G on board, but you'll need to pay a bit more than what the Realme 7 costs.
- These are the best small phones you can buy now
Realme 7 review: price and verdict
Of course the Realme 7 isn't going to offer the screen quality, the premium build and the camera capabilities of the top flagship and mid-range phones on the market – but then again it does cost a fraction of the price of those handsets as well. The question is whether you get plenty of value for your money, and the answer (as it often is with Realme phones) is a resounding yes.
There aren't really any outstandingly good features on this phone – its price is its biggest selling point – but then there's nothing that's disappointing or terrible either. You're paying not much money at all for a handset that is capable in every department, and you'd struggle to find an Android phone that's actually usable for anything less.
The screen is big and crisp, the battery life is very good, and the Realme 7 will run everything you need it to: if that's enough for you then it's a very affordable buy. If you need some of the more advanced smartphone features on the market, like 5G, wireless charging, waterproofing and a telephoto camera, then you're going to have to look elsewhere (and pay more).
Before buying your next smartphone, we'd recommend checking out what the competition has to offer, as there are some excellent budget phones available to buy right now (from Motorola, Nokia and others). However, if you want a little money to go a long way with your next phone, then Realme 7 could be the handset for you.
- Our picks for the best cheap phones currently available