This Realme 8 5G review is a good starting point for anyone who wants a new 5G phone on a budget, it’s really good value for money which is how it earned its place as one of the best cheap phones you can buy.
Realme is a fast-growing name in the world of budget smartphones, offering good specs at affordable prices.
We’ve seen some great handsets from them in the past including the mid-range Realme 8 Pro which picked up four stars in its T3 review thanks to the impressive camera system and long-lasting battery. But for those that don’t fancy spending hundreds and hundreds on a handset, its cheaper sibling, the Realme 8 5G, might be a better choice.
I’ve put the Realme 8 5G through its paces to find out everything you need to know about its design, display, camera, battery life and overall performance.
Realme 8 5G review: price and availability
You can buy the Realme 8 5G with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage starting from $269.99 at Amazon (opens in new tab) in the US. In the UK, it will set you back £219.99.
If you don’t mind losing out on RAM then the 4GB / 64GB model is available in the UK for only £169.99.
Take a look at the widgets on this page for more up to date pricing from across the web.
Realme 8 5G review: design and display
While the design of the Realme 8 5G won’t fool anyone into thinking it’s a high-end handset, it doesn't look like a cheap phone either. You can buy it in ‘Supersonic’ black or blue. I took a look at the latter, it's glossy and reflective catching the light in a cool way when you move it around.
When I was using it, the phone did pick up dirty fingerprint marks here and there but that’s easily solved when you put a case on, and it actually comes with one included in the box.
Largely made from plastic, you get the impression that it is sturdy as well, I’d imagine it can take a fair few knocks and bumps so it’ll be good for those who can be a bit clumsy. At 185g it feels fine to hold one-handed although at 8.5mm it is a little thicker than other devices out there.
The rear camera module is rectangular and while it does stick out, it doesn’t make the phone unstable on a flat surface. On the front, the screen is surrounded by relatively slim bezels giving it a 90.5% screen-to-body ratio and there’s a hole-punch style camera placed in the top left corner.
To unlock the display there’s a side-mounted fingerprint sensor on the frame, it works reliably but is placed slightly too far up to feel completely natural to use, I had to stretch my thumb upwards a little each time. You’ll also find a volume rocker on the right-hand side of the frame and a 3.5mm input on the bottom by the USB-C port so you can still use your wired headphones with the Realme 8 5G.
Unfortunately, this phone doesn’t have an official IP rating so can’t claim to be waterproof or even water-resistant. If you choose to buy one you’ll need to be careful not to use it in torrential rain or accidentally drop it in any puddles.
A 6.5-inch display stretches across the front of the phone, it has a resolution of 1080×2400 FHD+ and a peak brightness of 600 nits. While you won’t be blown away by the display quality as you might be with a pricier piece of kit, it will impress you with bold bright colours and sharp details.
Even though you won’t get quite the level of accuracy as you would elsewhere it will certainly be good enough for most uses including streaming videos and browsing the web. And thanks to the 90Hz refresh rate, the Realme 8 5G feels silky smooth to scroll and swipe on as well, ideal for anyone who likes to play a mobile game here and there.
Realme 8 5G review: camera
The camera system is made up of a 48MP Nightscape camera, a 4cm Macro lens and a B&W Portrait lens. To snap selfies it features a 16MP front camera. Unlike a lot of other phones, you won’t get a dedicated ultrawide lens so you’ll have to rely on what the main camera can fit into the shot.
Taking photos in natural daylight you’ll get decent results that are good enough to use on social media whether you’re snapping people, plants, cityscapes or landscapes.
Admittedly the colours don’t pop which means photos could end up looking a little dull, but despite that, the shots manage to pack in plenty of detail and a decent amount of balance.
You can't expect a phone this cheap to match up to the best phones you can buy so considering the price tag this one does just fine. See below for some examples of shots taken on the Realme 8 5G.
When day turns to night, the phone won’t cope so well and the night mode doesn't really do much to improve the look of shots taken in low lighting conditions. Images come out looking dark and grainy so if you want to snap some nighttime photography then you may want to look elsewhere.
Realme 8 5G review: performance and battery
Powering the phone is the Dimensity 700 processor, a budget CPU that manages to pack in 5G support. That comes alongside 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage in the model I tested out, although in some regions, you’ll only be able to buy it with a maximum of 6GB of RAM. To save some cash, you could also choose to pick it up with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Whatever you go for there is also a MicroSD card slot to expand the storage.
In use, you do get what you pay for here. It works fine opening up apps, scrolling through web pages and I had no problems with excessive loading times or lag when flicking through menus either. When you start putting the phone under a bit of pressure like with a more demanding mobile game, that’s where you can see it start to falter. This is far from a gaming phone.
To test out the processing power I ran the Geekbench 5 benchmarking test where the Realme 8 5G scored 567 in single-core and 1,774 in multi-core. These scores are comparable to the likes of the OnePlus Nord CE 5G and Samsung Galaxy A52 5G so the Realme 8 5G definitely matches up to some tough competition in the budget end of the market.
Under the hood, you’ll find a large 5,000mAh battery which should mean you can rely on the Realme 8 5G to get you through the day. When I tried it out, this seemed to be true. After a full day of casual use, that being a bit of messaging, scrolling through social media and tapping through my emails, the phone still had a small amount of battery life to spare.
To see how long the phone would last playing videos, I downloaded a TV show and ran it on full brightness for two hours, in that time the battery level dropped by 20% which suggests it would have lasted a total of 10 hours before it died. While that’s not amazing, it will be fine for most. Charging the phone back up again took just under two hours.
Running on Realme UI 2.0 which is based on Android 11, it’s easy to find your way around the operating system. Granted, it’s not as nice to use as some other versions of Android but you can’t deny that it’s intuitive.
When you start the phone up for the first time, some of the most popular apps are already pre-installed like Netflix, TikTok and Facebook. You also get the whole Google Play Store to choose from so you’re guaranteed to find what you’re looking for. App icons have a cartoonish look to them which won’t be for everyone but that’s something you soon get used to.
Realme 8 5G review: verdict
If you're on a tight budget the Realme 8 5G is worth considering. It won't cost you much at all but will still give you decent specs across the board. Realme has had to make a few sacrifices to keep the price this low like leaving out wireless charging and not making it waterproof but you won't feel as though you're massively missing out.
Granted this isn't a knock-out handset with a high-end camera or super speedy processor but what you do get is a reliable phone that works well. It'll handle most day-to-day tasks and you can snap clear shots with the camera system as long as the lighting is right.
What's more, is that you won't need to worry too much about preserving your battery while you go about your business. It's not the best phone you can get but it is great value for money.
Realme 8 5G review: also consider
The best cheap phone for most people is still the Apple iPhone SE (2020). It's only a little more expensive than this but feels like a much more premium handset thanks to its impressive build quality, camera and speed.
Not a big fan of iOS? Android fans can't go wrong with the OnePlus Nord 2. It's a stunning phone inside and out with excellent performance and a good camera system - definitely worth taking a look at!