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realme 11 Review: Beyond The Limits of 4G

Jullian Robin Sibi 1

Since the realme 9 Pro Series, realme has mostly released 5G phones in the Number Series (with matching price hikes). Despite that move, there’s always a new 4G phone in the Number Series and I’m curious why realme keeps doing it. Whether it’s the market conditions or just trying to fit a certain price point, the latest member of the realme 11 Series in the Philippines is the 4G-equipped realme 11. At the end of my realme 11 review, we’ll find out whether this phone can still compete at its P13,999 price tag despite the lack of 5G.

Disclaimer: I purchased the realme 11 in Dark Glory from realme’s Official Store in Lazada. It arrived on November 16 and I unboxed it on November 18. I’ve been using the realme 11 as my main Android phone for about a month.

Design and Build

realme 11 Review - Design and Build

For this year, realme went for the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” model when it comes to the design language. The realme 11 keeps the same shape as last year’s realme 10 but with tweaks to the camera module and the back. We now get a matte back on this Dark Glory color which is a welcome change compared to last year. The Glory Gold color doesn’t share the same fortune though, as it is still more prone to fingerprints.

The realme 11 has features that we’re seeing less and less in smartphones these days. From having expandable storage via microSD to a 3.5mm headphone jack, it’s nice to see some phone makers still carrying these even if only in their entry-level and midrange phones. Like its predecessor, the realme 11 sadly still has a single speaker that has the same 200% UltraBoom speaker mode. The speaker is loud enough, but I would much prefer to have stereo speakers in a phone at its price point.

Although yes, it has a plastic body, the realme 11 manages to feel more premium than what it is.

Display

realme 11 Review - Display

Probably the most boring aspect of this realme 11 review is the phone’s display. This phone has a 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 2400 x 1080 and a 90Hz refresh rate.

I thought there were changes in brightness and the kind of glass it used, but this display is the same as the one in the realme 10. This would normally be a complaint, but I feel like realme also went for the “if it ain’t broke” approach here too. I wish they ditched the chin, but that would probably change this phone more. At least it’s a flat display.

Performance and Software

Yet another aspect of the realme 11 that didn’t change much was the performance. It carries the same MediaTek Helio G99 processor along with 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM and 256GB of UFS 2.2 storage. I have complained about how realme reuses the same processor for multiple generations (see my realme 8 Pro review). While the reuse of the G99 isn’t that offensive to me, what may be offensive is the lack of 5G. Yes, let’s talk about that.

Does The Lack of 5G Matter?

The past few years have seen a lot of 5G phones enter the Philippine smartphone market. While the compromise of having 5G is almost negligible in 2024, the biggest compromise continues to be the 5G coverage itself. I still think that it’s best to invest in a phone that has 5G if you’re keeping it for more than 3 years.

However, I think that the realme 11 still has value especially when you live in a place where 5G is non-existent. To answer the question: Yes, the lack of 5G in a smartphone matters. But so does the lack of 5G where you live.

AnTuTu benchmark results show that the realme’s optimizations paid off in the realme 11. The brand even boasted the performance of its predecessor, so it’s nice to see an improvement here. In terms of real-world experience, I had no problems playing the games I usually play such as Pokémon UNITE and a bit of Asphalt 9. Don’t expect to play games like Genshin Impact or Honkai Star Rail with consistently good performance though.

realme 11 Review - realme UI 4.0

The realme 11 runs realme UI 4.0 based on Android 13. Notable features of this version include Large Folders and improved performance with the Dynamic Computing Engine. Even animations are as snappy as ever with the Quantum Animation Engine 4.0. I’ve said this in previous reviews of realme phones: realme UI is one of my favorite Android skins.

I’m glad that realme managed to keep this phone snappy despite keeping the same processor, RAM, and storage.

Battery Experience

realme 11 First Impressions - 67W SUPERVOOC Charging

One of the highlight features of the realme 11 is its 67W SUPERVOOC charging. We’ve reached a point where fast charging is more of a necessity than a nice-to-have. I’m glad that realme stayed true to its commitment of putting at least 33W fast charging on its phones in 2023.

The reason why I brought that up is because it’s nice to see fast charging be an essential smartphone feature. Charging the 5000 mAh battery of the realme 11 from 0 to 100% in less than an hour is something that I now expect rather than be amazed at. What did amaze me though? The realme 11’s battery life.

At 17 hours, I can safely say that you can count on the realme 11 to last you at least a day. It actually has in my day-to-day use of the phone! You can even stretch it to a day and a half if you don’t use your phone much. My typical use consisted of an hour or two of social media, another hour of casual gaming, sometimes 30 minutes to an hour of taking photos, and even a game or two of Pokémon UNITE.

Overall, I’m happy with the battery experience I got from the realme 11. Having 4G and optimizing for the same processor really pays off in this department.

Cameras

realme 11 Review - Cameras

What initially surprised me with all the marketing material for the realme 11 was the focus on its charging. Sure, 67W charging in a phone at its price point is nothing to sneeze at. I just think that there’s a compelling case for realme to go with the cameras.

The realme 11 rocks a 108MP main camera (it’s actually the same Samsung HM6 sensor as the realme 10 Pro+ last year) paired with a 2MP portrait camera. It also has a 16MP front camera for your selfie needs. You would think I’d be disappointed with this development, but there’s a lot of good in the realme 11’s main camera. (Phone makers should just stop it with these leftover 2MP cameras, to be honest.) Let’s check those photos out!

Click on the photos for full-resolution versions!

realme 11 Review - Low Light Photo

I normally don’t start with a low-light photo, but that’s how good this photo is! The detail of the % symbol is just something I’m not used to seeing in a non-Pro Number Series phone! I reviewed the last non-Pro Number Series phone with a 108MP main camera and the quality isn’t close. Sure, not all low-light photos are gonna look this good. The fact that it was easier to do a photo like this here is an achievement by itself.

The main highlight of the 108MP main camera is its ability to do 3x In-sensor Zoom. In the past, I would easily scoff at the notion of doing zoom shots by using portions of the main sensor. As we start 2024, it’s basically what everyone does with high-megapixel main cameras. For the most part, the zoomed photos look good to me. There is some loss of detail when zooming in, but just enough for me to post the photo on social media.

Outside of the zoom capabilities, realme has done a good job of optimizing the 108MP main camera in terms of image processing and color reproduction. There are instances of color shifting even with the exact same scenario. (See the two similar photos below.)

One more thing I wanna highlight about the 108MP main camera is how it handles faces. I already praised realme’s image processing on the realme 11’s cameras, but I specifically like how it handles skin tones here.

Front Camera

The 16MP front camera of the realme 11 didn’t receive as much love as the main camera. Good thing realme’s post processing is doing its work here as well. It can tend to struggle in low light, but I can count on it in most scenarios.

The realme 11’s 108MP main camera probably gave the most surprising results. Despite using the same sensor, realme’s image processing resulted in getting good photos more often than not.

Should You Buy the realme 11?

realme 11 Review - Conclusion

The title of the realme 11 review really encapsulates my thoughts of this smartphone. Despite just having 4G connectivity and most of the specs of its predecessor, this phone has a lot to offer for its P13,999 price tag. Its performance somehow got better despite using the same processor, RAM, and storage. Its battery, charging and main camera are definite standouts.

If you’re looking for a well-balanced smartphone that lasts more than a day and you live in a place where 5G is non-existent, the realme 11 is for you. For someone like me who values having a phone with 5G, this phone may not be the one for me. I do love that 108MP main camera though.

Pros

  • The back of the Dark Glory phone now has a matte finish
  • Surprising performance improvement thanks to realme’s optimizations in hardware and software
  • realme UI 4.0 continues to be a snappy Android skin
  • 67W SUPERVOOC fast charging is a big benefit
  • Its 5000 mAh battery lasts at least one day
  • A surprisingly good 108MP main camera
  • The 3x In-Sensor Zoom works as advertised (for the most part)
  • Decent 16MP front camera

Cons

  • Same general design
  • Same display as its predecessor (including the chin)
  • Same processor, RAM, storage, and speaker as its predecessor
  • Lack of 5G connectivity
  • A mostly useless 2MP portrait camera

You can get the realme 11 with 8GB RAM and 256GB storage for P13,999. It is available in realme Concept Stores and authorized retailers nationwide. You can also get one online through these platforms: Lazada, Shopee, TikTok Shop.

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  1. Good for its price. By comparing this to other products this one is better in some areas of features. We will consider adding this to our list. Thank you for your detailed review, it helps a lot to choose which best fits our style.

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