Monday, May 31, 2021

Asus ROG Strix G15 AMD Advantage Edition

The best gaming laptops, for years, have been dominated by Intel and Nvidia hardware, something that only really started to change in 2020 when AMD launched its Ryzen 4000 laptop processors. The Asus ROG Strix G15 is the next step in that direction, launching with not only Ryzen 5000 series processors, but paired with the latest high-end Radeon graphics announced at Computex 2021. 

So, admittedly, there's a lot riding on this gaming laptop, as it is going so against the grain of the hardware we typically see in devices like this, especially in its price range.  We're not sure yet exactly how much the Asus ROG Strix G15 is going to cost when it hits the streets, but we have been told that it will cost around $1,650 (about £1,160, AU$2,130). That's a pretty high price, and puts it in between the Razer Blade and Asus' own Zephyrus G14, both of which are some of the best gaming laptops in the world right now. 

And for the most part, this gaming laptop does hold its own against its competitors. You can get some pretty solid performance out of it, and battery life is straight-up incredible. But there are definitely some issues with this laptop that makes it hard to give it a solid recommendation. At the same time, though, it does show just how close AMD and Nvidia are right now when it comes to laptop graphics.

Asus ROG Strix G15

(Image credit: Future)

Price and availability

Spec Sheet

Here is the Asus ROG Strix G15 configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX
Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 6800M
Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1080pp), 300Hz
Storage: 512GB SSD
Ports: 1 x USB Type-C 3.2 Gen 2 (with DisplayPort 1.4), 3 x USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 2,  1x HDMI 2.0b, 1 x 3.5mm combo jack, 1 x RJ45 Ethernet
Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth
Camera: None
Weight: 5.25lbs (2.38kg)
Size (W x D x H): 13.94 x 10.23 x 0.95 ins (354 x 259.9 x 24.2 mm)

At the time of writing we don't have a solid price tag for the Asus ROG Strix G15, but we have been given an estimated price of $1,650 (about £1,160, AU$2,130) for the AMD Advantage Edition - which is the configuration listed to the right.

This configuration, with the AMD Radeon RX 6800M is meant to go head to head with laptops featuring the RTX 3070, which typically cost around the same as the Asus ROG Strix G15. In fact, we recently reviewed the Asus ROG Zephyrus G15, which has a very similar configuration, with a Ryzen 9 5900HS and an RTX 3070, but with a slower 165Hz display at $1,499 (£1,599, AU$2,599). 

This new AMD Radeon RX 6800M laptop does have better gaming performance - at least on paper - and a much faster screen. But you'll have to weigh those options against the extra $150 and see if that's worth it. With this level of hardware, we don't think a 300Hz display is going to be necessary for a vast majority of people, but if you're looking for a portable esports machine that won't break the bank, this might be it. 

Asus ROG Strix G15

(Image credit: Future)


If you were to close your eyes and imagine a gaming laptop, you probably wouldn't come up with something too far off from the Asus ROG Strix G15. This is as traditional a gaming laptop as you'll find today, even though it is on the nicer end of the gamer aesthetic. 

This gaming laptop is has an all-black colorway with red accents, both at the back of the laptop, and one that serves as a rubber foot for the laptop – which means you'll only see it when the laptop is upside down. That rubber foot also has some text engraved on it that says "Back on Top" next to the Asus ROG logo. So, yeah, this is very much a gaming laptop. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but if you don't want everyone thinking you're grinding away in World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade Classic every time you break out your laptop, this might not be for you. 

But while it does have a bit of a dated design aesthetic, don't go thinking that it's cheaply put together. The top of the laptop and the keyboard deck are aluminum, and while the keyboard deck does have a little bit of give, you really have to push down on it to make it flex. 

However, while the top of the laptop is aluminum, the bottom of the laptop still seems to be plastic, but it's at least of high quality. And then because it's a gaming laptop in 2021, there's a strip of RGB lighting that runs along the front of the laptop. 

There's also RGB lighting in the keyboard, and all of this lighting can be controlled through the the Asus Armoury Crate app, just like any other Asus gaming laptop.

The keyboard itself is a delight. Nice, deep travel makes it great for playing games, including long grinding sessions in World of Warcraft Classic, getting ready for the new (old) expansion that comes out on June 1. It's not quite as good for long-form typing as many Ultrabooks, but it's perfect for gaming, and really, that's all you can ask for. 

The trackpad is also huge for a gaming laptop, more akin to what you'd find on an XPS 15 than a gaming laptop like this. And, what's more, is that it feels incredibly solid. A lot of gaming laptops will half-ass the trackpad, with clickers that feel squishy or wobbly, but everything about this trackpad feels premium. Kind of a waste in a laptop most people will be pairing with one of the best gaming mice, but we love that the trackpad feels good to use when we just want to get some light web browsing done.  

Asus ROG Strix G15

(Image credit: Future)

One of the biggest crimes of this laptop, especially considering its size, is the placement of the speakers. Despite the fact that there's plenty of space both on the sides and above the keyboard, the speakers instead fire out the bottom. This isn't that big of a deal if you're going to be playing games on a table like a normal person, but if you want to play some games or stream some Netflix while lying in bed, the sound will be extremely muffled. 

Although, if you ware using it on a table, the speakers themselves are actually fine. Like most laptop speakers, they lack bass, so you might want to use headphones if you're listening to music or playing a game with a lot of explosions. 

But that's not a big deal, because you're going to be wanting to use a gaming headset when you're gaming anyways, because when this laptop gets pushed, the fans can get pretty loud. It's definitely not enough that you're going to annoy everyone you live with, but they're definitely noticeable when under load. 

Luckily, when you unplug the laptop, it'll immediately shift into Silent mode, which cuts performance, but makes it much more tolerable to just sit and enjoy some content. 

As for ports, there's plenty to offer with the Asus ROG Strix G15. On the right side of the laptop, there are two USB-A ports and a combo 3.5mm audio jack. However, most of the ports are hiding on the back of the laptop, exactly where we like to see them in a gaming laptop. Back there you'll find another USB-A port, a USB-C Gen 3.2 port, HDMI, Ethernet and a dedicated charging port. 

Speaking of charging, wow is the brick charger heavy. Like, we pretty much expect every laptop in this class to have one, and luckily we've started moving away from laptops having two, but we were not ready for how heavy the Asus ROG Strix G15 charging adapter was. It could be that the months of lockdown have atrophied our muscles to the point where it seems heavier than it is, but even still, if you plan on traveling with this laptop, the heavy charger is definitely something you'll want to take into consideration. 



Here is how the Asus ROG Strix G15 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
GeekBench 5: 1,438 (single-core); 7,421 (multi-core) CineBenchR23: 13,061
PCMark10 Home: 7,421
3DMark Night Raid: 41,959; Firestrike: 24,367; Time Spy: 10,098
Total War: Three Kingdoms (1080p): 135 fps (Low); 83 fps (Ultra)
Metro: Exodus (1080p): 164 fps (Low); 78 fps (Ultra)
Battery Life (PCMark10 test): 11 hours 23 minutes
Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 9 hours 22 minutes

Packed with an AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX, 16GB of RAM and an AMD Radeon RX 6800M, it's no surprise that the Asus ROG Strix G15 is an absolute powerhouse of a gaming laptop. 

In its keynote debuting the Radeon RX 6800M, AMD specifically targeted the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070, and, well, the 6800M crushes it. In pretty much every benchmark we throw at this laptop, it passes up Nvidia's GPU. In Metro Exodus, the Strix G15 passes the 73 fps that the 3070-equipped Asus ROG Zephyrus G15 manages, with 78 fps. That's just a 7% difference, but that's still a win for AMD. 

This happens in the synthetic benchmarks, too. In 3DMark Time Spy, the Strix G15 beats the the Zephyrus with 10,098 points to 9,333. It goes even further in Fire Strike,  where it manages to beat the RTX 3080-equipped MSI GE76 Raider by 5%.

It sounds like a dream machine, and in a lot of ways it is. However, either AMD or Asus has some kinks to work out here. Halfway through our testing, we started getting drastically reduced performance, we're talking 18 fps in Metro – much lower than the 78 fps it usually manages. We were thankfully able to get it back to normal with a simple reboot, but expect some growing pains. 

Asus ROG Strix G15

(Image credit: Future)

Battery life

Earlier we talked about the absolutely massive power supply, but unless you're going to be out literally all day, because this is one of the longest lasting gaming laptops we've ever tested. 

The Asus ROG Strix G15 manages 11 hours and 23 minutes of battery life in the PCMark 10 benchmark, which simulates various real-world workloads you might encounter while doing office work. It falls a little under that in our video streaming test, where it manages just 9 hours and 22 minutes, but that's still a full 8-hour day and change. 

In years past gaming laptops like the Asus ROG Strix G15 would last just a couple hours, and it was just something you accepted due to the power of the hardware on offer. But with more and more gaming laptops breaking the 8 hour threshold, it's not unreasonable to expect all-day battery life out of a gaming laptop. 


Just like many other Asus gaming laptops over the last year or so, there's no webcam on the ROG Strix G15. If all you're after is a laptop to play the best PC games and nothing else, this probably won't be a big deal. However, if you're looking to stream or even just use this laptop for work and play, you'll have to spend extra to get an external webcam. 

Asus ROG Strix G15

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

You want solid performance for the money
The Asus ROG Strix G15 AMD Advantage Edition is an absolute beast for the money, beating out other gaming laptops in its class. 

A gamer aesthetic doesn't turn you off
The Asus ROG Strix G15 is a black and red gaming laptop with a lot of angles and RGB lighting. If you're still into having a laptop that looks like a gaming laptop, the Strix has that in spades.

You want long battery life in your gaming laptop
A lot of gaming laptops don't have great battery life, but the Asus ROG Strix G15 has some of the best battery life we've ever seen in a gaming laptop. 

Asus ROG Strix G15

(Image credit: Future)

Don't buy it if...

You have no tolerance for bugs
We did run into some bugs while testing the Asus ROG Strix G15, so we can only recommend the laptop to folks that are comfortable being an early adopter, and with all the potential headaches that brings.

You're not into the gamer aesthetic
If you want a gaming laptop you can easily bring to the office without making it look like you're raiding in the middle of a meeting, maybe look at a different laptop – like the Asus ROG Zephyrus G15 or the Razer Blade. 

  • This year, Computex is going virtual, but we'll still be bringing you all the breaking computing news and launches as they happen, so make sure you check out all of TechRadar's Computex 2021 coverage.

DrayTek Vigor3910

DrayTek Vigor3910 key specs

WAN / LAN ports:  2 x 10G/1G SFP+, 2 x 2.5GbE, 4 x 1GbE
Network Management: 50 Access Points, 30 Switches
NAT Throughput: 9.4Gbps
USB 2.0 ports: 2 x for USB storage
Maximum VPN tunnels: 500 (200 SSL-VPN)
Maximum VLANs: 50
Power: 240v, 35w
Dimensions: 443 x 285 x 45mm
Weight: 3.23kg
Warranty: 2 year back to base

The Draytek Vigor3910 is a feature rich multi-WAN security router aimed at higher-level business use. The key areas of focus are high bandwidth connections, with 10Gb SFP+ and 2.5GbE ports, multiple WAN support for internet connection redundancy, remote VPN connections and the ability to manage a wider network of Draytek devices. In other words, it’s designed to be the center of your large, varied network, that might extend across multiple sites and have many remote workers or offices. 

In the space available in a review like this, it’s honestly a little hard to do justice to all the ins and outs of the Vigor3910. To better understand it, we'd highly recommend checking out the excellent DrayTek online demo, where you can investigate and test the interface and features up front. You can also do the same for other DrayTek devices. 

The product page is also a good point of call, and makes it easy to check out the manual, guides and even a video overview.

DrayTek Vigor3910

While we tested it on a bench, the Vigor3910 is most at home when rack-mounted, and comes with a mounting kit. (Image credit: Future)

DrayTek Vigor3910 price and availability

At the time of writing, the DrayTek Vigor3910 is hard to find in the US, but is more widely available in the UK and Australia. The Vigor3910 will set you back $800 / £700 / AU$1,440.

Design and specifications

The Vigor3910 is a router, so is all about connecting your business to the internet. It has two 10G/1G SFP+ ports, which can be used for LAN or WAN. This means you can connect to ultra-fast fibre internet, or link into a 10GbE network for high local throughput, or of course both. You also get two, 2.5GbE RJ45 network LAN/WAN ports, four 1GbE RJ-45 LAN/WAN ports, and then finally four standard 1GbE LAN ports. You also get two USB 3.0 connections that can be used to attach external storage (though only one at a time) or connect a printer.

So all up, you can configure up to eight WAN ports and if needed, enable massive internet throughput and connection redundancy. The Vigor3910 includes comprehensive load balancing and failover control, and supports High Availability so you can run a second router that steps in if the first has a hardware problem. 

Eight WAN connections might be overkill for most businesses, but for certain setups, multiple internet connections are very useful. For example, one SFP+ port could handle a super fast 10Gbps fibre internet connection (or the maximum speed available), while a 2.5GbE or 1GbE port connects into a secondary 1Gbps connection, or other high speed internet. Or you could combine multiple available fibre, cable, VDSL connections together to provide better bandwidth. One or more Ethernet ports could be configured to link to a separate 4G modem equipped router (of which DrayTek has many) for wireless backup. The fixed line connections could be aggregated together for performance, while the 4G might be kept as a backup, or only used during times of very high load.

DrayTek Vigor3910

The two 10G SFP+ ports on the Vigor3910 enable ultra fast 10Gbps connections. (Image credit: Future)

The remaining SFP+ and 2.5G /1G  ports could then be used to link to other sections of the business, for example an SFP+ fibre connection to maintain high throughput to a remote part of the business. They can also be used to give excellent performance for data heavy needs, such as network attached storage. 

While the Vigor3910 can enable extremely fast internet connections, it also needs to handle all that data. Thanks to a 1.2GHz quad-core CPU and hardware acceleration, the NAT throughput is a huge 9.4Gbps, and 1 million NAT sessions. 

One use for all this bandwidth is VPN connections, for a business with many remote workers or offices. The Vigor3910 can handle up to 500 concurrent VPN connections, with 3.3 Gbps of throughput. 200 of those can be encrypted SSL VPN connections, with 1.6 Gbps of throughput. The Vigor3910 supports all the industry standards for VPNs, and can also do VPN trunking, where multiple WAN connections can be used to link to the remote device, giving extra bandwidth and failover support. 

The Vigor3910 is well equipped to handle multiple networks, with support for 50 VLANs and subnets. It has very in-depth bandwidth management and a comprehensive inbuilt firewall and content filtering capabilities. When connected to wireless access points, it can also manage a Hotspot web portal for users to log in and access Wi-Fi.

DrayTek Vigor3910

The Vigor3910 web interface is very functional, with loads of in-depth configuration and management options. (Image credit: Future)

Interface and testing

The Vigor3910 can be configured via the web browser interface, which is fairly straightforward. It is of course quite dense, but that's a reflection of the depth of features. The manual (all 627 pages of it) is a very comprehensive how-to guide in itself, and there are extra support and knowledge options available on the Draytek website. 

We set up a test network with a variety of DrayTek wireless access points, switches and routers, as well as a range of other NAS, IP cameras, smart devices, and computers. While we didn’t have a 10Gbps WAN connection available for testing, we pushed the router as far as possible. We fell short of the full 9.4Gbps NAT throughput, but only because the router easily handled the loads we provided. It did so with aplomb, and the CPU utilisation left plenty of extra headroom. 

It’s no surprise that getting everything configured correctly at first is a decently in-depth task, but from that point on it was smooth sailing. VPN links, bandwidth allocation, WAN failover all worked as described. The router will happily auto discover existing LAN subnets, as well as DrayTek switches and APs on the network.

DrayTek Vigor3910

What’s not to love about being able to configure octuple WANs for the ultimate performance and redundancy. (Image credit: Future)

Network management

One of the key features of the Vigor3910 is the ability to manage a wider network made up of DrayTek devices. It can handle 50 wireless access points, and 30 switches right from the interface. 

Of course this starts to become unwieldy before you actually hit that many network devices. To make life easier, DrayTek has a paid, server-based TR-069 management solution called VigorACS. It’s based on a yearly licence, with keys that cover up to a certain number of devices available for purchase. The exact price varies depending on how many nodes you need to handle, it starts from around $250 / £200 / AU$349 per year for 25. The licence keys are available via your local Draytek distributor, rather than Draytek itself. 

VigorACS can be installed on a Windows or Linux server, locally or in the cloud, and doesn’t need particularly demanding specs unless you run thousands of nodes. Getting it up and running is a pretty normal process from an IT administrator perspective, but still fairly involved compared to consumer products. Once VigorACS is configured it can provide huge time savings that make it well worth the cost. Of course, there are other paid, free and open source TR-069 management software solutions available, but VigorACS is designed to work well with Draytek hardware. 

A key advantage is auto provisioning, where a new device can be added to the network and then automatically configured and updated by the VigorACS server. It also makes it easy to remotely control and schedule updates to your network. There’s also a host of data collection, from real-time status monitoring (and alerts if equipment goes down) through to stats such as performance logging and report creation. VigorACS also has a VPN wizard, which helps make it easy to create and backup configurations, and make sure your remote workers can stay connected. 

DrayTek makes it pretty easy to give VigorACS a try, and buying a compatible device means you get a free 30-day trial. While it's not the only option for TR-069 management, VigorACS is a great match for Draytek hardware, and well worth the cost for the time savings alone. There’s also a large VigorACS knowledge base of articles.

DrayTek Vigor3910

VigorACS is a powerful TR-069 management solution that helps make complex networking faster and easier. (Image credit: Future)


The Vigor3910 is a class above even most business routers, and has the performance and capabilities to provide key multi-WAN functionality on a very large scale. Hardware acceleration means no bandwidth bottlenecks, and it can handle a very large number of VPNs. It’s still quite affordable, all things considered, and even if overkill now, gives room for future growth. 

To get the best out of the Vigor3910 you do need to pair it with other Draytek devices, as well as the VigorACS software. While the hardware is excellent, it is also important to note that there is a wealth of support options and articles available. While we had a few minor complaints, the software side is also top notch. 

It’s hard to fault the Vigor3910 from a technical perspective. That’s not to say it's perfect in every situation, and many businesses don’t need the high end capabilities it provides. But for those that do, the Vigor 3910 is a great choice. 

New Smartphones, OTA Updates & Tech Launched in May 2021 – Monthly Wrap-up

The month of May has been a busy one for Android fans, as there have been several new budget smartphones released and Google just announced the release of the beta build of the all-new Android 12. In case if you missed out on catching up with all things related to smartphones in recent weeks, here […]

The post New Smartphones, OTA Updates & Tech Launched in May 2021 – Monthly Wrap-up appeared first on PhoneRadar.

Realme Smart TV 4K With Dolby Vision – First Impressions

Realme entered the smart TV market almost a year ago with two models. Now, the company has launched the Realme Smart TV 4K in 43-inch and 50-inch screen sizes. While the last year’s 43-inch smart TV with 1080p resolution was launched at Rs 21,999, the newly launched 43-inch 4K model costs slightly higher at Rs […]

The post Realme Smart TV 4K With Dolby Vision – First Impressions appeared first on PhoneRadar.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Fitbit Aria Air

Two-minute review

Before you invest in the Fitbit Aria Air, you should know that unlike other Fitbit smart scales, it doesn’t use a small electrical current to estimate your body composition (including far, muscle and bone mass) – a method known as bioimpedence. This means you’ll get a less complete picture of changes to your body, but means it’s safe for people with implanted devices such as pacemakers.

Instead, the Fitbit Aria Air measures weight (in imperial or metric units), and calculates your BMI using the height entered when you created your Fitbit account. This is synced immediately with the Fitbit mobile app, where you can track changes over time and see how close you are to meeting your target weight. It also makes it easy to see how any lifestyle changes, such as increased exercise or improved sleep patterns, may have affected your weight.

Fitbit Aria Air

(Image credit: Future)

The Fitbit Aria Air connects to your phone via Bluetooth, and has no Wi-Fi connectivity. This means it’s very quick and easy to set up, with no need to enter the password for your home network, but your phone will need to be within Bluetooth range for your data to sync.

If you own a Fitbit smartwatch or fitness tracker, and aren’t particularly interested in the details of your body composition, then the Fitbit Aria Air is a good choice. It’s solidly built and easy to use, making it easy to get into the routing of weighing yourself regularly.

However, it’s not your only option. There are third-party scales (such as the Eufy Smart Scale C1) that are also excellent, and sync data with the Fitbit app as well. The setup isn’t quite as straightforward, as you’ll need to connect Eufy and Fitbit apps together, but if you’re on a budget then it’s a cheaper option well worth considering.

Fitbit Aria Air

(Image credit: Future)

Price and release date

The Fitbit Aria Air was released in December 2019, and costs $49.95 / £49.99 / AU$99.95 direct from Fitbit.

For context, that's roughly the same as the FitTrack Dara (a Bluetooth-only body composition smart scale) and around twice the price of the Wi-Fi-enabled Withings Body+ body composition scale.


The Fitbit Aria Air is available in black and white, and like almost all smart scales, has a platform topped with toughened glass. In our tests, this seemed particularly prone to fingerprints. It’s water-resistant, so you can wipe it with a dry towel if it gets wet in the bathroom, but we found marks were stubborn even when rubbed with a microfiber cloth.

It takes three AAA batteries, which are supplied. Its platform is large for a smart scale, measuring 12.8 x 12.8in (slightly bigger than the Withings Body+), Unlike some other scales, there are no marking to show the best place to position your feet, but as the scale doesn’t use bioimpedence, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Fitbit Aria Air

(Image credit: Future)

We were surprised how heavy the Fitbit Aria Air was. It weighs 3.9lb (1.7kg), which isn’t much less than Wi-Fi scales like the Garmin Index S2, and much less than the Eufy Smart Scale C1 Bluetooth scale. Fitbit advises always storing the scale upright, so you’re unlikely to be moving it often, but it’s something to bear in mind if space in your bathroom is limited.

User experience

Because the scale doesn't track body composition, it's unable to identify you unless your phone is within Bluetooth range. Step aboard without a connection and you'll see your weight, but your data won't be synced. It's not stored on the scale itself, as there would be no way to pin it to a particular user.

This could be inconvenient if you're not in the habit of taking your phone into the bathroom in the morning, but does mean there's no limit to the number of people who can use the scale. Most smart scales only support between four and 16 users, but the Aria Air has no such cap, provided each person has a Fitbit account.

Fitbit Aria Air

(Image credit: Future)

Weight is shown on the bright LED display as soon as you step on, and provided you have the Fitbit app open on your phone, it will appear there straight away. Unlike Salter's Bluetooth smart scales, there's no need to tap a button to initiate the syncing progress. 

The Fitbit app will show changes to your weight and BMI over time (though it's a shame the same data isn't displayed on the scale's screen as well). Usefully, the app also shows 'idea' weight and BMI ranges, which adds useful context to the data, and is something missing from many smart scale apps.

The data presented was consistent across multiple weigh-ins (though Fitbit advises that you may need to weigh yourself a couple of times if you've moved the scale since it was last used), and lined up with that from the professional scale at our gym. As with any scale though, it's recommended to use the Fitbit Aria Air on a hard floor for the most accurate readings.

Fitbit Aria Air

(Image credit: Future)

It's also worth noting that Fitbit adds new features to its smartphone app regularly, so it's possible that new tools that use your bodyweight or BMI might be developed in the future. This is a robust, well built scale that lacks frills, but could be a good investment if you're committed to the Fitbit ecosystem.

Buy it if

You own a Fitbit device
Data from the Fitbit Aria Air will sync with the Fitbit app on your phone, aggregating all your health data in one place and making it easy to see how lifestyle changes (such as increased activity) may have affected your weight,

You have a pacemaker or other implant
The Fitbit Aria Air doesn't use bioelectrical impedance, which makes it safe for people with implants to use.

You have a large family
There's no limit on the number of people who can use a single scale, and it's solidly built to withstand a lot of use.

Don't buy it if

You don't own a Fitbit
If you're not also syncing your activity and sleep data with the Fitbit app, you won't be getting the most possible out of the Fitbit Aria Air, as you won't be able to see how lifestyle changes affect your weight.

You want in-depth insights
The Fitbit Aria Air shows weight and BMI, and nothing more. If you want to track changes to your fat and muscle mass, you'll need to check out bioelectrical impedance scales.

Salomon Index.01

Two-minute review

Huge kudos to Salomon for the Index.01. It's one of the first companies to make a truly recyclable performance shoe and, despite the technical challenges involved, the end result is a bona fide running shoe.

Admittedly, when race day comes round, you might reach for another shoe that wasn’t built with sustainability in mind – perhaps with a carbon footplate, and a bit lighter (at 285g, these aren’t racers) – but for regular training sessions, park runs, tempo work, or bigger weekend mileage, they totally fit the bill. Once you’re done with them, post them back to Salomon for free, and they’ll be recycled into winter sports gear.

Salomon Index.01

(Image credit: Fergus Scholes)

Price and release date

Announced in September 2020 and released in Spring 2021, the Salomon Index.01 cost $200 / £165 (about AU$260), which also includes postage back to Salomon for recycling at the end of their life.


Articulating the myriad components in a trainer isn’t normally easy. However, with the Index.01, this isn’t a problem, because in order to be totally recyclable, simplicity is key. In earlier prototypes, Salomon tried making a shoe that was made of just one material: thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) foam. However it wasn’t durable enough, so the designers added a second material, and made the upper from recycled polyester. This is the shoe we see today.

Salomon Index.01

(Image credit: Fergus Scholes)

The sole is made from a generous wedge of durable nitrogen-infused, TPU-based foam called Infiniride. It gives a nice amount of cushioning, yet is still firm too. Under the heel is a stack height of 28.5mm, and forefoot of 19.5mm making a drop of 9mm.

The sole has  quite a curved shape, which is intended to keep landings well cushioned and help with forward propulsion. It also has an overhang and angled corner at the back – it’s distinctive but could well have a 'love it' or 'hate it' effect for some people’s aesthetic. This material is very durable. 

The outsole has a minimal profile, just featuring little bobbles for tread. Although these are grippy, and are perfect for use on road, the lack of any substantial lugs means you best not venture too far off road onto loose or uneven surfaces. Tor regular roads, though, they are totally perfect.

Salomon Index.01

(Image credit: Fergus Scholes)

The upper is made from recycled polyester, and is joined to the sole via a thin strip of water-based glue. This minimizes material contamination and ensures as much as the shoe as possible is recyclable. The end result is a highly breathable mesh-like material – so much so you could see the color of your socks through it. it feels quite soft, and there are see-through panels on the sides. 

When the shoes come to the end of their life, simply scan the QR code they come with and you’ll be able to post them back to Salomon, free of charge. The two parts will then be separated, the sole will be made into Salomon ski boots, and the upper into clothing. The lifecycle of these shoes is then complete.

Salomon Index.01

(Image credit: Fergus Scholes)


This is a great no-nonsense running shoe. It doesn’t overcomplicate things – running on it feels totally natural, so you won’t stress unusual muscle groups or need time to get used to it, and with the curved sole, there's a jolt of forward propulsion for speed too.

With a heel stack height of 28.5mm, there is a nice level of cushioning, but the foam isn’t a squidgy one (unlike, for example, Nike’s ZoomX foam), which we actually liked for those regular daily runs. Also, given the neutral setup, you can happily use them for walking and general life too.

Salomon Index.01

(Image credit: Fergus Scholes)

The upper is really breathable, so sweat can easily dissipate, helping to keep your feet cool for those hotter summer runs. It's pretty easy to slip on and off too, which is always handy.

After a while, the brilliant white colour will pick up dirt and start to look grubby, so advisable to give them a sponge down once in a while if you like your trainers to have that box fresh look.

Comfort wise, there’s nothing to fault. Supportive around the upper, with no rubbing or pinching anywhere around the heel or toes. 

Salomon Index.01

(Image credit: Fergus Scholes)

Buy it if

You want a no-nonsense shoe
Intervals, longer runs and even speed work – the Index.01 fits the bill for all types of running.

You're thinking about your carbon footprint
The Salomon Index.01 is well worth considering if you want to start making more considered choices to reduce your environmental impact.

Don't buy it if

You’ll be using off road or in wet conditions
This is a fair weather urban or track runner only.

You want that extra oomph to achieve PBs
There’s no carbon footplate, super springy foam or superlight weight design here. It’s just a great shoe for running in.

Friday, May 28, 2021

iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) review

Two-minute review

The iPad Pro 2021 is a huge step up for Apple’s best tablet experience, but is it one that you need? If you want the very best tablet that money can buy, and a slate that can achieve almost anything you want a computer to, this is likely to be your perfect purchase.

The iPad Pro 2021 12.9-inch isn’t for everyone. The biggest caveats are that it’s incredibly expensive, and that it’s an overwhelmingly large device for those who don’t need a screen this big.

For those who can handle both the physical size and the price tag, though, the iPad Pro 2021 is an outstanding offering that boasts next-gen power, a fantastic display experience, and everything else we’ve come to love from Apple’s very best tablets.

The new Liquid Retina XDR Mini LED display is gorgeous, with max brightness levels unseen on other tablets – this slate can compete with the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S7 Plus, which felt like a major upgrade for tablet screens just last year. The screen is one of the best for watching movies on, and it'll also suit you well for everyday tasks.

Then there’s the power – much has been made of Apple’s M1 chipset, and this is the first time the company has included its new, own-brand silicon in an iPad. Do you absolutely need it? Probably not, but if you want some truly impressive power that blows every other tablet out of the water, again the latest iPad Pro is a great choice.

You likely won’t appreciate having this much power on tap unless you’re intensively gaming, using power-hungry apps, or pushing the tablet to its multi-tasking limits. This will load apps like YouTube, Netflix and your email faster than before, but in most cases the difference is negligible, and you’ll only really notice when powering up the App Store’s most intensive experiences.

Other upgrades are less important, but there are a few other noteworthy tweaks. There’s a higher-capacity storage variant than ever before at 2TB, a new Center Stage camera feature that keeps you in the frame on video calls, and Thunderbolt 4 support in the USB-C slot. These are all great additions, but they’re overshadowed by the display and chipset’s game-changing upgrades. 

iPad Pro 12.9 2021

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Battery life is solid – in our testing we found that the tablet would last for around 10 hours on a full charge. Your mileage will of course vary depending on what you’re doing, but this is solid battery performance that no one should be disappointed by. 

All of this comes at a high price, and this is Apple’s most expensive tablet ever. It starts at $1,099 / £999 / AU$1,649, with the price increasing to $2,199 / £1,999 / AU$3,299 for the 2TB model – and you’ll pay more again if you opt for a version with cellular connectivity.

The iPad Pro 2021 is a phenomenal machine that’s a must-have if you’re an Apple evangelist, or if money is no object when you’re buying your next tablet. It isn’t the best tablet for everyone, due to its size and staggeringly high price, but is it the very best tablet money can buy right now? Yes, without a doubt.

Editor’s note: this review is specifically for the iPad Pro 12.9-inch. We hope to test and give a full verdict on the 11-inch model (which has significantly different specs) at a later date.

New iPad Pro 2021 release date and price

Apple’s new iPad Pro 2021 is now available to buy around the globe. You can buy it directly from Apple and a variety of other retailers after it came out on May 21, 2021.

Whether you’ll be able to actually get your hands on one on is a different question. A few days after the May 21 release date, we found orders directly from Apple were taking a few weeks to arrive with estimates of between June 2 and June 9 for delivery.

Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed before the tablet's release that the company was expecting demand to outstrip supply. That's perhaps due to shortages of the new M1 chip, but Apple hasn't confirmed the exact reasoning.

The iPad Pro 2021 12.9-inch price is high, and it’s higher than the 2020 version of the tablet. It starts at $1,099 / £999 / AU$1,649 for the 128GB-storage version, with the price topping out at an incredible $2,399 / £2,149 / AU$3,549 for the cellular 5G-ready model with 2TB of storage.

iPad Pro 12.9-inch 2021 prices
Models US UK Australia
128GB Wi-Fi $1,099 £999 $1,649
128GB Wi-Fi and cellular $1,299 £1,149 $1,899
256GB Wi-Fi $1,199 £1,099 $1,799
256GB Wi-Fi and cellular $1,399 £1,249 $2,049
512GB Wi-Fi $1,399 £1,299 $2,099
512GB Wi-Fi and cellular $1,599 £1,449 $2,349
1TB Wi-Fi $1,799 £1,649 $2,699
1TB Wi-Fi and cellular $1,999 £1,799 $2,949
2TB Wi-Fi $2,199 £1,999 $3,299
2TB Wi-Fi and cellular $2,399 £2,149 $3,549

That’s notably more expensive than the 2020 iPad Pro 12.9-inch, which started at $999 / £969 / AU$1,649. It’s a big markup, and it’s mostly because the company has noticeably bumped up the specs in this new tablet.

If you’re looking for something cheaper, the 11-inch iPad Pro 2021 has lower specs and starts at $799 / £749 / AU$1,199 which is the same price the 2020 model started at.

The price for Apple’s top-specced 12.9-inch slate is remarkably high, and as we’ve mentioned, you’ll only want this tablet if you want the absolute best iPad on the market.


Image 1 of 4

iPad Pro 12.9 2021

(Image credit: TechRadar)
Image 2 of 4

iPad Pro 12.9 2021

(Image credit: TechRadar)
Image 3 of 4

iPad Pro 12.9 2021

(Image credit: TechRadar)
Image 4 of 4

iPad Pro 12.9 2021

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The iPad Pro 2021 design hasn’t changed much from previous iterations – it’s still a great-looking device with a sleek design that simultaneously feels premium and durable. If you’re looking for a functional yet attractive tablet, you’ll be pleased with what’s on offer here.

It’s important to note that the new iPad Pro is big. The 12.9-inch display means this is a particularly large slate, and many will prefer the smaller 11-inch model, or something even smaller, like the iPad Mini 2019. If you’re happy with a larger design, you’ll also benefit from a larger display, more on which below.

The tablet has an aluminum rear and frame, and the front is glass with a scratch-resistant coating – but you’ll want to buy a case if you want to maximize protection against knocks and scrapes.

There are four speakers, with two on the top of the device and two on the bottom edge. The bottom of the device is also home to the USB-C port, which is also a Thunderbolt port (we’ll look at connectivity in detail later in this review).

The side edges of the tablet are sleek and largely free of interruptions, with the right-hand edge designed to recharge the Apple Pencil (it’s magnetic, so it’ll stick to the side); the volume buttons sit right at the top of that edge.

Image 1 of 2

iPad Pro 12.9 2021

(Image credit: TechRadar)
Image 2 of 2

iPad Pro 12.9 2021

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The tablet comes in a choice of Silver or Space Grey, so your color options here are limited. Both look attractive, but at a time when the company is expanding its color choices for the new iMac with some striking tones, it’s a shame it isn’t giving us the option of a pastel pink or purple iPad Pro.

The iPad Pro 2021 12.9-inch measures 280.6 x 214.9 x 6.4mm, which means it’s a touch thicker than the last-gen tablet, although it isn’t a difference we particularly noticed in everyday use. The Wi-Fi-only variant weighs 682g, while the 5G-ready cellular version is a touch heavier at 685g.

Don’t expect a dramatically different looking iPad Pro here from Apple; instead the company has focused on improving the internals, along with the display.


iPad Pro 12.9 2021

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The display is one area where Apple has noticeably upped its game for the new iPad Pro 2021, with a top-end 12.9-inch screen. If you’d prefer a smaller premium tablet you can buy the 2021 iPad Pro 11-inch, but the screen tech isn’t as impressive on that device.

The 12.9-inch Pro’s display features new Mini LED technology that offers a crisp image as well as improved brightness. The company calls this a Liquid Retina XDR screen, and we’ve found it to provide a great viewing experience.

The peak brightness is arguably excessive at 1600 nits, and we often found the maximum setting to be too much in everyday use. The display also has a 120Hz refresh rate, which means the on-screen image refreshes twice as fast as on many other tablets for a smoother look and feel.

It’s especially effective when you’re scrolling through social media feeds, or playing an intense game and need the image on the screen to keep pace with the action.

iPad Pro 12.9 2021

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The display offers a clear image with great quality – we found this to be a particularly stunning screen on which to watch movies and videos, and it’s just as impressive for editing video, making this an attractive device for content creators.

The resolution is 2048 x 2732, which works out to 265 pixels per inch, which is similar to the quality you’d expect on a top Android tablet like the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus.

This is one of the best visual experiences we’ve had on a tablet, and if display quality is an important factor in your choice of slate, the iPad Pro 2021 won’t disappoint. 

Specs, performance and cameras

This is where the iPad Pro 12.9-inch really comes alive, delivering quite simply the best performance we’ve ever seen on a tablet. With previous iPad Pros we might have hedged a little here, and said it was among the best-performing tablets but this is a step above what we’ve seen on previous iPads and Android slates.

Apple has included its latest M1 chipset, here, which debuted in the company’s top-end Mac products in 2020.

If you’re a more typical iPad user, you may not notice this power jump in everyday tasks, but the new silicon is designed to make the iPad Pro a powerhouse device for those who need it, such as those who want to make music on their tablet, edit video, draw, or perform other power-intensive tasks.

The new iPad Pro 2021 will run your regular iPad apps every bit as effectively as previous models, but if you’re looking to use more specialist software you’ll likely appreciate the M1 chipset more than those who want to use their iPad for streaming Netflix, for example.

iPad Pro 12.9 2021

(Image credit: TechRadar)

In Geekbench 5, we found it scored an average multi-core score of 7297. That’s a huge gap between the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus - which TechRadar currently ranks as the best Android tablet - that scored 2,846.

Last year’s iPad Pro 2020 scored around 4,700 during testing so the M1 chip has given that a remarkable step up here, and you’ll notice it when you’re powering up more intensive software on the slate.

iPad Pro 12.9-inch 2021 specs

Weight: 682g
Dimensions: 280.6 x 214.9 x 6.4mm
Display size: 12.9-inch
Display type: Liquid Retina XDR Mini LED LCD
Resolution: 2048 x 2732
Refresh rate: 120Hz
Chipset: Apple M1
RAM: 8GB / 16GB
Storage: 128GB / 256GB / 512GB / 1TB / 2TB
OS: iPadOS 14.5
Rear camera: 12MP + 10MP + ToF
Front camera: 12MP
Battery: N/A

You’re getting either 8GB or 16GB of RAM depending on the model you opt for. The 128GB, 256GB and 512GB storage variants get 8GB, while the two highest-capacity models, with 1TB or 2TB of storage, come with 16GB.

We’re reviewing the 1TB and 16GB model, and we’ve found it to be more than suitable for our needs, even for intensive tasks.

2TB of storage is the most we’ve ever seen on an iPad, and that’s impressively high if you want to be filling your slate full of video clips, audio and other files that take up a lot of space.

There’s no microSD support here, so if you opt for one of the lower storage variants you’ll want to bear that in mind. 128GB does seem a touch limited if you’ll be filling your tablet with lots of apps, and media on top, so it’s something to be aware of before you make your purchase.

There’s 5G connectivity on this tablet for the first time, which means you can make the most of next-gen internet speeds if you opt for a more expensive cellular version of the iPad Pro. We found 5G to work well during our testing.

The USB-C slot on the new iPad Pro is the first from the company to also support Thunderbolt connections. That means increased speed – Apple claims up to four times the speed – and it also means a whole host of high-performance devices can be connected to your iPad.

These are mostly peripherals such as high-resolution displays, but it also means you can connect to faster external storage devices and other devices for further tasks.

Moving onto the camera, and you’ll find a capable 12MP rear shooter on the rear of this tablet. It isn’t going to stun you with what it’s capable of doing, but it’s good enough for everyday tasks and we found it useful in a variety of apps.

There’s also a 10MP ultrawide camera for when you need more in the shot, which we also found to be useful enough. There’s also a time of flight sensor on the rear of the tablet, which is used to depth sensing for portrait mode 

iPad Pro 12.9 2021

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The front of the tablet features a 12MP camera as well, which is sat along the top bezel of the device. This does prove a touch annoying when the product is in landscape, as the camera is no longer in the center of the display.

A new software upgrade for the iPad Pro 2021 is a feature called Center Stage, which uses the camera to follow you around the room when you’re on video calls. It’s something we’ve seen on Amazon products before, and it works very well here on the iPad Pro.

We found it would track us well, and it crops into an image to ensure that you’re in the center of the image. If you move to go and grab something, but you’re still in frame the camera will follow. It makes you feel a touch more comfortable in video calls, rather than having to keep an eye on your own display to see if you’re in the frame.


iPad Pro 12.9 2021

The iPad Pro 12.9 2021 with Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil (Image credit: TechRadar)

Optional accessories are available for the iPad Pro, and the two main highlights are the existing Apple Pencil 2 as well as a new version of the company’s Magic Keyboard.

If you own the Magic Keyboard designed for the 2020 12.9-inch edition of the iPad Pro it should still work with the new model but Apple notes that the new tablet is slightly thicker so the keyboard may not close properly onto the iPad. We haven’t been able to test this out, but if you want the slickest experience you may have to buy the new version of the keyboard.

The Magic Keyboard isn’t cheap at $349 / £329 / AU$549, but it’s a worthwhile addition that makes typing on the iPad Pro more like using a laptop – we wrote the majority of this review on the tablet using the Magic Keyboard, and that was certainly our experience.

The Magic Keyboard keyboard is a touch more cramped than a laptop’s, and the iPadOS software isn’t fully integrated in the way it is on a MacBook, but it’s a good alternative if you can only buy one device.

That said, this keyboard is remarkably expensive. You may want to opt for one of the smart keyboard products that start at $199 / £199 / AU$299 but aren't as high-end and useful.

The Apple Pencil 2 – that’s the model with wireless charging from a few years ago – is also compatible with this tablet, and it’s a great stylus experience if you want the extra functionality of being able to take notes or draw on your tablet’s screen. It’s not included with the tablet though, and it costs $129 / £119 / AU$199.

Battery life

We’ve yet to learn the exact size of the battery inside the iPad Pro 2021, but the battery life has proved strong during our testing time with the tablet. Some rumors claim the battery is bigger than the one in the 2020 edition, and that last-gen model had a 9,720mAh battery; we likely won’t know for certain until someone breaks open a new iPad Pro and looks inside for themselves.

We found that the iPad Pro was capable of lasting the full 10 hours that Apple claims, with us performing a variety of tasks including web browsing, streaming video, writing in a word processor, gaming, and bouncing around a variety of apps.

We also adjusted the brightness up and down during our testing, and as expected we found that the battery would drop much faster when the tablet was at its maximum brightness.

iPad Pro 12.9 2021

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Unlike with Apple’s iPhone 12 series of smartphones, you do get a charger included in the box with the new iPad Pro 2021. Exactly why Apple has decided to include chargers here but not with its iPhones is currently unclear.

Fast-charging isn’t that remarkable on the iPad Pro 2021, which means it takes a little longer to charge than some Android tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus. Its 18W charging is noticeably slower than Samsung’s top-end tablet, which supports 45W, and we found the tablet was capable of recharging from zero to full in around two hours and 45 minutes using the charger provided in the box.

If you’re looking for solid battery life that will last you a whole working day plus a bit extra, the iPad Pro 12.9-inch should suit you just fine. If you’re running more intensive apps or high-end games you may find that it runs down more quickly, although it should still keep going for close to that 10-hour figure.

Should you buy the iPad Pro 2021?

iPad Pro 12.9 2021

The iPad Pro 12.9 2021 with Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil (Image credit: TechRadar)

Buy it if...

You want a tablet that can do everything

The iPad Pro 2021 is almost excessive in what it offers – this tablet is built to be an alternative to a laptop as well as a solid tablet experience, with power that can rival even the best Macs. If you want the best of the best, this is it. 

Your older tablet’s screen is looking tired

One of the true highlights of the iPad Pro 12.9-inch is its gorgeous display. The new Liquid Retina XDR Mini LED display is a noticeable step up from every other tablet we’ve used, and it’s up there with the best screen experiences we’ve enjoyed on any device.

You need a tablet that can act as a laptop

Apple has been touting its iPad Pro series as a laptop replacement for years now, and while that may not be entirely the case, this is the closest the Pro has yet come. The iPad Pro 12.9-inch has as much power as a MacBook, and if you’re happy to use iPadOS software instead of MacOS you’ll enjoy something very close to MacBook functionality.

Don’t buy it if...

You’re looking for a standard tablet

The iPad Pro 12.9-inch will be too much for many people. If you just need a tablet that’s great for browsing the web, and can run a variety of apps and play most games, you probably won’t need the new iPad Pro.

You want something affordable

This may seem obvious, but the 12.9-inch iPad Pro isn’t a cheap device, and if you want the display quality and power that are on offer here you’ll have to pay for them – even the cheapest 128GB model isn’t an affordable option.

You want something small

Not everyone wants the largest tablet around, and the 12.9-inch version of the 2021 iPad Pro is the definition of a big slate. If you want something with a smaller screen there are plenty of other options out there, both from Apple and other brands.

First reviewed: May 2021

Realme 8 5G review

Two-minute review

The low-end, low-price smartphone market has never been busier, with the likes of Xiaomi and OnePlus joining seasoned budget phone makers Motorola and Nokia in pushing out super-cheap handsets that cover all the necessary basics without putting a huge dent in your bank balance.

Then we have Realme, which already has a long line of solid, inexpensive phones behind it. New for 2021 is the Realme 8 5G, which offers more of the same: a respectable level of performance and an appealing design for not much money at all. In fact, you won't be able to find a cheaper 5G phone than this right now in some markets.

Of course there are necessary compromises to get to this price point – you shouldn't expect top performance or the best camera capabilities from the Realme 8 5G. However, it's got enough to keep a lot of users happy, and for many people the actual cost of the phone is more important than extras such as wireless charging.

The need for 5G is an interesting one in 2021: most phones now come with the technology, even at the budget end of the market, but availability in terms of network coverage remains patchy around the world. Buying a 5G phone now protects you for the future, but it's hardly a necessity at the moment.

It's worth noting that there is a 4G version of the Realme 8 that actually costs more – it ditches the 5G but has a better screen and a better camera. You need to decide which smartphone features you want to spend your money on, and when you have, you'll find there's a phone out there for everyone.

There's no doubt that the highlights of this phone are the 5G and the affordable price, but we've also been impressed by the longevity of the 5,000mAh battery packed in here, and the screen quality and general performance are good for the price too. In other areas – like the camera – the Realme 8 5G does okay without really standing out from the crowd.

Whether you're looking at budget phones or the iPhone 12 Pro Max, picking the right handset is about weighing up the features and performance against the price, and the Realme 8 5G definitely gives you a lot for your money – which is exactly as you would expect from the phone maker's track record.

Realme 8 5G

(Image credit: Future)

Realme 8 5G release date and price

  • Prices start at £199 (around $280 /AU$365)
  • One of the cheapest 5G handsets
  • Configurations vary by region

You can pick up the Realme 8 5G from May 20 in the UK, but until May 23, 2021 there are early bird prices available: £179 for the 4GB of RAM/64GB of storage option (normal price £199) and £229 for the 6GB of RAM/128GB of storage option (normal price £249).

At the time of writing the best way to get the Realme 8 5G is to go directly to the Realme website.

At the standard starting price it amounts to around $280 /AU$365, but there are currently no plans for the phone to be launched in the US or Australia. As always, check the widgets on this page for the latest online deals for the phone.


  • Solid if unspectacular looks
  • The power button is the fingerprint sensor
  • No IP rating protection

Realme has been making smartphones for a good number of years now, and considering what we've seen in the past it's no surprise that the Realme 8 5G is a well-built, smart-looking device. Despite the low price, this doesn't feel like a cheap or flimsy handset, although you don't get any sort of IP rating protection against water and dust (no surprise at the budget end of the market).

The thickness of 8.5mm (about a third of an inch) makes it very slightly thinner than handsets costing similar amounts, such as the Nokia 5.4 and the Moto G50. At this price point we'd say it's one of the better phones out there in terms of its overall design and aesthetics, though you don't get anything in the way of innovation here. 

The 6.5-inch display means an overall width of 74.8mm (2.9 inches) and an overall height of 162.5mm (6.4 inches). The phone tips the scales at 185 grams (6.5 ounces).

You've got volume controls on the left-hand side as you look at the phone, while on the right there's a recessed power button that doubles up as a fingerprint sensor – something phone makers keep doing despite our complaints about it.

Realme 8 5G

(Image credit: Future)

As this makes the power button more difficult to find and press, as well as making unlocking the phone harder, we'd much rather see the fingerprint sensor under the screen or even just on the back of the handset.

Speaking of the back, the glossy plastic back has a slight shimmering effect that lends a little bit of a premium feel to the Realme 8 5G. The rear camera module is up in the top left-hand corner of the casing – it adds quite a substantial camera bump, but we can live with it. Your color choices here are Supersonic Blue (translation: blue) and Supersonic Black (translation: black).

Put the Realme 8 5G in a line-up of smartphones and it's not going to look out of place alongside phones of a similar price, or indeed phones that cost a bit more up in the mid-range section of the market.

While you're never going to mistake it for a high-end flagship when you hold it or glance at it, the design and feel is very solid. We've only had the phone a few days, but we can imagine it lasting for several years.


  • Large 6.5-inch screen
  • Limited 1080p resolution
  • Good outdoor visibility

The 6.5-inch, 2400 x 1080 LCD screen fitted to the front of the Realme 8 5G gives you plenty of space to work with and plenty of pixels to look at: it's actually better than you might expect for a phone at this price point. The 90Hz refresh rate is fairly standard for a 2021 phone, but it's definitely going to be good enough for most users.

We ran through all the usual smartphone tasks in our testing – scrolling through social media, scrolling through websites, scrolling through the recommended carousel on Netflix – and had absolutely no complaints about the display. Realme says it has a maximum brightness of 600 nits, and when you ramp the brightness right up it's more than enough for games and movies.

Realme 8 5G

(Image credit: Future)

That brightness helps outdoors too – you won't have any problems making out details on this screen in daylight. Viewing angles are solid, animations and videos are fluid and smooth, and it's worth mentioning that you can adjust the color temperature of the screen through the onboard Realme UI software if needed.

While a 1080p screen does feel a little cramped at times in terms of how much you can fit on screen at once, it's actually par for the course at this price: you're not going to be too disappointed unless you're taking a step down from something at the upper mid-range or flagship level.

And while the difference between this screen and the displays on high-end flagships is noticeable in terms of brightness and fluidity, the Realme 8 5G still very much holds its own.

It's also worth mentioning that the phone comes with a thin, transparent screen protector already attached to the display – it's up to you if you want to take it off. The only interruption to the screen is the punch-hole selfie camera.


  • Triple-lens rear camera
  • No ultra-wide or optical zoom
  • Struggles in low light

The Realme 8 5G comes with a 16MP selfie camera on the front – definitely more megapixels than you might expect from a selfie camera on a budget phone – and a triple-lens 48MP main + 2MP macro + 2MP depth rear camera on the back.

There's no ultra-wide lens here, and no optical zoom, so it's really that 48MP main camera that's doing pretty much all the work. While we tried out a few macro shots, we didn't find the dedicated mode particularly smart at picking up close-ups.

Despite that lack of flexibility, this rear camera is perfectly capable, thanks to that main 48MP sensor: pictures come out sharp and well-balanced, if a little over-saturated at times, and focusing speeds are good.

Unless you're shooting photos professionally, you'll be mostly happy with the results that you get here – the vast majority of the time they're good enough for social media as long as the lighting is good.

Realme 8 5G

(Image credit: Future)

It's a similar story across most budget phones that we test, because phone camera optics have now progressed to the point where even the cheapest components can capture something worthwhile. The lack of ultra-wide and optical zoom is a shame though, and as the light goes down, the weaknesses in the camera setup start to show up.

You can still get photos at night, with a reasonable amount of detail – especially if you activate the night mode, which boosts the brightness a bit if you're able to keep the phone steady for longer. However, you usually end up with a lot of noise and blur as well, particularly when you're not taking a picture of something close up.

Overall, this is one of those areas where the Realme 8 5G performs pretty much as you would expect considering the price you're paying – you're going to buy this phone because you want 5G and something affordable, and everything after that is a bonus. For everyday quick snaps, it's perfectly fine.

Video recording is nothing to get excited about, with rather humdrum results in our testing. The video capture capabilities top out at a 1080p resolution at 30 frames per second, and in general that's going to satisfy everyone below the level of serious movie maker.

There are also slow motion video recording capabilities, as well as a pro photography mode that gives you more control over settings such as white balance.

Camera samples

Image 1 of 14

Realme 8 5G camera sample

The Realme 8 5G's rear camera can take impressive shots. (Image credit: Future)
Image 2 of 14

Realme 8 5G camera sample

The triple-lens array gets clear and crisp results in good lighting. (Image credit: Future)
Image 3 of 14

Realme 8 5G camera sample

Close-ups look good, with minimal noise and edge blurring. (Image credit: Future)
Image 4 of 14

Realme 8 5G camera sample

The 48MP main camera does most of the capturing work. (Image credit: Future)
Image 5 of 14

Realme 8 5G camera sample

We noticed well-balanced colors and even color saturation. (Image credit: Future)
Image 6 of 14

Realme 8 5G camera sample

Light and shadows are handled well by the Realme 8 5G. (Image credit: Future)
Image 7 of 14

Realme 8 5G camera sample

There's no optical zoom, so you need to rely on digital zoom. (Image credit: Future)
Image 8 of 14

Realme 8 5G camera sample

Most users will be happy with most of the snaps captured by the Realme 8 5G. (Image credit: Future)
Image 9 of 14

Realme 8 5G camera sample

Details were sharp and well defined in most of the pictures we took. (Image credit: Future)
Image 10 of 14

Realme 8 5G camera sample

The Realme 8 5G struggles in low light, but gets some usable shots. (Image credit: Future)
Image 11 of 14

Realme 8 5G camera sample

Night mode helps a little bit, but doesn't do much. (Image credit: Future)
Image 12 of 14

Realme 8 5G camera sample

In shots with some light, the results aren't bad. (Image credit: Future)
Image 13 of 14

Realme 8 5G camera sample

Again, night mode doesn't reveal too many more details. (Image credit: Future)
Image 14 of 14

Realme 8 5G camera sample

Even without night mode, some scenes can be captured well. (Image credit: Future)

Specs and performance

  • Reasonable budget performance
  • 5G connectivity
  • Comes with Android 11

The Realme 8 5G is powered by the budget Dimensity 700 5G chipset from MediaTek, and on the Realme UK website, the phone is listed with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage – which is what our review unit came with.

However, this model isn't actually going on sale in the UK: your choices are actually 4GB of RAM/64GB of storage and 6GB of RAM/128GB of storage (you can extend that storage with a microSD card if you need to).

As for the phone we had to test (8GB of RAM/128GB of storage), we found it pleasingly smooth in operation, with no noticeable lag when jumping between menus and apps, and websites and media files loading up smoothly.

It's worth again emphasizing though that this 8GB version isn't available in the UK, so we're not sure why Realme sent us this particular configuration – less RAM will have an impact on performance.

Smartphone performance is usually one of the key areas where you get what you pay for, from the cheapest to the most expensive handsets, and that's the case here – it's certainly no flyer, but it'll do everything you need it to do. That's backed up by Geekbench 5 scores of 569 (single-core), 1,765 (multi-core) and 1,515 (OpenCL), which are in the region of what you would expect given the internals.

You can get away with some light gaming on the Realme 8 5G, and even some quite heavy gaming if you don't mind a reduction in frame rates. We tried several reasonably demanding and fast-paced games, and didn't notice the phone skipping a beat.

Of course the question with budget phones is just how long they'll hold their performance for, which we can't tell you about. We also can't judge the phone with 6GB of RAM or 4GB of RAM, which are the versions on sale in the UK.

Realme 8 5G

(Image credit: Realme)

5G is a big draw at this price, and you'll have to work very hard to find a cheaper 5G phone to take advantage of those glorious next-gen upload and download speeds. The question is though whether it's worth saving money on the 5G aspect and getting a similarly priced 4G phone that adds extras in other areas – like performance and camera quality. After all, 5G is by no means ubiquitous at the moment, and 4G speeds are generally fine for most people's day-to-day use.

Rounding out the specs, the phone comes with a single speaker and there is a 3.5mm headphone jack here, so you can easily use wired headphones if you want to, no dongle required. As with previous Realme phones, there's a clear plastic case included in the box, giving you some basic protection for free if you want it.

Android 11 is on board here, which is good to see, although we've never quite fallen in love with the Realme UI that's on top. Like a lot of Android skins from Chinese phone makers, it's just a bit busy, a bit quirky, a bit garish for our tastes – you've got a bunch of extra apps like an Instagram clone called 92 installed for some reason – but your mileage may differ.

Battery life

  • 5,000mAh battery
  • Around 10 hours of video
  • Smart optimization tech

The 5,000mAh capacity battery packed inside the Realme 8 5G really does a great job: we were finishing days with 50% of juice still left in the tank, which is impressive.

It's not unusual for a budget phone though: typically less powerful components and lower resolution screens tend to be kinder in terms of strain on the battery. Note that there's no wireless charging here, only wired charging up to a maximum of 18W.

If you need a phone that's able to go a couple of days between charges then the Realme 8 5G might well be it. That said, if you're going to really hammer the 5G modem, push up the screen brightness and spend a lot of time using GPS for navigating, that time between charges will rapidly come down. As always, it depends how you're going to use your device, but the Realme 8 5G is definitely above average in the battery life department.

Watching streaming video (at maximum brightness and a low volume) knocked the battery down by about 10% per hour, while gaming drained a little bit more: between 12-15% an hour on average. Those are decent figures, even if we are talking about a brand new phone with a brand new battery inside it – you're covered for long journeys whether you want to game or stream the time away.

When you're not doing anything with the phone – unlikely but possible – you're only going to see drops of about 10% or so per day. Realme says it's worked hard on battery optimizations so that the phone is never drawing more power than it needs to (adapting the use of the 5G modem when you're not connected to a 5G network, for example, which can otherwise be a major battery drain).

Should I buy the Realme 8 5G?

Realme 8 5G

(Image credit: Realme)

Buy it if...

You're on a budget
Early bird prices or not, the Realme 8 5G offers phone buyers some excellent value for money. In most key areas, you get more than you might expect based on the price.

You want 5G
You can't find a 5G phone cheaper than this at the time of writing, which counts for a lot. If you need 5G at the lowest possible price, then this deserves to be near the top of your list.

You need good battery life
This is a phone that's going to run and run between charges, based on our testing – and it comes with some neat software tricks that help to extend the battery life you can get.

Don't buy it if...

Photo quality is crucial
The Realme 8 5G can certainly take some decent photographs with its triple-lens rear camera, but it's also fair to say it's not the best around – especially in darker scenes.

You love stock Android
We're pleased to see the phone running Android 11, but the Realme UI adds plenty of bells and whistles on top of the software that might not be to your taste.

You need top performance
The MediaTek chipset included in the Realme 8 5G is a decent enough performer for everyday smartphone tasks, but it's a long way behind the fastest processors.

First reviewed: May 2021


Popular Posts


Blog Archive