It’s not the Redmi Note 8 Pro successor that you expected it to be.
- The Redmi Note 9 Pro features a 6.67-inch screen & 5020mAh battery.
- The quality of the photos and videos at night is disappointing.
- Snapdragon 720G SoC is a powerful SoC for a phone of this price.
The Redmi Note 9 Pro has just been launched in India, and its starting price is Rs. 12,999 is surprisingly low because Xiaomi Smartphone has made some very interesting decisions in terms of location and features. Being ahead of the game is not easy, and the Redmi Note 9 Pro goes against the powerful Realme 6 and the Samsung M30. Longtime fans of the series may be wondering how Xiaomi has come a little back with this model, as expectations are always there when Redmi Note announces a new generation of smartphones.
The trade-off of this new low-cost Redmi Note 9 Pro doesn’t offer much of today’s striking features – a 90Hz display, extremely fast charging and high-resolution camera. This phone is more about key specifications and overall user experience. Interestingly, though, some of its features will be found in a new high-end device, the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max.
Redmi Note 9 Pro Design
By any standards, the Redmi Note 9 Pro is a huge phone. At 8.8mm thick and weighing 209 grams, many people will find this device bulky and lightweight. That’s where Xiaomi’s new ‘Aura Balance’ design comes into view – the company says the weight is evenly distributed and the exterior design is symmetrical to make it more comfortable. We found it difficult to use, but not impossible.
On the look side, Xiaomi mobile has gone with three relatively simple colors – Interstellar Black, Glacier White, and Aurora Blue. You won’t find any Greek or patterns here, though the look is nothing exquisite. Our Aurora Blue unit was bright and lively with a very shiny, reflective rear panel. Giving you a sense of depth, you’ll see light play across the surface while using this phone. Thankfully, the back panel is not too slippery, but it will lift fingerprints as soon as it touches it.
Xiaomi has come up with a brand new camera bump design that runs on the theme of symmetry. Even the flash is centered under the lens of the four cameras. It’s a touch of cool design that will differentiate the Redmi Note 9 series and enable it to recognize this phone and its siblings. The camera module, though, is a bit cluttered.
The front and rear of the Redmi Note 9 Pro are made using two Gorilla Glass 5, while the frame is polycarbonate. The most distinctive feature of the front is the new embedded selfie camera that focuses on the top of the screen. It’s a bit confusing and the backlighting of the screen is a bit uneven around it. Interestingly, we noticed that the cover image of the Redmi Note 9 Pro featured a smaller hole and thinner chin than the device. That said, the phone still looks modern and clearly defies expectations of its price category.
The next Redmi Note 9 pro interesting design touch is the side-mounted fingerprint sensor, which is embedded in the power button. It sits a bit on the right side of the mobile with the thumb in our right hand which is quite well placed. If you are left-handed you will find these disadvantages and we suggest registering multiple fingers so that you can unlock this phone in your hand or on a table.
Xiaomi says that this approach was chosen because it is faster than the in-display sensor and more convenient than the rear, and it does not impede the rear panel design. This is definitely the trend in the budget section right now though. We also need to note that the choice of an LCD screen than the AMOLED plays in how the in-display sensor can be applied.
Volume buttons are placed on top of the sensor and are not easy to reach when making a call. On the left, there is a tray with two tray nano SIMs and a microSD card slot. Xiaomi’s trademark is at the top of the infrared emitter and can be used to control a number of home appliances. Below are the usual USB Type-C ports, 3.5mm audio sockets, and speakers. Many people will be happy to notice that there is a hidden notification in the earbuds and a charging LED.
Xiaomi Smartphone has done well in terms of design, and the Redmi Note 9 Pro feels refreshed without actually changing too much for a phone in this category. There is also a P2i coating to prevent splash, although there is no proper waterproofing.
Redmi Note 9 Pro Specifications and Software
The Redmi Note series Smartphone usually have impressive specifications, and Xiaomi has come up with bigger screens and batteries than ever before. You get a 6.67-inch Full-HD + (1080×2400-pixel) screen that has a longer aspect ratio to adjust the front camera. What may surprise many fans who follow current trends, is that it doesn’t have a 90Hz refresh rate like a standard 60Hz panel and some recently launched devices, especially Realme 6.
Xiaomi mobile claims that there aren’t many apps that bring the benefit of high refresh rates, people can’t really tell the difference, it’s not worth the battery life trade-off, and the Snapdragon 720G SoC isn’t strong enough. We don’t necessarily agree with all of these things, but we need to keep in mind that some compromises should be expected at Rs. 12.999.
The 5020mAh battery is also interesting. Xiaomi claims phone 29 hours of VoLTE calling and 14 hours of gaming per charge. You will find an 18W charger in the box – fast charging reserved for the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max.
The Redmi Note 9 pro-Smartphone Snapdragon 720G is a modern SoC with two high-performance 2.3GHz cores and six power-efficient 1.8GHz cores, all manufactured in an 8nm process that is said to result in greater power efficiency and reduced heat dissipation. Consumers will note that support for Redmi Note 8 Pro’s Google Assistant as well as Amazon’s Alexa has been dropped – Xiaomi informs us that it depends on the specific capabilities of the MediaTek processor used for the previous model.
Redmi Note 9 Pro with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage is available for Rs. 12,999, or with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage. 15.999. It is interesting to note that when Redmi Note 8 Pro launched six months ago, Xiaomi showed off the minimum amount of RAM on offer. The Redmi Note 9 Pro Max gives you 6 GB RAM and 64 GB storage for Rs. 14,999, and if you want to step in at 8GB, this is the only option. These two sibling models overlap may cause some confusion in the market.
Other highlights include standard GPS, dual-band Wi-Fi AC, Bluetooth 5 and nucleic support with all standard sensors. Along with the 18W charger and USB Type-C cable, you’ll find just one SIM eject tool and plastic case in the box with this phone – the blue and white variants will transmit with a clear case while the black one gets a smoky translucent one.
MIUI 11 runs on top of Android 10 and has a February security patch in our review unit. Sadly, bloatware and promotional materials are all part of Xiaomi’s business strategy. The company says that users can delete and / or disable some of these features, but we’ve seen plenty of spammy notifications.
There is no app drawer, but you get some level of UI customization by swiping on the level home screen and launching the MI browser, which lets you search for installed applications. This is somewhat convenient but we hope we can re-assign this shortcut. There is a dark mode, downloadable UI theme, and Google’s digital wellbeing settings. You can clone applications for privacy and store sensitive data in second space and type quick replies to messages from within notification popups for some apps.
Redmi Note 9 Pro Cameras
The squared-off camera bump on the back may surprise even some Redmi Note series fans. The mobile primary shooter has a 48-megapixel resolution and f / 1.79 aperture and uses the new Samsung Isocel GM2 sensor. You won’t find a 64-megapixel camera like the Redmi Note 8 Pro or other recent standard-grade phones. This is essentially the result of addressing a lower market level with the lower prices of the Redmi Note 9 Pro – you get a 64-megapixel camera with the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max.
Next to this, you’ll find an 8-megapixel wide-angle camera, which is pretty standard for this price level. The 2-megapixel depth sensor in the bottom row is also basic and common. The funny thing is that the macro camera has a 5-megapixel resolution, which is the most useful 2-megapixel we’ve seen on most phones.
Xiaomi boasts advanced night mode, super phase detection autofocus and a color profile that is tailor-made for Indian flavors. Video can be recorded at 4K 30fps or 1080p at 60fps. 720p Slow-Mo recording goes up to 960fps. One of the primary target audience of this phone is the video content creators, especially Tiktok users, so there’s a short video made with a 15-second cut-off. You can also shoot video using a macro camera or save RAW 8-bit footage for external processing.
The front camera has a 16-megapixel resolution, and the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max offers a step up to 32 megapixels. Slow-mo is possible up to 120fps. AID Beauty, which is launched in the form of DID.
The camera app is straightforward for the most part, but there are a few coaches. For example, you need to open a submenu to find the macro camera icon. Just above the shutter button is the 0.6x, 1x and 2x zoom selector – the first two switches between wide-angle and standard cameras, but the zoom is all digital. As usual, the watermark for the Xiaomi ad in the photo had to be manually disabled.
Starting with the daytime photos, we’ve seen the primary camera look reasonably good, but it won’t break any new ground in terms of quality or flexibility. The close-ups look good and the details on the nozzle issues were clear. Remote objects were also well represented if there was enough light and the texture was not too complicated. The wide-angle camera is not too bad, but the quality certainly suffers. Despite the promise of correcting the distortion, there is still some obvious warping on the side of the frame.
The 5-megapixel macro camera offers much higher quality shots than our other macro cameras, and the Camera app clearly shows when you are keeping the phone at the right distance for lock focus. A lot of our efforts still look dull, often with washed-out colors and poorly balanced exposure.
At night, we found the Redmi Note 9 Pro’s primary camera to be good with plenty of artificial light all around, otherwise, details were lost. The low-light landscapes were impressive. The wide-angle camera has provided controversial results, but we don’t expect too much from it. Night mode was surprisingly ineffective – it helped balance the dark scene with bright lights that would otherwise just be an over-the-top blot, but it did nothing for subject shots in the dark, which other phones are capable of improving.
The front camera is fairly good at the day as well as at night but we do not like aggressive beautification which makes the faces look artificial. The details were good during the day as well as at night, and the reaction shots are pretty blurred background.
The video shot at 1080p looks great with good stability. Our only complaint was that our test footage was a bit over-caught. At 4K, the colors go completely out of whack, and our sample shots have an overpowering, unnatural red tone. The effect of shaking at night was quite bad when shooting at 1080p. The same situation was evident at night – 1080p footage was not usable while we were running, but we were able to capture usable footage when standing.
Redmi Note 9 Pro Performance and Battery Life
At the moment, even with the kind of hardware used in the lower end of the market, little is known about everyday use. The Redmi Note 9 Pro mobile is powerful enough to handle everything from basic calls and messaging to heavy 3D gaming, no problem. Multitasking was smooth and problem-free. If you are accustomed to a higher display refresh rate, you may find it absent, but most people should not really feel anything – otherwise, without feeling lost in anything.
By default, what we’ve said is not the easiest phone to use. The large screen works great for videos and games, but the size and placement of the camera bump in the landscape while rendering the game a Redmi Note 9 Pro. Holding on to take long calls can get exhausting. Both the side-mounted fingerprint sensor and facial recognition were quick and effective in our experience.
PUBG Mobile defaults to high quality preset. We played a couple of rounds for about 20 minutes and found the Redmi Note 9 Pro Smartphone a bit hot against Xiaomi’s claims. The phone never feels too uncomfortable but we don’t want to play too long. The graphics were consistently smooth though, and the gameplay was enjoyable. Asphalt 9: Legends didn’t give us any problems.
We were interested in testing the battery on this phone. With general use, we were happy to see that the Redmi Note 9 Pro easily lasted a full day and almost half the second day before needing to recharge. During this time we played some games, streamed videos and took lots of photos and videos. Our HD loop video test lasted 16 hours 2 minutes which is fine but not as great as we were expecting, considering that some competitors in this place can boast of scores that can exceed 20 hours.
Redmi Note 9 Pro Price & Verdict
We like the Redmi Note 9 Pro for its overall style and it can easily stand next to a full-price flagship from five or six years ago. The specifications are very impressive and we had very few complaints when using our phone for everyday tasks as well as general entertainment. The primary camera, though, is a disappointment, especially in low light. We also found this phone a bit heavier than we’d like.
Throughout this review, we have mentioned the high-end Redmi Note 9 Pro Max, as it turns out, Xiaomi has incorporated the prices of its variants so that the first step on the Redmi Note 9 Pro basis is Rs. 12,999 is actually the vibrational model. At Rs 14,999, you get better front and rear cameras, more RAM and faster charging. 2,5 Taka 15,999 variants of the standard Redmi Note 9 Pro are priced more, just for more storage. However, you get a relatively poor feature set, making this particular variant very hard to recommend. The lineup seems to be a lot more synthesized and confused than it needs to be – and now there’s a new Redmi Note 9S guaranteed that may or may not come to India.
While it’s hard to get the standard 6GB + 128GB version of the Redmi Note 9 Pro, the 4GB + 64GB version has been launched at an incredible price. We hope to see things improve on the Xiaomi camera front with software updates. If it is, this phone can be very, very hard to beat.