It is 2020, and the lack of a 90Hz or a 120Hz panel on a mid-range phone seems awkward, let alone flagships. Redmi, now an independent brand, knows the importance of the Note line-up and whatever they do for it may seem like it has fallen short to enthusiasts.
The series that brought Xiaomi to the global map and made people take notice of their offerings is back with its 9th generation, the Redmi Note 9 Pro and Redmi Note 9 Pro Max.
This year the competition has become more robust, and they have already set an eye on Xiaomi’s persistent growth. It also means that the Note series may no longer be the only value-for-money line-up in the mid-range segment. But does the new Note have enough to woo the buyers like its predecessors? It is time we find out. Here is our Redmi Note 9 Pro review.
List of specifications
165.8 x 76.7 x 8.8 mm
|Display||6.67 inches, IPS LCD FHD+|
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G|
|6/64 GB and 6/128 GB|
|Software||MIUI 11 based on Android 10|
|Rear Camera||64 MP, f/1.9 (wide) + 8 MP, f/2.2 (ultrawide)+ 5 MP, f/2.4 (macro)+ 2 MP, f/2.4 (depth)|
|Front Camera||16 MP, f/2.5|
|Battery||5020 mAh (supports 18W fast charging)|
|Other Features||UFS 2.1
Gorilla Glass 5 on front and back
p2i splash proof coating
- Solid build quality
- Impeccable battery life
- Reliable all-round performance
- It comes with a dated 60Hz refresh rate LCD panel
- Middling cameras, especially in low light
Design and Layout
When the Redmi Note 6 came, many people complained of the generic and bland design. With Note 7 Pro, Xiaomi brought about an overhaul and the Note 8 Pro built on it. The Redmi Note 9 Pro employs the Aura Balance approach, which is all about striking a balance.
The last two years have all been about brands trying to showcase their take on the gradient backs. This one is a welcome change, and it doesn’t have the flashy juggling of the rainbow going around on the device. What you get is a well-built glossy glass pane which feels premium to hold, but is a fingerprint magnet, like all glass-metal sandwich designs.
The Redmi Note 9 Pro comes in three different colors – Tropical Green, Glacier White, and Interstellar Grey. All of them have the same glossy finish, and the overall build outshines the competition. Talking about the layout, the rear cameras, four of them, are centrally mounted along with the flash and protrudes slightly. The rest of the back is clean and left untouched.
On the front, the bezels are minimal, with only the bottom bezel visible more than the rest. The display houses the 16MP snapper in the top middle. The front comes with a flat Gorilla Glass 5 layer and the top houses the earpiece, and a small notification LED.
The sides are plastic, and you will get the SIM card and micro SD card slot on the left. Redmi has opted for a side-mounted fingerprint sensor for the Note 9 Pro, and it sits on the right along with the volume rocker. The positioning of the volume keys may be awkward for most people to reach while holding the phone in one hand.
The bottom houses a USB Type-C port, the loudspeaker, 3.5 mm headphone jack and a mouthpiece. The top is left clean with only the ever-useful IR blaster making its presence felt.
Redmi has opted for a 6.67-inch display with a tall 20:9 aspect ratio. The resolution remains FHD+, and the panel is IPS. The max brightness is 450 nits in manual mode and 600 in auto mode, which is acceptable for an LCD.
The colors are punchy and vibrant by default, but the lack of a higher refresh rate can be a deal-breaker for some. Xiaomi’s other sub-brand Poco’s X2 comes with a 120Hz LCD screen whereas the Realme 6 Pro opts for a 90Hz panel in the same price segment.
The Redmi Note 9 Pro comes with a 5020 mAh Li-ion cell with support for 18W charging. Thankfully, they don’t ship the handset with a 10W adapter anymore, and the fast charging brick comes in the box. The endurance is excellent due to the mid-range efficient chip and a large battery can give two days of life to a moderate user.
When you are out of juice, the in-box adapter can top around 35 percent in 30 minutes and takes around 140 minutes for a complete charge. We would have loved the support for 27W here too.
Software and Performance
Xiaomi ensures that the Redmi Note 9 Pro comes with the latest MIUI 11 out of the box and it runs on top of Android 10. With every iteration, the software has become cleaner with lesser fluff.
Make no mistake, the MIUI is still very much Xiaomi but is much more streamlined, and you have a lot to explore. One gripe we have with the software was the unassumingly large number of third-party apps, some of which cannot be uninstalled.
The Redmi Note 9 Pro is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G chipset, similar to the Max variant. It is an octa-core configuration built on an 8nm silicone with a 2+6 pattern. You get two capable Kryo 465 Gold (based on Cortex-A76) running at 2.3GHz for the power-hungry tasks and six power-efficient Kryo 465 Silver (based on Cortex-A55) to handle the mundane tasks.
There is only one RAM variant available, i.e. 6GB, but you get 64 or 128 GB of UFS 2.1 storage.
The Redmi Note 8 Pro had an Helio G90T from Mediatek, and the current iteration makes a return of sorts to Qualcomm.
The chipset is a capable performer with the ability to handle most tasks efficiently. The Adreno 618 handles the graphics-intensive tasks robustly too. Most mid-range users won’t find performance a deal-breaker with the Redmi Note 9 Pro.
The camera setup on the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro is almost similar to that of its predecessor. You get a 64 MP primary sensor with f/1.9 aperture. The sensor is GW1 from Samsung and comes with 0.8µm pixels and Quad-Bayer filter.
Also present is an 8 MP, f/2.2 ultrawide lens with automatic distortion correction abilities. There is a 5 MP macro cam in the mix too with a large 1.12µm pixel and f/2.4 aperture. A 2 MP depth sensor completes the array. The default camera app is pretty simple, with options to toggle between several modes and lenses available at the front.
A 16 MP Quad-Bayer sensor dominates the selfie scenario. The primary rear camera clicks 16 MP pixel-binned images by default with 1.6µm pixels to draw in more information. The photos come out sharp and perfectly reasonable in broad daylight with excellent dynamic range and good color accuracy. Users can also shoot in full 64 MP mode, but be prepared to usurp 40MB of your storage with each image.
The 8 MP snapper has excellent contrast, ample details, and an okayish dynamic range in right lighting conditions. The corners appear well-rounded thanks to the correction algorithm going behind the scene.
The 5 MP macro sensor is the star of the show. Xiaomi opts to add autofocus, which most of the pricier offerings lack, which means that close-up images look great with a lot of detail. The colors look a bit off, though.
The 2 MP sensor helps with depth imaging and works well under vibrant light scenarios. The colors are on point, and so is the subject separation. The blur may not be as linear as compared to the flagships but is perfectly acceptable anyway.
Switch to low-light, and the camera results suffer a downfall. If you do not turn on the Night Mode, you will get washed out colors and an underwhelming overall image. Turning it on improved the imaging a lot, and you get results that are comparable to others in the price segment.
The 16 MP selfie camera is a decent performer with excellent blurring abilities and the ability to preserve a lot of details. It outputs 4 MP, pixel-binned images by default and the output is above average here.
The Redmi Note 9 Pro can shoot up to 4K @ 30 FPS with EIS only available while shooting at 1080p @ 30 FPS. The overall videography capabilities are okayish, and you would get your money’s worth shooting with the device.
The bottom line
In the States, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro sells for around $260 for the 128 GB variant. In Asia, there is a lot of competition, but there is hardly any device here which offers the same bang-for-buck. It checks the right boxes and offers everything that an average consumer would need – a big battery, a powerful chipset, above-average camera performance, and cinematic screen.
Even though the Redmi Note 9 Pro is an incremental upgrade, the changes are meaningful, and it shows. So if you are looking for an all-rounder at a reasonable price, there are hardly any other options that are worth giving a shot.