Redmi Note 9 Review: After the success of the Redmi Note 9 Pro and Pro Max, Xiaomi had added a good cheaper device within the lineup, which is that the new Redmi Note 9. it’s truth successor to last year’s Redmi Note 8, which remains an honest budget phone. And here in Nepal, Note 9 directly competes against Samsung’s Galaxy M21 because it is price precisely the same at Rs. 22,999. So, can the Redmi Note 9 ruffle some feathers during this price point against the reigning champ? Do I like to recommend this phone above the Galaxy M21? Let’s determine during this review of the Redmi Note 9. Redmi Note 9 Review
Redmi Note 9 Specifications:
|Body:||6.39 x 3.04 x 0.35 inches; 199 gm|
|Display:||6.53-inches IPS LCD “DotDisplay”; 395PPI; Corning Gorilla Glass 5; 450 nits brightness|
|Resolution:||FHD+ (2340 x 1080 pixels); 19.5:9 aspect ratio|
|Chipset:||MediaTek Helio G85; 12nm Mobile Platform|
|CPU:||Octa-core (2×2.0 GHz Cortex-A75 & 6×1.8 GHz Cortex-A55)|
|Storage:||64/128GB (expandable via a Micro SD card)|
|Software & UI:||MIUI 11 on top of Android 10|
|Front Camera:||13MP, f/2.3 lens|
|Security:||Fingerprint Scanner (Rear-mounted)|
|Audio:||3.5mm headphone jack|
|Connectivity:||Dual-SIM (Nano), WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS/AGPS/GLONASS/GALILEO/BDS, USB Type-C|
|Battery:||5020mAh with 18W fast charging (22.5W charger inside the box)|
|Colours:||Forest Green, Midnight Grey, Polar White|
|Price in Nepal:||Rs. 22,999 (4/128GB)|
Redmi Note 9 Review:
- A downgraded plastic-back compared to its predecessor
- Has a glossy finish and the punch-hole cutout looks nice
In terms of design, the phone borrows its looks from the “Pro” sibling because it features a similar camera layout and therefore the overall shiny looks. Similarly, the Redmi Note 9 brings some curves at the rear for a far better grip. Redmi Note 9 Review
However, because it is with every glossy phone, this one is susceptible to smudges too and that I had to wash it up way too often. Surprisingly, the build material here is plastic, this time. And if you recall, Xiaomi had gone with a way more premium glass back on its predecessor, the Redmi Note 8. So, if you inquire from me, I prefer the hand feel of the expensive Redmi Note 9 Pro better compared to the present. Redmi Note 9 Review
The standard Note 9 also doesn’t provide a side-mounted fingerprint sensor and rather features a standard one at rock bottom of the rear cameras. And about its performance, it’s as fast and accurate needless to say. All the buttons are placed on the proper side of the phone but disappointingly aren’t tactile enough and that they were even unresponsive sometimes.
- 6.5-inch IPS LCD panel with FHD+ resolution
- Protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5
- A rather inferior colour reproduction ability
Getting to the display, Redmi Note 9 retains the punch-hole cutout for the front-facing camera. But here, it’s been shifted to the left side compared to at least one on the middle just like the Note 9 Pro. Yet, I don’t mind this alteration in the least, and therefore the looks of Redmi Note 9 eventually grew on me during the review period. Redmi Note 9 Review
Having said that, this 6.5-inches IPS display with FHD+ resolution is simply about average; although you won’t notice this inferiority when browsing through regular apps like Facebook, Instagram, and such. Redmi Note 9 Review
But it’s when watching videos on YouTube that you simply can differentiate the standard compared to mention, the Galaxy M21 with its AMOLED panel. as an example, here you’ll see how the colour tone of my face is abnormally cooler while the comparatively warmer tone on the M21 is much better than this.
Brightness is surprisingly sufficient for both indoors and sunny outdoors which is great. The display has been protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5. However, I’m a touch disappointed with the standard of the panel itself, because it is inferior to the Note 9 Pro and its direct competitor the Galaxy M21.
- World’s first phone to be powered by Helio G85 SoC
- 4GB of RAM with 128GB of internal storage
Talking about the internals, well, we’ve always come to expect a stellar performance from Xiaomi phones and this one is powered by the new gaming-focused Helio G85 chipset from MediaTek. Being the primary phone to feature this SoC, I used to be really wanting to test out the gaming capability of this thing. Yet, my excitement was very short-lived because the Redmi Note 9 showed pretty average leads to my gaming tests. Redmi Note 9 Review
I tried out PUBG Mobile under Smooth graphics and Ultra frame rate and got a weirdly inconsistent performance. So, I tweaked the settings to “HD” graphics and “High” frame rate instead which worked well; but at an expense of frame rates. as compared, the Galaxy M21 with its Exynos 9611 is far more optimized and that I could easily play the sport under “HD” graphics and “Ultra” frame rates with no hiccup.
Call of Duty: Mobile is maxed out at “Medium” graphics and “High” frame rate whereas M21 allows you to play under “High” graphics too. Moreover, the touch response on the Redmi Note 9 isn’t great either. Therefore, I even have been little disappointed by Xiaomi on the gaming promises of this phone.
However, the regular day-to-day tasks are well handled by the on-board SoC. Multitasking is swift and using everyday apps like Facebook, Instagram resulted in no trouble of any sort. Redmi Note 9 Review
MIUI runs ok too with swift transitions and good resource management. It also offers you plenty of customization and battery-saving features, that I even have always liked. Having said that, I still think the Helio G85 isn’t as optimized as its closest Snapdragon counterpart. That’s because, at times, there’s a touch of lag and choppy animation while navigating through the UI.
One more thing, most of you guys could also be already conversant in the in-built “Cleaner” app on the device. First acknowledged by Beebom on their review of the Poco M2 Pro, this app requires permission for location, microphone, contacts, etc. which is pretty weird for a service that ought to only require storage usage rights.
What’s even more worrisome for the Indian audience especially is that the Cleaner app sends its data to wash Master’s servers which is one among the 59 Chinese apps recently banned by the Indian government. Similarly, the Redmi Note 9 also comes with plenty of bloatware pre-installed including some outlandish games like “Bubble Story”, “Crazy Juicer”.
- Quad-cameras at the back
- (48MP primary, 8MP ultra-wide, 2MP depth, 2MP macro)
- 13MP front-facing camera inside a punch-hole cutout
Moving on to the cameras, the phone comes with a quad-camera setup. You get a 48MP primary sensor alongside an 8MP ultra-wide lens, a 2MP depth sensor, and a 2MP macro lens with autofocus.
And you guys could be uninterested in hearing this and I’m uninterested in saying this but a mediocre 2MP macro lens on a phone solely to justify the “quad-camera” title is ridiculous.
The macro images from Redmi Note 9 are barren of any innovation and therefore the images look washed out, with low details, and are just about useless.
Let’s mention the first 48MP lens now. albeit it’s good for the worth, I might only rate it as average when comparing it against Samsung’s Galaxy M21. you’ll see how Note 9 lacks in terms of colours and details while looking a touch hazy also
On the contrary, images from M21 look livelier. Just inspect this image of a leaf I took. The one from M21 has more details, saturation, and vibrancy whereas Note 9’s shot looks washed out with poor dynamic range.
Portraits, on the opposite hand, look decent with ok edge detection.
But bringing the M21 into the combination, you’ll instantly notice how the background exposure isn’t done properly on Note 9 with inconsistent bokeh effect sometimes.
Likewise, the standard of the image degrades as you progress to an environment with lesser light.
And the nighttime images are grainy with little or no details. The dedicated night mode does improve them by touch.
Photos from the 8MP ultra-wide lens are nothing to write down home about either as they tend to possess limited dynamic range, details, and colours . as compared, M21’s wide-angle images are far better with a wider field of view too.
What’s left? Oh, yes… video. Here, the very best resolution Note 9 can go is 1080p/30fps. That too with none quite stabilization. The recordings are wobbly but more importantly, its colours and dynamic range are way worse compared to M21.
The front camera shares a contrasting story for the primary time in our camera test because the selfies are excellent.
Even though the pictures from M21 have that pleasing reddish-tone to them, photos from Note 9 are a visible treat also.
Portrait Selfie Images
Portrait selfies are handled through software and thus the sting detection isn’t that good but gets the work done. However, like regular selfies, it struggles when there’s a light-weight source directly at the rear and thus gets overexposed. Here too, the M21 seems to try to do a far better job. Redmi Note 9 Review
I’m gonna quickly dismiss the vlogging capabilities of Redmi Note 9 from the selfie camera because it is simply terrible.
In summation, Note 9’s cameras are only average and therefore the M21 easily wins out against it. My big concern is for the typical non-tech buyer, who may judge the Note 9 and therefore the costlier Note 9 Pro as equals due to the similar 48MP quad-camera setup, but actually, that’s far away from the reality. Redmi Note 9 Review
- 5020mAh battery with 18W fast charging support
- 22.5W fast charger inside the box
Talking about the battery, the 5020mAh cell on the Redmi Note 9 gives great endurance, which is further supported by efficient memory management that I talked about earlier. During my test, I used it as my secondary device with a Ncell SIM and got about 7 hours of screen-on time which comprised of watching videos for two hours or more, about an hour of gaming, and chatting on WhatsApp and Messenger for two hours approximately.
You also get a quick 22.5W charger inside the box, which surprisingly isn’t that fast. It takes the phone from 0 to 90% in under 2 hours although filling up the ultimate 10% took me quite half-hour. Redmi Note 9 Review, Redmi Note 9 Review, Redmi Note 9 Review
Getting to the extras, the speakers on the Redmi Note 9 as average too. And Like with every Xiaomi phones, this one gets an IR blaster also. In terms of call quality and network signal strength, I even have zero complaints. Redmi Note 9 Review
Redmi Note 9 Review: Pros & Cons
- Good-looking and modern design
- Feature-rich and well-optimized MIUI
- Excellent battery endurance and a fast charger inside the box
- Performance isn’t as great as you’d expect
- Strictly average cameras
- Ultimately doesn’t feel like a decent successor
To conclude, the Redmi Note 9 may be a pretty average offering as we’ve discovered during our review; especially considering how last year’s Redmi Note 8 was such an excellent value proposition. Discounting the planning and battery, I don’t see any significant improvement the Note 9 brings over the Redmi Note 8. But that’s not even the most important issue this phone faces. Samsung’s Galaxy M21 may be a far better phone for an equivalent price.
You might’ve picked abreast of how it outclasses the Note 9 in aspects like display, performance, and camera, which are just like the 3 prime pillars for a superb budget smartphone. Redmi Note 9 Review
I’d also wanna go a touch off-topic and means how the post-lockdown smartphone market has resulted during a price hike and a few off-putting releases. We saw Samsung launch the Galaxy M11 and Galaxy A21s which fell into this category and unfortunately, Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 9 follows an equivalent bandwagon.
Also Read: Redmi Note 9 Pro review
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