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Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 and Note 9 Pro Review: Setting The Standard

Xiaomi's new mid-rangers impress the crowd

With tons of features crammed into them while still keeping cutthroat prices, the Redmi Note lineup has been the benchmark for insane value-for-money when it comes to budget and mid-range phones. Now on its 9th generation, both the Redmi Note 9 and Note 9 Pro offer a packed spec sheet that few other brands can match.

The two phones target two different markets: the Redmi Note 9 is aimed at the sub 10K segment of the market, while the Redmi Note 9 Pro is levelled at the budget, mid-range category that starts at Php 10K to Php 15K.

Pros

  • Large batteries that lasts more than a day
  • Great displays for binge-watching especially Netflix
  • Usable Full HD 60FPS setting on the Note 9 Pro

Cons

  • Note 9 Pro is on the heavy side
  • Note 9’s glossy frame makes it look cheap

 

Pro means a heavier phone

As we pointed out in our hands-on review, both phones share almost the same design language, with only the rear-mounted fingerprint scanner and the different LED flash location on Redmi Note 9 differentiating it from the Note 9 Pro. The Redmi Note 9 Pro is heavier than its non-Pro sibling because it uses glass for the back panel instead of polycarbonate. In addition, the Redmi Note 9 Pro’s Emerald Green colour has a subtle dual-tone finish for added visual flair.

When it comes to the frame, I personally don’t like the glossy finish on the Redmi Note 9, as it makes the phone look cheap compared to the Note 9 Pro’s matte, chamfered frame.

As for size, the Redmi Note 9 Pro is taller and slightly narrower than the Redmi Note 9, making the former easier to hold with one hand.

The identical design language also applies to the button and port layout, with the Redmi Note 9 Pro’s power button doubling as a fingerprint scanner.

Great punch-hole displays

Both the Redmi Note 9 and Note 9 Pro settle for punch hole displays, with the former having it on the left corner and the latter having it on the centre ala Samsung. Aside from size—the Redmi Note 9 has a 6.53-inch display while the Redmi Note 9 Pro has a bigger 6.67-inch display—they also differ in aspect ratio: 19.5:9 for the Redmi Note 9, and 20:9 for the Redmi Note 9 Pro.

The Redmi Note 9 Pro’s aspect ratio makes it more ideal for watching content in streaming apps like Netflix. Both phones are optimized for the popular streaming app, as it is Widevine L1 certified—that means you can play TV shows and movies in Full HD. Size and aspect ratio aside, both phones offer good color reproduction and decent brightness range when used outdoors.

For audio, both phones come with a single bottom-firing speaker, though the one used on the Redmi Note 9 Pro sounds better even at 80% volume. They also come with the good ‘ol headphone jack for your wired cans. 

Quad rear cameras perform well, but the Note 9 Pro excels in video

Both phones come with quad-rear camera setups, with the Redmi Note 9 Pro having a higher-resolution 64-megapixel GW1 main camera and 5-megapixel macro camera. For photos, both phones performed generally well when it comes to color reproduction and dynamic range. The Redmi Note 9 Pro offers more detail, however, because of its higher resolution sensor.

Redmi Note 9

Redmi Note 9 Pro

Image quality on both phones is different from the ultra-wide-angle camera, as the Redmi Note 9 Pro’s better processor helps in processing photos. This resulted in better color accuracy and dynamic range compared to ultra-wide-angle photos shot by the Redmi Note 9.

Redmi Note 9

Redmi Note 9 Pro

In terms of camera performance, they differ significantly when it comes to video. Because the Redmi Note 9 Pro uses a more advanced processor, you get extra features like 4K video recording and Full HD video recording at 60FPS. Overall video quality is better on the Redmi Note 9 Pro, as the Snapdragon 720G and 64-megapixel main rear camera combo produces great video output that can rival more expensive mid-range phones.

Here’s a sample footage shot using the Redmi Note 9 at Full HD 30FPS:

 

And here’s a sample footage shot using the Redmi Note 9 Pro at Full HD 60 FPS:

 

Snapdragon 720G is great, but the Helio G85 is pretty decent

Another key differentiator between the two is the processing package: you get a Snapdragon 720G on the Redmi Note 9 Pro and Helio G85 on the Redmi Note 9, with 6GB RAM on the former and 3GB/4GB RAM on the latter.

In synthetic benchmarks, the Redmi Note 9 Pro performed better in all of our benchmark tests save for AndroBench storage speeds—our review units came with 128GB internal storage for the Redmi Note 9 and 64GB for the Redmi Note 9 Pro. While the Redmi Note 9 uses eMMC and the Redmi Note 9 Pro uses UFS 2.1, the Redmi Note 9 performed better since it has more storage room—having less storage can affect benchmark scores, but not the overall phone experience.

When it comes to gaming, it really depends on the title. Based on metrics obtained using Gamebench, gaming performance between the Redmi Note 9 and Note 9 Pro are almost the same with Asphalt 9 and PUBG Mobile at the highest graphic settings. Gaming performance differs significantly in more demanding games like NBA 2k20 and Call of Duty Mobile. At the highest possible graphics settings for both phones, the Redmi Note 9 struggled through delivering stable and consistent frame rates with NBA 2k20. While it is playable, you will need to tone down the settings on the Redmi Note 9 for a smoother gaming experience.

Both phones come with Android 10-based MIUI 11 out of the box. While it is an improvement over previous iterations, I’m annoyed at the amount of bloatware you will have to deal with. While some can be uninstalled, others remain part of the UI’s core apps, which can be a concern especially if you opt for 64GB versions of either model.

While both phones have 5020mAh batteries, the Redmi Note 9 Pro performed better with a PCMark score of close to 17 hours (vs the Redmi Note 9’s score of a little over 13 hours). This is best explained with their processor of choice, as the Snapdragon 720G’s 8mm process is more power-efficient compared to the rather old 12nm process used on the Helio G85.

The Redmi Note 9 Pro also is superior with charging speeds thanks to its 30w USB-PD charging (vs the Redmi Note 9’s 18w solution). With the proper charger, the Redmi 9 Pro’s battery tops up from 12% to 100% in around 1.5 hours. The Redmi Note 9, on the other hand, takes around 2.5 hours to top up.

Verdict: Great value for money, but the Pro is the better deal

Without a doubt, the Redmi Note 9 series sets the benchmark for value-for-money mid-range phones. From feature-packed specs, decent internals, very capable cameras, to cutthroat prices, it is hard to match what both the Redmi Note 9 and Redmi Note 9 Pro have to offer.

While the Redmi Note 9 is a compelling offering at the under Php 10k segment, you get better value for money with the Redmi Note 9 Pro because of its 30w wired charging, more powerful Snapdragon 720G processor, 64-megapixel main rear camera, and impressive video quality.

The Redmi Note 9 is priced at Php 7,990 for the 3GB/64GB version and Php 9,990 for the 4GB/128GB variant, while Redmi Note 9 Pro is priced at Php 12,490 for the 6GB/64GB variant and Php 13,990 for the 6GB/128GB variant. Both phones can be purchased via Xiaomi’s official Lazada store.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 specs

  • MediaTek Helio G85 octa-core processor
  • Mali-G52 MC2 GPU
  • 3GB/4GB LPDDR4X RAM
  • 6.53-inch Full HD+ IPS display, Gorilla Glass 5 Protection, 19:5:9 aspect ratio
  • 64GB/128GB expandable internal storage
  • Quad rear cameras: 48-megapixel f/1.8 ISOCELL GM1 main camera with 6p lens; 8-megapixel f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle camera; 2-megapixel f/2.4 depth-sensor; 2-megapixel f/2.4 macro camera; with LED, PDAF, 21:9 movie frame
  • 13-megapixel f/2.25 front camera
  • Dual SIM
  • 3G, LTE
  • 2×2 MiMo WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, NFC
  • Rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, face unlock, USB-C
  • 5020mAh battery with 18w wired charging
  • Android 10 with MIUI 11

 

Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro specs

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G octa-core processor
  • Adreno 618 GPU
  • 6GB LPDDR4X RAM
  • 6.67-inch Full HD+ IPS display, Gorilla Glass 5 Protection, 20:9 aspect ratio
  • 64GB/128GB UFS 2.1 expandable internal storage
  • Quad rear cameras: 64-megapixel f/1.89 Samsung GW1 main camera with 6p lens; 8-megapixel f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle camera; 2-megapixel f/2.4 depth-sensor; 5-megapixel f/2.4 macro camera; with LED, PDAF, 21:9 movie frame
  • 16-megapixel f/2.25 front camera
  • Dual SIM
  • 3G, LTE
  • 2×2 MiMo WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, NFC
  • Side-mounted fingerprint scanner, face unlock, USB-C
  • 5020mAh battery with 30w wired charging
  • Android 10 with MIUI 11

 

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