Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro first impressions: This one has big shoes to fill
Xiaomi's Redmi smartphone series has time and again proven itself as one of the most popular sub-brands out there. While there are several endearing smartphones that make the portfolio a powerful one, some become a benchmark, and the Redmi Note 9 Pro might just be that one handset.
The Redmi Note 9 Pro is by no means a 'budget' device if you just look at the features and the specifications it brings on board. But considering its price point, it is really difficult to ignore the offering. And this is expected considering Xiaomi, by now, is familiar with the pricing game in India.
We have been using the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro since past few days and although it is a 'Redmi Note' device, it nowhere carries the Redmi Note 8 Pro's design profile. If nothing else, it is just an upgrade. The company has played on improving the Aura design, most of which is subtle. However, the smartphone is larger in size and hence, is also heavier because of the increased battery and the massive camera bump.
What comes as a 'first ever' for Xiaomi Redmi Note series are the side-mounted fingerprint sensor and the cut out for the front-facing camera. And as a first-ever implementation, it is not bad at all. In our limited usage time with the smartphone, we did find the side-mounted fingerprint sensors a delight to use. It is fast and reliable. Unlike seen in some other handsets you don't have to activate the screen to use the fingerprint sensor and unlock the Redmi Note 9 Pro.
What however, might be an issue here is the placement of the volume buttons. They are above the power button that's also the fingerprint sensor and given the smartphone's height, it is quite difficult to reach them without adjusting the grip.
Available in Interstellar Black, Aurora Blue and Classic White colour variants, the Redmi Note 9 Pro's thickness gives it enough space to incorporate a 3.5mm headphone jack, which is in addition to a mono speaker and a USB Type-C port at the bottom. And just like any other Xiaomi Redmi Note, the 9 Pro also gets an infrared blaster.
Like we said above, the display is bigger this time with 6.7-inch size. However, it didn't feel as big as we expected. The resolution you get is FHD+ with selfie camera cutout, something you don't usually see in a Redmi smartphone. For reference, the Redmi Note 8 Pro had a notch display and this is the first Redmi Note smartphone with an in-display cutout design. It is not distracting in the least and is something that grows on you over time. All this comes in addition to 20:9 aspect ratio. We will talk more about it in our review, so stay tuned.
Adding to the list of specifications is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G processor, which as you remember, is the one that features ISRO's NavIC support as well. As Xiaomi says, you won't see the feature working up front but behind-the-scenes in apps like Google Maps that will now use NavIC on priority over the GPS system. This is a MIUI feature though and won't be there in all the other smartphones that use this processor.
As for the performance, it is too early to say how the smartphone will turn out to be when used in real life. However, with Snapdragon 720G and 4GB or 6GB RAM, we may not see issues as such considering the audience it is aimed at and the price segment it falls in.
Xiaomi is also pitching the smartphone for gamers and though there are no new gaming features per say, you do get 2x2 MIMO so both antennas are active for better connectivity while playing. This comes in addition to Game Turbo 2.0, DDR4X UFS 2.1 storage and the Snapdragon Elite platform. We will let you know how it performs in our upcoming review.
The camera section is another highlight of the Redmi Note 9 Pro. You get four rear cameras but the setup is different and the sensors are improved this time. There's a 48MP Samsung ISOCELL GM 2 primary sensor with an 8MP Ultra Wide (120-degree) sensor, 5MP Macro sensor that now has autofocus and 1080p video recording support, and a 2MP proximity sensor for better portrait shots. We haven't tried all of the lenses yet but in our limited time spent with the Redmi Note 9 Pro's cameras, the results looked fairly good. The shutter is snappy and the new Pro Colour feature also works well most of the time.
For videos, the smartphone supports up to 4K resolution at 30fps but unfortunately, you don't get the 'Pro Colour' feature for that. However, there's a smoother zoom lens feature for jerk-free video recording and we think that is more important for video makers than the 'Pro Colour' mode.
At the front, there is a 16-megapixel selfie camera with super stabilisation for crisp shots. Xiaomi says that even the Night shooting mode has been improved and end users might see a better-quality shot since the compression is not as aggressive as before. We will talk more about the camera features in the review.
The last year's Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro was a fairly good performer when it came to battery and now, the Redmi Note 9 Pro is claiming to go a step further with its 5,020mAh battery capacity. It is not the largest battery we've seen but definitely on the higher side and given the track record of Xiaomi phones when it comes to battery, this will hopefully deliver really good results. And if you are thinking that charging the battery will take a lot of time, it might not be the case with the 18W fast charger that comes inside the box.