Xiaomi’s Redmi Note series has been the best-selling series of smartphones in India, bringing some of the most iconic budget powerhouses we’ve ever seen. Looking at them, it’s easy to understand why they have been so well-received — big displays, decent performance, and reliable batteries, seemingly nailing the basic necessities that consumers look for.
With the Redmi Note 9 Pro series, Xiaomi is aiming to move up the price ladder to provide a more premium experience. We don’t know if this is because its direct competitor did something similar with its pricing strategy, or if it is to accommodate a slightly affordable “Redmi Note 9” in the lineup in the future. It is a big shift because the sub-Rs 20,000 market is one of the most sensitive price segments in the Indian smartphone industry.
They succeed the Redmi Note 8 Pro, which was announced in August with strides in terms of the performance, battery capacities, and display sizes. Interestingly, those remain to be the key areas of improvement with the Redmi Note 9 Pro, almost as if Xiaomi has figured out what aspects matter the most.
Its sibling, the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max offers a different primary camera and significantly faster charging. So, for all intents and purposes, it’s likely that most observations we mention for the Redmi Note 9 Pro will hold true for the Max as well. We explicitly mention that as our review for the Max might take longer than usual to be ready owing to the current nation-wide safety lockdown, but didn’t want that to affect your buying decision.
Price and Availability in India
The Redmi Note 9 Pro is already available for purchase via a flash sale model on Amazon, as well as Xiaomi’s retail partners and stores. Pricing starts at Rs 12,999 for the base variant with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage and goes up to Rs 15,999 for the 128GB + 6GB variant.
Interestingly, the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max starts at Rs 14,999 for the base variant with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. The 128GB storage variant is priced at Rs 16,999, while the top model with 8GB of RAM and 128GB storage is priced at Rs 18,999.
In the past, the prices haven’t overlapped so much, so take that into consideration while choosing between the two models.
Xiaomi’s smartphone designs have matured by great lengths in recent years, going from uninspiring metal backs to high-end glass sandwiches. The Redmi Note 9 Pro is a refinement to the new Aura design, which aimed to bring more balance and ease of use to the mix. The result is a hefty phone with a unibody glass design that looks better than what the price tag may suggest.
Yes, the camera bump protrudes out considerably, but it doesn’t rock much while it’s on a table, presumably because of the square 2 x 2 camera layout instead of the lenses being in a straight line across the spine. Except for the camera island, the back is pretty minimal and classy with no other eyesores. Notably, both the back and the cameras are covered by Gorilla Glass 5. There’s also a slight lip around the lenses to avoid scratching. It’s also one of the most pronounced camera bumps on any recent smartphone.
While the move to a premium finish is appreciated, there is no denying that this is a big and heavy phone. While it does bring a bigger display and battery to justify that stature (more on that ahead), you’ll have a hard time fitting it in your pocket. Even while gaming or using the phone with one hand, the constant supination is sure to tire your wrists. Other inherent big phone problems, such as an inability to use it single-handedly or difficulty in reaching the volume rocker, are also experienced here.
The back is also expectedly slippery, which gets aggravated due to the sheer size of the phone. It will start gliding off any surface you place it on. Thankfully, a silicone case is included in the box.
Big displays have been a part of the Redmi Note series’ DNA from the get, with each generation overshadowing the last. The Redmi Note 9 Pro is no different. Spanning 6.67-inches across, it’s the biggest display ever seen on the series, with an even taller aspect ratio. Viewing videos or playing games on this bigger canvas is a lot more enjoyable and immersive.
It’s an LCD panel with a resolution of 2,400 x 1,080, resulting in an aspect ratio of 20:9. The max brightness is just about adequate, but stronger outdoor sunlight can definitely overpower it. Because it's an LCD, the blacks and contrast levels are far from perfect, and you’ll probably mistake the blacks for greys. The color rendition otherwise is pretty spot-on, at least when viewed from head on.
We did notice occasional light bleeding and non-uniformity across the display, especially when viewing darker content. Not very prominent and easy to overlook. This was predominantly towards the sides and the notch. However, this seems to be an isolated issue and not one that anyone else reported so that it could be a defect with our early model.
The Redmi Note 9 Pro is also the first in the family to move to a punch-hole notch, a feature that had previously been reserved for more expensive devices. Without getting into the debate of which kind of a notch is better, we would just like to mention that it is not the smallest we have seen, and seems to be placed just a little lower than most other devices that it looks uncomfortable and stretches the status bar with it. Once again, it’s easy to overlook, especially if you’re not comparing it to some other high-end device.
Just like the back, the display is also covered by Gorilla Glass 5. In the month that we’ve been using the phone without a case, there has not been a single scratch or ding across the front or the back, even after multiple drops and slides.
While the display isn’t terrible in any aspect, it falls behind the competition in one key aspect: refresh rate. We understand that it is incorrect to expect that at this price, but we’re talking about the most competitive segment of smartphones in India, where one spec can tilt the outcome the other way. The Redmi Note 9 Pro’s direct competitors, the Realme 6 and the Poco X2 both offer higher refresh rates at almost the same price. It’s not a necessity but goes a long way in exhibiting a smoother interface.