Move over iPhone SE: these new Xiaomi phones might be the best cheap handsets

Xiaomi Redmi Note 9
Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 (Image credit: Xiaomi)

If you're on the lookout for feature-packed cheap phone but can't quite stretch to the cheap-but-not-that-cheap new iPhone SE (2020), Xiaomi just announced two new Redmi phones that could actually have Apple's latest beat in some respects – including price.

These new phones are the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 and Redmi Note 9 Pro – the later phone has been announced in certain parts of the world already, but Xiaomi has now confirmed that both the devices will become widely available soon, including in the UK and Europe.

We don't know the price or release date for these new phones just yet, but Redmi phones often cost around £200 / AU$400 (roughly $250, although Xiaomi doesn't sell phones in the US yet).

We expect the new Redmi phones to be more affordable than the $399 / £419 / AU$749 of the iPhone SE (2020) then, and potentially a more tempting option for those who find Apple's phone a little on the pricey side.

We'll run you through the specs of both phones below to give you a better idea of what they're like.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 9

Unlike the Pro, the Redmi Note 9 hadn't been announced anywhere in the world before, so it's the first we've seen of this handset.

The Note 9 has a large 6.53-inch FHD+ display that's broken up by a 'punch-hole' cut-out in the top left corner of the screen. On the back it's got a four-camera array with a fingerprint sensor underneath. There's also a 3.5mm headphone jack here, for wired music fans.

These four cameras are a 48MP main, 8MP ultra-wide, 2MP macro and 2MP depth-sensing snappers, and it's likely those two are the same as in the high-end Xiaomi Mi 10, so they could be pretty decent. On the front is a 13MP selfie camera.

The battery on the Note 9 is 5,020mAh, which is pretty large, especially for a relatively cheap phone, so it'll likely last you a long time, and it's paired with 18W fast wired charging. The processor is a Mediatek Helio G85, a budget processor which is arguably the phone's most telling indicator of its price range. There's also 3GB or 4GB RAM, depending on whether you opt for 64GB or 128GB storage.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro

Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro

Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro (Image credit: Xiaomi)

The Redmi Note 9 Pro has a bigger 6.67-inch FHD+ screen, with a punch-hole cutout in the top-center of the screen, like the Samsung Galaxy S20. Unlike on the non-Pro device there's no rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, but there is a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The camera array consists of a 64MP main, 8MP ultra-wide, 5MP macro and 2MP depth snapper, with a 16MP front camera. That means the phone has one of the most high-res macro cameras you'll find on a smartphone nowadays, and it may also be the most affordable handset with a 64MP main camera.

Like the non-Pro phone the battery has a 5,020mAh capacity, but its faster 30W wired fast charging is impressive for a budget phone. The processor is the capable mid-ranged Snapdragon 720G, and this is paired with 6GB RAM.

We managed to test the phone when it was first launched in India, and you can read our full Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro review here.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist.