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Redmi Note 9 Review

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The Xiaomi Redmi Note series has always been very popular to people looking for an affordable but feature-packed smartphone. And with the Redmi Note 9 series, Xiaomi attempts to keep the title, despite the growing competition from other brands.

Both the Redmi Note 9 and Note 9 Pro — just by looking at their specs — already look very interesting, especially when you consider the price.

But today, in our Redmi Note 9 review, we’ll be focusing on the cheaper model to see if it’s indeed worth your time and money. Let’s begin.

Redmi Note 9 Specs

  • Android 10, MIUI 11
  • Dual SIM, Dual Standby
  • 6.53-inch FHD+ IPS display, 2340 x 1080 pixel resolution, ~394ppi
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 5
  • 2.0GHz MediaTek Helio G85 octa-core processor
  • 2GB/4GB RAM
  • Mali G52 MC2 GPU
  • 64GB/128GB internal storage, expandable via microSD
  • 13-megapixel front camera, f/2.2
  • 48-megapixel (f/1.8) + 8-megapixel (ultra-wide, f/2.2) + 2-megapixel (macro) + 2-megapixel (depth sensor) rear cameras, PDAF, LED flash
  • [email protected][email protected] slow-mo
  • Rear-mounted fingerprint scanner
  • Splash-proof nano-coating
  • HSPA+, 4G LTE
  • WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, BDS
  • IR blaster
  • USB Type-C
  • Dimensions: 162.3 x 77.2 x 8.9mm
  • Weight: 199g
  • Colors: Polar White, Midnight Grey, Forest Green
  • 5,020mAh non-removable battery, 22.5W fast charging, Reverse charging

Design and Build Quality

Just by the design, the Redmi Note 9 is already a major upgrade over the Redmi Note 8. The quad-camera setup on the back has a distinctive 2×2 orientation, with the fingerprint scanner below it. The two lenses on the top have a white highlight since they’re basically the main stars here.

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The back panel uses a glass-like plastic. It lacks the durability and weight of an actual glass, but do inherit its premium appeal. Although, it’s really prone to fingerprint marks.

What we have here is the Midnight Grey color option. But as you can see, it has a more bluish tone. If it doesn’t fit your taste, you can get the Polar White or Forest Green.

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It may be made of plastic, but the Redmi Note 9 isn’t prone to hairline scratches and still feels really solid and sturdy. No weird flexing or anything. For extra peace of mind, you can strap in the free case in the box.

To make up for its plastic build, the Redmi Note 9 has a splashproof coating and a sturdy Corning Gorilla Glass 5 that’s protecting its 6.54-inch FHD+ screen. It should be enough to withstand minor scratches. Xiaomi pre-applied a screen protector so you don’t have to.

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You can barely tell its a below-Php10k smartphone with its punch-hole on the top left or “DotDisplay” as what Xiaomi calls it. A design accent that’s starting to become a statement in Android phones. It helps eliminate any notches and made the bezels ultra-thin. Thus, creating an impressive screen-to-body ratio.

With its large 6.53-inch screen and 5,020mAh battery, the Redmi Note 9 is a large phone. It has a thickness of 8.9mm and a weight of 199g. For a comparison, smartphones averages at around 7mm and 170g, respectively. Still, we find this acceptable as it doesn’t skimp on features to look good.

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Taking a tour, we have the noise-cancelling microphone and IR blaster on the top. While on the bottom we have the USB Type-C port, headphone jack, primary microphone, and the single loudspeaker.

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On the left side, we only have the SIM tray, which can house two nano SIM cards and a microSD card. While on the right we have the lock/power switch and volume controls. The physical buttons are tactile and feels durable enough.

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Overall, we’re really liking the design on the Redmi Note 9. It may be a bit bulky, but still gorgeous enough without skimping on features.

Display and Sound Quality

The Redmi Note 9 has a 6.54-inch FHD+ IPS screen display, with a 2340 x 1080 pixel resolution, ~394ppi, TUV Rheinland low blue light certification, and up to 450-nit brightness.

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It doesn’t use a vibrant OLED screen nor has a smooth 90Hz refresh rate. But for the price, it’s already acceptable.

The large size provides enough space for multitasking and on-screen controls in games. Both the colors and contrast are fine, and the display is bright enough to be used outdoors.

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In the Redmi Note 9’s webpage, it says that it has a 1216 X max 0.5mm high amplitude ultra-linear speaker. Whatever that is, what we know is this loudspeaker is really loud, although the clarity is not the best.

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For better listening experience, you can plug in a pair of earphones in the headphone jack. But you have to purchase it separately since no earphones is included in the box to keep the price down.

Hardware and Performance

The Redmi Note 9 is one of the first phones to use the new 2.0GHz MediaTek Helio G85 octa-core processor — a gaming chipset for entry-level devices. It comes with a Mali G52 MC2 GPU, and is available in 3GB/64GB and the one we have here, the 4GB/128GB model.

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For an entry-level smartphone, the Redmi Note 9 sure feels fast and smooth. All your basic tasks, flicking through Facebook and Instagram, taking pictures, texting, chatting, calling, pretty much everything is really seamless on this thing.

Redmi Note 9 Benchmark scores

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Gamers on a budget would really like the Redmi Note 9. There’s a feature called Game Turbo. Although, it’s buried in the settings where you have to manually add games and run it from there to improve its performance.

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Out of the box, Call of Duty, NBA 2K20, and Asphalt 9 ran smoothly at low to medium graphics setting. But when we ran it with Game Turbo, we noticed minor improvements. We were able to play NBA 2K20 at high graphics with less visible lags and stutters.

Mobile Legends fans out there would be glad to know that it’s playable on the Redmi Note 9 with High Frame Rate (HFR) mode turned on. The game ran seamlessly without any noticeable lags or stutters.

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Software and User Interface

Just like its other recent releases, the Redmi Note 9 runs on the latest Android 10-based MIUI 11 interface. Xiaomi’s UI is easily one of the cleanest and straightforward interfaces in Android space.

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The Redmi Note 9 lockscreen looks clean. The app drawer is disabled out of the box, so all your apps are laid out on the home screen. Swiping from the far left reveals a special tab with the Google Search, weather, and relevant news from Google.

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You can also swipe down halfway of the home screen to pull down the notifications tab and control center, no need to reach all the way up. Swiping up quickly launches Google search that can do local and internet search.

There’s a special Themes app and home screen settings if you’re in to deep customization. We’re also liking how feature-packed the app switcher is, perfect for multi-tasking junkies out there.

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The Google Keyboard is convenient and easy to customize. The camera app is familiar to use and shows you what orientation you’re in when it’s dark. I also liked how it responds to “Ok, Google”, even when hands-free.

Overall, we really like how the software compliments the hardware on the Redmi Note 9. Knowing Xiaomi, expect continues support and major Android updates in the next couple of years.

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Camera Quality

Having a quad-camera has became a norm to modern smartphones and it doesn’t matter if the other two are almost useless. And being an entry-level smartphone, we’re getting the normal stuff on the Redmi Note 9.

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Leading the charge is a 48-megapixel main camera with an f/1.8 aperture. We also have an 8-megapixel f/2.2 ultra-wide camera that has a 118-degree field-of-view. Of course, we have the obligatory 2-megapixel macro camera that lets you get close up to 2cm. Lastly, there’s a 2-megapixel depth sensor.

On the downside, video recording maxes at [email protected], No 4K. On the upside, it shoots slow-mo videos at [email protected]

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Just like most 48-megapixel cameras, it uses pixel-binning technology, resulting to brighter 12-megapixel photos.

For a device at this price, you really can’t expect too much. The image quality in good lighting looks decent and acceptable, although the colors area little flat. The contrast and dynamic range are fine. Images can be improved if you enable the AI scene detection, or do post-editing after the shot is taken.

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48-megapixel | Outdoor
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48-megapixel | Outdoor
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48-megapixel | AI Scene Detection enabled

Images taken at low-light images are obviously worse with more noise and grains. The Night Mode feature will take a 3-second long exposure shot. It’s still terrible, but noises are minimized as it were able to gather more light information

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48-megapixel | Low-light
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48-megapixel | Night mode

The 48MP mode on the settings menu lets you utilize the camera in its full resolution. It captures images at 8000 x 6000 pixels, but the quality isn’t the best, especially without pixel binning.

Unless you’re planning to print it to a larger canvass or crop it for later, you’d rather stick to the normal Photo mode. Full 48MP mode also takes too much space, about 13MB to be exact.

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48-megapixel | 48MP Hi-Res mode

Obviously, the 8-megapixel ultra-wide camera takes less impressive photos. The details, colors, and contrast are worse. But then again, for an entry-level device, it’s acceptable.

If you’re really into photography, a photo editor could really come handy on the Redmi Note 9.

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8-megapixel ultra-wide
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8-megapixel ultra-wide
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8-megapixel ultra-wide

There’s the 2-megapixel macro camera for those who need it. It takes clean images 3cm-4cm away from the subject.

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2-megapixel macro

The wide f/1.8 aperture of the 48-megapixel main camera is already enough to provide a blurry background. If that’s not enough, you can use the 2-megapixel depth sensor, but in most cases, it insists that you move far away from the subject. It also lacks post blur adjustment after you took the photo.

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2-megapixel depth sensor
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2-megapixel depth sensor

Lastly, the Redmi Note 9 has a single 13-megapixel front-facing camera on the front. The selfies on this thing are clean, with enough details and passable colors. Post it on Facebook or Instagram and no one will know it’s from an entry-level phone.

The AI face beauty also worked really well, with a couple of customizable adjustments like face shape, eye size, and whatnot. Portrait mode works surprisingly well on this camera, despite the lack of a dedicated depth sensor.

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13-megapixel front
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13-megapixel front | Portrait and Face Beauty

Security

The fingerprint scanner on the back of the Redmi Note 9 is fast, accurate, and easily reachable by your index finger. You really only need to register two, but it can accommodate five different prints if you’re planning on sharing,

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The face unlock uses the 13-megapixel selfie camera on the front to recognize your face. Partnered with the Raise to Wake function, it can easily unlock your device the moment you pick it up. But since it lacks an infrared scanner, it doesn’t work in the dark.

Software-level security features are also present on the Redmi Note 9. There’s a number blocker, monthly security updates, emergency alerts and SOS, and app locker.

Connectivity

Thanks to its latest processor, the Redmi Note 9 gets to have a dual-band WiFi that connects seamlessly to our home WiFi without any noticeable problems. The Bluetooth 5.0 also eliminates any connection issues on our wireless speakers and headphones, especially when watching movies or playing games.

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The use of a modern USB Type-C port makes it futureproof and adaptable to other modern accessories. Plus, the IR blaster will let you control you non-smart TV, Airconditioner, and more, without having to look for the remote.

Battery

The Redmi Note 9 boasts a 5,020mAh battery with an 18W fast charging support. For some reason, Xiaomi has included a 22.5W fast charger on the box. We’re not complaining since we rarely see fast-charging in below-Php10,000 smartphones.

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Battery life is pretty solid on this thing. Light and casual users who only browse social media apps, chat, make calls, and what not, can expect the battery to last for two days. But for power-users who play games or watch YouTube/Netflix non-stop, you might have to reach for the charger every night or even in the middle of the day.

The battery is so large you can use it as a power bank. It outputs 9W of power using an OTG cable so you can virtually share battery charge to with friends.

Verdict

If you remember, the budget Redmi Note 7 became an instant hit thanks to its specs and design that we never thought we’d see on its price range. And with the Redmi Note 9, Xiaomi was able to achieve the same thing.

The Redmi Note 9 has a large screen, capable performance, and reliable battery life. The pillars of being a fine budget phone. A sound deal if you’re just a casual user or even a heavy gamer.

Xiaomi didn’t only cover the essentials but also offered a few extras like a new and distinctive design in front and back, fast charging, and dated connectivity features.

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Although, we wish that the camera software did a better job at processing the image. But that’s something a software update can easily fix.

Overall, if you’re looking for a smartphone under Php10,000, you’re getting great value out of your hard-earned money with the Redmi Note 9.

Redmi Note 9 pricing and availability in the Philippines

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 has a starting price of Php7,990 for the 3GB/64GB model, while the unit that we reviewed, the 4GB/128GB variant, retails for Php9,990.

You can get it in tons of Mi Authorized stores nationwide but as of writing, only select stores are open due to the COVID-19. Alternatively, you can get it online through the Xiaomi Flagship Store in Lazada.

Pros

  • Large, almost-bezel-less display
  • Smooth and capable performance
  • Reliable battery life with fast charging
  • Great value for money

Cons

  • Camera processing could be better
  • Sizeable build can be overwhelming

Comments

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  1. Hi sir/maam,
    Open na po ba store nyo sa SM CEBU CITY?
    May available po ba kayo na XIAOMI REDMI NOTE 9S?
    Your kind responce is much appreciated.

    Thank you in advance.

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