Compete in the market segment where the Redmi Note 9s it is perhaps the most complex thing for smartphone manufacturers, it is in fact the most inflated because it is more accessible, both in the West and in countries with lower average spending. At the same cost, usually, the difference in the purchase phase is made by the brand, which does not only mean the name on an advertising billboard, but everything that follows such as assistance, product reliability and software support over time.
We have seen that Xiaomi follows the smartphones of the Redmi spinoff quite well in the updates, even more than what happens with Android One terminals born under the star of the “stock with easy updates” operating system.
The truth is that Redmi Note 9S – or Note 9 Pro – does its homework well, it is the very promising classic schoolboy who takes good grades but who would have all the credentials to be the first in the class. There are in fact several facets to tell about this model, practically a born best buy, on paper, but not necessarily such.
WHAT I LIKE
If you spend two hundred euros or a little more, you don't expect too much from a smartphone, of course, but Redmi has managed to put a rich meal on the plate that is already tempting many. Among the “ingredients” that I liked most I put the fingerprint reader reliable but not very fast, a certainty that I much prefer to improvised readers under the display (still imperfect on economic models) and to the rear classics that they know of the past. But I understand the frustration of left-handers who have to struggle with other fingertips other than the thumb. The use of Gorilla Glass 5 glass also for the back (and not plastic as erroneously said in the preview) is then a pretty installment gem among his fellow men, albeit glossy and draw all the prints.
I also like the central hole on the large display, I find it more aesthetically pleasing than the old notches used until last year and also more functional, with more usable surface. It is then about a nice Full HD + LCD, very bright for its category and not affected by excessive reflections on the outside. On this front, everyone is taking giant steps forward, I remember until some time ago when there was an abyss between smartphones of 1,000 euros and the “cheaper” ones, now technology changes substantially with flagships and 500 euro models up that mount only and exclusively OLED.
Happy to find again the bottom audio jack and the FM radio; simple things that please many, details like the infrared door and the notification LED nestled in the middle of the ear capsule at the top, this too is an increasingly rare component. At each range, I believe that the elements listed above are very important for this category of products and the Note 9s / Pro includes almost all of them.
To make this smartphone a bit special compared to all the others is the Snapdragon 720G chip, the latest solution announced in January for the midrange that brings with it a series of advantages: 8nm production process, octa-core Kryo 465 CPU at 64 -bit up to 2.3GHz, Snapdragon X15 LTE modem and dual-band WiFi ac. A respectable hardware platform which, potentially, will be able to support software updates for several years, even if this always depends on the manufacturer. Be careful though, all that glitters is not gold.
- SoC: Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G (2x Gold 2.3GHz + 6x Silver 1.8GHz); GPU Adreno A618
- Display: 6.67 “with FHD + resolution (2400×1080 pixels), front camera hole, 450nit brightness and Corning Gorilla Glass 5 glass
- 4 / 6GB RAM LPDDR4x
- 64 / 128GB storage memory (UFS 2.1) expandable via microSD slot up to 512GB
- Rear Quadruple: 48 + 8 + 5 + 2MP (main f / 1.79 + ultra-wide f / 2.2 + macro + depth) with single LED flash, PDAF and 10x digital zoom
- Front: 16MP
- Connectivity. Bluetooth 5.0, WiFi 802.11a / b / g / n / ac, USB-C, VoLTE, Wi-Fi Direct, GPS / A-GPS / Galileo / GLONASS / Beidou / NavIC, 3.5mm audio jack, NFC chip (Note 9 Pro only)
- Sensors: environmental, proximity, accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, lateral fingerprint
- Battery: 5,020 mAh with 18W fast charge support
- dimensions is weight:
- 165.75 x 76.68x 8.8mm
- 209 grams
- colors: Glacier White, Interstellar Black and Aurora Blue
- Operating system Android 10 with MIUI 11 customization
One could certainly accuse Redmi of exaggerating the weight, two hundred nine grams they are not few at all but they are well justified by a large 5,000mAh battery, a nice jump compared to the various Note 8 / 8T that boast a 4,000mAh unit (but are also smaller and lighter). You buy this Note 9S / Pro also for its autonomy which I consider more than excellent, I would say perhaps excellent: it will be for the reduced consumption of Snapdragon 720G or for the two factors put together, on average I reload it after a day and a half of use. We are at home, it's true, but I can also tell you that I put 30/40 minutes of video calls per day between WhatsApp and Google Duo and at least another 30 minutes of play on CoD Mobile.
All smooth in the main functions with loud and clear audio on call and triple slot which simultaneously houses two nanoSIM and one microSD. I've always used it in dual-SIM with excellent reception, the only problem lies in the drawer that is not exactly flush, I think it closes badly, a small detail. The vibration on call is also good, discreet but effective.
WHAT I DID NOT LIKE
Having the “Ferrari” engine does not mean being able to speed at 250 km / h and here we have the proof. Although SD720G is good news for all the components that this System-on-Chip brings, I have the distinct impression that it has been poorly integrated on this Redmi Note 9S / Pro. After 10 days of use I can say it with a certain degree of security: it is not as fast as I expected; although I realize that it is a smartphone from 200 euros has some more limitations than the technical data sheet reveals.
I also received the April 2020 patch a few days ago, I was hoping it could improve the situation a little but it didn't. On the whole, everything runs sufficiently, I often run into rather evident lag and moments of uncertainty that I certainly did not expect. It is not easy to explain with clear examples why it is an overall idea, it is as if it were poorly optimized and you need someone who “tightens the right bolts”, continuing on the automotive metaphor. In short, there is a lot of room for improvement but now it is certainly not the fastest or most fluid in its category, it is clear to everyone.
Inexplicably missing the NFC chip on the Note 9S, as said widely it will instead be included on the Note 9 Pro model that it will arrive – according to what we have collected unofficially – also in Italy in a few weeks; smartphone mirror in all respects but with this component.
Among the things that have not impressed me I also put the MIUI 11.0.6 stable, the proprietary interface that is still – in my opinion – a step under direct competition. I'm not talking about performance but about customization options: there is no drawer but I can always use an alternative launcher, I find some of the settings a bit cumbersome and some unclear controls. For example, notifications, there are no clear commands and much is left to manage the single application. Theoretically we are lucky here because it is the latest distribution based on Android 10 but, personally, I await the news of the MIUI 12 recently made official that I hope will improve the experience.
PHOTO AND VIDEO
As anticipated, not much changes compared to the configuration already seen last year with the collection champion Redmi Note 8T, to make a little difference there is clearly a different hardware base that for the photographic sector relies on the ISP Spectra 350L ( the same one that mounts Snapdragon 730 / 730G).
But before showing you some shots I want to emphasize that the doubts about MIUI 11 disappear in front of theCamera app, particularly fast and full of features easily navigable. Progress has been made on this in recent years and the shooting experience is exactly as expected: quick, easy and concrete.
The 48MP main camera appears unchanged and excellent for the category, the shots at the highest resolution are really satisfying even if you have to switch to the dedicated mode (easily accessible) as usual unless you shoot at 12MP.
The 8MP f / 2.2 wide angle it does its job just as well, covers a wide angle of 119 ° and boasts a decent HDR that does not leave the shaded areas in the dark in backlit conditions. Of course, everything in focus and “limited” details for resolution.
5MP macro which I have made little use of, I am sincere, it is in fact a point of view that I rarely use on a smartphone and I find perhaps superfluous. This does not mean that the level of detail of this 5MP is high, it surprised me for the precision of the autofocus at such close distances, it is in fact in line with the other cameras and therefore as fast as needed. Too bad that the “Macro” icon that you have to click to activate it has been hidden a bit too much.
Almost unchanged the 16MP front with f / 2.48 aperture that automatically applies a beauty filter that flattens the pixels, eliminates skin imperfections and makes everything more … unnatural; you can safely disable it.
It may be that the expectations were many, but this Note 9S / Pro leaves me a little bitter in the mouth, although it has many positive things that I put black on white in this review, some doubts remain regarding the software. The best news is that Any updates will be enough for everything to be properly optimized, giving credit to Snapdragon 720G which I am now curious to try on other devices.
The technical equipment certainly convinces, at this price it is practically impossible to hope to have more with a new model and the only macroscopic neo remains the lack of NFC on the Note 9S. We are demanding and we pay attention but it is also true that many do not use or do not want to use contactless payments with the smartphone or take advantage of other functions related to it. My suggestion is to still bet on the “Pro” if the difference in price will be minimal.
I recommend you also watch the video to realize directly how it runs, what are the good things and the doubts that I raised, it certainly remains a recommended smartphone that will probably make large numbers in Italy. But the experience of use matters and to make it true best buy still need some tweaks: Redmi (and Xiaomi) are you listening?
PROS AND CONS
If purchased on AliExpress, shipping is free and you will get one additional discount of 10 € with the code shown below, here are the two variants:
(Embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38ysb5MWADQ (/ embed)
redmi Notes 9S
(update April 30, 2020, 00:52)