Xiomi Redmi 9: the best affordable smartphone
Xiaomi is well-known for being India’s top smartphone brand, however, most of the company’s offerings rarely break the Rs. 10,000 price bracket. While some of them come with competitive specifications at an affordable price, the company is yet to enter the segment with the perfect, or so it claims, entry-level smartphone. The Redmi Note 4 (Review) brought some competition to the budget segment, and along with it, a host of issues regarding software and lack of timely updates. The Redmi Note 5 (Review) went on to sell very well and even the Redmi 6 (Review) succeeded in grabbing a spot on our best-of list, but it doesn’t carry the legacy of the Note series.
Redmi 9 isn’t the best-looking budget smartphone that we’ve seen this year. It has an aluminium frame, and a plastic back that’s supposed to feel like brushed metal but feels cheaper than what you would expect for a phone of its price. There’s no fingerprint scanner at the back of the phone, and instead the power button is just below the camera module. You do have a 3.5mm audio jack at the top of the device. The smartphone has a dual camera setup on the back with a 13-megapixel primary sensor and a 2-megapixel secondary depth sensor. We have no information on the front camera, but it looks likely that the Redmi 9 doesn’t have a front-facing camera. The phone has capacitive navigation buttons below the display, but there’s no word on whether or not they will support gestures.
Just like most other Xiaomi phones, the Redmi 9 comes with a notch above the screen. Xiaomi also implements a newer 19:9 aspect ratio with a ‘punch-hole’ at the top, so you do get a little bit more screen real estate in the same frame. The resolution is 1440×720 pixels, which might be enough for most users. However, if you want a super-high resolution, the Redmi 8 Pro (Review) is worth considering. As is the case with most other budget phones, the Redmi 9 has a decent screen, and it offers good viewing angles. It’s not too bright, so you will need to use a light source to read the text in bright sunlight. Still, colours and contrast are pretty decent for the price and the overall viewing experience is satisfactory.
The Redmi 9 runs on the latest Android 8.1 Oreo (Go edition), which offers several performance and security optimisations. We found the device to be lag-free, and the phone didn’t warm up after a while on our Vodafone 3G network. The stock Android OS is quick to respond, and the smartphone did not hesitate to switch between apps. We tested the fingerprint sensor, and found it to be quick and accurate. To our relief, Xiaomi has provided a rear-facing fingerprint sensor on the Redmi 9’s credit, it also lacks the annoying face unlock mechanism of most other Xiaomi phones. Unlike many Xiaomi phones, the Redmi 9 uses a rear-facing fingerprint sensor instead of the face unlock technology. The highlight of the Redmi 9 is its 5.99-inch display. It has a 2.5D curved glass top and a 2.
There’s a 12-megapixel primary camera on the back, with a 5-megapixel secondary camera to add depth of field effects. You also get a 5-megapixel camera on the front for selfies and video calling. An AI-powered face unlock feature is also on board. The Face Unlock is fast and requires a few moments for it to recognize your face. But, it doesn’t work with sunglasses, hats, or other pieces of clothes that cover your face. Battery The battery in the Xiaomi Redmi 9 is a 4,000mAh unit that is promised to last one day under normal usage. During my time with the phone, I managed to get more than 12 hours of video playback, 16 hours of internet use, and a day’s worth of calls and messages with just 30 percent of the charge left. Software This is the first Xiaomi phone to run on Android Pie.
The rear camera on the Redmi 9 is a 12-megapixel Sony IMX519 sensor with an f/2.2 aperture and an LED flash. The front camera is a 5-megapixel one with an f/2.0 aperture, which is capable of a Face Unlock feature. You can expect good photos from this phone’s rear cameras. It uses an LED flash on its main camera, too. Xiaomi’s post-processing is supposed to give extra depth to the shots. Features such as portrait mode, contrast detection, and beautification modes are supported by the rear camera. You can also use Portrait Mode on its front camera, but it’s much more limited and doesn’t do as well as the Redmi 9’s. One of the coolest features in the Redmi 9 is its ability to take panoramic selfies. We didn’t really notice much difference in quality from regular snaps.
Talking about the features of the Redmi 9, the highlight is undoubtedly its dual-rear camera setup. It has a 12MP primary sensor and a 5MP secondary sensor, with a Portrait Mode on board for the former. There’s also a 20MP front-facing selfie camera, which has Face Unlock capabilities, for quick unlocking with a face. Another notable feature is that the Redmi 9 has 4GB of RAM. This is not at all surprising given the target audience – a crowd that likes the combination of portability and a big battery. There’s also 64GB of internal storage, which is expandable via microSD card slot. There’s another highlight in the Redmi 9’s design – the metallic back. It has a gradient finish, which looks sleek and unique.
The new Redmi 9 features a 3,000mAh battery that is one of the largest the category. In our experience, it lasted over a day and a half with moderate to heavy use, and this is really surprising, considering the price of the device. In fact, it managed even better in our use than the Redmi Note 6 Pro (Review), despite the fact that it has the same or similar-sized battery. The phone is also equipped with Xiaomi’s fast-charging technology and supports Quick Charge 3.0. Software The Redmi 9 ships with MIUI 9.6 based on Android 8.1 Oreo, and it also has a feature called ClearDpi, which lets users customise the resolution to view content on the phone with an accurate form of colour, which helps improve text readability.
The Redmi 9 runs MIUI 9 based on Android Oreo. It’s a heavily skinned version of Android, but there’s some value in it. Xiaomi bundles the Android One-inspired MIUI 9.5.4, which is also based on Oreo. This release includes a number of enhancements, including a refreshed UI and, in Xiaomi’s case, a new gesture-based navigation feature. You also get a whole bunch of MIUI-specific features, like the Smart Rear Camera Lock, Dual Apps, and Password Vault. This is one of the better-looking MIUI skins, and one of the most polished ones. Camera and performance The Redmi 9’s dual rear camera setup consists of a 12-megapixel primary sensor and a 5-megapixel secondary sensor. Both have an aperture of f/2.2.
The Redmi 9 is one of the best budget phones we’ve seen in recent months. It delivers flagship-level specs at a very low price and works without any significant compromises. Although there’s still room for improvement here and there, we’re happy to recommend it to you. This is especially true if you’re on a tight budget and aren’t interested in spending a lot of money on a smartphone. What is good? The Redmi 9 is a device aimed at the budget market segment and it is up to Xiaomi to build the experience it offers as it does not feature a fingerprint sensor or a glass build. The Redmi 9 manages to perform well in most situations with the help of powerful hardware, the display is good and the battery life can keep you going for the day.