Redmi Note 9 Pro Review

According to official data, the Redmi Note series has sold 140 million units worldwide. So there is every reason to think this is the most popular mid-range smartphone series.

It is worth mentioning that according to the statistical report of Omdia, in the global smartphone sales ranking in the first half of 2020, the Redmi Note 8 ranked third. Moreover, the Note 8 Pro followed closely at fourth, and Note 8’s sales volume of the entire series ranks second in the world, becoming the best-selling Chinese smartphone series.

The previous Redmi Note 7 series sold more than 10 million in 4 months, and the Redmi Note 8 series reached 10 million sales in just 3 months, and then broke the 40 million mark.

Quietly, Redmi’s main shipping force has gradually shifted from the ultra-low-end, entry-level Redmi digital series to the mid-range Note series.

After reading this, you should wonder what factors are behind the success of the Redmi Note series.

 Among the models with a price range of 1,000 yuan to 2,000 yuan ($152 – $304) that are rooted in the Redmi Note series, most of them are simplified versions of high-end products. Thus, the manufacturers weaken some parameters to make their prices more affordable. The Redmi Note series has always done the opposite.

At the beginning of independence, the Redmi Note 7 came with the 48-megapixel main camera. It was exclusive to high-end flagship products. But with this move, users were able to get their hands on a low-end model priced at 999 yaun that also comes with a flagship-level camera. The Note 8 Pro sports the world’s first 64MP ultra-clear main camera.

Now, the Redmi Note 9 series is here. There are three models. And the Redmi Note 9 Pro has achieved the ultimate 100-megapixel main camera that was previously exclusive to flagship models.

At the same time, Redmi Note 9 Pro also was the first Chinese phone to come with the Snapdragon 750G 5G platform. But these are not the only selling points of this handset. It also comes with a 33W PD fast charge, a 120Hz high refresh rate screen, NFC, infrared, a linear motor, a large battery and other features. There is no lack of highlights. So it is very attractive on the basis of 1599 yuan ($243).

Redmi Note 9 Pro Design

The design of the outer packaging is quite thoughtful.

Redmi Note 9 Pro

The Redmi Note 9 Pro uses a 6.67-inch LCD screen with a resolution of 2400×1080. It also supports a high refresh rate of 120Hz, a typical contrast ratio of 1500:1, Sunscreen 3.0, a 1nit luminous screen, and is covered with Corning Gorilla Glass 5.

There is a 2-in-1 speaker opening on the upper frame.

The Redmi Note 9 Pro has made some changes to the shape of the non-display area of the forehead. It uses a central punch with a 3.8mm aperture.

The frame of Redmi Note 9 Pro is not wide. But due to the LCD screen packaging technology, the black border area is relatively wider. This is the common problem that most smartphones with LCD screens have.

The Redmi Note 9 Pro is available in three colors: Lake Light Autumn, Blue Sea and Stars, and Silent Starry Sky. What we have in our hands is the Lake Light Autumn Color, which currently uses a rare gradient color.

Side capacitive fingerprint unlock

There are no antenna ribbons on the body. So we think the fuselage is made of plastic.

From the point of view of weight and thickness, the Redmi Note 9 Pro is not thin and light, with a thickness of 9mm and a weight of 215 grams. Fortunately, there is a curved transition on the back of the fuselage.

The quad-camera module is protruding from the circular camera frame.

Speaker opening, rare 3.5mm headphone jack
Redmi Note 9 Pro still supports storage expansion
33W fast charge charger

Redmi Note 9 Pro Camera

Due to price and positioning constraints, the imaging system of the Redmi Note series has always been not top-notch. But it is the fastest early adopter of high-pixel sensors. The Redmi Note 7 came with the 48-megapixel Samsung GM1 CMOS; the Redmi Note 8 Pro launched the 64-megapixel Samsung GW1 CMOS.

This time, the Redmi Note 9 Pro once again followed the previous line. Although it was not the first to be equipped with a 100-megapixel sensor (the big brother Xiaomi Mi 10 series snatched the title of the first launch), it was the first to bring the 108-megapixel Samsung HM2 sensor main camera. The other lenses include a 120° angle of view ultra-wide-angle lens, a 2-megapixel macro lens, and a 2-megapixel depth-of-field lens.

There is no telephoto lens because the so-called optical zoom within 3X comes with the 100MP main camera. This may be much better than a fixed focus lens with poor quality. The so-called optical zoom needs to be realized with the help of a periscope structure. The former is not practical, but it adds the cost.

Samsung HM2: A new member of the sub-flagship level with a 100MP resolution

The larger the sensor, the more light enters. So it is less likely to be bound by the brightness of the environment.

The Samsung GM1 was launched by the Redmi Note series. The sensor entered the era of popularization of the outsole, and the Samsung GW1, which was launched by the Redmi Note 8 Pro, further achieved a 1/1.72 inch outsole.

The Sony IMX686 upgraded to 1/1.7 inches, the IMX689 custom main camera reached 1/1.4 inches, the Samsung HMX and HM1 entered 1/1.33 inches, and the top flagship Samsung GN1 and Sony IMX700 achieved 1/1.31 inches and 1/1.28 inch goal, respectively.

Now, Redmi Note 9 Pro has completed the first launch of Samsung’s third-generation 100-megapixel sensor ISOCELL HM2. Compared with the previous two generations of HMX and HM1, the Samsung HM2 also has a 108MP resolution. But the unit pixel area has been reduced from 0.8μm to 0.7μm, and the sensor size has been reduced from 1/1.33 inches to 1/1.52 inches.

This design makes the HM2 15% smaller in surface area and 10% thinner than HM1 and HMX, and occupies much less space on the fuselage. Moreover, the ISOCELL HM2 continues the super dual-core focusing and 9-pixel-in-1 technology. The equivalent unit pixel area can reach 2.1μm, and the 12-megapixel mode is suitable for photography creation under dark light.

Daytime shooting

Macro samples
Turn off HDR manually
Turn on HDR

Whether it is the previous Samsung HMX, HM1 or Samsung GN1, the HDR capability is particularly emphasized.

Similar to the technical principle of the previous GN1, each pixel in the four groups of HM2 takes pictures at different exposure times: two pixels for medium exposure, one pixel for long exposure, and one pixel for short exposure. This allows the sensor to capture light from the scene in front of it with higher accuracy.

Combining the information of these three exposure levels, the Samsung HM2 carried by the Redmi Note 9 Pro can generate a clear HDR image in a single photo, and users can preview it immediately.

0.6x
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We can see that in the day when the sun is relatively abundant, the 0.6x and 1x imaging white balance and color adjustment tendency of the Redmi Note 9 Pro have unexpected consistency, which is quite rare.

Since the camera does not have a telephoto lens, the zoom imaging above 1x is mainly achieved through the main camera cutting. Based on the test firmware of the engineering machine, there are obvious differences in white balance, color adjustment and the main camera straight out. But the image quality loss is quite small.

One thing to note is that the default output image of the Redmi Note 9 Pro is not 100MP, but 12MP. We need to manually turn on the 100MP mode on the camera interface. At this time, the resolution of the image is 12000×9000. The size is about 20MB.

Take a look at these comparison photos below. The contrast is obvious. The fonts of the far sign under 100MP are still visible after zoom. And the high-pixel mode is also conducive to post-production, whether it is self-cutting or with AI retouching, it will be more convenient.

According to Qualcomm’s official statement, the Snapdragon 750G supports up to 192MP for shooting. So this Samsung sensor has no problem.

Low light shooting

Regular mode
Night scene mode
Long exposure
Extreme dim regular mode
Extreme dark night scene mode

In low light conditions, the ISOCELL HM2 combines nine small pixels of 0.7μm into a large pixel of 2.1μm to absorb more light and take clear and bright 12MP photos under dim light. At the same time, it will automatically select a high ISO to obtain a brighter and clearer image in a dim environment without excessive noise.

Ultra wide-angle regular mode
Ultra wide-angle night scene mode

It is worth mentioning that the night scene mode algorithm can cover the ultra-wide-angle end, saving ultra-wide-angle lenses with limited light intake at night.

Indoor shooting

0.6x
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5x
10x

Redmi Note 9 Pro Performance

The Redmi Note 9 Pro is the first Chinese phone to come with the Snapdragon 750G.

However, the Snapdragon 750G is below the Snapdragon 768G and the Snapdragon 765/765G. But it adopts a new design. So the performance and functions are not weak. The highlight is that for the first time the A77 CPU core is introduced into the Snapdragon 7 series.

In AnTuTu, the performance of this machine is equivalent to that of many Snapdragon 845 phones.

The Snapdragon 750G is manufactured using an 8nm process and the CPU uses an octa-core design. It includes two Kryo 570 modified versions of A77, clocked at 2.2GHz, and six A55 1.8GHz. Considering that the A77 can improve the same frequency performance by about 25% compared to the A76, theoretically the performance of the Snapdragon 750G CPU is basically comparable to that of the Snapdragon 768G. The latter integrates two A76 cores with frequencies of 2.8GHz and 2.6GHz.

Redmi Note 9 Pro Geekbench 5.0 running score

In the Geekbench test, the Redmi Note 9 Pro’s Snapdragon 750G CPU has a single-core score of 658 and a multi-core score of 1977.

Geekbench 5.0 single core running score ranking
Geekbench 5.0 multi-core running score ranking

In Geekbench 5.0, the single-core CPU capability of the Snapdragon 750G is between the Samsung Exynos 980 and the MediaTek Dimensity 820. The CPU multi-core capability is between the Samsung Exynos 9810 and the Samsung Exynos 980. In terms of CPU, both single-core and multi-core surpass the Snapdragon 765G.

The Snapdragon 750G GPU integrates the Adreno 619, which claims to have about 10% higher performance than the Snapdragon 730G’s Adreno 618. But it is significantly weaker than the Adreno 620 used by the Snapdragon 768G/765G.

It integrates the Snapdragon X52 baseband, which supports frequency bands below 6GHz (4×4 100MHz carrier aggregation), millimeter wave frequency bands (2×2 400MHz carrier aggregation), NSA/SA networking mode, TDD/FDD standard, DSS dynamic spectrum sharing, Global roaming, global multi-card, and 4G LTE Cat.24/22 at the same time.

5G speed measurement vs. 4G speed measurement

The Snapdragon 750G also integrates Hexagon 694 DSP and fifth-generation AI Engine, with a computing power of 4TOPS (4 trillion operations per second). This is 20% higher than the Snapdragon 730G. Other aspects also support dual Spectra 355L ISP, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1, NFC, GPS/Beidou/Glonass/Galileo/QZSS/NavIC/SBAS navigation, 12GB LPDDR4X-2133 memory, 120Hz refresh rate, QC4+ fast Charge.

It is worth mentioning that all the Redmi Note 9 series are equipped with UFS 2.2 as standard, and it is also the first to come with such a storage. So UFS 2.2 finally landed on mass-produced models.

The biggest change brought by UFS 2.2 is the introduction of WriteBooster write acceleration to further improve the transmission speed. To some extent, UFS 2.2 is equal to UFS 2.1+WriteBooster. In fact, in the transitional era from UFS 3.0 to UFS 3.1, some smartphone manufacturers added write acceleration to devices equipped with UFS 3.0 flash memory, making the speed approach the level of UFS 3.1, and the same applies to UFS 2.1 and UFS 2.2.

Redmi Note 9 Pro Battery

The 8nm process of the Snapdragon 750G is different from the 7nm process of many processors in the same gear in terms of power consumption. Perhaps to make up for the power gap, the battery capacity of the Redmi Note 9 Pro is increased to 4820mAh. This is higher than the previous generation Note 8 Pro.

Video battery life

We tested for the endurance, setting the volume at 20% and brightness at 70%. The online video battery life of the Redmi Note 9 Pro under test conditions can reach more than 10 hours.

Charging

In the test, we started charging at 12%. After 30 minutes, it reached to 74%, 40 minutes to 90%, and 50 minutes to 98%. Based on the huge base of 4820mAh capacity, the charging speed is quite fast.

The Bottom Line

On the whole, the Redmi Note 9 Pro provides a reliable video camera in the same range. And from the appearance to the paper parameters, it is very cost-effective based on the price of 1599 yuan, which makes the phone quite attractive.

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