Redmi Note 9S

Redmi Note 9S – Xiaomi Redmi is the phone that put the company on the map and helped Xiaomi gain massive global momentum. The Redmi Note 4 sold over 10 million units over its product cycle, and last year, the Redmi Note 7 Pro was India’s highest-selling phone in the Rs. 10,000 and above category. Suffice it to say, it is critical for the brand to get this product right.

Of course, the competition has been keeping a keen eye on Xiaomi’s rise and has mounted a strong counteroffensive. Realme is its strongest competitor yet and has built a portfolio of truly great products that match Xiaomi spec-for-spec and sometimes beat it.

it is all the more important for Xiaomi to build a product that doesn’t just meet a checklist but pushes forward. Is the Redmi Note 9 Pro that device? We find out in the Android Authority Redmi Note 9 Pro review.

It’s worth pointing out that the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S is basically exactly the same phone as the India-only version of the Redmi Note 9 Pro, which itself is different in a few ways to the Redmi Note 9 Pro sold globally. That’s pretty confusing, we’re aware, but suffice to say the Note 9S is different to the Note 9 Pro in the regions where both are available.

Redmi Note 9S price and availability

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S is available to buy only in the UK, at the time of writing, though that might change. It comes in two sizing versions – one with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, and another 6GB / 128GB combo.

you can pick it up for £199 (roughly $250 / AU$370), so it’s a rather cheap phone. That’s for the 4GB / 64GB version, but for the 6GB / 128GB model, you’ll be paying £229 (around $280, AU$420).

Redmi Note 9S Design

Redmi Note 9S Design
Redmi Note 9S Design

Xiaomi’s smartphone designs have matured by great lengths in recent years, going from uninspiring metal backs to high-end glass sandwiches. The Redmi Note 9S is a refinement to the design of previous phones, and the result is a hefty phone with a unibody glass design that looks better than what the price tag may suggest.

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S’s camera bump protrudes considerably, but the phone doesn’t rock much while it’s on a table, presumably because of the square 2 x 2 camera layout instead of the lenses being in a straight line across the spine.

Around the bump there’s a slight lip to avoid the lenses scratching, and because of this the bump is one of the most pronounced we’ve seen on a recent smartphone. Aside from the camera island, the back is pretty minimal and classy with no other eyesores. Notably, both the back and the cameras are covered by Gorilla Glass 5, unlike previous Redmi phones.

While the move to a premium finish is appreciated, there is no denying that this is a big and heavy phone. While it does bring a bigger display and battery to justify that stature (more on that ahead), you’ll have a hard time fitting it in your pocket.

Moving your hand to interact with the length of the screen is sure to tire your wrists. Other inherent big phone problems, such as an inability to use it one-handed or difficulty in reaching the volume rocker, are also experienced here.

Redmi Note 9S Display

Redmi Note 9S Display

 displays have been a part of the Redmi Note series’ DNA from the beginning, with each generation overshadowing the last. The Redmi Note 9S is no different. Thanks to its 6.67-inch display, it’s the biggest screen ever seen on the series, and it has a tall 20:9 aspect ratio. Viewing videos or playing games on this bigger canvas is enjoyable and immersive.

It’s an LCD panel with a resolution of 2,400 x 1,080. The max brightness is just about adequate, but stronger outdoor sunlight can definitely overpower it. Because it’s LCD, the blacks and contrast levels are far from perfect, and you’ll probably mistake the blacks for greys. The colors otherwise are pretty accurate, at least when viewed head-on.

We did notice occasional light bleeding and non-uniformity across the display, especially when viewing darker content, however this is not very prominent and is easy to overlook. This was predominantly towards the sides and the notch. However, this seems to be an isolated issue and not one that anyone else reported, so it could be a defect with our early model.

We understand that it is unreasonable to expect too much at this price, but we’re talking about a hugely competitive segment of smartphones (super-cheap phones), where one spec can tilt the outcome the other way.

Some of the Redmi Note 9S’ direct competitors – such as the Realme 6 and the Poco X2 – offer higher refresh rates at almost the same price. It’s not a necessity but it makes for a noticeably smoother-seeming interface.

Performance

Performance has never really been an issue on many affordable phones from Xiaomi, and the Redmi Note 9S is no exception. It is powered by the Snapdragon 720G chipset, and was one of the first smartphones in the world to sport it. 

It marks the return of the Redmi Note series to Qualcomm’s camp after flirting with MediaTek in 2019. While the Helio G90T in the Redmi Note 8 Pro was great at gaming, it sometimes ran hot and it chugged on the battery.

including bouncing between apps, social media, and other tasks, the phone never failed to keep up. There were no real stutters or unusually long loading times. If anything, we’d suggest staying away from the 4GB of RAM variant, as the OS usually eats up the majority of it. On our 6GB variant, memory management was amicable. It seems well optimized for MIUI, the Android fork that Xiaomi uses on its devices

Redmi Note 9S Gaming

Redmi Note 9S was a pretty enjoyable experience, owing to the generally consistent and smooth gameplay. On heavier games such as PUBG Mobile, we were always at around 40-45 frames per second (fps).

It’s worth noting that the MediaTek Helio G90T found in the Redmi Note 8 Pro was able to hit 60fps due to its beefier GPU, though. Still, unlike that chipset we faced no signs of overheating on the Note 9S.

The big display provides a great viewing experience with ample space for the controls to be moved to the side. Sadly, the single downward-firing speaker is nothing to write home about and will be muffled rather easily by your hand, depending on how you hold your phone. The headphone jack is still around to make up for that though.

Software

Xiaomi phones have been a point of contention for years. Running MIUI 11 based on Android 10, the Redmi Note 9S is likely to be an entry point for many into this ecosystem. Here’s what you need to know about it: visually, it’s very far from stock Android. Functionally, it can do almost everything, if not more. 

Customization options are plentiful and granular, and it includes a vast theme collection allowing you to tweak the look of the interface. There is no app drawer by default, so all your apps will spill onto the home screens, much like iOS.

A system-wide dark mode is available, but don’t expect it to blow you away as one on an OLED display might. There’s a ton of pre-installed apps, some useful, some questionable.

One of the first things we’d implore you to do is turn off notifications for all the bloatware apps. Not only are they irritating, but they also occasionally put out NSFW content. Disabling them means you only get the notifications from the apps you install – just how Android notifications should be.

Redmi Note 9S Camera

Redmi Note 9S Camera

 Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro was one of the first budget smartphones to sport a 64MP camera. The Note 9S, however, goes back to a 48MP image sensor, this time implementing the 1/2-inch Samsung ISOCELL Bright GM2 sensor, at an f/1.8 aperture.

An 8MP ultra-wide sensor follows, with a 13mm equivalent field-of-view, and an f/2.2 lens. A 5MP macro shooter and 2MP depth sensor bring the tally up to four cameras.

It’s worth pointing out that the Indian-region Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro, and the Note 9S, have this 48MP main snapper, but the Redmi Note 9 Pro released in some other regions doesn’t. Instead, it has a 64MP main camera, but we didn’t test this version.

the Redmi Note 9S has one of our favorite manual modes on any current smartphone. Not only are the usual toggles present,

but those can be used for the secondary and macro camera as well. All of them carry forward to videos too.

High-end features such as focus peaking and exposure warning are great additions as well.

Battery life

battery life has always been a feature of the Redmi Note series. The Note 9S takes it to the next level, with a massive 5,020mAh battery. Paired with MIUI 11’s frugal nature and the 8nm processor, it now claims the title for the best battery life we’ve seen on a smartphone recently. 

On almost every day of using the device as our primary driver, we would end days with over 30% juice left. The screen-on time was usually over the 10 hours mark, which very few phones have been able to offer consistently.

Even adding an hour or two of heavy gaming barely changed that. Just for the battery life alone, we would pick the Redmi Note 9S over many other phones.

It also made us forgive how slow the charging is. The included 18W Type-C charger takes close to 2.5 hours to go from empty to full. Understandable considering the size of the battery.

VERDICT

The Redmi Note 9S offers one of the most reliable experiences on a phone at its super-low price point. Its battery life is unmatched, the performance is always consistent, and the large display is a joy to use.

FOR

  • Impressive battery life
  • Reliable performance
  • Big and vibrant display

AGAINST

  • ‘Only’ 60Hz display
  • Relatively slow charging
  • Bulky build

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