Redmi Note 9
- Awesome battery life
- No lags and smooth performance
The Xiaomi brand has gained some traction in Kenya, slowly getting recognized by the average consumer. In general, Xiaomi phones are easy to recommend – they come with decent specifications without the need to dig deeper into your wallet. Essentially, Xiaomi has become what Tecno and Infinix used to be before they got riddled with ads and copy-cat designs.
However, the story of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 is not as easy as that first paragraph. Yes, the device does offer quite the specifications for KES 18,000 but there are unprecedented shortcomings that we didn’t see with Xiaomi before.
Before we get into the shortcomings, here’s what you should expect from the device:
- Display: 6.53″ 1080p LCD
- Memory: 4GB RAM + 128GB
- Cameras: Quad 48MP + 8MP (wide) + 2MP (macro) + 2MP (depth)
- Selfie Camera: 13MP
- Operating System: MIUI 11 based on Android 10
- Battery: 5020mAh
- Features: USB-C, rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, fast charging
What We Liked
There’s nothing as fulfilling as a phone that can last more than a day. The Redmi Note 9 is one such device. With its huge battery, it got me an average of 12 hours screen-on-time before it ran out of juice. For those who want a real-life translation, the phone lasted one and a half days before I ran to charge it.
Mind you, this is with heavy usage, someone who uses their phone any less than I do will easily clock the end of the second day.
With such a big battery, charging is something that becomes a pain. Well, Xiaomi has included a fast charger in the box that gets the device up to 100% in slightly over 2 hours (which is actually impressive)… I tested the charging with another quick charge charger, but the results were almost double the charge time. So whatever you do, don’t lose your charging brick.
Whether it’s playing games, switching between TikTok and WhatsApp or catching up on YouTube, the Redmi Note 9 handles itself well. There’s enough RAM to handle apps without any lag and the internal storage is also sufficient for downloads and your pictures.
The fingerprint scanner is placed at a familiar spot – the back of the phone and it works really well without fail, unlike the modern in-display scanners.
The software implementation is pretty neat with useful features backed into the software including dark mode, screen recording, themes and other things.
With every other phone looking an iPhone on the back, it’s good to see Xiaomi take a slightly different direction. Yes, the camera module is square in shape but instead of being aligned to the left, it’s centre-aligned giving it a sorta unique look.
The colour is also well-done. No gradient shenanigans but a glossy colour with a weirdly matte finish. I don’t know how best to describe it but the bottom line is that this phone looks yummy from the back.
On the front, there’s a punch-hole that holds the selfie camera – the design on the front is a rather generic one and I wish the punch-hole was centred and the bottom chin bezel slightly smaller but it is what it is.
Before you get too excited, note that it’s not an awesome camera neither is it a bad camera. It just fails to impress as much or maybe I just had my expectations too high. But here’s the breakdown of what I thought:
- With good lighting, the photos look nice – as with every other camera out there
- There’s a dedicated bokeh/portrait mode that struggles with the edges and ends up messing up the subject in focus
- The wide-angle, and 2x zoom work really well and there’s no complaint about that
- There’s a dedicated 48MP mode and honestly, we didn’t see any difference with the normal mode
- There’s a short video mode which is good for Instagram and also a slow mode but they are both rarely used
- The selfie camera was just okay, nothing exciting – the details are there and the portrait mode on the selfie camera works as advertised
What We Didn’t Like
This will probably be the first time a phone in review has only one item under things we didn’t like but before you brush it off, this is actually a big deal.
Remember at the beginning I mentioned that Xiaomi had filled the vacuum that Tecno and Infinix left when the two ruined their customer experience? Well, it seems that Xiaomi didn’t know when to stop and the company now is serving ads through its software.
Want to install an app? Here’s an add to look at as you do that. Want to uninstall it? Here’s another ad for your eyes. There are also random ads within select Xiaomi apps – it’s just annoying.
It’s not such a big deal for someone who knows what to do to get rid of the ads but for the average user, this is not the experience they want when buying a phone.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 is an easy phone to recommend but we do so cautiously. Know what you’re getting yourself into. If you don’t mind the occasional ads and a camera experience that might fail you when you need it the most, then it’s a decision you will not regret.