Since Redmi has become an independent company from Xiaomi (from which it still receives both hardware and software support), the number of smartphones with this brand has taken flight. The company is used to launching over 10 different smartphones every year, many of which with similar characteristics that certainly do not facilitate the choice for people.
We have been testing the smartphone for several days and although we have found many positive sides, it is not perfect for its price range.
Classic packaging for Redmi Note 9S
We do not go too far in describing the sales package, since it contains the same accessories as all the other Xiaomi and Redmi smartphones, which means the paper manuals, the PIN to extract the Nano SIM card, the matching wall power supply a cable for charging and USB Type-C data exchange and, finally, a discreet quality silicone cover.
Aesthetics “particular” and ergonomics quite comfortable for Redmi Note 9S
The choice to follow the path taken by Apple with the notch on the top of the display lasted little in Android. In the Redmi Note 9S we find a display with practically no frame around it and a small hole in the upper central part which houses the front camera. So far nothing new.
Turning the smartphone we find the real news. To differentiate their smartphones from the competition, each manufacturer has adopted a different configuration of the photographic sector. Despite the aesthetic taste, the choice of Redmi in creating a sort of central square (protruding) that houses the four cameras on a 2 × 2 grid (the top row circled in white) and then a further continuation towards the low to include the LED flash is not that made us fall in love at first sight of the Redmi Note 9S.
In our view and understanding the difficulties in creating a unique design that embraces everyone’s tastes, if the smartphone had kept only the cameras inside the black square section, the general design would have gained.
Finishing our examination of the rear body, we appreciate the use of protective glass even if this does not make any functional sense, given the absence of wireless charging.
As for the side edge, however, we were disappointed to find that polycarbonate (plastic) was used instead of a metal frame , also because other smartphones in the Redmi lineup have it.
For the rest, on the right edge we find the only power button that doubles the functions being also a capacitive fingerprint sensor ; on the lower side there is the system speaker (the only one working in multimedia terms), the USB Type-C port, the main microphone and the 3.5 mm audio jack; on the left the volume rocker has been integrated while at the top we find the trolley of the Nano SIM and the microSD (2 Nano SIM + 1 micro SD).
In terms of ergonomics we find a rather particular contrast between the fairly high weight of 209 grams that is felt every time you take the smartphone in your hand and the rounded rear body , whose curves adapt very well to the hand.
One-handed use is possible but only for short periods of time, as indeed with any other modern smartphone.
Another consideration on one-handed use is made on the positioning of the fingerprint sensor. Left-handed, positioning on the right edge does not allow users to unlock the smartphone by immediately having a comfortable grip but it forces us to grab it from behind and use the left index finger before moving on to a more comfortable grip from the lower edge for use.
Discreet hardware and solid performance
At the heart of Redmi Note 9s we find the most recent Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G SoC , specifically designed to be used on mid-range smartphones that do not give up high performance and full connectivity (or rather, semi-complete on this smartphone, given the absence of the chip NFC, present only in the Pro version).
The memory equipment is practically perfect for this price range and, to be honest, going beyond the 6 GB on other models we have struggled to find advantages in terms of performance.
Display, autonomy, software and cameras we will analyze them later but, in general, the hardware equipment of Redmi Note 9s is more than good:
Dimensions: 165.7 × 76.68 × 8.8mm
Weight: 209 grams
6.67-inch IPS LCD display with 20: 9 aspect ratio, 2,400 x 1,080 pixel resolution, maximum brightness of 450 nits, HDR10 support, Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection, 91% body-to-display ratio and TÜV Rheinland certification
SoC: Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G
Octa Core Qualcomm Kryo 465 64-bit CPU, up to 2.3GHz
GPU Adreno 618
Qualcomm AI Engine 5th generation with Hexagon Tensor Accelerator
RAM: 4/6 GB LPDDR4X (our model has 6)
Internal memory: 128 GB UFS 2.1 expandable via microSD (up to 512 GB)
48 MP Samsung ISOCELL GM248 megapixel, f / 1.79, 1.6 ?m pixel, 7 lenses, PDAF + EIS
8 megapixel ultra-wide 119 ° f / 2.2
5 megapixel macro AF (2cm-10cm)
2 megapixel depth sensor
16 megapixel front camera
5.020 mAh battery with 22.5 W fast charge support (charger included)
Connectivity: dual nano SIM, Dual 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 ac (2.4 / 5 GHz), Bluetooth 5, GPS, USB Type-C, infrared, FM radio, audio jack
Other: splash-resistant nano coating (no IPxx certification)
MIUI 11 operating system based on Android 10
The excellent performances shown on paper are also confirmed in the benchmark tests to which we have subjected it. All this, combined with the MIUI 11 based on Android 10, allows you to have incredible performances that, we are not ashamed to say, in everyday use they are identical to those of the top of the range with decidedly higher prices.
Autonomy is the workhorse of Redmi Note 9S
Whether it’s due to the huge 5,020 mAh battery, the particularly efficient SoC, the properly optimized MIUI 11 or a combination of all three of these elements , there is absolutely no doubt that the best feature of the Redmi Note 9S is its autonomy.
In terms of charging we find another plus: in addition to the support for quick charging, Redmi inside the package has integrated a power supply capable of supporting an energy output of 22.5W, bringing charging times around 90 minutes (from 0 to 50% in just 35 minutes). It is not for all manufacturers to integrate a rapid power supply in the package that supports exactly the same maximum input as the smartphone (Apple, for example, with the iPhone 11 integrates a 5W power supply in the package).
However, the fact remains that, if you intend to buy any smartphone with the intention of making it last as long as possible, the battery is undoubtedly the most fragile component: our advice is always to use wall-mounted power supplies with output not exceeding 10W (5V 2A), to keep the battery charge level always between 40% and 80% and not to leave the phone on 100% charge for long periods of time (modern smartphones have an intelligent function that, if put on charge during the night, stop it at 80% bringing it to 100% only a couple of hours before your typical awakening).
The many positive characteristics of Redmi Note 9S are not offset by many negativities.
Of course, the weight could have been lower but this would have meant a less capacious battery and therefore a worse autonomy. The goal of finding a balance to all this means that the design of a smartphone has, from the beginning, a certain target market. In the case of the Redmi Note 9S, in our opinion the target is the user who wants to have a good multimedia experience by sacrificing a little portability and ergonomics.
From the hardware point of view, we make the two real notes due to the lack of the NFC chip (a component now widely used for mobile payments and which does not have such an exorbitant cost) and to the rear photographic sector which, despite being advertised as exceptional thanks to the variety offered from the 4 sensors, it actually stops at a discrete main camera and a sufficient wide-angle and telephoto camera.
Anyway, the final judgment from our point of view is positive and, considering the base price from 229 euros (our version with 6 GB of RAM has a list price of 269 euros, even if we managed to buy it on offer at 220 euros on third-party stores), there is no better smartphone that you can buy in this price range.