Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S / 9 Pro review
Lemar William
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Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S / 9 Pro review

The popular Redmi Note smartphones are at their ninth generation this
year, and the initial limited run has enjoyed a warm reception. But the
Note 9 lineup is now going global, spearheaded by the Redmi Note 9S and
it's we are about to see what it's made of.


he Redmi Note 9S is a bit difficult to decipher at first, but it is the same phone as the Redmi Note 9 Pro available in India. Maybe we will get the local Pro Max as global Pro later, or maybe we won't.




Anyway,
the Redmi Note 9S is shaping as your typical bang for the buck offer -
it impresses with glass design, a large screen, a very capable chipset, a
good value quad-camera at the back, and a huge battery.



Having reviewed a couple of Realme phones already, we did notice this
one glaring omission - a high refresh rate screen - but maybe the Redmi
will make up for this in some other way. HRR matters only for the
operating system and the default apps as few games (if any) are capable
of going beyond 60fps on a mid-range chip anyway.




Let's take a closer look at the specs sheet.



Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S specs



  • Body: Plastic frame, Gorilla Glass 5 front and back, splash-proof, 165.8x76.7x8.8 mm, 209g.

  • Display: 6.67" IPS LCD, 1080 x 2400px resolution, 20:9 aspect ratio, 395ppi, HDR10.

  • Rear camera: Primary: 48MP, f/1.8 aperture, 1/2.0" sensor
    size, 0.8µm pixel size, PDAF. Ultrawide: 8MP, f/2.2, 1/4", 1.12µm
    pixels. Macro camera: 5MP, f/2.4, 1.12µm. Depth sensor: 2MP;
    2160p@30fps, 1080p@30/60/120fps, 720p@960fps video recording, EIS.

  • Front camera: 16MP, f/2.5 aperture, 1.0µm pixels. 1080p/30fps video recording.

  • OS: Android 10; MIUI 11.

  • Chipset: Snapdragon 720G (8nm): Octa-core (2x2.3 GHz Kryo 465 Gold & 6x1.8 GHz Kryo 465 Silver), Adreno 618 GPU.

  • Memory: 4/6GB of RAM; 64/128GB UFS 2.1 storage; dedicated microSD slot.

  • Battery: 5,020mAh; 18W fast charging.

  • Connectivity: LTE-A; USB-C; Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac; dual-band GPS; Bluetooth 5.0; FM radio; IR blaster.

  • Misc: Side-mounted fingerprint reader; 3.5mm audio jack.



We like that Xiaomi has started offering splash proofing on its
phones, and we are glad to see the audio jack and microSD slot stick
around. And with these final thoughts we proceed to pop the Redmi Note
9S box open and see what's inside.



Unboxing the Redmi Note 9S




The Redmi Note 9S retail box contains the usual - a charger, a USB-C cable, and a transparent silicone case.




The
Redmi Note 9S supports 18W fast charging, but Xiaomi is shipping it
with a 22.5W adapter instead - clearly overqualified for the job.



We saw a similar thing with the Mi 10 phones - the company wants you
to have a universal USB-PD charger that's compatible with all sorts of
devices and this way - to reduce the charger clutter. We do approve!



Oh, the Redmi Note 9S also comes with a thin screen protector applied in the factory, so that is nice as well.



Design and handling




This reviewer has been nostalgic for the old dumbphones of various
shapes, but today everything is all about the screen, and it usually
comes wrapped in glass. And so is the Redmi Note 9S - a Gorilla Glass
phone - built around a large screen - and featuring all the trendy
curves and flashy paintjobs.




There
were times when we were able to recognize a Redmi phone at an instant -
by looking at its Android touch keys below the screen. But there is no
space for such remnants of the past anymore - the Redmi Note 9S packs
one big 6.67" IPS LCD screen of 1080p resolution surrounded by rather
thin bezels.




The
new display has a punch hole for the 16MP selfies snapper. With this
new type of notches, the makers are sacrificing the bare minimum of
pixels, and we are happy with this development since the Note 8T. It is
not ideal, but it is an improvement.




The
earpiece grille is almost invisible above the screen, but contains more
than you think - there is also one super tiny white notificaiton LED
inside.



Not having an OLED screen makes it nearly impossible for the
companies to put the fingerprint scanner under the screen, and that's
why it is on the right side of the Redmi Note 9S - that's another recent
trend. The surface of the power key is touch-sensitive, and the button
also doubles as a fingerprint reader. It is fast and accurate, and we
have no complaints.




Moving
on to the back of the Note 9S, we are dazzled by the Aurora Blue color
on the curved Gorilla Glass 5. Even though we've seen a couple of Aurora
Blues on other phones already, this type of paintjob still makes us
somewhat dreamy, and we took a break and just looked at the back for a
while.




The
quad-camera is on the back, and it resides within a small but humping
sharp square. Here are the 48MP primary, the 8MP ultrawide, the 5MP
macro, and the 2MP depth snappers. The black accent paint goes beyond
the camera square downwards towards the LED flash.




Thanks
to the centered camera hump, the phone does wobble on a desk, but not
as many of the other phones on the market. The Redmi Note 9S wobbles
only when you are tapping, using some force at that, around the top part
of its screen - something that happens quire rare.



The blue frame is made of plastic and has matte finish unless we
count the insignificant polished chamfers. It makes for enough grip, and
we felt the Note 9S safe most of the time. Sure, its back is as
slippery as it can get, but the frame does a particularly good job
balancing that.




Of course, if you are not okay with the grip, you can always use the case that's within the retail box.




The
Redmi Note 9S has a lot of nearly extinct features around its sides -
an IR blaster on the top, a microSD slot on the left, an audio jack at
the bottom.



The Redmi Note 9S is a large phone, and operating it with one hand is
not a breeze experience. But that's why it is called a Note in the
first place - it is supposed to have a big screen, and expected to pack a
huge battery, and if the size bothers you - then you are looking at the
wrong phone.




The
Note 9S is splash-proof thanks to P2i nano-coating technology, so it
will survive the rain and some light splashes. It is not waterproof
though, so be careful.



We liked the Redmi Note 9S beautiful design and sleek shape, and we
have positive thoughts after using it for a while. It is a well-build
phone, eye-catchy, with enough grip, and basic water protection. That's
plenty enough.

Display




The Redmi Note 9S features a large 6.67" IPS LCD display with a punch
hole notch at the top to make room for the selfie camera. The
resolution is extended 1080p - 2,400 x 1,080 pixels - making for a
395ppi density.



The backlighting around the round notch is uneven and it is easily
visible on white background. So, be prepared to see this imperfection a
lot. Such uneven backlighting is a pretty glaring disadvantage of the
LCD panels when compared to OLEDs.



The Redmi Note 9S display is protected with a Gorilla Glass 5, but
this Redmi also ships with a screen protector that's been applied in the
factory.




The
Redmi Note 9S display supports HDR10, and it can display 1080p HDR
content from Netflix and the likes thanks to the Widevine L1 DRM
support.



Xiaomi promises 1500:1 contrast ratio for the Note 9S screen, and our
measurements show it is in the ballpark of the promised value. The
maximum brightness is about 420 nits, while the black levels are deep
enough at 0.3. The screen can be brighter though if you leave it on
Automatic Brightness - it can light up as high as 575 nits in bright
ambient light.



The minimum brightness we captured on the white color is 1.1nit - a perfect one for reading sessions in the dark!


























































Display test 100% brightness
Black,cd/m2 White,cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S 0.303 421 1389:1
Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S (Max Auto) 0.42 575 1369:1
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T 0.331 450 1360:1
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T (Max Auto) 0.453 600 1325:1
Realme 6 0.343 451 1315:1
Realme 6i 0.328 528 1610:1
Realme 6 Pro 0.318 421 1324:1
Huawei P40 Lite 0.425 461 1085:1
Huawei P40 Lite (Max Auto) 0.501 515 1028:1
Xiaomi Redmi K30 0.399 550 1378:1
Xiaomi Redmi K30 (Max Auto) 0.527 714 1355:1
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro 0.347 460 1326:1
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro (Max Auto) 0.486 640 1317:1
Samsung Galaxy A51 0 413
Samsung Galaxy A51 (Max Auto) 0 636


Xiaomi offers three different Contrast settings for the Redmi Note 9S
display. With the Automatic contrast set to on, the screen output seems
to be tuned for accuracy in the sRGB color space, and we measured an
average deltaE of 5.9. Only in this mode, you can choose the color
saturation (default, warm, cool) and the Delta E of 6.3 was measured
with the Default preset. Choosing warm will diminish the noticeable blue
tint but won't improve the overall accuracy by much.



The Standard Contrast setting has superb accuracy within the sRGB
color space, and we recorded an average deltaE of 2.1 for color
accuracy.



Finally, the Increased Contrast makes the colors pop at the expense of reproduction accuracy.



Battery life and charging



The Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S is powered by a large 5,020mAh Li-ion
battery. It supports 18W quick charge, but the 9S ships with a 22.5W
brick - meaning you will be overequipped. Xiaomi says it is one of their
universal chargers for smartphones, smart home accessories, tablets and
even small laptops.




The
bundled charger refills about 37% of the entirely depleted battery in
30 mins, 60% in 50 mins, while a full charge takes about 1 hour and 45
minutes.



The Redmi Note 9S scored an outstanding endurance rating of 127 hours
in our battery life test. The phone shows impressive times across the
board - talk time, video playback and web browsing, even standby.

Our battery tests were automated thanks to SmartViser, using its viSerDevice app. The endurance rating above denotes how long a single battery charge will last you if you use the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S for an hour each of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. We've established this usage pattern so that our battery results are comparable across devices in the most common day-to-day tasks. The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you're interested in the nitty-gritty. You can check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we've tested will compare under your own typical use.
Speaker




The Redmi Note 9S has no special treatment for its loudspeaker. It's a
single piece, bottom-firing, and tuned mostly for louder mid-tones. It
posted a 'Good' result for loudness in our seven-track music test. It
lacks a low-frequency thump, but it handles vocals well.








Use the Playback controls to listen to the phone sample
recordings (best use headphones). We measure the average loudness of the
speakers in LUFS. A lower absolute value means a louder sound. A look
at the frequency response chart will tell you how far off the ideal
"0db" flat line is the reproduction of the bass, treble, and mid
frequencies. You can add more phones to compare how they differ. The
scores and ratings are not comparable with our older loudspeaker test. 










MIUI 11 and Android 10



Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S boots the latest version of MIUI 11 out of the box and it runs on top of the latest Android 10 OS.




You
can unlock the screen via the side-mounted fingerprint scanner. The
reader is easy to set up and works fast. The accuracy is superb, too,
and, overall, it is excellent for your daily unlocking.



The Redmi Note 9S supports Dark mode - it will switch all system
colors from white to black, and this way, you can save some battery
juice on that LCD screen. With MIUI 11 it has been improved, and now
more apps support Dark mode, and the icons and their colors have been
redesigned to suit it better.




Dark mode



MIUI 11 supports nature alarm and notifications, which sound
different depending on the time of the day. Nature sounds have been
tailored for alarms and notifications and are far less stressful through
the day.




Nature-inspired notifications



There is no app drawer in MIUI, so all your apps are just sitting
there on your homescreen, but you can still add them to folders. Some
versions of MIUI do include an option to add such drawer, but our global
ROM did not have one.



Here are the default home screens on Redmi Note 9S. There's a weather
widget in the upper right corner across from a large clock widget.
There is a Google pane, the leftmost one.



MIUI 11 has refined looks with less clutter, and you easily spot the
Xiaomi efforts towards minimalistic design in the new Settings app.




Lockscreen • Homescreen • Homescreen • Tools • Google Discover • Settings



The task switcher has not changed. It shows all of your recent apps
in two columns. Tap and hold on a card for the split-screen shortcut, or
just swipe it left or right to close it.




Notifications • Toggles • Recents • Split Screen



Themes are supported on the Redmi Note 9S if that's your thing.




Themes



MIUI also offers a Security app. It can scan your phone for malware,
manage your blacklist, manage or restrict your data usage, configure
battery behavior, and free up some RAM. It can also manage the
permissions of your installed apps and allows you to define the battery
behavior of selected apps and applies restrictions only to the apps you
choose.



MIUI also offers proprietary Gallery, Music, and Video player. In
some regions, the music and video apps include paid streaming options.
FM radio app is available, too.



MIUI 11 has a new document viewing app, which supports all popular formats and makes easier viewing docs on your phone.



There is also a new Notes app that now supports Tasks.




Security app • Security app • Gallery • Music • File Manager • Mi Remote



In some markets, the pre-installed applications by Xiaomi will show
ads, which is how Xiaomi is compensating for the relatively lowеи prices
of its devices. We're reviewing the global version of the Redmi Note
9S, and the only places we noticed ads were the File Manager and the
Security apps. Those, while pre-installed MIUI apps, are not essential
though and there are ways to get rid of them.



Performance and benchmarks



The Redmi Note 9S employs the Snapdragon 720G chipset, and it is the
second phone we meet with this hardware, the first was the Realme 6 Pro.
We guess the rivalry is still going strong with these two brands.



The SoC uses an octa-core CPU in a 2+6 configuration - 2x2.3GHz Kryo
465 Gold (Cortex-A76 derivative) cores and 6x1.8GHz Kryo 465 Silver
(Cortex-A55 derivative) cores. The GPU in this chip is Adreno 618 - the
same one found in the Snapdragon 730.



The Redmi Note 9S is available in two RAM and storage configurations - 4GB/64GB and 6GB/128GB versions.



Finally, the 720G is built on an 8nm manufacturing process - currently one of the most efficient processes available.




We
ran a couple of benchmarks, and the CPU is shaping as an excellent
performer. The Kirin 810 processor is a bit more powerful, but it's
available only in very limited Google-less phones for now.








GeekBench 5.1 (multi-core)


Higher is better





  • Huawei P40 Lite

    1862


  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S

    1785


  • Realme 6

    1726


  • Xiaomi Redmi K30

    1692


  • Realme 6 Pro

    1666


  • Redmi Note 8 Pro

    1622


  • Realme 6i

    1349


  • Samsung Galaxy A51

    1294



GeekBench 5.1 (single-core)


Higher is better





  • Huawei P40 Lite

    591


  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S

    570


  • Realme 6 Pro

    565


  • Realme 6

    548


  • Xiaomi Redmi K30

    548


  • Redmi Note 8 Pro

    493


  • Realme 6i

    388


  • Samsung Galaxy A51

    347



In terms of GPU performance, the Redmi Note 9S returns strong numbers for the class, close to its Realme 6 rivals.



GFX 3.1 Manhattan (onscreen)


Higher is better





  • Realme 6i

    31


  • Huawei P40 Lite

    30


  • Realme 6 Pro

    27


  • Realme 6

    27


  • Xiaomi Redmi K30

    27


  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S

    26


  • Redmi Note 8 Pro

    24


  • Huawei P30 Lite (perf. mode)

    13


  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T

    11


  • Samsung Galaxy A51

    8.9



GFX 3.1 Car scene (onscreen)


Higher is better





  • Huawei P40 Lite

    18


  • Realme 6i

    17


  • Realme 6 Pro

    16


  • Realme 6

    16


  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S

    15


  • Xiaomi Redmi K30

    15


  • Redmi Note 8 Pro

    14


  • Huawei P30 Lite (perf. mode)

    6.9


  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T

    5.9


  • Samsung Galaxy A51

    5.6



Aztek Vulkan High (onscreen)


Higher is better





  • Realme 6 Pro

    11


  • Realme 6

    10


  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S

    9.9


  • Redmi Note 8 Pro

    9.4


  • Realme 6i

    9.3


  • Huawei P40 Lite

    8.6


  • Samsung Galaxy A51

    5.6


  • Huawei P30 Lite (perf. mode)

    3.4



Throwing all the components into the mix in Antutu, the Redmi Note 9S
is somewhat behind the Realme 6, but close to the Snapdragon
720G-powered Realme 6 Pro. Once again, Huawei's Kirin 810 proves
superior too.



AnTuTu 8


Higher is better





  • Huawei P40 Lite

    325777


  • Realme 6

    288931


  • Redmi Note 8 Pro

    279355


  • Xiaomi Redmi K30

    272229


  • Realme 6 Pro

    268785


  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S

    254000


  • Realme 6i

    202275


  • Samsung Galaxy A51

    175363


  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T

    167395



It's obvious the Redmi Note 9S is properly equipped for the class and
is consistently scoring great on the tests, no matter their purpose.
The heaviest of tasks - gaming - is not only possible on the Note 9S,
but a breezy experience.

Your typical quad-camera on the budget




The Redmi Note 9S has one square bump at the back that houses all
four cameras. The arrangement is familiar, in fact, it is the same as on
the Redmi Note 8T - first is the ultrawide snapper, then the primary
one, the depth camera is next, and last is the macro shooter.




The
main camera uses a 48 MP sensor with a Quad-Bayer filter, probably the
ISOCELL Bright GM2 sensor by Samsung. It's a large sensor with 0.8µm
pixels, and the lens has f/1.79 aperture. The image output is 12MP.



The 119-degree ultrawide-angle camera has an 8MP sensor with an f/2.2
aperture. There is automatic distortion correction applied when
necessary, but you can opt-out of it.



Then there's the 5MP macro camera with 1.12µm pixels and lens with
f/2.4 aperture. Autofocus is available, which is a rarity among those
type of snappers and much appreciated.



The last camera on the back is the 2MP depth sensor.



Switching between modes is like in every other camera app - swiping
left and right will take you through all modes while tapping in the
upper right corner of the screen where the "hamburger menu" resides will
expand the options. The Macro mode was hidden within this menu, which
is a bit odd.



The real settings menu is in there as well, and it doesn't offer anything out of the ordinary.




Camera app



The Redmi Note 9S offers 48MP mode, as well as manual (Pro) one.
Speaking of Pro, this one offers pretty much all the settings you'd need
- white balance, focus, ISO, and shutter speed. The Pro mode works with
the normal camera, the ultra-wide, and the macro. Manual 48MP pictures
are also an option.



Image quality




The 48MP camera saves by default 12MP images, and the ones we shot
with the Redmi Note 9S are good for the class. The resolved detail is
enough though nothing impressive and that's probably the easiest tell
about the budget quality. The foliage is a smudgy mess, the window
blinds were too complex for the algorithm and so was any intricate
detail.



Still, the photos do offer enough detail, and it gets only better
from there - the noise levels are kept low, the contrast is great, and
the colors stayed mostly true to life. The dynamic range is pretty wide
and the Auto HDR did not fire even once.





Redmi Note 9S 12MP photos



The MIUI 11 camera app has this AI Camera trigger on the viewfinder.
This option always uses HDR and oversaturates the colors big time. You
will see shadows pop unnaturally, and colors go to extremes. But if you
like what you are seeing, then it's there for you to use it.




Redmi Note 9S AI mode



There is a standalone 48MP mode, but what you would does not look
like a real 48MP image. The photos seem to be upscaled from the 12MP
images and then heavily sharpened. There are no benefits whatsoever when
shooting in 48MP, and we don't recommend it.




Redmi Note 9S 48MP photos



The viewfinder offers 2X toggle and the photos are exactly what you would expect - digitally zoomed and lacking in detail.




Redmi Note 9S 12MP 2x photos



The 8MP cam snaps very good ultrawide photos for this budget class
with good detail levels, great contrast and rather high dynamic range.
The distortion correction does a nice job around the corners and overall
- we are happy with this camera.




Redmi Note 9S 8MP ultrawide photos



The 5MP macro camera shoots great closeups. They are detailed, with
little noise and quite lively. The autofocus helps a lot in such
occasions as opposed to the fixed focus at 4cm most of the competitors
are offering. The colors are a bit dull, but other than that - a
remarkable job.


Redmi Note 9S 5MP macro photos



The quality of the portraits taken with the rear camera of the Redmi
Note 9S depends on the available light as the resolved detail would
drastically drop when the light is not good. So, when the right
conditions are met - you will be rewarded with some very nice portrait
shots - detailed, with good enough subject separation and convincing
faux blur.




Redmi Note 9S 12MP portraits



The Redmi Note 9S is a good shooter at night even if the images are
underexposed. The detail is rather good, left mostly intact by the noise
reduction, while the noise itself is kept in order, too. The color
saturation is excellent.



The Auto HDR decided to show its presence on some of the scenes (the
hotel building), and its aggressive noise reduction smears a lot of the
fine detail, while doing little to develop the underexposed areas or
restore some blown highlights. Maybe it's not a good idea to use HDR at
night at all.




Redmi Note 9S 12MP low-light photos



You can trigger the AI mode and get a bit more saturated images at
sunset, or sunrise, and we liked these. So, you may want to try it, and
see if you like the results in low-light.




No HDR • No HDR • AI shot • AI shot



The Night Mode is something you should definitely use. You lose some
detail, but the gains are huge - balanced exposure and restored
highlights, some detail in the shows pop, too. We recommend this Night
Mode - it takes less than 2 seconds, but the results are excellent for
this class.




Redmi Note 9S 12MP Night Mode photos



The night photos from the ultrawide-angle camera are barely usable.
The are lacking in detail, pretty dark, and the smeared noise everywhere
is a big party pooper.



There is no Night Mode for the ultrawide camera, unfortunately.





Redmi Note 9S 8MP low-light ultrawide photos



Here's how the primary camera on the Redmi Note 9S stacks against the rest of the competition in a more controlled environment.




Redmi Note 9S against the Realme 6 Pro and the Redmi Note 8T in our Photo compare tool



Selfies



The 16MP selfies aren't that sharp and we suspect the imager of
having a Quad-Bayer filter. Still, the photos are good, HDR works great
when needed, and we observed good colors and contrast. We'd be happy
with the native 8MP shots though, just saying.




Redmi Note 9S 16MP selfies



The selfie portraits offer competent subject isolation and the background blur is convincing.




Redmi Note 9S 16MP selfie portraits

Wrap-up



The Redmi Note 9S (or Redmi Note 9 Pro, if you prefer, because the two are identical) is an excellent smartphone and there is no doubt about that at the end of our review. It offers great performance, a large screen, and a good variety of cameras and shooting modes. And typical for the Redmi Notes, this one also excels in battery life.




The
Note 9S costs just €229 in Europe, while its 128GB model is sold for
€269. And these will surely seal the deal for many, especially if you
are a fan of MIUI. But before you hit the Buy button, let's see what
else is on the market today.



The verdict



The Redmi Note 9S offers more than enough bang for its buck, but we
expected nothing less from a Redmi phone anyway. Is it the best within
its price bracket? It is debatable. Realme do offer a smoother OS
experience with its 90Hz screen on the Realme 6 and this maybe a tipping
point.




But
the Redmi Note 9S excels in everything it promises it will, and while
it cannot show us the smoothest of MIUIs, it surely impresses with HDR10
skills, a meaningful macro camera, and battery autonomy. These are more
than enough by our books and the Redmi Note 9S a phone we can easily
recommend.



Pros



  • Beautiful Gorilla Glass 5 body, splash resistance

  • Large and bright LCD screen, HDR10 support

  • Remarkable battery life

  • Top-notch performance for this class

  • Good photo and video quality for the class

  • Latest Android and MIUI






Cons



  • Realme offers 90Hz display for the same cash

  • No NFC








Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S Smartphone The Latest Smart Phone of Redmi Series Global Version EU Plug


$399


$249




































































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