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Redmi Note 9 Pro series: Probably the best smartphones under RM1,000

Xiaomi sub-brand Redmi as just unveiled its latest mid-range contender for 2020 with the Redmi Note 9 Pro and Redmi Note 9 Pro Max. Despite the odd naming, both devices offer the same huge features with minor differences separating the two. Although Redmi isn’t pushing a high 90Hz display refresh rate like the Realme 6 series, it makes up for by offering upgrades in other key areas.

Redmi Note 9 Pro Max

The Redmi Note 9 Pro Max is the highest offering among the two and it has a larger 6.67″ Full HD+ display that comes with a centre-aligned punch-hole camera. Under the hood, it runs on an 8nm Snapdragon 720G processor that can be configured with up to 8GB of LPDDR4x RAM and 128GB of UFS 2.1 storage. Unlike the current Redmi Note 8 Pro, the latest series comes with a triple-tray slot which allows you to use two nanoSIMs and a microSD card at the same time.

Although the display is bigger, the Note 9 Pro Max is actually more compact than the Xiaomi’s previous large screen Mi Max that comes with a smaller 6.44″ display. Over at the rear, the device features a 3D curved glass design and a 2×2 quad-camera bump which looks similar to the Huawei Mate 20 series. For a cleaner appearance, the new Redmi device uses a side-mounted fingerprint sensor instead of a rear-mounted unit.

The quad-camera setup consists of a high-resolution 64MP f/1.89 main camera that uses a large 1/1.7″ sensor. There’s also an 8MP f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle camera, a 5MP macro shooter and a 2MP depth sensor. Unfortunately, there’s no telephoto lens but you can get up to 10x zoom in digital. The Note 9 Pro can shoot 4K videos at 30fps and it can also shoot 960fps slow-mo in 720p.

Meanwhile, the front gets a 32MP selfie shooter that supports the 4-in-1 Super Pixel feature for better low light performance. The front camera can record 1080p videos and slow-mo videos at 120fps.

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To provide a long-lasting battery life, the Note 9 Pro Max gets a huge 5,020mAh battery which is 520mAh more than its predecessor. Despite the larger capacity, it still retains a similar 8.8mm thin profile and it charges via USB-C. Also included are a 3.5mm headphone jack and an IR blaster which sits at the top of the device.

Out of the box, the device is bundled with a 33W fast charger, which is slightly higher in output than the Realme 6 Pro‘s 30W power brick. According to Xiaomi, you can get 0-50% charge in less than 30 minutes.

Redmi Note 9 Pro

If you’re looking for something more affordable, there’s the Redmi Note 9 Pro. Although it doesn’t have “Max” in the name, you still get the same 6.67″ Full HD+ display, the same Snapdragon 720G processor and the same 5,020mAh battery.

The key difference is the RAM and storage options as it maxes out at 6GB LPDDR4x RAM and 128GB of UFS 2.1 storage. For the non-Max model, it settles for a lower resolution 16MP front camera and the rear 64MP main camera has been swapped for a 48MP main shooter that has a smaller 1/2.25″ sensor.

The rest of the device remains unchanged but you do get a lower 18W fast charger, instead of a 33W fast charging unit. Both the Note 9 Pro and Note 9 Pro Max supports 802.11ac WiFi, 2×2 WiFi MIMO and Bluetooth 5.0. Probably the only feature that’s missing from the spec-sheet is NFC support.

For protection against accidental spills and splashes, both models also come with P2i nano-coating. However, this doesn’t mean you can submerge it like an IP68-rated device.

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Pricing and availability

The Redmi Note 9 Pro will go on sale in India on the 17th of March while the Pro Max model will go on sale on the 25th of March. Below is the official pricing in India:

Redmi Note 9 Pro
4GB RAM + 64GB storage – INR 12,999 (about RM748)
6GB RAM + 128GB storage – INR 15,999 (about RM920)

Redmi Note 9 Pro Max
6GB RAM + 64GB storage – INR 14,999 (about RM862)
6GB RAM + 128GB storage – INR 16,999 (about RM978)
8GB RAM + 128GB storage – INR 18,999 (about RM1,093)

Overall, Xiaomi is sticking to its tried and proven recipe of offering an affordable device that offers great performance, big display, upgraded cameras and a huge battery. The decision to offer a Qualcomm processor would definitely make a lot of power users happy and it is great that they have retained fan favourite features such as a dedicated microSD card slot, a 3.5mm headphone jack and an infrared blaster.

So far there are no details yet about its availability for Malaysia but we reckon it should be coming in the months to come.

Alexander Wong