You already know that there are few things more exciting than a head-to-head between two clearly competitive smartphones in the most competitive segment of the smartphone market—the affordable mid-range. Today, I bring you two of the latest smartphones from two of the best players in this particular segment: the Realme 6 and the Redmi Note 9s.
As both of these smartphones will be going on sale on the 27th of March, let’s see if we can help you decide which one to pick up on Friday.
Specs at a glance
A battle of two processors
On paper, there’s no denying that both of these smartphones are really comparable. The Redmi Note 9S has the benefit of more memory configurations, giving you the choice to have less or more, while the Realme 6 opts for a single configuration that is sort of an in-between where you get lots of storage but less RAM. Which one works better for you, really depends on how you use your smartphone.
But, I will say that both smartphones do feature dedicated microSD card slots so you always have the option to add more storage. You can’t however, add more RAM, so if you really need a lot of that, the Redmi Note 9S is the only one to offer more than 4GB.
That being said, one of the more interesting specifications where these smartphones diverge is with their processor. The Realme 6 comes packing a MediaTek Helio G90T, which you may remember on last year’s Redmi Note 8 Pro. This processor is touted for being one that’s optimised for gaming and will supposedly give you great performance even in demanding games.
On the other hand, the Redmi Note 9S is packing Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 720G processor. According to Xiaomi, this chip boasts an Antutu benchmark score of 278,324 which is pretty impressive for this range. If you want to know which is objectively a better processor, I frankly couldn’t tell you.
From what I understand, the processors are tuned a little differently. The MediaTek G90T has a slightly more capable GPU, which is why it should perform better in graphics intensive tasks like gaming, However, the Snapdragon 720G has been optimised for battery consumption and should also put up better numbers in daily tasks.
But, would this be a noticeable difference in most conventional usage? I don’t think so. You might feel it in gaming (I don’t know because I haven’t tested it yet), but for everything else these smartphones should perform remarkably similarly. The most noticeable difference will probably be in the OS, where Realme uses their realme UI skin on top of Android 10 while Xiaomi sticks to MIUI.
A refreshing edge
The next, and maybe most noticeable difference between these two smartphones, are the displays. Yes, both are pretty similar in size, with the Realme 6 featuring a 6.5″ IPS panel while the Redmi Note 9S packs a 6.67″ IPS panel. And yes, both are also Full HD+ screens so you can expect a similar experience.
However, the biggest difference between these two screens are their refresh rates. While the Redmi Note 9S has your usual 60Hz refresh rate, the Realme 6 takes it to the next level with a 90Hz panel. Yes, a 90Hz screen in a smartphone that’s priced below RM1000. That sounds absolutely wack but this is the world we live in now.
You might be wondering: but if I don’t play games, I won’t notice the difference right? Wrong. When you have a 90Hz display, everything will feel smoother. Simply swiping across your home screens and browsing web pages will feel smoother and more responsive. It’s truly a different experience and it’s one that I’m really happy has made it to the affordable segment of the market.
That said, this panel does have a drawback, and when you compare how this drawback, and this is where the Redmi Note 9S punches right back with a left hook.
Bigger is almost always better
High refresh rate screens are power hungry. That’s just a fact of life, which is why Realme needs to equip their new smartphone with a big battery otherwise it’ll be dead by lunch. And they definitely did a good job because the smartphone comes with a pretty sizable 4,300 mAh battery.
However, when you consider the fact that the Redmi Note 9S comes with a 5,020 mAh battery and its regular 60Hz refresh rate screen, you can start to see that the Note 9S should be the battery champion in this comparison.
Of course, the Realme 6 does edge out the Redmi Note 9S when it comes to fast-charging as it supports 30W VOOC fast charging, and Realme also includes a 30W fast-charger in the box. Redmi Note 9S only supports 18W fast charging, but interestingly Xiaomi includes a 22.5W fast charging brick in the box.
In any case, I’d personally prefer a longer lasting battery than a faster charging smartphone because I almost always charge my smartphones overnight, so speed is less of a concern for me.
Not all quad cameras are made equal
While both handsets come packed with quad camera setups and similar configurations, there’s quite a bit of variance between the individual camera modules themselves. On the Realme 6, you’ll get a higher resolution 64MP wide angle camera compared to the 48MP sensor you’d find in the Redmi Note 9S.
The Redmi Note 9S, on the other hand, has a higher resolution macro camera, clocking in 5 megapixels over the Realme 6’s 2MP shooter. They both have similar 8MP ultra-wide and 2MP depth sensors however.
Will this actually make a difference when it comes to image quality? It’s hard to say. I can safely say that you shouldn’t go expecting incredible flagship-quality images from these smartphones, but everything else will have to wait for a camera comparison.
The other stuff
With the main points out of the way, there are a couple of more minor similarities and differences between the handsets that you should know about. For starters, both handsets come with 3.5mm headphone jacks as well as a side mounted fingerprint scanner.
I’m all for the headphone jack, but I am not for the complete switch to side-mounted fingerprint scanners because those feel the most inconvenient for me to access. That being said, the Redmi Note 9S does come with an IR blaster for those who use their smartphones as remotes—something the Realme 6 does not come with.
The Redmi Note 9S also has a slightly larger footprint and is heavier than the Realme 6, but is marginally thinner. And then of course, you’ve got the price difference.
The price difference
Now, both of these handsets are in the sub-RM1,000 price bracket. This is probably one of the most price-sensitive price brackets in the market where every RM100 can count—and that’s exactly how much splits the RRP between these smartphones.
The most affordable handset here is the base model Redmi Note 9S which is priced at RM799 and comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. Add RM100 and you can get the top-spec Redmi Note 9S with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. However, if you want the smooth buttery goodness of the Realme 6’s 90Hz screen, you’ll have to fork up RM999 to pick that handset up.
Personally, it’s really hard to choose between these handsets. That 90Hz refresh rate on the Realme 6 seems too good to give up for the price, and they do offer a nice 128GB of internal storage.
But, I think when it comes to this price point, you should look at the practicality of the device, and when it comes to that, I’d pick the top-spec Redmi Note 9S instead. It’s got more RAM, a much bigger battery, an Android skin that I prefer over the realme UI, plus a lower price tag.
The Lazada Sale
This, however, becomes more complicated if you intend on picking these handsets up during the Lazada sale that will take place on the 27th of March 2020. During that sale, the base model Redmi Note 9S will be on sale for RM699 (that’s RM100 off). The Realme 6, however will be on sale for RM200 off, bringing its price down to just RM799, which makes it a far better bargain now.
If I were to pick between the entry-level Redmi Note 9S and the Realme 6, and the difference is RM100, I would definitely pick the Realme 6 instead. You get double the storage as well as that 90Hz display which seems like it’s definitely worth the price difference.
But what are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!