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Xiaomi Redmi 9T Review
Apr 02, 2021
It is quite thrilling that Xiaomi is making its budget friendly smartphone available to the wider market, and the arrival of Redmi 9T in Europe is great news. Considering the aggressive price point, one of the most popular and successful line-ups from the company is expected to make decent sales. Unexpectedly, the Redmi series is going to face competition from none other than Xiaomi’s Poco sub-brand, in the case of Redmi 9T it’s going against Poco M3.
The two devices seem like twins but with a few differences in the back design and selection of camera. The Redmi 9T comes with an ultrawide snapper which is missing in Poco M3, an NFC chip (still depending on the region, though) and then there is also a water-repellent coating. It means that you need to pay a bit more for the Redmi 9T, which are worth the extra features if you are looking for them specifically.
The Redmi 9T still seems a pretty solid entry-level smartphone which is priced at €150. The features that make the phone standout include its stereo loudspeakers, the 48MP main camera, the ultrawide unit, the huge 6,000mAh battery, and the water-repellent coating of the internals. These are features that are difficult to find in phones at this price range, especially packed in a single smartphone.
The phone is available in three memory configurations starting from 4GB/64GB. If you don’t feel that 64GB storage is enough, there is also a dedicated microSD card slot (not shared). On the other hand, there is the chipset which is to be expected in this price segment – Snapdragon 662 from last year which is power-efficiency oriented. It’s pretty much obvious what to expect from the Redmi 9T since we know what Poco M3 has to offer.
The phone is shipped in a box with the usual stuff that includes user manuals, USB-A to USB-C cable for charging and data transfer and a charging brick rated at 22.5W but the phone caps at 18W. The budget phones from Xiaomi often come with powerful bricks, since it’s cheaper to manufacture one charger than to cover more models. There is also a transparent silicone case in the box which fits the phone perfectly.
What makes Redmi 9T distinguishable from Poco M3 is the back design and accents on the rear. The Redmi 9T is made entirely of plastic apart from the front panel. A sheet of Gorilla Glass 3 protects the front panel and seems like it is not afraid to show it. This is not even the best part; the patterned polycarbonate back is what Redmi 9T takes pride in – that’s one aspect which is common between Redmi 9T and Poco M3.
The back has the Redmi branding and a concentric pattern which draws the eyes towards the camera module. The phone has a good grip and is soft at the same time, leaning more towards softness. However, it’s better than glossy plastic or glass, it would be best if you are not expecting a non-slippery surface.
What makes Redmi 9T stand out is the water- repellent coating and dedicated microSD card slot, which isn’t shared with the two SIM card slots. Undoubtedly, the water repellent coating doesn’t mean water resistant. However, it will save the phone from some rain and get your phone out alive if accidentally dropped in a puddle.
Coming to the front panel, the side bezels are thin while the top and bottom are thick as usual. The front has a water drop-styled notch which houses the selfie camera is still actually a preference for some, since the industry has already shifted to punch holes, so it might not necessarily be a drawback.
Sliding the finger through the sides, makes us realize that the phone features no ridges and the phone has a unibody build since the back embraces the frame gently which is a rarity these days. The unibody can’t be made of glass, so it calls for plastic back and as mentioned earlier it puts on the back really well.
Design-wise it’s still comfortable as you won’t have to re-adjust your natural grip to reach the power button or volume rockers since they are conveniently placed within the reach of your thumb.
Thus, we conclude the design part which in our opinion is really good. The Redmi 9T proudly stands as an entry-level phone, and yet with its patterned back makes it stand apart from the crowd.
The display on the Redmi 9T is similar to that on the Poco M3 and expectedly the output from the display resembles the identicality. Redmi 9T is among the few low-budget phones that feature 1080p resolution. The display has a 1080p+ resolution – 1080 x 2340px spread across the tall 19.5:9 aspect ratio. We previously have mentioned that the panel is guarded by Gorilla Glass 3 sheet and has water drop-style notch which houses the selfie camera.
The panel was advertised with 400 nits which the phone does provide with Sunlight mode kicking in. The peak recorded brightness is 437 nits, and when in manual mode, the panel hit 394 nits in Saturated mode and 381 nits in the default color preset.
The contrast ratio is 1500:1 which is well above with which it was advertised. It’s a decent panel that should provide good enough visibility in most conditions.
Battery Life and Charging Speed:
With that 6,000mAh battery and efficient Snapdragon 662 chipset perform their job of keeping the phone running flawlessly. You can rest assured, this phone won’t need refuelling for a couple of days, of course that depends on the usage. The battery life of 150h is not just worthy of admiration but also record breaking.
The charging speed of 18W is not what you call the fastest and then there is also the 6,000mAh battery which it needs to power up. When charging the phone from straight bottom, it takes 30 minutes just to make it to 25%, while a full charge will take just a bit less than 3 hours. It won’t do justice to Redmi 9Tif you complain about the charging time because the competition makes use of the same charging speed but charges faster since they carry smaller batteries.
The Redmi 9T is among those few devices in this price range which feature proper stereo loudspeakers, what’s good is they are surprisingly good. The sound produced by the speakers is full, clear and moderately loud. With these things the speakers can very well be considered excellent, especially for the devices in this class. There is some distortion in highs when volume is cranked up but it’s slight so it can be ignored.
The device makes use of 2020’s entry-level Snapdragon 662chipset based on an 11nm manufacturing process. The chipset is equipped with octa-core CPU divided into two clusters of cores - 4x 2.0GHz Kryo 260 Gold cores for the more demanding tasks and 4x 1.8GHz Kryo 260 Silver cores for less demanding applications and energy efficiency. The GPU on board is Adreno 610.
The smartphone comes in various memory variants. The phone offers 4GB RAM which goes up to 6 GB which is supported by 64GB which jumps up to 128GB of storage. It’s a thing to note that the 64GB model has UFS 2.1 chip while the 128GB has UFS 2.2 chip. The UFS 2.2 means faster read and write speed.
The performance is mostly at a similar level to that of phones in the same price range when it comes to multi-core performance but that’s not the case with single-core power.
Gaming performance is suffering, due to the entry level chip that’s paired with a high 1080p+ resolution for this class.
The Redmi 9T apparently has an identical camera setup to the Poco M3 but adds an ultrawide sensor. The main snapper is still 48MP with f/1.8 aperture and 1/2.0” sensor size. There is an 8MP ultrawide lens with f/2.2 aperture and 1/4.0” sensor size. The field of view with which it was advertised is 120o, which is wide in true sense.
The other two snappers are both 2MP out of which only one is actually usable. While one of the shooters is used for macro photography the other assists in depth sensing when shooting portrait photos.
There is an 8MP camera in the front with f/2.1 aperture and 1/4.0” sensor size for clicking selfies and video calling.
There isn’t much of a difference in the daylight camera performance of the main camera compared to the Poco M3, since they both share the same software, camera and chipset. However, the overall performance in daylight is quite good. There sure is some noticeable noise here and there, mostly in the sky or homogenous background. The sharpness and details make up for the spectacular photos it clicks. The colours are a bit warmer than they should be and the contrast is somewhat at the same level as most of the Xiaomi mid-rangers. Though not perfect, the dynamic range is more than good, even on a bright sunny day. When indoors the sharpness and details see a considerable job.
Switching to 48MP won’t be of much benefit. There is no point in using the 48MP camera since the result is even worse than the standard 12MP photos.
The output of the ultrawide camera at first glance may seem similar to the main camera but don’t expect too much of it. There is edge softness which is quite noticeable. While the sharpness and details are on the low end, the photos are quite noisy. However, the color, contrast and white balance look the same as on the main camera.
The ultrawide cam is good for clicking casual images for social media posting. It comes as a surprise but it’s pretty much on par with its competitors.
Moving on to the performance of cameras in low-light. It would be too much to ask for good night time shots from the main camera of a phone this cheap. To our surprise, the shots taken in low-light are actually usable, even for social media. Though the colours are washed out, detail is pretty much missing and what to say about noise, it's abundant, but to be honest the images do look clearer from what we had expected with no fogginess. The only bugging issue is that the shots are dark and underexposed while highlights are often blown.
The dedicated Night mode might be of some assistance here. It just takes a second or two to change the mode but the result is far from the output of the standard photo mode. The noise-suppression algorithm sometimes washes away fine details but does its job of keeping noise well under control. The images are a lot better with added sharpness and more details in the shadows and highlights. The Night mode considerably balances the shadows and highlights making the photos look brighter.
Ultrawide angle camera
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the performance of the ultrawide camera. It barely gives decent performance in daylight, let alone night time. Photos are way underexposed, lack dynamic range and details making them extremely soft. They generally get blurry. Since there is no Night mode to help, it really makes it hard to recommend ultrawide lens for low-light photography.
The reason behind the lagging of macro cameras is generally due to lack of auto focus and limited resolution of just 2MP. There are a lot of factors that come into play when taking photos using the macro lens. Taking a couple of shots might help, but don’t expect too much in terms of results surrounding sharpness, details, colours and overall good performance indoors.
Xiaomi is making full use of its depth sensor since the portrait shots are quite appreciable for this price range. The subject seems to be well-exposed and details are retained even more when the conditions are challenging. As the lighting goes down the image starts getting softer and noise in the photos is easily visible. The output is quite convincing with natural colours and impressive edge detection.
The selfies are not the best as they seem to be dull and turns the skin of the subject too white. The images lack detail and noise is in abundance. When there is a complex scene the face seems to be underexposed and soft. When the conditions are ideal the results are quite good with sufficient detail. On the other hand, the portrait mode makes the edges look fuzzy, which is to be expected.
The smartphone is able to capture videos at 1080p and up to 30fps with no 4K footage shooting capability. The videos you shoot are going to be shaky no matter what since there is no electronic video stabilization. As for the Full HD videos, it’s mostly what you’d expect from a low-end phone. No matter how you look at it, the no details and sharpness are to be seen by far, the dynamic range is narrow with only colours popping and really good contrast.
The videos shot on ultrawide cameras are almost identical but with even less details.
Notwithstanding the relatively higher price of Redmi 9T compared to the Poco M3, it still puts up a good competition due to several key features that are hard in a single package. Here we are pointing at satisfactory SoC performance, 4GB/64GB base memory configuration, a great pair of stereo speakers, a high-resolution display, huge 6,000mAh battery, IR port, FM radio and dedicated microSD card slot.
No doubt there are other devices that stand above Redmi 9T in terms of overall camera quality and smoother 90Hz display. However, if you are looking for a phone in this price range then it must mean that you are likely looking for the most practical specs and Redmi 9T seems to have got it covered.
Large 6.53” display with 1080p resolution
A design that’s eye catching
Long battery life that’s record-breaking
Top notch stereo loudspeakers
Generally good main camera performance
Dedicated microSD card slot, IR post, FM radio, reverse wired charging and NFC (depending on the region)
UI that lags occasionally
Ultrawide camera seems unsatisfactory
Video recording of average quality
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