Xiaomi’s Redmi brand of entry-level and mid-range phones is popular outside of the US. The latest offerings, Redmi 9T and Redmi Note 9T, support 5G while powered by MediaTek processors. We spent a week on the Daybreak Purple Redmi Note 9T and we are impressed with the performance of such an affordable phone.
Last year, Redmi phones took two of the top six best-selling phones. So outside of the US, the Redmi brand is doing well. As technology advances, lower-cost phones are becoming more powerful, and people are finding that they can easily get their jobs done without spending $ 1,000 on a phone.
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- processor: MediaTek Dimensity 800U Octa-Core
- display: 6.53 inch LCD with a resolution of 2340 x 1080 pixels, Gorilla Glass 5
- operating system: Android 10
- R.A.M.: 4 GB LBDDR4X
- warehouse: 64/128 GB internal options with support for microSD cards
- Cameras: Triple rear camera system with 48 MP f / 1.79, 2 MP macro and 2 MP depth lens. 13MP front camera.
- Wireless technology: 5G, 802.11 a / b / g / n / ac WiFi, Bluetooth 5.1, NFC, GPS / GLONASS, IR blaster
- battery: 5,000 mAh with 22.5 W charger in the box (18 W fast charging capability)
- Water resistance: Splash guard
- Dimensions: 161.96 x 77.25 x 9.05 mm and 199 g
- Colours: Nightfall Black and Daybreak Purple
This is the first time I’ve tested a Redmi phone and the first thing I did is look around for a pen that has the Note part of the name on it. It turns out that the Note brand applies to mid-range devices from Redmi, while the Redmi 9T is the name of the entry-level phone. Unfortunately, there is no pen support here.
The Redmi Note 9T is an attractive and well-constructed phone with a large, clear display that has eye-catching frames on all four sides. The front-facing camera is a pinhole camera that is positioned in the upper left corner.
There are two stereo speakers with the headset speaker above the display and a second speaker below that provides the audio. The speakers sounded good and I was able to enjoy games, music, and movies without a headset.
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An IR blaster is provided so you can use the phone as a TV remote control. There’s a traditional 3.5mm audio port on the bottom alongside a standard USB-C charging port. While the two sides are curved, the top and bottom have flat surfaces.
The triple camera system is arranged in a circular pattern centered on the upper back. It reminds me of a Motorola device with the reinforced circular ring. The camera array also protrudes a little from the back.
I was surprised to read the datasheet with a battery capacity of 5,000 mAh as the device doesn’t feel heavy at all. This battery capacity is nice to have when you connect to 5G networks and want your phone to have power for at least a day.
Security is ensured by a side fingerprint sensor in the power switch on the right. I’m a huge fan of this sensor design, which can also be found on the Galaxy Z Fold 2, and found it quick and easy to pick up the phone and unlock it in one fell swoop.
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The Redmi Note 9T came with Android 10 and the Android security patch dated November 1, 2020. MiUI Global 12.0.1 is the UI used by Xiaomi but it offers a pretty rich Android experience. Most of the UI customization is done in some settings, additional utilities, and the organization of the app launcher.
There is a setting area for specific functions including Game Turbo, Video Toolbox, Floating Window and Lite mode. There’s a cool Quick Ball item that lets you choose five shortcuts that appear when you swipe from either side of the phone. It’s similar to the Edge panels we see on Samsung devices, but I found it a great way to quickly take screenshots.
Usage experiences and thoughts
This is not a phone that is well supported on US networks so I haven’t had a chance to test 5G or other typical daily usage experiences. I used it over my Wi-Fi connection and spent a lot of time playing games, watching videos, listening to music, and using it for other tasks.
The MediaTek processor held up well and made me enjoy car racing and first person shooter games. Movies play flawlessly on Google TV. I was surprised that the two stereo speakers (not usually found on lower-cost phones) worked well too.
The camera did well on a medium range phone and captured the content we wanted in a fine way. The camera includes some AI elements to tweak the settings for different modes. I’m a fan of macro photography, and the Redmi Note 9T did well in this area.
The 5,000mAh battery performed very well in my use case, but it will be interesting to hear about experiences with the phone on 5G. With a MediaTek processor, a lower resolution display, and a huge battery capacity, it should easily last a day or two of heavy use.
The Redmi Note 9T is a very nice phone. I like the purple color and the heavily textured plastic back. With an IR blaster, 3.5mm audio jack, USB-C port, and a powerful triple camera system, it’s a solid phone.