The Redmi Note 9 Pro looks virtually identical to the Redmi Note 9 Pro max and shares a lot in terms of hardware. The Max variant of the Redmi Note 9 Pro has more RAM, better front and rear cameras, and faster charging. Xiaomi has changed a lot over the years and adapted itself to the market requirements making it a leader in the budget smartphone market. The grip of Xiaomi is so strong that it has at least one smartphone for all major price brackets in the budget and mid-range market. The Redmi Note 9 Pro and the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max act as the successors to the Redmi Note 8 and the Redmi Note 8 Pro respectively and the biggest questions for most people is if the extra features on the Redmi Note 9 Pro are worth paying the extra money or if they are better off with the Redmi Note 9 Pro instead.
Design and Build
The Xiaomi Redmi smartphones have grown a lot both in terms of the build quality and the overall size, the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max is a standing example of this as it measures 8.8mm and weighs in at a solid 209g making single-handed use extremely difficult for the smartphone. The smartphone is also enormous at 6.67-inch and it does get difficult to reach all the different corners especially the top without shuffling the phone and sliding it in the hand. Luckily, the display has a comfortable 20:9 aspect ratio making it easy to manage, the top of the display is also protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5 helping it withstand the daily usage and preventing it from getting shattered. There is a small earpiece that has a white notification light which is going extinct on the most device these days.
The Redmi Note 9 Pro surprisingly doesn’t come with an in-display fingerprint sensor and instead opts for a side-mounted fingerprint sensor embedded in the power button to the right of the smartphone. It is somewhat recessed making it easy to find on the side of the smartphone. The positioning of this was much higher than where our finger normally rests, and we weren’t very please with this design aspect. If you are a left-handed user than you can set up your left index finger for added comfort while using the smartphone, despite the placement issues, the scanner does work well and is quick in unlocking the smartphone. Even the volume buttons on the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max are placed a little higher and are not convenient to reach. The Redmi Note 9 Pro Max has kept their IR transmitter than has been found on most of their previous smartphone, there is also a headphone jack and a USB Type-C port for data transfer and charging.
The rear panel of the smartphone houses a quad-camera setup for the smartphone and has the sensors placed in a square-shaped module that protrudes from the back of the device. The protrusion is thick and raises the phone from the table. The smartphone comes with a glossy back and is made available in three color variants: Aurora Blue, Black, and Glacier White. The back panel is glossy and gets smudged very easily and we had to wipe it often to ensure it is clean and good looking. Xiaomi offers a basic case in the box and also comes with a massive 33W charger in the box compared to the 18W charger that comes with the non-Max variant.
The Redmi Note 9 Pro Max is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G processor, both the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max and the Redmi Note 9 Pro share the same processor and it is difficult to set the smartphones apart in terms of performance. Xiaomi smartphones are known for a good price to performance ratio and the company seems to have met the expectations with the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max. There are three variants of this smartphone, the base model comes with 6GB RAM and 64GB internal storage, there is also a 128GB storage model available with 6GB and 8GB RAM options.
The Redmi Note 9 Pro Max comes with a massive display but doesn’t use an AMOLED panel and thus had to implement the side-mounted fingerprint sensor. Xiaomi had to cut down on the display and offer a regular refresh rate to bring the price down, however, there are competitors offering these features at the same price bracket. The panel on the smartphone isn’t bad and has good viewing angles and works well even in bright outdoors. There is a camera hold in the center towards the top which does look distracting to a few people but, personally I was already used to it after having used the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 for a very long time. The Redmi Note 9 Pro Max comes with a massive 5,020mAh battery and supports dual-SIM with dual 4G VoLTE and VoWiFi. The smartphone also supports Bluetooth 5 and Dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ad and has NavIC support for better location data in India.
The smartphone runs on Android 10 based on MIUI 11 and the device came with April 2020 security patch. The UI had a lot of customization options as we were bound to expect from Xiaomi devices in the past. There is too much pre-installed bloatware on the device including Helo which are known to be spammy in the past. Even the stock Xiaomi apps are annoying at times as they bombard users with notifications from the app store and more. Even the wallpaper carousel of Xiaomi keeps pushing notifications which can soon turn unacceptable and extremely annoying. While setting up a new device we generally rush through the installation process but it might be a good option to spend a couple of moments on options and apps that are selected by default as it will save you a lot of time with spam after setting up the device.
The Redmi Note 9 Pro Max does feel very different in terms of performance form the Redmi Note 9 Pro and both the devices can handle the day-to-day tasks very easily and will never make you wait for long while lading the apps. We have a pleasant experience with the smartphone and didn’t have any issues scrolling through the menus or multitasking. The display does not have a high refresh rate like the Poco X2 and the Realme 6 Pro that compete in the same price segment making the device look a little slower.
The Redmi Note 9 Pro Max scores a decent 2,75,099 in AnTuTu on our test which is a little lower than what we saw on the Realme 6 Pro, but the difference isn’t big enough to impact in terms of real-world performance. The Geekbench scores returned a single-core result of 555 and a multi-core score of 1748. The gaming performance on the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max was decent and the load times were also pretty low. We tried playing PUBG in default and high settings and we were able to play the game without any stutter, but the smartphone did get a little warm after just 20 minutes of playing. The display is decent with a regular refresh rate, the massive size does make it a little difficult for single-handed use but comes in very handy for multimedia content and for gaming.
The optics is one of the main things that sets the Max model apart from the Pro. The Redmi Note 9 Pro Max comes with a 64MP primary sensor with an f/1.89 aperture, there is also an 8MP secondary ultra-wide sensor with a 119-degree field of view. The 5MP macro sensor allows you to get really close to the subject while capturing it while the additional 2MP sensor help with the portrait shots. The Macro camera in the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max gets a bump in the resolution when compared to the other smartphones in the same price range. The primary camera application comes with a lot of features allowing you to capture a 16MP picture using the 64MP sensor using pixel binning technology. You can even capture in full 64MP resolution if you prefer that, there is also a Pro Colour mode that allows you to bump up the contrast in the images captured.
There is a short video option allowing you to capture a 15 seconds clips and offers a kaleidoscope effect mainly targeted towards TikTok and Instagram users. The slow-motion options range from 120FPS to 960FPS with a change in resolution. The Macro camera toggle is placed in the sub-menu and is a little difficult to find normally but works pretty well. The daytime shots capture on the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max came out pretty well. We captured a few shots with a bright sky in the background and the HDR set to auto, the photos look pretty good but felt a little sharp. If you zoom into an image, then you will notice good details but there is a little grain especially in the shadows.
The Wide-angle camera on the smartphone offers a good field of view and there is a considerable drop in the level of detail. Xiaomi has also implemented a software-based correct preventing distortion in the output. The macro camera is good for extreme closeups and has a 2cm focus distance. The camera does capture good details as long as the subject is illuminated well, the resolution is decently high at 5MP compared to most other smartphones that offer only 2MP resolution for macro sensors. The portrait mode showed decent edge detection and the smartphone was capable of distinguishing the subject from the background pretty well.
The 32MP selfie shooter does give a significant edge to the smartphone over the competitors, you get sharp details on the smartphone if you turn off beautification. There is also a portrait mode for the selfie camera as it works well accurately separating the background from the subject. The camera does lose a little in terms of performance when the lighting conditions drop, and you can start to notice visible grain if you zoom in.
We use the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max to watch a lot of videos and the battery on the smartphone kept up pretty well. We were able to easily get beyond a day and a half of usage in our tests and in our HD Video loop test the smartphone lasted about 17 hours which is pretty good. The Realme 6 Pro still did better than the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max at 21 hours. The Redmi Note 9 Pro Max does come with a pretty powerful 33W fast charger and the smartphone goes from zero to 50 percent in just half an hour. The smartphone does get pretty hot when charging rapidly and the rate slows down after it reaches the 75 percent mark. The device reaches about 90 percent in an hour, this device gets a massive bump over the non-Max variant as it only supports 18W fast charging.
The Redmi Note 9 Pro Max works pretty well and certainly does a good job as a successor to the Redmi Note 8 Pro despite the huge responsibilities. The smartphone is more powerful, offers a better battery life and packs good cameras while running on the latest version of Android. The Redmi Note 9 Pro does offer stiff competition to the elder brother Redmi Note 9 Pro Max as they are very similar in terms of performance while the non-Max variant being noticeably cheaper. If you are willing to spend, the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max does offer more features and a better camera along with faster charging. This certainly can be called one of the best smartphones to buy under Rs. 20000.