The Redmi Note 9S is the ninth generation device in the Redmi Note series, and it is the typical bang for buck smartphone that aims to provide customers performance at an affordable price. Priced at RM799, Xiaomi sent us the 4GB RAM + 64GB variant for review, and we’re going to take a look if the Redmi Note 9S does live up to its expectations.
Redmi Note 9S – Specifications
|Specs||Redmi Note 9S|
|CPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G|
|Display||6.67-inch FHD+IPS LCD|
|Camera (Rear)||48MP Wide Main Sensor|
8MP UltraWide Sensor
5MP Macro Sensor
2MP Depth Sensor
|Camera (Front)||16MP in-display|
Side-mounted Fingerprint Sensor
18W Fast Charging
The Redmi Note 9S rocks a pretty aesthetic design. Once you unbox it, that big display and the glass back looks really nice. There’s a nice curve on the rear edge, making it really comfortable to hold in the hand. Also, the glass back has a surprisingly nice grip, reducing the possibility of the smartphone slipping from your hands.
That being said, the Redmi Note 9S is a big and heavy phone. Weighing 209g, the weight comes mostly from the glass back and the huge 5,020mAh battery. For someone with big hands, I didn’t really mind the weight. But if you’re looking for something that’s light and pocketable, you might want to take this into consideration.
The only gripe I have with the phone’s entire design, is the location of the power and volume button. It’s quite annoying that it’s positioned so high up that I have to move my entire hand up, just to get my thumb to reach the power button, and to move it back down so I can use the phone. Things were also made worse because the fingerprint sensor is embedded within the power button. Fingerprint sensors should be placed somewhere the thumb or fingers would naturally rest, and the Redmi Note 9S doesn’t do that. On top of that, there isn’t any gestures to go along with the side-mounted fingerprint sensor.
Apart from that, everything else on the Redmi Note 9S is perfectly where they should be.
The display on the Redmi Note 9S is a 6.67-inch FHD+IPS LCD. There’s nothing much to talk about the display, really. With the price Xiaomi is asking for, it is understandable that the phone doesn’t come with an OLED panel. The LCD panel on the device is just bright enough, and with colours a little dull. Again, on that price, you’re also getting a FHD+ panel instead of just an HD panel, which is a plus for me.
I also appreciate the fact that the Redmi Note 9S has a huge screen real-estate. The fact that it isn’t too wide, I can see more content being displayed from the top to bottom.
No, there isn’t an Always On display because of the lack of an AMOLED panel. But, the Redmi Note 9S makes up for it with the double tap to wake feature. This is a great feature for if you want to quickly glance at the notifications you have, but is also contradicted with fingerprint sensor being mounted on the side. If you want to check out a notification, you have two choices. You either pick up the phone and unlock it, or double tap the screen and key in your PIN or password. It’s just weird if you wake the screen and awkwardly place your finger on the side when the phone is lying flat on a surface.
With such a huge screen, I’d expect the smartphone to use navigation gestures to make full use of the large display. But no, during my entire time with it, I’m stuck with the traditional black navigation bar on the bottom, and I’ve had no luck in finding or activating the navigation gesture on the Redmi Note 9S. This is a missed opportunity as the inclusion of navigation gestures would’ve made the Redmi Note 9S more favorable and easy to use.
If you look at the title of this review, it says “Patience is a virtue”, and the Redmi Note 9S is a smartphone that taught me to be a more patient person. Here’s why. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G processor, should be more than capable in offering a smooth experience when using the phone. When paired with MIUI 11’s software, the animations should be even smoother too.
However, during my experience with the Redmi Note 9S, the phone felt sluggish at certain times. After tapping on an app, it would take one or two seconds for the app to appear and start loading. Tapping on a text field, it would also take a second or two for the keyboard to pop up. Even unlocking the phone can sometimes take a good two seconds before loading everything on the homescreen, it’s as if the phone went into a deep sleep and got a surprise wake up call from the fingerprint sensor. This doesn’t happen often, but it can get annoying when it does.
We ran the Redmi Note 9S through GeekBench 5 and 3DMark to test its CPU and GPU graphics performance.
Having 6 cores at 1.80GHz and 2 cores at 2.32GHz, the Redmi Note 9S scores 559 in the single-core test, and a 1,738 on the multi-score test.
3DMark – Sling Shot Extreme + Sling Shot
The Redmi Note 9S performed quite well on the Sling Shot tests, churning an average 11 to 23 FPS during the test. Throughout the test, the phone managed to stay cool around 37 to 38 degrees. That’s only a slight hint of warmth on the back near the camera sensors area, and that’s pretty good. Now, moving on to the gaming section!
Gaming on the Redmi Note 9S is a breeze, so no complaints there. The notch is placed in the middle of the device, so it doesn’t hinder much from the gaming experience. Graphics are relatively smooth, with great detail. So, gamers, if you’re getting the Redmi Note 9S to game with its large display and battery, you need not worry. The Redmi Note 9S excels in this department.
Audiophiles, turn away because the Redmi Note 9S’ speakers will not impress you. The single downward-firing speaker is only equipped to do its job – make sound. The volume can get obnoxiously loud, but that would only invite sound distortions and crackling bits. It lacks the proper lows, and has too much highs. Quite a bit of a song’s details are muffled or lost during playback. The mids are okay, so it’s great if you’re listening to a lot of dialogue in your content – movies, videos, and etc. The 55% volume mark would be the most comfortable and acceptable volume level for me.
I also noticed that when the screen is locked, holding up/down on the volume buttons won’t continuously bring the volume up or down. It would only bring the audio up/down by one level. So, if you need to quickly turn the volume down, you’d need to quickly mash the volume up/down button.
However, if you use an earphone or a pair of wireless earbuds, then the experience would be better.
The camera design on the Redmi Note 9S actually looks pretty good. I like the layout that Xiaomi went with, where the entire camera system is aligned in the middle top part of the device. Even though there’s a camera bump, you can’t feel it that much because the device doesn’t wobble when it’s placed on a flat surface. Because of its positioning, it doesn’t let your fingers or thumb get in the way when you’re taking a picture either.
Putting the camera to actual use, I realise the Redmi Note 9S has this 0.5 second shutter lag when you’re taking photos and switching camera modes. Again, this doesn’t happen often, but can be pretty annoying, especially when you’re fumbling through your phone wanting to catch that moment your cat does a backflip.
Photos are bright, but sometimes too bright. The smartphone’s camera struggles with exposure levels and can often lead to overexposed pictures. However, if the lighting is just right (not too bright, with ample amount of indirect sunlight), pictures can turn out very crisp and detailed. Colours are great, and not unnecessarily bright.
When it comes to night mode, the image processing smoothens out the image and increases the brightness, resulting in greyed black areas, and subtly blurred detailed. To be honest, I would have preferred to just use the standard camera mode with HDR on auto, as that would take better photos in general.
As for video, stabilisation is acceptable, but when you’re moving while recording video, there’s this very noticeable screen shake. Focusing is pretty fast, with colours bright and crisp, but under certain lighting, bright areas can be overexposed too.
Here are some of the photos taken with the Redmi Note 9S:
Staying only at home, I’ve used the Redmi Note 9S with the below routine on two settings – Wi-Fi only, and Mobile Data only. Wi-Fi scenario is to simulate how the phone’s battery level would be used when you stay at home the whole day, and mobile data would be to simulate if you were out and about the entire day.
Here’s what my daily routine looks like in CMCO:
- Wake up at 10am.
- Scroll social media and eCommerce apps till 11am.
- Get ready and go to work at my PC till 12.30pm.
- Play games and surf social media while having lunch till 2pm.
- Resume work at 2pm.
- Listen to music from my phone with wireless earphones and speakers (I switch from time to time) while I work till 5pm.
- Chill on the couch and surf social media and watch YouTube videos till 7pm-ish.
- Have dinner while playing games till 8pm.
- Netflix from then till 12pm.
- Surf social media and eCommerce sites till 1am then sleep.
- NOTE: Replying WhatsApp messages, taking calls, and replying emails are done throughout the entire day.
On Wi-Fi only, I end my day with about 42% battery. And that’s pretty good, considering I have a little less than half of the 5,020mAh battery left. Technically, it should even be able to get me through to the next day too.
On mobile data only, I end my day with about 34% battery. That gives me more than enough time to get the device back to its charger.
Speaking of charger, the charging adapter that came in the box juiced the Redmi Note 9S back up from 0% to 38% in 30 minutes, 61% in 50 minutes, where a full charge took me about 1 hours and 47 minutes. The device supports 18W fast charging, which is still better than most standard 10W or 15W charging speeds these days.
For Xiaomi Malaysia’s asking price of RM799 for the Redmi Note 9S, I’d say it’s quite worth it if you’re a patient person. The phone might rarely lag a little at times, but it’s not entirely a dealbreaker. You’re still getting a large 6.67-inch FHD+ display, a massive 5,020mAh battery with 18W fast charging, stellar gaming performance, and a quad-camera system headlined by the 48MP main sensor. To me, the Redmi Note 9S definitely fulfilled the bang for buck element.
If you want a little more speed and storage space, there’s the 6GB RAM + 128GB storage variant that’s going for only a RM100 more at RM899. That’s 50% more RAM and double the storage space for just RM100, that’s even more bang for buck right there.