Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S Review
The Redmi Note series has always been a staple in the entry-level to mid-range segments due to Xiaomi’s knack for packing a lot of punch at low prices. This year, the Redmi Note 9 series doesn’t seem like it will deviate from that standard — especially for the Redmi Note 9S, which is the middle child of the series. If you have a maximum budget of PHP12k, is this the one to get?
Design and Construction
Right off the bat, the phone itself is large which can be attributed to the 6.67-inch screen, but the frame is still relatively slim at 8.8mm, given the large 5,020mAh battery.
Bezels are impressively thin for a mid-range device, while the 16MP front camera is placed in a punch hole setup at the upper center of the screen.
Moving to the back, we get a very metallic finish that is definitely plastic, not glass. If you don’t like this much shine on your phone then you really do have to use a case. Good thing, it’s already included in the package.
It contains a rather interesting looking camera module — rectangular, but containing a protruding square for the quad-rear cameras. Again, it’s protruding so it doesn’t lay flat on the surface, although that is easily remedied by putting on the case.
On the left side, we have the card tray with slots for two nano-SIM cards and a dedicated microSD slot up to 512GB.
On the right, the volume controls and side-mounted fingerprint scanner that is also the power button. The volume buttons are placed near the top, which is harder to reach compared to the fingerprint scanner which is near the center.
At the bottom, headphone jack, USB-C port, main microphone, and loudspeaker.
Up top, a secondary microphone as well as an IR blaster.
In terms of wielding the phone, it’s hefty and the weight is mostly felt on the upper part, which is given since the camera module is placed there. The frame is relatively narrow, so you can still reach the other side of the screen with your thumb. However, you’ll need your other hand if you want to reach the top of the screen.
Display and Multimedia
The Redmi Note 9S sports a large 6.7-inch IPS screen with FHD+ (2400 x 1080) resolution of equal to 395ppi. Protecting it is Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5 with a pre-installed screen protector. Quality is good, with wide viewing angles and accurate colors.
It’s also bright enough to be viewed under direct sunlight. Under this condition, you’ll notice how much of a fingerprint and smudge magnet the screen protector is, so you’d want to wipe it every now and then if you want an unhindered viewing experience.
As for its other display features, you have the option to change its color temperature, activate reading mode, or hide the notch.
When it comes to audio, sounds come out from the loudspeaker at the bottom. Audio quality is good, but nothing groundbreaking either. It can get loud and doesn’t exhibit any distortion at max volume. The 3.5mm jack is still here, so you can still enjoy wired listening with your favorite headphones.
The Redmi Note 9S comes with four rear cameras, a 48MP main sensor, 8MP ultrawide, 5MP macro, and a 5MP depth sensor. For selfies, it uses a single 16MP shooter residing in the punch hole.
While all other specs are the same, this is one area that separates the Note 9S from the Note 9 Pro, the latter of which sports a 64MP main rear sensor.
The rear cameras provide very natural color and even a natural shallow depth of field without portrait mode, provided you’re close to your subject. Details are sharp, dynamic range is wide, and the images are generally clean and without much noise, provided you have good lighting conditions.
For shots under low lighting conditions, it’s surprisingly not that bad. This is especially apparent with Night Mode turned on, but even with the standard photo mode and lighting conditions that aren’t pitch black, you can get good results.
Selfies show much of the same attributes, providing sharp details, and the natural color really comes in handy especially for this type of shot, as you want your own skin to look as natural as possible. On Portrait Mode, the subject-background separation also works pretty well.
For video, the Redmi Note 9S can shoot up to 4K at 30FPS. At this resolution, quality is about what you’d expect from taking photos with the main rear camera — again, natural colors, sharp details, and good dynamic range. You will want to keep a steady hand generally, but it’s nice that there’s at least some stabilization happening.
Overall, the Redmi Note 9S’s cameras are a strong point, giving you great image quality whether front or rear. Photo-savvy users will not be disappointed with the natural colors.
OS, UI, and Apps
Running the software department is MUI 11.0.8 Stable based on Android 10. The interface is clean and easy to use, which is one of the beauty of MIUI. By default, it uses multiple home screens to house apps, and you have the choice to navigate via the traditional navigation buttons or using gestures. You can also activate Dark Mode if you want.
Pre-installed apps are kept to a minimum, which includes WPS Office and Netflix. Aside from MIUI’s default apps and tools, the usual Google services and apps are also available. Features include the Security app, Facebook cleaner, Game speed booster, Second space, Dual apps, ShareMe, Digital Wellbeing & parental controls, Game Turbo, and Quick replies.
Although MIUI is one of the most appealing Android skins in the market, it also has something that we don’t appreciate, and those are in-UI ads. When you browse certain apps or features like Security or File Manager, you will see ads posted in it. It’s not aggressive though, but makes the interface look cluttered.
Xiaomi has been using this strategy for a while now as a revenue source to support developers. Xiaomi didn’t include a kill switch but there are ways to disable ad personalization inside settings.
Performance and Benchmarks
Powering the Redmi Note 9S is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G octa-core CPU, Adreno 618 GPU, up to 6GB of RAM, and up to 128GB of UFS 2.1 internal storage.
The Redmi Note 9S provides excellent performance, especially at such a low price. Neither gaming and heavy multitasking pose a great challenge thanks to the hefty amount of RAM and powerful chipset. Daily usage is a breeze with the spec configuration. Check out our benchmark scores below:
- AnTuTu v8 – 268,707
- Geekbench 5 – 568 (Single-core), 1,750 (Multi-core), 1,153 (RenderScript)
- PCMark – 7,586 (Work 2.0)
- 3DMark – 2,492 (OpenGL), 2,344 (Vulkan)
- AndroBench – 494.46 MB/s (Seq. Read), 209.13 MB/s (Seq. Write)
Connectivity and Battery Life
The Redmi Note 9S has your usual connectivity features Dual-SIM, 4G LTE, WiFi ac, Bluetooth 5.0, SatNavs, and USB-C. There’s no NFC but there’s an IR Blaster for controlling some appliances at home.
When it comes to the battery, this is where it shines. At 5,020mAh, it’s a lot!
We could easily make the Note 9S last two days under moderate usage before you need a charge.
In our standard video loop test (1080p movie on loop, 50% brightness, 0% volume, airplane mode on), the device got a total of 20 hours and 41 minutes of playback.
The Redmi Note 9S is certainly a hardy competitor in a mid-range segment that’s staying competitive despite the current circumstances. With a starting price of PHP10,490, you’re getting an attractive and tough design, a big high-resolution display, great cameras, smooth performance, and a huge battery. All those things at such a relatively low price is always a steal, and we expect no less from Xiaomi. If you’ve put together a maximum budget of PHP12k, then the Redmi Note 9S is definitely one to get.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S specs:
6.67-inch FHD+ (2400 x 1080) FHD+ display, HDR
Corning Gorilla Glass 5
Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G 2.3GHz octa-core CPU
Adreno 618 GPU
4GB, 6GB LPDDR4x RAM
64GB, 128GB UFS 2.1
microSD up to 512GB (Dedicated slot)
• 48MP F1.79 (main)
• 8MP F2.2 (ultra-wide)
• 5MP F2.4 (macro)
• 2MP F2.4 (depth)
16MP F2.48 front camera
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
GPS/ A-GPS / Galileo/ GLONASS / Beidou
Fingerprint scanner (side-mounted)
1217 X max0.4mm high amplitude ultra-linear speaker
Smart PA 10V
3.5mm audio jack
MUI 11 (Android 10)
5,020mAh battery w/ 18W fast charge (22.5W charger in box)
165.75 x 76.68 x 8.8 mm
Interstellar Grey, Aurora Blue, Glacier White
The Redmi Note 9S is priced at PHP10,490 for the 4GB + 64GB variant, and PHP11,990 for the 6GB + 128GB variant.