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Redmi Note 9T first take: MediaTek processor, 5,000mAh battery, and 5G

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Written by Matthew Miller on
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Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T

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Xiaomi's Redmi brand of entry-level and mid-range phones are popular outside of the US, and the latest offerings, the Redmi 9T and Redmi Note 9T, include support for 5G while being powered by MediaTek processors. We've spent a week using the Daybreak Purple Redmi Note 9T and are impressed by the performance of such an affordable phone.

Last year, Redmi phones occupied two out of six top spots in best-selling phones, so outside of the US, the Redmi brand is doing well. As technology advances, lower-cost phones are becoming more capable and people are finding they can easily get work done without spending $1,000 on a phone.

Also: Best Android phone for you in 2021

Specifications

  • Processor: MediaTek Dimensity 800U octa-core
  • Display: 6.53-inch 2340 x 1080-pixel resolution LCD, Gorilla Glass 5
  • Operating system: Android 10
  • RAM: 4GB LBDDR4X
  • Storage: 64/128 GB internal options with microSD card support
  • Cameras: Rear triple camera system with 48MP f/1.79, 2MP macro, and 2MP depth lens. 13MP front-facing 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 22.5W charger in the box (18W fast charge capable)
  • Water resistance: Splashproof protection
  • Dimensions: 161.96 x 77.25 x 9.05mm and 199g
  • Colors: Nightfall Black and Daybreak Purple

Hardware

This is the first time I've tested a Redmi phone, and at first, I was looking around for a stylus given the Note part of the name. It turns out that the Note brand is for Redmi's mid-range devices, while the Redmi 9T is the name of the entry-level phone. Sorry, there is no stylus support here.

The Redmi Note 9T is an attractive and well-constructed phone with a large clear display that has noticeable bezels around all four sides. The front-facing camera is a hole-punch camera positioned in the top-left corner.

There are dual stereo speakers with the headset speaker above the display and a bottom-firing second speaker providing 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 present, so you can use the phone as a TV remote. We also find a traditional 3.5mm audio port on the bottom, next to 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 protrudes out of the back just a bit too.

I was surprised to read the spec sheet -- with a 5,000mAh battery capacity -- because the device doesn't feel heavy at all. It's nice to have this amount of battery capacity when you are connecting to 5G networks and want your phone to power through at least a day.

Security is maintained through a side fingerprint sensor in the power button on the right side. I am a huge fan of this sensor design, also found on the Galaxy Z Fold 2, and found it to be quick and easy to pick up the phone and unlock it in one fell swoop.

Also: Google Pixel 4a 5G review: Affordable 5G phone with stunning camera performance

Software

The Redmi Note 9T arrived with Android 10 and the Nov. 1, 2020, Android security patch. MiUI Global 12.0.1 is the UI that is used by Xiaomi, but it offers a fairly stock Android experience. Most of the UI customization is in some settings, extra utilities, and app launcher organization.

There is a settings area for special features that includes Game Turbo, Video toolbox, Floating window, and Lite mode. There is a cool Quick Ball element where you can have five shortcuts selected to appear when you drag in from one side of the phone. It's kind of like the Edge panels we see on Samsung devices, but I found it a great way to quickly take screenshots.

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(Image: ZDNet)

Usage experiences and thoughts

This is not a phone that is well supported on US networks, so I did not have the opportunity to test out 5G or other typical daily usage experiences. I used it via 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, letting me enjoy car racing and first-person shooter games. Movies played back flawlessly via Google TV. I was surprised that the dual stereo speakers (not typically found on lower-cost phones) worked well, too.

The camera did well for a mid-range phone and captured the content I wanted in a fine fashion. It has some AI elements in the camera to help optimize 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 did extremely well with my use case, but it will be interesting to hear of experiences with the phone on 5G. With a MediaTek processor, a lower-resolution display, and huge battery capacity it should easily get through a day or two with heavy usage.

The Redmi Note 9T is a very nice phone. I like the purple color and heavily textured plastic back cover. With an IR blaster, 3.5mm audio jack, USB-C port, and capable triple camera system it is a solid phone.

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