Itâ€™s been a busy year or so for Xiaomi. The Redmi 9 Power is yet another competitor in Indiaâ€™s entry-level smartphone segment from the companyâ€™s sub-brand. The budget phone takes a keen focus on battery longevity â€” a feature that might not be the top-most priority for many users with the ongoing lockdowns.
However, it takes more than battery life to deliver a good smartphone. Does it eschew table stakes like a quality camera setup or build quality to max out battery life?
Letâ€™s find out if Xiaomiâ€™s latest has what it takes to compete in the ultra-competitive entry-level segment. This is Android Authorityâ€˜s Redmi 9 Power review.
Is the Redmi 9 Power well designed?
With every successive iteration, Xiaomi has been pushing the design language of the Redmi series in fresh directions. The same is true for the Redmi 9 Power as well, which errs more towards the Realme school of design. Regardless, the phone looks fetching with its weaved pattern and the matte back finish that further adds to the grip as well.
The quad-camera module sits towards the top, and youâ€™ll spot a gigantic Redmi logo emblazoned towards the bottom. Iâ€™m really not a fan of brands using smartphones as their personal advertising space, but hey.. design is subjective.
The button layout is a standard affair, with the power button and volume rocker sitting over on the right and offering sufficient tactile feedback.
Moreover, the fingerprint reader is embedded into the power button and is very quick to unlock the phone. Elsewhere, youâ€™ll find a USB-C port at the bottom, a 3.5mm audio jack at the top as well as an IR blaster â€” a well-rounded package.
Over at the front is a 6.53-inch Full HD+ display alongside Gorilla Glass 3. Redmi phones at this price tend to have quality displays, and the one on the Redmi 9 Power is no exception. Itâ€™s nice and bright with well-saturated colors.
Another aspect of the phone that stood out to me was the weight. Clocking in at 198g, the Redmi 9 Power isnâ€™t the lightest you can get in the segment, but the large battery capacity puts things in perspective. The phone is comfortable to hold over long durations.
A nice feature is the inclusion of stereo speakers, though peak volume and sound quality isnâ€™t something worth writing home about.
What is the Redmi 9 Power like to use?
Powered by the Snapdragon 662 chipset, the Redmi 9 Power is only the second of its kind after the Moto G9. The Snapdragon 662 is essentially a spruced-up Snapdragon 660 chipset with a faster Adreno 610 GPU. Performance from the octa-core chipset is alright for day to day use, but the phone is certainly not a powerhouse. Elsewhere, thereâ€™s 4GB of RAM and 64 or 128GB of storage onboard. It can be expanded further using a microSD card.
While the interface is fairly well optimized, launching apps and especially games isn’t the fastest.
Like always, Xiaomi has done a decent job at optimizing MIUI 12 for the hardware. Day to day usability is excellent. The software is nice and fluid with no apparent lags. However, launching apps isnâ€™t quite the fastest in its segment, and this is particularly noticeable in games.
Talking about games, popular titles arenâ€™t the quickest to load, nor can you crank up the settings too high. However, I was able to get some titles like Call of Duty Mobile, Stardew Valley, and PokÃ©mon Go running fine on the phone.
Where MIUI 12 suffers is its incessant insistence on bloatware and pre-installed apps. Itâ€™s a recurring theme, but while I can begrudgingly accept Xiaomiâ€™s own suite of apps, the included installs of WPS Office, Facebook, LinkedIn, Moj, Dream 11 and more are irritating, to say the least.
Then thereâ€™s GetApps which pops up a notification the first time you set up the device. This is not the experience you want from a brand new smartphone.
Howâ€™s the battery life on the Redmi 9 Power?
The name of the phone is a dead giveaway for the real USP here, and thatâ€™s the battery life. A 6,000mAh battery is huge. Paired up with the frugal processor, the Redmi 9 Power goes on forever. I could easily get two days of regular use out of the phone. With more frugal use, you could push this to three days as well.
The 6,000mAh battery lasts forever which is great since charging the phone takes well over two hours.
Most users should feel no need to charge the device daily. This is great since charging the phone does take a lot of time. While the Redmi 9 Power ships with a 22W charger in the box, charging speeds are capped at 18W. This means youâ€™ll be waiting over two hours for the phone to top-up from scratch.
Are the cameras any good?
Multi-camera setups on affordable smartphones have become par for the course. The Redmi 9 Power is no exception to the case. Over at the back, you get a 48MP primary shooter paired up with an 8MP ultra-wide sensor, 2MP macro camera as well as a depth sensor.
Image quality varies from pretty good to just about average across the sensors. However, you should be able to eke out some decent results in broad daylight. The primary sensor captures a good amount of detail, but it has a tendency to blow out highlights.
HDR performance on the Redmi 9 Power is a bit iffy. There arenâ€™t too many details in the shadow region and the phone struggles to tone down highlights.
Indoors, picture quality takes a dip with missing details and a cooler white balance than the actual setting. Itâ€™s not bad for the price, but Iâ€™ve seen better. Additionally, the ultra-wide camera has noticeable distortion around the edges.
Finally, thereâ€™s the macro camera for when you need to get up and close with a subject. With adequate lighting, the camera can capture some interesting results, but the resolution is just too low to be very usable.
The 13MP front-facing camera captures good looking selfies, however, has skin enhancement switched on by default. Thereâ€™s a decent amount of detail though, like the rear shooter, the phone doesnâ€™t excel at handling highlights.
I was pretty impressed by the portrait mode on offer.Â For the price, the phone does rather well with portrait mode detection though it tripped up a bit with stray hair.
On the other hand, the video quality here is pretty lackluster. The resolution tops off at 1080p at 30fps, and the video quality isnâ€™t particularly great. In anything but excellent lighting conditions, there is a serious amount of noise. Even in good lighting, the phone often struggles with locking focus. If imaging is of any importance, Iâ€™d recommend stepping up to the Redmi Note 9 Pro.
What I like about the Redmi 9 Power
- The build quality. The Redmi line up of phones have always had great build quality and that continues to be the case with the Redmi 9 Power.
- The battery life. Packing a 6.000mAh battery paired with a frugal processor, the Redmi 9 Power goes days on a single charge.
- The stereo speakers. They might not be flagship-grade, but stereo speakers on a budget phone are still great to have and add to the immersion.
What I donâ€™t like
- Low light imaging. The 48MP camera does well enough in bright light, but as is the case with budget phones, low-light imaging is still lackluster.
- The bloatware. The sheer amount of bloatware and notification spam on the Redmi 9 Power can be very offputting.
- The macro camera.Â The 2MP macro camera has too low of a resolution and comes across as a token inclusion for marketing.
|Redmi 9 Power|
|Display||6.53-inch IPS LCD
2,340 x 1,080 resolution
60Hz refresh rate
Gorilla Glass 3
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 662
4 x 2.0GHz Kryo 260 Gold, 4 x 1.8GHz Kryo 260 Silver
microSD card slot
48 MP f/1.8
8MP front camera
18W fast charging
USB-C USB-PD 2.0
18W fast charging
|Dimensions and weight||162.3 x 77.3 x 9.6 mm
|Colors||Mighty Black, Fiery Red, Electric Green, Blazing Blue|
Redmi 9 Power review: The verdict
The strongest competition for the Redmi 9 Power, surprisingly, comes from Xiaomiâ€™s own camp. The Redmi Note 9 offers up a bit more power with a slightly smaller, yet capable battery, at the same price.
Then thereâ€™s the Redmi Note 9 Pro. It is priced slightly higher, but it offers significantly better performance with its Snapdragon 720G chipset. It delivers better camera optimization as well.
All said and done, the Redmi 9 Power will appeal to a very specific buyer â€” one who wants best-in-class battery life from their phone. The overall package is competitive. Nevertheless, there are a few corners cut. The most obvious is imaging, which couldâ€™ve benefited from better tuning.
Still, if you want a good phone with very good battery life, the Redmi 9 Power is one to consider.