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Redmi Note 9 Pro Max Review: Worth Every Extra Dime
Redmi Note 9 Pro and the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max were launched back in March before the COVID-19 lockdown. The Note 9 Pro went on sale a little earlier than the Max variant and due to the coronavirus the Note 9 Pro Max has to wait for a couple of months.
The Redmi Note 9 Pro Max is finally available to consumers, albeit, via flash sale models. Aesthetically, the Redmi Note 9 Pro and the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max are identical. However, the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max costs a bit more than the regular version and it also has a few more tricks up its sleeves.
The Redmi Note 9 Pro Max is available in three variants. The entry-level model features 6GB RAM and 64GB storage (Rs. 16,499), the mid-range variant offers 6GB RAM and 128GB (Rs. 17,999) storage, lastly, the high-end variant offers 8GB RAM and 128GB (Rs. 19,999) storage.
When compared to the base variant of the Redmi Note 9 Pro, the Note 9 Pro Max is Rs. 2,500 more expensive. Is this price difference is justifiable? If yes, then what are the new things that the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max has which the Redmi Note 9 Pro doesn't have and which one should you opt? Here is the full review of the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max.
I have been using the Interstellar Black version of the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max over the last couple of weeks with 6GB RAM and 128GB internal storage. Also, note that the device is available in Glacier White and Aurora Blue color as well.
Redmi Note 9 Pro Max: New Design, Big Display And A Lot More
Though the variant that I am reviewing is called the Interstellar Black, it does not look black at all. It is sort of grey in color and depending on the light intensity the colors do change a bit. In terms of design, the only difference between the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max and the Redmi Note 9 Pro is the mention of camera resolution at the back.
The Redmi Note 9 Pro Max is a thoroughly designed smartphone with the Corning Gorilla Glass 5 based back panel and the display is also protected the same with 2.5D curved finish. Like the majority of mid-range smartphones, the frame is still made using plastic or polycarbonate and it can easily get scratches and dent marks if the device is not handled with care.
The front of the phone is almost covered by a 6.67-inch IPS LCD screen, except for the bottom chin and the punch hole cut-out. The volume and power button are on the right side and it takes some time to get used to this configuration, especially for those who are coming from a non Redmi smartphone with the power and volume buttons located on the opposite side. There is a SIM/microSD card tray on the left with two nano-SIM slots and a dedicated microSD card slot.
Speaker, headphone jack, and the USB Type-C charging port are located at the bottom portion of the device. The quad-camera setup at the back does have a slight bump, however, it can be nullified by using a proper protective case (even the one that comes in the retail package works).
The Redmi Note 9 Pro Max is one of the best-looking smartphones under Rs. 20,000 and the change in design when compared to its predecessor (Redmi Note 8 Pro) are in the right direction. Do note that, this is a big phone and people with tiny hands might have difficulty while using this device, even if they are coming from phones like the Redmi Note 7 Pro.
Redmi Note 9 Pro Max: 6.67-inch DotDisplay Is Vivid And Vibrant
Though the screen on the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max cannot be compared to a phone with AMOLED display, the device does have one of the best IPS LCD screens that I have seen on a mid-range smartphone. The screen has a native resolution of 2340 x 1080p and the phone is Widevine L1 certified, allowing users to stream HD content on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
Users can pick between three-color schemes, the auto mode adjusts the color depending on the current lighting, the standard mode will have standard contrast, and the saturated mode will have enhanced colors. I prefer slightly saturated colors over natural tones, and I have been using the phone in saturated mode, which is great for watching movies and videos.
Keeping up with the trend, the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max is one of the first Redmi smartphones with a punch-hole display with a taller 20:9 aspect ratio. So, watching movies or videos that are in a 16:9 aspect ratio will not be able to utilize this screen fully.
When compared to the Realme 6 Pro, the nemesis of the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max, there is an issue. Unlike the Realme 6 Pro with a 90Hz display, the Redmi's offering still uses a 60Hz panel and this will be a huge deal. A phone with a 90Hz display will feel a lot smoother and a device with a 60Hz display feels normal and if you are a gamer, then get a device with a higher refresh rate.
The display on the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max is above average and not having a higher refresh rate will be the main drawback. Overall, this screen is great for watching movies, playing YouTube videos, and even photos and is adequately bright even under direct sunlight.
Redmi Note 9 Pro Max: 64MP Camera At Your Service
The Redmi Note 9 Pro Max has a rear quad-camera setup with a 64MP primary sensor, 8MP ultra-wide angle lens, 5MP macro lens, and a 2MP depth sensor. At the front, there is a 32MP selfie camera with support for biometric authentication/face unlock.
The Redmi Note 9 Pro Max uses a 64MP sensor from Samsung and by default, this sensor takes native 16MP images using pixel-binning technology and there is a dedicated manual mode to take native 64MP images.
The main camera on the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max is a lot better than the 48MP camera on the Redmi Note 9 Pro and this statement applies for every lighting condition. The images shot on 64MP mode retails a lot of detailing and they look rich, however, one 64MP photo will be around 20MB.
I took a lot of photos, including buildings, trees, flowers, and people and all the photos came out well and I did like the color science of these images as well. Unlike some budget smartphones, the photo is not oversaturated and the colors look natural and true to life.
In terms of video capability, the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max can shoot videos up to 4K resolution at 30fps or 1080p video at either 60/30fps. Though the device has EIS (electronic image stabilization) I felt that the 4K videos shot on hand-held mode seem a bit shakier and 1080p videos are more stable. I did not have any problem with either autofocus and the camera did latch on to a new subject quickly when moving around.
Redmi Note 9 Pro Max: 8MP Ultra-Wide Angle Lens Expands Your View
There is an 8MP ultra-wide angle lens, and I am not a fan of this sensor. I would prefer a good telephoto lens over an ultra-wide angle lens any day. Though it offers 119-degree field-of-view, the images shot on this lens has a completely different color scheme and looked a bit washed out.
Do not switch to the ultra-wide angle lens unless it is absolutely necessary, as the main sensor has more pixels, bigger aperture, and also takes better pictures.
Redmi Note 9 Pro Max: Macro And Depth Duo
Most of the mid-range smartphones now come with a quad-camera array and that does not necessarily mean that all sensors have equal weightage. Though the macro shots taken on the Redmi Note 9 Pro are a lot better, thanks to the 5MP sensor it only works well in good lighting conditions.
The 2MP depth sensor is said to help with the bokeh mode and it works really well sometimes and doesn't work the other time at all. It is best to use the bokeh mode with human subjects, as edge detection is not that great with non-human subjects.
Redmi Note 9 Pro Max: Say Cheese To 32MP Selfie Camera
The 32MP selfie camera on the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max is one of the best selfie shooters found on a smartphone under Rs. 20,000. Thanks to higher resolution, selfies were taken on this camera looks true-to-life. However, make sure to turn off the beauty mode to get natural-looking pictures. The selfie camera also supports 1080p video recording at 30fps and it also works well for face unlock.
Redmi Note 9 Pro Max: Performance Managed By Snapdragon 720G
The Redmi Note 9 Pro Max is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G SoC and this processor offers a balance between performance and efficiency. It is based on 7nm fabrication with two high-performance cores clocked at 2.3GHz and six efficient cores with 1.8GHz clock speed.
On Geekbench 5, the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max scored 569 points on single-core performance and 1755 points on multi-core performance. Similarly, on AnTuTu, the device logged 280354 points. Do note that, these scores are almost similar to the Redmi Note 9 Pro, as both devices are based on the same processor.
The gaming/graphics requirements are handled by the Adreno 618 GPU with 750MHz clock speed. The device can easily support games like PUBG and Fortnite at medium graphics settings and offer 30fps gaming without any issue. The phone does get slightly warm while continuously gaming and it is nothing alarming.
Even with the day-to-day usage like browsing social media apps, watching YouTube, or streaming movies on Prime Video or Netflix, I did not face any issue and the whole performance was pretty smooth. If you want a device for general usage and even if you are a casual gamer, this device will serve you well without a doubt.
Redmi Note 9 Pro Max: Android 10 OS Comes With MIUI 11 Flavour
The Redmi Note 9 Pro Max ships with Android 10 OS out-of-the-box with custom MIUI 11 skin on top. As I have discussed this in the Redmi Note 9 Pro review, I have come a long way from loving MIUI to hating now. The whole OS is filled with third-party apps and most of them cannot be uninstalled or even disabled.
After my experience with the Redmi Note 9 Pro, I decided to take a different approach for the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max. To give this device a new look, I downloaded a custom launcher and a custom icon pack from the Google Play Store and it no more looks like a device running on MIUI.
As per the ads/recommendations, there is no one switch kill or option here. Apps like themes, GetApps, Security, Music, and Mi Video will constantly send notifications and some of these notifications even contain some semi-pornographic content in it. So, even though I made it look different, it was still MIUI from the inside and I can't change that fact.
To get out of this, a user has to go to the individual app and disable recommendations, and even after that, there will be a surprise unwater notification for sure. In terms of security and stability, I did not face any issue but this ads thing has gone out of hand.
This might not be an issue for everyone but for those who care, Redmi/Xiaomi India should introduce an option that allows them to disable if not uninstall some of the unnecessary apps on their smartphones.
Redmi Note 9 Pro Max: Big 5,020 mAh Battery Fast 33W Charging
The Redmi Note 9 Pro Max has a massive 5,020 mAh battery and it is also the fastest charging Redmi Note series smartphone ever. The device charges from 0 to 50 percent in around 35 minutes and it takes around one and a half hours to completely charge. Make sure that you use the charger and the cable that comes with the retail box to get this speed.
The amount video consumption has shot up during this lockdown and the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max didn't let me down, thanks to its big 5,020 mAh battery. From binging a new series to revisiting the Harry Potter series on Prime Video, the device did last for an entire day with ease. However, some days, with heavy gaming I have also refueled it twice.
On average, the device offered 7 to 8 hours of screen-on-time and even the standby mode does not consume much of a juice. Overall, the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max can easily last for one and a half-day to two days for regular users and heavy users can easily pass through the day with just a single charge.
Redmi Note 9 Pro Max: Go For It
When compared to the Redmi Note 9 Pro, the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max has better cameras, offers more RAM, and supports faster charging. And I think that the extra Rs. 2,500 price between the two models is completely justifiable, considering the fast charger itself costs Rs. 1,000.
The Redmi Note 9 Pro Max does not do anything special and it is okay to be that way. The only issue that I could think of is the low refresh rate display. This formula has worked from Redmi India for the last few years, where a device with a balancing set of features is something that people prefer over a device with one key highlight and many compromises.
If you want a device to game on, take pictures, listen to music, and watch movies and also require trending features like fast charging and higher megapixel count cameras, go for the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max.