Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro Review: Best of the lot, hard to grab due to flash sales

    Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro is priced at Rs. 13,999 for the 4GB RAM+64GB ROM variant and Rs. 16,999 for the higher 6GB RAM+128GB ROM variant.

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    Every year Xiaomi unveils the new generation Redmi Note smartphones that set new benchmarks in the affordable smartphone segment. Apparently, the 2018's Redmi Note 6 series phones did not bring massive upgrades over their predecessors but still proved to be very reliable budget Android phones for masses. The stakes are even higher in the year 2019 as other brands have very well understood the strategy that works in a market like India.

     

    Rating:
    4.0/5

    Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro Review

    Samsung's latest Galaxy M and A series phones have come out as strong contenders with a good hardware-software combination along with the well-known and trusted brand name of the Korean tech giant. On the other hand, Honor, Asus and Realme have also managed to create a solid product portfolio in online and offline markets to give good alternatives to Xiaomi Redmi Note series smartphones.

    Xiaomi has replied with the much-anticipated launch of Redmi Note 7 and Note 7 Pro. The Pro variant brings some incredible hardware and latest software at an asking price of Rs. 13,999. I have been using the 4GB RAM variant of Redmi Note 7 Pro for quite some time now. It's a brilliant budget smartphone with a flagship class camera, snappy Snapdragon chipset, full-screen display, and long-lasting battery life. This surely seems like a winning combination on papers but does it translate to best-in-class real-life performance? Let's find out in the review of Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro.

    Design: Doesn’t feel like a sub 15K smartphone

    Redmi Note series has always offered robust built quality and the handsets manage to look slightly better than the rivals. However, the look and feel of the last few Redmi Note series handsets started to look repetitive and more or less exactly the same with every new generation. This changes with the new series. The Redmi Note 7 Pro brings some welcome changes in the design department.

    It is the first Redmi Note series device with glass on both front and back. The company has provided 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on both front and back to take care of durability but it cannot resist scratches. Our review unit which came in Black started showing scratches on the rear panel after a week's usage, especially from the edges of the back panel. You must use the handset with a case and a screen guard to protect it from unwanted damages.

    Type-C Port and 3.5mm headphone jack and Splash resistance
     

    Type-C Port and 3.5mm headphone jack and Splash resistance

    Redmi Note 7 Pro is splash-resistant but is not officially certified for damage from water and dust. The smartphone has p2i nano-coating around all the openings that can prevent damage from splashes of water but if you accidentally drop the phone into a pool, it will not survive. Another much welcome change is the inclusion of Type-C port. Both the smartphones- Redmi Note 7 and Note 7 Pro are the first Redmi Note series devices to feature a Type-C port for faster data transfer and charging speeds. This will definitely encourage other smartphone makers to offer the Type-C port in sub 15k price bracket.

    Moreover, the new Redmi Note 7 devices also retain the 3.5mm headphone jack and IR blaster, two important features that come really handy in the day-to-day routine. More and more smartphone makers are ditching the 3.5mm headphone jack but I believe it still makes a lot of sense to have the standard audio jack on your phone.

    Overall, the new design feels solid and the look and feel of Redmi Note 7 Pro is unbelievably premium for the price-point. If you don't know the price, you will easily mistake it for a handset priced around 25K.

    New Color variants, disappointing Flash-sale model

    Redmi Note 7 Pro is available in glossy Black color and two newly introduced gradient patterns that are doing quite well in the Indian market. The new gradient finishes include Neptune Blue and Nebula Red. I have already got multiple requests for Nebula Red variant from friends and family members. As usual, the infamous flash sale model followed by Xiaomi is really disappointing interested buyers. We interacted with Manu Jain, Vice President, Xiaomi and Managing Director, Xiaomi India and he assured that the company is in the process to produce the new models in huge quantities to address the non-availability of new smartphones. However, there's no clear timeline from the brand as to when the units will be made available in ample numbers for masses in India.

    Display: 6.3 inches Full HD+ LTPS in-cell Screen is crisp and vivid

    Redmi Note 7 Pro sports a vibrant 6.3-inches FHD+ LTPS in-cell display with a teardrop notch at the top. The 6.3-inch panel on Redmi Note 7 Pro offers a resolution of 2,340x1080 pixels (409 ppi) and is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5. The 19.5:9 aspect ratio display is surrounded by thin (1.95mm) bezels on either side but the chin at the bottom of the screen is quite noticeable. As a result, the overall screen-to-body ratio of Note 7 Pro (81.4%) is not at par with rival devices such as Galaxy M30 and Realme 3 that touch almost 90% mark.

    As far as display performance is concerned, the LTPS in-cell screen offers punchy colors and good contrast. It is also fairly bright to offer good visibility in sunlight but blacks are not as deep as AMOLED panels available on the recently launched Samsung's mid-range handsets. This is only noticeable when you watch videos in an absolute dark environment or use Redmi Note 7 side by side with the latest mid-range Galaxy smartphones.

    Tweak Screen's color balance as per preference

    Besides, if you find the default screen colors little cool for your taste, the display settings in MIUI allows you to customize the color output as per your requirement. The ‘Increased contrast' mode makes the media playback and gameplay quite immersive as colors pop out really well. The display on Redmi Note 7 Pro also gets Widevine L1 DRM certification to stream videos in HD on popular streaming services.

    Overall, the display on Redmi Note 7 Pro is very good for the price-point but with competition catching up, it is not a deal-breaker. Samsung has an edge this time over Xiaomi's best-seller due to the company's brilliant and vibrant AMOLED panels.

    Redmi Note 7 Pro is my budget pick for photography enthusiasts

    For its price, Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro offers the best camera performance. The 48MP primary camera sensor works on a big 1/2 inch large stacked CMOS sensor. What this means is that the camera captures images with brilliant dynamic range in daylight. The daylight images look wonderful on the Note 7 Pro's display and make us wonder if these are really shot from a smartphone priced under 15K. The underlying sensor- Sony IMX586 is no joke at this price-point. The sensor is usually seen on high-end premium phones. With its help, the camera on Redmi Note 7 Pro combines 48 Million pixels and outputs stunning images with very good detailing. The wide F/1.79 aperture and a 6pc lens ensure brighter shots than the competitor smartphones.

    12MP vs 48MP Images

    The 12MP shots and 48MP shots are not drastically different and you will not notice much of a difference as long as you are viewing images on the phone itself. The 48MP shots definitely have more details and can be zoomed in more on the phone's display. It is worth mentioning that the 12MP shots have a bright overall image output as compared to 48MP images that look slightly dimmer. The standard 12MP shots (formed by Pixel binning process) appear brighter. Switch on the 48MP mode for a more subtle image output where you will also experience a fewer amount of grains in daylight. However, shots captured in low-light are slightly grainy as compared to 12MP images. You can address the noise easily in post-processing for better overall image output. Importantly, the Night mode only captures images in standard 12MP resolution.

    Brilliant for daylight photography

    With a big sensor and Sony's high-end sensor, Redmi Note 7 Pro brings out incredible image output in favorable lighting. At some stages, the results are even comparable to most premium flagship smartphones. I shot some images on bright sunny days and was fully impressed. Images show punchy yet accurate colors, very good contrast, and impressive dynamic range. Redmi Note 7 Pro also captures very good Portraits. The background blur looks very natural and seems like the images are shot from a handset priced considerably higher. You can also play around with some new blur effects including light trails, adjustable bokeh and studio lighting from within camera app. You also get 4K video recording at 30fps. The camera supports EIS for video recording and is paired with a single tone dual-LED flashlight. For selfies, Redmi Note 7 Pro features a 13MP camera with AI beautify, AI Portrait, AI Scene detection, etc. The camera delivers good selfies and you also get Face unlock feature.

    Low-light performance

    The camera on Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro is also intelligent enough to understand light settings and to categorize scenes. The camera app also has a dedicated Night mode, which works on long exposure technique to brighten up the images in a low-light situation. Hit the shutter button; wait for a while and let the sensor take in more light to deliver well-lit shots. Make sure your hand is still else you will end up with blurred images. There's a noticeable difference when you compare the images shot in standard mode vs images shot in Night mode. The long-exposure brightens up the dark areas and also brings in more clarity to the images. The camera in low-light mode also better understands the artificial light coming out from light bulbs, car's headlights, etc. This prevents unwanted light flares and overexposure in certain parts of the frame. There's a slight difference in color balance when you capture images in Night mode.

    Video Output- 4K at 30fps, 1080p at 60 fps, Slow-motion, Time-lapse

    Redmi Note 7 Pro is also a very capable smartphone to record videos. The 1080p video footage looks crisp and takes full advantage of EIS. You would need a tripod handy to record videos in 4K as the EIS does not kick in at Ultra HD resolution. Moreover, video recording in 4K mode also maxes out at 30fps. Slow-motion and time-lapse are also offered and works fine. For most of the tasks, 1080p videos shot at 60fps with EIS is sufficient.

    Minor issues in post-processing, no wide-angle lens

    While the Redmi Note 7 Pro has impressed us with the overall camera performance, there are minor issues that we would like you to know. Some images simply looked washed out and overexposed, especially at the brighter spots in the frame. The HDR mode is very subtle and not as intense as we have tested on some handsets in sub 15K price segment. For some users, the subtle HDR effect works; however if you prefer a dramatic HDR post-processing effect, you have to edit the images to further bring out details in darker areas of the frame. Besides, the camera struggled to focus on subjects during macro photography. You have to be patient to capture the desired image output with Note 7 Pro while taking macro shots.

    I really wish Xiaomi could have added a wide-angle lens on this budget device as it would have made the overall package really unbeatable. For those who love to capture wide-angle landscape shots, Galaxy M30 is the answer in the budget price-point. While the image quality is not groundbreaking on Samsung's budget camera devices, they do have feature-rich camera setups. Overall, Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro offers the best-in-class camera in sub-15K price-bracket.

    Hardware and Gaming

    In addition to the premium design, crisp display, and best-in-class camera, Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro also gets the highly capable Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 Chipset. Built on 11 nm Finfet technology, the octa-core CPU uses the latest Kryo 460 architecture and is paired with 4GB and 6GB LPDDR4X RAM. We got the 4GB RAM unit that gets 64GB internal memory. Combined with the latest MIUI, the smartphone feels snappy and rarely disappoints in regular phone tasks. App-load times are significantly faster and most of the everyday tasks are executed without any performance slowdowns. It is only when you record 4K videos or play heavy games for a longer duration when the Note 7 Pro starts showing signs of heat, which should not bother you much as even some of the most premium flagship smartphones show similar heat signatures when pushed to extreme limits.

    Games like PUBG run in high settings by default and the gameplay is mostly smooth. There were some occasional frame drops which I experienced after 30-minutes of continues gameplay on PUBG, Life After and Asphalt 9. Drop the settings to medium for a slightly smoother gameplay experience as Note 7 Pro does not ship with the best-in-class GPU. Overall, graphics look brilliant on the Note 7 Pro's display no matter which game you are playing. As far as multitasking is concerned, Redmi Note 7 Pro can easily handle multiple apps at a time. My 4GB review unit easily sails through more than 15 apps at a time. I haven't got a chance to test the 6GB RAM variant of Note 7 Pro but I am sure it will offer significantly better performance.

    In the usual PC Mark 2.0 performance benchmark, Redmi Note 7 Pro scored 7471 as compared to Vivo V15 Pro that touched 7505 in the same test. V15 Pro is also powered by the same SD675 CPU but is priced almost double the price of Redmi Note 7 Pro.

    Software: Fluid, feature-rich but annoying ads ecosystem

    Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro runs on MIUI 10 based on Android 9.0 Pie. Unlike the hardware, the software performance on this wonderful budget handset is not flawless. While the animations and the overall look and feel of UI is very intuitive and easy on the eyes, the software is not glitch free. To start with, the camera gave me a tough time. The camera app feels sluggish. Regardless of the fact that you are taking a shot in 48MP or 12MP, the moment you tap on the Gallery shortcut icon in the top left corner, the camera app freezes for a moment. Now, this might not happen every time you click on the image icon, but you will experience it once in a while and that can be annoying when you are trying to capture a fast-moving object.

    Besides the camera app, some applications took noticeable time to load even when there were just 3 to 4 apps running in the background. The lockscreen can be unresponsive and might take longer than usual to show the home-screen when you use the fingerprint scanner or simply enter the code or password. This happened even when the Glance lockscreen wallpaper app was disabled.

    Lastly, the new add-ecosystem by Xiaomi can be really annoying. You must have read by now that the ads can be found everywhere in the user interface, starting from the lockscreen to browser, individual apps and even settings menu on the Redmi Note 7 Pro. Xiaomi says that the ads are integral to the company's internet services for the mobile ecosystem. We totally understand that but for users who are interacting with their phones 24x7, ads on every screen can be problematic.

    Disable Ads for a clutter-free software experience on Redmi Note 7 Pro

    The good part, you can disable these ads for a more clutter-free software experience. The Glance app which offers wallpapers with small snippets of information can be disabled. Besides, you can disable the ‘MSA' toggle in Authorizations and revocation in additional settings. You can also disable ads for individual apps by disabling recommendation in installed apps settings.

    If you completely disable ads from MIUI 10, it comes out as a great software skin full of useful software features. Some of these include- Mi Mover, Enterprise mode, Quick ball, Dual apps, Second space, etc. Besides, the stock apps on MIUI 10; the clock, camera app, calendar, etc. have a minimal and easy-to-use user interface and works perfectly. The software overall works well and is probably the best custom skin offered by any Chinese smartphone manufacturer, minus the irritating ads ecosystem.

    MIUI 10: Best-in-class gallery app, and lots of useful features

    MIUI 10, in general, is pretty capable and feature-rich custom skin. The stock gallery app in MIUI 10 offers some really good filters. The color palettes offered by these filters are not easily available in third-party apps. If you like to play around with photo-editors to give your images a new look and feel, you must check out the built-in photo editor in MIUI 10's gallery app. Besides, the application also allows you to hide albums, free clutter, create collages and create a backup on Mi Cloud. The 'Second- space' is another awesome MIUI feature that allows you to have two different profiles on your handset. You can set a space for office use and enable the other for personal usage. It's really handy.

    Battery life and Connectivity

    If there's anything that made me truly love this budget smartphone after the brilliant camera performance is the long-lasting battery life. Redmi Note 7 Pro can easily last for one full day even with heavy usage. You can stream videos, play games, take pictures, use social media platforms and perform all other basic tasks and the phone will still have at least 5-10% battery left at the end of the day.

    The smartphone is backed by a 4,000 mAh battery unit. The phone comes bundled with 10W charger in the box which takes more than 2 hours to fully charge the big battery. You can buy the 18W power adaptor separately to make the best use of Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.0 fast charging technology.

    Call quality on Redmi Note 7 Pro is pretty solid and at par with premium smartphones. You get dual 4G VoLTE with a hybrid SIM card slot. The audio via speaker units is also loud enough and clear. You can use Type-C earphones and regular 3.5mm headphones/earphones for audio playback on this smartphone. Additionally, you get Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi, IR Blaster and all standard sensors that are offered by smartphones these days.

    Verdict

    Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro is the best budget smartphone in sub-15K price-bracket. It offers a remarkable camera performance, snappy hardware, and long-lasting battery life. The design is also at par with phones priced between 20k to 30k price brackets. The phone comes with the latest software but the new ads ecosystem and sluggish camera app can be annoying. Thankfully, the ads can be turned off by tweaking phone's settings.

    The biggest issue with the Redmi Note 7 Pro is the flash sale model. We really want Xiaomi to kill this flash sale model and produce the required number of devices to meet user's requirement. If you are also a disappointed potential buyer, you can consider Asus ZenFone Max Pro M2, Galaxy M30, Galaxy A30, Realme 3 and even the company's Poco F1 after its recent price cut. You can also wait for Realme 3 Pro which is expected to bring some solid hardware and software specs at somewhat similar price-point.

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