Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T review: A 5G bargain

A cheap and attractive route into 5G, the Note 9T is already vying for best value phone of the year

Price
£208 exc VAT
  • Great value
  • Solid battery life
  • Good camera quality
  • No ultrawide lens
  • Middling display

As Harold Macmillan almost said, you’ve never had it so cheap. He was, of course, referring to 5G handsets, with the 64GB version of the Redmi Note 9T costing a mere £229 and its 128GB sibling £249. That undercuts the Moto G 5G Plus by £50 and the 5G variant of the Realme 7 by £30.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T review: Specs and performance

It’s no coincidence that this is the first phone we’ve reviewed to include one of MediaTek’s 5G-integrated “Dimensity” chipsets, the 800U, which supports all 5G frequency bands in the UK. MediaTek may have built its reputation for value rather than speed or innovation, but this eight-core system on a chip (S0C) is built using a 7nm fabrication process and includes four cores that run at a speedy 2.4GHz – and it’s fast. Results of 596 and 1,729 in Geekbench 5 aren’t going to trouble the Samsung Galaxy S21, but those scores are faster than the 552 and 1,591 of the Google Pixel 4a and a match for the more expensive Moto G 5G Plus.

The gigantic 5,000mAh battery is another highlight. This kept the Note 9T going for 18hrs 10mins in our video-rundown test, which is an excellent result – our only caveat being that the Samsung Galaxy M31 handily thrashed it with a battery life of more than 30 hours in our tests. 

Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T review: Display

The Xiaomi’s result is all the more impressive when you consider that it has a 6.53in IPS screen to feed. This is also a sharp display thanks to a 2,340 x 1,080 resolution that translates into 395ppi. 

The screen started strongly in our tests with 97.9% coverage of the sRGB colour gamut, which was in the phone’s Standard display mode. Colour accuracy proved less splendid: an average of 3.62 is distinctly mediocre. We expected it to plummet further when we switched to the Saturated setting, but unusually the Delta E improved to 2.38. This also gives images extra punch, and note that it’s bright, hitting 502cd/m² with the auto-brightness mode switched on and a torch aimed at the ambient light sensor. 

Does it matter that the screen is 60Hz rather than 90Hz or higher? We suspect not: for a sub-£250 phone, this is a perfectly good display.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T review: Design and features

Xiaomi has cut a few more corners in terms of design. It’s by no means ugly, with slim bezels and – if you’re willing to risk the purple rather than black finish – a bold choice of colour, but a plastic frame and back means it lacks the premium feel of more expensive 5G handsets. It’s also heavy at 199g, but some of that is due to a protective layer of Gorilla Glass 5; don’t expect it to survive a dunk in the bath, though, as it only has a water-repellent coating. 

The rear camera array and LED flash is stored within a large circle at the top portion of the handset, surrounded by a stylish metal trim. There’s no in-display fingerprint sensor, but the side-mounted power button doubles as a thumbprint reader for quick unlocks. Other user-friendly decisions include an NFC reader for contactless card payments, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and dedicated dual-SIM slots with space for a microSD card up to 512GB. 

Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T review: Cameras

Finally, let’s talk cameras. You’ll find three of them on the back of the Redmi Note 9T: the 48MP (f/1.8) main camera is supported by a 2MP (f/2.4) macro unit and a 2MP (f/2.4) depth sensor. While we miss the ultrawide camera of the Redmi Note 9, the main camera offers compensation through its detailed landscape shots. It’s up there with the Moto G9 Power.

The Note 9T struggles in tricky low-light conditions, but the end result is still good for the price. There’s more visual noise than is ideal but detail capture again proves a strength; it also does a great job of brightening up the image without blowing out lights. 

Our only major complaint is that the camera app is unnecessarily complicated, with the macro, burst and tilt-shift modes, for instance, not found in the “more” section (where you’ll find the 48MP, night and panorama modes) but instead located in the hamburger menu.

Still, at least the Note 9T’s video is up to scratch. You can record at a maximum resolution of 4K at 30fps, with 60fps video at 1080p resolution. Image stabilisation is only available at 1080p, 30fps, but if you reach for a mini tripod you’ll be rewarded with richly detailed video at 4K. 

Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T review: Verdict

The Redmi Note 9T is a lot better than its bargain price suggests. With a turn of pace that matches handsets that cost twice the price, it’s a great way to access the growing 5G network without spending excess cash. It’s not flawless: the screen is nothing special and we’re miffed about the removal of the ultrawide camera, but you won’t find anything better at this price. 

Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T specifications 

Processor

Octa-core MediaTek Dimensity 800U (2x2.4GHz, 6x 2GHz)

RAM

6GB

Screen size

6.53in

Screen resolution

2,340 x 1,080

Pixel density

395ppi

Screen type

IPS

Screen refresh rate

60Hz

Front camera

13MP (f/2.25)

Rear camera

48MP (f/1.79), 2MP (f/2.4) depth, 2MP (f/2.4) macro

Flash

LED

Dust and water resistance

No

3.5mm headphone jack

Yes

Wireless charging

No

USB connection type

USB-C

Storage options

64GB; 128GB

Memory card slot (supplied)

microSD

Wi-Fi

802.11ac

Bluetooth

5.1

NFC

Yes

Cellular data

5G, 4G

Dual SIM

Yes

Dimensions (WDH)

162 x 77 x 9mm

Weight

199g

Operating system

Android 10 (MIUI 12)

Battery size

5,000mAh

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