Xiaomi Redmi 9i is a barebone entry-level smartphone through and through and shares almost 99 per cent of its specifications with its sibling Redmi 9A. I have been using the phone for a week now and it is a phone that’s available at a sub-9K INR price tag which is pretty much an affordable price tag for the majority of people in India. In fact, the Redmi 9i is great for those upgrading from a feature phone to a smartphone although even at this price tag, it has some rivals to compete against.
Oh, Wait! Recycle Your Old Phone, Get Rewarded!
After extensively testing the device for a week, here’s my analysis and a hands-on review on Xiaomi Redmi 9i.
Prices in India, Variants, Availability
Xiaomi Redmi 9i is available in two trims i.e. 4GB+64GB at Rs 8,299/- while the higher 4GB+128GB storage is available at Rs 9,299/-. You can purchase it from Mi store and Flipkart in three colour options: Midnight Black, Nature Green, and Sea Blue. There are a tonne of offers and deals with Xiaomi Redmi 9i such as No cost EMI starting from Rs 1,550/mo, 7 per cent instant discount on EMI txns using YES Bank CC as well as 20 per cent off on 1st txn using Amex Network Cards issued by SBI, IndusInd, ICICI Bank, and Mobikwik.
Specs at a glance
Before we talk in detail about the Redmi 9i let’s see what the on-paper specs look like?
- Display: 16.59 cm (6.53 inch) HD+ Display
- Processor: Mediatek Helio G25
- Storage: 4GB/64GB, 4GB/128GB
- Software: MIUI 12 based on Android 10
- Rear cameras: 13MP
- Selfie Camera: 5MP
- Battery: 5000 mAh
- Weight: 194g
- Dimensions: 164.9 x 77.1 x 9 mm
Design and Build
To summarize, the looks and appearance of Redmi 9i aren’t disappointing. I had the Nature Green version that looks well-putted although other colour options are equally impressive. The phone is tall (at 20:9) and its width enables users to hold the phone without any hassle. The curved edges improve the grip further although I don’t think that everyone will be able to use the phone with just one hand because of its tall display.
The front has a V-shaped notch that takes just a tiny bit of the screen real estate. Bezels exist and they are thick although that’s something you will have to put up with for a phone priced under 10,000 INR in India.
Planning to upgrade? Sell Your Old Phone in 60 Seconds From Home
The back is where all the magic happens. It’s a cool-looking unobstructed back panel that has nothing to distract you except the camera and the Redmi branding. The single rear camera setup is on the top-left corner and has a single sensor with LED flash stacked vertically. A section that starts from the camera assembly drags to the bottom carving a separate section with the width of the camera assembly and it has a Redmi branding on top.
Talking about buttons and I/O ports, there’s a power button and volume rocker on the right; a SIM card tray on the left; a 3.5mm headphone jack, a bottom-firing loudspeaker, a mic, and a micro USB 2.0 port at the bottom. That’s all about the design aspect of the phone you must know.
About the display mounted on Xiaomi Redmi 9i, there’s a 6.53-inch IPS LCD panel with a 720 by 1600 pixels resolution and a tall 20:9 aspect ratio. The display is advertised to reach 270 nits of typical brightness and has an 81 per cent STB.
The display is tall as I have mentioned a lot of times throughout this review. It is ideal for gaming and watching movies as you will enjoy consuming media on a larger display. However, the colour reproduction is dull and all the colours appear washed out. Also, you are limited to viewing HD+ content only which means, even if you grab an FHD+ image, you can only resolve it to HD+ on Redmi 9i.
Broke Your Old Phone Screen?
I didn’t find anything amusing with 9i’s display except for the fact that it is cost-efficient. There’s a different side of the story as well. Redmi 9i is still cheap and thus, a major upgrade for those who have been using feature phones or entry-level smartphones with TFT displays. Xiaomi Redmi 9i has too many limiting factors but once you get a hold of it, you will like it as it is one of the few Sub-9K smartphones for its vanilla variant.
The display is just okay so if you are considering buying a phone purely to get a good display, Redmi 9i isn’t for you. Choose Redmi 9 or Redmi Note 9 instead.
There’s a MediaTek Helio G25 SoC under the hood that handles the operations. It is an octa-core chipset with 4×2.0GHz Cortex-A53 high-performance plus 4×1.5GHz Cortex-A53 power-efficient cores. There’s a PowerVR GE8320 GPU which is ideal for G25 SoC. Then, there’s 64GB/128GB of eMMC 5.1 storage and 4GB of RAM and that’s all the hardware specs you need. Here’s how it performs when pit against practical use cases.
Helio G25 is an entry-level chipset and even though it is a gaming-oriented chipset, I wouldn’t say so. I have used the G25 before and 9i doesn’t make any difference to it. It is good for browsing, texting, social media, media consumption, and calling. However, don’t subject it to heavy apps or games, or else it will stutter a lot. The processor is sluggish and you will realize if once you have a few apps in the background and you are toggling between them. It is just a fraction of a second-long delay, but if you are downgrading from Helio G35 (for example), you will notice it.
Check Out: All That You Need To Know About iQOO 7 FAQs
You can still play casual games like Alto’s Odyssey but everything like PUBG Mobile will be too sluggish even at smooth settings. Perhaps, you can try it if you want. But at the end of the day, its target audience is not gaming enthusiasts and neither those who want the best selfies ever (at least that is how I assume the target audience for Redmi 9i/9A), so it is understandable.
The hardware is complemented by Android 10-based MIUI 12. Although MIUI 12 is among the newest since there’s only MIUI 12.5 ahead of it, the software offers a greater number of features than many of its competitors. However, this also brings a lot of bloatware that you can’t get rid of (at least a few). There’s a feature called “Glance” that takes over the lock screen showing you images and ads alike. There are of course a few system ads on MIUI 12, however, you can turn off personalizations for a few options/settings to prevent the ads from showing up.
Redmi 9i is an entry-level smartphone and thus, does bring a standard camera with nothing fancy to blab about. There’s a 13MP primary snapper at the back with PDAF and an aperture of f/2.2 while the front selfie shooter has a 5MP sensor with an f/2.2 aperture.
In the optics section, Xiaomi Redmi 9i doesn’t shine and that goes without saying. It’s an entry-level smartphone and thus, has a pretty basic and average camera on-board. The 13MP rear camera takes decent photos when the light is adequate. If you point towards a mountain or somewhere outdoors, I don’t think so you will have any problem taking quality shots although with average details and sharpness. On the contrary, outdoor shots are dimly lit and are just around acceptable with nothing to blab about. The camera adjusts exposure by itself although it isn’t that snappy and thus, takes a fraction of a second to do so every time you move your camera.
Also Check Out: iQOO 7 Camera Review
There’s no dedicated night mode but you can tweak the Pro mode with ISO, shutter speeds, EV, and other settings to get a good-quality image albeit on a tripod since long exposure shots require steady support.
If you have used Redmi 9A ever before, you have literally used 9i as well, as the distinction is with the colour options and storage options only.
The story on the front camera is the same although the difference here is, the selfie shooter is way small at 5MP. Still, you will get decent-quality shots with adequate light. Indoor shots take a hit that can be fixed by simply illuminating the subject or you can try the rear cam with flash.
Portrait mode on the rear and front camera isn’t anything out-of-the-box. It is average and edge detection may take a hit many times so don’t expect to be bang on. In any case, the camera is currently an okayish affair on the Redmi 9i.
Xiaomi Redmi 9i is equipped with a massive 5,000 mAh battery under the hood. What this means to you is that the battery will be able to withstand at least two days of usage and I don’t think so there was any problem with the battery life when I was testing out the phone. Probably the entry-level processor causes the battery life to extend since there are only some things you can do with Redmi 9i and that includes playing high-graphics games.
Plus, the phone arrives with a standard 10W charging tech which takes a good 3 hours for the battery to juice. To be honest, it is a considerable drop from Redmi 8A which is still a technical predecessor and that’s discomforting. It just goes around to show literally what cutbacks Xiaomi made to bring down its price tag.
Audio, Connectivity, Biometrics
You don’t get a fancy speaker setup onboard Redmi 9i. Instead, you get a single bottom-firing loudspeaker that fires up sound which can be termed as of average quality. It is subtly loud but something I couldn’t imagine being audible if you have a large group of people listening to it. Perhaps at a Sub-9K INR, what else could I get?
Xiaomi Redmi 9i is an entry-level smartphone and thus, the connectivity features are limited. There’s Wi-Fi 802.11n, Bluetooth v5.0 with LE and A2DP, GPS support, GM radio, and a micro USB 2.0 port for charging purposes.
There’s no 5G (of course). There are 2G, 3G, and 4G support where you can connect to any network in India and enjoy calls, internet, and SMS services without any hassle on your Redmi 9i. Some calls do drop and sometimes, you can hear the person on the other side but they can’t hear you. Could it be a network issue? Well, I have been using the Jio 4G on Redmi 9i so I can say there is a mix of possibilities here. Internet speeds on Jio 4G are acceptable although Wi-Fi is much faster on Redmi 9i given the fact that there are some factors limiting the DL and Upload Link on the internet on Redmi 9i.
You are getting a bare smartphone at a Sub-9K INR price tag without any face unlock or fingerprint scanner. Yep, Xiaomi simply made a decision to not have an FPS scanner or face unlock module where the latter is understandable although I simply couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that there’s no fingerprint sensor. You can still use PIN and Pattern mechanisms to do your daily jobs while keeping the phone secured.
Pros & Cons
- Big display
- 4GB RAM under Rs.9000
- MIUI 12
- Absence of fast charging
- Single front and rear cameras
- Low processor for this price range
Xiaomi has made quite a few cutbacks on features to bring Redmi 9i to the price it is now selling for. Apparently, it is a major upgrade over feature phones that some people might be looking to upgrade from. Also, if elderly people or someone who just doesn’t have the budget or someone who has limited interaction with their smartphones can opt for Redmi 9i.
However, if you are really into the Redmi series, pick up the Redmi 9A instead, which is way cheaper. If you want a powerful counterpart, look out for Redmi Note 9 instead. There is a tonne of alternatives that will give you overall better performance than Redmi 9i. Hope this hands-on review helps you in deciding whether to buy it or not.