Redmi Note 7 Pro review: stupendously good value-for-money

Overall rating: 8.4/10

Pros:

  • Incredible set of cameras
  • Unbelievable pricing
  • Very attractive premium design
  • USB Type-C. Finally!
  • Very good battery life

Cons:

  • MIUI 10’s ads are annoying
  • Animations in MIUI 10 are janky
  • Gorilla Glass 5 might be rigid but it attracts way too many scratches
  • Heating issues

Introduction: 

How do you introduce Xiaomi’s latest phone – the Redmi Note 7 Pro? No, really. How can you? This is the phone that has created the most amount of chatter since its launch, a week ago. So, I am not going to spend any time introducing it. You and I both know that the Redmi Note 7 Pro is probably the most important phone to launch 2019 – not just for Xiaomi, or for its competitors, but for the entire mid-range smartphone landscape. 

What follows is my review of the Redmi Note 7 Pro after a week of using it as my primary daily driver. 

Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro camera: truly game-changing

To begin with, let’s discuss the 48MP rear camera. Xiaomi India has swapped the GM1 sensor inside the Redmi Note 7 Pro launched in China with a Sony IMX 586 sensor. And, that makes a whole world of difference. I noticed the same incredible fine details and corner-to-corner details as I saw in View 20, which has the same sensor. For its price, the pictures look stunning. With ample light, the Redmi Note 7 Pro does a great job with the colour accuracy but the processing is very similar to what the Pixel does. It offers a high contrast image, which sometimes crushes the details in the shadows in the background. That said, the images I took in daylight look incredible. 

Note that all the pictures here were captured in 12MP pixel-binned resolution. I really wouldn’t bother capturing in 48MP full resolution because at 100% crop the details are soft. And unlike the View 20 – which can fuse multiple 48MP shots in the 48MP ultra clarity mode – the Note 7 Pro cannot really do it. By the way, you can switch to the 48MP full-res shot even from the regular photo mode, you don’t need to head into the Pro mode for it. 

 

Coming back to the quality of the pictures, in low light scenarios, Xiaomi’s new Night Mode does an incredible job as long as you don’t pixel peep. Yes, it is no Night Sight, but to be able to do this on a phone in this price range is incredible. Just look at the pictures for yourself. Doesn’t it look great? I really like how the camera fixes the dynamic range by such a huge margin. 

12MP shot

48MP shot

The HDR mode is a bit of a hit and a miss though. The HDR Off image actually looks better than HDR On, for some reason. The Portrait mode continues to be very good as Xiaomi’s algorithm keeps maturing. The blur is induced gradually where it moves from the objects closer to the lens and into the background. I think the 5MP depth sensor also helps in this regard. Apart from this, Xiaomi has also added a lot of Portrait effects. The Holi one especially looks very interesting.

Now, the 13MP front camera takes crisp selfies with a great number of details. The facial tones look really nice and I really had no complaints. My only issue is that it does this only in good lighting conditions. Once it goes dark, the selfie camera starts struggling. The selfie camera can also shoot 1080p video without stabilisation. The sound quality is also good. 

Talking about video, I shot a 4K 30fps video and the colours were boosted compared to the 1080p video. And, there is no electronic stabilisation either. But the amount of details and the incredible dynamic range is going to entice a lot of users to stick to the 4K recording mode. Obviously, it also takes up a lot of storage space just like the 48MP full resolution shots do. The sound recording is really good too. I am impressed by the video recording chops of the Redmi Note 7 Pro. I got to tell you guys this, the camera app did crash on me a couple of times but I believe this has to do with an early build of software for the phone. 

 

Night mode on and Night mode off

As far as smartphone photography in mid-range camera goes, the Redmi Note 7 Pro has definitely taken the game to the next level. The chasm between flagship cameras and budget cameras is slowly and steadily narrowing, and Xiaomi is evidently leading the charge. At one point, it used to be Motorola with its G-series. Remember?

Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro design: improved and more refined

The Redmi Note 7 is the first time Xiaomi has introduced a glass-sandwich design to the Redmi series. There is Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5 on the front and the back, and a plastic rim around the sides. Unlike a few bend tests out in the open, I am not concerned about the structural rigidity. I am more worried about the fact that Gorilla Glass 5 does absolutely nothing to protect the display and the rear from scratches. You will need a screen protector on the front and the back for sure. 

Our unit is the Black colour variant, but I really love the Nebula Red colour. That gradient finish looks stunning in my opinion. There’s also Type-C now, so that’s definitely a welcome change. You are never too late for the Type-C party. And thankfully, Xiaomi hasn’t removed the 3.5mm port or the Infrared scanner either. The power button and the volume rocker are both on the right edge but it feels slightly soft to press. One of the other additions to the whole design is the inclusion of a p2i nano-coating, apart from rubber seals around the ports, to protect the phone from splashes of water. Making the Redmi Note 7 Pro splash resistant, not water resistant.  

As far as the design goes, the Redmi Note 7 Pro might have taken a few cues from Cupertino but such a premium design in the mid-range segment was only present on the Nokias till now. 

Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro display: crisp and clean

The front of the Redmi Note 7 Pro is characterised by a large 6.3-inch IPS LCD LTPS panel. This display has an aspect ratio of 19.5:9 and 1080×2340 pixels in total. It is crisp but tends to be on the cooler side when you look at a white background. Otherwise, the colour reproduction is close to natural, not boosted. Moreover, there is no light bleeding in the dark either, something that has a lot of folks worried after the whole Poco F1 fiasco. Also, the brightness levels are fine and so are the viewing angles. But, I’d have preferred a smaller chin like the Honor 8x or the Galaxy M20. 

Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro multimedia: Widevine L1 support with a catch

Now that we are talking about the display, let’s also address the elephant in the room. Yes, the Redmi Note 7 Pro does come with Widevine L1 certification. This should ideally allow for the phone to stream in HD from streaming apps like Netflix and Prime. But actually, I couldn’t find HD streaming on Netflix or Prime. This means that there is one more level before the Note 7 Pro can actually stream in HD. 

Anyway, as far as watching videos go, the Redmi Note 7 Pro’s display is fine. And the dewdrop notch is barely intrusive. Yes, you can also switch off the notch in the settings. By the way, Xiaomi has also included a new amplifier just for the speaker with a bigger chamber too. It makes the mono speaker at the bottom slightly louder. It sounds fairly crisp too. This amp doesn’t help much with playback from the 3.5mm jack. And I wasn’t particularly impressed or disappointed with the SD675’s in-built DAC. 

If you are looking for a great multimedia performance from your phone, I’d suggest the Galaxy M30, Galaxy A30, or the Galaxy A50 because of the AMOLED panels and the HD playback from streaming services. 

Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro software: MIUI 10 keeps up with the trends but it is not without issues

The Redmi Note 7 Pro runs on Xiaomi’s latest MIUI 10 software based on Android 9. From the get-go, you will realise that this operating system has a lot of ads. Because Xiaomi also makes a lot of money from running ads on the system. Here’s what I’d suggest if you hate ads. At setup, you get an option to switch off personalised ads and the lock-screen wallpaper carousel too. That solves some of the problems. Then, every single Mi app will throw a notification and so will the third-party apps like Sharechat. You should switch those notifications off individually, as well. 

Also, I don’t understand why the Mi Video app needs permission to my contacts and telephone to run. In fact, it needed access to my IMEI to customise services better. I just wanted to playback a slow-motion video I shot with my phone, Xiaomi. This is a bit much, in my opinion.

Furthermore, apart from Google’s Play Protect, which scans every app you download, Xiaomi has its own layer of Security on top, which scans it once again. Now, when you are restoring 150 apps at once, to hit “done” every time gets super duper annoying. Anyway, you can switch that off too. Oh yeah, that security page has an ad too.

Now that you have switched off all the ads, you will see a cleaner operating system that is far less intrusive. Without all these ads, MIUI 10 looks great visually. The tiny icon animations look cute and the theming engine is strong too. And, there are a lot of other useful features like dual apps and sharing your Wi-Fi connection as a hotspot. 

Moving on, while the gesture-based navigation system feels intuitive to use, it has a janky animation that gets my goat every time I minimise an app. I prefer a smoother transition. Overall, MIUI 10 has a good design language and some nifty features but the obtrusive ads take away from its sheen. 

Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro performance: powerful hardware but some thermal management issues

Internally, the Redmi Note 7 Pro comes with a new SD675 chip, that was also used in the Vivo V15 Pro. It is a fairly powerful CPU but the GPU is not top class. The SD710 and SD670 have more powerful GPUs. It shows in the gaming performance too. I noticed some stutter in Asphalt 9 since the phone defaults to high graphics. There were clear frame drops, something I noticed in the V15 Pro too. Now, PUBG plays fine in high graphics. In fact, I ran Gamebench and I got a steady 30fps with an fps stability of 97%, which is great.

What’s not great is the fact that the temperature shot up from 32-degrees to 44-degrees after 37-minutes of gaming. Yes, the phone does get warmer than usual when stressing the SoC with gaming or recording 4K video. The thermals could have been better in my opinion. Otherwise, in daily usage, the phone flies and it doesn’t heat up either. I am talking about regular social media usage and taking pictures etc. App opening times are through the roof and the RAM performance is great too. It is no wonder that the phone threw back an AnTuTu score of close to 1,80,000. Note that all my observations are from the 4GB, 64GB variant. 

Overall, I have an issue with the heating bit but I believe that can be fixed with a software update. And otherwise, for day-to-day performance, you are going to enjoy using the phone. 

Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 battery life: can push 2 days on moderate usage

The phone has a large 4000mAh battery, same as what we had on the Note 6 Pro and the Note 5 Pro. So, battery life is sort of similar only. Most Xiaomi users must be familiar with the 6 hours of SoT that you get on this big battery on moderate usage. You can easily keep the phone going for more than a day. There are also some battery saving options if you want to save more power.

What’s new, however, is the Redmi Note 7 Pro also gets support for QC 4.0 like the Mi A2. But Xiaomi’s QC 4.0 charger is not available in India, so you will have to buy a third-party one. In the box, you get a regular 10A charger. It charges the battery from 0 to 100 in around 2 hours 20 minutes. 

Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro call quality and network performance: stable and reliable

Thanks to the dewdrop notch, the earpiece has been moved to a slit on the top. But it doesn’t affect the call quality. You get a clean sound in calls but the noise cancellation could’ve been better. As far as 4G performance and network stability are concerned, I didn’t face many problems either. Looks like Xiaomi has improved the radios on the Note 7 Pro and that is good news. Oh yeah, the Redmi Note 7 Pro also supports dual 4G VoLTE. 

Should you buy the Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro?

The Redmi Note 7 Pro is definitely one of the best phones to buy under Rs 20,000. But the heavy-handed nature of MIUI 10 can be an irritant. You cannot really escape the ads. Yes, that is Xiaomi India’s business strategy and it makes sense for them, but there is no denying that it is annoying. That said, from the class-leading 48MP rear camera to the excellent performance (despite the slight heating issues), the Redmi Note 7 Pro is a phone that will definitely fly off the shelves. And, it deserves to as well.

If you are looking at alternatives in this price range, my options would be the ZenFone Max Pro M2 and the Samsung Galaxy M30. Obviously, the Realme 3 Pro is something I am eagerly waiting to check out too. As for the Max Pro M2, the major advantage it has over the Note 7 Pro is the stock Android experience. I am a fan of clean software experiences and it works for me. The Max Pro M2 also offers a larger 5000mAh battery. But, the battery life is not drastically better or anything. 

Coming to the Galaxy M30, you have four major advantages – the brand value that Samsung brings to the table, a larger 5000mAh battery, an AMOLED display, and a wide-angle camera on the rear. Say what you want about the quality, the wide-angle camera on the Galaxy M30 is definitely a winner for the added perspective that you get. And AMOLED displays look stunning for sure. 

All said and done, the Redmi Note 7 Pro is my pick for the best value-for-money phone in the first quarter of 2019. What remains to be seen is if this situation changes as we move further into the year. Until then, go for it. Buy, the Note 7 Pro without hesitating. Just remember to switch off the ads. 

Ershad Kaleebullah
ershad.kaleebullah@u2opiamobile.com

When Ershad isn't writing, he spends time killing virtual zombies on his PS4. Having worked with a slew of renowned publications like PCWorld, Channelworld, CIO, NDTV Gadgets (now Gadgets360), MySmartPrice, The Inquistr, and 91Mobiles, Ershad brings a whole world of experience to Mr. Phone. He is trying hard to convert all the team members into Apple fans but is facing a lot of resistance. Is anyone willing to help?