Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro review: surprisingly reliable and slick affordable smartphone

Rating: 7.9/10

Yay:

  • More modern, well-rounded design
  • Great display
  • Fast fingerprint scanner and face unlock
  • Great, interruption-free call quality
  • Lag-free stable experience

Nay:

  • Average camera performance in low light
  • Front camera pictures might not satisfy selfie lovers
  • The software doesn’t hide the notch properly
  • No dual-VoLTE

Introduction

I was really hoping Xiaomi would bring the Mi A2 Lite with Android One instead of the Redmi 6 Pro with MIUI. Well, that didn’t happen of course.

Anyway, the newly-launched Redmi 6 Pro is a unique proposition under Rs 15,000, because it joins a very small list of phones to come with a notched display. And, in this price range, it’s going up against a bevy of tough contenders. From the extremely powerful and well-specced ZenFone Max Pro M1 to the Redmi Note 5, the competition is truly intense. 

So, I have been using the Redmi 6 Pro as my primary driver. This means transferring close to around 140 apps and using it end-to-end as my daily usage device. Coming from the LG G7+ ThinQ, I expected the switch to be a limiting experience. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. 

Also read: LG G7+ ThinQ: 5 reasons why it is better than the OnePlus 6 and Poco F1

Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro design: doesn’t feel like a budget phone

The Redmi 6 Pro follows a very similar design language as the Redmi Note 5 Pro (review) and the Mi A2 (review), at least from the rear. It has the same metal backplate separated by two plastic strips for receiving network signals; a vertically-aligned camera module on the top left corner that juts out ever so slightly; and finally, a fingerprint scanner in an easy-to-reach location. 

That said, there is something about the more pronounced curvature around the corners of the phone that makes it easy to hold and use with one hand. This in-hand feel is further augmented but the fact that fact that it has a smaller 5.84-inch display with a tall 19:9 aspect ratio. 

However, what makes the Redmi 6 Pro very unique is the wonderful weight distribution across the body of the phone. The phone is heavy at around 178g but I never once felt that it was weighing me down. In fact, it adds a certain level of sturdiness. The body doesn’t flex or creak when you put pressure on it, and that is a big advantage. I truly think that this is one of the sturdiest budget phones money can buy right now. 

As for the ports, you have your straight-forward standard placements. The Micro-USB port sits at the bottom flanked on either side by grilles, of which only the right one works as the speaker. The power button and the volume rocker are placed on the right edge. They offer an adequately good tactile feedback but I would’ve really appreciated it if Xiaomi made some sort of distinction ridges on the power button. 

On the top edge, you get the Infrared port and the 3.5mm jack. The left edge has the SIM card tray, and the best part is you get two separate slots for ttwo Nano-SIM cards and another slot for a microSD card. That said, a lot of folks are going to be disappointed that the phone doesn’t support Dual VoLTE. 

Overall though, the Redmi 6 Pro has one of the nicest, most functional designs on an affordable phone. 

Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro display: one of the better displays on a phone under Rs 20,000

The Redmi 6 Pro is one of the very few phones in this price range that comes with a notched display. The 5.84-inch IPS LCD panel has a cutout at the top, which includes the front camera, the earpiece, and the ambient light sensor. This LCD panel is crisp, bright, and fairly colour accurate too. Obviously, you don’t get deep Blacks or even very clean Whites, but it is manageable. 

In fact, I like the Redmi 6 Pro’s display more than the one on the Poco F1’s for some odd reason. And, that’s definitely saying something. It looks and feels like a very high quality-panel. I had no issues with either the viewing angles or the sunlight legibility, in case you are wondering. But I had an issue with one other thing: the hide notch option doesn’t hide it evenly and leaves extra space at the bottom. 

If you look at it closely, apps headers are not aligned with the bottom edge of the notch and therefore leave some extra space at the bottom. This is design harakiri! Forget the whole symmetry bit, I really don’t understand how Xiaomi dropped the ball on this such an important detail. However, this is just the matter of a small software fix and I really hope the company fixes this soon. 

Oh, and considering Widevine DRM support for playing streaming videos from apps like Netflix and Hotstar has become a big deal after the whole Poco F1 (review) incident, I also checked it on the Redmi 6 Pro. It has support only for Widevine L3. But that’s fine, it is a budget phone. It can play FHD videos just fine on YouTube. I am not really docking any points for not including Widevine L1 support. 

Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro software: waiting patiently for MIUI 10

The Redmi 6 Pro runs the latest version of MIUI 9 on top of Android Oreo. It is expected to get MIUI 10 soon. I have spoken at length about MIUI 9 in my review of the Redmi Note 5 Pro and Redmi Y2. In fact, the Redmi Y2 (review) has already moved to MIUI 10. Essentially, MIUI is a fork of Android that is so heavy-handed that it doesn’t even include an app drawer. 

Oh, and one of the things I noticed this time while using MIUI extensively is that there are ads everywhere now!

If you can look past that, MIUI is an evolving fork of Android that finds a lot of takers. But, MIUI 10 is where all the action is happening and the update looks very, very promising. I am already using it on the Y2 and the overall design overhaul looks super impressive. 

Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro camera: good for shots in daylight, bad for everything else


The Redmi 6 Pro comes with the same set of dual rear cameras as the more expensive Redmi Note 5 Pro and the Mi A2. Allow me to highlight the most important testing results of the camera performance. 

  1. The Redmi 6 Pro, like most other budget phones, is a slow shooter. While shooting action shots, you are bound to end up with blurred images. 
  2. The Redmi 6 Pro’s 12MP rear camera with its large 1.25-micron pixels can shoot a great number of details for a budget phone. Especially, when you are shooting a wide shot of the landscape. 


  3. Even close up shots look good, with a great control over the reds, which in turn indicates that the colour accuracy is great. 

     

  4. Praise the lord, because Xiaomi has finally fixed its flawed HDR mode algorithm. For the very first time in a Xiaomi phone this year, the Redmi 6 Pro’s HDR mode actually improves details in highlights and shadows. It may very well be the one of the best smartphones south of Rs 20,000 for HDR shots. 


    Non-HDR

    HDR

  5. Portrait mode cutout is clean and creamy for the most part. No complaints there. 
  6. Low light photography is a mess.
  7. Selfies, from the 5MP camera, are crisp enough for usual social media uploads. And, the selfie portrait mode doesn’t disappoint either. 
  8. The Redmi 6 Pro can shoot electronically stabilised 1080p videos. The colours are dull for some odd reason but the stabilisation is really good.

     

All things considered, the Redmi 6 Pro has a capable set of shooters for its asking price. It is just not the best in the business. 

Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro performance: SD625 is boring but still very effective

Yup, the Redmi 6 Pro is yet another Xiaomi smartphone that comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC. Yeah, I’d have ideally liked a SD636 but it is what it is. What can you do about it?

Moving on, you get two SKUs of RAM/ROM combination. There is a variant with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, and another one that comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. Both these variants also come with the option to expand the storage up to 256GB using the memory card slot. The 32GB storage is of the eMMC 5.1 format. I got a sequential read/write speeds of 275.68MB/s and 196.31 MB/s, respectively, which is fairly good for phones in this price range. Other benchmark numbers are not very promising because even the Kirin 659 offers slightly better AnTuTu numbers. 

In all honesty, though, I didn’t really face any problem in daily usage. Apart from a few random stutters here and there, not much to worry about. Heck, I even loved playing PUBG without any issues, albeit in low settings. Moreover, the phone doesn’t heat up even after long sessions of PUBG. Talking about the fingerprint scanner on the rear, it is fast and responsive. And surprisingly, so is the face unlocking mechanism. The phone can unlock after identifying your face within a second or so, and it does so with ease even in less-than-ideal lighting conditions. Obviously, you cannot unlock it in extreme darkness, but it works in most scenarios. 

But the best thing about the SD625 is the 14nm processor, which enables great battery life. The 4000mAh battery easily lasted me 7-8 hours of screen on time on super heavy usage. If you use it moderately, you can squeeze a day and a half worth of usage out of the phone. 

The mono speaker at the bottom is low in volume but the audio through the 3.5mm jack is of standard quality. The phone can play Bluetooth audio in SBC codec and I used the OnePlus Bullets Wireless with the Redmi 6 Pro, and it sounds good for a budget phone. The earpiece is of good quality too and in my time with the phone, I didn’t face a single call drop or network issues. 

Should you buy the Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro?

When I started to review the Redmi 6 Pro, I wasn’t very optimistic about the phone’s overall positioning. I kept wondering – who is this phone for? But, the Redmi 6 Pro has ended up impressing me more than I initially expected it to. This phone has turned out to be the best example of – “don’t judge a smartphone by its specs.” 

The Redmi 6 Pro has a very polished feel about it. That said, I am still pissed about a few irksome choices like letting ads invade MIUI and break the experience. But I guess, that’s what it takes to keep the prices of Xiaomi phones low. 

While it is not as powerful as the ZenFone Max Pro M1 (review) or the Realme 1 (review), there’s still a lot to like about the Redmi 6 Pro. And in all honesty, I could easily suggest the phone to anyone looking for a modern design and a reliable performance overall.

Do let us know what you think about the Redmi 6 Pro in the comments below.

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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?