The Redmi 9 Prime marks the return of the ‘Prime’ series after the Redmi Note Prime, Redmi 2 Prime, and Redmi 3S Prime phones from several years ago. Why bring ‘Prime’ back, you ask? Well, Xiaomi feels the Prime series is the perfect middle ground between the entry-level Redmi phones and the Redmi Note series. It allows the company to launch the Redmi 9 Prime at around Rs 10,000, leaving room, possibly, for an even more affordable Redmi 9 in the future.
It will be interesting to see what the Redmi 9 looks like, if there ever is a Redmi 9 in India. Because the Redmi 9 Prime that has launched in the country is essentially a rebranded global variant of the Redmi 9. So it comes with the same plastic unibody finish, MediaTek Helio G80 chipset, 13MP quad cameras, and FHD+ display. In our Redmi 9 Prime review, we find out whether these features make up for an attractive sub-Rs 10,000 phone.
At a starting price of Rs 9,999, the Redmi 9 Prime is a strong contender for being the go-to phone under Rs 10,000. It is one of the few phones that offer a FHD+ display at this price point. This is paired with a solid and reliable MediaTek Helio G80 SoC and long battery life, among other things.
Design and display
- Display: 6.53-inch FHD+LCD
- Refresh rate: 60Hz
- Protection: Gorilla Glass 3
- Connectivity: USB Type-C, triple card slot, Wi-Fi 2.4/5 GHz, Bluetooth 5.0
The Redmi 9 Prime does not offer an extremely unique design, but the phone looks decent for its price. It has a plastic unibody back that has a texture to it, which offers a good grip and makes it smudge-free. The vertical camera module has a circular design around it that is somewhat similar to what we have seen on the POCO X2, although much more subtle in finish. At 198 grams, the phone is hefty and not the most comfortable for one-handed use.
The smartphone comes in four colour options: Matt Black, Mint Green, Space Blue and Sunrise Flare. The last two colours have a gradient finish and look appealing. The fingerprint sensor is placed just below the camera in the same module. The Redmi 9 Prime comes with a Type-C port and a headphone jack at the bottom of the frame.
One major selling point of the Redmi 9 Prime is the display. The phone gets a 6.53-inch screen with FHD+ (1,080 x 2,340) resolution, which is rare to see on a phone under Rs 10,000. The 1080p screen makes content like videos and games look sharper compared to a 720p display on say the Realme Narzo 10. We found colours and viewing angles on the Redmi 9 Prime pretty good, although brightness levels could have been better under peak sunlight.
With the phone supporting the Widevine L1 standard, content on platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video look really good. We watched ‘Raat Akeli Hai’ on Netflix and found the picture quality sharp with rich colour reproduction for an attractive viewing experience. This is a display you won’t find much fault with at this price point.
- Rear cameras: 13MP primary, 8MP wide-angle, 5MP macro, 2MP depth sensor
- Front camera: 8MP
The Redmi 9 Prime camera performance is about average. While we cannot expect a lot from the cameras on a phone in this price segment, the Redmi 9 Prime could have offered something more. Starting off, the phone gets a 13MP main camera, an 8MP ultra wide-angle lens, a 5MP macro camera and a 2MP depth sensor. The front camera offers an 8MP sensor. The camera app is quite simple to use with a few basic modes like Photo, Portrait, Video, Short Video, Slow Motion and Pro mode. You will realise that we haven’t mentioned Night mode and that is because the Redmi 9 Prime does not have a dedicated long exposure feature.
Daylight photography is about as good as you would expect from a camera in this price segment. The main camera is able to capture decent daylight shots with AI mode and HDR helping to offer better colour saturation and dynamic range in certain scenarios, although at times the algorithm can make colours look oversaturated. The wide-angle lens is fine in daylight as well, but we found ourselves having to adjust the placement of our fingers as it would often creep into the frame due to the position of the lens on the back.
The 5MP macro mode is meant to help you capture good close-up shots. It is best used in daylight and on subjects that are absolutely still. Since the macro lens lacks autofocus, you will need a lot of patience to focus properly on the subject.
What disappointed us the most about the camera on the Redmi 9 Prime is the lack of a dedicated Night mode. Phones as affordable as the Realme C11 offer Night mode now, so there’s really no reason for the Redmi 9 Prime to lack this feature. Without Night mode, low light photos are largely unusable. In the image above, you can see how the Redmi 9 Prime compares against the Realme Narzo 10 in low light. The Realme phone is able to capture a brighter low light photo with balanced exposure, lower noise and and overall clearer picture.
Performance and software
- Chipset: 2.0GHz MediaTek Helio G80
- RAM: 4GB RAM
- Storage: 64GB and 128GB
- Software: Android 10 with MIUI 11
The Redmi 9 Prime is powered by the MediaTek Helio G80 chipset, much like the Reame Narzo 10. The processor aims to deliver a smooth gaming experience on affordable phones and we have seen what it is capable of on the Narzo 10. The Redmi 9 Prime scored 365 in single-core and 1340 in multi-core on Geekbench and recorded a score of 198,612 on AnTuTu, which are decent results for an affordable phone.
In day-to-day usage, the Redmi 9 Prime works quite well. We found scrolling and browsing through social media apps like Twitter and Instagram to be smooth. With 4GB RAM on board, the phone handles multitasking well enough, although we did notice some slowdown at times when frequently switching between apps.
The Redmi 9 Prime is able to run PUBG on HD + High graphics setting, in case you were wondering. Graphics look above average for a phone in this price segment and we didn’t notice much lag or stutters during the first 30 minutes of gameplay. However, the performance does get a little jittery after 30 minutes with the phone getting slightly warm.
The Redmi 9 Prime supports 5GHz Wi-Fi, which ensures faster download speeds if you have high-speed internet at home. The fingerprint sensor and face unlock are both pretty reliable and fast at unlocking the phone. We found the bottom-firing speaker to be just about average and would have liked it to be louder, especially for watching movies.
As for the software, the Redmi 9 Prime ships with Android 10 with MIUI 11.0.2 on top and our unit was on the July security patch. The software comes with a fair bit of bloatware, including pre-installed apps like Mi Browser, Mi Store, ShareMe, Rummy King, Mi Browser and so on. While setting up the phone, you will be asked to install apps in order to receive Rs 20, which we found to be quite irksome. You will be greeted with ads, of course, during general usage, some of which can be disabled through Settings. You will also receive spammy notifications from some of the pre-installed apps, which again can be disabled manually. MIUI does offer some nice features like system-wide dark mode, Google Discover, Game Turbo, and the ability to lock apps in the background, among other things.
- Battery: 5,020mAh
- Charging: 18W fast charging support (10W charger in the box)
- PCMark battery test: 13 hours and 48 minutes
One of the strong points of the Redmi 9 Prime is its battery life. The phone houses a 5,020mAh battery that is good to last over a full day and then some, on moderate to heavy usage. After a 45-minute session on PUBG, the battery drops about 10 percent, which isn’t too bad. The phone has an excellent standby time as well. In our PCMark battery drain test, the Redmi 9 Prime delivered close to 14 hours, which is pretty good.
The Redmi 9 Prime supports 18W fast charging. Unfortunately, you only get a 10W charger in the box. This takes roughly three hours to charge the phone from zero to 100 percent, which is pretty slow. You will have to buy an 18W charger separately, which means spending around Rs 500 more, to enjoy faster charging.
The Redmi 9 Prime is an easy recommendation at its starting price of Rs 9,999, but things get a little more complicated when you look at the top-end variant. At Rs 11,999, you get the Redmi 9 Prime with 128GB storage, which is a good for anyone looking for a lot of storage. But at this price point, we would suggest the Redmi Note 9 (review), which offers better cameras, slightly better performance and fast charging out of the box. The Realme Narzo 10 (review) is also worth looking at for its cameras and fast charging support, but falls short compared to the Redmi 9 Prime in the display department.
The Redmi 9 Prime is not for consumers looking for a good camera phone. It is for consumers looking for an affordable phone with a good display. The 1080p screen on the phone is one of the biggest reasons to buy this under Rs 10,000. Along with an attractive display, you get a dependable performance and a long-lasting battery, making it one of the best phones right now under Rs 10,000.
Editor’s rating: 4 / 5
- Full HD display
- Solid battery life
- Decent performance
- Average cameras
- Lacks Night mode
- Hefty build