The Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro is priced from Rs 10,999 onwards.
The phone is powered by the aging but still capable Qualcomm Snapdragon 625.
However, the design is rather modern, thanks to notched screen.
Xiaomi is among the top two smartphone brands in India (depending on who you ask), and it’s gotten to this point by focusing on what is important: affordability. The Chinese smartphone maker has tried a lot of things, but has finally found success in concentrating on what it knows best. It builds good, feature-filled smartphones and sells them at reasonable prices, which is the simplest way to success in a country like India.
Focusing on the affordable and mid-range segments has been quite an interesting strategy for Xiaomi, which seems to want to hit every possible price increment below Rs 20,000. Depending on the kind of features you want and the price you’re willing to spend, you can pick any of the incumbent Xiaomi products. And hitting a new segment and feature set is one of the company’s latest phones, the Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro.
Priced starting Rs 10,999, the Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro has an odd mixture of old and new features. Some of the phone will come across as oddly retro, while other bits feel new and improved. We review the Redmi 6 Pro to find out if this classic-modern mix of a phone has what it takes to impress buyers in a very specific price segment.
Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro Design and Display
There isn’t much to do when it comes to smartphone design these days, and indeed an affordable smartphone such as the Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro can’t be expected to pack in a lot. However, it is one of the most affordable phones to sport a display notch. The phone has a 5.84-inch full-HD+ IPS LCD display, with a 19:9 aspect ratio.
Now, while the notch is itself a compromise, it’s important to understand that the notch isn’t the design aspect, but is representative of a screen that stretches practically to the top of the device, with just a narrow border. For an affordable device to feature this is commendable, and the Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro thus takes on the Honor 9N, which is priced at Rs 11,999 and features a similar notched screen.
In the case of the Redmi 6 Pro, you get a fairly wide chin as well, with no logos, fingerprint sensor or capacitive buttons to justify its presence. However, a notification light is built into the chin, so there does appear to be some function to it. Nonetheless, it takes away a bit from the otherwise great looks at the front. But that’s where the modernity ends.
The sides, and strips at the top and bottom of the back of the phone are plastic, while the back plate is metal. It’s a classic budget Xiaomi phone design aspect that serves as the biggest reminder that this is, in fact, a Xiaomi smartphone. This classic look at the back is in stark contrast to the modern front styling, and remind us that we shouldn’t expect too much in terms of design from a phone that’s priced at Rs 11,999.
When it comes to ports and buttons, there’s nothing out of the ordinary here. The micro-USB port and speaker grille are at the bottom, the power and volume buttons are on the right, the SIM tray (dedicated slots for two SIMs and a microSD card) is on the left and 3.5mm port is at the top. As is the case with budget Xiaomi devices, you’ll also find the IR blaster at the top, which is still a popular feature in India. We reviewed the black color variant, which in my opinion is the nicest looking of the lot.
Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro Specifications and Software
Under the hood, the Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro isn’t very different from some of the other Xiaomi phones we’ve seen this year (and even in 2017). The device is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC, which while capable is notably old and antiquated now. The company has used this same chipset even on its Redmi Note 4 (which was launched in early 2017), as well as the Redmi Y2, which was launched earlier this year and is very similar to the Redmi 6 Pro.
While the Snapdragon 625 is still a good chipset in terms of mid-range performance and energy efficiency, it’s a strong sign of the hardware compromises that have gone into this phone. While the notched full-HD+ screen is definitely an appreciable feature at Rs 10,999, you are accepting a lower-end chipset in the bargain. The Redmi 6 Pro comes with 3GB RAM / 32GB storage or 4GB RAM / 64GB storage depending on the variant you buy, which is par for the segment. Apart from that, you also get a 4,000 mAh battery, 10W charging and a dedicated storage expansion slot.
WATCH: Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro First Look
Running the phone is Android 8.1 Oreo, with MIUI 9.6 on top. The phone is expected to get MIUI 10 in the coming months, but how soon (or indeed if at all) it gets Android 9 Pie is anyone’s guess right now. MIUI 9 is familiar and well laid out for anyone that is used to a Xiaomi smartphone, and a small learning curve will get even first-time Xiaomi users used to it. In my opinion, it isn’t the best custom UI for Android smartphones, but it isn’t among the worst either.
Also worth pointing out is that the Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro is the same as the Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite that was launched a few weeks ago. In terms of hardware, these devices are indentical. However, the Mi A2 Lite runs on the Android One program, and therefore comes with stock Android with much less bloatware and customization tweaks on the device. The Mi A2 Lite hasn’t been launched in India, so this level of hardware and design comes locked to MIUI for Indian buyers. Interestingly, you also get a fingerprint sensor and face unlock on the phone. Both are reasonable enough in terms of speed, but don’t expect lightning-fast responses from either.
Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro Performance and Camera
Now, while I have criticized the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC and (to some extent) the software on the Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro in their individual capacities, the same isn’t entirely the case when it comes to practical performance. My complaints about those aspects were more along the lines of Xiaomi not going with the best available options, rather than criticizing the practical usability of those aspects. In terms of performance, the Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro does a decent enough job given the price tag.
The performance is capable enough for a mid-range device, although the Redmi 6 Pro is optimized more towards efficiency than raw performance. While other mid-range chipsets such as the Snapdragon 636 and 660 are able to unleash their performance cores, the Redmi 6 Pro doesn’t quite have that advantage. In simple terms, as long as you don’t push the phone too hard, you’ll find it to be an entirely pleasant experience. Even if you opt for the 3GB RAM variant, you’ll find that the phone does well enough with social media, instant messaging and most casual games.
Put the phone through the paces with graphically intensive games or aggressive multi-tasking, and you’ll see a few minor hiccups. On the whole though, if you keep usage to typical mid-range requirements and don’t expect upper mid-range performance from the Redmi 6 Pro, you won’t be disappointed.
The upside of the chipset is something that the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 has been known of for a while now: battery life. Packing in a 4,000mAh battery paired with the chipset and software means that the Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro is an energy-efficient warrior. It’s possible to get two days of mixed usage from this device on a single charge, which could potentially stretch to a bit more depending on how you use the phone. Charging isn’t slow thanks to the bundled 10W charger, giving you a top-up in about two hours and thirty minutes. It’s a feature that is meant for this segment; budget smartphone buyers are largely concerned with better battery life, which the Redmi 6 Pro provides.
Moving on to the camera, the Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro sports a dual-camera setup at the rear, comprising of a 12-megapixel primary sensor and 5-megapixel secondary sensor for depth-sensing abilities. The second sensor only enables depth for portrait mode shots, while the main sensor takes standard images. At the front, you get a basic 5-megapixel camera, present on the notch. Video can be recorded at up to full-HD resolution with both the front and back cameras.
Images taken by the camera are, as is usually the case on budget devices, good enough in good lighting conditions. Moving to sub-par lighting conditions will have a detrimental effect on the images as well, given that the camera sensor isn’t geared for low-light photography. Nonetheless, for a Rs 11,000 smartphone, results are good enough. Portrait shots are decent enough as well, since the second sensor has the sole purpose of capturing depth information. Simply put, you can expect standard camera performance as would be the case with any affordable smartphone.
While Xiaomi has been focusing on better front cameras, the Redmi 6 Pro doesn’t quite come with this as a focus area. You could opt for the Redmi Y2 if that’s what you want; that phone comes with a 16-megapixel front camera, as opposed to the Redmi 6 Pro’s 5-megapixel selfie shooter. As such you’ll get selfies that are functional, and a front camera that generally does its job with things like video calls, face unlock and more.
Considering that Xiaomi has a huge variety of options at increments of Rs 1,000 in the budget and mid-range, the Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro fits a very, very specific price bracket; it’s worth considering if you want to spend between Rs 11,000 and Rs 13,000 only. For that price, you get a good notched screen, good looks (at the front, at least), superb battery life and a capable enough set of cameras.
Performance, while not great, is not bad by any means. And while the software is a hit-or-miss for a more experienced user, Xiaomi’s typically buyers in this segment should be quite happy with MIUI and Android 8.1 for now. To sum up, it’s a good device as such. But it’s also worth taking a look at the identically priced Nokia 5.1 Plus, which comes with largely the same specifications, along with the added bonus of running Android One software and sporting a USB Type-C port for charging and data transfers.