Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro Max is one of the easiest smartphones to review right now. It is cut from the same cloth as the Redmi Note 9 Pro, which we reviewed way back in March. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not a bad thing but it is a shadow that the smartphone will never ever be able to come out. With that in mind, I want to say that this won’t be a comprehensive review. The differences between the two devices are so minimal that a lot of what I said about Redmi Note 9 Pro holds true for the Max as well. Also Read - Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro Max with 64-megapixel main camera goes on sale at 12PM: Check price, full specifications
If you are a consumer, the first thing to know about this smartphone is that it is not the maximum smartphone. It is merely a glorified version of the Redmi Note 9 Pro, where some things work better than others. If you are confused between the Redmi Note 9 Pro and it’s Max sibling then you should simply buy the Pro model. There are just no second thoughts about that. That’s my review actually. However, I see this as an opportunity to look at the Max and larger smartphone market. Also Read - Realme 6 Pro Review: Yet another all-rounder
Also Read - Poco X2 Review: Better than the Realme X2?
One of the differences between the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max and its non-Max sibling can be seen in the camera system. Xiaomi has replaced the main camera on the back and the selfie camera at the front. The 48-megapixel Samsung ISOCELL GM2 sensor is replaced by 64-megapixel Samsung ISOCELL GW1 sensor. Rest of the setup on the back remains the same. There is an 8-megapixel ultra wide-angle lens with f/2.2 aperture and as I mentioned in my review of Redmi Note 9 Pro, it is not the best.
It is really good for a standalone ultra wide-angle camera on a smartphone. But we have now come to expect much more from Xiaomi. The third camera in this system is a 5-megapixel macro lens with f/2.4 aperture. If the light is adequate, this macro lens can capture images that will go toe to toe with even premium flagship smartphones. It captures excellent details and Xiaomi’s algorithms work better than some other smartphone makers. If you are someone who hunts for insects on leaves to post on Instagram, this macro camera won’t disappoint.
The last but not the least is a 2-megapixel depth sensor that aids with portrait mode. This is the same as what we have seen before from Xiaomi in the entry-level segment. This year, the improvement is happening behind the scenes. The image signal processor and algorithms are capable of nearly accurate edge detection. There is also a new trick this year that lets you shoot pictures with black borders on top and bottom, aka anamorphic look. It is such a good trick that I’m surprised nobody else thought of it before Xiaomi. Full points there for creative photography experience.
That said, let’s talk about the main 64-megapixel camera on the back of the this device. This is the sensor that has become commonplace on smartphones right now. Xiaomi, Realme, Oppo, Vivo and even Samsung‘s mobile division have flocked to this sensor. My personal opinion is that this sensor is all hype and little substance. It is a bigger sensor than the 48-megapixel ISOCELL GM2 but at f/1.9, it is narrower. It tends to over-saturate colors and if an OEM is incapable of tuning then the output would be far from ideal.
I didn’t have Redmi Note 9 Pro alongside to compare but I do think that the 48-megapixel Samsung ISOCELL GM2 is a better sensor. The Redmi Note 9 Pro Max takes pictures with good color level but not always accurate. The reds always end up being more saturated than real life. The dynamic range seems to be on par with Redmi Note 9 Pro but that is not an accomplishment. If camera is a priority then I recommend Redmi Note 9 Pro over Max. If you are into selfies, the 32-megapixel selfie camera on the Max would appeal to you.
Battery and Charging
The camera on the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max is a miss when compared to the Redmi Note 9 Pro. But charging is a hit. Both the devices pack a 5,020mAh battery, the largest yet on a Redmi smartphone. The difference being that Redmi Note 9 Pro relies on an 18W charger while Max comes with a 33W charger in the box. The Redmi Note 9 Pro Max charges faster than the non-Max variant. Xiaomi is not wrong when it claims that this charger can fill 50 percent of the battery in under 30 minutes. However, I found the device to take over an hour for full charge.
This charging situation is very much like what we find in the Apple verse. There is an iPhone 11 which comes with a 5W charger in the box and then there is an iPhone 11 Pro, which comes with an 18W charger. If you want to spend little time charging your phone then Redmi Note 9 Pro Max is the one to buy. However, the battery performance itself is identical for both the devices. The smartphone, during this lockdown, was a two day device for me. The standby time of this battery pack is excellent and since it doesn’t charge at rapid speeds, the drain is not very fast either.
For most people, I believe the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max will be a one and a half day smartphone. However, if you are a casual user then you can easily extend for another half day. We are still not at that place where you can leave the charger behind and not worry about charging for several days on end. By packing the biggest battery on any Redmi smartphone yet and supplementing it with a decently fast charger, Xiaomi has created a really good package here. This is also a sign of how two devices could differ going forward.
All Things Considered
These are the main differences between the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max and the Redmi Note 9 Pro. It is straightforward for me that Redmi Note 9 Pro has an excellent primary camera on the back while the Max has fast charging that is seriously fast. These two devices have equal footing when you look at other aspects. Both of them feature Aura Balance design. This design is a sign of how a consumer electronics brand should evolve. You start small and then grow and then evolve into the way of life. The Redmi Note 9 Pro series has a design that is well crafted and forms part of your life instantaneously.
Unfortunately, we got the Interstellar Black variant with review units of both the models. I do like the white variant which is as classic as it comes in this market. With the design of the Redmi Note 9 Pro series, Xiaomi is showing its maturity as a smartphone maker. Ahead of the lockdown, whoever I showed the Redmi Note 9 Pro, told me that this design does not look like that of sub-Rs 20,000 priced smartphones. The glass back, punch-hole selfie camera and robotic face of rear camera module show authority and class in terms of design. One minor design change being the 64MP branding instead of 48MP on the back. Obvious, right.
Performance is another area where Redmi Note 9 Pro Max does really well. Calling it fast would be an understatement since the Snapdragon 720G mobile platform performs like the Snapdragon 730. You can play PUBG Mobile at the highest setting and the same is true for games like Call of Duty or Asphalt 9: Airborne. That shouldn’t be surprising since it was the case for Redmi Note 9 Pro as well. Xiaomi has also refined MIUI 11 to streamline multitasking on the device.
It was able to keep a couple of apps in memory including Google Analytics which is resource intensive. One area where I find the Snapdragon 700 series struggle compared to Snapdragon 800 series is word processing. I have a Google Docs file with some 500 pages of text and images. It becomes my default way to see scrolling and content refresh. On Redmi Note 9 Pro Max, it was slower and that was true for Poco X2 as well. To summarize, the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max offers adequate performance in this performance and you won’t be disappointed.
Lastly, the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max has a 6.67-inch Full HD+ IPS LCD display with a resolution of 2400 x 1080 pixels and 20:9 aspect ratio. This display is really bright and renders very good colors. It doesn’t have the color depth you see on AMOLED panels but it is not a deal breaker. I also don’t think the lack of 90Hz or 120Hz refresh rate hurt my experience in any way. However, the next Redmi Note series ought to have a high refresh display as more apps enable support for at least 90Hz display.
Verdict: Should you buy
I strongly believe that Redmi Note 9 Pro is the best smartphone in the sub-Rs 20,000 price segment. Even after the GST price hike, it seems to have good value when compared to devices from Realme, Samsung and Poco. The Redmi Note 9 Pro Max betters it in only one area: fast charging. If you are confused between Redmi Note 9 Pro and Redmi Note 9 Pro Max, the decision boils down to how important that 33W fast charging is to you. In my opinion, most people should buy the Redmi Note 9 Pro instead of the Max variant of the smartphone. The Max is only in the name and doesn’t translate into maximum performance or efficiency. It is a good phone but not better than its sibling.
You Might be Interested