The Redmi Note 9 Pro and the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max look virtually identical and share a lot of hardware, but the more premium Max model has better front and rear cameras, more RAM, and faster charging. This is a change of strategy as well as naming and pricing conventions for Xiaomi’s Redmi series, which we can all agree has established itself as a leader in the budget smartphone market. Its grip is so strong that it has at least one smartphone for pretty much every price point between Rs 7,000 and Rs. 20,000. The Redmi Note 9 Pro and the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max are the successors to the Redmi Note 8 and the Redmi Note 8 Pro respectively.
This begs the question – are the extra features of the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max worth paying more for, or would you be better off with the Redmi Note 9 Pro instead? We test the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max to find out..
Redmi Note 9 Pro Max design
Xiaomi’s Redmi series devices have grown in size, to the point that the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max is bulky and unwieldy. It measures 8.8mm in thickness and weighs 209g, which makes one-handed use difficult. It’s hard to reach the top of the tall 6.67-inch display without shuffling the phone in your hand. Thankfully the 20:9 aspect ratio is slim enough to manage. There is a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on the display which should help it withstand daily usage. Right above the display is a thin earpiece that also houses a white notification light.
The Redmi Note 9 Pro Max has a side-mounted fingerprint scanner embedded into the power button on the right of the phone. It is slightly recessed which makes it easy to find by touch. We weren’t happy with its positioning since it is higher than where our finger rests naturally. If you are left-handed, you can set up your left index finger, which will be the most comfortable way to use this phone. We found this scanner to be quick when unlocking the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max.
Another issue we faced was the placement of the volume buttons. They are higher than this side-mounted fingerprint scanner and not convenient to reach. Sticking to Xiaomi’s tradition of offering an IR emitter on its smartphones, the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max has one on the top. It also has a headphone jack on the bottom along with the USB Type-C port.
Xiaomi offers a quad-camera setup on the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max. These sensors are placed in a square-shaped module that juts out from the back of the device. The protrusion is thick enough to raise the phone when placed on a table. The rear of the phone has a glossy finish, and Xiaomi offers the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max in three colour variants: Interstellar Black, Aurora Blue, and Glacier White. We had the Interstellar Black variant for this review which looked blue in bright light. The back panel picked up smudges quite easily, and we had to wipe it quite often. Xiaomi does offer a case in the box that can help. Speaking of stuff in the box, you also get a 33W charger with the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max which is a step up compared to the 18W charger that ships with the Redmi Note 9 Pro (Review).
Redmi Note 9 Pro Max specifications
Xiaomi smartphones are known to have very high price-to-performance ratios, and the company has met that with the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max as well. Xiaomi has dropped in the Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G SoC to run the show here. The Redmi Note 9 Pro and the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max share the same processor, making it harder to differentiate between the two models based on performance.
Yes, you can get more RAM and storage on the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max. The variants are as follows: 6GB RAM/ 64GB storage for Rs. 16,499, 6GB RAM/128GB storage for Rs. 17,999, and 8GB RAM /128GB storage for Rs. 19,999. We had the 6GB/128GB variant for review. There is an overlap with the pricing of the Redmi Note 9 Pro which could lead to some confusion for buyers.
The big display on the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max is not an AMOLED panel and does not boast of a high refresh rate. Xiaomi could have done this to keep the price down, but some competitors at this price level do offer these features. It isn’t a bad panel though. It has good viewing angles and is bright enough when outdoors. It does have a camera hole right in the centre towards the top, that could be distracting to some people. We got used to it while using the device and did not face any issues.
One of the primary reasons for the bulk of the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max is the monstrous 5020mAh battery that it packs in. The Note 9 Pro Max is a dual-SIM smartphone with support for dual 4G VoLTE and VoWiFI, as well as Bluetooth 5 and dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac. It also has NavIC support along with GPS.
On the software front, it runs MIUI 11 on top of Android 10 and our unit was running the April 2020 security patch. The UI has a lot of customisation options and if you have used a Xiaomi device in the past, you’ll have no issues finding your way around it. Sadly, there’s too much preinstalled bloatware. That includes apps such as Helo which are known to be spammy when launched. Xiaomi’s stock apps can also get annoying at times, and we were bombarded with notifications by an app store called Get Apps. Xiaomi’s wallpaper carousel also kept pushing notifications, which we consider unacceptable.
While setting a new device up we tend to rush through the installation process to get it over with, but you will need to pay attention while setting this device up as a couple of options and apps are checked by default. This will save you from some unnecessary spam after setting the device up.
Redmi Note 9 Pro Max performance
With key specifications shared between the Redmi Note 9 Pro and the Max model, the performance of the two doesn’t feel any different. The Redmi Note 9 Pro Max can handle day-to-day tasks with ease and will never make you wait for long as it loads apps. We faced no issues while scrolling through menus or multitasking. It does not have a high screen refresh rate like the Poco X2 (Review) and the Realme 6 Pro (Review), so it does not feel as smooth as those devices, but this isn’t a deal-breaker.
The Redmi Note 9 Pro Max managed to score 2,77,058 in the AnTuTu benchmark which is little lower than the 2,82,159 scored by the Realme 6 Pro, but this difference isn’t big enough to impact real-world performance. In Geekbench 5’s single-core and multi-core tests, the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max managed 564 and 1,759 respectively. Using graphics benchmark GFXBench, it managed 16fps in the Car Chase scene and 27fps in Manhattan 3.1 which is identical to what the Realme 6 Pro scored.
Gaming is handled well and the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max managed to keep load times down. When playing PUBG Mobile it defaults to the High settings. We could play the game without any stutter, but the phone did get warm to the touch after 20 minutes. While the big display is not great for single-handed use, it is very helpful while gaming and watching videos.