What do you think about a smartphone that has a sub-7K INR price tag? Well, Xiaomi Redmi 9A is a barebone smartphone for that very price tag mentioned above. It is among the few devices priced below $100 (outside India). It is great for those upgrading from a feature phone and for those who reside in developing countries or those who can’t afford to pay more. Redmi 9A is also one of the cheapest smartphones from the Redmi lineup and shares most of its specs with Redmi 9i launched alongside.
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Turns out we got our Redmi 9A unit for testing and I use 9A as a secondary phone (just in case). I know the ins and outs which is why I have penned a hands-on detailed review on Xiaomi Redmi 9A that you must read before deciding whether to buy it or not.
Prices in India, Variants, Availability
Xiaomi Redmi 9A, a super budget-friendly smartphone is now on sale at INR 6,999/- for its 2GB+32GB variant. The higher 3GB+32GB variant is available at INR 7,499/-. You can choose between Sea Blue, Nature Green, and Midnight Black colour variants. You can buy it from Mi.com or Amazon India of course with a tonne of deals and discounts to club with. Get No Cost EMI on selected cards, exchange offers, and more so avail it as well.
Specs at a glance
Before we talk in detail about the Xiaomi Redmi 9A let’s see what the on-paper specs look like?
- Display: 16.58 centimeters (6.53 inch) HD+ Display
- Processor: Mediatek Helio G25
- Storage: 2GB/32GB, 3GB/32GB
- Software: MIUI 12 based on Android 10
- Rear cameras: 13MP + 5MP
- Selfie Camera: 5MP
- Battery: 5000 mAh, 10W charging
- Weight: 194g
- Dimensions: 16.5 x 0.9 x 7.7 cm
Design and Build
Xiaomi Redmi 9A is huge to be honest although it has a proper weight distribution so you don’t usually feel the bulk. The front has a giant display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 on top for protection against falls. Bezels are huge although that’s something interested buyers will have to compromise with given the price tag.
A sharp U-shaped notch doesn’t bother much when watching movies or playing games and thus, the point. On the back, you get a matte back panel with texture on it. The ridges created by the texture enable a better grip on the device which is an add-on.
The rear is literally a clean slate with a single rear camera setup on the extreme top-left corner and a “Redmi” branding at the bottom. The rear camera setup is raised just a bit above the back panel but Xiaomi has a grooved dampened section that is non-textured that commences from the bottom of the rear camera assembly towards the bottom after the “Redmi” branding ends.
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The back panel is curved on the great extremities. There’s no water-repellent coating on it, however, you do get a P2i nano-coating that prevents it from splashes and water spills at least it is what Xiaomi has claimed.
Moving on, you get a 3.5mm headphone jack on top. At the bottom, you get a loudspeaker, a micro USB port, and a primary microphone. Next up, you get a dual SIM plus memory card slot on the right and finally, a power button and volume rockers on the left side.
Xiaomi’s budget-friendly Redmi 9A sports a 6.53-inch IPS LCD panel with a 720 x 1600 pixels resolution. It has a 20:9 aspect ratio and comes with 269 PPI density. It has a 400 nits typical brightness at its peak.
I won’t shy away from the fact that the display is huge hands down. Its aspect ratio is what makes it ideal for watching movies and gaming on a humongous display. However, it is capped at HD+ giving you just 269 PPI density to view the content. For those upgrading from a feature phone, it will be a huge upgrade, to be honest. However, if you are downgrading from an FHD resolution, you will feel its inferiority so that’s subjective.
The colours are washed out and dull and the colour accuracy isn’t that good either. But hey, it is what an entry-level smartphone offers. You can still pay some more to get better displays on Redmi 9 and others.
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Turns out Xiaomi has integrated Redmi 9A with a lot of features be it dark mode or night reading mode so you’ll get it thanks to the feature-rich MIUI. Overall, if your point of using a smartphone is the display, I wouldn’t recommend you Redmi 9A. However, if you are okay with compromising over a bit which is the point of its price tag, Redmi 9A will suit you.
Well, you don’t get a beefy processor when you buy a sub-7K INR smartphone and Redmi 9A is no different. The device sports a sluggish MediaTek Helio G25 processor built on a 12nm node. It has an octa-core arrangement with a max 2.0GHz frequency. It is paired with a PowerVR GE8320 GPU along with 32GB eMMC 5.1 storage with 2GB and 3GB RAM.
It’s an entry-level smartphone and the processor is analog. I had no issues using the device for day-to-day tasks such as calling, texting, watching videos on YouTube, browsing, and so on. However, I would say that the apps take a considerable amount of time to unlock. The phone does lags a bit when switching from one app to another. If you are switching between two games or a game and an app, the lag will be quite apparent.
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You can’t play graphics-intensive games like Call of Duty: Mobile or PUBG Mobile in their true form. You will have to resort to their Lite alternative and that too by clocking down the graphics and frame rates unless you want to cook with an eye but you don’t have a cooktop, you can use your phone instead. But hey, you can play fewer graphics-led games without any issue on the device such as Mobile Legends: Bang Bang or Alto’s Odyssey.
The 2GB RAM is among the few culprits here because as everyone knows, RAM plays a crucial role on Android devices. With just 2GB to spare, the apps will take time to open and load, switching between apps will be a pain at times and the phone will not be able to put up with your demands if you are downgrading due to any xyz reasons.
If you can get your hands on the 3GB RAM variant, I would say pick that up because it is always better than the 2GB variant.
Xiaomi Redmi 9A runs on Android 10-based MIUI 12 and no doubt the latter has too many features to count. But it has ads too that you will get in first-party apps and settings. The home screen has “Glance” which is annoying, to be honest. The UI isn’t smooth so you will face sluggishness when hurtling through the various apps. You get a tonne of bloatware as well and perhaps I would stress on disabling those you can. Also, you can turn off personalizations and ads on many fronts to prevent advertisements from popping up repeatedly.
Redmi 9A sports a single rear camera at 13MP with PDA, f/2.2 aperture, and a 1.0micrometer pixel size. On the front, you’ll get a 5MP sensor with f/2.2 aperture with 1.12-micrometre pixel size.
Xiaomi had to make some cutbacks to bring down the price tag compared to its predecessor. Redmi 9A has a single rear and a single front camera setup and that’s all.
Talking about the rear camera setup at daylight, the sensor can capture decent images with abundant lighting conditions. Details are average, colour reproduction is somewhat on-point and the shots can be compared with some expensive Xiaomi smartphones as well. The primary cam doesn’t have a wider dynamic range so the shots will suffer a bit and the HDR shots are time-consuming. Overall, the photos snapped with the rear cam are average.
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There’s no dedicated night mode so you will have trouble taking photos at night. The shots are blurry, shaky, and the details are lost. Perhaps you use the flash to grab average images at night. In fact, if you are taking indoor shots, lighting conditions play a vital role as the poorer the light, the poorer the image quality.
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Moving on, we have a single front selfie shooter that can capture decent images at daytime w.r.t the sensor size that goes without saying. Moving on, Portrait mode is available on both front and rear camera setup that makes up for a great feature at the price point. Performance-wise, the portrait mode has good edge detection although it suffers when the subject is complicated to detect edges. Overall, the portrait mode on Redmi 9A is a good addition.
First up, Xiaomi Redmi 9A does have a beefy battery pack at 5,000 mAh. It is more than average and since you are literally using a barebone smartphone, this could literally mean a longer battery life. I am talking about almost 2 days of battery life if you aren’t a power user. For reference, you get a whopping 7 to 8 hours of SoT which is impressive as well. Irrespective of its performance thanks to the entry-level SoC, the battery is an outstanding point to discuss.
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However, Xiaomi has cut back on the charging speed from 18W on Redmi 8A to 10W on Redmi 9A. This means you will have to spend a good 3 hours (at least) to charge the battery from flat to full. I would suggest charging it overnight to prevent the charging time from eating up time during waking hours. Also, a slower micro USB port means Xiaomi had to cut back on many things to get the price tag Redmi 9A has.
Audio, Connectivity, Biometrics
Talking about the speakers, there’s a bottom-firing speaker on-board and that’s just one. Its sound audio output is okay but it isn’t that good. The sound quality is flat and tinny. The device’s headphone jack is a good addition since you can strap your old earphones with it.
Redmi 9A supports various 2G, 3G, and 4G bands. I have used the phone for a while and saw that calls do drop sometimes. Call quality is average and since there’s only one speaker at the bottom, you get a decent sound quality when on a loudspeaker during a call. Perhaps I am excited that it doesn’t have any proximity issues that many other Xiaomi smartphones have including Mi 10T.
Xiaomi Redmi 9A doesn’t offer much though. It doesn’t have NFC nor an infrared port. You do get Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n dual-band with Bluetooth v5.0 with LE and A2DP. You do get A-GPS, BDS, and Glonass navigation systems on board. Finally, there’s a micro USB 2.0 port for charging and data sharing.
Well, if you are talking about security, you have two options. Either go with a PIN or the Pattern lock and that’s probably it. There’s an entry-level face unlock but it is burdensome so I would simply not use it. You can still use it if you are okay waiting for a second or more every time you wish to unlock the phone. There’s no fingerprint scanner which is bizarre since the Tecno Spark 7 which is just 500 INR costlier has a rear-mounted FPS.
Pros & Cons
- Large and vibrant screen with TUV Rheinland certification
- Huge battery backup of 5020 mAh
- Dedicated microSD card slot
- Absence of USB Type-C
- Only 32GB of internal storage
- Android 10 used instead of Android 10 Go
I wouldn’t say that the Redmi 9A is not worth a try. It is still one of the cheapest smartphones available out there. It has major upgrades over flip and features phones including a large battery, a huge display, a powerful processor, and more. Of course, if you are downgrading, you will feel that it is not worth it. Xiaomi did cut back on many features that Redmi 8A had including 18W charging support, USB-C port, and 8MP selfie shooter among others.
Hope it makes sense reading this entire hands-on review on Xiaomi Redmi 9A.