In our recent comparison of the Redmi Note 9 Pro (Review) and the Realme 6 (Review), we found that the latter offered better value and performance in most areas, compared to Xiaomi's offering, which made it the best smartphone to buy at Rs. 12,999. However, we've been getting a lot of questions of late about which would be the better pick — the Realme 6 Pro (Review) or the Redmi Note 9 Pro?
Technically, it's the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max which would directly compete with the Realme 6 Pro, going purely by product positioning. However considering that the Realme 6 Pro price in India starts at just Rs. 1,000 more than the top-end variant of the Redmi Note 9 Pro, we can see why most people are wondering whether it makes sense to put in a bit more money for a possibly better product.
Both these phones have the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G SoC, and with the Realme 6 Pro, you get additional features which are missing from the Realme 6, such as a glass back panel, a secondary selfie camera, and a rear telephoto camera. All these features put it in a comfortable position to one-up the Redmi Note 9 Pro, but does it manage to? It's time to examine both smartphones and find out.
As a value proposition, it's hard to beat the Redmi Note 9 Pro, as it starts at just Rs. 12,999, for the version with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. The second variant gets you 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage for Rs. 15,999.
The Realme 6 Pro starts at Rs. 16,999 for 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, which is not bad, but for Rs. 17,999, you can get double the storage, with the same amount of RAM. If you really want to splurge, then Realme offers a third variant for Rs. 18,999, which gets you 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.
There's something very likeable about the Redmi Note 9 Pro's design. Perhaps it's the fact that it doesn't look like anything else on the market, which gives it a unique advantage. However, there's no getting around the fact that it's big and can be cumbersome to use with one hand. We love the new colours too, especially the blue. The buttons are a little tricky to reach, which can be a big ergonomic issue. The Gorilla Glass back picks up smudges easily but it is resistant to scratches.
Realme has upped its game with the 6 Pro, as compared to the Realme 6. This model gets a Gorilla Glass 5 back panel, which puts it on par with the Redmi Note 9 Pro in terms of durability. It's a big phone too, nearly the size of the Note 9 Pro, but a bit lighter, weighing around 195g. We found the button placement to be a lot more ergonomic, compared to the Redmi Note 9 Pro, but perhaps the most attractive thing about the 6 Pro's design is the new lightning-inspired pattern on the back, which is one of our favourite Realme designs so far. It can look flashy or subtle when the light hits it at different angles, with a heavy vignetting effect around the edges of the back.
The camera module doesn't have the most original design though. Both phones also claim to have some basic level of water resistance, even though neither has an official IP rating.
It's hard to pick a winner for this round, so we'll just call it a tie.
The Realme 6 Pro and the Redmi Note 9 Pro use the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G SoC, which is a brand new chip from Qualcomm, focused on gaming but also on power efficiency. It also happens to support the new NavIC satellite system from India, for navigation. Both phones also use LPDDR4X RAM and the flash format of choice is UFS 2.1.
Unsurprisingly, benchmark numbers were very similar. In AnTuTu, the Redmi Note 9 Pro scored 279,978 points, while the Realme 6 Pro scored 282,716 points. We had a similar experience with actual usage too. Both MIUI and Realme UI work smoothly, and multitasking was easy. Scrolling and swiping through menus feels faster on the Realme 6 Pro though, thanks to the 90Hz screen refresh rate, versus 60Hz on the Redmi Note 9 Pro.
In gaming, both smartphones once again offer similar performance. They can handle heavy games such as PUBG Mobile with relative ease, and the best part is that neither of them get excessively hot even after gaming for long stretches.
We found the fingerprint sensors on both phones to be pretty quick at authentication and neither of them ever really missed a read. Face recognition is equally quick, and works quite well in low light on both devices.
In terms of manageability, we found the Realme 6 Pro to be a little easier to live with due to its lower weight. One-handed use is still challenging on both phones, due to their large displays.
Speaking of displays, the Realme 6 Pro continues to use an IPS LCD panel, just like the Realme 6, however, we get Gorilla Glass 5 instead of 3 here, which should make it more resilient to scratches. Both the Realme 6 Pro and Note 9 Pro have the exact same full-HD+ resolution of 2400x1080 and are similarly sized too, measuring 6.6 inches and 6.67 inches respectively. Colour reproduction and brightness are very good and both and we didn't really have any issues in this regard with either phone.
There are camera cutouts in both displays, but the Realme 6 has a more elongated, pill-shaped one for its dual front cameras. In apps that mask the area it's not a problem, but they can be a little distracting when watching full-screen videos. Realme has also added a neat little animation around the hole every time you wake the screen or switch to the selfie camera within the camera app.
Both phones have single bottom-firing speakers, but the one on the Realme 6 Pro sounds louder and richer, partially thanks to Dolby Atmos. There's no surround effect of course, but this always-on audio boost makes the sound richer and clearer. The Redmi Note 9 Pro doesn't have any such enhancement for its speaker and ends up sounding a little tinny, with a lower maximum volume level too.
Despite having a larger 5,020mAh battery and the same processor, the Redmi Note 9 Pro lasted for just 16 hours in our HD video battery loop test. The Realme 6 Pro on the other hand, with its 4,300mAh battery, lasted for an amazing 21 hours and 42 minutes in the same test. Both phones easily offer a day and half worth of actual runtime.
Charging the battery of the Realme 6 Pro is a lot quicker thanks to its support for 30W fast charging. The Redmi Note 9 Pro on the other hand only supports up to 18W fast charging, and given the larger capacity, charging it fully takes longer. Both phones ship with chargers that supply these Wattages.
Starting with the Realme 6 Pro, we have the same 64-megapixel Samsung GW1 sensor as the one on the Realme 6 for the primary camera. Then, there's an 8-megapixel ultra wide-angle camera; a 12-megapixel 2x optical telephoto camera, and finally a 2-megapixel macro camera. The Redmi Note 9 Pro has a 48-megapixel primary sensor; an 8-megapixel ultra wide-angle camera; a 5-megapixel macro camera; and a 2-megapixel depth sensor.
The camera apps of both phones are similarly designed but they differ a bit in features. For instance, the camera app in the Realme 6 Pro has a 5x zoom toggle button; Night mode can be used with the wide-angle and selfie cameras; and you can enable an ‘Ultra Steady' stabilisation mode while shooting video. The Note 9 Pro has a few unique tricks too such as a ‘Short video' recording mode; a shortcut to access Google Lens; and easy-to-access shortcuts for changing the video resolution or switching to macro mode.
During the day, both phones captured good detail and HDR was handled well. The Redmi Note 9 Pro adds a warmer tone to images compared to the 6 Pro's more neutral tone. Wide-angle shots are handled decently too, but the quality and details take a bit of a hit on both, when compared to their main sensors.
Both shoot detailed macros too, but in this test we found that the Realme 6 Pro boosted reds a little too much. When it comes to extreme close-ups, the Redmi Note 9 Pro captured better details than the Realme 6 Pro thanks to the higher-resolution macro camera.
Using the 2x optical zoom camera on the Realme 6 Pro, we got some sharp details and good colours. The Redmi Note 9 Pro did a decent job with its 2x digital zoom, but upon closer inspection, the 6 Pro produced slightly better sharpness and details.
With selfies, the Realme 6 Pro captured much better details on our subject's face, with good skin tones. HDR isn't the most effective here but that's okay considering that selfies themselves were exposed well. The Redmi Note 9 Pro does a better job of exposing backgrounds but our subject's face was a lot darker, with less detail. The Realme 6 Pro's wide-angle front camera is useful as it lets you get a lot more people into a frame.
In low light landscapes, the Realme 6 Pro clearly has much better exposure, compared to the Redmi Note 9 Pro. As a result, we can see more detail on objects in the dark. Switching to Night Mode, things only get better for the Realme 6 Pro, but strangely, it doesn't make much of a difference to photos on the Note 9 Pro. Shooting with the wide-angle cameras of both phones at night yields poor results, but the 6 Pro can use Night Mode for this camera too, which improves things a bit.
Shooting close-ups in low light, the Redmi Note 9 Pro really struggled to focus on small objects such as flowers, whereas the Realme 6 Pro didn't have any trouble. After many tries, the Note 9 Pro finally managed to focus but images were not as bright or detailed as the ones taken with the Realme 6 Pro.
With a slightly larger subject and better light, the Note 9 Pro appeared to capture the better photo at first glance, since it's brighter. While details were good, it's the Realme 6 Pro that did a more accurate job with white balance and even exposure. If you take a closer look at the tiles on the floor in our sample shots, the picture taken with the Realme 6 Pro shows more detail.
Trying to use the Realme 6 Pro's optical zoom camera in low light, we got some pretty decent results. The Redmi Note 9 Pro also produces a usable picture with its 2x digital zoom capability, but sharpens things a bit too much.
Both smartphones are capable of 4K video recording but neither stabilises video at this resolution. Under good light, footage captured with both phones is fairly detailed, but the Note 9 Pro boosts colours, particularly blues, a bit too much. At 1080p, stabilisation kicks in to make the footage smoother on both phones, and here, we found the Redmi Note 9 Pro to do a slightly better job.
In low light, we found the Realme 6 Pro's video quality slightly better, as it was brighter overall. At 1080p, both phones do a decent job with stabilisation but they also introduce slight distortion in the footage. Wide-angle videos look blurry and washed out, since the sensor isn't as good as the main one on either phone.
The Realme 6 Pro and Redmi Note 9 Pro run on their manufacturers' respective custom skins, both based on Android 10. Realme recently pushed out an update for the 6 Pro, which updated the Android security patch to March, along with bug fixes and performance improvements. This also brings the Soloop video creation app which was promised at launch. It lets you automatically create mini movie clips from photos and videos you select. You can use one of the ‘Smart Templates' or fine tune the result by selecting your own music, adding text, applying filters, etc.
Realme UI is lean and feels quite a bit like stock Android in some ways. The preinstalled apps thankfully don't spam your notification shade all that much, which is something we can't say about MIUI.
Xiaomi's popular skin on Android might be loved by many, but it can be frustrating since the stock apps tend to clutter your notification shade with unwanted alerts. Other than this, the interface is fairly feature-rich, with lots of options to customise the way you interact with your phone.
If you've gone through this entire comparison and haven't simply jumped to the verdict, then it's pretty clear by now that the Realme 6 Pro (Review) has a lot more to offer, if you can spend a bit more money on it. It's on par with the Redmi Note 9 Pro (Review) in terms of most features, but is lighter and more ergonomic to use. It also has a better speaker, much quicker charging, and better cameras — all of which make it the better buy.
Now in all fairness, Xiaomi does have a higher-end model called the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max, which starts at Rs. 14,999 and features a 64-megapixel primary camera, a 32-megapixel selfie camera, and 33W fast charging. We haven't reviewed this model yet, but since the rest of the specifications are more or less identical to those of the Redmi Note 9 Pro, we can say that it should put up a tougher fight and also doesn't cost much more.
Do also keep in mind that both models from Xiaomi are only available through flash sales, while Realme's offerings are ready to buy whenever you want them. It will be interesting to see how the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max and Realme 6 Pro stack up, but that's a comparison for another time.
Is Redmi Note 9 Pro the new best phone under Rs. 15,000? We discussed how you can pick the best one, on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.