Xiaomi has yet again managed to send ripples throughout the Indian smartphone industry with the launch of the Redmi Note 7 and Redmi Note 7 Pro. The more feature-packed offering of the duo, the Redmi Note 7 Pro, packs some incredible hardware for its asking price, including a 48-megapixel rear camera, an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 processor, and a large 4,000mAh battery, all encased in an attention-grabbing chassis. At its price, there is hardly any other smartphone in the market that can match the hardware prowess of the Redmi Note 7 Pro, at least on paper. Does that translate to a smartphone experience that can outshine offerings from other brands? Let's find out in our in-depth Redmi Note 7 Pro review.
Redmi Note 7 Pro design
The Redmi series of budget smartphones has traditionally stuck with a generic design language that hardly stands out from the crowd, but the Redmi Note 7 Pro marks a stark departure from that boring design philosophy. Xiaomi has opted for a more premium glass-sandwich design that looks stunning, while also making sure that the smartphone is durable. At first glance, the latest offering from the Redmi sub-brand looks much more expensive than it actually is, and that's certainly a good thing.
The Redmi Note 7 Pro has Gorilla Glass 5 on both sides, while a plastic rim runs around the edges. The glass rear panel is curved and blends seamlessly with the rim, which makes the device feel good in hands. We have the Space Black variant for review, and to describe it in one word, it looks gorgeous. We quite liked the reflective finish and the minimalist silver Redmi logo. The sides have a glossy coating of black paint, which creates an aesthetic uniformity with the shiny rear panel.
On the downside, the device attracts smudges and dust particles quickly, and they stand out against the black colour. Then there is the huge camera bump that is among the thickest we've seen on a smartphone recently. These are the two tradeoffs that users will have to live with unless they use a protective case. The Redmi Note 7 Pro also comes in Neptune Blue and Nebula Red options, both of which have metallic gradient designs.
Having Gorilla Glass 5 gives us some level of assurance that the device should withstand a few accidental drops without shattering. Xiaomi also states that the Redmi Note 7 Pro has reinforced corners to protect the screen from cracking.
In addition, the company says that the internals of the Redmi Note 7 Pro are protected from liquid damage to an extent, thanks to water-tight seals and the use of rubber insulation for the SIM tray, volume rocker, and power button. The company has used what it calls a P2i hydrophobic nano-coating, which is claimed to protect the smartphone against accidental liquid spills.
It is worth mentioning here that the Redmi Note 7 Pro can only handle minor liquid splashes; it is not water or dust resistant and does not have an IPxx rating. It would be best to refrain from dunking this smartphone under/ around water. Any damage caused by water exposure is not covered under the standard warranty.
The fingerprint sensor is located conveniently on the rear, but we found the volume buttons on the right a little too high to reach without adjusting the smartphone in our hands. Nonetheless, the power and volume buttons are “clicky” and provide satisfactory tactile feedback.
The left side has the hybrid dual-SIM (Nano+Nano) tray which can also take a microSD card of up to up to 256GB capacity in place of a second SIM. The 3.5mm headphone jack sits on the top. accompanied by an IR emitter, while the speaker and USB Type-C port are on the bottom.
Up front is the 6.3-inch full-HD+ (1080x2340 pixels) LTPS In-Cell display, which has a 19.5:9 aspect ratio and a pixel density of 409ppi. There is a small notch at the top, or a “Dot Notch” in Xiaomi's words.
The colour reproduction of the display is good, and so are the viewing angles. Content on the screen was sharp thanks to the high pixel count. However, we noticed that the display is quite reflective and we had to keep the brightness above the 90 percent mark to comfortably use the smartphone under direct sunlight. You can adjust the display's colour temperature and contrast if you like.
There is a reading mode that makes the screen's colour tone warmer so it's easier to read content. Aside from manually enabling or disabling it, users can choose to create a custom schedule to automate it.
At 159.21 x 75.21 x 8.1mm, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro is not a small smartphone, and even though we liked its overall design and build quality, we did struggle when it came to reaching touch controls at the opposite extremes of the display.
Overall, the Redmi Note 7 Pro is one of the best-looking smartphones in its segment and also seems to be durable. The box contents include the smartphone, a clear protective case, a USB Type-C cable, a 10W charger, a SIM eject tool, and some paperwork.
Redmi Note 7 Pro specifications and software
Xiaomi has a penchant for packing powerful hardware into affordable devices. The Redmi Note 7 Pro is no exception, and raises the bar for the Chinese giant's “more for less” philosophy, with hardware that is usually found in devices priced significantly higher. The smartphone is powered by the octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 SoC paired with up to 6GB of RAM.
It comes in two configurations — 4GB of RAM with 64GB of storage, and 6GB of RAM with 128GB of storage. We have the higher-end variant for review, which is priced at Rs. 16,999.
The internal storage of the smartphone can be expanded by up to 256GB using a microSD card, but doing so would mean sacrificing the dual-SIM functionality. The phone features Widevine L1 certification, which means users can stream HD content from services including Amazon Prime Video and Netflix. Ports and connectivity options on the Redmi Note 7 Pro include a USB Type-C port and a 3.5mm headphone jack, plus an IR emitter, 4G LTE, dual-band Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 5.
The Redmi Note 7 Pro runs MIUI 10 based on Android 9 Pie with the February security patch. To put it simply, MIUI is an acquired taste. People upgrading from a Xiaomi smartphone will feel right at home, but folks who prefer stock Android or have used any other skin, might find MIUI a little confusing for some time, especially the different locations of some things in the Settings app.
Starting with the home screen, there is no app drawer. Swiping up on the home screen opens the content feed of the Mi Browser. Swiping to the right on the first home screen brings up the shortcuts page that is populated by quick access tools like memory cleaner, QR code scanner as well as app recommendations, calendar events, and widgets such as match scores and stock prices. One can customise the page and populate it with apps and tools used frequently.
Long-pressing on the home screen opens the personalisation options for changing wallpapers, rearranging apps, adding widgets, tweaking the screen layout, and transition effects. Navigating through the UI is buttery smooth on the Redmi Note 7 Pro. You can choose to enable gesture navigation, but we found that this wasn't as smooth. For example, the cross-screen gesture for switching apps was not very responsive.
MIUI comes with a tonne of bloatware, and the Redmi Note 7 Pro is no exception. It comes preloaded with Xiaomi's in-house apps including Mi Browser, Mi Video, Mi Community, and Mi Pay. There are also a hefty number of third-party apps such as Daily Hunt, Opera News, and ShareChat to name a few.
While third-party apps can be uninstalled, the in-house apps can only be force-stopped. Not only do these preinstalled apps occupy storage space, they also dish out pesky ads. We even saw ads on the installation permission screen while trying to install new apps from the Play Store or even a third-party app repository.
To get rid of such apps, we had to disable the "Receive recommendations" option in the MIUI Security app. Additionally, we had to individually deactivate the "Personalised ads" options on a per-app basis to stop seeing them in certain apps. You can go through our article on how to get rid of ads in MIUI to learn how to disable them.
Ads aside, MIUI does offer some neat features. You can choose from a variety of gestures to execute tasks such as opening the split screen interface, closing the current app, turning off the screen, and launching Google Assistant. Adaptive Battery lets users choose which apps to close automatically if they're running in the background in order to conserve power. There is also an option to restrict the activities of background apps without closing them.
We particularly liked the “Second Space” feature, which basically lets users create a second user profile. You can easily segregate personal and professional content into different profiles and also run a second instance of apps with a different user identity. The best part is that the secondary profile is hidden until someone enters a specific password, lock screen pattern, or fingerprint to open it.
There are options to mask the notch or force them to run full-screen on a per-app basis. However, we found that certain games occasionally performed erratically or lost a section of content or controls when full-screen mode was enabled.
To sum it all up, MIUI does offer some useful features, but the bloat and pesky ads somewhat diminish the experience of using an otherwise excellent smartphone.
Redmi Note 7 Pro performance, cameras, and battery life
The Redmi Note 7 Pro is powered by the octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 675, the same processor that we last saw in the significantly pricier Vivo V15 Pro (Review). We did not face any performance jitters and lags with regular tasks such as Web browsing, running multiple social media and productivity apps, and streaming videos. Even with around 10-12 apps running in the background, switching between them was smooth.
The Redmi Note 7 Pro also proved to be a capable performer when it comes to gaming. Casual games ran buttery smooth, and even demanding games such as PUBG Mobile and Asphalt 9: Legends played well. Both these games ran with high graphics and performance settings by default, but we did notice some frame drops and occasional stutters. Toning the graphics settings down to the medium preset took care of these issues and the experience was more enjoyable.
Even though the Redmi Note 7 Pro handles day-to-day usage with ease, it is plagued by a heating issue. An hour-long session of PUBG Mobile or Modern Combat 5 made the device significantly hot, especially in the area around the fingerprint sensor. The rise in temperature was quite drastic and we had to keep the device idle for some time after gaming to let it cool off. We hope that Xiaomi is able to resolve this issue through an OTA update in the near future.
Coming to synthetic benchmarks, the Redmi Note 7 Pro scored 178,570 in AnTuTu and 2,389 and 6,593 respectively in Geekbench's single-core and multi-core tests. Moving to the more graphics intensive tests, the Redmi Note 7 Pro put up a tally of 1,079 in 3DMark Slingshot Extreme OpenGL and returned 41fps and 7.8fps respectively in the GFXBench T-Rex and Car Chase tests.
The Redmi Note 7 Pro was fine when it came to phone calls. Call quality was good with loud and clear sound. The rear-mounted fingerprint sensor impressed us with its speed and accuracy. The face unlock feature was also quick, but it struggled a bit in dimly lit surroundings.
The Redmi Note 7 Pro's photography prowess is something Xiaomi made a big deal about at the launch event, going as far as comparing this phone to the iPhone XS Max (Review). As for the hardware itself, the Redmi Note 7 Pro comes equipped with a 48-megapixel main camera using the Sony IMX586 sensor with an f/1.79 aperture and 1.6μm pixel size.
It is accompanied by a 5-megapixel depth sensor. As far as features go, the list includes AI Portrait mode, AI Studio Lighting, AI Dynamic Bokeh, slo-mo video recording, and 4K video capture. Up front is a 13-megapixel camera to take care of selfies. It supports features such as AI Portrait mode, AI Studio Lighting, and AI Beautification.
The Redmi Note 7 Pro definitely raises the bar for smartphone photography in its price bracket. It captures beautiful images with ample detail, high dynamic range, and good vibrancy. The device shines especially when it comes to close-up shots. Colours were punchy and gradients were reproduced nicely in our sample shots, while surface details such as grooves and ridges were also captured in great detail.
Colours sometimes turned out to be slightly oversaturated in order to enhance contrast, and backgrounds were occasionally underexposed as a result. Also, hues appeared to be slightly warmer than they are in reality. These are minor issues, and the photos captured by the Redmi Note 7 Pro are generally of superior quality compared to what similarly priced smartphones are capable of.
Photos are taken at a 12-megapixel resolution by default, with the Redmi Note 7 Pro using a technique called pixel binning to collect data from four adjacent pixels as a single larger pixel, which effectively brings in more light. You can capture 48-megapixel shots by manually enabling the 48-megapixel mode.
The 48-megapixel shots capture more detail than photos recorded at the default 12-megapixel resolution, but they appear slightly dimmer and also exhibit some softening. The 12-megapixel shots, aside from being much smaller in size, are sharper, more vibrant, and have more depth. Also, 48-megapixel shots captured in low light have more noise compared to those taken at the default resolution.
The Redmi Note 7 Pro takes beautiful portrait shots. Edge detection is spot on, particularly in case of bokeh shots captured under daylight. There are also a host of effects such as stage, movie, and cinema for adding some artistic effects. However, we noticed that the Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro sometimes struggles to lock focus on the foreground object and occasionally blurs out some portions incorrectly. Unfortunately, the smartphone does not allow RAW image capture.
Night photography is another area where the Redmi Note 7 Pro rises above the competition. The Night Mode does a good job at brightening up shots taken in low light, retaining a decent amount of detail. However, we observed that in order to enhance the exposure, the Night Mode sacrifices colour accuracy and also adds some grainy texture. It is worth mentioning here that the dedicated Night Mode lacks the option to click images at 48-megapixel resolution.
Selfies captured by the 13-megapixel front camera turned out to be social media ready with ample sharpness and good colour reproduction. There are a host of beautification filters such as skin tone lightening and eye enlargement to play with.
Coming to videography, the Redmi Note 7 Pro can shoot full-HD and HD videos at up to 60fps. The electronic image stabilisation does a good job at cancelling out hand movements. However, there is no EIS when shooting at 4K, and you're also capped at 30fps. Even though 4K videos turn out to be rich in detail, we saw the smartphone struggle to lock focus and there was a lot of shaky movement in our sample clips.
Slo-mo videos recorded at 120fps turned out just fine, but we noticed that the camera occasionally struggles when it came to locking the focus and there was also slight flickering in clips recorded indoors under artificial light. The front camera can record full-HD videos at 30fps, but the lack of stabilisation means that footage can have a fair amount of unwanted movement.
The Redmi Note 7 Pro caps its impressive all-around performance with stellar battery life. After a full day of usage that comprised of a few phone calls, listening to music through a wireless headset for a couple of hours, watching a few YouTube videos, Internet and social media surfing, as well as gaming for around an hour, the device still had 15-20 percent of power left at the end of the day.
With the aforesaid usage pattern, we got around 13 hours of active usage per charge on an average. As for the depletion rate, the Redmi Note 7 Pro's 4,000mAh battery lost around 10-12 percent after around 30 minutes of playing PUBG Mobile with multiple Internet-connected apps running in the background. In our HD video loop test, the smartphone lasted for an impressive 19 hours and 23 minutes before the battery drained completely.
The Redmi Note 7 Pro supports Qualcomm's Quick Charge 4.0 fast charging technology but unfortunately, the 10W charger that comes in the retail box isn't compatible so you'll need to buy one separately. The 10W charger took the Redmi Note 7 Pro from zero to 50 percent in 54 minutes, and all the way up to 100 percent charge in 2 hours and 14 minutes.
The Redmi Note 7 Pro has a lot working in its favour. With its eye-catching design, smooth performance, impressive cameras and long battery life, it has all the makings of a solid smartphone. Add to that a highly competitive price point, and Xiaomi has another champion on its hands.
That does not mean the Redmi Note 7 Pro is flawless. This smartphone heats up really quickly when gaming, MIUI serves ads, there are a few camera quirks, and the exterior is also a dust and smudge magnet.
The sub-Rs. 20,000 realm is hotly contested at the moment and there are several devices to challenge the Redmi Note 7 Pro. The Oppo K1 (Review), for instance, offers an in-display fingerprint sensor and an AMOLED display. For a slightly higher price, the Samsung Galaxy A50 (Review) brings a triple rear camera setup, Super AMOLED display, and in-display fingerprint sensor to the table, and is definitely worth considering.
The Samsung Galaxy M30 (Review) also adds a third ultra-wide camera for wide-angle shots. The Nokia 6.1 Plus (Review) offers stock Android, smooth performance, and a beautiful design. The ZenFone Max Pro M2 (Review) and the Realme U1 (Review) are two other smartphones that are worth considering in this particular price segment.
All these smartphones are competitive, but the Redmi Note 7 Pro rises above them in terms of its visual appeal, cameras, processor, battery life, and of course its price. These are all key parameters that sway the opinions of smartphone buyers, and it isn't often that you can get them all in a single package. The Redmi Note 7 Pro is a formidable smartphone and emerges as yet another winner for Xiaomi.
Do Redmi Note 7 Pro, Redmi Note 7, and Mi Soundbar redefine their price segments? We discussed this 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.