The budget segment is usually where smartphone companies move the most volume, and in order to maintain its dominance, Xiaomi recently launched not one but three new budget Redmi smartphones. Today, we’ll be checking out the Redmi 6 Pro, which is supposed to be the most powerful in the new Redmi 6 series, and is the first Redmi phone outside the Redmi Note series to sport the ‘Pro’ moniker.
Usually, Xiaomi uses this designation to indicate powerful hardware, and while the Redmi 6 Pro does have the strongest SoC of the new trio, the main differentiating factor for this model seems to be its notched display. This is also a first for a Redmi phone. Other than that, the Redmi 6 Pro seems to share most of its core specifications with existing Xiaomi models such as the Redmi Y2 (Review) and even the Redmi Note 5 (Review), which makes us wonder - other than the notch, does the Redmi 6 Pro bring anything drastically new to the table? We're about to find out.
Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro design
Being the most premium phone of the new Redmi 6 family, the Redmi 6 Pro has been given somewhat better materials, in the form of a metal backplate. However, the overall design isn’t too different from what we’ve already seen from Xiaomi at around this price point. This is a fairly thick phone, and it's a bit hefty too, but it’s manageable. The buttons have good feedback without being noisy, and on the left side, you get a single tray which can hold two SIM cards and a separate microSD card. Something worth noting is that the Redmi 6 Pro does not support dual 4G VoLTE, which means that only one SIM can connect to a 4G network at a time.
The placement of ports is good. The mono speaker is on the bottom right, so chances of blocking it when using the phone in landscape mode are slim. The headphone socket is placed on the top, and you also get an infrared (IR) emitter which can be used to control IR appliances through the Mi Remote app.
The Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro has a metal backplate and dual rear cameras
Our test unit is the black variant, which has a matte finish so it doesn’t pick up smudges very easily. You can also buy the Redmi 6 Pro in blue, red, or gold. The fingerprint sensor is easy to reach and is responsive. There’s a vertically stacked dual camera setup at the back, which protrudes only slightly, so it’s not much of an inconvenience.
The main highlight of the Redmi 6 Pro is of course its 5.84-inch full-HD+ display. The contrast and brightness are adequate. Xiaomi tells Gadgets 360 that the display has a layer of toughened glass, although the company wouldn’t specify the vendor. The notch results in a bit more display area, but it's pretty massive. The other borders around the panel are also still very thick, including a fat chin at the bottom. This is one of the least attractive notch designs we've come across. Also, Xiaomi has for some reason found a really awkward spot for the notification LED - the bottom left portion of the chin - despite there seemingly being plenty of free space in the notch.
In the box, the Redmi 6 Pro ships with a clear case, a SIM eject tool, a USB cable, and a 10W power adapter.
Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro specifications and software
The phone uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 625 SoC, which is a couple of years old now but is still a capable chip for general tasks. Gaming performance isn’t great, as some popular games like PUBG default to the lowest graphics settings, and even then, gameplay isn’t smooth. Our unit was running on a pre-release version of its MIUI software, which prevented us from running most benchmarks. Xiaomi did confirm with us that other than this, the software is identical to what retail units will ship with. AnTuTu managed to run, and it returned a decent score of 79,025 points.
The Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro is available in two variants — one with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, and the other with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, which is the one we’re testing. The phone supports Bluetooth 4.2, dual-band 802.11 Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, GPS, USB-OTG, and GLONASS. It also has a gyroscope, ambient light sensor, compass, and an accelerometer. There’s FM radio too, but NFC is not present.
MIUI offers plenty of gestures and customisation options
Our unit was running on MIUI 9.6, which is based on Android 8.1 Oreo. It had the slightly old July security patch. The Redmi 6 series will be updated to MIUI 10 soon, according to Xiaomi.
MIUI offers gestures and customisable functions that are similar to what we’ve seen before. The leftmost home screen gives you a card-style layout for app shortcuts, stock prices, calendar events, etc. The Mi Store app gives you a curated list of apps and games from the Play Store, but it also sends annoying spammy notifications now and then, which we couldn’t disable. The same goes for the Mi Community app, but at least this can be uninstalled. The phone comes with several preinstalled apps for social networking, banking, video streaming, and browsing the Web.
For navigating Android, you can either stick with the default three-button system, or switch to gestures. These work quite well, and we ended up using them a lot, but we did face one issue. The ‘Back’ gesture requires a swipe inwards from the left or right edges of the display. This means that when you try to access the menus in apps like Slack with the same gesture, you end up closing the app or going a step back unintentionally.
Although Xiaomi has provided the option to mask the notch, MIUI doesn’t always scale well to the reduced aspect ratio. We saw portions of some menu buttons and even content in some apps getting cut off due to the masking. Face recognition is supported, and it works well under most lighting conditions, except in a pitch darkness.
The Redmi 6 Pro is not particularly slim, but it's easy to handle
Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro performance, cameras, and battery life
The Redmi 6 Pro works well with casual usage. The interface feels fluid, face recognition is quick, and it doesn’t heat up. Simpler games such as Alto’s Odyssey ran well, but more graphically demanding ones like Breakneck and even PUBG had to be played at medium to low settings. Despite having 4GB of RAM, we did notice that load times in games were a bit long, and multitasking between apps wasn't always stutter-free. We found that colours were vivid and punchy on the Redmi 6 Pro's screen, which makes this a good device for watching videos.
Audio performance is good when using headphones but the speaker doesn’t get too loud for media playback. The stock music player has Hungama Music integration, and lets you stream audio tracks. The default video player, on the other hand, curates trending music videos (mostly Bollywood ones) from YouTube in addition to showing you your local files.
The rear 12-megapixel camera has an f/2.2 aperture with PDAF. Autofocus was decently quick in good light. There’s auto-HDR , which did a good job of balancing the exposure in our experience. We observed good detail in landscape shots in daylight, and colours were pleasing too. The main sensor stumbled a bit with macros, as it simply wasn't able to resolve finer detail. The white balance was a bit of a hit or a miss in close-ups, and we often found ourselves having to tap-to-focus to get the white balance back on track. Saving HDR images takes a good couple of seconds in daylight.
In low light, autofocus speed dropped quite a bit, and it took longer to save regular images as well. It’s best to leave HDR off, as the time taken to save images increases even more, which makes it even more challenging to get blur-free shots at night. Details were quite mushy due to the noise reduction process, and colours were a bit dull.
The camera app is simple and easy to use, with all the shooting modes just a swipe away. Portrait mode takes advantage of the secondary 5-megapixel camera on the back. However, edge detection was quite average, and we couldn't adjust the level of blur before or after taking a shot. The 5-megapixel front camera took okay selfies under good light, but due to the lack of screen flash, low-light images turned out grainy.
Video performance was quite decent, and stabilisation worked well, with no visible jelly effect around the edges of the frame. The maximum resolution you can shoot at is 1080p.
Battery life is one of the strong suits of the Redmi 6 Pro. The 4000mAh battery easily lasted us a full day and a bit more on one charge. Playing heavy games didn't drain the battery too much either. In a single round of PUBG (around 30 minutes), in which we survived till the very end, we recorded a drop of around seven percent, which is not bad. In our internal video loop test, we got a runtime of 16 hours and 45 minutes, which is very good. The Redmi 6 Pro doesn’t support fast charging, but the bundled 10W adapter gave us roughly a 55 percent charge in an hour, and it took us roughly 2 hours and 35 minutes to charge it completely from zero.
Looking at Xiaomi’s current Redmi lineup, the Redmi 6 Pro doesn’t make a very strong case for itself. There’s nothing terribly wrong with it, but at the same time, it doesn’t really offer anything new or different compared to the existing Redmi Note 5 (Review), which costs Rs. 1,000 less for the same amount of RAM and storage. You also have the Redmi Y2 (Review) at the exact same price as the Redmi 6 Pro, and that model has a better front camera, but you'd compromise a bit on the display and battery capacity. What Xiaomi has essentially done here is create a bit of confusion in its own lineup.
However, notches seem to be in demand these days, so we can see buyers considering this option for that reason alone. If you’re someone who doesn’t care about that, then the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 (Review) or even the Redmi Note 5 (Review) are two models that we’d recommend over the Redmi 6 Pro, especially the variant we reviewed.
Can Motorola One Power dethrone the Redmi Note 5 Pro and the Redmi 6 Pro? 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.