(Pocket-lint) - Rather than launch one Redmi Note 9 model, there are four different versions to choose from although not all models are available in all regions. We wanted to guide you through all the models, but note that there are some differences between devices with the same name in different regions.
For example, there's no mention of the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max in the UK, but it's available in India, so we've included it; the Note 9S in Europe is (almost) the same as the Note 9 Pro in India, but the European Note 9 Pro is different again - we've highlighted those differences below where applicable.
This is Redmi presenting more options in one of its most popular device families: the Redmi Note was one of the top selling global devices in Q1 2020 and now there's a new range. So which should you choose?
Design and build
- Note 9: 162.3 x 77.2 x 8.9mm, 199g
- Note 9S: 165.75 x 76.68 x 8.8mm, 209g
- Note 9 Pro: 165.75 x 76.68 x 8.8mm, 209g
- Note 9 Pro Max: 165.5 x 76.68 x 8.8mm, 209g
The Redmi Note 9 devices all look similar, with the same style of design, most notable because of the squared camera array in the centre of the rear. That presents a black box on the back, in a sea of colour.
The Note 9 is the smallest and lightest, while the Note 9S, Note 9 Pro and Pro Max are larger, thanks to having a bigger display.
The Note 9 has a fingerprint scanner on the rear of the phone, but the Note 9S, Note 9 Pro and Pro Max moves this to the side, giving it a more seamless look on the rear of the phone. Whether it's as reliable to use on the side as it is on the back will come down to personal preference.
All have a P2i nano coating for splash resistance. All have a 3.5mm headphone socket and a mono speaker on the bottom. There's also a difference in the haptic engine, with the Note 9 described as having a vibration motor, the other phones have a Z-axis linear motor.
Overall, there's not a huge difference in the design, it's mostly about the location of the fingerprint scanner.
- Note 9: 6.53in, 19.5:9, 2340 x 1080 pixels, 395ppi
- Note 9S: 6.67in, 20:9, 2400 x 1080 pixels, 395ppi
- Note 9 Pro: 6.67in, 20:9, 2400 x 1080 pixels, 395ppi
- Note 9 Pro Max: 6.67in, 20:9, 2400 x 1080 pixels, 395ppi
All of the Redmi Note 9 models have large LCD-based DotDisplay screens. The Note 9 is the smallest at 6.53 inches, while all the others are the same at 6.67 inches.
Size is the only real difference here. There's a slightly different aspect ratio, with the larger phones moving to 20:9 but that also adds in a few more lines of pixels. The resolution on all models is much the same however, at Full HD+, although some of the screens are larger.
What's also interesting is that all have the same pixel density - 395ppi. So, the overall quality of these displays will be pretty much the same and you won't see a huge difference in what is displayed.
These displays are all rated to the same brightness - 450 nits - and have the same colour grading and contrast. They are all also topped with Gorilla Glass 5.
One minor difference is that the Note 9 has the camera in the top left corner, the Note 9S, Pro and Pro Max all have the punch hole camera in the centre.
Hardware and battery
- Note 9: MediaTek Helio G85, 3/4GB RAM, 64/128GB storage, 5020mAh battery
- Note 9S: Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G, 4/6GB RAM, 64/128GB storage, 5020mAh battery
- Note 9 Pro: Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G, 6GB RAM, 64/128GB storage, 5020mAh battery
- Note 9 Pro Max: Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G, 6/8GB RAM, 64/128GB storage, 5020mAh battery
The hardware story draws a division between these phones with the Note 9 getting Mediatek hardware and the other devices all having Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G. The MediaTek Helio G85 is the equivalent of a Snapdragon 700 series platform, but generally speaking the Qualcomm hardware here is more powerful and a little more desirable.
The RAM progressively steps up over these devices, with the Note 9 Pro Max offering up to 8GB, while the regular Note 9 starts from 3GB. Each of these changes in RAM and storage brings with it a price difference, but at least there's a range for you to select what you think you need. In Europe the Note 9 Pro only has 6GB RAM, in India there's the option of 4 or 6GB.
All the devices support microSD up to 512GB, all are dual SIM and all are 4G only.
These phones all have the same battery too, at 5020mAh. This is a big battery and all support some sort of fast charging. The Note 9 and Note 9S (and Indian Note 9 Pro) offer 18W charging, the European 9 Pro and Pro Max offer 30W charging. All the phones come with fast charger in the box suitable to the phone.
Overall, the Note 9 is the least powerful here, but all will have great battery life.
- Note 9: 48MP main, 8MP ultra-wide, 2MP macro, 2MP depth sensor, 13MP front
- Note 9S: 48MP main, 8MP ultra-wide, 5MP macro, 2MP depth sensor, 16MP front
- Note 9 Pro: 64MP main (48MP in India), 8MP ultra-wide, 5MP macro, 2MP depth sensor, 16MP front
- Note 9 Pro Max: 64MP main, 8MP ultra-wide, 5MP macro, 2MP depth sensor, 32MP front
All the Note 9 models have a quad camera on the rear of the phone, all with a high-resolution main camera, ultra-wide, macro and depth sensor.
The Redmi Note 9, Note 9S and Note 9 Pro (in India) has a 48-megapixel 1/2.25in sensor, f/1.79 aperture, 6 element lens. It has a 0.8μm native pixel size, combined to make a 1.6μm 4-in-1 Super Pixel.
The Redmi Note 9 Pro (in Europe) and Note 9 Pro Max in India has a 64-megapixel 1/1.72in sensor, f/1.89 aperture, 6 element lens. It has a 0.8μm native pixel size, combined to make a 1.6μm 4-in-1 Super Pixel.
This is the major difference between these phones, with the top model in each region offering that 64-megapixel camera, although we can't comment on the absolute performance at this time.
All the phones have an 8-megapixel ultra-wide angle lens - and all have the same specifications - but there's also a slight difference in the macro camera, with the Note 9 having a 2-megapixel macro camera and all the others having a 5-megapixel sensor. We're not sure that will make a huge difference unless you take a lot of macro photos.
Finally, only the Note 9 Pro Max has a 32-megapixel front camera - all the others have a 16-megapixel camera.
The important thing is whether any of these spec changes make any real difference. Redmi here is playing the specs game, loading up the Pro Max with the highest resolutions - but that doesn't always lead to the best photos. In reality, the camera changes here might make few real differences to your photos.
Comparing the Redmi Note 9 devices differs region to region, with a notable crossover between the Note 9S in Europe and the Note 9 Pro in India; there's no equivalent to the Note 9 Pro Max that's available in India - although the Note 9 Pro in Europe goes some way to reaching those specs.
At their core though, the biggest difference is between the entry-level and most affordable Note 9 model and all the models above it - core processor and display size are the main factors here and the things that will make the biggest difference to your experience with these devices.
While there are differences to choose in RAM and storage levels, we're not convinced that increasing the RAM will make a huge difference to the day-to-day use. While benchmarks might be higher, you probably won't notice a huge difference between 6 or 8GB, for example.
So what this decision really comes down to is cost: the Note 9 is really good value for money and it's a very capable phone, but there's appeal in moving to the next model up to get that Qualcomm hardware for a little more boost. For us, the suggests that the Note 9S (if it's available in your region), is probably the best overall device on balance.