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Redmi Note 7 Review - More than 4 months after, still a monster for the price!

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Including us, Xiaomi's Redmi Note 7 was hailed by many as one of the phones to beat for the price. And, why not? It is a handset equipped with modern looks, good actual performance, and a 48MP shooter.
Redmi Note 7 Review - More than 4 months after, still a monster for the price!
Redmi Note 7 long-term review

Fast-forward August 2019, we revisited the Redmi Note 7. More than four months 
after it was first introduced here in the Philippines, we still think that it has the overall specs to beat for the price.

Could this be the phone for you? Here's our long-term review.

Unboxing/Accessories

Everything inside
Everything inside

We know the drill, Redmi Note 7 arrived with the signature white/orange colors of Redmi. Inside, you will find the device itself together with the 5V/2A USB wall charger, USB cable, SIM ejector tool, TPU translucent black clear case, and paper docs.

There's no pre-installed screen protector and earphones included in the package. The 5V/2A wall charger is fine, but it would have been better if Xiaomi included a Quick Charge 4+ power brick since the phone has Quick Charge 4+ support.

Build Quality/Design

Real glass back
Real glass back

Redmi Note 7's overall construction could be considered as "premium" at this price point. In fact, there are very few who have its same level of craftsmanship and style on a budget.

Arguably the most premium-looking affordable phone!

It uses a Gorilla Glass 5 tech at the back and in front. In the middle, the material used is plastic with a metal-like glossy finish. We also like that it has some rubber seals inside to at least provide some sort of water resistance.

See also: Redmi Note 7 Moonlight White 64GB to arrive in PH for PHP 9,990!

My only issue with its build is it is prone to hairline scratches. The paint finish in the dual-cam behind is slightly fading after months of use as well.

But overall, as long as you won't bend test it, you won't have any major issues with its build.

As mentioned it has a glass back that looks neat. What made it cooler is its curves. It uses a 2.5D curved glass to make it look sleeker and more comfortable to hold.

You will also see a vertically-aligned dual-camera setup at the upper left corner and a properly placed fingerprint scanner in the middle at the back of the phone.

The camera protrusion is HUGE since the phone is using a large 48MP camera. Even with a case, its lens could still be prone to scratches. So, be careful with it.
6.3-inch display
6.3-inch display

In front, there's a large and tall 19:5:9 6.3-inch FHD+ 2.5D curved glass display, It has a tiny dot drop notch with slimmer bezels than traditional phones. Xiaomi boasts that it has 1.95 mm slim bezels. The chin bezel is still quite thick though. The overall screen-to-body ratio should be larger than most budget phones.
Top
Top

On top, you'll find a mic, 3.5mm headphone slot, and an IR blaster! Yes, it has an IR blaster remote control for several appliances. That's rare for an affordable device.
Bottom
Bottom

Underneath, you'll see the other mic, USB-C port, and the single down-firing speaker.
Left
Left
Right
Right

At left, there's the hybrid SIM. At right, you'll find the power button and the volume keys.

Overall, the phone is quite easy to hold. It is great for two-handed operations. Without a case, you will just notice that it is prone to fingerprint smudges.

Display Quality

Big display with a tiny notch
Big display with a tiny notch

Redmi Note 7 is also the only one we know that has a 6.3-inch 19:5:9 tall display with FHD+ resolution at a PHP 7,990 starting price in PH yet.
Great for watching videos
Great for watching videos

For the price, it is very impressive. It is pretty sharp at 409 ppi in total. Color rendering is also quite nice and it has a contrast ratio of 1500:1. Just do not compare it with the screens from higher-end phones with punchier AMOLED panels and you'll be pleased.

Big display with FHD+ resolution on a budget!

It even has a sunlight display mode that makes it more readable for outdoor use. As expected, it goes with an option to adjust contrast and colors in the display settings. It also has a reading mode that lessens blue light to make the colors warmer for the safer and more comfortable viewing experience, especially in the dark.

What I do not like is its overly aggressive automatic brightness feature.

There are 10 points of touch for easy swiping and typing in total again.

Overall, I find it good enough for watching a lot of videos and viewing pictures.

Audio Quality

Below, it only has a single speaker setup. It can go quite loud inside a quiet room. For outdoor open use, the sound coming from it will be weaker. But, it is still serviceable in general. 

Audio quality from its speaker is decent for a budget device. I like that it has some sort of bass even if it is a budget device. But do not expect it to be as clean and well separated or layered versus other phones with stereo speakers or higher-end type of speakers. Expect peaks and hiss in max loudness as well.

Fortunately, it is not considered as muddy for the price. Still quite good overall.

For headphones, it has a pretty strong driving power. The built-in DAC that Xiaomi used here pretty good overall. It was able to make my RHA T10 shine a bit. It delivered clear tunes with well-separated mids and instruments. Bass response is not muddy and overpowering too. The sound signature is a bit warm.

Just don't think that can beat dedicated DAPs (HiFi portable players), but for a phone, this is quite nice.

Bluetooth connectivity is stable with my few Bluetooth earphones and speakers.

The speaker quality for calls is loud and crisp. The microphone for voice is okay and pretty clear. It kinda blocks unnecessary noise. Just do not expect it to be top-notch. There's hiss, but it is acceptable overall.

Battery

Respectable battery score

For the battery, this handset uses a large 4,000mAh cell to power the phone. Even if it has a large 6.3-inch display, we expected its battery performance to be better than some competing phones due to its use of a 14nm 64-bit Snapdragon 660 AIE chip.

However, our battery test revealed that it only clocked 9 hours and 10 minutes. It is noticeably lower than the realme 3's score of 14 hours and 36 minutes. Yes, we know that the battery capacity of realme 3 is a bit bigger and its screen resolution is lower, but the difference between the two should not be around 5 hours.

Fortunately, it can still last around 5 hours of screen on time in real-life even under heavy usage. Basically, it can get you through the day on a single charge. Under light usage, it can last for a bit more than 1 day.

Charging time is around 3 hours using the bundled 5V/2A charger. By using a Qualcomm Quick Charge charger (the one I have are QC 3.0 charger and power banks), charging is faster at around 2 hours.

Sadly, I wasn't able to test it with a QC 4.0 charger. But it supports up to QC 4.0. You just need to buy an extra charger.

Camera

48MP main cam
48MP main cam

Now to the main event. As of writing, Redmi Note 7 is still the most affordable phone in the country with a 48MP primary camera.

The most affordable phone with 48MP cam yet!

To recall, it uses Samsung's 48MP f/1.8 ISOCELL Bright GMA sensor. It is even paired with a 5MP f/2.4 depth camera.

Going back to the main sensor, it is a 48MP camera with 0.8µm pixel size. It uses to combines four pixels into 1 larger pixel resulting in a 12MP output with a large 1.6µm pixel size.

In contrary to the belief of some, pixel binning is different from interpolation. Interpolation will make a smaller resolution artificially bigger while pixel binning will make a large resolution smaller.

Why? If they combined four pixels into one. It will result in a brighter and sharper 12MP output versus 48MP output.

If you want to use the 48MP mode, you can still access it in the pro mode. Personally, I'll just stick to the 12MP output that works better in most conditions. Plus, you won't really need the 48MP output for social media use.
The camera interface
The camera interface

The back cam is also assisted by PDAF focus, EIS, and LED flash.


The camera interface of the Redmi Note 7 is just like most modern Xiaomi phones. There's the HDR, AI, Filters, Portrait, Night, Square, Panorama, and Pro modes.

The Night mode will allow you to shoot handheld multiple exposure images for around 2 seconds. The result is a brighter and better overall image in low light.

Pro camera mode
Pro camera mode

For those who like to tinker with the camera settings, you can always use its pro mode with up to 32s shutter and ISO 3200.

At this price point, there are still very few phones that can compete with its quality. Focus speed is quite fast, the macro works on daylight well, and saving time is respectable. Focus in low light will be a bit slower, as expected.

Like most modern mid-rangers it has AI as well. You can switch it on and off. When on, it'll add a bit more color pop. But it depends on the subject. It can detect a lot of scenes and could help you improve your shots. Just be wary when using it, it is not perfect, there are times where it'll overdo the images. Just switch it off if you find it unnatural looking.

So far, in our experience, it works well at around 6 or 7 out of 10 tries.

Rear Camera Samples

Daylight gloomy
Daylight gloomy 2
Daylight gloomy 2

Daylight images are well detailed with good exposure. HDR helps in some against the light shots. I also like that it is quite color accurate even with the AI turned on.
Gloomy daylight shot with Night mode
Gloomy daylight shot with Night mode

To make images pop more with better details and dynamic range, use the Night mode. Yes, you can also use it in daylight. If you can notice, details and highlights are better. Exposure is also a bit brighter versus the image without night mode. Artifacts will be present, but it is still manageable for me.
Background blur
Background blur

The secondary depth camera can provide a respectable subject to background separation with neat background blur. Edge detection is not perfect, but acceptable for a budget phone.
Indoor image
Indoor image
Indoor with blur
Indoor with blur
Normal vs 100 percent
Normal vs 100 percent

Even for indoor shots and some areas with challenging light, details are quite crisp and colors are still okay. There's some noise versus daylight shots, but hardly noticeable unless you will pixel peep.
Normal vs night mode
Normal vs night mode
Normal vs night mode 2
Normal vs night mode 2

In areas with dim light or low light, Redmi Note 7 can take images with decent exposure and sharpness. However, noise is evident and dynamic range is a bit lacking. Exposure control is alright, but not that good.
Night mode 1
Night mode 1
Night mode 2
Night mode 2

But, with the help of the Night mode, those problems won't be that much of an issue for most. Images will be brighter, but not overexposed and not that oversharpened.

Its Night mode considered as good even when you compared it with some mid-range phones.

See also: Hong Kong at night by Redmi Note 7

Overall, I'm impressed with its back cameras. For me, it is hard to beat at this price point.
Selfie cam!

For selfies, it has a 13MP f/2.0 shooter. It also has HDR, AI, Filters, Portrait, and Beauty modes. Its portrait mode doesn't have the effects of the Mi 9 SE. The Beauty mode has 5 levels face beauty, but it doesn't have adjustments for your skin tone, remodel your face, and add makeup.
Selfie cam UI
Selfie cam UI

Its face detection is okay. Tap to focus is also present. Shooting and saving speed are respectable.

Selfie Camera Samples

Daylight selfie with face beauty
Daylight selfie with face beauty

The main improvement from its selfie cam is the color accuracy. My selfies are not as white as my selfies a few months back. Even with face beauty level 3, it is not as soft and unnatural-looking versus other affordable selfie camera phones.
Selfie bokeh
Selfie bokeh

Using the portrait mode, edge detection is acceptable. There are times where it'll fail, but it is still respectable for a single selfie cam.
Selfie at night but with bright street lights
Selfie at night but with bright street lights

In low light, exposure is still okay. It will be a bit softer and the colors will be duller.
Low light selfie and low light selfie with flash
Low light selfie and low light selfie with flash

You can use the screen flash to somehow make you look brighter with better details and colors.

For videos, it shoots up to 1080p 60fps, 1080p 30fps, time-lapse, and slow-motion. At 60fps, videos will look good if you have a stabilizer. Without a stabilizer, you can opt for the 1080p 30fps with better stabilization.

Its daylight and even low light performance are respectable for me. Most of the time it is color accurate as well. I just wished the focus speed is a bit faster.

For selfie videos, it takes up to 1080p 30fps selfie videos. The crop is visible, but not that huge compared with other selfie shooters where you will need to overstretch your arms for a wider field of view. Stabilization is decent, but far from the 1080p 30fps mode of its back cameras.  Its daylight performance is respectable. In low light, it'll struggle. 

Video Samples



Performance

AnTuTu and Geekbench score

Just like most phones with Snapdragon 660 AIE octa-core chip inside, the performance of the Redmi Note 7 is similar. For a phone with PHP 7,990 starting price, it is considered as a beast. The 4GB RAM variant is slightly faster. But, you can't really opt for the 4GB RAM version, the 3GB RAM version is far from bad.
PC Mark Work 2.0 performance and 3DMark score
PC Mark Work 2.0 performance and 3DMark score

Again, only the realme 3 and Honor 10 Lite can compete with its speed. However, maybe I can say that Redmi Note 7 still has the better overall chipset performance since Snapdragon 660 is paired with the better Adreno 512 GPU.

So, aside from its respectable speed when it comes to opening and closing apps, Redmi Note 7 can also quite game.



In fact, NBA 2K19 is smooth at all medium settings. There's a lag at all high settings (except cloth simulation), but some can live with it for slightly better-looking graphics.

The UI

The UI
The UI

MIUI is still MIUI, it is minimalist and very easy to use. Icons look modern and its overall interface is easy on the eyes. Since it is based on Android 9.0 Pie OS, you get most of its features. I also like that it has several apps for optimizations like cleaner and security. The rest of the Mi and Google apps are pre-installed as well.

But, MIUI is still a love it or hate it UI. Overall I like it as I find it smooth overall. I like that the face unlock is readily available now unlike when I tested the POCO F1 where I need to set the region to India first before I can access the said feature.

What I don't like about it is the ads inside some apps like the Music and Mi Video. Yes, I know that you can remove it, but I would have still liked it better I won't undergo the hassle of removing it.

Other features

One cool thing about the Redmi Note 7 is it has an IR blaster for remote. You can use that to control several home appliances like aircon, ref, and more. The fingerprint scanner and face unlock performed well in most conditions.

The rest of the telephony feature works. Bluetooth is stable and 4G LTE is okay in areas with a strong signal. It'll just struggle a little for closed indoor 4G reception as it doesn't have the Band 28 700MHz frequency band.


Those who are looking for a phone with a gyroscope for VR and AR apps will be pleased. It also has USB-C OTG support for external storage solutions and more.

Pros - Good design, FHD+ display on a budget, pretty fast performance, USB-C Quick Charge support, pretty good cameras, outstanding 
Cons - No Quick Charge charger bundled, soft selfies in low light, no band 28 700MHz frequency, hard to disable ads inside some apps

Redmi Note 7 PH Specs

Display: 6.3-inch 2.5D curved Gorilla Glass 5 protected IPS screen w/ FHD+ 2340 x 1080 resolution at 409 ppi
CPU: 2.2GHz 64-bit Snapdragon 660 AIE octa-core processor
GPU: Adreno 512
RAM: 3GB/4GB LPDDR4x
ROM: 32GB/64GB/128GB expandable via microSD card slot up to 256GB
Back Camera: 48MP f/1.8 Samsung ISOCELL Bright GM1 + 5MP f/2.4 w/ PDAF, EIS, and LED flash
Selfie Camera: 13MP f/2.0 w/ AI portrait
Battery: 4,000mAh w/ Quick Charge 4+
OS: Android 9.0 Pie w/ MIUI 10
Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 ac (2.4GHz/5GHz), 4G LTE, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, GLONASS, dual SIM (hybrid)
Sensors:  Accelerometer, light, orientation, proximity, gyroscope, sound, magnetic
Others: Fingerprint sensor, IR blaster, USB-C, AK 98937 Smart PA, Colors: black, blue, purple, neptune blue
Dimensions: 159.21 x 75.21 x 8.1 mm
Weight: 186 g
Price: PHP 7,990 (3GB RAM/32GB ROM), PHP 9,990 (4GB RAM/64GB ROM), PHP 11,490 (4GB RAM/128GB ROM)

Verdict

Redmi Note 7 remained to be a very competitive budget phone. More than 4 months after, it is still a monster for the price for us!

Arguably, it has the best build and design among all budget phones. It is probably the fastest at this price point as well. Its cameras are also better than most similarly priced devices.

It is not perfect as its selfie cam still needs improvement. It doesn't have the 700MHz frequency band, and it has ads inside some apps.

But, trust me, it'll be hard for anyone to find a better overall phone for its PHP 7,990 starting price.

Build/Design - 4.5
Display - 4.25
Audio - 4
Battery - 4
Camera - 4.5
Performance - 4.75
Average - 4.33/5
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