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Redmi Note 9S Unboxing and First Impressions

Finally, Xiaomi was able to launch its first smartphone of the new decade in the Philippines, the Redmi Note 9S. To recall, the last device that the Chinese tech giant introduced in the country is the Mi Note 10 Pro last December 29, 2019.
This is the Redmi Note 9S!

The delay is due to the enhanced community quarantine to prevent the spread of the deadly Coronavirus disease 2019 also known as COVID-19.

The good news? Xiaomi returned with a serious BANG.

Keeping the Redmi Note tradition alive, the Xiaomi loaded the Redmi Note 9S with the design, specs, and features to beat for the price. Given those traits, it could be the smartphone for those who want the most bang-for-the-buck mid-2020 mid-ranger out there.

Here's part 1 of our review: unboxing and first impressions.


The box
The box

Xiaomi's packaging is simple as usual and it has most of the essentials you'll need inside.
SIM ejector tool, paper docs, and case
SIM ejector tool, paper docs, and case

First, you'll see that Xiaomi the SIM ejector tool. The brand also included a FREE TPU case with a protective cover to the USB-C port that you can open and close whenever you want. Then, you'll find the paper documents including the User Guide and Warranty Card.
USB-C cable and power brick
USB-C cable and power brick

After digging deeper, you'll find the phone itself along with the 22.5W adaptive charger (the phone supports 18W) and the USB-A to USB-C data/charging cable.
There's a screen protector installed in the screen, trust me
There's a screen protector installed in the screen, trust me

The display of the phone has a pre-installed screen protector. So, there's no need to buy for one unless you want to upgrade it to tempered glass.

The overall package is almost complete, but it would have been better if Xiaomi included a freebie earphones with mic. I know that Xiaomi did not include it to keep the cost of the phone down though.

Note: You may click here for our Facebook live impressions of the Redmi Note 9S.

Build Quality/Design

Shiny back!
Shiny back!

The Redmi Note 9S is not like your usual under PHP 12K mainstream phone with a cheap plastic build. It comes with a premium sandwich glass design with Gorilla Glass 5 protection on both sides. The frame is metallic and it simply feels tough. In addition, this has P2i splash-proofing to provide some sort of water resistance.

In short, this handset is designed to last especially if you will slap on the included case in the box.

Legit premium design for less!

In terms of looks, this device screams premium despite its entry-mid-range price tag. It has beautiful and gentle curves for a more comfortable hold at the back. It also a high-gloss finish in Interstellar Black, Aurora Blue, Glacier White colors.

Xiaomi calls this the "Aura Balance" design to provide a more sophisticated look for less. It is just prone to fingerprint smudges.

You will also see that the handset has a square camera hump at the back and the design is unique to Xiaomi. This means that the company is innovating and it doesn't want to make this handset look like any other Android phone out there.

The hump contains the four back cameras of the phone as well as the dual-tone LED flash.
Punch-hole on a budget

In front, this is where the Redmi Note 9S will stand out against the competition. It uses a large 6.67-inch LCD (LTPS) panel with FHD+ resolution, cinematic 20:9 screen aspect ratio, and a punch-hole in the middle to house the selfie camera and eliminate the notch ala high-end Samsung phones. 
Max brightness after the update to improve the screen and lessen the bleeding
Max brightness after the update to improve the screen and lessen the bleeding

Xiaomi was able to bring that premium style on an affordable smartphone by using an IPS panel instead of AMOLED. There's minor bleeding on the punch-hole area at first, but the company has already seeded an update to eliminate that problem. To me, it's not an issue at all.

Moreover, the bezels are slim with 91 percent of the screen-to-body ratio. Only the chin bezel is quite thick, but that's understandable for a device priced this low. This still has a pretty immersive front design.

Above the punch-hole is a neatly hidden earspeaker for calls. It has an LED indicator as well. Sadly, it doesn't double as a secondary speaker to make the phone deliver stereo sound.
Top and bottom
Top and bottom

On top, there's an IR Blaster and a microphone. This is one of the few affordable phones with an IR Blaster that you can use to control your home appliances. Below, it has the speaker grille, another mic, USB-C charging port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack slot.
Left and right
Left and right

At left, it has a pin-hole to open the triple slot tray for the dual SIM and a microSD card. At right, it comes with a fingerprint scanner that also works as a pressable power key. On top of it, there's a volume up and down key.

The phone is quite big for a one-handed operation at 165.7 x 76.6 mm. But, it is considered as slim for a device with a massive 5,020mAh battery capacity.

As expected, the handset is a bit heavy at 209 grams. But that's just fine as long as it has a large screen and big battery capacity.

However, look elsewhere if you want a small device.

Redmi Note 9S: First Camera Samples

Redmi Note 9S Specs

Display: 6.67-inch 2.5D curved Gorilla Glass 5 protected LCD (LTPS) screen w/ FHD+ 2400 x 1080 resolution at 395ppi
CPU: 2.3GHz 8nm Snapdragon 720G octa-core processor
GPU: Adreno 618
ROM: 64GB/128GB UFS 2.1 expandable via microSD card slot up to 256GB (dedicated)
Back Camera: 48MP f/1.79 Samsung ISOCELL GM2 w/ PDAF, EIS + 8MP 119-degree ultra-wide-angle + 5MP f/2.4 2cm macro + 2MP f/2.4 depth + dual-tone LED flash
Selfie Camera: 16MP f/2.48
Battery: 5,020mAh w/ 18W fast charging
OS: Android 10 w/ MIUI 11
Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4GHz/5GHz), 4G LTE, Bluetooth 5.0, OTG, FM Radio, GPS, NavIC, dual SIM
Sensors: Accelerometer, light, orientation, proximity, gyroscope, sound, magnetic, pressure
Others: Fingerprint sensor, face unlock, IR Blaster, P2i water splash resistance, Z-axis linear vibration motor, dual-mic, USB-C, Colors: Interstellar Black, Aurora Blue, Glacier White
Dimensions: 165.7 x 76.6 x 8.8 mm
Weight: 209 g
Price: PHP 10,490 (4GB/64GB), PHP 11,990 (6GB/128GB)

As of the moment

AnTuTu benchmark score of Redmi Note 9S
AnTuTu benchmark score of Redmi Note 9S

For sure, getting a new smartphone is not a priority during these tough times. But, if you badly need a new affordable yet highly capable device or you simply have the money to spare, the Redmi Note 9S is very hard to ignore.

It sports a premium look, large and immersive enough display, class-leading 2.3GHz 8nm Snapdragon 720G octa-core processor, large fast storage solution, big battery capacity with fast charging capability, and promising cameras.

So far, it is incredible for its PHP 10,490 starting price.

Note: It will be on sale for just PHP 9,990 on May 8 at Lazada Philippines.

Stay tuned for our full review!
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