Xiaomi has retained the top spot long enough for anyone to be able to belittle its success as coincidental or a temporary upheaval. At the same time, the last few products from the company felt hackneyed, and the Note 6 Pro was a sort of disappointment to fans, even when it remained one of the good buys through its rather short life cycle.
With the Note 7 Pro, Xiaomi is back to basics and is once again ready to make a huge splash. This is only apt in the light of the burgeoning competition from the likes of Samsung, Asus, and Oppo creeping in its domain. In fact, with Note 7 Pro Xiaomi has waged a war. Staying true to its “Thug Life” theme, Xiaomi literally called out all its rivals for their subterfuge, daring them to beat the new Note (and one may argue that they went just a bit too far).
But, all that was Xiaomi’s side of the story. Now that we have handled Redmi Note 7 Pro long enough, is it still as impressive? Let’s elaborate in our Review.
Redmi Note 7 Pro Design and Build
There are some major design changes with this Note iteration. And perhaps for the first time, Xiaomi’s Note is up with the latest design trends. The Redmi Note 7 Pro offers Gorilla Glass 5 on front and back, a U-shaped ‘Dot’ notch at the front, and gradient patterns that are currently in. The handset retains the IR Blaster (something MI fans value), and the reversible USB Type-C port at the bottom is a much welcome change.
Another bonus is splash resistance. The Note 7 Pro is not waterproof or water resistant but has a higher probability of emerging unscathed after a spillage or being accidentally caught up in rain.
On the downside, the phone feels unconventionally thick since the back is flat, the microSD card slot is hybrid, and the side frame in still plastic. Bezels around the screen are reasonably slim.
Unlike the low-end Note 7, the Pro variant has a bigger camera hump (understandable considering the bigger sensor), but the bundled case evens it out. The glass back and front easily attracts scratches and smudges, so you’d be better off with a case anyways.
Speaking of back covers, Xiaomi will also sell its own perforated case covers for Redmi Note 7 Pro, which something all brands should consider.
We do appreciate Xiaomi siding with the use of premium materials, but as we have iterated in the past, a good design is more than mere labels like glass and metal. Rather than being swayed by these labels, consumers should know that all glass body phones aren’t equal, and then make an informed choice.
We think the Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro design is quite good for its price and a definite improvement over what we had for the last three generations. At the same time, it’s not necessarily better than well-designed glass-finish polycarbonate phones like Galaxy A50, Galaxy A30, or Vivo V11 Pro. And yes, we’d love a few more non-gradient color options other than Space Black for conservative folks.
Redmi Note 7 Pro Display
The Redmi Note 7 Pro has a 6.3-inch LTPS display with Full HD+ resolution. The display is extremely crisp and sharp. Contrast and dynamic range are pretty good, and colors are punchy without being oversaturated.
Whites are marred by cold bluish tones, but that’s shouldn’t be a big concern as MIUI 10 offers enough customization options that should let you tune the display according to your preferences.
It must also be mentioned that AMOLED displays on Galaxy M30, A30, and A50 are so much better.
Redmi Note 7 Pro Software
As for the software, there is familiar MIUI 10 software and this time Xiaomi is backing it with the latest Android 9 Pie right at launch. The interface is generously laden with ads but other than that there are ample customization options and plenty to like.
Xiaomi has partnered with Glance to uplevel the user experience on Redmi Note 7 Pro. At a time, when users have so much to catch up on and too many apps to deal with, Glance provides a completely different way to consume content. It provides useful content – on the news, cricket, movies, music, food, travel – in a beautiful format on the lock screen every time you wake up the phone. You can also do some fun, interactive things on the lock screen with Glance – play games, share your opinion through a quick survey, or take a quiz.
The content keeps changing every time you wake up the phone. You can swipe right to look at a content in detail, and also start browsing other content that comes as part of the product. Glance seems well optimized for power – I didn’t see any impact on my Note 7 Pro battery life even though I used it heavily to browse content. It is easy to see Glance becoming addictive. I have learned things because of Glance, that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I found the news update very useful, particularly because it provides a crisp summary of what has happened, and often shows me a video if I want to learn more. In a world of too many apps, bringing content to the lock screen is a masterstroke.
We wouldn’t prefer MIUI over One UI on Samsung A-series or over stock Android on Nokia phones (which many common folks are likely to find bland), but in our books, it ranks better than Color OS (Oppo, Realme), EMUI (Honor) or Funtouch OS (Vivo).
The handset doesn’t yet support HD streaming on apps like Netflix and Amazon Prime. It’s DRM L1 certified, though.
Redmi Note 7 Pro Performance
The performance is the very essence of the new Redmi Note 7 Pro. Xiaomi was the first to give due importance to chipsets on their affordable phones and this year, with the Redmi Note 7 Pro, it takes a massive lead, and once again other OEMs will be playing catch up for a while – maybe even the entire year.
I won’t go harping about the details of the chipset (which you may read in our separate article on SD 675), but suffice to say, the performance is very smooth. We didn’t face any issue with day-to-day usage and with multitasking.
The phone doesn’t heat with day-to-day usage but gets pretty warm with long bouts of gaming. This could be an inconvenience in the summer season.
The SoC is further backed by LPDDR4X RAM (up to 6GB). There is no dedicated microSD card slot, but the reasonably priced 128GB storage variant should more than makes up for it.
It’s absolutely the best performance hardware we could have asked for at this budget.
Redmi Note 7 Pro Camera Performance
Camera performance has always been a strength of Xiaomi’s affordable phones. Even the last generation Redmi Note 6 is better than most currently available options, so the 48MP Sony IMX576 sensor on the affordable Note 7 Pro should take the game to a whole new level.
The IMX586 is designed to give the best shots in the 12MP mode, where four adjoining pixels are clubbed as one, but you may also shoot in full 48MP resolution using the pro mode or changing camera settings. The 48MP shots aren’t as crisp though, so you’d be better off with 12MP images.
The images shot on the Note 7 Pro in proper lighting look amazing. In tricky lighting, the phone tends to suppress details in shadow region. The HDR Mode can be a hit or a miss.
The portrait mode is very good, but like portrait modes on other phones, it isn’t perfect. There are a few portrait effects in the software and more like studio lighting are on their way.
Xiaomi has also added a night mode, and it really can enhance some night time shots, at least for social media purposes.
The 13MP selfie camera clicks detailed and well-metered shots, but only in good lighting conditions.
Redmi Note 7 Pro Battery Backup
As expected, the 4000mAh battery on the Note 7 Pro easily lasts for a day, and more. Xiaomi bundles a 5V 2A charger in the box, which takes more than 2 hours and 30 minutes to fully charge the battery.
You can separately buy a QC 4.0 charger for fast charging speed.
Redmi Note 7 Pro Review: Is it that good?
When considering phones under 15,000, or maybe even 20,000, the Redmi Note 7 Pro seems more than good enough to suit most people’s needs. In fact, with the SD 675 and Sony IMX586 camera at an unprecedented price, it practically mops the floor with the current competition in the relevant price bracket (again, unless you have different specific requirements).
At the same time, based on our Redmi Note 7 Pro experience, we wouldn’t go as far as saying that the experience is sure to thwart all competition around 20K, or that it beats phones that cost twice as much. The Galaxy A50 and Galaxy A30 are a few worthy alternatives but only for people who are willing to forego some camera prowess and processing power for a better design, more interesting software, and a more vivid display.