Ameya DalviMar 13, 2019 11:58:12 IST
When Xiaomi launched the Redmi Note 6 Pro late last year, I was quite disappointed with it. Not that it was a bad phone but it was just a minor upgrade over its predecessor, and one couldn’t help wondering about what it could have been rather than what it was. There was ample time between the launch of the Redmi Note 5 Pro (Review) and Redmi Note 6 Pro (Review) but the company just didn’t bother doing much with it. The Redmi Note 7 series seems to have addressed most of those issues.
While the Redmi Note 7 is probably what the Note 6 Pro should have been all along, the Redmi Note 7 Pro leaves me pleasantly surprised. And it’s been a while since Xiaomi evoked that emotion in yours truly. There are a handful of aspects that should set it apart from the immediate competition and more importantly, from the members of its own family. So let me share with you what I liked about the Redmi Note 7 Pro and the areas where it could have done better. This is more of a quick analytical take with respect to the market and competition, rather than a review. You can check out the in-depth Redmi Note 7 Pro review here.
What I like about the Redmi Note 7 Pro
A new design, finally!
That’s right! The last few phones from Xiaomi looked the same to me, especially from behind, unless I was playing a seriously advanced level of ‘spot the difference’. The new glass-clad Redmi Note 7 Pro has far better aesthetics, and not just for Xiaomi phones but for the segment as a whole. The phone looks premium and feels good in hand too. What’s even better is the layer of Gorilla Glass 5 at the front as well as at the back that protects both sides of the phone from scratches. I only wish the frame was made of metal rather than plastic. More on that later.
Raising the performance bar with a Snapdragon 675
Xiaomi was in love with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 625 SoC for a very long time. And I was beginning to believe that the Snapdragon 636 was going to be the new love of their life for years to come. Thankfully, this didn't happen. The company should have opted for a Snapdragon 660 on the Redmi Note 6 Pro itself to stay competitive. Thankfully, they did that on the Note 7 and interestingly, priced it lower than the Note 6 Pro. While nobody would have complained about a Snapdragon 660 on a Redmi Note 7 Pro too, Xiaomi did one better by opting for a faster Snapdragon 675 chip on that one.
Not only does this put the phone ahead of its competitors in this price bracket in terms of performance, but this also means that the phone is equipped to take on a bunch of handsets priced 30 to 50 percent higher. And with a 6 GB RAM and 128 GB storage variant in tow, the Redmi Note 7 Pro can compete in two completely different segments with its perceived value. That’s a very smart move on the company’s part. May the affair with the Snapdragon 675 go on for long. Reasonably long, not overly long, hopefully.
Game-changing camera for the segment
Rumours and leaks aside, I didn’t see this coming. The 48 MP camera on the Redmi Note 7 Pro is a game changer in the lower mid-range segment. I call it lower mid-range only because of its asking price. And 48 MP is not just a number, the damn thing seems to work better than expected. But honestly, it is not the 48 MP shots that excite me.
They will just fill up the storage way faster than you can expect. It’s about the 12 MP shots with pixel binning technology that combine data from 4 pixels and manage to capture more detail in the images. The difference is more conspicuous in low light photography. Typically, this technology is seen in some of the recent flagship devices. To bring this tech to a sub-15K device and make it work well is an achievement in itself.
Up-to-date feature set
Xiaomi has been guilty in the past of skimping out on certain useful features for no apparent reason. Case in point — recent versions of Android or a type-C USB port. The Redmi Note 7 Pro has no such issues. It runs Android Pie out of the box (with MIUI on top, damn!... later) and there’s a type-C USB port too. The company has quickly jumped on to a drop notch display this time and hasn’t persisted with the larger notch seen on its predecessor. And it's not just that, smaller things like an IR blaster, 3.5 mm jack and a high capacity 4,000 mAh battery have been retained and not sacrificed at the altar of design.
Aggressive pricing despite meaningful upgrades
As I mentioned earlier, the jump from Redmi Note 5 Pro to Note 6 Pro was minuscule, and hence, it was easy to retain the price tag. In case of the Redmi Note 7 Pro, there have been some meaningful upgrades and noticeable jumps on multiple fronts. Despite that, it still retains the Rs 13,999 price tag. That’s very well done. I am also happy that the higher variant offers more RAM and storage both for just 3K more, and that the company hasn’t opted for a middling 6 GB RAM / 64 GB storage option.
What I don’t like about the Redmi Note 7 Pro
MIUI needs an overhaul
That line is self-explanatory, I believe. Having used a Xiaomi phone as my daily driver for almost three years, I have seen several iterations of MIUI. While I was never a big fan of the interface, I didn’t hate it either. But now it feels like it has run its course. Despite MIUI 10 atop Android Pie on the Redmi Note 7 Pro being reasonably well optimised, it feels dated for 2019. My wishlist for changes would be fodder for a different article. For now, I can only say that the famous Xiaomi UI is in dire need of a fresh approach and a fresher look. I hope that happens sooner rather than later.
Corners cut despite having pricing headroom
Not that either of the things I am about to mention here is a deal breaker, but the company could have easily covered those bases. The first thing is a plastic frame instead of a metal one. Not only would a metal frame have made the phone more rugged, it would also have helped the phone look and feel more elegant. The plastic edges don’t look bad when the phone is brand new, but they may not be able to sustain their charm for as long as a metal frame would. Secondly, the phone supports Qualcomm’s QuickCharge 4.0, so why not bundle a fast charger in the package? To sell it as a separate accessory, I know.
Yes, both these aspects would have driven the cost up a bit but the Redmi Note 7 Pro has a more than decent price headroom. Xiaomi could have easily priced it at Rs 14,999 and still sold the same number of units that they would at the current price. The package would have been so much more attractive and close to perfect.
Having said that, the Redmi Note 7 Pro is an awesome all-round mid-range phone that will be a tough nut to crack for the competition. I won’t be surprised if it becomes their highest selling handset to date, provided they manage to satisfy the demand for it in a timely manner and not frustrate potential buyers too much in flash sales.
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