Having reviewed the Redmi Note 6 Pro not too long ago, I remember thinking to myself whether Xiaomi had begun resting on its laurels and given up on thinking a little out of the box. There wasn't much wrong about the phone but there just wasn't anything exciting about it.
Barely four months later, the Redmi Note 7 Pro is here and it is a testament to what Xiaomi's been able to achieve over the past 3-4 years in the Indian market. A smartphone that you pick up and ask yourself — How did they manage to pack this much into a phone that costs Rs 13,999?
The phone looks stunning, performs better than others priced much higher, features a smooth software experience, has a great camera and to top it all off, packs good battery life. I could even go on to say that the Redmi Note 7 Pro is perhaps the most complete budget smartphone out there at the moment and here's why.
Redmi Note 7 Pro Design 8/10: Finally, a Note that looks gorgeous!
Xiaomi's Redmi series has always been more about substance than style and that seemed like a logical approach for quite some time. But budget phones don't always look boring and Xiaomi's finally realised that and gone back to the drawing board with the Note 7 Pro.
For the very first time across any of Xiaomi's confusing spread of budget phones, the company's used a glass sandwich design and boy did they do a good job at it. Now, we had the Space Black (yes, they haven't stopped copying Apple just yet) unit for review and it reminded me a lot about how much I liked the design on the Nokia 6.1 Plus launched in August last year.
The Note 7 Pro is, of course, a much bigger phone than the 6.1 Plus, but looks and feels much more premium than what you'd expect from a sub-Rs 15,000 phone. The device feels dense and the finish is almost impeccable. I do wish Xiaomi would have used a metal frame here, but the choice of polycarbonate certainly doesn't take anything away from how good the Note 7 Pro looks and feels. I still prefer how grippy the Zenfone Max Pro M2 feels because of its curved back.
Weighing in at about 186 grams, the Redmi Note 7 Pro is about just as heavy as its predecessors and though that's not very convenient for single-handed use, I didn't find it feeling unnecessarily heavy when I held it up to take a selfie or just slipped it into my pocket. However, glass does come with it fair share of issues and though Xiaomi's used Gorilla Glass 5 panels on both sides, it still picks up scratches quite easily.
The glass also makes the phone quite slippery which is something to watch out for if you place the phone on a table. Even if you are quite careful with your phone, I'd suggest you slap a case on to save yourself from cleaning the phone several hundred times a day.
Redmi Note 7 Pro Display 8/10: The display's been upgraded as well
Xiaomi's upgraded the 6.26-inch IPS LCD display on the Note 6 Pro to an ever so slightly larger 6.3-inch LTPS LCD display. The difference in quality is very marginal here but you do get slightly better contrast with the Redmi Note 7 Pro. Something that is only visible if you see the phones side by side.
Xiaomi’s also reduced the notch to what resembles a teardrop/ waterdrop notch. Xiaomi though likes to call it a dot notch and all it houses is the front-facing camera within it.
The display is bright and viewing things under bright light is certainly not an issue. Xiaomi's also taken all the Widewine complaints into consideration this time and you can watch Netflix and Amazon Prime Video at FHD resolution on the Note 7 Pro.
I did have an issue with streaming video on Hotstar though, a problem which I have communicated to the Xiaomi team but yet to hear back about.
Redmi Note 7 Pro Performance 8/10: PUBG Mobile at max settings?
The past two iterations of the Redmi Note series featured the Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 SoC and while it was fine the first time around with the Note 5 Pro, it just doesn't do enough in 2019. The Redmi Note 7 Pro doesn't just see a step up to a Snapdragon 660 but goes above it with the fairly new Snapdragon 675 SoC, which in India is only available on the Vivo V15 Pro that priced at Rs 28,990.
Coupled with an Adreno 612 GPU, this upgrade works wonders for the Note 7 Pro. Apps load without any hiccups whatsoever and gaming too is buttery smooth. Xiaomi boasted about the fact that the 7 Pro can run PUBG Mobile at the highest graphic setting and this wasn't just an on-stage claim but one that definitely holds merit. I played PUBG Mobile at hours on end with the phone and it performed admirably well with minor frame drops here and there. The same applied for Shadowgun Legends and Asphalt 9: Legends.
App loads times here are also quicker and one could basically toss everything at the phone without a worry. Multitasking and quick switching is not an issue either and neither is the performance of the fingerprint scanner and the software-based face unlock feature.
The chip blows the competition out of the water when it comes to benchmarks as well.
In fact, the Poco F1 is perhaps the only smartphone which betters the performance of the Note 7 Pro, with a price tag which starts at Rs 19,999.
Redmi Note 7 Pro Software 7.5/10: Well-optimised MIUI 10 with Android Pie
The Redmi Note 7 Pro runs on a version of Xiaomi's familiar MIUI 10 skin built on top of Android Pie 9.0. There's nothing new to talk about here if you're familiar with MIUI 10.
Xiaomi includes all the basics and there aren't any new features as such here to talk about. Xiaomi did claim at the product launch that there are a few under the hood changes. These improve app load times and bandwidth allocation while playing games which require better ping (like PUBG Mobile) but these optimisations were too minute for me to notice throughout my review period.
The phone does come with the January security patch and I've come across no software glitches or random stutters using the phone as my daily driver.
The bottom firing single speaker is also worth mentioning here as it gets quite loud without sounding tinny even at the highest volume. The same goes for the earpiece which may be placed right at the top of the dot notch on the front, but does a great job when it comes to output.
Redmi Note 7 Pro Camera 8/10: A ‘48 MP camera beast’? Well, pretty much!
Xiaomi has been setting the bar when it comes to cameras on budget phones for over a year now. The Redmi Note 7 Pro had to offer something new and what better way to do it than to jump aboard the 48 MP camera craze begun by Honor View 20?
The Note 7 Pro features a Sony IMX 586, an image sensor that natively supports images truly shot at 48 MP.
Despite being a 48 MP sensor though, the only way you can take full advantage of 48 million pixels is by jumping into the Pro mode in the Camera UI. By default, the Redmi Note 7 Pro takes 12 MP photos, which is achieved by binning four pixels into one to create one large superpixel. This effectively holds more light data theoretically resulting in better photos. We did take a few 48 MP shots to see how much detail can be recovered when zooming in.
Do we really need a 48 MP image for Instagram posts and regular use?
In most cases, no. But if you do wish to capture one aspect of an image and just can't get close enough to your subject, you do have the option of cropping into photos shot at 48 MP. Besides, you do have to take into account the fact that full 48 MP images do take up a lot of space on your phone. Each image shot RAW at 48 MP averages a size of 40-50 MB an image, while regular 12 MP shots average a size of about 3-5 MB even with HDR on.
With an aperture of f/1.79, the phone also does a great job in clicking images in both daylight as well as low-light. The night mode included here also does a great job in bringing out additional detail that would otherwise be lost. The portrait mode does equally well with great background separation even while shooting stationary objects.
Be your own judge and have a look at the images shot under various lighting conditions with the Redmi Note 7 Pro. Or click here to head to our Flickr album.
The video front has seen an upgrade as well. You now finally get 4K 30 fps recording on a Note series phone. You don't get EIS at the highest resolution though, which kicks in only if you scale things down to 1080p 60 fps.
As far as quality of videos go, there's nothing that will blow your mind. The autofocusing is fast and there’s visibly nothing wrong while shooting at 1080p. At 4K, there is a visible amount of shake, rendering hand-held shots practically unusable unless you’re shooting from a static position.
Redmi Note 7 Pro Battery 8/10: A 4,000 mAh battery that easily lasts a day
As has been the case with every Note series smartphone so far, the Note 7 Pro too features a 4,000 mAh battery. This may not be the highest battery capacity offered in the segment, but if do happen to binge on a lot of videos or you're someone who plays PUBG Mobile for hours on end, the Redmi Note 7 Pro will easily last you one full day with some juice to spare.
The new Note gets you support for Qualcomm's QuickCharge 4.0 standard which ensures that you can hook the phone up to a more potent adaptor to get it to charge faster.
Xiaomi doesn't pack a faster-charging adapter in the box but if you do invest in one (which will cost you an additional ₹500), you won't be disappointed. Plugging in a 20 W OnePlus charger, I was able to charge the Note 7 Pro is just under over an hour, while it took me an hour and 40 minutes to do so with the standard charger.
Verdict and price in India
The Redmi Note 7 Pro is a smartphone which doesn't really compare to anything that's currently offered in India in a budget of under Rs 20,000. Priced at just Rs 13,999 for the base variant and Rs 16,999 for the 6 GB RAM/128 GB storage variant, the Note 7 Pro offers unmatched overall value.
Unless you nitpick and try hard to find faults with the phone, there's really very little room to complain here. I still feel Xiaomi could have worked on how grippy the phone feels or how a dedicated Gaming mode could have been thrown into the software mix for gamers, but then again, this a budget device and it would be unfair to pull Xiaomi out for the minor misses.
If you do need more firepower in terms of gaming, you will have to stretch your budget to Rs 20,000 and get the Poco F1. Other competitors in the same price range include the Honor 10 Lite, the Nokia 6.1 Plus, the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2 and the Realme 2 Pro.