Xiaomi has been the number one smartphone brand in India, the company’s biggest market outside of China, since over a year now and much of its success and positive mindshare has been piggybacking on its bestselling Note series.
Ten months ago, Xiaomi launched the upgraded Redmi Note 5 but also introduced Redmi Note 5 Pro with better internals and camera to appeal to the power users on a budget.
And just before 2018 ends, we already have the Redmi Note 6 Pro launching in India on November 22. I spent some time with the device this week, and here are my initial impressions of the same.
Iterative update to the Redmi Note 5 Pro
The design of the Redmi Note 6 Pro has Xiaomi written all over it (not literally!). It looks fine and is functional, but uninspiring. There are subtle changes, especially with the arc design at the back, that improve the ergonomics of the device but competitors like Honor and HMD Global have consistently upped the game in aesthetics and one wishes Xiaomi would break the mould soon.
The display gets an upgrade though from 18:9 aspect ratio to a 19:9 aspect ratio which makes for a larger 6.26-inch Full HD+ display in similar form factor. The front of the device has minimal bezels and looks similar to some flagship devices out there. The display is quite bright, and the color accuracy is first-rate – it is clearly one of the best displays in any smartphone in this range.
The Redmi Note 5 Pro was made for those who need a little extra on the spec sheet and marked the global debut of the Snapdragon 636 processor at the time — Qualcomm’s latest 600-series chipset. It also featured the newest Kryo technology, which is typically only seen in 800-series chips.
The Redmi Note 6 Pro packs in the same internals and comes in two memory variants – 4 GB + 64 GB and 6 GB + 64 GB.
|Operating System||Android 8.1 Oreo
|Display||6.26-inch Full HD+ (2280 x 1080) display
19:9 aspect ratio
500-nit maximum brightness
2.5D curved glass
Corning Gorilla Glass
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 (1.8GHz max)
Kryo 260 CPU
Adreno 509 GPU
|RAM||4/6 GB LPDDR4X|
Expandable storage up to 256GB
|Rear Camera||12MP + 5MP dual camera
1.4μm pixel size
Single tone dual-LED flash
|Front Camera||20MP + 2MP dual camera
AI face unlock
Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0
|Dimensions||157.91mm x 76.38mm x 8.26mm|
|Colors||Black, Rose Gold, Blue, Red|
The Redmi Note 5 Pro was the first Redmi phone to pack in dual cameras earlier this year and now Redmi Note 6 Pro is the first Xiaomi smartphone to sport dual cameras both on the front and back.
The Note series has usually been marred by average cameras, but the Redmi Note 5 Pro changed that going on to arguably become one of the best shooters in budget and mid-range segment. It’s been further improved this time around with a combination of 12MP sensor with f/1.9 aperture and a large 1.4 μm pixel size and a 5MP sensor used for the depth-of-field effect while shooting portraits.
There are also AI smarts like scene detection and adjustable bokeh with interesting features like studio lighting et al. Most of these have been executed quite well.
On the front there’s a 20MP primary sensor with a 2MP secondary depth sensor that works quite well for those portrait selfies. There’s also support for AI face unlock.
The Redmi Note 6 Pro is the company’s first smartphone to ship with MIUI 10, the latest iteration of the company’s proprietary UI layer, out of the box.
But MIUI 10 is based on Android 8.1 Oreo, and it is disappointing for a smartphone launching in the last quarter of 2018 with neither Android Pie out of the box nor a definite timeline for the upgrade. Not very ‘Pro’!
That said, MIUI is one of the more popular Android customizations, and although it’s a tad bloated, it packs in a lot of features and has its share of fans.
Large 4000mAh battery
The Redmi Note 6 Pro retains the 4000mAh battery that we saw on the last generation device but Xiaomi claims that due to the latest MIUI optimizations, the battery life has been further improved. The Redmi Note 5 Pro easily gave a day-and-a-half battery life and anything more than that will be terrific. We’ll put the claim to test in our in-depth review of course.
However, it’s disappointing to find a micro-USB port instead of a USB Type-C port in a smartphone released in 2018, and one with a ‘Pro’ moniker at that. But at least it’ll work with the old chargers you have lying around the house.
Xiaomi has carved out a comfortable space for itself in the crowded affordable smartphone market in India and is now playing too safe with an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach.
The Redmi Note 6 Pro is only a progressive, and a tad underwhelming, update to the Redmi Note 5 Pro but if you’re looking for an affordable smartphone with a good set of cameras and powerful innards, the Redmi Note 6 Pro will be one of the top options on the table.
We’ll know more about the pricing and availability when the device launches next week, and will bring you all the details along with a comprehensive review of Xiaomi’s latest mid-range smartphone.