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Xiaomi’s Cheapest Smartphone? Redmi 9A under £100 phone Review

Display: 6.53 ", 720 x 1600 pixels. Processor: Mediatek Helio G25 2GHz. Camera: 13 MP. Battery: 5000 mAh. OS: Android 10

Redmi 9A is currently the most affordable smartphone from Xiaomi with a retail price of under £100 in UK. The Redmi 9A costs a buck under a Benjamin, and it makes plenty of compromises to hit that price point. This is a basic barebones smartphone. It is primarily designed to entice folks upgrading from feature phones which cost maybe £10 less than this device. Despite the low price, Xiaomi has managed to check a lot of boxes – big screen, big battery, headphone jack, and reasonably decent cameras.

This is an Android phone that works for the basic call, text, browsing, and social media apps and has a large battery that will last two days with moderate to light use. Xiaomi’s MIUI 12 has some great features and the company has a decent track record of software updates.

Design

Altogether, the 9A feels a light phone, even though its weight is fairly high. The curved fabric on the back of the plastic offers strong grip. The fingerprint is clearly noticeable despite the textured back. A subtle style flourishes to a clean look the matte finishing line with the camera module and branding.

Bezels are quite a bit bigger than other smartphones, but here we have to take the price point into account. The front selfie camera has a teardrop cut out. Buttons are on the right side and for one hand use it should have been a little lower. There is a headphone jack on the top left corner and the bottom houses a micro-USB port, speaker grille, and a cut out for the microphone.

SD card tray slot is in the left panel on the top of the dual-SIM card. Phone is available in three colors – Blue, Green and Black.

Overall this is a good balance of form and function for a smartphone that costs under £100

Is the display any good for a £100 smartphone?

Redmi 9A has a fairly large 6.5″ HD+ screen with a 720 x 1600 pixel resolution giving it a 269 ppi density. The display however looks washed out even in indoor lighting.

MIUI and Xiaomi always have a ton of features and make them available even to their most affordable devices. So even though this is a cheap LCD panel, night reading mode and dark mode are also available in the Display settings menu.

In short, it is better to spend some more money and look elsewhere if the display is important for your need.

Performance on the Redmi 9A

The Redmi 9A is operating on a 2GB RAM and 32GB eMMC 5.1 octa-core MediaTek helio G25 processor. The processor with Cortex A53 nodes cleared to 2.0 ghz is a TSMC 12nm FinFET OctaCore. The micro SD card is able to extend your storage space since the base storage is only 32GB.

I have not found any noticeable lag, but apps take a little longer to open using the phone for calls, text, e-mail, browsing and YouTube. It becomes obvious that we turn between apps and the slight delay. You will now start to switch between games and note that the phone is dramatically slowed. Graphic titles such as PUBG or Call of Duty will not work on this phone. However, in their Lite versions you can play these games on a low settings.

The 2GB RAM in the base version is possible the weakest part of what is arguably a lot of smartphone for a less than £100! However, there is a version with 3GB RAM which I recommend if you are in the market for a Redmi 9A.

Software

Our Redmi 9A review unit is running MIUI 12.0.5 Global version on top of Android 10.

There is a folder called Tools which includes quite a few useful apps such as Calculator FM Radio, Screen Recorder, Scanner, etc. A few apps and games come pre-installed but you can uninstall all of them if you choose to. So the total amount of bloatware is pretty minimum. One annoyance is that you see ads even after you download apps from the Play Store. This is something plenty of users have been complaining about lately especially on the cheaper Xiaomi devices.

Xiaomi has a decent track record of providing software updates so expect the device to be supported for at least a year or two.

Battery life

One corner Xiaomi did not cut with this phone is the battery. This phone will comfortably last the entire day even in heavy use with its spectacular 5000 mAh battery. Screen on-time is stellar with a telephone that delivers SoT of 7 to 8 hours reliably. This can be quickly translated into a 2-day device for an average consumer. Ultra power mode helps you to prolong the battery life much further, but it reduces the telephone feature to a minimum.

Redmi 9A audio

On the right side of the handset, a single lower speaker does the job. The speaker is small but accessible, so I didn’t have any difficulties using it for 30 minutes plus calls as a speaker. In terms of media use, headphones or earbuds can be used for improved audio quality.

Support for FM radio is a nod to the requirements of the target audience in emerging economy nations. The FM radio app is in the Tools folder.

Redmi 9A includes a headphone jack which requires volume set on the high side when paired with good headphones or earbuds for good quality audio output. Bluetooth pairing was quick and painless. Audio quality via BT was better than the wired earbuds.

Camera

The Redmi 9A supports a single 13MP  rear camera sensor and the LED flash is part of the camera module. Front selfie camera is a basic 5MP unit which is another downgrade from the 8MP selfie camera in the previous Redmi 8A.

For this price point, rear camera images are good. In daylight, pictures show good detail, and color reproduction is accurate.

Portrait mode is available in both cameras but edge detection is not the best but it is nice to have this feature at this price point.

Both front and rear cameras can shoot 1080p@30fps with video. The cameras focus was quick enough. Microphone performance is adequate and in good lighting, and video quality is good enough for small social medial clips or video calling. There is no image stabilization on this phone, but the price of this smartphone should be taken into account.

Overall, the photo quality on both cameras is pretty good when shooting pictures or video in good lighting conditions.

So is the Redmi 9A a worthy smartphone for under £100?

Using this device I could not believe that the retail price of the Redmi 9A is under £100. It checks a lot of right boxes in terms of display size, battery life, audio options, MIUI software, and camera performance. Keep in mind we had the base 2GB version for our review. Xiaomi is offering a version with the 3GB base RAM for £10 more and that is the one you should get.

Overall though this is a great entry-level smartphone for folks upgrading from old flip phones.

8.5 Total Score
Great

In either the phone mode or the speaker mode, telephone call efficiency was outstanding. I didn't find it difficult to send email, download the applications, watch YouTube videos or stream music. Overall though this is a great entry-level smartphone.

PROS
  • Screen-on time
  • Great ergonomics for a large screen phone
  • 3.5mm headphone jack with built in FM radio
  • MIUI 12 out of the box
  • 6.5" HD Display with night reading mode
CONS
  • 2GB RAM
  • Charging time is atrocious
  • Screen color accuracy is poor
  • Selfie camera is a downgrade
  • No Fingerprint scanner
Xiaomi’s Cheapest Smartphone? Redmi 9A  under £100 phone Review
Xiaomi’s Cheapest Smartphone? Redmi 9A under £100 phone Review
£89 £118.99

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