review

Redmi Note 7 Pro Review: It ain’t just about the megapixels, baby

Value for money, and staggeringly so!

Hype, as we often say, can be a bit of a two-edged sword. Yes, it can get you a lot of attention, but it can also make people oversee parts that were not talked about (or hyped, to use the term) as much. And this seems particularly true in the case of the Redmi Note 7 Pro. The phone hit the Indian market as the 48 megapixel camera beast, and while the company certainly surprised everyone by releasing the device with a Sony sensor (the Redmi Note 7 in China has a 48 megapixel Samsung sensor), all the talk and hype over the sensor and what it was capable of (amazing detail, great low light performance, et al) totally overshadowed other qualities of the phone. And after spending two weeks with it, to be brutally honest, methinks they count for more than them megapixels.

Redmi Note 7 pro, Redmi Note 7 Pro Review: It ain’t just about the megapixels, baby

The megapixels are good, but stick to a dozen, not four dozen!

Do not get us wrong. We are not saying that the Redmi Note 7 Pro comes with a bad camera. Far from it. The 48-megapixel rear sensor with an f/1.79 aperture is capable of some amazing photography. It takes 12-megapixel shots by default, using pixel binning (in oversimplified terms, combining four pixels into one), but you can also invoke full 48-megapixel shots. The big question is: should you do so? We would say no, stick to the 12 megapixels mode because truth be told, that’s where the phone’s camera really comes into its own. We got some very good detail and balanced colors (surprisingly little saturation), especially when we had HDR in auto mode. And the real ace up the Note 7 Pro’s camera sleeve is the night mode, which took some of the best pictures we have been in the sub-Rs 15,000 price point, both in terms of detail and color, and surprisingly with very little noise – there was none of the aggressive smoothening that we have seen from some Samsung phones. There is a very good sensor here and we were able to get great depth of field shots, even without going into portrait mode (portrait mode, incidentally, works very well too, with edges often being well defined and studio lighting adding some fun to the mix). We would say that this is easily one of the best sub-Rs 15,000 cameras out there, matched perhaps to an extent by Xiaomi’s own Mi A2, whose dual cameras with larger apertures make it quite a wiz.

Redmi Note 7 pro, Redmi Note 7 Pro Review: It ain’t just about the megapixels, baby

Redmi Note 7 pro, Redmi Note 7 Pro Review: It ain’t just about the megapixels, baby

Redmi Note 7 pro, Redmi Note 7 Pro Review: It ain’t just about the megapixels, baby

Redmi Note 7 pro, Redmi Note 7 Pro Review: It ain’t just about the megapixels, baby

Redmi Note 7 pro, Redmi Note 7 Pro Review: It ain’t just about the megapixels, baby

Redmi Note 7 pro, Redmi Note 7 Pro Review: It ain’t just about the megapixels, baby

Redmi Note 7 pro, Redmi Note 7 Pro Review: It ain’t just about the megapixels, baby

Redmi Note 7 pro, Redmi Note 7 Pro Review: It ain’t just about the megapixels, baby

Redmi Note 7 pro, Redmi Note 7 Pro Review: It ain’t just about the megapixels, baby

Which is not to say that the 48-megapixel mode does not have its moments. Yes, in good light conditions, you can take massive shots and then make jaws drop as you zoom into a tiny detail that even your own eye might not have noticed. But by and large, it can be a little erratic (sometimes the focus point goes missing and shots taken within seconds of each other can appear a little different) and well, it takes time for the camera to process the image. The 48-megapixel shot will also occupy far more space on the device – around 15-20 MB. The phone does a decent job with video too (you can shoot 4K video with it), but make no mistake – that camera gets into beast mode when shooting stills. If there is a blip on the camera horizon of the Redmi Note 7 Pro, it is the selfie camera – the Note 7 Pro comes with a 13 megapixel camera that takes decent enough snaps and has a portrait mode as well, but seems a slight step down in terms of overall quality when compared to the 20 and 2 megapixel camera combo on the Redmi Note 6 Pro. To Xiaomi’s credit, the company has tweaked the camera app in such a way that you can keep taking 48-megapixel snaps even as the camera is processing them – there is no time at which the camera appears to have frozen, stopping you from taking more snaps.

A master of every day work

Redmi Note 7 pro, Redmi Note 7 Pro Review: It ain’t just about the megapixels, baby

And this is where we think the real strength of the Redmi Note 7 Pro comes into play – that processor and its integration with the device. Xiaomi had surprised a lot of us when it had launched the phone with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 675, the same chip that we had seen in the much more expensive Vivo V15 Pro (which also had a 48 megapixel snapper but preferred to focus on its pop up selfie camera), as most had expected the device to come with the Snapdragon 660. Paired with 4 GB RAM and 64 GB storage (expandable using a hybrid SIM slot), the Redmi Note 7 Pro pretty much sailed through everything we put it through. The phone runs on Android Pie with MIUI 10 on top of it, and while the complaints about ads in MIUI continue (read our piece on how to get rid of them here), it cannot be denied that in terms of ease of use and smoothness, it still is well ahead of the competition, although we must admit to being a little concerned at the presence of so many third party apps out of the box (our device came with Opera Mini, Opera News, DailyHunt, CreditMantri, Vigo and a few others). An important point to be highlighted here, however, is that we ended up getting the beta version of MIUI on our review unit, which means we might have had access to a slightly smoother and richer (if less stable – hey, it is a beta!) experience.

The Redmi Note 7 Pro is thus, a super smooth performer, handling everything from casual gaming to multi-tasking with a modicum of ease. It even went into PUBG at maximized settings and delivered a reasonable experience, although we would recommend playing that game at medium settings for best results. This is a phone that can definitely handle high-end gaming to an extent, which is remarkable considering its price point. The 6.3-inch full HD+ display (with a drop notch in the center) is a good one and offers very good visibility in sunlight, and sound quality of the single speaker is decent, although it is much better on headphones. The fact that the phone comes with a big 4000 mAh battery means that whether it was gaming or photography, we could continue doing both for a significant amount of time – we think the battery life is slightly inferior to the Redmi Note 6 Pro, but will still comfortably get you through a day to a day and a half of heavy use. Incidentally, we did sense a little heating up when the gaming got too intense or we used the camera very extensively, but nothing that could be considered remotely alarming. The phone comes with support for Qualcomm’s Fast Charge 4.0, but you would need to purchase a new charger for the same – the one in the box won’t support it! Like its predecessors, the Redmi Note 7 Pro also ticks most connectivity boxes – 4G (although some will blanch at the fact that there is no dedicated microSD card slot – one of the SIM card slots is a hybrid SIM), Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and also has the infra-red port that is becoming a Redmi staple. It even has a 3.5 mm audio jack!

A bit of a looker too (about time)

Redmi Note 7 pro, Redmi Note 7 Pro Review: It ain’t just about the megapixels, baby

And all this very good performance finally – FINALLY – comes with a design that will turn heads (read more in our first cut, when we actually spoke to the device). The Redmi Note series has had many assets but a killer design has not been one of them. Previous editions of the device have tended to be smart rather than spectacular. Well, that accusation can be leveled at the black edition of the Redmi Note 7 Pro, which is again on the smart side, but get to the red and blue models and spectacular enters the Redmi Note room. All Redmi Note 7 Pro devices come with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on front and back, and for good measure, the blue and red editions come with a gradient finish – the sort that sees shades shift across the back as light falls on them. We did like the black edition of the Redmi Note 4, but even that was subtly smart. The Note 7 Pro in red and blue is dazzlingly polarising – some might love it and others find it too glittery but there’s no doubt that it is unlikely to be hidden away. And well, we are kind of loving our black model’s subtle glassy classiness as well, although getting a case for it is a headache already. What’s more, this is also the first Note to come with splash resistance, courtesy P2i. It is unlikely to survive a dunking in the water but should come through accidental spillages and the odd spell in the rain without any trouble. Yes, this is a changed Redmi Note in terms of design.

Competition, what competition?

Redmi Note 7 pro, Redmi Note 7 Pro Review: It ain’t just about the megapixels, baby

It, however, is unchanged in terms of killer pricing. At a starting price of Rs 13,999 for the 4 GB/ 64 GB edition, the Redmi Note 7 Pro is by far and away the most affordable device with a 48-megapixel sensor and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 processor – the only other phone to offer that combination in the Indian market is the Vivo V15 Pro which starts at Rs 28,990. Yes, that worthy comes with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage and more cutting edge tech features like a 32 megapixel pop up selfie camera and an in-display fingerprint scanner, not to mention an AMOLED display, but the sheer gap in the price is staggering – the 6 GB/ 128 GB variant of the Redmi Note 7 Pro comes for Rs 16,990 (and Mi supporters will point to the Redmi Note 7 Pro having splash resistance, a slightly bigger battery, and expandable memory). None of the other 48-megapixel sensor sporting devices in India are actually under Rs 20,000, which gives the Redmi Note 7 Pro clear blue water over its competition. Yes, there are other devices in the same price segment but frankly, none of them can come close to matching that combination of Snapdragon 675 and 48-megapixel rear sensor. Even the design – the red unit especially – is hard to match.

All of which makes the Note 7 Pro:

A Note to shoot with
A Note to show off
A Note to use day in and day out for just about everything

And well, yet another Note worth buying.

(Note: This review is based on a device that came with beta software. The actual experience on a consumer unit might differ slightly, although not substantially.)

Pros
  • Good design
  • Very good rear camera (especially in low light)
  • Smooth performance
  • Killer price
Cons
  • Hybrid SIM slot, rather than a dedicated memory card slot
  • Inconsistent camera performance at 48 MP resolution
  • MIUI comes with ads
Review Overview
4.30
Overall Score
Build and Design
Performance
Camera
Software
Price