❤ Xiaomi Redmi Note 7

 

 

Redmi Note 7 lineup is the first one branded only as “Redmi,” and the sub-brand company wants to come in strong. It advertises flagship-worthy build quality, great 48MP main camera on the back and powerful enough SoC no matter which Redmi 7 device you choose – the vanilla Redmi 7, the bigger Note 7 or the Pro. The one we have with us is the Redmi Note 7 – perhaps the most sought after model due to its low price and big screen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Redmi Note 7 is an embodiment of Xiaomi‘s philosophy when it comes to smartphones, and the Redmi phones have become the benchmark for mid-range devices. And one would argue that the mid-range segment has seen the biggest improvement over the years with the ever declining prices of components and tech. It will be interesting to see whether the Redmi Note 7 was able to benefit from that and whether it will match the success of its predecessors.

 

 

 

 

Xiaomi Redmi Note7 specs

  • Body:159.2 x 75.2 x 8.1 mm, 186 grams, Gorilla Glass 5 back, polycarbonate side frame.
  • Screen:6.3″ IPS LCD, 1080 x 2340px resolution (19.5:9); ~409 ppi.
  • Chipset:Qualcomm SDM660 Snapdragon 660 (14 nm) chipset: octa-core CPU (4×2.2 GHz Kryo 260 & 4×1.8 GHz Kryo 260); Adreno 512.
  • Memory: 4GB RAM, 64GB built-in storage, microSD slot support (takes the second SIM slot).
  • OS: Android 9.0 Pie; MIUI 10.
  • Rear camera: 48MP f/1.8, 1/2″, 0.8µm, PDAF support, 5MP depth sensor, LED flash; [email protected]/60/120fps video recording, EIS.
  • Front camera: 13MP, [email protected] video recording.
  • Battery: 4,000mAh, Quick Charge 4.0 support 18W (9V/2A).
  • Connectivity: Dual-SIM; LTE Cat.12 download/ Cat.13 upload, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Dual-band MIMO, 2×2 antennas, GPS; Bluetooth 5.0, USB-C 2.0.
  • Misc: Rear-mounted fingerprint reader, FM radio support.

 

We would also like to investigate the differences and similarities between the Redmi Note 7 and the Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite. They both have the same chipset, screen size and are closely priced. However, the Redmi Note 7 has a bigger battery and perhaps, a better camera. But we can’t judge only by the specs sheet, right? Let’s dig in.

Unboxing the Xiaomi Redmi Note 7

The unit comes in a standard white box with Redmi’s branding on top – it doesn’t say Xiaomi anywhere, but it does advertise the extended 18-month warranty in China. Redmi is confident in its product’s quality and extends the warranty of the handset with six additional months.

 

 

 

 

Anyway, the box also contains the usual user manuals, the USB-A to USB-C cable for file transfer and charging, a charging brick and a semi-transparent silicone case. But keep in mind that the smartphone supports Quick Charge 4.0 speeds while the included adapter maxes out at 5V/2A so you will have to look for a QC 3 or QC 4-capable brick to enjoy faster charging.

 

 

Redmi is really proud of the Redmi Note 7‘s design and build quality. To be frank, the design isn’t anything special, and it looks a lot like your regular 2018 midranger, but there’s more than it meets the eye.

 

 

 

 

The company says the Redmi Note 7 has gone through the same quality control as Xiaomi‘s top-shelf smartphones. Redmi is so confident in the build quality that it even offers the handset in China with 18-month warranty as opposed to the standard 12-month period. The front and the back are fitted with Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5 with an additional 0.8mm-thick layer for extra durability.

 

 

 

 

We didn’t test it ourselves, but the phone does feel quite sturdy in hand. Also, to our surprise, it doesn’t feel like an exceptionally slippery phone although, the flat back makes it a bit hard to hold on.

First things, first. Let’s start with the front panel where the 6.3-inch LCD IPS panel resides. It features fairly thin side bezels but compensates with a thick-looking chin and upper bezel, which was to be expected given the price point of the handset. The notch is quite small and isn’t as obtrusive.

 

 

 

 

One cool thing we’ve noticed – the LED notification light sits comfortably on the chin. It can only be seen when it lights up, it’s really subtle.

 

 

 

 

Flipping the phone over, we see a flat glass back that seamlessly transitions into the side frame. The front glass, on the other hand, sticks out and you can feel the edge of it. Anyway, the back houses the fingerprint reader in the middle and the dual camera setup along with the LED flash in the upper-left corner.

 

 

 

 

The sides of the phone are made of glossy plastic and thus feel less slippery than metal and glass while mimicking the feel of metal quite well. The top houses the 3.5mm audio jack, the secondary noise-canceling microphone and the IR blaster.

 

 

 

 

The power button and the volume rocker are on the right side, which leaves the SIM card tray on the left. The bottom is where the speaker grilles and the USB-C connector reside.

 

 

 

 

As we said earlier, the phone isn’t easy to hold due to its ergonomics, but it’s nowhere near your usual slippery glass sandwich phones. We don’t know how they’ve done it, but the result is impressive. Our only small complaint would be the weight. At 186g, the phone does feel a bit heavy, but on the other hand, it gives the Redmi Note 7 a more sturdy and solid feel in hand.

 

 

 

 

Here’s a 360-degree view of the device so you can to take a better look at it from all sides.

Standard IPS LCD display with a teardrop notch

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 is an affordable device, there’s no doubt in that, but the IPS panel exceeded our expectations in some aspects like brightness. However, it’s still a budget LCD screen and it comes with the expected drawbacks. The first thing we’ve noticed is the slight light bleed around the notch and the upper bezel but it’s not as prominent as other budget phones we’ve tested. You can see it only on a light/white background.

 

 

 

 

Anyway, the panel has a standard FHD+ resolution of 1080 x 2340 pixels and a pixel density of around 409 ppi. The display offers an extra tall 19.5:9 aspect ratio in a 6.3-inch diagonal. It’s protected by Gorilla Glass 5.

When it comes to picture quality, the display isn’t the best around but it offers high maximum brightness of 479 nits and a decent contrast ratio of 1338:1 in the default color mode. Unfortunately, the color accuracy keeps us from giving it a good score. The average dE2000 is 6.2 with blue-ish whites. Choosing the warm color preset doesn’t improve the white balance all that much but it does bring the dE2000 down to 5.4 – it’s okay, but not color accurate.

 

Display test 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) (Max Auto) 0 602
Oppo Realme 2 Pro 0.306 537 1755
Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 0.358 479 1338
Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite 0.322 468 1453
Motorola One (P30 Play) 0.254 447 1760
Huawei Honor 10 Lite 0.344 441 1282
Huawei P Smart 2019 0.325 437 1345
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) 0 402

 

 

Battery life

The Redmi Note 7‘s battery is undoubtedly one of the centerpiece features. It’s rated at 4,000 mAh and paired with the fairly efficient Snapdragon 660 SoC, the exceptionally high battery rating was expected.

The 3G talk time and standby tests bumped up the rating to 108h while the web browsing and video playback runtimes are good but not great by any means. It easily overtakes some upper-mid-range and high-end smartphones when it comes to endurance.

 

 

Our battery tests were automated thanks to SmartViser, using its viSer App. The endurance rating above denotes how long a single battery charge will last you if you use the Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 for an hour each of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. We’ve established this usage pattern so that our battery results are comparable across devices in the most common day-to-day tasks. The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you’re interested in the nitty-gritty. You can check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we’ve tested will compare under your own typical use.

 

 

However, due to the low price of the handset, Xiaomi didn’t include a Quick Charge 4.0-capable charger in the box so you have to settle for the standard 5V/2A 10W brick. Or look for a fast charger. The included brick charges the device from 0 to 30% in 30 minutes, which is pretty slow and somewhat expected given the big 4,000 mAh capacity.

Loudspeaker

Despite having just a single bottom-firing loudspeaker, the handset impresses with a loud sound. And it sounds clean at high volumes as well.

 

Speakerphone test Voice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
Huawei Y7 Prime (2018) 64.9 70.5 71.9 Average
Realme U1 68.6 73.4 72.4 Good
Nokia 7 plus 67.5 71.3 79.7 Good
Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite 67.5 77.8 77.6 Very Good
Realme 2 Pro 69.1 74.8 81.4 Very Good
Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro 70.1 73.1 85.4 Excellent
Huawei Honor 10 Lite 70.0 73.8 87.0 Excellent
Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 69.8 71.5 90.5 Excellent

 

Audio quality

The Redmi Note 7 had impressively high volume with an active external amplifier and excellent scores across the board, making it a great driver for your home stereo or car audio.

Loudness remained just as impressive when headphones came into play – one of the highest in the market, let alone the price range. The clarity took some damage – the hike in stereo crosstalk was about average and some intermodulation distortion crept in – but, all in all, it remained very good. Solid showing for the Redmi Note 7 here as well.

 

Test Frequency response Noise level Dynamic range THD IMD + Noise Stereo crosstalk
Redmi Note 7 +0.04, -0.04 -90.7 90.7 0.0015 0.014 -94.5
Redmi Note 7 (headphones) +0.05, -0.29 -92.5 92.5 0.024 0.296 -55.0
Huawei P Smart 2019 +0.02, -0.02 -93.1 93.0 0.0039 0.0088 -81.9
Huawei P Smart 2019 (headphones) +0.64, -0.38 -88.6 91.9 0.0069 0.606 -50.6
Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite +0.04, -0.04 -93.5 93.4 0.0011 0.0070 -93.4
Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite (headphones) +0.45, -0.18 -93.4 93.4 0.021 0.457 -54.9
Honor 8X +0.01, -0.04 -92.3 92.4 0.0041 0.0085 -80.7
Honor 8X (headphones) +0.45, -0.54 -92.2 92.8 0.0084 0.492 -51.5
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) +0.02, -0.02 -93.1 92.9 0.0026 0.0089 -92.5
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) (headphones) +0.25, -0.17 -91.4 91.6 0.115 0.306 -55.4
Nokia 7.1 +0.02, -0.06 -91.0 88.6 0.0021 0.016 -94.4
Nokia 7.1 (headphones) +0.05, -0.03 -93.8 89.6 0.0019 0.034 -54.9

 

 

Android 9.0 Pie with MIUI 10 on top

Xiaomi‘s custom skin overlay, MIUI, has come a long way and the MIUI 10 takes a more simplistic and clean approach and to be honest, we like the changes introduced here. We’ve already reviewed the Mi Mix 3, which also runs on Android 9.0 Pie with MIUI 10 on top but we found some small differences with the Redmi Note 7‘s build.

 

 

 

 

In a typical MIUI fashion, there’s no app drawer and no option to enable it too. The task switcher and the notification shade have gone through a major revamp. The quick toggles are more in line with the stock Android 9.0 Pie design while the display brightness slider pops out more. Unfortunately, the shortcut to the settings menu is nowhere to be found, which is a considerable inconvenience if you are used to accessing the Settings menu from here like us.

Swiping right will bring you to the so-called App vault that gives you quick access to commonly used apps, a quick view of Notes, news, etc. And as for the recent app menu, it’s vertically stacked, but instead of displaying just one at a time, you can view four apps on the screen.

Pressing the volume rocker will bring out the volume control menu but in a pop-up window right next to the buttons. Instead of defaulting to the ring volume, the volume rocker now controls the media volume. Tapping on the three dots will display the ring and alarm controls along with the quick access to the silent and DND toggles. You can even make the DND mode active for a limited time.

The Settings menu is largely untouched. Here are all the settings menus.

The Display menu doesn’t give you any special options – you can only play with contrast, color temperature, and brightness settings.

The Full screen display sub-menu gives you the option of choosing between standard navigation buttons and navigation gestures. They are nothing new to the MIUI, but with the latest build, Xiaomi has refined the gestures even further.

Otherwise, as before, swiping from the left or right act as a back button, swipe from the bottom is the home key and swiping from the bottom and then pause will bring out the recent apps menu. The new addition is the option to directly jump to the previous app by swiping from the left or right and hold. However, we found that this gesture isn’t as fast a double tap on the task switching button and also the back gestures get in the way of some swiping gestures in some apps. Like bringing the hamburger menu from the left in the Google Play Store app.

The battery settings menu comes with the good old statistics about which apps have used the most battery since the last full charge and also a power saving mode called “Sleep mode” that turns off all radios and background processes if you haven’t touched your phone for a while. You can restrict background apps too to further improve standby battery life, not that you will need to.

Of course, not all features of the MIUI 10 are made available for the Redmi Note 7, but there are also plenty of proprietary Xiaomi apps pre-installed. Here are a couple of them including the Security app that gives you a general overview of the phone’s status like battery info, data used, apps locked, etc. But most of the apps are just general organization applications like File Manager, Mi Calculator, Mail, Compass, Screen Recorder, Downloads, QR Scanner, Mi Remote (since it has IR blaster).

Regarding the multiple complaints from our readers about not mentioning the ads which pop on their screens while using MIUI 10, we’ll have to say we didn’t get any ads on any of the Xiaomi devices we’ve reviewed so far so they must be strictly regional. And from the user feedback online, it seems you can turn them off easily by either toggling a setting in each of Xiaomi‘s preinstalled apps which have them or by switching your region to another country. This is by all means not a universal solution and it’s best that you research the steps that need to be performed on your own device.

Benchmarks and performance

The Snapdragon 660 is a well-known SoC, and it’s not the first time we’ve tested it. We know what to expect, and we found that it works flawlessly with the MIUI 10. We didn’t notice any lags, hiccups or hangs. The device runs smoothly without thermal throttling or performance drops.

The chipset itself incorporates an octa-core CPU with 4x Kryo 260 cores ticking at 2.2 GHz and 4x of the same cores but clocked at 1.8 GHz. This ensures sensibly better performance than the Snapdragon 636, for example, but at the cost of efficiency. The processor is built on the 14nm. Here’s how it performed in our benchmark selection and how it stacks against the competition.

A big 48MP main camera aided by a 5MP depth sensor

The huge 48MP sensor on the back of the Redmi Note 7 should take some sweet daylight and nighttime shots. The sensor is quite big at 1/2″, though the individual pixel size is not that large at 0.8µm pixels.

The sensor uses a Quad Bayer arrangement where four pixels are grouped in a square under a filter of the same color so a 12MP capture is almost like it’s been captured by 12 million big 1.6µm pixels. If you capture 48MP photos with this setup they wouldn’t match in quality 48MP photos produced by a sensor with a regular Bayer filter but we doubt we would ever see any of those in a compact device such as a phone. The direct benefit is that users here get sharper 12MP photos with less noise even at high ISO values compared to the regular 12MP sensors.

 

 

 

 

The secondary 5MP camera is used only for depth sensing when the depth effect is needed – in portrait mode, for example. And as for the selfie camera, it’s a 13MP and supports various functions like HDR, AI beauty, portraits, and mirror function. However, autofocus isn’t on the list of features.

Camera menus

The default camera app hasn’t changed a bit. At least at first glance. Swiping left and right will shuffle through the camera modes and you will find additional settings in the upper part of the app. It lets you adjust some settings like beautification, HDR, AI, video mode, picture quality, etc.

Also, there is a way to shoot in the sensor’s full 48MP resolution if you prefer that, but you’d have to go to the camera’s Pro mode for that.

Image quality

We kick off with some daylight samples, which turned out to be quite good. When enough light reaches the sensor, you can expect pretty consistent performance – there’s plenty of detail, contrast is good, colors are punchy, although inaccurate, and the noise is virtually non-existent.

We do have some complaints about the exposure metering as the auto mode returns somewhat darker images than we would prefer. And the contrast is perhaps a bit to high making shadows appear even darker.

Also, there’s a somewhat noticeable magenta tint on some of the daylight photos as well as in our shots of the test posters suggesting an issue with the white balance in certain scenarios.

Luckily, the HDR can fix most of the stuff we mentioned. When turned on, images come out a noticeably brighter and you start to see some detail in the dark parts of the image. On the other hand, the highlights are clipped and become brighter than they should while losing some contrast along the way. Images look a bit washed out and noisy. We’ve also seen some oversharpening here and there.

The AI didn’t do anything for us features-wise, but it did prompt us with the correct scene when it recognized one. Still, we don’t see any significant changes to the colors, contrast, exposure, etc.

As we already said, the 48MP capability can only be enabled within the Pro mode. Be prepared for noisier images and you will lose some detail along the way too so we don’t really recommend shooting in 48MP. The 12MP in the standard Photo mode is good enough.

Low-light photos and Night mode

We were quite impressed by the image quality during nighttime shooting – there’s no prominent noise, details are good and light sources appear to be rather well-preserved. Thanks to its pixel binning technology, the phone would happily snap brighter exposures with higher ISO than previous Xiaomi phones such as the Mi Mix 3. And that’s without any penalty in increased noise meaning that the claims for better noise/ISO ratio by Xiaomi were well founded.

And Night mode really makes a difference by restoring the highlights and bringing out the shadows. The result is nicely balanced and subjects look more detailed.

Interestingly, the gain in the tonal range of the Night mode photos is not as big if you use HDR for your night time shots. We would totally recommend forcing HDR to On as the AutoHDR algorithm rarely engages on its own come night time – or at least not as frequently as we would like.

Portraits

Portraits are surprisingly good, to be honest. In fact, we’ve seen worse portraits on way more expensive handsets. The detail is nice while the edge detection is stellar. The defocusing of the background is perhaps not as strong and colors are a bit over-saturated. In other words, you will have to do a few shots from different distances to achieve the desired effect and capture the real skin tone. Also, the phone appears to be doing pretty well under limited indoor lighting.

Selfies

The selfies turned out to be quite nice as well. There’s enough detail from the 13MP snapper and its focus sweet spot is almost a full arm’s length so you don’t need to get really close to the phone to get the sharpest possible result. The portrait mode also seems to do quite well despite the hardware limitations of the front camera (no secondary unit for depth sensing).

Video recording

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 7‘s video options are quite limited – just [email protected] and [email protected], which is rather strange because the handset rocks a Snapdragon 660, which is perfectly capable of handling [email protected]

We did try shooting 4K with a third-party app like Open Camera and it worked without any issues, which means the feature was artificially disabled for market segmentation purposes.

Anyway, the phone can also shoot slow-motion videos in 1080p or 720p at 120fps. There’s an option to choose between H.264 and H.265 video encoders.

And as for the performance of the camera in video mode – it reminds us of the Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite. There’s not enough dynamic range, but contrast is nice and videos appear to be a bit noisy even when there’s sufficient light. Sharpness is good in 30fps mode. Moreover, the EIS works well in [email protected] while the 60fps videos lose some detail, exposure is better and can get quite shaky even though the EIS is still working to some extent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can download short untouched samples as well – 1080p/30fps (10s, 25.2MB) and 1080p/60fps (10s, 25MB).

And here’s the stabilization test in 30 and 60fps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The competition

Everyone knows about the stiff competition in the mid-range segment and Xiaomi‘s Redmi phones have reigned successfully in numerous markets across the globe. We are happy to say that the Redmi Note 7 makes no exception to the rule and it does so without any fancy over-the-top features. It’s clean, simple, powerful and affordable handset that focuses on what’s important. But there are a few alternatives that still need to be considered.

Sure, the Redmi Note 7 is a great all-rounder, but we can’t just lightly ignore the offerings from Huawei, Honor, Samsung and even Realme.

Keep in mind that most of the smartphones we chose for Redmi Note 7‘s direct competitors are somewhat more expensive but only by a small, negligible, in most cases, margin.

Let’s start with Xiaomi‘s big competitor in India – the Realme 2 Pro. Both phones sport similar hardware but the Redmi Note 7 takes the lead with more premium glass build, better battery life and more capable camera. Performance-wise, however, you won’t find any significant difference so it depends on which skin overlay you prefer – MIUI or ColorOS.

 

 

 

 

Next down the list is from Xiaomi‘s camp – the Mi 8 Lite. Both phones are pretty similar to one another in almost every aspect but despite the Mi 8 Lite carrying a flagship name, the Redmi Note 7 blows it out of the water. It has measurably longer battery life, a 3.5mm audio jack and arguably, a better camera.

Huawei’s camp offers two very similar phones – the Huawei P Smart 2019 and the Honor 10 Lite. However, it’s really hard to recommend those two over the Redmi Note 7 as they can’t really compete with Xiaomi‘s mid-range champion in terms of battery life, build, camera quality and both don’t include fast charging in their specs sheets. The Redmi Note 7 doesn’t ship with a fast charger but you can get a faster third-party one easily as it supports Quick Charge 4.

 

 

 

 

The Motorola One (P30 Play) is an option with a similar price tag for the stock Android fans, however, it lacks the raw power of the Redmi Note 7. The Snapdragon 625 keeps it out of our recommendation list. Also, the display is smaller, which may steer away from some buyers.

For just about the same price, the Galaxy A6 (2018) might show up in your search but don’t led the well know brand mislead you, as the AMOLED display and the selfie camera are the only things it’s got going for it. Everything else makes it hard to recommend and Samsung really missed offering a strong midrange contender in 2018.

Verdict

The Redmi Note 7 not only checks all the boxes for a great mid-range device but it also re-defines the budget meaning. We can even go ahead and say this is one of the few times we’ve been so excited about a midranger since the original Moto G. And to be frank, it’s really hard to complain about small shortcomings at this price point.

 

 

 

 

Nonetheless, we do need to point out some things you will have to consider before opening up your wallet. Firstly, the handset doesn’t come with a fast charger in the box, there’s no 4K video recording despite having a capable Snapdragon 660 chipset and the camera still needs some fine tuning to achieve better exposure and color accuracy in daylight photos. Hopefully, this one can be ironed out with a future software update.

Also, there is no NFC so mobile payments in many countries are a no-go. And while the glass back can be considered as an advantage over most competitors with plastic builds, it can also fall into the “cons” column. After all, glass is easier to break.

But as we already pointed out, those are just small complaints that can’t overshadow the good aspects of the Redmi Note 7 such as incredibly long battery life, powerful SoC for the asking price, great build quality, good camera experience and the presence of an awesome array of connectivity options (USB-C, 3.5mm jack and it even has an IR blaster, a microSD slot, and FM radio).

Pros

  • Solid build quality with Gorilla Glass 5 on the front and back.
  • Awesome battery life.
  • Very good overall camera quality, especially in low light.
  • Well geared in terms of connectivity – USB-C, 3.5mm jack, IR, microSD, FM radio, Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi 802.11ac (but lacks NFC).
  • Supports Quick Charge 4 (however the quick charger not included).
  • Solid performance and great UI responsivness.

Cons

  • No 4K video recording even though the chipset supports it.
  • The camera exposure metering and color accuracy in daylight leave more to be desired.
  • No NFC