With unique premium designs and plenty of cameras, these phones are fighting to be your first choice.
The budget smartphone scene in India has gotten to a point where not a week goes by without a new model launching or at least being teased, rumored, or leaked about some phone on the horizon. Brands Like Xiaomi, Realme, Samsung, Vivo, Oppo, etc. are giving stiff competition to each other. Good smartphones are getting cheaper and cheap smartphones are getting good. So here are your options on what you can pick around the 15,000 INR price mark.
There are various devices that you would have probably searched up if you are reading this article. Some of those could be:
- Samsung Galaxy M30s
- Honor 9X
- Samsung Galaxy M21
- Realme 6
- Redmi Note 9 Pro
- Vivo U20
- Nokia 7.2
- Oppo A5
- Tecno Camon 15
Clearing The Crowd: Realme 6 and Redmi Note 9 Pro
Realistically, we could only pick the Realme 6 and the Redmi Note 9 Pro for suggesting anyone to buy as all the other phones in this segment lose out on something or the other, reducing the overall value proposition. The Samsung devices low out their chipsets, being budget Exynos chips that usually don’t perform heavy tasks well. Oppo and Vivo devices too, have sub-par Snapdragon 600 chipsets which are definitely a downgrade considering that the Realme and Redmi have pushed out devices with the Mediatek Helio G90T and Snapdragon 700 series in the past. Phones from Tecno and Honor have great designs but they rarely receive important software updates and suffer from the poor resale value. Nokia 6 and 7 series devices also tend to have inferior processors or battery life, which is why we have to rule them out.
Realme 6 and the Redmi Note 9 Pro are the 2 best options you should be looking out if you are into the market in this segment. These are the choices most people should consider since they have great processors, fast charging, excellent cameras, gorgeous displays, and software that won’t cause issues even in the long term. We shall mainly focus on the differences in each category in our article. This has been done as all the basics are fairly similar for both the devices and any specifics shall be mentioned in our review.
Specification Overview for the Geeks
|Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro
|6.67 inches IPS LCD
2,400 x 1,080
20:9 aspect ratio
Corning Gorilla Glass 5
|6.5 inches IPS LCD
2,400 x 1,080
20:9 aspect ratio
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
|Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G
|Mediatek MT6785 Helio G90T
Mali G76 MC4
Expandable up to 512GB
Expandable up to 512GB
16MP selfie cam
16MP selfie cam
|165.8 x 76.7 x 8.8mm
|162.1 x 74.8 x 8.9mm
|Rs 13,999 (4GB/64GB)
Rs 16,999 (6GB/128GB)
|Rs 13,999 (4GB/64GB)
Rs 15,999 (6GB/128GB)
Rs 16,999 (8GB/128GB)
Pricing and Variants
The 4GB RAM & 64GB storage versions of both phones are priced at Rs. 13,999 in India, which is a really competitive starting price n this market. Next up, you get a 6/128GB variant for each of the devices, but the Realme 6 is less expensive at Rs. 15,999, compared to Rs. 16,999 for this variant of the Redmi Note 9 Pro. Realme offers a third version too with 8/128GB of storage for Rs. 15,999. And gains a slight edge as its highest variant has 2GB more RAM than Xiaomi’s offering at a similar price. Overall, both phones offer very good value. It is worth noting that getting the 64GB variants would not be recommended if you plan to use the phone for a long time or if you are tight on budget.
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Smartphone designs have gotten very similar lately and the same can be seen with both these phones too. Both phones come in multiple color variants but what you like could be your personal choice. Redmi is the heavier phone at 209g. Xiaomi has also used Gorilla Glass 5 on the front and back of this phone. This feels much more premium compared to the Realme 6 which only has a Gorilla Glass 3 covered front display and a polycarbonate back which doesn’t feel as premium. It weighs in much lesser at 191g though and has a better and more reachable button placement.
Both phones also have a mono speaker setup with bottom-firing speakers and type-C ports at the bottom. The Redmi though, has a notification LED tucked in its top speaker. The fingerprint scanners are power button mounted and are both speedy enough to your satisfaction. Overall, Redmi wins in this category for the premium feel it offers in the hand. But if you like compact phones, the Realme might attract you more.
Both phones here have 4 rear cameras, but with different sensors and types of modules. The Redmi Note 9 Pro has a 48-megapixel Samsung GM2 sensor as its primary sensor; an 8MP wide-angle camera; a 5-MP macro camera; and a 2MP depth sensor. Realme 6, on the other hand, has a 64-megapixel primary sensor; an 8MP wide-angle lens; a 2MP macro camera; and lastly a depth sensor. Both phones have 16-megapixel front punch-hole cameras.
Autofocus is quick on both phones and the image quality shines under good lighting. While shooting landscapes in daylight, we found that the Realme 6 did a better job overall. Details in distant objects were also better represented and colors were more natural, compared to the Redmi Note 9 Pro which often oversharpened images and boosted the saturation a bit too much. Looking at the shots taken with both phones’ wide-angle cameras, it’s the Redmi Note 9 Pro that did a better job with details. This was true for macro shots as well. Realme 6’s 2MP macro camera doesn’t even come close to Redmi’s 5MP sensor. Close-ups were almost evenly matched, although we preferred the slightly richer colors and textures that the Realme 6 produced.
In low light too, it was the Realme 6 that delivered better details and exposures in the darker regions of photos. Surprisingly, the Realme 6’s wide-angle camera performed slightly better in low light, compared to the Redmi Note 9 Pro, which is opposite to what happened in bright light situations.
With selfies, we found the Realme 6 to have captured better details and skin tones, although the Redmi Note 9 Pro wasn’t far behind. Both selfie cameras captured weak details in low light, but we preferred the warmer skin tones of the Realme 6’s photos. With screen flash enabled on both phones, the Redmi Note 9 Pro captured brighter colors, but these were wildly exaggerated. We feel it’s about image processing by its software which can be bettered with a software update. The Realme 6 captured more evenly lit photos with natural colors.
The Realme 6 and the Redmi Note 9 Pro can shoot up to 4K 30FPS resolution video, but without stabilization. During the day, the Realme 6 captures more realistic-looking footage, while the Redmi oversaturates here as well. The latter does manage better quality videos with its wide-angle camera though. The Redmi Note 9 Pro has better stabilization at 1080p, but colors can look heavily exaggerated. Low light footage is a nightmare for both these phones though, and you shouldn’t expect it to be usable as such.
Performance and Display
The Redmi Note 9 Pro comes with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G SoC, while Realme 6 uses the MediaTek Helio G90T. Both produce similar scores in most of the popular benchmark apps and have similar gaming performance too, neither reaching temperatures out of control. The Redmi Note 9 Pro scored 279,978 points in AnTuTu while the Realme 6 scored 290,210 points. We didn’t face any issues with either smartphone. Multitasking is handled well and both are snappy when navigating through Android with their respective custom UIs on top.
The Realme 6 has a 6.5-inch display compared to the 6.67-inch display on the Redmi Note 9 Pro but both of these are IPS LCD panels. Brightness and color gamut is adequate and so is readability under direct sunlight. Both also feature hole-punch cutouts, with the Redmi Note 9 Pro having its front camera in the center, while the Realme 6 has it in the upper left corner. The fluid effect when scrolling is missing in the Redmi Note 9 Pro, which the Realme 6 enjoys thanks to the 90Hz refresh rate. This is a huge dealbreaker as Realme 6 completely alters the segment with this capability and this also allows for a way smoother software experience and the phone feels snappier than it is.
Software and usage experience
Both Xiaomi and Realme offer their customized versions of Android 10. The Redmi Note 9 Pro runs MIUI 11 which is quite customizable with themes and features a lot of gestures and shortcuts that you can enable. This being MIUI, you should expect a lot of spam notifications from stock apps and not all of them can be disabled. Realme’s new Realme UI is lean and offers a look and feel that’s closer to stock Android, which we appreciate. You get an app drawer and plenty of options for customizing the look and feel of the interface. The Realme 6 does have many preinstalled applications, just like the Redmi Note 9 Pro, and most of them can be uninstalled. Thankfully, there isn’t too much annoyance in the form of unsolicited notifications from the stock apps, and those that do get through can be disabled.
Despite the issues with spam in the MIUI, both custom skins are polished and easy to live with. There’s a small learning curve with either one if you come from a phone running stock Android, but neither is too complicated. Xiaomi has spent years refining the look and feel of MIUI while Realme has taken Oppo’s already fairly polished ColorOS and has added some of its flair to it.
Battery life and Charging
The Redmi Note 9 Pro has a bigger 5,020mAh battery as compared to the 4,300mAh one in the Realme 6. It is also worth noting that the 720G chipset is based on an 8nm process while the Helio G90T on a 12nm process. This should theoretically enable the Redmi Note 9 to offer a better battery life. In our tests, we found that both phones would easily last for about a day and a half before needing to charge, which is excellent. But you should note that getting a longer runtime might be possible from the Redmi Note 9 Pro, thanks to its higher capacity battery and a 60Hz screen.
When it comes to charging, the Realme 6 can be topped up really quickly, in about an hour, thanks to the fast 30W VOOC charger in the box. On the contrary, the 18W charger supplied with the Redmi Note 9 Pro takes above 2 hours to fully charge.
Verdict – Get The Realme 6
If we had to pick a winner, the Realme 6 would be the one. It’s more manageable for everyday use and has quicker charging. It has a slightly more powerful processor, better loudspeaker, and higher-refresh-rate display. Its cameras also deliver more consistent performance. Then there’s the Realme UI, which we prefer over MIUI, especially considering the ad situation. Looking at the variants on offer, the top-end version of the Realme 6 gets you 2GB more RAM than the top-end version of the Redmi Note 9 Pro, for the same amount of money.
The Redmi Note 9 Pro is a solid offering too, and ups the Realme 6 in some areas, most notably its scratch-resistant glass back, a not so conventional design, bigger battery, and better wide-angle and macro cameras. However, it’s not the easiest to manage in the hand, MIUI can be annoying with its never-ending spam notifications, and it isn’t as easily available as the Realme 6, being sold in flash sales only.
Both these phones are the best you can get in the budget segment and do very well for the price. People have different needs and we compared and contrasted these phones to let you decide what goes for you. If you’re looking for the best smartphone currently on sale for under Rs. 15,000, then the Realme 6 is the one to go for.