Xiaomi has been one of the market leaders in the budget to mid-range category for mobile phones – and they started with their dominance by having aggressive pricing and widespread availability via online channels. They have been launching really good phones during the previous years, such as the massively popular Redmi Note 6 Pro, Mi A2, the Mi Mix series, and so much more. Currently, the Redmi Note 7 is undoubtedly one of the most popular bang-for-the-buck mobile phones that has been available in the market. A lot of users were quick to grab the Chinese version with Chinese ROM when it was first available in e-commerce sites last January, partly due to its best-in-class performance and price-to-specs ratio for the midrange category.
After a little more than a month using the Redmi Note 7, we’ve finally figured out what made this phone so popular. During this review, we are going to discuss the local version of the Redmi Note 7, in its 4GB + 64GB version, with Global ROM. And, we keep our evaluation quite simple: For its specifications, and with the competition red-hot in the sub-Php10K level, is it a good – if not the best – buy in this price range?
Redmi Note 7 Specifications:
- Chipset: SDM660 Snapdragon 660 (14 nm)
- GPU: Adreno 512 GPU
- CPU: Octa-core (4×2.2 GHz Kryo 260 & 4×1.8 GHz Kryo 260)
- 3GB/4GB RAM
- 3-inch 19.5:9 FHD+ (2340×1080 pixels) IPS LCD display, with dew drop notch, 409 ppi
- 21% screen-to-body ratio
- Rear: 48 MP, f/1.8, 1/2″, 0.8µm, PDAF + 5 MP, f/2.4, depth sensor
- Front:13 MP, f/2.2, 1.25µm
- Storage: 32GB/64GB/128GB of storage, microSD slot up to 256GB (uses SIM 2 slot)
- SIM: Hybrid Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)
- Network technology: 4G, LTE
- WIFI: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot
- Bluetooth: Bluetooth 5.0
- Infrared Port: Yes
- Sensors: Fingerprint (rear-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
- Battery: Non-removable Li-Po 4000 mAh battery
- Charger: USB 2.0 Type-C, Fast battery charging 9V/2A 18W (Quick Charge 4)
- OS: Android 9 Pie with MIUI 10.2
- Build material: Gorilla Glass 5 (both front and back), plastic sides
- Colors: Blue, Black, Twilight Gold
Design and Build Quality:
The design of the Redmi Note 7 may seem like nothing spectacular at first – until you realize that you are holding a phone that’s worth only below Php10,000 (USD 190). It has a feel that’s similar with more expensive phones – and that’s primarily due to the Gorilla glass 5 panels on both sides of the phone. While the sides are still made of plastic, it’s the type which doesn’t really feel cheap – from afar, it can actually pass for metal. As for size and weight, at 185g, It is bordering on the heavier side, and if you consider your hands to be a bit small, the size and weight of the 6.3”-inch screen might feel a little intimidating. This is fairly subjective to the user, but in our case, it felt just right, and had a very premium, solid feel to it.
The Redmi Note 7 comes in three colors – Dream Blue, Twilight Gold, and Black. While we had the Dream Blue version, the other colors are also just okay – not really anything special. This two-tone hybrid case coloring is seemingly a trend for most manufacturers now – such as what Huawei and Honor are doing – making for more trendy phone designs. While we are not a fan of the multicolor designs, it seems to be the popular design that most people look for now.
The rounded dew drop notch for the front facing selfie camera is actually not as noticeable as some other devices with a bigger notch, but might seem annoying for first-time users. Another issue with this is that there is no way to “hide the notch” (by making the status bar fully black) using the MIUI 10.2 OS. In comparison, even Huawei’s EMUI latest 9.1 OS does have this function for some of its phones.
The Redmi Note 7 has a 6.3-inch FHD+ LTPS in-cell display is bright and vibrant enough for a midrange phone. However, if you compare the screen to the OLED screens of more premium phone like the Samsung Note 9 or S10, there would be obvious differences. If you are coming from an entry-level phone or a phone from the same category a year ago – the Redmi Note 7’s screen would be a huge improvement and has a very premium look.
The bezels are thin enough and a little above what you would expect for phones this range. It is almost impossible to achieve an actual bezel-less phone at this price point, but Xiaomi did a pretty good job with the Redmi Note 7. The Redmi Note 7 offers an 81.21% screen to body ratio, which is enough, although much lesser than competitors such as the Realme 3, Zenfone Max M2, which is around 88%.
The Redmi Note 7 comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 chipset – which is an unbelievably great value for a phone with its price. We did, however, ran into some minor issues while using the Redmi Note 7 for a couple of weeks. First of all, after the internal memory was almost full and most usual apps installed, we experienced some slight delays and lag issues when it came to opening apps (particularly – the camera app, some games like Mobile Legends, and some other productivity apps). This is even more prominent when trying to switch between apps. However, the lag is not really that noticeable IF you’ve been previously using lower-end mobile phones. But, since we’ve used the Redmi Note 7 when it was fresh out of the box, the change was noticeable (but not dramatic enough for us to be irritated by it). Not sure if this is due to the OS installed, but hopefully future updates will increase performance.
In the beginning, the slight lag might be due to the numerous bloatware that the Redmi Note 7 comes out of the box with. There’s already a ton of ads (for Lazada, especially) for most of the apps installed. Unfortunately, we didn’t bother to try and remove or avoid it.
Aside from this, overall, performance of the Redmi Note 7 was satisfactory when it came to playing games. We played Mobile Legends at “middle” settings, with HD display and high framerate mode on. While gameplay was smooth, the device heated up noticeably quickly after around 20-30 minutes of use when cranked up to higher settings. While the heat was tolerable with the included jelly case, it might bother some users of the Redmi Note 7.
Battery and charging
The Redmi Note 7 comes with a 4,000mah battery, which is more than sufficient for a day’s worth of normal usage – which included continuous 4-5 hours of 4G connectivity, at least 1-2 hours of playing games, and the occasional internet browsing. We usually ended the day (9am to 8pm) with at least 15-20% of charge remaining. This is okay, but definitely don’t expect too much for battery life, since the display is quite large and uses FHD+ resolution, power draw from this factor will definitely take a toll on the battery life.
Thankfully, the Redmi Note 7 already uses a USB Type-C port, utilizing a 10W charger. Although there’s no quick charging technology out of the box (you would need the new 18W fast charger of Xiaomi), charging was still not an issue (if you’re not too impatient). Charging the Redmi Note 7 from 0 to 10% took only less than 5 minutes while using a QC 4.0 charger (while turned off).
Camera performance, on paper, seemed to be its main highlight, with its over-the-top 48MP AI camera. However, after using the camera for some time, it seems like the camera was just a little above average. The quality is definitely not in the same range as higher-end mobile phones, but for normal usage such as taking selfies or posting random photos on facebook, it does its job well.
Using HDR mode (with plenty of light) produces great shots, details are sharp, and contrasts are excellent.
Close-up (macro) shots taken with the Redmi Note 7 are just average, and with ample lighting, the shots taken were crisp and had the right amount of blur around the edges of the focus area. Sometimes though, the blur was a bit too much. Unless you’re really into macro photography, the Redmi Note 7 is just okay for regular usage.
As for the 48MP camera, there is definitely some drastic improvement when using the 48MP setting on its PRO mode, but on any normal photo, most of the details seems a little bit blurry on the edges. While we are definitely not professional photographers (which is okay, since the phone isn’t for pros anyway) the camera seems to be sacrificing image details for its improved color saturation. However, there are also a lot of improvements over other camera software, such as the lightning-fast scene detection using AI, its brilliant HDR mode, and other effects.
Photo taken using Pro Mode – 48Mp photo
Zoomed In – letters and numbers still legible
For taking selfies, the front-facing 13MP camera performed well. Details were not too washed out, and the software didn’t instantly make me look like a wax figure, which other cameras tend to do. Of course, there is still a beauty mode, as well as an advanced beauty mode to make your face look more slender, have bigger eyes, change skin tone and smoothen wrinkles. However, any selfie photo taken with minimal light turned out to be grainy and over-smoothed.
Taken against sunlight, during a bright day
Taken with average sunlight
At almost total darkness, most phone cameras produce grainy or over-smoothened photos. The Redmi Note 7 makes photos that are no different at this situation. At almost no ambient light available, it performed just at par with other cameras, even the high-end ones, at this level. There really was no noticeable difference at this situation compared to other phones.
However, give the Redmi Note 7 a chance to have a bit more light, and night mode performs quite well – capturing sufficient detail and reducing the graininess. Colors were still a bit washed out, but the results are still surprising given this is a midrange phone.
Taken at midnight, night mode (no HDR)
All things considered, the camera still produced photos that are for phones above its price point, and hopefully, this is part of a new wave of better quality cameras in smartphones in the midrange.
Currently, the Redmi Note 7 is one of the best best bang-for-the-buck phones anyone can buy in their price segment. With its great 48MP camera, Snapdragon 660 SoC with an Octa-core processor, and beautiful display – it’s quite hard to beat at this price segment. However, going down to its storage options, the best choice would be the 4GB + 64GB configuration (Php9,990), since with its expandable memory feature option, the 128GB storage can be reached for just a few hundred pesos more.