What is the first 5G smartphone worth less than 250 euros?

Inaugurated on the high end, 5G is gradually extending to the most affordable smartphones. After launching several products around 400 euros in 2020, manufacturers are now targeting the entry-level smartphone segment, those that are generally found around 200 euros. It is therefore no surprise that Xiaomi, the king of value for money, launched a low-cost 5G smartphone in early 2021. For a week, we tested the Redmi Note 9T, marketed at 249 euros.

Disappointing finishes

With its Redmi Note range, Xiaomi has accustomed us to offering the best entry-level smartphones on the market. The latest example, the Redmi Note 9 Pro, a little gem that is still today one of the devices with the best value for money in all categories. In addition to being powerful, this mobile sports an honorable design for its price bracket. It would be impossible for us to say that it costs less than 300 euros.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the Redmi Note 9T. In hand, no one could be fooled by the appearance of this device. Its plastic back has a structure that squeaks when you have fun scratching it and its holding is really not pleasant. The Redmi Note 9T is not a Xiaomi, it really looks like a “low cost” smartphone sold under a white label in supermarkets. The bottom edge of its screen is also way too thick.

An average LCD screen

With a diagonal of 6.53 inches, the screen of the Redmi Note 9T is neither good nor bad. According to the measurements of the 01net.com laboratory, the LCD panel used by Xiaomi can offer you a maximum brightness of 551 cd / m2. For an entry-level smartphone, this is a pretty good measure, although the 2019 Redmi Note 9 Pro and Redmi Note 8T are able to go beyond that. However, in terms of color fidelity, none of the four display modes offered by the manufacturer has managed to convince us. At best (saturated mode), we obtain a Delta E of 4.71. By default, we get 5.12. Finally, the contrast ratio of the mobile (1472: 1) is arguably our biggest disappointment. In the evening, the backlight of the LCD panel turns the image blue. It’s a shame, Xiaomi has often offered better quality screens.

In addition, we noticed a funny bug related to the backlighting. Often times when we unlocked our Redmi Note 9T, its brightness would automatically set to the minimum possible. Each time we had to adjust it manually. We imagine that its light sensor is not very well calibrated.

An experience not up to Xiaomi’s level

Under the bowels of the Redmi Note 9T is MediaTek’s Dimensity 800U processor. Engraved in 7 nanometers, this SoC integrates a 5G modem and delivers, according to our benchmark tools, performance similar to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765G mid-range processor. However, in use, we did not notice this at all. It takes a long time to start up the smartphone, the passage from one page to another on the home screen is not smooth, reading an article can cause display bugs … Just in applications of messaging, composing a sentence using the Gboard keyboard seemed complicated. The keyboard sometimes missed a few letters.

Unlike other Redmi Notes with a Snapdragon processor, the 9T really doesn’t offer a browsing experience on par with what Xiaomi usually offers. All this is all the more true as MIUI, the software overlay of Xiaomi, integrates a lot of pretty software animations. On this device, they are rarely displayed without lags.

As if all this was not enough, other points turned out to be disappointing with this Redmi Note 9T. Lack of Wi-Fi 6, noisy vibrator and uncomfortable in hand … Xiaomi has rarely offered such a low-cost experience.

A camera module without ultra wide-angle

To offer 5G at a low price, Xiaomi has sacrificed as much as possible to reduce its production costs. Don’t you believe us? The Redmi Note 9T does not have an ultra-wide-angle camera, a feature that has become essential for 2 years. Truth be told, with the exception of the Pixel 4a and iPhone SE, we don’t think we’ve tested a smartphone without an ultra-wide angle in recent years.

Thus, on the back of the Redmi Note 9T, there is actually only one camera (the mobile also has a depth sensor and a macro sensor but, let’s be honest, they are just there to make you believe that the device has a real triple camera module). The sensor used by Xiaomi is 48 Mpix, is attached to a module opening at f / 1.79 and measures 1/2 inch. Its photos are quite satisfactory for an entry-level smartphone, even if the poor performance of the mobile sometimes makes taking photos difficult. You have to wait a few seconds between two photos.

Some positive elements

Fortunately, all is not catastrophic on this Redmi Note 9T. We particularly welcome the speed of its side fingerprint sensor, its good stereo speakers (it’s rare at such a price level), the presence of a jack and the possibility of extending its storage by Micro SD in addition to its dual Nano SIM port (5G + 5G). The ability to control home devices using an infrared port is also welcome.

Regarding the quality of the 5G antennas of the device, we were only able to perform a dozen tests on the SFR network with the Redmi Note 9T. The latter were in phase with measurements taken at the same place with a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, which is rather reassuring. Still, the French 5G network is still very unusual today.

Excellent autonomy

Finally, let’s end with the only point on which this smartphone has really convinced us: its autonomy. Thanks to its 5000 mAh battery, the Redmi Note 9T withstood 17:20 hours of our versatile autonomy test, 16:06 in video streaming and 29:31 in communication. It is remarkable every time. In use, this allows it to be recharged only every two days without really having to worry about it.

On the other hand, its recharge time is rather slow. Xiaomi announces that the device supports 18W fast charging but its recharge time of 2:04 with the charger provided in the box is not a record. Worse, with a third-party charger (in this case an iPad charger), the smartphone only recovered 50% of autonomy in 1.5 hours. We imagine that MediaTek is once again responsible for this incompatibility.

Source: rss-derniers-tests – 01net by www.01net.com.

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