Legendary brand Motorola and fan favourite Xiaomi have battled for the budget space for quite some time now. Each playing to its strengths and offering what the competition cannot, so who will come out on top as the one true budget king?
Xiaomi Redmi 9 Prime drops after we tested its sibling - the Redmi Note 9, and pitted it against a rival of its own making - the Poco M2 Pro. Both fantastic smartphones but there’s only one clear winner.
However, this is not a sibling rivalry. It’s one brand against another. Both offering a very different user experience and smartphone performance.
Design and build
The Redmi 9 Prime is built to be gripped fearlessly. It has a ribbed texture at the back which feels like a functional approach. Safe to say, you won’t be fighting fingerprints and accidental slips here.
The Moto, on the other hand, is what you’d expect from a traditional smartphone built. Seamless curves and comfortable in the hand. Both these smartphones have a different approach to build quality but the Redmi 9 Prime is better. Simply because the buttons have better feedback and tactility. Moto g9 buttons feel mushy and soft at times. There’s also a dedicated Google Assistant button on the Moto g9 but it’s way up on top and it’s not reprogrammable. We rather have an alert slider like OnePlus devices. Simply swiping from the lower corner of the screen brings up the AI butler and it can be summoned on command with your voice too. This defeats the purpose of having a dedicated button, not to mention one that is harder to reach.
The fingerprint sensor on the Moto g9 has a deeper groove to let your index finger slide in effortlessly. Same cannot be said for the Redmi which has the fingerprint scanner sitting on the camera module. Both are fast, fantastic and easy to reach. Moto, however, is a wee-bit better to use.
Winner for Design: Xiaomi Redmi 9 Prime
Display and audio
The Redmi 9 Prime has a crispier display and it’s not surprising. The FullHD+ display on the Redmi is sharper than its current competitor. Though the colours are a wee-bit richer on the Moto g9, its lower resolution is a bit disappointing.
The 6.5in display on the Moto is merely 720p with a 20:9 aspect ratio. The tall form factor makes the top half of the Moto g9 an effort to reach and the one-sided button placement adds to the trouble.
Both have respectable brightness. If you’re not using the Moto g9 for media consumption, you won’t be disappointed in everyday use. The lower resolution won’t drain your battery as much too.
That said, we prefer the Redmi 9 Prime screen simply because it's 2020 and even Apple should feel ashamed for putting a 720p display.
The sound quality is not going to be of any concern on this budget but if you’re asking, the Redmi is slightly louder. Other than that, make use of the headphone jack on both while budget smartphones keep rocking them.
Winner for Display and audio: Xiaomi Redmi 9 Prime
Moto and Redmi have their way of dealing with cameras and from the number of lenses to the processing, heck even the camera UI, everything is vastly different between the two.
The Moto g9 comes with a triple-lens camera module with a primary 48MP lens, a depth sensor and a macro lens. Meanwhile, you get a quad-camera setup for the Redmi 9 Prime with a 13MP wide-angle, an 8MP ultra-wide-angle (118° FOV), a 5MP macro and a 2MP depth sensor.
The 48MP camera on the Moto g9 is great. The pixel-binning tech crams all of that 48MP detail down to a sizable chunk and the results are consistent. You will always know what shots the Moto g9 can dish out. Slightly dramatic, with nice details and lowered highlights. The results feel like the camera slaps a dramatic filter from Snapseed but not too aggressively. Just enough to be likeable and smart enough to not plaster it into everything.
Colour accuracy and tonality is fantastic as well. The primary lens is quite a capable snapper, dare I say the best in the budget segment. Coupled with the depth sensor, and the portrait results are fast, sharp and at times surprisingly perfect.
Same can’t be said for the Macro lens. The photos come washed out and lack any detail. Even if Motorola removed the macro lens we wouldn’t miss it.
Xiaomi’s Redmi 9 Prime does what all Xiaomi smartphones do, give you more for less. And that’s exactly how we’d describe it’s the camera system. You can immediately tell the drop in detail from the primary camera on the Redmi compared to the Moto g9. The 13MP wide-angle doesn’t come close to Moto’s g9 primary lens but Xiaomi has another trick up its sleeve. The inclusion of 8MP ultra-wide means you can include more stuff in your photos. It’s not necessarily the best in the budget segment, but it’s here and I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t miss it on the g9. The macro lens is also far better than the Moto g9. Not that it’s going to be the talk of the town but in our sample shots, it’s evident that the Redmi 9 Prime can do a bit of everything even if it’s not perfectly executed.
The g9 does have a better sense of colour processing, whereas the Redmi 9 Prime is typical Xiaomi with overblown and saturated colours. Even processing images on the Redmi 9 Prime is a wee-bit slower than the Moto g9, no thanks to the different processors. The shutter speed is faster on the Moto g9 as well.
Selfie department is best left unspoken but since this is a review, I must get myself to take one and I like neither. The Xiaomi front camera is soft and the Moto g9 has too much noise for some reason.
In short, the preference for the camera and the choice of many lenses will be a personal one. For people looking to grab every lens at this price point, the Redmi 9 Prime is the way to go and for those who are happy with one lens that does the job perfectly, the Moto g9 is where you’d want to throw your money. Another example of how Moto g9 cuts down on the number game but makes perfect use of the primary camera is from the inclusion of night mode. Yes, Moto g9 can take low light photos very well. Something the Redmi 9 Prime cannot.
Winner for Camera: Motorola moto g9
Performance and battery
Both smartphones are on par in terms of performance. Load times and navigation is smooth. In your everyday use, neither the MediaTek Helio G80 on the 9 Prime nor the Snapdragon 662 on the Moto g9 have anything over the other. Both perform very well in everyday use. For benchmark nerds, the Redmi 9 Prime has the upper hand in single-core performance and Moto g9 takes the crown in Multi-core performance. That’s understandable because the Redmi dedicates two cores for hardcore duties at 2GHz whereas the g9 throws in four cores at 2.02GHz. The camera HDR processing and shutter speed is a clear example of why the Moto gets away with a higher score for processing heavy workloads.
When it comes down to multitasking and battery management, the Redmi 9 Prime is quite clever. Even with a higher resolution display, the Redmi 9 Prime drains battery slower thanks to its six cores at 1.80GHz whereas the four cores on the g9 take some extra juice to get duties done.
It’s very minor but if we’re nitpicking then we rather bite to the bone. So to translate all of this tech jargon into our everyday use, we’d pick the Snapdragon for a smooth and consistent performance.
The Redmi does have another ace up its sleeve. It has 4GB RAM and 128GB storage with a dual SIM tray including an additional room for a microSD card. Something very important in the budget segment. The Moto g9 only comes in one variant of 4GB RAM and 64GB storage for ₹11,499. So, if you want to plonk an SD card in there, you’ll have to forgo the extra SIM card slot because it uses a hybrid SIM slot for dual SIM.
Winner for Performance and Battery: Draw
Now, this is where we tell you how bad Xiaomi’s ad-driven UI is compared to the near-stock Android skin on the Moto g9. But we won’t waste your time with the details so let’s make one thing clear, you’ll be interacting with the smartphone and the UI is the most crucial part of the smartphone. If you’re okay with ads and notifications demanding your attention now and then, Xiaomi’s UI shouldn’t be troublesome. But if you want a clean, worry-free experience, the Moto g9 is more desirable to use.
The trade-off is simple, you skimp out on hardware smarts for a better UI experience on the Moto g9. Meanwhile, the search for a higher resolution screen, build quality, more storage and extra camera lenses end at Redmi 9 Prime, only to trade-off with a lifetime of ads, pop-ups and some extra bloatware which cannot be deleted.
The choice is yours. We will take the Moto g9’s UI any day.
We cannot simply overlook the number of features the Redmi 9 Prime brings to the table. It’s more for less and the promise to provide almost every useful feature under the roof is where the Redmi 9 Prime shines.
The moto g9 is a more focused smartphone with perfect trade-offs to worry-free and healthy smartphone usage.
We frankly love both these smartphones and deciding between the two is difficult but we made sure to put down all the differences between the two so you can take an informed decision.
We will probably pick the Redmi 9 Prime because we know how to sit and disable ads, dump all the bloatware into one folder and straight-up rid the UI of pop-ups. A Herculean task but if you’re techie enough, it’s somewhat possible to live through it.
Winner for Versus: Draw