When smartphones fall under the same budget, our minds immediately jump to comparisons, even if it’s from the same family brand. So when we received the Poco M2 Pro and Redmi Note 9 for review, we couldn’t help but pit them against each other to find out the one true budget king.
Xiaomi’s decision to let its own sub-brand venture so close to its prime territory is somewhat baffling, almost cannibalistic for its sales. But at least now you have options and this should help you make an informed decision. So let’s get into it.
Design and display
Poco is rocking the Gorilla Glass 5 protection front and back. The metal edges running around the phone have a nice textured finish that feels nice to touch. This one is definitely nicer to hold between the two.
The Redmi Note 9 has a smooth plastic unibody that extends upwards and around the edges of the screen. We really like the Arctic White colour here and it’s protected by Gorilla Glass 5 on the front. The fingerprint scanner is located just under the camera and is not intrusive or hard to reach. In comparison, the Poco has a fingerprint sensor on the power button on the right side. Both are quite snappy.
Both come in FullHD+ and the Poco is just a wee bit taller at 6.67in. Whereas the Redmi Note 9 is sporting a 6.53in DotDisplay. The colours on the Redmi Note 9 pop more than the Poco. Greens and Reds are lifted and might not be for everyone. The Poco has better control over colours and blacks. With the system-wide dark mode enabled on both, it becomes apparent that Poco has deeper blacks.
Winner for Design and Display: Poco M2 Pro
Both these variants come with 6GB of RAM and at this price point, the Redmi Note 9 is offering 128GB storage meanwhile you get only 64GB of storage on the Poco.
Redmi definitely has the upper hand in terms of storage but it lacks the speed and power management of the Snapdragon 720G which is sitting inside the Poco. The Redmi Note 9 comes with a MediaTek Helio G85 which puts up a good fight in everyday usage and users won’t even notice a big difference too. It’s only when you put them side by side, the difference becomes clear.
Those extra inches on the Poco don’t really add battery value. Its got a 5000mAh battery compared to the 5020mAh on the Redmi. However, the thermal and battery management is slightly better on the Poco. So that extra 20mAh doesn’t help Redmi’s cause. It’s a very close call but we think the Poco’s UI does a better job of handling background tasks efficiently.
Apps too, open a wee-bit faster on the Poco and HDR photos process instantaneously. Redmi Note 9 struggles a bit in HDR photo processing.
Winner for Performance: Poco M2 Pro
It was inevitable that both these smartphones will share a similar hardware feature. One of them sneaked into the backyard and copied the notes on how to do a budget camera from the other. Either way, we now have both smartphones rocking four lenses at the back. Redmi gets a 48MP primary lens, 8MP ultra-wide, 2MP macro and depth. And the Poco is rocking a similar 48MP primary snapper, 8MP ultra-wide, 5MP macro and 2MP depth lenses.
At first, the photos from the Poco M2 Pro seem impressive but once you start pixel peeping, it’s apparent that none of them beat each other by a huge margin. Poco’s HDR photo processing is snappy but it also cranks up the saturation a lot. To an extent where the selfies had me looking like an orange President. Its aggressive sharpening and saturation bump is more questionable with HDR mode. Albeit, it still does a better job of controlling highlights and is consistent with results. However, aggressive it may be.
Redmi Note 9 suffers from slower processing but it’s forgiving with its saturation. None of them can keep the reds and greens in check but on the Poco display, the photos taken on it look a wee-bit toned down. The neon colours from the Poco camera are only apparent when you put the photos one a neutral display. Note 9 does lose its edge with indoor shots. The highlights are better contained and the colours are slightly richer on the Poco. Selfies on the Redmi are a bit of a hit and miss. You can expect better outdoor results from Redmi’s HDR mode but nothing to write home about.
Macro shots on both are slightly different. Poco processes the shots with a massive bump in saturation and colour but keeps the sharpness and details intact. That’s mostly because it has a 5MP macro lens compared to the 2MP macro lens on the Redmi. The Redmi’s 2MP macro lens holds the colour in check but the photos come out blurry with low sharpness and details.
In short, none of them does a better job over the other. At first, we preferred the Poco’s camera but it's too aggressive with its saturation and colour, consistently favouring warmer tones. Redmi Note 9 is forgiving in that space but the photos lack sharpness and detail, whereas the highlights are not controlled as well.
Winner for Camera: Draw
UI and features
The biggest stomp on Redmi’s parade is that you don’t have to deal with ads on the Poco M2 Pro. It’s quite a big deal for everyone and for those who wish to wave it off, hear us out.
We took one hour to disable all ads and unnecessary apps from the Redmi Note 9. That’s a painful task and even after doing that much work, some apps and ads still slip our way. The biggest problem is that much of the apps that Xiaomi crams into its phone cannot be uninstalled. Why are we still doing bloatware and ads in 2020?
Poco M2 Pro is probably a Xiaomi phone without typical Xiaomi’s problems. It’s a straightforward and clean UI without any ads. It even charges faster than the Redmi Note 9 with a faster 33W charger in the box. The Redmi Note 9 ships with a 22.5W charger but doesn’t utilize all of it to fast charge. It’s locked at 18W.
Winner for UI and features: Poco M2 Pro
We know that the Poco M2 Pro is a clear winner here and the only compromise you make is the 64GB storage. Redmi Note 9 offers more storage capacity but both these phones come with expandable SD card slot.
Xiaomi’s own sub-brand is chewing into its sale and honestly offering better performance, built quality, battery life and UI.
If you’re buying this smartphone for your old folks, do them a favour and get the one which doesn’t display ads. It’ll make their life easier and make the UI interaction less complicated and reduce problems.
Winner: Poco M2 Pro