In both a lateral and vertical sense, Xiaomi has expanded its line of budget smartphones with the introduction of the notched Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro. It’s the company’s latest and most affordable entry in the trend of devices designed to look like the Apple iPhone X. And when it arrives in the Philippines soon — the date to circle could be sometime this month or in August — it will probably take the place of the Vivo Y81 as the cheapest notched phone at local retail.
If you buy the Redmi 6 Pro from a Xiaomi store in China, the base version with 3GB RAM will run you ¥999 (around P8,034 or $150), whereas the 4GB RAM/32GB ROM and 4GB RAM/64GB ROM editions are priced at ¥1,199 (P9,643 or $181) and ¥1,299 (P10,447 or $196), in that order. Those are rather steep prices for a lower-end Xiaomi phone — never mind that they slightly overlap with the price points Xiaomi set for the regular Redmi 6.
That said, we can’t help but look at the Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro as an alternative for customers who prefer the tried-and-tested Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 platform over a newer one from MediaTek and don’t mind — or are actually hoping for — something that will make Apple’s design team blush. Sporting a notch and a vertical dual-camera setup, it looks different from Redmi phones of old. But on the inside, it’s pretty much in line with Xiaomi’s norm.
Box and accessories
First things first: The box of the Redmi 6 Pro is similar to your standard Xiaomi packaging. It’s orange and white on the outside, with some Chinese characters printed on the top and bottom cardboard pieces to indicate the model name, and perhaps dissuade you from buying a handset meant for a singular market.
There are no headphones included in the package, per usual. And the screen isn’t protected by a plastic film from inside the box. Xiaomi does save you the trouble of getting a protective case, though the quality is not up to par with what most third-party brands are offering. It at least fits snugly around the sides and prevents the rear-facing camera from kissing a flat surface when the device is laid down.
The included wall charger is rated at only 10 watts, so topping up the 4,000mAh battery to a full charge from empty might take a couple of hours. So there is a trade-off for the long battery life we expect from the Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro. But as far as the retail package is concerned, nothing is out of the ordinary.
Moving on, the unit itself feels good and substantial in the hand, particularly for a compact handset. It’s the right size, too — neither big nor small — and the curves make for a more seamless transition between the display glass and metallic casing.
The right-hand side houses all the physical buttons; they offer a tactile and clicky response. The left cheek, meanwhile, has a triple-card slot, allowing you to use two nano-SIM cards and one microSD card all at the same time.
There’s a mono speaker at the base, to the right of the microUSB port. Up top, you have a standard headphone jack and a built-in IR blaster for using the phone as a universal remote control.
There are two cameras at the back — 12 and 5 megapixels — while a 5-megapixel camera takes care of selfies, as well as facial recognition, which works quite well in practice. Should you choose not to enable face unlock, you can still get to the home screen in one simple motion by tapping the fingerprint reader.
Turning the phone over to the front, you’ll find a 5.84-inch LCD display running natively at full resolution. Picture quality is surprisingly good — sharp with great contrast and pleasing colors and comfortable legibility outdoors. For those who prefer a more symmetrical viewing experience, there’s the option to hide the notch on the Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro.
As for the internals, the latest Redmi entry pairs the Snapdragon 625 with 3GB or 4GB of RAM and up to 64GB of expandable storage. We’ve seen this configuration on many occasions; with its CPU and GPU combo, it should be up to more demanding tasks. And while benchmark numbers are not everything, our early test results look encouraging.
On the software side of things, the Redmi 6 Pro sees MIUI 9.6 on top of Android 8.1 Oreo. The interface feels smooth for the most part, and switching between apps is breezy. Granted, our unit has been outfitted with 4GB RAM, but it’s unlikely that the 3GB RAM version will turn up with any performance-related issues. NBA 2K18 for Android, our litmus test for a decent gaming experience, runs fine at medium to high detail, as expected.
NBA 2K18 for Android, our litmus test for a decent gaming experience, runs fine at medium to high detail, on the Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro.
And in case you’re wondering: Yes, installing the Google Play Store app on the Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro meant for the Chinese market is easy and can be done in minutes. Basically, all you need to do is launch the preinstalled Mi Store app, type in “Google” in the search bar, and then click on the top result. Download and run the dedicated Google Installer app, respond to the prompts, and you’re all set to download apps from the Play Store.
Our full review of the Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro should be out this month. Until then, stay tuned for more updates regarding the phone’s Philippine release.
Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro specs
- Fingerprint reader (rear-mounted)
- 5.84-inch LCD display, 2,280 x 1,080 resolution (19:9)
- Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor
- 3GB/4GB RAM
- 32GB/64GB expandable storage
- Dual 12- and 5-megapixel rear cameras with LED flash
- 5-megapixel front camera
- 4,000mAh battery
- Android 8.0 Oreo
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