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Redmi Note 13 Pro+ review: Great design let down by weak software

The Redmi Note 13 Pro+ is packed to the brim with a strong processor and reliable battery. But relying on MIUI 14 is a big drawback

The Redmi Note 13 Pro+ is now being pitted against the likes of the OnePlus 11R and Oppo Reno 11 Pro.
The Redmi Note 13 Pro+ is now being pitted against the likes of the OnePlus 11R and Oppo Reno 11 Pro. (Redmi)

Xiaomi may have positioned the Note series from its sub-brand Redmi as a budget-friendly line-up of smartphones. But over the years, that has been less than evident. The brand has continued marching up the pricing ladder, with the latest Redmi Note 13 Pro+ (the big brother of the three models launched) now being pitted against the likes of the OnePlus 11R and Oppo Reno 11 Pro, which was launched recently.

The price gap between the base model (Redmi Note 13) and the souped-up variant (Redmi Note 13 Pro+) is bigger than ever. It’s been 10 years since the Redmi debuted the Note series in India. Yet, the price tag is something to ponder over.

I’ve been using the Redmi Note 13 Pro+ (the Fusion White variant) for a few weeks now, and as I take you through this review, I’ll leave you with one question: Would you be willing to spend upwards of 30,000 ( 35,999 for the 12+512GB version) for a Redmi Note (usually known as a price-conscious line-up of smartphones) device? The Redmi Note series used to be all about high-end smartphones in the budget segment. But where does it stand in the mid-range segment?

What does the Redmi Note 13 Pro+ offer?

The Redmi Note 13 Pro+ has everything one can ask for in a budget smartphone. Just that, at over 30,000, the parameters have changed. There’s a curved AMOLED screen (with most of the competitors opting for flat panels), IP68 dust and water resistance, and a vegan leather cover on the back panel (if you opt for the Fusion Purple variant). You get a 200MP main camera, a 5,000mAh battery, support for super-fast 120W charging (yes, the charging brick is included in the box), the MediaTek 7200 Ultra processor, and more. On paper, the Redmi Note 13 Pro+ is a complete package.

New year, new design

Xiaomi likes to tinker with the Redmi Note series design year after year. The design language of the Redmi Note 13 Pro+ is striking. It’s got a slim and lightweight body and is available in three colours - Fusion Purple, Fusion Black and Fusion White. The back panel is characterised by large rings around the individual camera sensors. The panel is neatly split into two. The top half features the LED flashlight, the three camera modules, and a big Redmi branding. There’s the frosted glass design and a satin texture. It’s a colour-block design.

The big camera modules mean that the smartphone will wobble on any flat surface. The Fusion Purple (a leather variant) is my favourite and looks most elegant.

The big change on the Redmi Note 13 Pro+ for 2024 is the 3D curved screen (with a layer of Gorilla Glass Victus protection) with symmetric curves. The Note 13 and Note 13 Pro both have flat panels. To top it off, there’s an aluminium mid-frame and thanks to a little bit of thickness, the smartphone is very comfortable to hold for long hours.

Last but not least is the inclusion of the in-display fingerprint sensor, as opposed to the side-mounted fingerprint reader on last year’s model, which is fast and extremely reliable.

The Redmi Note 13 Pro+ ticks off all the boxes design-wise. The only negative I can think is that it is prone to smudges.

Where does the Redmi Note 13 Pro+ shine?

The display. The 6.67-inch display is the highlight of the Redmi Note 13 Pro+. First, it is much brighter -- peak brightness of 1,800 nits -- than last year’s model. This eliminates any anxiety about legibility in outdoor sunlight. Second, the panel offers a 2712x1220 resolution (with a pixel density of 446ppi), higher than before. It also has a 120Hz refresh rate.

The display is bright and colour-accurate. When viewing HDR content (the display supports Dolby Vision and HDR10+), the deep blacks are more pronounced. Thanks to the 120Hz refresh rate, scrolling and switching between apps is smoother than ever. Even when playing games, it is the display that stands out. With 1,920Hz PWM dimming, the screen is easier on the eyes.

There’s an always-on mode, reading mode, and others. There are stereo speakers that offer balanced and clear audio, that only distorts at the highest of volumes. To sum it up, you get an immersive experience while consuming content or playing games.

Redmi Note devices of the past had been weak at gaming and multitasking as compared to the competition. That has now been rectified, thanks to the addition of a strong processor from MediaTek. The MediaTek Dimensity 7200 Ultra has better efficiency and is better for playing high-intensity games. Multitasking is also a pleasant experience.

The only downside is that the phone gets warm after a half hour of gaming, but that’s not a dealbreaker. Xiaomi is also offering UFS 3.1 storage. As a reviewer of many smartphones, I’m happy Xiaomi is done with using outdated storage.

During the two weeks that I used the smartphone, I was very happy with the battery life. Thanks to the combination of a 5,000mAh battery and a more efficient Dimensity 7200, the smartphone lasts over a day even with medium-to-heavy usage.

If you do need to plug it in, at any point, then the 120W charger (bundled in the box) will take around 25 minutes to fully charge your phone.

Despite a 200MP main sensor, there’s just not enough of an upgrade in the camera department to justify the retail price of the smartphone.
Despite a 200MP main sensor, there’s just not enough of an upgrade in the camera department to justify the retail price of the smartphone. (Photo by Sahil Bhalla)

What about the drawbacks?

Cameras. There’s just not enough of an upgrade in the camera department to justify the retail price of the smartphone. There’s the 200MP main sensor (thankfully upgraded to Samsung’s HP3 module) that takes great shots in good daylight conditions. The colours are mostly accurate and the photos aren’t oversaturated. There’s also great dynamic range.

That’s where the good bits end. Night-time photos from the main sensor retain a lot of details (like, for example, vehicle number plates) but some items are way brighter than they should be. The 8 MP wide-angle lens is barely good enough in daylight conditions. It’s good at first glance, but zoom in and you notice the lack of details and some parts of the image that appear blown out. Then there is the 2MP macro sensor. The less said about that the better. There’s no reason that Xiaomi should be using this year after year, but alas, here we are.

The inability to shoot 4K video at 60fps, on a smartphone that costs over 30,000, is crazy. If other smartphone manufacturers can offer this option, then why not Xiaomi?

One last thing to mention: there is no zoom lens present on the Note 13 Pro+. There is an option for 4x digital zoom, but that’s best avoided.

Software: Why not HyperOS?

The Redmi Note 13 Pro+ runs MIUI 14 (based on Android 13) out of the box. It’s the same software available on most of the company’s smartphones. The brand has unveiled HyperOS and even offers it on the Xiaomi 13 Pro. Even Poco (the company’s sister brand) is launching the X6 Pro with HyperOS out of the box.

There’s no excuse for Xiaomi to not launch the Redmi Note 13 Pro+ with HyperOS pre-loaded. The company says it will guarantee three Android OS updates, a step up from last year. One of those updates is already available, so essentially, there is no change. The Redmi Note series is also a little slow when it comes to software updates, so be a little vary.

Verdict: Best Redmi Note smartphone to date?

While this is Xiaomi’s best Redmi Note device to date, there are a few things that hold it back. Let’s get to the positives first. Hardware can tell a lot about a device and the Redmi Note 13 Pro+ is packed to the brim. There’s the excellent curved AMOLED panel, a big battery, a souped-up MediaTek Dimensity 7200 Ultra, an in-screen sensor and the IP68 rating.

But the downside is that the smartphone is launching with MIUI 14 out fo the box and not HyperOS. Going by Xiaomi’s track record, we don’t know when the HyperOS update will be delivered, and who knows how far along one will have to wait for the Android 15 update.

The Redmi Note 13 Pro+ is an excellent phone overall, despite some of the drawbacks, but thanks to the price hike this year, it is going up against some strong rivals with better cameras – Google’s Pixel 7a, the Nothing Phone (2), and the OnePlus 11R.

Unlike previous years, the Redmi Note 13 Pro+ isn’t a straightforward recommendation anymore. I’d go as far as saying that the Redmi Note 13 Pro is the one to get. That device, at 25,999, is the best value-for-money smartphone in the lineup.

Sahil Bhalla is a Delhi-based journalist. He posts @IMSahilBhalla.

Also read: Redmi Note 12 Pro+ 5G review: Big upgrades, bumped up pricing

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