Forget the OnePlus Nord — this rival costs $300 less

(Image credit: Xiaomi)

The OnePlus Nord has a new, even cheaper challenger in the form of Xiaomi's new budget handset, the Redmi 9.

You can check out the phone on Xiaomi's website in the UK, where it's selling the Redmi 9 for a mere £159. For comparison, the OnePlus Nord starts at £379, a £220 difference. While converting currency can't account for regional pricing and tax differences, those numbers roughly translate to $207, $495 and $287.

The Redmi 9's specs make for interesting reading. Its display is a 6.5-inch FHD+ panel, which is the same resolution as the Nord's display, but slightly larger than the OnePlus' 6.44-inch panel. The Nord does use an AMOLED panel rather than LCD like the Xiaomi however, and keeps a fingerprint sensor beneath the screen, whereas the scanner on the Redmi 9 lives on the back. These are slightly less advanced features, but, again, we're talking about a significantly cheaper phone. 

Xiaomi Redmi 9

(Image credit: Xiaomi)

Within the Redmi's display's water-drop notch, there's a single 8MP selfie camera. On the back of the phone, you'll see four more: a 13MP main camera, an 8MP ultrawide camera, a 5MP depth sensor and a 2MP macro camera. That's again very similar to the Nord, although OnePlus' phone has a higher resolution 48MP main camera, and an 8MP ultrawide sensor and 32MP main sensor on the front in a double-width punch-hole notch.

You also find a 5,020 mAh battery inside, which is humongous for a smartphone cell generally, let alone compared to rivals which tend to have around 4,000 mAh or less. That should be enough power to last you a couple of days without charging if you're careful. And when you do charge it, you have a 10W charger to use, with the option to charge at up to 18W.

Xiaomi Redmi 9

(Image credit: Xiaomi)

Of course there were going to have to be sacrifices somewhere to get the price down so low, and Xiaomi's chosen performance as the area to do this. The Redmi 9 uses a MediaTek Helio G80, paired with 4GB and 64GB storage. There's also a 3GB/32GB model, but that's not available in the UK. 

We don't need to wait for benchmarks to tell you that the 5G-compatible Snapdragon 765G in the OnePlus Nord, with either 8GB RAM and 128GB storage or 12GB RAM and 256GB storage, will be much more powerful. But real-world perfamcne is where it counts, and if its software is well-optimized, then it could punch above its weight. 

Other assorted interesting Redmi 9 specs are the presence of a headphone jack, the ability to take photos remotely by holding up your palm when in shot, and the three color choices - Carbon Grey, Sunset Purple and Ocean Green.

You won't want this phone if you want the best photography or performance. But all the same, the Redmi 9 could be a fantastic way to get a large screen phone with a long life that doesn't cost too much. 

For some of the best cheap phone photography around, you'll want to consider the Google Pixel 4a, which for $349 offers a decent spec and very impressive camera capabilities despite its single lens. But it's a lot smaller than the Redmi 9 and has a more basic design, whereas the Redmi 9 is reminiscent of attractive OnePlus handsets. 

It's been a week of extremes of Xiaomi, having revealed the Mi 10 Ultra earlier this week. However, this super-powered flagship is sadly only going to be available in China, at least for now. 

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.