While the best Xiaomi and Realme phones are not available directly in the U.S., you can still get your hands on them relatively easily. Amazon sells global variants of these devices in the U.S., and the best part is that they work with AT&T and T-Mobile without any issues. Let’s take a look at the latest phones from Xiaomi and Realme that are available unlocked on Amazon, and why you should pick them up.
1. Redmi Note 9 Pro: Best Overall
Nearly a year after its launch, the Redmi Note 9 Pro continues to be the best overall budget phone you can buy today. The value you’re getting here is amazing, and you can pick up the global version of the phone on Amazon for $267.
Let’s start with the hardware: the Redmi Note 9 Pro has a massive 6.67-inch FHD+ (2400×1080) LCD panel backed by Gorilla Glass 5. Although it isn’t an AMOLED screen, the panel itself is one of the best you’ll find in this category, and you get a ton of customizability when it comes to adjusting the color balance. Under the hood, you’ll find a Snapdragon 720G that is ideal for day-to-day use. The phone is running MIUI 12 based on Android 10, and while the Indian version is now getting the Android 11 update, it will be a while for the same to roll out to the global model.
You get 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, a microSD slot, 3.5mm jack, Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, and an IR blaster. The standout feature on the Redmi Note 9 Pro is the 64MP camera at the back, which takes great photos. You also get an 8MP wide-angle lens, 5MP macro lens, and a 2MP portrait lens. The 8MP wide-angle module holds up astonishingly well — as does the primary 64MP lens — but you’re not going to get much usage out of the 5MP fixed-focus macro lens.
Another key selling point of the Redmi Note 9 Pro is the battery life. With a huge 5,020mAh battery and 30W fast charging, the phone will last two days on a full charge without any issues. The global variant of the Redmi Note 9 Pro has LTE bands 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/20/28/38/40/41, making it compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile. Of course, connectivity will vary based on your location, but considering what’s on offer here, it makes sense to try out the device to see how it holds up in your area.
- Outstanding battery life
- Robust internal hardware
- 64MP camera takes great shots
- Vibrant 1080p panel
- Works on U.S. GSM carriers
- Not the fastest at updates
- Macro lens isn’t great
Redmi Note 9 Pro
A fantastic choice in 2021
With a massive 5,020mAh battery and stellar hardware, the Redmi Note 9 Pro sets a new standard for budget phones.
2. Realme 6 Pro: Also Great
The Realme 6 Pro goes up directly against the Redmi Note 9 Pro, but it has one advantage: you get a 90Hz LCD screen. If you’ve been looking to switch to a budget phone with a high refresh rate, the Realme 6 Pro has a lot to offer.
Under the hood, you’ll find a Snapdragon 720G — the same as the Redmi Note 9 Pro. The device comes with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage as standard, and you get a microSD card slot to extend storage. The phone has a 64MP camera at the back, along with a 12MP zoom lens with 2x optical zoom and an 8MP wide-angle module. There are two cameras at the front: a 16MP primary lens joined by an 8MP wide-angle module. You’ll also find a 2MP macro module at the back, but the fixed-focus lens isn’t worth the hassle.
On the software side of things, the Realme 6 Pro runs Realme UI 1.0 based on Android 10. The device is still awaiting the Android 11 build, and at this moment there’s no mention of when the same will be rolling out.
Rounding out the hardware, the Realme 6 Pro has Wi-Fi ac connectivity, Bluetooth 5.0, a 3.5mm jack, and a 4300mAh battery with 30W fast charging. The phone has LTE bands 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/20/28/38/40/41, putting it in the same league as the Redmi Note 9 Pro. The main difference here is the 90Hz panel, and for under $300, the Realme 6 Pro is a fantastic value.
- Stunning 90Hz panel
- Incredible value
- All-day battery life with 30W charging
- Versatile 64MP camera
- Dual front cameras
- Still on Android 10
- 2MP macro lens
Realme 6 Pro
The easiest way to switch to 90Hz
The Realme 6 Pro has a 90Hz LCD screen, great hardware, 64MP camera at the back, and fantastic overall value.
3. Redmi 9: Best Entry-level Phone
If you’re in the market for a sub-$200 Android phone, there are plenty of choices from Motorola and Nokia. The Redmi 9 delivers the same level of hardware but for a lot less money, and that makes it a great option if you’re looking for an entry-level phone.
The Redmi 9 has a large 6.53-inch FHD+ screen, and the quality of the panel itself is pretty decent, all things considered. The phone is powered by a MediaTek Helio G80 chipset that holds up just fine for most day-to-day tasks, and the base version comes with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. The phone is running MIUI 11 based on Android 10, and at this moment there’s no telling when the Android 11 update will be available.
You’ll find a microSD slot to boost storage, and the phone has a 3.5mm jack. It also has Wi-Fi ac connectivity, Bluetooth 5.0, and a huge 5,020mAh battery with 18W fast charging. The plastic design isn’t much to look at, but the Redmi 9 delivers strong hardware and costs less than its rivals. It has the same LTE bands as the Redmi Note 9 Pro — 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/20/28/38/40/41 — making it a decent choice for AT&T or T-Mobile.
- Huge 5020mAh battery
- Awesome value
- Large FHD+ screen
- Reliable hardware
- Boring plastic build
- Still on Android 10
Best Entry-level Phone
A truly great entry-level option
The Redmi 9 delivers the essentials you need — FHD+ screen and a huge battery — at a price that makes it a highly enticing option.
4. POCO M3: Best Battery Life
Need a phone that can last over two days on a full charge? You’ll want the POCO M3. The phone has a striking design at the back with a large camera housing that extends to cover the top third of the body, and while the phone is made out of plastic, you get a textured coating that makes it easier to hold and use the phone.
The standout feature on the POCO M3 is the battery life. With a 6,000mAh battery under the hood and 18W fast charging, the M3 sets a new standard for battery longevity in the budget category. You’ll also find a 6.53-inch FHD+ screen, a Snapdragon 662 chipset that’s reliable in day-to-day use, and a 48MP camera at the back and an 8MP shooter at the front. Honestly, my only issue with the POCO M3 is that it is still running Android 10.
As this is the global version, it has the same LTE bands as the other phones on this list: 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/20/28/38/40/41. This particular model of the POCO M3 comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of UFS 2.1 storage, and there’s even a 3.5mm jack.
- Class-leading 6000mAh battery
- Striking design
- Great overall value
- Reliable in daily use
- Large FHD+ screen
- Still on Android 10
Best Battery Life
Striking design, insane battery life
The POCO M3 combines a bold design with reliable hardware and a massive 6000mAh battery that easily lasts over two days.
There are a lot of great options to choose from
The one caveat with buying unlocked versions of global models on Amazon is that you miss out on the warranty. As such, I’m highlighting budget picks and not focusing on true flagships, like the Mi 10 series or the Realme X50 Pro.
The Redmi Note 9 Pro is a particularly great choice, and the fact that you can pick it up for under $300 makes it one of the best values in this segment. Xiaomi knows how to deliver a great overall package on a budget, and the Redmi Note 9 Pro features reliable hardware, great cameras, and excellent battery life.
Now, if you want all the features above and are interested in a 90Hz screen, the Realme 6 Pro is the obvious choice. It is also available for under $300, and delivers a strong hardware foundation along with cleaner software in the form of Realme UI. And if it’s battery life you’re after, the POCO M3 delivers a massive battery and a unique design — all for under $200.
The U.S. market has no shortage of flagship options that are available officially, but it is the budget category that is significantly underserved. So if you’re underwhelmed by what Nokia and Motorola have to offer in this category, you should take a look at alternatives from Xiaomi or Realme — you’re guaranteed to get much more value for your money.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Harish Jonnalagadda is the Asia Editor at Android Central. A reformed hardware modder, he now spends his time writing about India’s technology revolution. Previously, he used to ponder the meaning of life at IBM. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.
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