Xiaomi phones history: from little Mi1 to large Mi Max
The smartphone business is notorious for eating companies alive. Even giants of industry have fallen: Sony is on the cusp of throwing in the towel on its phone division, Nokia is now out of the game entirely after having been the largest manufacturer of phones in the world as recently as 2011, and even smartphone-centric companies like HTC are struggling. Yet somehow, there are a few upstarts that are navigating these treacherous, Samsung- and Apple-infested waters — sometimes with enormous success.
Somewhere in this technological New Wave lies Xiaomi, a Chinese firm founded in 2010 that has become impossible to ignore. That’s driven partly by its unapologetic Apple mimicry: its marketing, product strategy, and design aesthetic all borrow elements from Cupertino’s playbook. It’s also driven partly by the high-profile hiring of former Android boss Hugo Barra from Google. But increasingly, it’s driven simply by the fact that Xiaomi is making genuinely interesting products. And at a valuation north of $40 billion, it’s apparently doing something right.
Xiaomi must think so too, because it has just embarked on a US media tour handing out the Mi Note, the company’s 2015 flagship, a phone that isn’t even intended for US sale. Specifically seeking out grizzled US tech journalists to check out your phone — journalists who grind through pitch-perfect iPhones, Galaxy Notes, and HTC Ones all year — shows a certain level of bravado.
Xiaomi Mi 1S(2012)
The casing of the Xiaomi Mi1s is mostly made from plastic, with SIM card slots located inside. The microUSB port is located at the bottom of the device with the audio jack located at the top of the device. The volume keys were located on the right side of device meanwhile the power key was located at the top of the device. Near the top of the device are a front-facing camera and proximity sensors. The device is widely available in white, pink, blue, yellow, purple and grey color finishes. The device's display is a 4-inch, TFT capacitive touchscreen with a resolution of ~245ppi.
The model is one of two variations of the Xiaomi Mi1 Xiaomi created before creating the Xiaomi Mi2. The device comes a 1930mAh battery.
Xiaomi Mi 2s(2013)
With no real Android competitor in its own space, the MI2's best point of comparison in terms of form factor is indeed the iPhone 5. In all dimensions, the Android device is a few millimetres larger - most notably in terms of thickness - and it's heavier too, at 145g up against the Apple device's more svelte 112g (indeed, it's a touch heavier than the HTC One). Build quality is also a big differentiating factor, effectively coming down to a choice between metal and plastic. But let's remember that we're also dealing with a device that's a fraction of the price with pretty decent battery life. Being able to swap batteries is useful and there's even a larger cell available too - a 3100mAh offering from Xiaomi itself - though this does add further to the thickness of the device.
We also rather like MIUI. It's been described as the best of both worlds - a merging of Android and iOS functionality - and it lives up to its billing. Fast, smooth and easy to use with a colossal array of in-depth features for those who really want to get the best out of their phones, Xiaomi is punting out new betas every week and improving English support. Where once Xiaomi was very China-centric in its outlook and customer service, we get the sense that it's readying itself for marketing its wares to the wider world. If that comes to pass, we wish the company well - the Xiaomi MI2 is a product that carves out its own niche, and with the right marketing and pricing, it could be very successful.
Xiaomi Mi 3(2013)
The Xiaomi Mi3 is a great-looking, well-made phone with great hardware that isn’t always made the most of by the software, at least if you're westerner importing it. This is a phone designed for a Chinese audience, and just about every part of its interface is designed for that crowd. We are strangers to it.
While we love the magnesium body, and think the Xiaomi Mi3 offers very good display quality for £200, there's just a bit too much work required to make the phone easy to use in the UK. By all means wait for Xiaomi to come to the UK, but you may have quite the wait on your hands.
Given the amount of tweaking you have to do here, most will be better off with a Nexus 5 or an LG G2, both of which are excellent and offer the 4G connectivity you miss out on here. Want to try out a Chinese phone? The OnePlus One is a better bet, if you can find a way to get hold of one. The Xiaomi Mi3 may not quite earn our full recommendation, but it's an encouraging sign for the future of Xiaomi as a potential major phone brand.
Powered by a quad-core 1.5GHz MediaTek MT6589T processor, the Redmi doesn't feel at all sluggish with normal use. 3D gaming performance, however, was less than perfect. On Asphalt 8, there's a noticeable lag that prevents you from properly controlling the car, but it's still playable as long as you don't expect to ace every race since you won't be able to steer smoothly.
Calls were crisp and clear, and I like the volume and clarity of the rear speaker. I still prefer having front-facing speakers like the HTC One, however, as that makes a lot more sense.
Packing a 2,000mAh battery, the Redmi lasted me a day and a half of moderate to heavy use. The test was done with having two e-mail accounts, Facebook and Twitter on push. I also used WhatsApp as my messaging service.
Price at an unbelievably low $133 (S$169), Xiaomi's Redmi is easily delivers twice the value in features. It's quite possibly the best budget handset I've seen, and with its affordable accessories, makes this the best low-cost smartphone you can get today. The Xiaomi will be available online for those in Singapore on Friday, February 21, from Xiaomi's Web site, as well as from partnering telcos.
Xiaomi Mi 2A(2013)
Xiaomi MI-2a is a pretty good Android device, equipped with a Dual-Core CPU clocking at 1.7 GHz, a 4.5 inches multi-touch capacitive display, and two cameras, an 8 megapixels back facing camera and a 2 MP front facing camera.
This cellphone is much lighter than what you would expect from a device of this size. The Xiaomi MI-2a is thin and good-looking, being just 0.37" thick. Xiaomi is offering this phone in multiple color options: black, yellow, green, blue and white.
The Xiaomi MI-2a has a great 4.5 inches screen with a 1280 x 720 (HD) resolution, which makes it impossible to even see the pixels taking part of the screen. This screen uses IPS LCD capacitive technology, and can detect multiple fingers at the same time.
Xiaomi ships this phone with a Xiaolong S4 Pro chip, including a fast 1700 MHz Dual-Core CPU and 1 GB of RAM memory. Helping with graphic intensive applications and games, it also uses an Adreno 320 GPU ticking at 400 MHz. An interesting aspect of this device is its 16 GB quite large internal storage and although it doesn't have an external memory slot, it should be enough to store a couple hundred games and applications, but it may not be enough if you are planning to install some of the largest games currently available.
Xiaomi Mi 2S(2013)
As mobile phones have become more powerful, prices for many flagship models have managed to linger were they always were -- at the top end. The Xiaomi has always been one exception, though. Last year, this Beijing startup launched its very first namesake phone at just CN¥1,999 ($320), which was rather impressive given that this was the first Chinese device to feature the 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon MSM8260 chip (not to be mistaken with the Krait-based MSM8260A). This stimulated two fronts of the smartphone war: the price-per-performance ratio kind, and the cheap-as-hell kind. With regards to performance, we're looking at competitors like Huawei, ZTE, Lenovo and good old Meizu; while the price battle involves taking on MediaTek-powered devices under various new brands -- many of which have done so well that they've now set up stores in Shenzhen's Huaqiangbei area.
Needless to say, Xiaomi is now facing a greater challenge -- one that barely existed a year ago. But on the brighter side of things, the company now has three Android devices spanning two price tiers: two editions of the Xiaomi Phone 1S for ¥1,299 ($210) or ¥1,499 ($240), and the quad-core Xiaomi Phone 2 -- the star of this review -- for ¥1,999, which is well below its ¥2,350 ($380) raw cost, according to CEO Lei Jun. There's no doubt that Xiaomi could recoup some of the costs from its vast range of accessories, and with the imminent launch of the Xiaomi TV set-top box next month, it's clear that the company's hoping to profit from content. Still, as mama said, it's the first impression that counts (especially for consumers outside China, anyway), so read on to see how we coped with Xiaomi's second-gen flagship phone.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 4G(2014)
The Redmi Note 4G shares most of its specifications with the Redmi model, with one key difference. While the previous model was based on an octa-core MediaTek MT6592 processor, the 4G version uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400. The main reason for this is Qualcomm's integrated LTE capabilities, but there's a very interesting side effect in India. Thanks to legal hurdles brought on by a patent infringement dispute with Ericsson, Xiaomi has been restrained from selling MediaTek-based products in the country. A Qualcomm version allows the company to keep selling this product in India while the case is being heard.
The screens on both models are the same 5.5" 720x1280 panels, and there's still 2GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage space. MicroSD capacity support has been bumped up to 64GB, and there's faster Wi-Fi 802.11ac support.
The 13-megapixel cameras are also identical, as are the Bluetooth 4.0, GPS and FM radio features. Both models have accelerometers, gyroscopes, digital compasses and proximity sensors. The 3,100mAh batteries also appear to be exactly the same.
Both phones run Xiaomi's MiUI interface on top of Android 4.4.2. You can read all about the experience of using it on the Redmi Note in our review of that model.
Xiaomi Mi 4(2014)
The flagship Xiaomi Mi 4's design borrows liberally from Apple's iPhone, but it also possesses plenty of features that let it stand on its own, chief of which are its powerful hardware. The Mi 4's is a steal no matter how you look at it. Its unlocked price in China is 1,999RMB (which converts to $320, £190, or AU$345) for the 16GB model, and 2,499RMB (which converts to $400, £235, or AU$430) for the 64GB.
The Mi 4 is limited to China right now, though we expect Xiaomi to soon sell the phone in other markets it currently serves, such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, India and the Philippines. Other countries will have to rely on importers. Also, while the phone will eventually come with 4G capability that works outside China, a revised 4G model isn't due until the end of the year. If you choose to import the phone before then, your Mi 4 will operate only on 3G networks.
Xiaomi's advantage at the moment is that it can deliver decent devices at prices that blow its competition away. The Mi 4 is no exception. Sure, the design is more than inspired by Apple, but really, which modern smartphone isn't?
The Mi 4 easily ranks as one of the better smartphones this year, but you'd be hard-pressed to get hold of one right now. Expect stocks to be limited when it finally sells outside China, but the Mi 4 is an Android phone worth trying to get your hands on.
Xiaomi Redmi Note(2014)
The Redmi Note is currently only available in Asia (China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, and Taiwan) but you can get it online from third-party retailers. It will cost HKD$1,239 ($159) in Hong Kong, RM509 ($157) in Malaysia, and S$199 ($154) in Singapore. Those prices convert to around £95 or AU$170.
Resembling a super-size version of the Redmi , the Note is pretty hefty. Its 5.5-inch screen has a lot of plastic around it, and that makes it heavy: 7 ounces (199 grams). While the weight does give a solidity to the phone, it can feel a tad too big when placed next to the smaller LG G3 , which has a similar screen size.
But that's quite an unfair comparison, to be honest. The G3 is a top-of-the-line device engineered to be ridiculously small (for its screen size), while the Note is much cheaper, aimed at a less demanding market. That said, it's not like Xiaomi hasn't paid any attention to how the Note was designed.
Clad in glossy white plastic, the phone feels just like any other plastic phone on the market. The choice of color is a good one, as it helps to hide the inevitable fingerprint smudges you'd expect from glossy surfaces. As the cover is removable, you can swap it out for other designs if that's your preference, but those are only available in China for now.
The phone has rounded corners, which sit well in the palm. If you're using this phone to play games in a landscape orientation, you'll find it pretty comfortable to grip. One thing though: the glossy plastic back does feel slick after some use, due to residue left by fingerprints. Also found at the back of the phone is a 13-megapixel camera that boasts a 28mm wide-angle lens with LED flash. The front shooter packs 5 megapixels.
Internally, the Note is powered by a 3,200mAh battery and runs off a MediaTek MT6592 octa-core processor clocked at 1.7GHz. There are two versions of the phone: the other uses the same chip but clocked at 1.4GHz and only has 1GB RAM. The 1.7GHz version, which this review is based on, comes with 2GB.
Onboard storage is limited to a mere 8GB but the phone has a microSD card slot for another 32GB of space. Lastly, there's no 4G connectivity, but the phone supports 3G connectivity, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0.
While you won't be able to easily get your hands on the Xiaomi Redmi Note outside of its launch countries, some third-party online retailers stock the phone at a premium and ship worldwide. That's at the risk of not having a warranty, however, and should the phone break down, it will be hard to get it serviced.
As always, Xiaomi has packed plenty of value into the phone, and the Note easily beats its competitors hands-down on that score. While it doesn't have 4G, compared with the non-LTE version of the Moto G , which retails at $179 or around £100 or AU$240, the Note seems like a much better deal.
Xiaomi's Redmi Note is likely to be a hit with business travellers as well as folks who want to try out a good Android phablet without having to pay a premium. You'd be well served by this phone.
Xiaomi Redmi 1S(2014)
It's safe to say that Xiaomi is the most talked-about new brand on the Indian tech scene today. The Chinese company has not spent any money on advertising and in fact seems pretty laid back about all the fuss it has caused by selling good phones at shockingly low prices.
Although its unique strategy of using online flash sales has aggravated quite a few customers, we must remember that Xiaomi is still a startup and doesn't have the financial or logistical might of the Samsungs and Apples of the world.
Now, the company has temporarily put sales of the Mi 3 on hold to concentrate on an even lower priced offering, the Redmi 1S. As with the Mi 3, this phone boasts of specs that are usually found in phones that cost at least twice as much, such as the much-loved Motorola Moto G. We've played with the Redmi 1S extensively to tell you in detail how well it performs. This phone could once again change the dynamics of the smartphone market.
Unlike in the days of the Nokia 7280, which looked like a lipstick case, phone companies are not experimenting a lot with design. Smartphones today are all pretty much the same predictable candybar shape, and most don't even really think about that.
The Xiaomi Redmi 1S is yet another candybar smartphone with a staid look that does not attract attention. It's unexciting, but may not a bad thing for a lot of people.
The Redmi 1S measures 137x69x9.9mm and is definitely not slim. Moreover, its 158g weight makes it heavier than a lot of other phones in this price range. The rear cover is removable and Xiaomi is expected to offer colourful replacement panels priced at Rs. 459 each, which will be a good way to give your phone some kind of distinction. The Redmi 1S is sold with a matte grey rear, and gripping it is not an issue.
The primary camera and flash sit on the upper part of the rear. The loudspeaker is just a small slit in the top right corner. A Mi logo in silver is etched on the lower back. Opening the rear cover is fairly simple, and the battery is removable.
The front is mostly taken up by the 4.7-inch screen, which has thick plastic borders. The three capacitive button labels which sit below the screen are printed in red. Oddly, the LED indicator is below the home button. Above the display are the earpiece and the front-facing camera. On the bottom edge is a microphone and a Micro-USB port for charging/data transfer. A 3.5mm jack sits on the top. The volume rocker and power button are on the right edge of the phone.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3(2016)
Xiaomi's Redmi series has been wildly popular over the past few years and for good reason. The low prices and good features have really set these models apart, and even other Chinese players have found them hard to compete with. Thanks to this competition, you can get a lot more in a budget or even mid-range smartphone than you used to be able to a few years ago.
After pushing powerful components and cutting prices, manufacturers have started focusing on premium aesthetics and build quality, which appeal even more to customers. We've seen a lot of metal being being used by companies rather than plastic, such as with the recently released Honor 5 X (Review) and Le Eco Le 1s (Review). In terms of specifications, 3GB of RAM is not something to boast about anymore, and Coolpad has proven to everyone with the Coolpad Note 3 (Review) that even fingerprint sensors are not restricted to premium phones.
In light of all this, the Redmi 2 series feels a bit dated, and so Xiaomi is right on time with the new Redmi Note 3. We had a first look at the device back in December, although that was the original version running on a MediaTek processor. The one launched in India sports a more potent Qualcomm chip which should make it more competitive. Just like the Xiaomi Redmi 2 Prime, the Redmi Note 3 will also be made in India.
The moment you take it out of the box, the Redmi Note 3 looks and feels incredibly premium, especially in gold. The full-metal body gets a smooth matte finish that doesn't attract fingerprints. It's easy to keep clean too, as dust and grime come off with a simple wipe.
In the front, we have the 5.5-inch full-HD IPS display with very narrow side bezels. There's a glossy rim running along the edge of the front facia, which is elevated above the rest of the display to protect it from scratches when the phone is placed face-down. It's a nice design touch but it's also a bit of an annoyance on the ear when you're making calls. The display has a scratch resistant layer, although Xiaomi hasn't explicitly stated this anywhere.
There's a 5-megapixel camera on the top along with a notification LED for alerts. Mercifully, the capacitive buttons at the bottom are backlit. The volume rocker and power button are quite ergonomically placed on the right, while the left side houses the hybrid Dual-SIM tray. In addition to the headphones socket on the top, we also have an infrared (IR) emitter. The phone uses a standard Micro-USB connector for charging and data transfers.
Around the back, we have a 16-megapixel camera, a dual-tone dual-LED flash, the fingerprint sensor, and a speaker grille at the bottom. The Redmi Note 3 ships with a 10W charger, data cable, SIM ejector tool, and instruction leaflets. The quality of the accessories seems good, and they should last.
We feel that Xiaomi has done a terrific job with the design and aesthetics of the Redmi Note 3. The finish of the phone is excellent and the display is crisp and vibrant. The IPS panel has very good colour reproduction and features Xiaomi's Sunlight Display hardware feature which indeed makes it decently legible even under direct sunlight.
We also like how comfortable the phone feels in the hand. It's a bit tricky to use one-handed, but is fairly slim at 8.7mm with good weight distribution.
Xiaomi Mi 4c(2015)
For a £150 phone made of plastic (albeit with a metal inner frame for enhanced rigidity and durability) the Xiaomi Mi 4C is actually really quite good-looking. A thin slab just 7.8mm thick, it has a soft-touch coating that feels great in the hand. There's no creaking or flexing - this phone feels very well made.
The screen-to-body ratio is high, with some pretty slim bezels. For a phone that has a 5in screen the Mi 4C is extremely well proportioned, just 138.1x69.9mm. It's also lightweight, at 132g, without feeling like a toy.
If you're thinking the Xiaomi Mi 4C looks familiar, that's because it's identical to the Mi 4i. In fact, it is pretty much the Mi 4i with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 chip inside and the addition of a futureproof USB-C port for data transfer and charging.
Available in black, white, pink, blue or yellow the Xiaomi Mi 4C can be elegant or fun in its appearance. The rear cover is not removable, though, so be sure which model you want before you buy. Our review sample is white.
You'll find buttons and connectors in all the usual places, with a metal-effect volume rocker and power button high up on the right edge, a 3.5mm headphone jack and IR blaster at the top, a dual-SIM tray that pops out from the left edge and a USB-C port on the bottom. Turn over the phone and there's a 13Mp camera with two-tone flash in the upper left corner, and a speaker grille that is slightly raised off the surface of a desk by a small plastic protrusion to help prevent the sound being muffled.
The screen is a plus point, with a 5in full-HD (1920x1080 pixels) IPS panel with a sharp pixel density of 441ppi. Contrast is excellent, though the screen could be brighter - we found ourselves using it at maximum brightness at all times. That said, this is a 'Sunlight display' that is claimed to be much easier to view in all conditions. We weren't blessed with any sunshine at the time of our review, but we certainly didn't have any problems reading the screen outdoors.
A slight quibble with the screen is that we're not convinced it will fend off accidental scratching too well. It's rather keen on fingerprints, too.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 Prime(2015)
Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 Prime smartphone was launched in August 2015. The phone comes with a 5.50-inch touchscreen display with a resolution of 1080 pixels by 1920 pixels
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 Prime is powered by 2.2GHz octa-core MediaTek Helio X10 processor and it comes with 2GB of RAM. The phone packs 32GB of internal storage that can be expanded up to 32GB via a microSD card. As far as the cameras are concerned, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 Prime packs a 13-megapixel primary camera on the rear and a 5-megapixel front shooter for selfies.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 Prime runs Android 5.0 and is powered by a 3060mAh removable battery. It measures 152.00 x 76.00 x 8.25 (height x width x thickness) and weighs 160.00 grams.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 Prime is a dual SIM (GSM and GSM) smartphone that accepts two Micro-SIM. Connectivity options include Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, FM, 3G, 4G (with support for Band 40 used by some LTE networks in India). Sensors on the phone include Proximity sensor, Ambient light sensor, Accelerometer, and Gyroscope.
The Redmi Note 2 features a 5.5-inch full-HD display, a soft touch plastic back with a matte finish,a removable rear cover which allows you to access to the battery (also removable), microSD card slot (up to 32GB), and dual micro-SIM card slots.
Other design cues include the volume buttons and power button which are on the right side, the headphone jack on top of the device and micro-USB port are placed at the bottom of the Redmi Note 2. An IR blaster is also present for quick and easy connection to your TV.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 2(2015)
The Redmi Note 2 is pretty basic in terms of appearance, with largely plain front and back. It's made almost entirely from plastic and is pretty thin, which keeps the weight down. The back of the device actually unclips to grant access to the battery, dual micro SIM slots and MicroSD card bay. This is great news for those of you who like carrying a spare battery around with you, but it does compromise the sturdiness of the phone - the left-hand side of our review unit creaks when gripped, something an entirely sealed unit would fix. Still, you can't have everything.
The phone's vivid 5.5-inch, Full HD IPS screen predictably dominates its front, offering superb viewing angles and incredible clarity. A very thin bezel runs along the left and right sides of the screen, which ensures that it's not too wide to grip properly with a single hand. This is the kind of display you'd expect to find on a top-of-the-line blower, not on a £125 offering.
Contactless payments are big news right now, with Apple Pay already established and both Google and Samsung readying their own challengers. Sadly, the Redmi Note 2 lacks NFC so won't be joining the contactless payment party. Xiaomi's stance is that NFC is rarely used by consumers, and isn't worth including. It's worth keeping this in mind if you're looking to purchase a phone and use this new payment standard.
Xiaomi Mi 4i(2015)
If you ever thought to yourself, "I really like the iPhone's design but wish it ran Android," Xiaomi has you covered. The Mi 4 is the latest phone from the Chinese manufacturer, showcasing a sharp design and their signature MIUI interface. Even with a mediocre camera and buggy experience, it still ticks all the right boxes to be a viable alternative to other flagship phones -- as long as it supports your carrier's bands.
The overall design and feel of the Mi 4 were well received despite an uninspired design that reminded critics of the iPhone. Ars Technica says the phone's "impeccable construction makes this the best Android hardware we've seen all year," while CNET says they "like the feel of the phone" as it sits "comfortably" in their hands. The frame houses a 5-inch 1920 x 1080 pixel display that Android Authority finds "vibrant" and Mobile Geeks calls outright "fantastic." However, PocketNow had issues with the display's "warm" picture and "side visibility," which they say can "taper-off" at certain angles.
The camera of the Mi 4 is a mixed bag, where as Android Authority calls it "unremarkable" and Ars Technica finds the photos "a little on the warm side," CNET was "impressed" by its performance and Mobile Geeks even managed to get some shots that were "simply stunning."
Xiaomi's real standout feature is the MIUI Android skin, offering a bevy of customization features. Ars Technica says it's "ridiculously fast" in spite of all the changes, even finding it "faster than stock Android." Unfortunately as this is a phone aimed at the Chinese market, there are a lot of places that went untranslated. PocketNow also found a "darker side" to MIUI, noting quite a few "quirks, bugs, and glitches." However, Xiaomi recently put out an update that hopefully squishes a few of those bugs.
Should you buy the Mi 4? It depends. If you're looking for a well-designed phone with a totally different Android experience, and it will work with your carrier, then sure. Keep in mind that Google Play is not loaded on here, so it'll need to be side-loaded. If that's not the kind of user experience you're looking for, there are plenty of other options offering more familiar and accessible experiences.
Xiaomi Mi Note(2015)
If you are looking for a phone with a gorgeous design and premium feel, but you also have some budgetary limitations and are living in 2014, we have some really good news for you: the Xiaomi Mi Note might just be the phone you’re looking for. We had the opportunity to take it for a test drive courtesy of our friends at Efox-shop (where you can grab your own – use coupon code “pocketnow” for $10 off until June 30). The price tag on this phone accurately reflects what you’ll be getting. We tested this phone for three weeks in the Chicago area on AT&T and on US Mobile. It’s not the highest end phone you’ll find on the market. It has such a gorgeous design that’s really where the Xiaomi Mi Note review needs to start, so let’s dive in.
At the end of the day, what you’re left slipping into your pocket is a good phone, built with great materials, for a good/great price – depending on where you live in the world. It’s a great phone to hold in your hand and it stands out in a crowd. Unfortunately, that’s where the great stops. Everything else about this phone from the internals to the camera, to the software merely falls into the good category. Is that a problem? Not at all, but we don’t want to pretend this phone is anything it is not.
The outside covering is what makes the first impression and it will be a very good first impression. Remember that first date by the Ferris wheel? Well, she’s beautiful, fun, and boy are your friends going to be jealous when you show them her photo. But then you start to learn about her…quirks. She can only sleep on the right side of a bed and only when it faces east. She lives with her ex’s mother in law and what the hell is that all about? She believes forks are “for the rich” and speaking of which she hasn’t had a job since Clinton was in office.
The same goes for this phone. It’s initial impression is like “Wowza” but then you start to learn about the baggage. We still don’t know what half of those notifications were. You need to install Google Play services yourself. The battery isn’t replaceable and there’s no SD card expansion. If you live in the US, you’re stuck on HSPA+. None of these are deal breakers by themselves, but put them all together and it adds up. It’s a lot of compromises. Even at the $370 price point, which won’t be available for everyone, it makes a good phone, not a great one.
Xiaomi Redmi 2 Prime(2015)
Thanks to a barrage of great phones over the last one year, Xiaomi has solidified its position in the Indian smartphone market as a respectable player. The company has some solid devices in the low- to mid-range segment that offer unmatched value for money.
Recently, the company unveiled its latest smartphone in India: the Redmi 2 Prime. As its name suggests, the Redmi 2 Prime is a ‘prime’ version of the existing Redmi 2 handset, which is among the most popular budget phones available in India. There are two things that makes the Redmi 2 Prime special: it is the first handset from Xiaomi to be manufactured under the ‘Make in India’ campaign and it comes with a double the storage and RAM compared to the original Redmi 2. The latter is a big deal since an increase in RAM can greatly increase the performance of a device. So, how good is the Redmi 2 Prime? Is it better than the second generation Moto E? Read our review to find out.
Pick up the Redmi 2 Prime and you will instantly notice how light the phone is and how slippery its removable plastic back is. The 8MP F/2.2 camera protrudes ever so slightly, but its not big enough to cause the phone to wobble when it is lying flat on a table. Prying open the back cover will give you access to the removable 2200mAh battery, which comes in Xiaomi’s trademarked deep orange color. Take out the battery and you will gain access to the two microSIM card slots and the microSD card slot of the handset.
The power and the volume button are located on the right edge of the Redmi 2 Prime and are actually a part of the back cover itself. Ideally, I would have preferred Xiaomi to place the volume and power buttons on the opposite edges of the phone. Since the phone comes with a 4.7-inch display, and I have a large palm, I kept hitting the volume button every time I took the phone out from my pocket. This problem, thankfully, can be bypassed by enabling Volume Wake in MIUI. The buttons offer decent tactile feedback, though the power button does feel a bit squishy.
From the front, the Redmi 2 Prime looks well…boring. Considering its price point though, this should not really be a surprise. The all-black front does a good job of blending the 4.7-inch display with the bottom and top bezels. The bottom bezel also houses the three capacitive navigation keys: menu, home, and back. They are red in color and are not backlit, so if you are anything like me, you are going to struggle to press the damn buttons when you are in a dark room.
The Redmi 2 Prime comes with a 2200mAh removable battery, which is easily able to power the device through a day of heavy usage. I constantly managed to get more than 5 hours of screen-on time on the Prime over a period of 1.5 days on 3G/4G network. On light usage, I was able to make the phone last through one whole weekend plus the Monday that followed. Keep in mind that this was with 2 Gmail accounts syncing in the background and a messaging clients like WhatsApp, Hangouts and Telegram running in the background.
To conclude this review, all I have to say is that the Redmi 2 Prime is easily the best smartphone available in this price range. While the handset running KitKat is definitely a bummer, it more than makes up for it in other departments. Only if you are a first time smartphone user, I will recommend you to buy the Moto E for the stock Lollipop experience it offers. Otherwise, the Redmi 2 Prime is a no-brainer for anyone looking for a smartphone under Rs. 7,000 ($120).
Xiaomi Redmi 2A(2015)
Xiaomi is gearing up to sell an ‘enhanced’ version of its Redmi 2A smartphone, which is heading to China. The handset offers improved hardware at the same ultra-low price point as the original handset, which falls under $80 (RMB 499).
The enhanced model comes with twice the RAM and flash memory space of the regular model. The handset comes with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of ROM, so the phone should run a little smoother and will give consumers extra storage space for apps, etc. Xiaomi’s Lei Jun has previously said that these specifications are the minimum required to give the best user experience.
Other hardware specifications remain unchanged from the regular Redmi 2A. The phone features a 4.7-inch 720p display, a Leadcore LC1860 quad-core SoC, an 8MP rear camera, 2MP front facing shooter, dual-SIM card slots, and a 2,200mAh battery.
The Redmi 2A has been a popular handset for Xiaomi, mostly due to its incredibly low price point and acceptable hardware. Over 10 million units have been sold so far, although Xiaomi is still expected to miss its total smartphone sales target this year. Doubling up on some of the key components should keep the model competitive for the foreseeable future as well.
The enhanced Redmi 2A will be going on sale on November 11th in China. The handset will hopefully appear in other regions in the coming months too.
Xiaomi Mi Note Pro(2015)
Xiaomi has been a significant part of the Android ecosystem for a number of years - even before they had ever launched a phone, they were already getting some level of attention from XDA-Developers and other custom ROM communities in the form of ports for MIUI. The launch of the Mi1 smartphone went almost unnoticed in places like the US, and compared to something like the Galaxy S2 at the time there wasn’t all that much to be amazed by other than price. However, the launch of the Mi2 was notable as it was the first smartphone to launch with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 Pro with quad core Krait CPU and Adreno 320 GPU. Although the baseline specifications of the phone were amazing, the truly incredible part was the price at 1999 RMB or 315 USD at the time. The Xiaomi Mi line has continued to develop, with high end hardware at a mid-range price. In the past 4 years, we've continued to notice how Xiaomi seems to always follow this same pattern. This brings us to the Xiaomi Mi Note Pro and Mi Note, which represent Xiaomi’s attempt to conquer the phablet market with this formula.
Immediately, we can see that the Mi Note Pro is clearly targeted for a more high-end audience than the Mi Note, as the Mi Note Pro has a higher resolution 1440p display along with a more expensive Snapdragon 810 SoC and 4GB of RAM. The Mi Note by comparison has a 1080p display, Snapdragon 801 SoC, and 3GB of RAM to make the device cheaper. Both have the same design, dimensions, cameras, battery (90 mAh difference in favor on the Pro), and various other high level specs. The Mi Note Pro at a high level is par for the course for high end smartphones. At 299 RMB/470 USD, it noticeably undercuts other flagships in this category by about 230 dollars or more.
As always, one of the most immediate things about any smartphone will always be the design. Even before you turn the phone on, it’s possible to form an opinion about how a phone feels ergonomically. Going even further, just looking at a device render or some press photos is often enough for people to start forming opinions about the industrial design of a phone or tablet. In many ways, this is one of the most important parts of any device though, as poor design can make a device unbearable to use. In the case of the Mi Note and Mi Note Pro, which both share the same chassis, we see a significantly evolved version of the Mi4 design.
Starting from the front of the phone, this lineage is clear. The top left side of the phone has the Xiaomi logo, which seems to be a staple of Xiaomi phones. The earpiece is slightly sunk into the glass, with a proximity/ambient light sensor directly above it, and the front facing camera to the right of the earpiece. The vast majority of the front face is display, but the capacitive buttons are directly below the display. Like all of their previous phones, these buttons are menu/home/back, but in the case of the Mi Note and Mi Note Pro the menu button is actually a multitasking button. Although I suspect that the menu button is kept out of tradition or something similar, Xiaomi should probably change the icon to a multitasking icon to make things less confusing. The edges of the glass that covers almost all of the front face is also rounded at the edges, which means that edge swipes feel smooth and seamless. However, this does affect glass lens durability as drops to the front face of the phone are more likely to shatter the glass lens.
Moving on to the back of the phone, the Mi Note line has a camera and a dual LED flash on the top left of the phone. Other than some logos and regulatory information, this is otherwise just an expanse of glass that curves significantly at the edges. Rather than just curving the top surface like the display glass, the back cover glass has a bend throughout the glass near the left and right edges. This makes for a noticeably more comfortable feel in the hand. However, this basically means that the phone is even closer to all-glass than devices like the Xperia Z3. Combined with the lack of camera hump, this makes the Mi Note line incredibly adept at falling off of flat tables. Out of all the phones I’ve reviewed so far, I don’t think I’ve ever had a phone as prone to sliding off of tables as the Mi Note and Mi Note Pro. I would definitely invest in a thin TPU case or something similar if I were to buy this phone.
Xiaomi Redmi 2(2015)
Xiaomi has quickly grown to become one of the world’s top five phone makers. However, its success is based solely on the Chinese market, with no Xiaomi devices that you can officially purchase in the United States or in Europe.
Luckily, third-party resellers make the task of getting a Xiaomi phone relatively easy, and for those who want to experiment with one, we review one of the company’s most affordable handsets: the Xiaomi Redmi 2.
A 4.7” phone with a 720p display, a Snapdragon 410 system chip, and an 8-megapixel camera, it takes the most pride in its software: Android 4.4 KitKat skinned with the rich and deep MIUI version 6.0. It’s also got a removable battery and expandable storage, rounding up this impressive package for a device that costs $130 off contract. Is it all as good as it sounds on paper? Let’s find out.
The Redmi 2 is made out of matte plastic that feels nice to touch, and overall the phone is impressively lightweight.
The first thing that you notice when you hold the Redmi 2 in your hand is just how lightweight the phone is. Put it on a scale and it will tip the scales at just 4.72oz (134g). In terms of materials, it’s an all-plastic affair with a matte, polycarbonate finish and a variety of color options for the back cover, which also happens to be removable. Unfortunately, while this has its advantages in the form of easy access to the battery, SIM cards, and microSD card slot, in the case of the Redmi 2, it also translates to a body that does not feel tightly put together. Parts move and screak slightly when you hold the phone - it’s not a terrible issue by any means, but we also can’t say it contributes to solid build quality.
Right below the display, you have three small-ish, red capacitive buttons. The physical buttons are all on the right side: a power/lock key in the middle and a volume rocker above it, both clicky and comfortable to press. The speaker of the phone is located on its back, where there is also the main camera and a single LED flash.
Xiaomi Redmi Pro(2016)
Xiaomi is well known for their range of affordable smartphones and tablets, and the company continues to grow their device portfolio with some great options. After much anticipation, Xiaomi has finally taken the wraps off their latest smartphone offering at a launch event in Beijing earlier today. Here’s everything we know about the Xiaomi Redmi Pro!
The Redmi Pro features a full metal unibody construction with a brushed metal finish, and up front is a 2.5D glass that covers the 5.5-inch Full HD OLED display. The change to OLED, from the usually standard in this price range IPS LCD, is a nice touch, and should provide a more vivid and pleasing viewing experience.
While some Xiaomi smartphones, like the Redmi Note 3, have featured fingerprint scanners on the back, it has now been moved to the front, embedded into the physical home button below the display. This is to make way for the dual camera setup that the device now boasts, which is also certainly a first for an affordable smartphone.
Speaking of the cameras, the setup includes a 13 MP primary camera, which is coupled with a 5 MP shooter that captures depth information. The primary camera also comes with a dedicated depth of field image sensor and supports Dynamic depth of field, which Xiaomi says will allow for a DSLR-like bokeh effect. This type of setup isn’t new of course, having been a staple with previous HTC flagships, but this is a first when it comes to the affordable smartphone category, and we can certainly expect some good things from this camera.
There are three variants of the Redmi Pro that will be available. While the 32 GB and 64 GB iterations will feature 3 GB of RAM, the high-end model, with 128 GB of storage, will come with 4 GB of RAM. There is also a difference in the processing package, with the 64 GB and 128 GB iterations being powered by the MediaTek Helio X25 64-bit deca-core processor, while the base 32 GB version comes with the MediaTek Helio X20 deca-core processor.
Other hardware includes a USB Type-C port, dual SIM support, expandable storage which uses the second SIM slot, and a large 4,050 mAh battery, that should allow for a lot of battery life. The device will also come with fast charging capabilities. On the software, side, the Redmi Pro will be running the latest MIUI 8 OS, based on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, out of the box.
Xiaomi Redmi 3S(2016)
Viewed from the front the Xiaomi Redmi 3S is identical to the Xiaomi Redmi 3. It matches the 3 in size and weight, and has the same 5in HD screen that makes it so easily manageable in a single hand. A Chrome-effect metal trim and reasonably slim bezels go some way to conceal the Redmi's budget roots, but at 8.5mm it retains the chunk that is typical of cheap smartphones.
The display is much lower in resolution than what you might find at the other end of the smartphone market, but an HD screen is easily justified by the price of the Redmi 3S. It's sufficiently clear nonetheless and, more importantly, it's IPS tech, which means colours are realistic, viewing angles are good, and this display technology is also a firm friend of longer battery life.
And that is one of the key selling points of this phone. Going some way to explain the chunky design (though you'd never guess just how much battery power lay inside) is a very generous 4,100mAh battery. We'll talk more about performance below, but suffice to say the Xiaomi Redmi 3S gave the best showing in our Geekbench 3 battery life we've ever seen.
The only visible differences between the Redmi 3 and this 3S are seen from the rear. New on this Redmi 3S is a circular fingerprint scanner, located toward the top of the phone's rear in a central position. Gone is the diamond-patterned casing at the back, which was arguably somewhat feminine-looking and also gave the phone a plasticky appearance.
The Redmi 3S feels the same in the hand, but it's more obviously built from metal than was the Redmi 3. You'll still find plastic panels top and bottom housing the camera and speaker, but that's already a lot less plastic than you'd find on most budget smartphones.
Build quality is excellent, and though this might be a cheap phone no obvious corners have been cut. As before, there's no creaking, no flexing, no sharp edges, no gaping holes - nothing to cause any concern. Our only real gripe is the rear-mounted speaker, though a small plastic protrusion helps to raise it from a flat surface.
The layout is standard for Android, with Home, Back and Multitasking capacitive buttons below the screen, a Micro-USB slot at the bottom, and headphone jack and IR blaster at the top. Power and volume buttons sit on the right side, and there's a dual-SIM tray on the left. The second SIM slot can instead be used to add a microSD card up to 128GB in capacity if you so wish.
Right now the Redmi 3S Pro is available for just an extra £5 over the 3S, but ordinarily we would have said you will struggle to find better value for money than what is offered by Xiaomi's new Redmi 3S. This budget Android phone is feature-packed and capable, and has a new fingerprint scanner. You can't expect any more for £120, just remember that Google Play isn't installed out of the box.
Xiaomi Mi Max(2016)
Recently, several smartphone manufacturers have introduced extra-large smartphones, including the Samsung Galaxy A9, LeEco Le Max 2, and Huawei P8 Max. While flagship smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S7 and HTC 10 have trended around 5.2″ for display size, Xiaomi has ignored this trend entirely for their first humongous smartphone: the Xiaomi Mi Max.
With a 6.44″ display, the Mi Max is much larger than what many would consider normal, and it definitely suggests that Xiaomi took the expression “go big or go home” quite literally. Interestingly, Xiaomi is positioning the Mi Max as an affordable mid-range device, one that won’t necessarily compete with LeEco’s phablet, but promises to still offer a great phablet experience.
Typical: if I had to chose one word to describe the Mi Max’s design, it would definitely be typical. While there is nothing particularly exciting about the design here, I appreciate the Mi Max’s aluminum construction as it provides a premium look and feel. There’s also a few design aspects which make the Mi Max less difficult to hold such as its side tapers on the rear and the perfectly positioned power button and fingerprint reader.
While there are plastic caps on the top and bottom of the Mi Max, which presumably house necessary antennas, these caps are fairly continuous with the rest of the design, in both color and feel. With that said, they may be to blame for notable creaking noises while holding the phone and it’s very likely that they do not help with the phone’s weak structure.
Our Xiaomi Mi Max bends with merely a bit of pressure, an attribute which is remarkably disconcerting. After reviewing many Xiaomi smartphones with excellent build quality over the past few years (some half the price of the Mi Max), I found the Mi Max’s poor build quality to be shocking. Whether this will be an issue you for you will depend primarily on how you use the phone, and it is difficult to deny that this is a very considerable flaw with the device.
The curved “2.5D” glass on the front of the Xiaomi Mi Max houses three illuminated capacitive keys, positioned in Xiaomi’s standard layout. The display’s side bezels are quite small, although many will detest the black border used around the display. It’s a shame that Xiaomi did not reconsider the use of the black border for the Mi Max, as it has been criticized with in the past when implemented in phones like the Xiaomi Mi 5.
You can purchase the Xiaomi Mi Max in a number of different models globally. Pricing starts at 1499 RMB in China, or about $228, but will pricing will vary based on region. Each model is available in either silver, gold, or dark grey.
The Mi Max is perhaps Xiaomi’s most interesting foray into a single smartphone sub-market. While it has undercut the competition in price, it has also cut corners in many areas, some more than others. The device’s cheap build quality, poor imported device software experience, and lack of U.S. availability are clearly disappointing attributes. But no smartphone is perfect, and the Mi Max has plenty to offer for the price. Its impressive camera, excellent battery life, and smooth performance are all great reasons to buy this phone.
If you are looking for a great extra-large smartphone on the cheap and can get past its quirks, the Xiaomi Mi Max is likely the best fit for you. With that said, similarly sized options like LeEco’s Le Max 2 are promising and, while they may be priced higher, they may also offer a much more refined experience overall.
It will be very interesting to see where this market heads in the near future. But, we want to know, would you switch to an extra-large smartphone? Let us know in the comment section below!
Xiaomi Redmi 3 Pro
The RN3P is a beautiful looking phone, balancing slick with class. The backpiece is mostly of aluminum, with only the top and bottom of the backpiece being made of plastic.
While these two parts are made of plastic, it’s not obvious unless looking very closely. We also like the line where the top and bottom meets the metal portion, as well as the subtle difference in color.
Note that aluminum is significantly softer than good plastic; even a light pressure fingernail scrape can permanently scratch aluminum. There is a clear case we like to use to keep the phone looking brand new, but the downside to this is we lose some of the beautiful class of naked aluminum when we encase it.
We’d say just leave the case off if you plan on having the phone for a while to come; it makes no sense to cover up beauty like this unless you plan on reselling and upgrading in the near future, or unless you don’t care about having your phone look as cool as it can be. From the front we see that Xiaomi has added an attractive bit of chrome edging along the border.
Build is very solid, with no creaks or loose spots. The physical buttons give a tactile click when pressed. At 178g the RN3P some decent heft to it, without being a burden in the pocket.
The capacitive buttons have soft, stylish backlights which thankfully can be disabled for those who don’t appreciate them. We can also adjust backlight duration from 1-20 seconds or always on.
The Qualcomm Redmi Note 3 Pro carries the same perfect combination of slickness and class of its MTK predecessor; there are no apparent changes to build or style.
The display on the RN3P is 5.5”@1080P Tianma nt35596, giving us a retina PPI of 440. It looks great, with an ideal balance between pop and laid-back. Viewing angles are great as well, with extreme angles losing very little contrast and typical viewing angles remaining perfect.
Maximum brightness hit an excellent 397 lux, and minimum brightness goes all the way down to 0 lux (undetectable by the meter). Xiaomi has done it again with the Redmi Note 3 Pro. Including the Snapdragon 650 has given the Note 3 Pro a big boost in CPU and GPU power, a boost big enough to have it hitting Antutu 6 scores up with the big dogs. Battery life is also improved with the big.LITTLE setup that allows the XRN3P to use lower power CPU cores when not stressed.
Perhaps the biggest plus with the Redmi Note 3 Pro is the ability to add a TF SD card up to 128GB; this is a huge bonus for those who need the storage space for media content and big games.
With great battery life, excellent WiFi, great GPS, laid-back slick looks, very good display, inclusion of internal TF SD support, and all around solid components, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 Pro is a mobile we would easily recommend to a close friend or family member. If you’re looking for a flagship killer in the $200 ballpark, do not hesitate.
Xiaomi Mi 4S(2016)
The Mi 4s was a surprise inclusion during the Xiaomi Mi 5 launch event a few weeks back. Since Xiaomi planned to make the Mi 5 an international flagship all along, they perhaps wanted to have a China-only device so the home market still felt ‘looked after’. And thus, the Mi 4s is a China-only device that you need to import yourself if you fancy one.
The Mi 4s has quite a characteristic design. In the sense that it won’t get lost in the array of almost identical-looking phones that are being churned out.
That said, you’re either going to love or hate the Mi 4s… since the design is so characteristic and typical. In my opinion, the Mi 4s was designed to fit the Chinese market and only the Chinese market, which often has unique demands.
The ‘gold’ isn’t quite rose gold (the kind of gold with a pinkish hue) but more like light brown. The metallic edges of the phone don’t feel as ‘metal’ (as say, the Mi 4) and lack the cold metal feel, but they do make the phone really easy and comfortable to grip.
The device follows a very symmetrical design. Even the chin of the phone is completely symmetrical with five holes on either side of the USB Type-C port. The bunch of holes on the right are to let out the speaker’s sound, while the ones on the left hide the mic beneath.
Coming back to the overall design, the Mi 4s feels like a cross between Xiaomi’s Mi and Redmi lines. Very honestly, it does not feel the premium phone Xiaomi want us to believe. Not that it feels flimsy for cheap — far from that — but not flagship material.
Xiaomi stick to the usual recent apps, home and back button (L to R) arrangement. They’re backlit, as expected.
Both sides of the Mi 4s are covered in glass. However, the rear side feels more like soft rubberised industrial plastic than glass. Other things you find on the rear: the Mi logo, the oblivious fingerprint sensor, and camera lens (that doesn’t protrude, thankfully) with the dual tone dual LED flash.
I’d say that the Mi 4s is a nice phone with a lovely camera. Retailing at over $300 at the time of writing this review (for international buyers), the market doesn’t really have a spot open for a phone like this one. I’d be wiling to consider this phone myself at $250, that too because it comes with 64GB as default. For now, the plethora of Helio X10 phones in the market will do what you’re looking for.
Xiaomi Mi 5(2016)
Xiaomi’s Mi 5 feels awesome in the hand. In common with the Samsung Galaxy S7 it has a Gorilla Glass 4 front and rear, with the left and right rear edges tapered to give a comfortable fit in the hand. This phone is thinner and lighter, though, just 7.25mm and 129g.
Although this rear panel can apparently be replaced should you crack it, the insides are not user-accessible. The SIM (two Nano-SIMs if you like) is loaded via a slot tray at the phones top left edge, while the 3000mAh built-in battery may be non-removable but it’s incredibly fast to charge.
Unlike the Galaxy S7 there’s no camera bump at the rear, nor curved glass at the front: the Mi 5 is flat as a pancake, save for the ever so slightly raised Home button. This is the first time we’ve seen a fingerprint scanner built into a physical Home button on a Xiaomi phone, and it works very well - fast to recognise your touch and unlock the device.
Either side sit back and recent buttons. These aren’t labelled, and you can switch them around to suit how you want to use the phone.
The screen bezels are virtually non-existent, resulting in an extremely premium-looking design. There’s not a single rough edge on the chamfered metal chassis, and save for its non-waterproof body we are seriously struggling to find fault with the design. The white model we tested even battles fingerprints incredibly successfully.
The screen is a standout feature. While some of Xiaomi’s rivals are fitting Quad-HD panels with always-on tech, Xiaomi’s display is merely full-HD (1920x1080, 428ppi). You wouldn’t know it. It’s pin-sharp, brilliantly bright (600cd/m2), bursting with colours and has very good contrast. Pixel-level adaptive contrast and Sunlight Display makle it easily visible in all scenarios.
Either side of the bottom-mounted USB-C charging- and data-transfer port are speaker grilles, though there is just the one speaker on this phone. It’s usefully loud, though, and we found it to be of acceptable quality for a phone speaker.
And at the other end: an IR blaster. Such an under-rated feature and, intriguingly, removed from Samsung’s latest Galaxy S-series flagship.
As we mentioned in the introduction to this review, the top-end Mi 5 is capable of faster performance than we’ve ever seen from a smartphone. But this is not the top-end Mi 5. With a slightly lower-clocked Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor running at 1.85GHz and a smaller complement of RAM (3GB versus 4GB in the Mi 5 Pro), this Xiaomi Mi 5 might not be as fast as the Pro, but it’s still devilishly fast.
The only thing that will stop you in your tracks when using this phone is the odd Chinese-language notification that might pop up from the Mi App Store, or the again Chinese-language buttons that might appear on the keyboard (we recommend installing the Google keyboard rather than trying to use the preinstalled one). It certainly won’t be any issues with lag or an underpowered processor. Everything, and we mean everything, is accomplished in a split second on the Xiaomi Mi 5.
We did notice the Mi 5 became rather warm under test, but this is not at all unusual for a metal-bodied flagship - and it didn’t appear to affect performance.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 Pro(2016)
Has Xiaomi lost its mojo? Is India no longer as big a priority for the messiah of the affordably priced quality smartphones? We’ve personally had quite a positive outlook towards the upstart but we’d be remiss not to mention that the public sentiment has been ebbing to a degree thanks to the proliferation of competitors from the land of the Red Dragon. Clearly these sentiments weren’t lost on Xiaomi as was evidenced by the rather emotional monologue by Hugo Barra, face of Xiaomi India, at a recent event in Delhi. The man who has rapidly become a bit of an icon in the technology world in India led an emphatic if not a rather circuitous presentation answering these concerns and more by announcing the launch of the Redmi Note 3, more specifically the version that is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chipset. While the audience cheered, our thoughts veered more towards the handset itself and its role in an ecosystem that is much larger than from two years ago when the Redmi 2 was a trendsetter. We’ve had access to the device for a couple of days now and with the pricing revealed, are now in a position to give a more nuanced opinion on the Redmi Note 3. Read on for our review of Xiaomi’s latest.
With the Redmi Note 3, Xiaomi too joins the club of affordably priced handsets with a metal body. A quick look around the handset shows that the improvement in materials was definitely the focus point. Visual flourishes have been kept to a minimum and it’s quite apparent that the design team was mostly focused on the upcoming Mi5 rather than the Redmi Note 3.
The front of the phone is the relatively plain and generic looking. That’s not to say that this is a bad-looking phone of course. Gone are the massive bezels, a raised edge runs all the way around the face of the phone which should offer a bit of protection when placing it face down. This last bit is particularly important since the handset does not ship with Gorilla Glass protection. Beyond that, you’ll notice three backlit capacitive buttons that correspond to the usual menu, home and back keys. Up above the 5.5 inch display is the earpiece, proximity sensor and front facing camera. A notification LED is also discretely embedded here and is visible only when illuminated.
As mentioned earlier, the display is flanked by a raised edge on all sides. Gently curved, it doesn’t dig into your thumb as you flick around stuff on the screen. The right side sports the volume rocker while below it is the power key. Both the buttons offer fantastic tactile feedback. Switch over to the left hand side and you’ll notice that single tray that houses both the SIM card slots. You can either place two nano SIM cards here or switch out one SIM for a microSD card. The top edge of the phone sports the 3.5mm audio jack as well as an iR blaster while the microUSB port lies at the bottom.
Flip the handset over and you’ll be subjected to a continuation of the same minimalist aesthetics. The smooth metallic surface is interrupted in parts by the fingerprint scanner and the camera module with a dual LED flash lined up between them. The stickler in me really appreciates the fact that both the camera and the fingerprint modules are exactly same shape, size which adds symmetry to the design and emphasizes the focus on the same. Going a step further, the addition of a 1mm notch that raises the handset and prevents audio from getting muffled is a sign of design maturity and representative of a company that values quality even on a budget handset. Unfortunately it doesn’t help that the speaker itself doesn’t go all that loud. Plastic end caps are placed at the top and bottom of the back to facilitate better antenna performance.
For the Redmi Note 3, the focus seems to have been on build quality and the smaller details rather than sweeping design flourishes. That is not to say that the phone is unappealing to look at. Far from that in fact, the metal bodied Redmi Note 3 adds just enough nuances to its design identity that makes it hold its own against the competition.
Simply put, the Redmi Note 3 doesn’t face much competition. The combination of high-end internals, great build quality and good software makes it a formidable package. Factor in the seemingly never-ending battery life, the Rs. 9,999 price point and you are looking at package that is serious value for money. A better camera would have potentially made this the perfect affordable handset but all said and done, the Redmi Note 3 is one of the best handsets available at its price point. I’d take it a step further and say that anybody looking for a sub Rs. 20,000 smartphone should take a serious look at the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3. The phone goes on sale starting 9th March and will be a timed exclusive to Amazon India before making its way to other online retailers. The phone will also be available through offline retail channels.