Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Xiaomi Redmi Note smartphone review: Great but might not impress everyone

The Xiaomi Redmi Note is here and this phone too has an eye-popping spec sheet at a jaw-dropping price. However, before you line up virtually on Flipkart, note that this is a really large device and one that runs on the now dated Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean operating system. I played with the new Xiaomi phablet for five days before penning down this review.
Quick specs: 5.5-inch IPS display 720 x 1280 pixels | Android 4.3 OS with MIUI 5 | 1.7 GHz MediaTek MT 6592 octa-core CPU | Mali 450 GPU | 2GB RAM | 8GB internal memory expandable up to 32 GB | 13 MP rear camera | 5 MP front camera | Dual-SIM (regular SIM 3G+2G) | 3200 mAh battery
Picture gallery: Xiaomi Redmi Note
Box contents: Handset, USB cable and adapter.
Price: Rs 8,999
Design: The Redmi Note looks ordinary. After I unboxed the review unit, I was not sure this is something for which people will line up on Flipkart. However, at Rs 8,999, you really can’t expect more.
If you were lucky enough to get a glimpse of the previously launched Redmi 1S smartphone, then for you this phone will appear as an enlarged version of the same. For the rest, the Redmi Note will appear like just another smartphone made by any Indian brand.
Xiaomi Redmi Note and Redmi Note 4G launch
The front face sports a 5.5-inch screen above three red coloured capacitive navigation buttons. On the top is a 5 MP camera and speaker. A white glossy plastic back cover hides two SIM card slots, a microSD slot and a removable 3,100 mAh battery inside.
The Redmi Note with a 5.5-inch display is obviously a large smartphone to carry. However, the rounded edge makes one-handed operability easy. Weighing 200 grams, the Redmi Note is a bit bulky too. The device is mostly made out of cheap glossy plastic but it feels solid in the hand.
Xiaomi Redmi Note and Redmi Note 4G launch
Display: The Redmi Note sports a 5.5-inch 720p display with a pixel density of 267 ppi. The display is not Full HD but does a good job. It is clear and crisp. You shouldn’t have any reasons to complain about the display. The viewing angles are good. Outdoor visibility is surprising good at full brightness. At medium brightness, you will be able to operate the phone under direct sunlight without much difficulties.
Xiaomi Redmi Note and Redmi Note 4G launch
Performance: The Redmi Note offers good performance at this price range. The octa-core MediaTek MT6592 (32 bit, frequency 728 ~ 1664 MHz) with Mali 450 GPU and 2GB RAM will not disappoint you at all. It scored a decent 31337 on AnTuTu Benchmark (v5.3 ). General performance of the phone was good. I did not witness any lags at all while opening apps or doing regular things. On the gaming front, the CPU again performs well. Overall, multimedia experience is good and will satisfy most. However, I witnessed a slight lag while watching movies through USB OTG. The phone does heats up while playing games, but this should not be a problem.
Picture gallery: Xiaomi Redmi Note
Software: The Redmi Note runs on Android 4.2.2 sugarcoated with MIUI 5. There is no official word as to when the device will be upgraded to Android 4.4 KitKat, if not Android 5.0 Lollipop. The MIUI 5 comes without any app drawer. So, everything is there on the home screen itself.
Xiaomi Redmi Note and Redmi Note 4G launch
Android Wear is compatible with Android 4.3 or higher devices only. So, if you have any Android Wear-based device, it will not sync with the Redmi Note, at least now. On the app front, you will miss several new games, Quickoffice integration (which comes with KitKat) among several others. The MIUI 5 has a ‘Notes’ app, which seems like the only justification of the name Redmi Note.
The MIUI 5 makes Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean look better and easier too. The UI includes a Lite mode which makes it much easier for first time smartphone buyers and elderly non-techie users to use the phone.
For power users, Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean will be a big turn off. However, if you are not much into apps, then you can live with it and wait for an update. Note that majority of the Android users are still on Android 4.1 or 4.2 Jelly Bean.
Xiaomi Redmi Note and Redmi Note 4G launch
Camera: This is one area Xiaomi has not compromised at all. For a phone priced at just Rs 8,999, I would say the camera is really good. It’s not the fastest but it will not disappoint you. The camera is capable of taking decent macro and HDR shots. Low light images without flash were surprisingly good. The 5 MP selfie camera is decent too.
Storage: The device offers around 6 GB of internal storage. MicroSD cards up to 32 GB are supported.
Connectivity: The smartphone comes with two regular SIM card slots. The first slot supports 3G while the Slot 2 supports only 2G networks. Overall, there is no issue with connectivity.
Picture gallery: Xiaomi Redmi Note
Battery: The 3100 mAh battery does a good job. The device easily lasts an entire day on normal usage. I managed to watch a 2.5-hour movie via USB OTG with just 16 per cent of battery life (medium brightness and data connection switched off). On the gaming front, two hours of continuous 3D gaming at full brightness and volume drained the battery from 75 per cent to 25 per cent. Overall, the battery life is good. However, the 3,100 mAh battery takes time to charge.
Verdict: The Xiaomi Redmi Note offers great value for money, no doubt. However, be sure about the size and obviously Android 4.2.2 OS, before buying. If you want a large-screened smartphone then this is the only option under Rs 10,000.