Xiaomi has ticked all the correct boxes with the Redmi Note 3. It should be on the list of probables for buyers with a sub Rs 15,000 budget, says Himanshu Juneja
Xiaomi has finally launched its refreshed Redmi Note in India, and by the looks of it, the company is once again ready to shake up the competition. Dubbed as the Redmi Note 3, Xiaomi clearly has its task cut out, as the landscape has changed quite a bit since 2012, when the original Redmi Note made its debut.
It is heartening to see Xiaomi launching two models for the handset, allowing users the flexibility not only in terms of specifications, but also giving the budget constrained buyers something to cheer for.
With competition heating up due to advent of numerous Chinese manufacturers on the Indian market scene, we had to take a closer look as to how good really is the latest from Xiaomi camp.
The phone exudes premium feel not just with the looks, but even holding the phone is a sublime experience. The blend of metal and glass is well crafted and Xiaomi has given it a sandblasted metal texture for enhanced look and feel. The move has certainly paid off.
The phone measures 5.91 x 2.99 x 0.34 inch in dimension, and the curved edges prove to be a good ally while attempting to get a good grip on the phone. Bezels have been kept narrow, and a glossy rim is found running all along the edges at the front. This has enabled the phone to be kept elevated while placed on a flat surface, but also poses a slight problem when held next to the ear.
The buttons on the right edge are the power and the volume rocker. The left side plays host to the hybrid dual SIM tray. The bottom edge carries the charging port and the single speaker grille. The 3.5 mm audio jack and the IR blaster are located right at the top.
The unibody construction gets a good backing by the bigger battery as it feels good to hold the handset vis a vis the weight distribution. A good thing to note is that it is not a fingerprint magnet.
Xiaomi has gone in with a 5.5-inch full HD display for the Redmi Note 3. Considering the budget, this is more than acceptable. What was disappointing was the missing protection for the glass like Gorilla Glass or anything remotely similar.
Purchasing a sturdy case or a tempered glass becomes a necessity.
The 1080 x 1920p resolution brings ~403 ppi density to the display, and with an IPS panel to boot, the screen is pretty much insured to have a crisp display along with good viewing angles.
It should be noted that the screen is very reflective, but Xiaomi has done well by including its Sunlight Display Hardware here, thus allowing the phone to be used comfortably outdoors with ease. The display is vibrant and credit to Xiaomi for keeping the basics in place.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 SoC chipset. For the CPU, it is carrying a hexacore setup, where two cores of Cortex A-72 chugs at 1.8 Ghz, and the other four cores are that of Cortex A-53 (clocked at 1.4 Ghz).
It is heartening to see the newer Adreno 510 GPU being included. The variant with 2 GB RAM comes along 16 GB of onboard storage, whereas the one with 3 GB RAM has 32 GB of onboard storage for company.
The phone supports 4G, but the secondary SIM will have to do with only 3G connectivity. Including VoLTE support is a big boost from Xiaomi. Opting for Reliance Jio SIM cards in the future will become an easier choice for the buyers.
Apart from this, the users will get WiFi (b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth (ver 4.1), and GLONASS for navigational assistance. It is good to see FM radio making an appearance, but USB OTG and Miracast are definitely important feathers in the cap here.
Sadly, there is no NFC onboard, neither is the USB Type C connector. This seems to be a justified cost cutting measure, and the same goes for the decision of the hybrid SIM slots, where user will be forced to sacrifice expandable memory to favour the secondary SIM card.
It was disappointing to see Xiaomi opting for Android Lollipop (5.1.1) as the underlying operating system for Redmi Note 3. The company of course has slapped their MIUI 7 skin on top. By and large, the user interface is pretty good with a couple of nagging issues.
First up, the operating system takes its sweet time to load up. Users get to see a wallpaper changing option right at the lockscreen, where users choose the desired set of images. There are theming options available onboard as well.
The notification area has been kept organised, with the set of toggles getting a separate designated area from the alerts and notifications. There are a number of useful options onboard like, to maintain privacy, users get to hide files with fingerprint authentication system, and password protect apps from being accessed.
There is a one handed mode available for the users. Thoughtfully, Xiaomi decided to allow the users to resize the desktop according to their preference.
A couple of modes have been included to make life easier. The lite mode strips the interface somewhat to bare bones for 'to the point' experience, whereas child mode is a useful inclusion to keep young operators away from chosen apps.
There is also a reading mode, where user can adjust the level for filtration of harmful blue light. This makes up for a good experience while reading those ebooks.
The Mi account presents 5 GB worth of cloud space for backing up essential data like messages, contact details etc.
The preloaded apps include WPS Office, and the Mi remote as notable inclusions. Mi Mover takes a cue from Moto Migrate and assists in migrating from old android phone to the Redmi Note 3.
All in all, the OS seems to be thoughtfully laid out, and provides a rich user experience.
The phone comes with good hardware under the hood, and it performs as per expectations too. The apps launched and closed without any hiccups, and the same was the case while switching between them. There were instances where the handset did get warm, but nothing to raise the eyebrows.
Users will run into a peculiar problem with the Redmi Note 3. Whenever a SIM is popped in, or engaged afresh after say something like phone boot, or disengaging of airplane mode, the SIM card takes annoyingly long time period to be detected. How this bug passed Xiaomi's testing, only they can explain, but users will be wise to check their reception status before relying blindly.
Otherwise, there were no issues and no stuttering or lags were experienced during normal operations. The fingerprint sensor works pretty nicely and unlocked the phone rapidly upon detection. Overall, it seems like a well managed handset.
The phone comes with a 16 MP module at the back, while the front has a 5 MP camera.
Keeping it simple, Xiaomi has tried to provide a bit of something in every section in the camera app. There are shooting modes and filters included and the user just needs to swipe on the screen to quickly access them. The Pro mode is not very capable, and unfortunately the budget category will again cover for the deficiency.
The daylight photography yields good results with the rear camera. The photos come packed with good details along with colour reproduction. Zooming in on the photographs spoils the mood as the quality is not very high. The results with artificial lights were not too disappointing, but the presence of noise did not go unnoticed either. Needless to say, the photographs taken with darker surroundings were disappointing. Focus in general is fast, but struggles with less ambient light.
The selfies taken are of decent quality, and users will be able to pass them around easily on social media websites.
The lack of Optical Image Stabilisation is amply clear in the videos, but thankfully the 1080p videos turned out to be quite decent. The 720p counterpart were not as good as expected, and are not bankable to treasure memories or to be passed around.
A unibody design straightaway means that the Redmi Note 3 comes with a sealed in battery. Xiaomi has packed in a 4050 mAh battery pack in there, which is massive.
There is no wireless charging, but Qualcomm's Quick Charge feature has been included which is definitely appreciated.
It was good to see that the battery backup is along the expected lines too, as the users can easily get day's worth of output with a heavy usage pattern. Curbing one's penchant for heavier usage should easily deliver about two days of battery back up, which is fantastic for a near budget mobile phone.
With the 2 GB RAM model priced at Rs 9,999, and 3 GB RAM variant priced at Rs 11,999, Xiaomi seems to have covered all the basis. This is a very well rounded product from their camp.
Sure, it hasn't got the NFC, or a class leading camera, but with the display and battery scoring big, the handset should grab the attention of the prospective buyers. The only downside was the SIM card issue, and Xiaomi should be smart enough to plug the holes with a speedy update.
With a partnership going with content provider Hungama to bring two month worth of goodies free for the buyers, Xiaomi has ticked all the correct boxes with the Redmi Note 3. It should be on the list of probables for buyers with a sub Rs 15,000 budget.
Photographs: Courtesy, Xiaomi