Xiaomi Redmi Note : Heavy phablet at low price

Following up Xiaomi’s successful value for money phones Mi3 and Redmi 1S, they have launched Redmi Note exclusively on Flipkart like earlier phones, a phone with bigger screen size or should we rather call – Phablet. We see how it stands up to the standards set by Mi3 & Redmi 1S.

Hardware Specifications

The specifications seems very good for its price:

  • MediaTek MT6592 Octa-core 1.7GHz CPU with ARM Mali-450 GPU
  • 5 inch IPS LCD screen with 1280 X 720 Resolution
  • 2GB RAM, 8GB Flash Storage, micro SD extension up to 32GB
  • 13 MP Camera, 5 MP front camera, LED Flash
  • Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
  • One 2G & One 3G Dual SIM
  • 3200 mAh Battery

Form Factor

Redmi Note looks big due to its 5.5” screen. The dimensions of this device reads 154 x 78.7 x 9.5 mm, pretty similar to Samsung Galaxy Note 4 , but bit thicker. And heavier too, it weighs 200 grams! And that’s a lot of weight considering for a phone/phablet. The back panel is glossy and easily attracts fingerprints. And due to its size and weight, it is difficult for people to hold this device in one hand.

You have the volume rocker and the power/lock-screen button on the right side towards the top. 3.5 mm jack for audio sits on the top-left side of the phone. In the bottom part, you can see the micro-USB slot that can be used for charging & connecting pen drives via USB. You have the front camera on the top-left part of the front panel, beside the proximity sensor and phone speaker. Also, it has two mics, one each at top and bottom part of the device.

The backside of the device consists of the main camera at the middle of top portion, beside which we have the LED flash unit. The camera has a slight bump to it, but doesn’t stand out or anything. Removing the back panel reveals the battery, SIM & micro SD card slots. But none of the slots are hot-swappable, which means you have to remove the battery to change/add SIM’s or micro-SD card.

The 5.5” IPS LCD screen with a 1280 X 720 resolution produces a decent 267ppi display with colours that are crisp. The IPS LCD Display which looks bright enough indoors, but if you hold it in direct sunlight the screen visibility is not good and becomes difficult to read or watch videos. Playing graphic intensive games, watching videos & viewing photos in this screen is a good experience, owing to the size of the screen.

Interface

The Interface is the same MIUI, which has been used in earlier Xiaomi’s phones and is Xiaomi’s customization of Android UI. It is pretty simple and straight forward, although they look lot similar to iOS icons and design. There is no separate App drawer here. Instead, you can add many home screens like in iOS. All the installed apps occupy places on the home screens. You can also group them similar to how it’s done in iOS. The interface responds smoothly, there was hardly any delay when navigating within the OS and the apps. Redmi Note comes with Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) on-board, though you can expect an upgrade to either KitKat or Lollipop.

Due to the Octa-Core processor in the device, we were able to play Asphalt 8 very smoothly without any issues whatsoever. But the processor does lag when it comes to video playback. More on that in next section.

Media

The built in video player pretty much played anything we threw at it from .avi, .mp4 to .mkv files. Although it supports 4K video playback, but we found it struggling to keep up with playing the video, which wasn’t a good experience, since the video started jerking & stuttering. We recommend you to stick to 1080p videos to watch it in this device. Also, if you don’t like the default video player in any case, you can always download VLC, MX player etc. from the Play Store which are available for free and support a wide range of file formats and resolutions.

Similar to the default video player, Xiaomi has also bundled a default music player which again supports a lot of formats and is pretty easy & straight forward to use. The sound quality is good and also has equalizer for you to change according to your preferences. Also bundled is Google Music app which serves as a good alternative for the default music player.

Connectivity

Redmi Note supports EDGE and 3G data connection speeds. Wi-Fi (dual band) support is also there is Bluetooth for data transfer, it can also act as your personal Wi-Fi hotspot with the internet sharing feature, allowing you to tether other devices. Wi-Fi is also useful for sharing via DLNA.

It also comes with Google Chrome which has full support for HTML5 and browsing is smooth and easy, with no issues. There are a few alternatives like UC browser, etc. on the Play Store if you don’t like it. GPS with GLONASS support is also thrown in for the location based services and apps.

Camera

Note 4 comes with a 13 MP main camera. It takes some good shots in daylight especially macro shots. But, the lowlight performance disappoints. One can observe a lot of noise in shots taken in low light, indoors and at night times. There is also a LED flash, which is quite good for snapping a picture in a medium sized room in total darkness. It is not powerful flash though. It won’t illuminate objects satisfactorily at a distance of more than 10 feet. Also, macro shots & at times with same colour backgrounds, the camera struggled a lot to focus the subject.

Video recording allows for capturing in 1080p & 720p resolutions. The level of detailing is good enough in 1080p recordings. 2 mics provided for directional audio recording do a great job at capturing the surrounding sounds properly. But the positioning of 2 mics in the bottom & top parts, makes you to be bit careful not to block the mics by placing you hand in front of them inadvertently. Overall, the camera performs decently, but if light is not sufficient you will find photos and videos full of noise.

The 5 MP front secondary camera is very good at taking selfies in wide angles and great for skype/video calls, etc. and also allows for 720p video recording. Here are some sample pictures clicked with Redmi Note.

Battery

Redmi Note packs in a 3200 mAh battery, which easily lasts for 2-3 days on moderate usage, which is really great for a smartphone. With heavy usage it will easily sail through for 1.5 days. There is also an ultra-power saver mode which limits number of background apps to save the power, which will extend the battery life by few more hours. Battery life is one of the best found in phablets.

Price & Verdict

Redmi Note has been launched for Rs. 8,999 exclusively at Flipkart. From a value for money perspective, at this price this is the best phablet you can get. But there are downsides like the size and weight, being one of the heaviest around. So, if you are not worried by those, you can go ahead and get it. Also, no earphones are provided with the phone, which is ok when all things considered at this price. Due to the on-going patent dispute between Xiaomi and Ericsson, sale of Xiaomi phones has been stopped for time being. We will update when its available again.

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