Technophile

Another champion for the masses

Visvaksen P | Updated on January 20, 2018 Published on March 16, 2016

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Xiaomi's Redmi Note 3 is yet another budget Android phone that checks all the right boxes



The budget section of the Android market is getting stacked with more and more choice every day. Less than a month after LeEco redefined what an affordable phone could be with the 1s, Xiaomi has followed up by launching their own metal-bodied device with highly capable specs. The Redmi Note 3, like other offerings in the price range, narrows the gap between budget and flagship phones significantly. And since it costs a third of the price of most flagship-class devices, whatever gap in functionality remains is easy to overlook as long as it gets the basics spot on. We put it through the gauntlet to find out if it does.

Design

There is nothing that is radically new about the design of the Redmi Note 3. However, its full-metal body manages to combine the best practices that have been established by many devices before it into a sleek, good-looking and fairly practical form factor. With a screen-to-body ratio of 72.4 per cent, there is little space wasted on unnecessary bezels as the 5.5-inch Full HD display stretches out to occupy most of the front face of the handset. The camera and the fingerprint sensor are positioned dead center on a spartan back panel, which also features an extremely minimal Mi logo and the speakers. The device supports either dual SIMs or a single SIM and a microSD card via a removable tray on its left.

Specs and performance

The Redmi Note 3 is one of the first major releases to feature Qualcomm's new generation chipsets. The Snapdragon 650 is a hexa-core system-on-chip (SoC),featuring two of ARM's brand new Cortex A72 cores and four of the old A53 cores. According to ARM, the new A72 design offers the greatest performance upgrade between generations which explains why the 650, despite its 6-series nomenclature, is considerably faster than Snapdragon 808, a flagship processor from last year. Adreno 510 graphics, complemented by 2 or 3 GB of RAM and 16 or 32 GB of storage space depending on which variant you purchase, round out the Redmi's powerhouse specification set.

What these numbers and product codes translate into is a device that is capable of running any app or game that you might find on the Play Store quite comfortably. We tested the higher-specced variant and found multitasking with tens of apps open to be a fairly breezy and fluid process. The fingerprint sensor on the Redmi is just as fast and very accurate.

The IPS display on the Redmi has a pixel density of 403 ppi, which is in the same region as Apple's current set of iPhones. Colour accuracy and brightness are both excellent and thanks to Xiaomi's built-in Sunlight Display technology, the screen is just as usable outdoors as it is indoors.

In order to compensate for the energy drawn by the large, bright display, Xiaomi has had to include an equally large battery on the Redmi Note 3. According to the company, the 4050 mAh Lithium-Polymer unit, which supports a custom implementation of fast-charging, features an incredibly high battery density of 690Wh/l. This means that despite the large battery, weight has been kept down and there is no characteristic bulge in the rear. In our usage, battery life easily exceeded a single day despite heavy usage with 4G always on and near-constant notifications.

Camera

The 16 MP rear camera on the Redmi is typical of smartphone cameras in this segment. It has an f/2.0 aperture, which means that it lets in plenty of light and captures vivid colours under well-lit conditions. However, it does not offer much in the way of detail, as zooming into any of these pictures will bring blurry artefacts into view rather quickly. Low-light photography is an obvious step down in every aspect, but that is to be expected of a cell phone camera. The flash might help you throw enough light to identify dark objects, but don't expect be shooting any midnight masterpieces with this device.

Full HD video recording is also supported and the inclusion of phase-detection auto focus means that the camera locks in subjects quite quickly. The front camera is a typical selfie shooter which will need plenty of filters in order to pass muster.

Software

Xiaomi's MIUI is one of the most heavily customised Android implementations available today. It does away with the app drawer, adds security features and themes and sprinkles a liberal helping of animations into the workflow. While most of these customistations are quite useful, the extra load put on the device by the extra animations caused our Redmi to throw up glitches and crashes on a regular basis.

Until we turned them off in the settings, the phone would lock up completely and require a reboot at least once a day.

Having said that, MIUI 7 does add a number of small but useful features such as a built-in call recorder, one-handed mode, a reading mode which reduces screen glare, the ability to lock apps with the fingerprint scanner. With the special effects disabled, it becomes a lot easier to use this extra functionality and appreciate the polish that MIUI tacks on to stock Android.

Bottomline

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 is another great example of value moving towards the bottom end of the Android food chain. The device boasts of excellent specs and construction and a software package that is stuffed to the brim with extra features.

It may lack some of the bells and whistles and the blazing speed that a flagship can offer, but it will satisfy most people, most of the time.

Price: ₹11,999

Love: Specs, build quality

Hate: Animations that cause glitches and crashes

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Published on March 16, 2016
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