Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 first look: At Rs 9,999, this sets new standards for mid-budget

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 has finally been launched in India at a starting price of Rs 9,999 for the 2GB version. Here's our first impression of the smartphone.

Written by Shruti Dhapola | Updated: March 8, 2016 10:22 am
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Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 is finally here in India. After the launch of the Xiaomi Mi 4i last year, this is technically the first new smartphone that the Chinese start-up has brought in as Redmi Note Prime, Redmi 2 Prime, were upgrades to older devices. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 goes on sale on March 9, initially sale is on Mi.com and Amazon.com. The smartphone will later be available on all other platforms as well, Snapdeal, Flipkart, etc and will be available offline as well.

Now Xiaomi has launched the Redmi Note 3 in two versions: One with 2GB RAM and 16GB space, another with 3GB RAM and 32GB space. The smartphones are priced at Rs 9,999 and Rs 11,999. Given the under Rs 15,000 pricing, these are all set to compete with mid-budget players like the Le 1S, Lenovo K4 Note, Moto G Turbo, Huawei’s Honor 5X.

So is the new Xiaomi Redmi Note the comeback smartphone that Mi fans have been waiting for? We’ve have had the smartphone for two days now, and here’s our first impression. Stay tuned for full review soon.

Watch: Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 First Look Video

Design, Screen: When we first got the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, (the first all metal body device in Xiaomi’s Note series) someone remarked that it look a lot like the Gionee Marathon M5 Lite, another smartphone with an all-metal body and a beefy battery. I for one don’t think Redmi Note 3 looks like the Gionee phone, even though the gold colour is pretty much the same.

It’s definitely not the sleekest smartphone in the market, but it is light for its size. The full-metal body looks to be of a decent build quality and so far I’ve not seen any scratches or paint chipping off the device. Xiaomi has gone for curved edges and body; kept the camera and fingerprint bang in the centre of the Redmi Note 3’s back panel and the speakers are also at the back.

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The screen is 5.5-inch full HD with Sunlight Display and a special reading mode. The reading mode turns the screen all yellow, blocking out all the harsh blues and is meant to be used by those who are still glued to their smartphones before going to bed. The display is prone to smudges, but you can easily read on this display in full, bright sunlight. Overall the display quality is quite good.

Processor, Specs: The Redmi Note 3 comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 processor, (not the MediaTek version in China) and Xiaomi is launching this with two SKUs. One is with 2GB and 16GB space, other is 3GB with 32GB space. I’ve been using the 3GB version with 32GB space, and so far have not faced any performance issues with the device. In our Antutu tests it came in the top 10, just below the HTC One M9. Of course, the scores are not the only indicator of the performance.

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Is the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 blazingly fast? I can’t honestly say that yet, and yes after 10 minutes of Asphalt 8, I could feel the smartphone starting to get a little warm around the top. However, from a general browsing perspective and daily tasks, the Redmi Note 3 is more than capable.

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Camera: Unlike the China version (13 mp), the Redmi Note 3 in India comes with a 16 megapixel camera and a 5 megapixel front camera. The rear camera has quite a few options for tinkering and you can control the exposure, the ISO, and white balance. There’s also a straighten mode, whereby the camera will correct any tilted picture you might have taken. Xiaomi has added enough tweaks of its own to the camera app to keep its fans, and users happy; it’s one of the cleaner and faster camera user interface in my opinion.

The front camera hasn’t impressed me so far, but the rear camera does a decent job if there is ample light. We’ll have more on the camera and its performance in our full review. Below are some sample shots we’ve taken so far in HDR mode, close to sunset.

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Battery: Battery is probably the highlight of this device so far. The 4000 mAh battery takes a long time to charge, but honestly so far I’ve not put this phone to a full charge. I’ve put on it on charge twice in the time I’ve got it, but in both cases I’ve unplugged it with less than 40 per cent charge and the phone has not died. More on this, after I’ve used the phone for the rest of the week.

Connectivity options, Micro-SD: This is a dual-SIM smartphone (hybrid) with an option for a micro-SD slot. Xiaomi says this smartphone will support VoLTE, and yes it is 4G capable. It has support for Band 5 as well (850 Mhz), which means that eventual Reliance Jio users will be able to make their calls, get 4G access. This gives the Redmi Note 3 a big advantage over other smartphones in the market, because most come with dual-band support (3 and 40).

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MiUI 7: Redmi Note 3 comes with MIUI 7 in India on top of Android 5.1.1. Xiaomi hasn’t confirmed when the Android M update will roll-out for these smartphones. Some of the features like ShowTime (where users can add a video look instead of picture to a contact’s name) require users to sign in via a Mi account. There are also options to increase Text Size, Child Mode, Data Saver, etc.

The fingerprint scanner has worked accurately for us so far and it didn’t take forever to set-up.

Conclusion

The Xiaomi Redmi 3 Note has a lot riding for the company, simply because India is the next important market for its growth. In China, the market has all but stagnated. From the looks of it, the Redmi Note 3 is value for money; it has a big battery, a vivid display and the MIUI is one of the cleaner interfaces you’ll see.

With its pricing which puts it in Rs 9,999 -Rs 11,999, Redmi Note 3 will give the mid-budget phones, especially those that have created a buzz in the market, a run for their money.