Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 is in a way, the company’s comeback smartphone in India. The last major launch was the Mi 4i in April 2015, and it’s been sometime since the Chinese start-up introduced a brand new smartphone for the country.
In India, the Rs 10,000 to Rs 12,000 price-band has emerged as a sweet-spot for smartphone manufacturers. In January, Lenovo launched the K4 Note at Rs 11,499; followed by Chinese newcomer LeEco’s Le 1S, which offers a full-metal body, 32GB space at just Rs 10,999. At Rs 9,999 for 16GB and Rs 11,999 for the 32GB version, the Redmi Note 3 is the latest addition to this segment, combining beefy specs with premium looks.
The first all-metal body Note phone from Xiaomi, this one has a lot riding for the company, given how crucial India will be to its future growth. As numbers showed, in China the growth has stagnated, and India is the next big market to take seriously, if a player is looking to pump up volume sales of their smartphones.
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But beyond the numbers game, the Redmi Note 3 also has to convince India users that this latest offering is worth their money, that Xiaomi is capable of producing quality products without charging a premium price. So is Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 3 worth its price and hype? We’ve had the phone for a little over a week and here’s our review
Specs: 5.5-inch full HD display with Sunlight Display | Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 processor | 2GB RAM + 16GB space or 3GB +32GB | 16 megapixel rear camera + five megapixel front camera | 4050 mAh battery |MIUI 7 with Android 5.1 Lollipop
Price: Rs 9999 for 16GB, Rs 11,999 for 32GB
Xiaomi Redmi Note
The Redmi Note 3 is the first full-metal body smartphone in Xiaomi’s Note series, and it looks really good. Sure it’s a phablet with a 5.5-inch display and a 4050 mAh battery, but the phone doesn’t feel too bulky or heavy. The curved edge design means it fits perfectly in most hands.
The rear camera is bang in the middle of the rear cover, below which is the fingerprint scanner. Xiaomi has kept the speakers at the bottom, adding a little rift just below these to ensure that even when the device is placed on a totally flat surface, the sound is not affected.
From a design perspective, the gold-coloured Redmi Note 3 looks quite stylish, especially for its price. I’ve seen the Le 1s and the Huawei Honor 5X smartphones, both of which are full metal body and in the same price-range. Personally, I’ve liked the Redmi Note 3 as it looks the best out of the three, although the Le 1s is a close competitor.
So what’s good?
Obviously, the design of this phone is a big plus point. The other feature that accentuates the Redmi Note 3 is the 5.5-inch full HD display. It’s a vivid, crisp display, and perfect for binge-watching Netflix sessions as I found out. The 4050 mAh battery means you don’t have to worry about charging it, and I didn’t get tired holding the device forever.
Redmi Note 3 comes with Sunlight Display technology as well, and it makes sure that even in bright sunlight, you don’t have trouble reading on this phone. There’s also a reading mode where the screen turns all yellow, blocking out harsh blue light, which is effective if you’re planning to use this smartphone before going to bed.
Battery is the other really strong suit with the Redmi Note 3. As I noted in the first impressions, the first few days I didn’t feel the need to charge the smartphone more than 40 per cent, as it would last the whole day. Even with constant notifications on WhatsApp, Facebook alerts, browsing, gaming, the phone easily lasted one-and-a-half days for me. Given the price-point, I’d say that’s a clear win for Xiaomi. From a battery perspective, you can’t get better than this.
As far as performance goes, Xiaomi talks a lot about how Redmi Note 3 is super-fast thanks to its new Snapdragon 650 six-core processor. In the launch, Xiaomi spoke about how the phone scores above 70,000 in Antutu benchmark tests, and yes for us the 3GB version scored around 75,000 in test, putting it firmly in the top ten.
But benchmarks aside, the phone is more than equipped to handle anything you throw at it: gaming, watching videos, or just your general browsing. The fingerprint scanner on the back is accurate and fast, and till now I’ve not seen it fail. The audio quality and call quality is also quite good on this phone.
Add to this MIUI7 ensures a pretty smooth experience overall. I personally use the Mi Pad and have come to like Xiaomi’s approach to UI. It’s clutter-free, the extra apps from Xiaomi are not constantly giving alerts, like I’ve seen from other companies.
What’s not good?
Perhaps the biggest letdown for the Redmi Note 3 is the camera, both front and rear. In proper daylight, or even solid indoor light, the camera performs decently, although PDAF takes some time to adjust and focus. The camera, however struggles with low-light, and even slightly darker colours. For example, one colour it struggled to capture was a deep magenta, say in the backdrop of a sunlit blue sky. While it captured the blue sky okay, the staircase looks two shades darker than what it is.
Other than this, the one big issue I faced was when the Redmi Note 3 abruptly re-booted twice.
Redmi Note 3 might not have the best camera in its price-range, but it ticks all the right boxes. Battery, which can be a pain point at this price is not a problem, the display and sound work fine, the phone has virtually no lag. Plus, you’re not paying a bomb for this smartphone; Rs 11,999 and you get 32GB space.
As I’ve noted earlier, there’s a lot of competition in this price-point. Xiaomi to some extent has established itself as a player in the market and for now, this would be my recommendation to anyone looking for a phone in this price-band.