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Xiaomi Redmi 1s quick-read review: Patience pays

At its low price of Rs. 5,999, the Xiaomi Redmi 1s has a spec sheet that blows its competitors away.

Written by Mihir Patkar | Updated: September 8, 2014 10:58:59 am
Xiaomi Redmi 1S Review Despite the slow-charging battery, app crashes and the design flaws, the Xiaomi Redmi 1s is still the best phone you can buy at Rs. 5,999.

Phones should be judged by their price. At its low price of Rs. 5,999, the Xiaomi Redmi 1s has a spec sheet that blows its competitors away. As expected, this is the best budget phone you can buy. But it’s not without some flaws.

Specs: 4.7-inch IPS HD touchscreen (1280×720 pixels, 312ppi) with Dragontrail Scratch-resistant Glass | 1.6GHz quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor | 1GB RAM | 8GB internal memory, microSD card up to 32GB | 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4, GPS | Dual-SIM (GSM+GSM) | 8MP rear camera with LED flash and 1080p FullHD video recording | 1.6MP front camera with 720p HD video recording | 2000mAh battery | Android 4.3 Jelly Bean with MIUI v5

Price: Rs. 5,999

Design: Yeah, it’s a budget smartphone, but it’s sad that the Redmi 1s looks and feels like a budget smartphone. It’s heavy, it has big bezels that are a put-off, the screen is prone to fingerprint smudges, and the overall build quality feels cheap. But perhaps the biggest problem is the capacitive buttons under the screen. The red colour is a turn-off and looks childish. More importantly, they aren’t backlit, which means they are impossible to spot and use in a dark room. The Redmi 1s will get the job done, but it won’t look good doing it.

Screen: The 4.7-inch HD screen is, without a doubt, the best you get at this price. Plus, it has Dragontrail protection to keep away scratches on the glass. Sunlight legibility isn’t the best we have seen, but in this price range, it’s good enough.

Performance: The Redmi 1s is a satisfying experience, but not an excellent one. You’ll be able to play most games, but not at their highest graphics settings. You’ll be able to multi-task between apps, but once in a while, they do crash. None of it is a deal-breaker when you consider the price. But it is a little frustrating at times.

Camera: For the first time, you get a budget phone with a camera that won’t make you cringe. Yes, you can safely use it in most situations and even low-lit environments. For comparison, the photos are as good as what you would get on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus or the iPhone 4.

Memory: Unlike other sub-10k phones, there are no compromises with the 8GB internal memory of the Redmi 1s. App installations aren’t a problem, and the microSD card can take care of all your extra space requirements.

Interface: Xiaomi’s custom Android interface, called MIUI, customizes the operating system so it doesn’t really look like Android. Nonetheless, it’s easy to use and works well. Considering that this low-cost phone might be ideal for those new to Android, Xiaomi has also made a “Lite Mode” for the MIUI. Essentially, this simplifies Android by turning oft-used apps into large tiles, adding a “Quick Contacts” pane, and increasing the font. It’s the kind of stuff that would make Android easy for parents and others new to smartphones.

Battery: The 2000mAh battery of the Redmi 1s lasts for about 14 hours of usage on a single charge, which is not bad, but not excellent. It’ll go for a little over 5 hours of pure video playback. It’s good enough. What’s annoying is the time it takes to charge. From 5% to 100% took over 2.5 hours, which is far too long.

Special Mention: Xiaomi’s flash sale model means that the Redmi 1s has the same problem as the Xiaomi Mi3. It’s the best phone you can buy at this price, but actually buying it from Flipkart—the only retailer—requires a combination of patience and luck. It shouldn’t be this hard to buy a phone.

Verdict :Despite the slow-charging battery, app crashes and the design flaws, the Xiaomi Redmi 1s is still the best phone you can buy at this price. Those problems are not deal-breakers, and importantly, Redmi 1s gets it right in the things that matter: screen quality, overall battery life, and camera.

The only issue with the phone is that purchase model, which is frustrating, annoying, and perhaps even insulting. Frankly, it’s ridiculous that buying a phone with your own hard-earned money is this difficult. If you’re fine with jumping through Xiaomi’s hoops, then the Redmi 1s is the phone to get.

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