Updated: August 9, 2016 8:32:53 pm
Xiaomi Redmi 3S Prime is a smaller, more budget friendly version of the Redmi Note 3. But more importantly this phone doesn’t compromise on battery life, just like its big brother. And yes, Xiaomi is quick to point out this is a Made in India phone, from the box to the accessories. Like the bigger Redmi Note 3, Xiaomi is also launching the Redmi 3S in two versions in India: The cheaper version costs Rs 6,999 and has 2GB RAM+16GB storage, while the Rs 8,999 one is called the Redmi 3S Prime and comes with 3GB RAM, 32GB storage and a fingerprint sensor.
If 2015 was the year of phones with the Rs 6,999 price-tag, 2016 is all about Rs 9,999 as the coveted tag. Anyone who’s in the market for a new phone with a budget between Rs 8,999 to Rs 12,000,is likely to be confused. Should I spend Rs 2,000 more and get the 32GB version of a phone? Is the one with a bigger camera better? Do I need more RAM? These are all valid questions, especially if you are buying a smartphone with limited cash to spare, and want something that will at least last a whole year.
With the Redmi 3S, Xiaomi once again has new phones for under Rs 7,000 and Rs 9,000. The Chinese startup is hoping to cover all the price points in the budget category, and in a market like India where every penny matters, this is a strategy others are also following. So is the Redmi 3S/Redmi 3S Prime worth the hype? Is this the ideal budget phone you can buy in India right now? Here’s our review of the Redmi 3S Prime version.
Redmi 3S Prime Specs: 5-inch HD display | Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 octa-core processor at 1.4 Ghz | 3GB RAM+32GB storage (expandable to 128 GB ) | 13 MP rear camera + 5 MP front camera | MIUI 7 on Android M | 4100 mAh battery
Redmi 3S Price: Rs 8,999 for 3GB RAM+ 32GB storage/ Rs 6,999 for 2GB RAM+16GB storage
Redmi 3S Prime/Redmi 3S is a smaller version of the Redmi Note 3, and yet you can’t help but wonder: How can this 5-inch phone have a slightly larger battery compared to the Note 3? (4100 vs 4050 mAh). The Redmi 3S shows it is possible to bring good design and specifications at a budget.
The full metal unibody design and frame on the side with the slightly curved back means the phone fits easily in your hand. The camera lens is on the left corner with the fingerprint scanner being bang in middle of the rear cover, and the speakers are also at the back. One look at the phone and you are likely to say: Redmi 3S Prime is a copy of the Redmi Note 3, which might not be such a bad thing for Xiaomi. It shows a certain standard across design, which has come to define the company’s products.
In my opinion, the design of the Redmi 3S also works in its favour. The phone is very light (weighs only 144 gms), which is close to what my iPhone 6s weighs, and yet this one packs a much bigger and better battery. The Redmi 3S shows it is possible to make a compact, yet good-looking device at a budget, that also happens to be made in India.
Battery, battery, battery: This phone is all about the 4,100 mAh battery that refuses to die. As we’ve noted in an earlier piece, Xiaomi is not the first company to introduce a big battery smartphone at a budget. Lenovo Vibe P1m for instance had a 3,900 mAh battery and was launched at a Rs 7,999 price in 2015.
In Xiaomi’s case, the battery lives up to the claims. In the GeekBench 3 battery test, the phone was still at 51 per cent seven hours into the test, and I was listening to music, getting notifications, etc on the phone. From what I’ve observed, most phones are down to 20 per cent if you run GeekBench for 7 straight hours.
In terms of real-life usage, I didn’t have to charge the Redmi 3S Prime at all during the weekend, and I made it my primary phone for browsing the internet, watching Netflix etc. At less than 20 per cent battery, I decided to start typing out a story on the phone (in the middle of the day), took some photos with it on an outing, and the phone didn’t die. I only put it to charge later in the evening when I got home with the battery at 1 per cent. For a phone with a Rs 8,999 price tag that’s impressive, I’d say.
For performance, Xiaomi sticks with the Qualcomm processors, and this is the first phone with a Qualcomm 430 processor in India. Sure this is not the fastest phone from Xiaomi’s stable, but the 3GB RAM variant has more than enough power to handle your daily needs. Multi-tasking was not a problem on this phone, and it can handle the graphics heavy games like Asphalt 8, Beach Buggy well, without any crashes or lag. The phone didn’t heat up significantly during gaming sessions either, which is another plus.
Camera on the Redmi 3S performs well in bright outdoors. The camera is fast and responsive and the colour reproduction is quite good. However, low-light performance is still an issue.
What’s not good?
While I liked the pictures, the Redmi 3S gave in bright sunlight with blue skies in the back, its performance inside a room is not so good, or at least not as great as Xiaomi claims. The low-light photos still needs some work, and some of them look quite bad. So yeah, you might not always get great pictures while going out for dinner with family. However, that said, the price tag of this smartphone is under Rs 10,000 and it is still better than what other budget phones offer with their so-called 13-mp smartphone camera sensors.
The software issues with Xiaomi continue in this device as well. I could not run Antutu on this phone, because it would keep saying permissions were not granted, while MIUI7 insists they are; this is a problem I’ve faced on the Mi Max as well, and hopefully Xiaomi is working to fix these glitches with the MIUI8.
Should you buy?
If you are in the market for a budget smartphone, and don’t have more than Rs 7,000 to spare, the Redmi 3S is without doubt one of the best options. It has a battery life that won’t die, 4G VoLTE support, and a much better performance than other phones in this price band.
Interestingly for prospective customers, the Redmi 3S Prime also poses a new dilemma. Should they get the Redmi Note 3 at Rs 9,999 and sacrifice the 32GB storage option? I’d say in case of the Redmi 3S Prime, the 5-inch HD display feels underwhelming, and this is especially true when you watch videos on the phone. I feel a user can just spend Rs 1000 extra, and get the Redmi Note 3, which has a much better display. Frankly it all depends on how flexible your budget is, because both the Redmi 3S Prime and Redmi Note 3 are solid options.
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