Xiaomi is starting 2017 with a big launch for India. The Redmi Note 4 is now officially out for the market, and wants to recreate the magic of its predecessor the Redmi Note 3. But it’s not going to be that easy as the Redmi Note 4 comes at a time, when there are a lot more budget phones in the market.
The Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 price bracket has gotten seriously competitive. Lenovo+Motorola, Asus, etc are just some of the names that have launched new options in this price range. In fact Lenovo has been on a spree, introducing a new variant of its K series, pretty much all through 2016, and it will likely continue the same in 2017.
For Redmi Note 4, it won’t be an easy march in the market, and availability has always been an issue with the Xiaomi phones. However, this time Xiaomi is going for an open sale with Redmi Note 4, although we won’t be surprised if this one goes out of stock within minutes on January 23.
So is the Redmi Note 4 a significant boost over the earlier phone? Well here’s our review.
Specifications: 5.5-inch full HD display | Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor | 4GB RAM+64GB storage | 13MP rear camera + 5MP front camera | 4100 mAh battery | MIUI 8.0 with Android Marshmallow|
Price: Rs 12,999
Now, the Redmi Note 3 when it launched in India, was an exceptional phone; it sported an all metal design, and most importantly came with a dependable battery life and performance. The Redmi Note 4 builds on all of this, but in subtle ways. So, when I first looked at the review unit of the new phone, I wasn’t quite blown away.
The Redmi Note 4 sticks with the all metal, unibody design; this time the bands on the top and bottom of the rear of the device have more prominent gold trimmings. It still has a curved back, and there’s 2.5D curved glass all over the front, which is a first for a Redmi phone.
The camera is bang in the middle of the back and doesn’t just out at all. The fingerprint scanner is just below the camera and the dual-LED flash.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 has dual speakers at the bottom, and not at the back of the device like with the earlier phone. It’s a got a micro-USB port for charging, and there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack on top. Xiaomi is sticking with its hybrid dual-SIM slot, which means you can run a nano-SIM+microSIM or nano+SIM plus microSD card.
It’s still a pretty light smartphone, and overall the build quality doesn’t disappoint. Xiaomi’s mid-range affordable phones don’t feel or work like budget phones, and that consistency is something that works in its favour. Sure the Redmi Note 4 doesn’t signify a design evolution, and feels a bit safe. But it is by no means an under-performer.
So what’s good?
First let’s get to the USP, which is the battery. I would say this is the most reliable bit of the Redmi Note phones, so reliable that it feels a tad boring. The battery that will last you a day with heavy usage. I used the Redmi Note 4 with 4G VoLTE and I was getting around one and half day without charging. This is with watching videos, streaming Netflix on Google Cast, using the phone for navigation data, and constant notifications. If you’re looking for a phone with a reliable battery, the Redmi Note 4 will be there for you.
The 5.5-inch full HD display from Xiaomi is top class. It’s perfect for those who love to watch videos and works well even in sunlight. However, I do notice the phone’s glass has some deep scratches already, so getting a tempered glass is a must for this phone. I must point out that during my usage the phone’s back had been well-protected thanks to a solid case.
The processor is now the Snapdragon 625; Redmi Note 3 had the Snapdragon 650, which is geared towards a more power packed performance. The new Snapdragon 625 is supposed to offer more improvements on the battery front and uses the 14nm FinFET process, compared to the 28nm on the 650 processor.
I got the 4GB RAM+64GB storage version for review, and so far the Note 4 has been a snappy device. On the benchmark front, the Redmi Note 4 scored around 62,000 on Antutu, putting it just below the Galaxy Note 5 in the list (around number 51). It might not be setting benchmarks on fire, but the performance is solid. Multi-tasking, browsing the internet, running games like Asphalt 8, etc is not a problem on this device. Given the price of Rs 12,999, Xiaomi is offering something stellar, especially if you consider the 64GB storage. The phone didn’t heat up for me during gaming either.
On the software side, MIUI 8 has tweaks like the ability to run two versions of the same app. You can go into settings and find Dual apps and check which ones are supported. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger might on top of most people’s lists in India. I could easily run two Facebook Messenger accounts on this, though I’m not someone who needs such features. But for those with two WhatsApp accounts, this will be a god send.
Redmi Note 4 has a 13MP rear camera, which actually surprised me with its daylight performance. If you’ve got ample light, this camera can perform pretty well. The pictures have details, the colours are not over saturated, and some of the closer shots looked stunning. Plus it responds quickly. But it’s not all perfect as pictures in low-light end up disappointing.
So what’s not good?
The low-light camera is still a problem. You can see that photos taken in these conditions have too much noise and are missing details. HDR mode gives slightly better images. But this is still a weak point for the Note 4 and Xiaomi definitely needs improvement on this front.
I wish Xiaomi had added more powerful speakers at the bottom; the current ones are not the most powerful, which is evident when you’re watching videos.
Of course my main issue is that I’m on the beta build of MIUI 8. It also means my experience of the camera software, the overall UI might be different from that of a regular user. So far I’ve not faced any major app crashes or reboots on this build. My experience has been mostly positive, and let’s hope that continues.
Should you buy?
If you’re on the Redmi Note 3, you might not see a lot of reason to upgrade. For those looking for a new phone for under Rs 13,000, the market is flood with options and it can be confusing. Lenovo K6 Power is an obvious competitor that comes to mind, given the battery, and yes the camera is impressive on that one. But there’s no doubt that Xiaomi’s extra storage at Rs 12,999 is an excellent deal.
A lot will depend on availability as well for the Redmi Note 4. If you are Mi fan, and want to upgrade right now, this phone is one of the best options to consider. It might seem a tad boring, but so far it has definitely been reliable.