The Redmi Note 3 is an impressive phone for its price. A Google search will read you the specs - a hexa-core Snapdragon 650 with 3 (or 2) GB of LPDDR3 memory, 32 (or 16) GB of flash storage, 4050 mAh battery and a 5.5” full HD display. There is also a fingerprint scanner, full metal body and a 16 MP rear camera. All this, for as low as Rs. 9,999, is as good as it can get.
First up, I’m impressed by the build quality and finish of the phone. You wouldn’t expect a metal body at this price point, but clearly Xiaomi doesn’t like compromises (or really?). Now don’t get me wrong - it is not flagship quality, but it comes fairly close. The fingerprint scanner is located in a comfortable location, probably inspired by the Nexus phones. The display is good too: nice and vibrant with a fair resolution for its size. Yes, 5.5” is phablet category, so make sure you know that before you consider purchasing this phone.
MIUI 7 feels like a heavily skinned version of what remains of Android. With Xiaomi’s own suit of apps replacing the standard Android apps, a seasoned Android user may be taken aback. However, MIUI is well-executed and has a lot of features you didn’t know you wanted. The Security app is by far my favourite - apart from keeping your phone safe, it provides cache cleaning, data usage control and various phone profiles with auto-switching. Again, these features can be replicated using free apps available on the Play Store, but the fact that it is included in the phone right out-of-the-box is a good thing to have. MIUI is also fairly customisable using the themes and wallpapers on its Themes app, but I didn’t like most of them.
Performance of the phone is more than amazing. The Snapdragon 650 along with its Adreno 510 GPU does an excellent job at pushing frames even during heavy gaming. Games like Asphalt 8 are playable with no distinct lag. MIUI adds to the performance of the phone, with OS level improvements to manage CPU usage. There is even a ‘Performance’ toggle to further better the speed of the phone.
One thing that isn’t that great with the phone is its camera. Although 16 MP, this camera is an average performer. Most pictures have too much noise and miss the overall quality of the picture. Even with HDR turned on, there isn’t a significant improvement in image quality (other than the fact that the image is brighter). Low-light photography is a complete no and videography in not recommended. The camera is the most noticeable flaw of the phone, and is a perfect explanation of ‘more megapixels doesn’t mean better quality’.
While the camera can be a deal-breaker, the fingerprint scanner is just the opposite. It is quick - Xiaomi says 0.3 seconds quick. Other than unlocking your phone on a single tap, the fingerprint scanner allows for a powerful integrated app-lock. In fact, small features like this make the Redmi Note 3 an amazing phone to own. The Reading Mode for the display, the multi-format audio support, the hybrid SIM/SD-card slot and the IR blaster are all cherries on the cake.
The verdict? If you have nothing more than Rs. 12,000 to spend on a phone, buy this. In fact, the Redmi Note 3 gives excellent phones like the OnePlus X a run for its money. With the Moto G4 Plus entering the market, there is likely going to be heated competition. For now, though, the Redmi Note 3 is a worthy purchase; with a huge battery (it literally lasts 5-6 hours on-screen), a super fast fingerprint scanner and the I-didn’t-know-I-wanted-it features of MIUI 7, there is lot to love about this phone.
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P.S. Thank you to my friend Arnav Garg for sharing his experiences with the phone, which greatly influenced the review.
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