The Xiaomi Redmi Note is the Chinese company’s affordable phablet offering that features a 5.5-inch HD display, 13 megapixel camera, 3,100mAh battery, dual-SIM capabilities, and powered by a MediaTek octa-core CPU and MIUI V5 OS. With an expected price tag of around Php7,000, is the Redmi Note the smartphone worth waiting for? Let’s find out by reading our review below.
Editor’s Note: This handset was purchased in Hong Kong last July for about $HK1,470.
Design and Construction
As mentioned in our first impressions, the Redmi Note is a fairly large device thanks to its 5.5-inch display.
It means that most of the time, it would require you to use both hands for better navigation. It’s 154mm tall, 78.7mm wide, and 9.45mm thick which is larger and chunkier than the 5.7-inch Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm).
On the front we have the 5.5-inch HD IPS display with a pixel density of 267ppi. Right above it is the 5 megapixel front-facing camera, notifications light, and earpiece, while down below are three red illuminated capacitive buttons.
One the right-hand side are the volume rocker and power/lock button, right on top are the headphone jack and microphone, and down at the bottom is another microphone and the microUSB port. Flip it on its back and you’ll find the 13 megapixel rear camera, LED flash, the MI logo and the speaker.
It’s a bit hefty on the hands at 199g but this would only remind you of how sturdy and well-made the device is. In addition, it has a plastic body with a glossy finish which adds a nice touch to the device.
Display and Multimedia
The Redmi Note sports a 5.5-inch HD IPS display. It has a pixel density of 267ppi which is decent enough for a screen this size. Color saturation and vibrancy is good, and thanks to IPS, it has good viewing angles too. That being said, the Redmi Note makes a good multimedia companion especially if you like watching videos.
The speakers are also good and is capable of producing rich and audible sound. However, the speaker placement at the lower left at the back could be a downside to some as it is easy to get muffled if you place it on a soft surface and your fingers would often find itself there.
OS, Apps, and UI
The Redmi Note is not yet offered locally so the unit we have on hand was bought in Hong Kong and comes with a Chinese ROM (MIUI V5 based on Android 4.2.2 Jellybean) so, as expected, it is populated with apps focused on Chinese users.
We were able to sideload the necessary Google applications like the Play Store, however, the experience doesn’t feel that much optimized and feels inconsistent at times. (i.e. Delayed Hangouts messages and Gmail syncing.)
The good news is, a global version of the ROM (with Google apps baked in) is available for download at en.miui.com, so tinkerers can just flash their Redmi Note if needed.
The Redmi Note is equipped with a 13 megapixel rear camera and a 5 megapixel front camera, both sporting a f/2.2 aperture and 28mm wide angle lens. The rear camera is capable of capturing crisp images with natural colors especially in bright conditions. It performs well when capturing sceneries and still subjects but when it comes to moving subjects it can be relatively slow.
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Xiaomi Redmi Note video recording sample (1080p, 30 fps, MPEG-4):
Performance and Benchmarks
Powering the Redmi Note is a 1.7GHz MTK MT6592 octa-core CPU, 2GB RAM, Mali-450 MP GPU, and MIUI V5 based on Android 4.2.2 Jellybean. So far it performed really well and ran all the apps we installed without any issues. Hopefully it gets updated to Android 4.4 KitKat soon like its LTE-enabled sibling so it can take advantage of the new features and optimizations.
* AnTuTu Benchmark – 27,640
* Quadrant Standard – 15,039
* Vellamo – 1,551 (Browser), 1513 (Multicore), 875 (Metal)
* Nenamark2 – 61.5 fps
The Redmi Note comes with a large battery at 3,100mAh. Even with two SIMS on standby and heavy internet-over-WiFi consumption, it was able to last the whole day up to late night.
However, during our battery benchmark test (50% brightness and 0% volume), it was only capable of 5.26 hours worth of playback which is below average. A software update might be able to improve this part.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note is one of those phablets that we don’t mind recommending, not just because of the specs but because of the price. At an expected price tag of around Php7,000 and with this kind of build and quality, this is almost a steal.
Xiaomi Redmi Note specs:
5.5-inch HD IPS display, 267ppi
Mediatek 1.7GHz MTK MT6592 octa-core CPU
Mali-450 MP GPU
8GB internal storage
up to 32GB via microSD
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0 LE
13 megapixel rear camera w/ LED flash
5 megapixel front camera
MIUI V5.0 (Android 4.2.2 Jellybean)
Li-Ion 3,100mAh battery
154 x 78.7 x 9.5mm
What we liked about it:
* Good build
* Large display
* Good performance
* Large battery capacity
* Affordable price
What we didn’t like about it:
* Still on old Android Jellybean
* Below average playback test results