Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 Review
Xiaomi’s latest mid-range offering is a smartphone that’s destined to give consumers balanced specs and pricing. We take it for a full spin to see how it fares as an everyday premium phone. This is our full review of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4.
Design and Construction
The Redmi Note 4 flaunts a 5.5-inch display which is overlaid with a Full HD resolution panel. It has fairly thin bezels and employs three capacitive buttons namely: Recent Apps, Home, and Back. You’d be glad to know that these are backlit so you wouldn’t have to guess where to press when you’re in the dark. Up top is the speaker for calls which is flanked by the sensor and the front 5-megapixel camera.
Turn it around and you’ll get acquainted with its metal unibody that feels smooth on the hands and exudes a visually elegant presence. You’ll notice that the back panel is segmented by two antenna bands which allow for better signal reception. On the lower half is where you’ll see Xiaomi’s branding. Aligned with the fingerprint scanner are the main 13-megapixel shooter and dual LED lights. The fingerprint scanner has a shiny outline that positively accentuates the area.
On the right side are the only physical buttons you’ll see on the Redmi Note 4. Here we have the volume rocker above the power/lock button. From this angle, we also see the chamfered edge this handset sports.
Meanwhile, the opposite side houses the SIM card slots with a hybrid setup. You may choose to use two SIM cards or sacrifice the second slot for additional storage via microSD.
Up top, we have three circles that look like they’re lined up according to size. The biggest one is the 3.5mm audio jack, the middle is an IR blaster for controlling appliances, and the smallest is the pinhole for the microphone.
The Redmi Note 4 still rocks a micro-USB port situated under it. There are holes on both sides that appear to be speaker grilles, but it’s only the right side that throws sound.
On the hand, the handset feels sharp due to its tapered edges but it feels very premium. The whole back panel is made of aluminum, unlike its predecessor. It’s also a bit hefty when using for a long period. Overall, Xiaomi did a good job with the build quality of the Redmi Note 4.
Display and Multimedia
The phone is equipped with a 5.5-inch IPS display. It’s got a Full HD resolution at 1920 x 1080 pixels or roughly 401ppi of pixel density. By today’s standards, it’s a respectable resolution, especially in its range. In terms of quality, there’s not much to complain here as the panel is vibrant, punchy, and can be viewed properly even at extreme angles. It can get pretty bright or really dim based on your desired setting.
One would notice that the tone of the display leans on the cold side as a full white image tends to show a bluish tint. It doesn’t greatly affect the overall quality and performance of the screen but it’s worth noting.
For the loudspeakers, you get a mono driver at the bottom. As already mentioned, the symmetrical holes hide a microphone on the left rather than another speaker to qualify as stereo. Anyhow, the loudness is good but lacks bass. If you have the proper earphones, you can also take advantage of Hi-Fi audio processor on the phone.
OS, Apps, and UI
This is the first phone from Xiaomi that runs its latest MIUI 8 on top of Android 6.0 Marshmallow. There are no unnecessary Chinese apps loaded to the handset as it’s running the Global ROM version out of the box. That’s a major plus point since there’s no need to flash in Google services and hide the bloatware. You’ll have to install the Google apps you need though as the phone comes in clean.
The MIUI 8 is a polished version of the 7. Its design is a combination of the features of Android and the simplicity of iOS. It offers a lot of functionality to get your tasks done. We’re a fan Xiaomi’s skin since it doesn’t slow down the system despite the heavy customization. With the 64GB storage onboard, you get 55.72GB free for use.
If you’re not familiar with the MIUI, you won’t have a hard time adjusting to it. Everything is well laid out and smooth transitions are a joy to see on the display. A little pet peeve though is the rounded square icons that are very similar to iOS makes the pretty icons of some apps get stuck in a rounded frame. Apart from that, the MIUI 8 is the best UI from Xiaomi so far.
The imaging department of the Redmi Note 4 is modest with its 13MP phase-detection autofocus rear and 5MP front-facing cameras. Both have an aperture of f/2.0 which could be helpful in low-light scenarios. A dual-tone LED flash also accompanies the rear shooter. The camera UI is as straight-forward as it gets but digging into the settings panel will show additional tweaks.
The rear camera performs great in bright environments. Colors and details are good but there’s a bit of strong sharpening. For social media posting and everyday shots, this is fine. In soft indoor and dim lighting, the camera struggles to get decent shots. It makes us question the purpose of the bright aperture. The front-facing camera, on the other hand, is okay for vanity shots but it has narrower lens compared to the competition. Here are the samples:
As for the video, it can do 1080p. There’s a video stabilization feature that doesn’t seem to be working fine. Instead, it makes the clip look choppy. Here’s the Full HD sample:
Performance and Benchmarks
What’s powering the Redmi Note 4 is the Helio X20 chipset from MediaTek. It’s one of the impressive chipsets from the silicon maker and it’s been on several mid to high-end devices lately. It’s got a total of 10 cores divided into three clusters to meet certain demands with a max clock speed of 2.1GHz while a Mali-T880 MP4 GPU handles the graphics department. Our model comes with 3GB of RAM.
With these specs, you’re guaranteed to have a well-functioning smartphone. You get a fluid UI, smooth transitions, and responsive performance. So far, we’re yet to see it choke with multiple apps open. The 3GB of RAM is not exactly the biggest around but it’s more than adequate for today’s needs. Gaming is also a check here as the phone was able to run intensive graphics game like Asphalt 8 and Dead Trigger 2 without much stutter. Toning the settings by a bit will help a lot. NBA 2K16 is not supported here but there’s the 2K17 available for another purchase.
We have our usual benchmark scores here:
- AnTuTu Benchmark — 73718
- Quadrant Standard — 30468
- PCMark — 5137 (Work), 2660 (Storage)
- Vellamo — 2335 (Browser), 3068 (Multicore), 2653 (Metal)
- 3DMark — 921 (Sling Shot ES 3.1), 1196 (Sling Shot ES 3.0)
Call Quality and Connectivity
The earpiece on the handset has a loud output making calls on the phone possible even in noisy environments. Noise cancellation also helps in the process.
Like any higher mid-range phones in the market, the Redmi Note 4 is well-equipped with multiple radios including 4G LTE, dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, and an IR blaster. You can use the phone to remotely control supported appliances like a boss.
A large 4,100mAh battery provides juice for the device. It’s a pretty large cell so you’d expect it to last and it does. We’re able to use it for a full day with a moderate number of activities like calling, gaming, messaging, and music streaming. If you’d use its battery saver features, it’ll easily go for 2 days or even more if you use sparingly. Charging time takes about an hour and 40 minutes using the included 5V 2A brick.
As with our traditional test with a 1080p loop video in airplane mode with 50% brightness and volume through standard earphones, it was able to do 11 hours and 16 minutes. While the more definite PCMark battery test gave it a score of 11 hours and 6 minutes, about the same as the video loop. It’s definitely a phone to consider for a full day use.
As an everyday driver, the Redmi Note 4 will not disappoint. It’s all you’ll need for a smartphone that’ll function well and will last for a whole day of use on a single charge. Its build is also attractive and solid on hand. What will hinder the phone’s winning streak of balanced features and price is its availability. It’s only available through local online gadget stores with very limited warranty.
Still, for Php9,500 (2GB/16GB) or even at Php10,800 (3GB/64GB) the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 is a value smartphone for those who needs an upgrade from their previous budget device.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 is available at Widget City. See listing here.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 specs:
5.5-inch Full HD display @ 1920 x 1080 resolution
2.5D curved glass on a metal unibody
2.1GHz MediaTek Helio X20 deca-core processor
2GB / 3GB RAM
16GB / 64GB internal storage
Expandable via microSD, up to 256GB (uses SIM 2)
13MP rear camera with f/2.0 aperture, PDAF, dual-LED flash
5MP front camera with f/2.0 aperture
GPS w/ A-GPS
4100mAh battery with fast-charging
Android 6.0 Marshmallow w/ MIUI 8
151 x 76 x 8.4 mm
- Fantastic build
- Good display
- Great performance
- Long battery life
- Not officially available
- Questionable low-light camera performance