Xiaomi Redmi Note first impressions: a power-packed phablet on a budget

“The Redmi Note is a complete package with a large screen and powerful innards, all under Rs 10,000”

Xiaomi Redmi Note (1)

Xiaomi’s success within just four years of its foundation isn’t just due to great pricing or loaded specs. It’s also how the brand tries to ride on popular trends. One of the hottest trends in the mobile market these days is that of phablets, since they offer more functionality than a typical smartphone, yet aren’t just media consumption devices like tablets. The Beijing-based company launched its very first phablet in China back in March, and the same device also features in the brand’s lineup for the Indian market. During the Xiaomi’s Indian launch event, we managed to get our hands on the Xiaomi Redmi Note and here’s what we feel about it.

The Redmi Note packs a 5.5-inch screen sporting a resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels. In our usage, the display looked really good, reproducing vivid colours and sharp text. There’s no doubt that a device sporting a large 5.5-inch display will be big in overall size, unless the company trims down the bezels like LG doing so with its latest flagship, the G3. The Redmi Note is pretty large, but still is operable by a single hand with just a little bit of difficulty. However, the problem with the phablet is its considerable weight of 199 grams, which is quite heavy compared to most of the devices of the same size. The plastic body doesn’t help either, as it adds to the clunky feel.

Xiaomi Redmi Note (2) Xiaomi Redmi Note (5)

Xiaomi Redmi Note (3) Xiaomi Redmi Note (9)

Apart from the display adorning the fascia, the phablet gets various sensors and camera above it, while there’s an array of touch buttons at the bottom. One thing we appreciate about this device is that the navigation keys have a red backlight which is pleasing to the eyes, unlike the white backlighting on most other devices. For powering on the device or increasing or decreasing volume, the buttons are available on the right edge, while the left side is empty. The top is where the 3.5mm audio slot is placed, whereas the micro-USB port is on the bottom. Similar to the Redmi 1s, the rear panel is removable, exposing the slots for inserting the pair of SIM cards and the microSD card. However, the back cover is glossy and gets smudged pretty quickly. The phablet sips juice from a beefy 3,100mAh removable battery.

The performance aspect of the phablet is handled by MediaTek’s octa-core MT6592 SoC with each core clocked at 1.7GHz. Helping the device further is a generous 2GB of RAM and the result should be a lag-free operation. There was not a single lag while we used the phablet, and switched between different apps. We were also able to play the highly-popular endless running game Temple Run and the performance was buttery smooth. However, the real capability of the device can only be gauged in our full review, where it’ll be tested out in different scenarios. Storage is available in the form of 8GB built-in memory, which offers 5.06GB to end users after taking into account the space taken by the OS and its resources. But don’t you worry, as you can add a microSD card of up to 32GB to get more space for your files and multimedia needs.

Xiaomi Redmi Note (17)

For imagery, the device comes equipped with a 13-megapixel primary snapper along with an LED flash. We clicked a few images from the Xiaomi Redmi Note, and while the image looked fine at first glance, there was a lot of noise when zoomed in. But that could also be due to inadequate lighting and hence we’d like to give our verdict on camera when we get a chance to review the phablet. For selfie-obsessed users, the device would be a delight with a 5MP camera at the front.

Xiaomi Redmi Note (28) Xiaomi Redmi Note (34)

Similar to all Xiaomi offerings, the Redmi Note offers the MIUI firmware based on the slightly outdated Android 4.2. MIUI is aimed at both the new and power users alike thanks to simple interface with a lot of functionalities hidden underneath. Users can also make use of 10GB of free cloud storage on i.mi.com to back up their contacts, messages and images (in their original resolution). Another useful feature offered by cloud sync is that users can send messages from their web browser itself.

Like all the Xiaomi devices, the Redmi Note has been priced affordably at Rs 9,999. However, similar to its smaller sibling, the Redmi 1s (first impressions), there’s no info on the exact launch date. With the sub-Rs 10,000 price tag, the Xiaomi Redmi Note appears a fully-loaded offering since there aren’t many octa-core-laden devices or phones with 2GB RAM in this range. What acts as the icing on the cake is that it’s a phablet and thus merges the functionalities of both the phone and a tablet.

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