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Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 review: Xiaomi's budget legacy continues
Chinese smartphone vendor, Xiaomi had a good run in 2016 with its Redmi Note 3 being the bestselling budget smartphone in India.
According to a report, Xiaomi sold over 2.5 million units of Xiaomi Redmi Note 3. Within a period of just over two years, Xiaomi has sealed its place as a major vendor in the Indian market. Incidentally, Xiaomi calls India as its second home.
- Excellent display
- Insane battery life
- Decent day-to-day performance
- Software is optimized perfectly
- Sub-par camera
- Sluggish performance at times
Xiaomi did not enjoy the same success with its flagship phone, the Mi 5 in India. Though it was a great device at the price point, the sales weren't as good as their budget phones. That said, Xiaomi lost the affordable flagship segment to its Chinese counterpart, OnePlus for its stupendous OnePlus 3.
Xiaomi launched an array of flagship phones in China, but none of them reached Indian shores. Also, the company just launched the base variant of the Xiaomi Mi 5 with 3GB of RAM. But, the company has entirely different plans for their budget smartphones.
Last year, at the same time, Xiaomi launched the Redmi Note 3 in India and cut to one year later, we have the successor to it in the form of Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 with upgraded internals and minuscule design changes.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, by a huge margin, impressed many with its all-round performance and people are hoping the same with Redmi Note 4 as well. But, a lot has changed since the launch of Note 3; We have several new manufacturers such as the LeEco, Coolpad, Honor, etc.
Both the Coolpad and Honor are offering smartphones with dual camera in the sub Rs. 15,000 price bracket. But, the Redmi Note 4 comes with only single camera. Will the Redmi Note 4 outshine the competition and keep up the name of its predecessor? Let's find out in our complete review of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4.
Design: Looks similar to the Redmi Note 3, but with little retouch to make it more accentuate
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 and Redmi Note 4 are almost identical. The Note 4 retains the same 5.5-inch display as its predecessor, but additionally, it has the 2.5D curved glass, which Redmi Note 3 missed out. Also, the Note 4 has the same screen resolution of 1080*1920 pixels, which further extends to a pixel density of 403 PPI (pixels per inch).
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 has the candy bar design, which is seen on several other smartphones in the same price tag with the unimetal body design. However, the edges are more rounded in the phone. The phone is on the heavier side at 174 grams, but Xiaomi's engineering team has done a great job in weight distribution.
Xiaomi still sticking with the hardware capacitive buttons and they are backlit as well, thankfully. There's nothing fancy with the button placements as well. The volume rockers along with the power button are located on the right side of the phone. The hybrid dual SIM card slot is present on the left of the phone.
At the bottom of the phone, we have the two bottom firing speakers, along with the micro USB port. It is said to see that Xiaomi has gone with the micro USB port as the world is moving towards the next generation, USB Type-C port. But, it is worth noticing that Xiaomi released the phone back in August 2016.
At the top of the phone, we have the IR blaster which can be used as the universal remote to control your TV, AC, and other stuff. Besides the IR blaster, there is a 3.5mm headphone jack. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 also comes with a fingerprint scanner placed below the 13MP rear camera module within reach of your index finger.
That said, we liked the design of the phone and the addition of 2.5D curved glass on the front is a welcome change. But, the only issue we faced with the phone was with its power button and volume rockers as they are slightly hard to press.
Display: The best 1080p panel at the price point
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 retains the same Full HD IPS LCD panel from its predecessor and now has a 2.5D curved glass over it. Having said that, there is no mentioning of the screen protection from the company officially, but we noticed that the display is not prone to scratches.
Being only an LCD panel, this 5.5-inch display on the Redmi Note 4 offers deep blacks, punchy colors, high contrast, and decent viewing angles as well. The screen gets very bright, but we ended up facing some difficulties while reading the text under bright sunlight and this is due in large part to the reflective panel.
Xiaomi hasn't done any fancy stuff with the device, and the user interface has several display modes to choose from Warm, Standard, and Cool. We recently reviewed the Lenovo P2 smartphone, which uses an AMOLED panel, but this LCD panel is better than the one seen on Lenovo P2 as it was plagued with low brightness issues.
All in all, the display on the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 is the best one in the price bracket.
Performance: Not the best in business
Xiaomi surprised one and all with the hardware in the Redmi Note 4 as they have gone with the battery efficient Qualcomm Snapdragon 625, which is an octa-core chip and built on 14nm manufacturing process. This is the same chipset used in the recently launched Lenovo P2, and we rated it as the best battery smartphone of all time. However, it has a 5100mAh battery.
The chipset on the Redmi Note 4 is coupled with 4GB of RAM (our review device) and 64GB of internal storage to handle system operations. Also, there is the Adreno 506 GPU to handle graphic intensive tasks.
In the real life performance, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 performed very well. Switching between the apps was very smooth. Playing games was fun, but the phone does get warm with comprehensive gaming for 20 minutes. Also, we noticed some minor frame drops in the Asphalt 8, especially in the Tokyo Drift level. Nevertheless, that was manageable.
In terms of connectivity, the phone comes with colossal of connectivity options including the support for VoLTE as well. We did not notice any call drops with the Airtel 4G SIM card but saw serious issues with the Reliance Jio 4G SIM. That said, the problems related to Jio 4G SIM card were fixed with a weekly software update, thankfully.
Also, we faced some major stutters in the phone with nearly 40 apps opened in the background, which is a letdown as the phone has 4GB of RAM to hold the apps in memory. Nevertheless, we know the Xiaomi's aggressive RAM management to save battery life.
Overall, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 is an excellent phone for day-to-day usage, but power users will be slightly disappointed with the gaming performance, but the phone transcends in its battery life, which will be covered in detail in upcoming sections.
Software: Xiaomi got it right this time!
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, released a year back came out with MIUI 7 based on Android Lollipop and was seriously criticized for the quirks it came with.
Another thing worth noticing is that Xiaomi pushed the MIUI 8 for the Redmi Note 3 based on Android Lollipop itself, but not on Android Marshmallow, which was a major letdown for the company.
Ever since the company faced major condemn regarding the Redmi Note 3, they were pretty much serious about the software updates.
That said, the same isn't case with Redmi Note 4 as Xiaomi is booting the smartphone with MIUI 8 based on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow along with weekly stable updates, which is a vast improvement.
Xiaomi's MIUI is one heck of a skinned user interface used in the smartphones right now. Noticeably, several people love the MIUI, and after it had got updated to MIUI 8, most of them were impressed with the colorful interface.
Xiaomi is the one who developed the second space feature, where you can run applications such as WhatsApp, Hike, etc. with two accounts in one phone and that is a welcome feature.
Second space, App lock are the other noticeable features in the MIUI 8 and all of them flawlessly in the Redmi Note 4.
The software is optimized correctly to offer better performance, but the phone will run out of memory with 40 applications opened in the background, which is a slight setback as the similarly priced Lenovo P2 has better RAM management.
Camera: Go for it only if you shoot under lighting conditions
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 comes with a 13MP primary camera with f/2.0 aperture and dual tone flashlight located below the camera module. When compared to the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, the Note 4 has a noticeable difference in megapixel count. However, the reduce in megapixel count did not affect the real life performance.
The Note 4's primary camera is way better than the one seen on Redmi Note 3. The picture captured with the rear camera came out with great details, but the contrast levels aren't great enough, though.
The photos captured with the rear camera in daylight came out with actual real life scenario, but sadly, the images were overexposed under extreme lighting conditions over the corners.
The real problem with the camera of Redmi Note 4 is its low-lighting performance. Yes, the rear camera struggles a lot in situations where light is very low.
Also, the lack of OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) means that you have to keep your phone steady while capturing images. If you don't do that, you will end up with blurred shots most of the time, especially in night conditions.
The phone locks the focus very quickly, and the camera app has the same interface as previous Xiaomi devices and resembles the iPhone camera application.
The 5MP front-facing camera also has f/2.0 aperture, and it also captures images with excellent details under good lighting conditions. Noticeable noise can be seen on all the images captured indoors, but they are decent enough to post on social media platforms, though.
Overall, the hunt for the best camera phone under Rs. 15,000 still continues, but for now, we recommend you to go with the Motorola Moto G4 Plus if your priority is the camera.
Battery: Gives run for others with its battery life
The Xiaomi Redmi 3s launched in August 2016 has the best battery life in any Xiaomi device till date, and with the Xiaomi Redmi Note, this stat is going to change. Yes, the Redmi Note 4 is the company's best battery smartphone. Sadly, the battery life is not as good as the one seen on Lenovo P2. However, the Lenovo P2 has a 5100mAh battery, whereas the Note 4 has only 4100mAh battery, which apparently made a difference.
The phone easily lasts for two days with moderate usage like two to three hours of calling, 30 minutes of social networking apps usage, an hour of gaming, and full 4G LTE turned on. However, the battery life decreases when you start using the phone heavily, but it can easily last for a single day, thanks to the Snapdragon 625 chipset.
We received the unit under embargo nearly a month ago, and Xiaomi did not provide us any bundled charger, but we tested charging speed with the Lenovo P2's bundled charger and the phone charged from zero to 100 percent in less than two hours.
Verdict: An excellent smartphone that lacks the WOW factor
When Xiaomi released the Redmi Note 3 a year ago, it was the first smartphone to feature a Snapdragon 652 chipset under Rs. 10,000 price bracket and carried incredible specifications. Cut to one year later; we have the successor to it, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 with an improved design, hardware, and better camera.
The battery capacity remained the same, but with the Snapdragon 625 chip under-the-hood, you can expect more juice with the Note 4. Touting as a successor to the most successful Redmi Note 3, Xiaomi has got everything right on the Redmi Note 4 as well, and the pricing is spot on as well.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 takes off where the Redmi Note 3 left off but lacks the WOW factor.