Mobile

Xiaomi Redmi 4 Review

Three years after it set foot in the Indian market, the Xiaomi juggernaut is unstoppable, and with each budget smartphone, the company sets new benchmarks in terms of value for money offering as well as sales figures.

After the huge success of Redmi Note 4 and Redmi 4A, Xiaomi has added another charmer to its smartphone portfolio, and it’s the smaller sibling, the Redmi 4. The company promised the unveiling of the successor to its highly successful Redmi 3s Prime at the Redmi 4A launch, and we got lucky enough to review the latest device.

The Redmi 4 looks like a capable phone on the specifications sheet in the budget smartphone market where some compromises are certain. I reviewed the gold color variant with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage, which sounds fair enough to have an idea of how other variants will perform. I have been playing with the device from more than 10 days now, and it reminds me of how Redmi Note 4 felt in its initial days.

The smartphone does not pack anything that we haven’t seen before but its affordable price tag makes it an interesting piece of hardware.  Can Redmi 4 rise above those to offer a great value-for-money smartphone and hit new sales records?  Is it really a complete device for its price? Well, that’s what we are trying to figure out in this review. Read on.

Design

The Redmi 4 looks strikingly similar to the Redmi Note 4 at first, but there’s a lot of tweaking done on the top. The Chinese version and the Indian version of the Redmi 4 have different designs. The Indian variant is similar to the Redmi 4X, which was launched earlier in China. Redmi 4x is basically renamed as the Redmi 4 for Indian market.

In terms of aesthetics, this is the most premium looking phone in its price segment, especially the matte black variant. It has a non-removable back panel, which is made out of good quality aluminum, while the head and chin use polycarbonate for uninterrupted antennae reception. One thing that really enhanced the design is its curved back with rounded corners. It gives a smooth and comfortable when held. The 5-inch display size adds up to the one-handed usability, aided further by the 2.5D curved glass on the front. In a nutshell, the smartphone is solid, has no sharp edges, feels good and sits perfectly in hand.

The 4100mAh battery does make it a little bulky for its size but 150grams won’t bother most of the users. It is 8.7mm thick, which seems decent for a phone with such juicy battery. The camera lens is placed on the top left corner and the fingerprint sensor is placed at the centre. The button placement is perfect for single handed usage and it gives has a tactile feedback. Moreover, you can easily reach the volume rocker, power/lock key, and fingerprint sensor without any hassle.

The Redmi 4 might be a budget phone but there’s no compromise on the aesthetics. In fact, with this outing – like before – the company sets the standards for what affordable smartphones should look and feel like in 2017.

Display

The Redmi 4 sports a 5-inch HD display with a 1280 x 720 resolution. There’s a 2.5D curved glass, similar to the Redmi Note 4. It’s toughened glass, although there’s no Gorilla Glass protection.

While the specifications sheet watchers would’ve liked a Full HD display, I think it would’ve been an overkill on a 5-inch budget smartphone and obviously hurt the battery life.

The HD display nevertheless looks fantastic in terms of color reproduction and viewing angles. The images and text looks sharp, and it is clearly one of the best displays on smartphones in this price segment. Maintaining a perfect balance, it is a crisp and vivid display without the colors looking oversaturated. There is hardly any smartphone that has a display of this kind. The display is bright enough to handle harshest of the sunlight.

Camera

It comes with a 13MP rear camera with f/2.0 aperture, PDAF, and an LED flash. It has a 5MP front camera with f/2.2 aperture on the front.

The PDAF (Phase Detection Autofocus) results in speedy autofocus and the image processing is also snappy. I was actually amazed to see the time it takes to process the image without compromising the image quality. Day light photos look well balanced, but you might find it struggling 1 out of 10 times when there’s a light source on the foreground. However, the camera UI allows you to adjust brightness using the scroller.

Moving to low light images, the smartphone has got a huge improvement over Redmi 3s Prime. Knowing the fact that it is a budget phone, its unfair to expect a lot in dim light conditions. If I compare it to other phones under this budget, the low light images now look well lit, there’s still some work needed to be done for better details. You might end up clicking hazy or noisy pictures if you don’t have a proper light source.

The 5MP front camera is very impressive as long as there’s some light. I was able to click some really impressive pictures under natural and well lit indoor lights. One thing that seems missing is the front screen flash, which would have made it a complete camera in all the lighting conditions. The processing speed scales down in low light, resulting in grainy selfies.

It can record videos up to 1080p, which came out to be pretty decent in most of the scenarios.

The camera UI on the Redmi 4 is easy to use and offers multiple settings and modes to play with it. One complaint that I have with the UI is its thick black panel on the right side, eating up around 70% of screen space. On a 5-inch display phone, it is always better not to clutter the viewfinder.

Battery, connectivity

The Redmi 4 packs a 4100mAh battery unit, which is one of the key highlights of this smartphone. Basic usage that involves browsing social media, texting, listening to music or 3-4 hours of calling can easily get you more than 35 hours of backup. For those who need a reason to love this phone, this is something you can’t ignore even if you want to.

Aggressive users can get more than a full day of battery backup without a hitch. Xiaomi has confirmed the support for Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0, which charges the Redmi 4 from 0-100 percent in 2.5 hours which is pretty pretty impressive for a huge battery like this.

The new Redmi 4 supports 4G and VoLTE along with other connectivity options like WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 and microUSB. It is worth noting that it will allow 4G calls and data only on the primary SIM, while the secondary SIM restricts to 2G calls only. Other than this, I did not find any connectivity issues while testing the device.

Performance

Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 octa-core processor clocked at 1.4GHz coupled with Adreno 505 GPU, the Redmi 4 comes in three memory variants – there’s one with 2 GB RAM and 16 GB internal storage, another one with 3 GB of RAM along with 32 GB of storage, and the top variant with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal storage.

The mid variant that I used for this review had just over 25 GB free memory out-of-the box.

The Snapdragon 435 is a pretty snappy chip, and the Redmi 4 chugs along nicely in daily usage. In my three weeks of usage, I haven’t really encountered any sluggishness or lags. You can also play most of the graphic-intensive games, albeit with a few frame skips here and there or graphic settings turned down. One of the impressive things is that even while gaming, the phone did not get hot.

The 4,100 mAh battery on the Redmi 4 saves you from the constant battery anxiety. A day and a half on a single charge is easily manageable for most casual users which is impressive really. Even on moderate to higher usage, the phone managed to offer more than a day of battery life.

Conclusion

At this price point, there is hardly any other option that offers the kind of package Redmi 4 has. For those who find it uneasy using a 5.5-inch screen and want a perfect alternate for a Redmi Note 4 or a Moto G5 Plus, the Redmi 4 can serve all your needs. The only issue with the Redmi devices is the supply, which Xiaomi says it’s trying to improve.

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