Well, it looks like Xiaomi has done it again. The Web is on fire thanks to the launch of another highly capable handset with an impossibly low price tag. This time, the Chinese manufacturer has jumped into one of the hottest current market segments: cheap devices with big screens.
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After having sold multiple lakh units of its Mi 3 and Redmi 1S phones, Xiaomi is cementing its appeal with a claimed 50,000 units of the brand new Redmi Note selling out within seconds in its first flash sale.
Demand is high and it will be frustratingly difficult to get your hands on one of the few units up for grabs each week. We’re here to find out whether the Xiaomi Redmi Note lives up to the high standard set by its forerunners, or whether it’s really not worth all the hassle. The Redmi Note definitely has a family resemblance to the Xiaomi Redmi 1S (Review | Photos), except that the rear cover is a glossy white. The front face is quite plain, with black glass surrounded by a slightly raised black plastic edging. The three capacitive buttons below the screen light up in red. It’s a simple look, which we quite like.
The power and volume buttons are on the right, the Micro-USB port is on the bottom and the headset socket is on top. There’s a camera lens and flash on the upper rear, with a silvery MI logo and the speaker grille closer to the bottom. The cover comes off if you peel it back with one fingernail in the Micro-USB port cutout.
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The two SIM card slots and the microSD slot are beneath arranged such that you have to take the battery out to get to them. The rear is very glossy, which gives it a great look but makes it a little slippery. Luckily, the Redmi Note isn’t very wide and the sides are curved, which make it a little easier to grip when using it with one hand.
Xiaomi is well known by now for stuffing high-end components into dirt-cheap phones, and the Redmi Note is no different. The 1.7GHz octa-core MediaTek MT6592 SoC and 5.5-inch 720×1280-pixel screen are more typical of phones that cost around Rs. 15,000 today. There are a few similarly-specced phones in this price range though: the Intel-based Asus ZenFone 5 (Review | Photos) and the Qualcomm-powered Xolo Q1100 (Review | Photos), for example. It will be interesting to see which one comes out on top in our performance tests. The Redmi Note also has 2GB of RAM and 8GB of storage space which can be bumped up by only 32GB using a microSD card. Wi-Fi b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 are supported. There’s a gyroscope and a digital compass in addition to the accelerometer, ambient light sensor and proximity sensor.
The system app icons are also customised, and thankfully they aren’t too difficult to tell apart. Everything looks crisp and clean, without being over the top. Xiaomi includes an online wallpaper catalog within the Settings app itself. You can change the transition animation and some other visual effects if you like. There are quite a few options to discover in the Redmi Note’s Settings app.
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You can play around with settings for the buttons, notifications LED, lockscreen and more. There’s a massive variety of ringtones and message alert sounds to choose from. The notifications shade is also clean, and you can choose whether to show quick settings shortcuts in a separate page or in a scrolling bar at the bottom.