Ever since I first started using a developer port of Xiaomi’s MIUI 7 on my HTC One M7, I’ve found myself wanting to give Xiaomi’s devices a try. I ordered a Xiaomi Mi4 in black, which should be arriving by the end of this week, if not next week. My review on that will be up within the coming weeks. The seller generously sent along with it the Xiaomi RedMi Note 4G, the first iteration of the RedMi Note series, to review. This is the first time I have used a phone with a screen size over 4.7″. The RedMi Note features a 5.5″ 720p display, a Snapdragon 410 quad-core processor clocked at 1.2GHz, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of ROM, a 13MP shooter on the back and a 5MP front facing camera. It also supports MicroSD expansion up to 64GB. It was nice to throw in my old 8GB MicroSD card from my HTC Desire Z days to get the added storage. The battery is 3,100 mAh, and I’ll get to that a little bit later in the review. I’m currently using the latest global MIUI 7.3 stable build. For a budget phone, with an unbelievable price point now that it’s been out for a little while, I am highly impressed.
One thing I really enjoy about this phone is the build quality for how cheap it is. The back is plastic, but it doesn’t feel cheap like Samsung’s older Galaxy S line, or other plastic-backed smartphones under $150. The build quality is very reminiscent of Nokia’s early Lumia phones that ran Windows Phone 7 and the early Windows Phone 8 devices. It’s very comfortable to hold in the hand. The back is also removable, which gives you access to the dual-sim card slots, the MicroSD card slot, and the removable battery. One nice accent that’s different for a smartphone is the capacitive buttons. Instead of the typical white backlights, Xiaomi decided to mix things up and have red-accented capacitive keys with a red backlight. The backlight is nice and bright, and it’s easier on the eyes in darker conditions and with the lights off. I’m assuming it’s a nod to the name RedMi.
Since I’m on the topic of hardware, I just want to touch on the size of the device a bit further. One thing that concerned me at first was due to the size, I was unsure how it would fit into my jean pockets. I prefer wearing tighter jeans, and sometimes phones like to stick out a bit because the pockets aren’t as deep as regular loose-fitting jeans. That isn’t an issue though. Most of my pants the phone slides right on in and barely sticks out of the pocket, while only one or two pairs it sticks out by about half an inch. It can be a bit uncomfortable if I am sitting indian-style on the couch, but normally it’s resting beside me. When put into a pair of loose-fitting jeans, the RedMi Note easily goes into your pocket and doesn’t stick out at all.
Even though this is a budget phone, the camera quality is very nice. As mentioned above it has a 13MP rear-facing camera and a 5MP front shooter. The low-light quality isn’t really anything to brag about, it suffers from static and blurriness sometimes. In regular and bright light however, that’s where this shines. Colors are vibrant and it replicates real world colors very well. The front facing camera is, well simply put it is good enough for selfies, using SnapChat and the like.
The screen doesn’t seem like it’s only 720p either, the quality is almost on par with the HTC One M7, my previous phone. It also blows the Nexus 4’s screen out of the water (my backup phone). Colors are crisp, blacks are a nice, deep black although not quite as good as Samsung’s AMOLED screens or HTC’s 1080p screens. For being a phone that initially shipped with MIUI v5 based on Android 4.2.x Jellybean, it’s currently upgradable to MIUI v7.3 based on KitKat and from the looks of it, it’s still bound to receive updates for quite some time to come. The RedMi Note is very snappy, apps load very fast, it can handle the occasional light gaming, as well as the usual email, browsing, and social media. For a phone with only 1GB of RAM that normally idles around 350-400MB free, it is astoundingly quick. I’d dare to say it’s a bit quicker than the HTC One M7 running MIUI, or even stock HTC Sense 7 for that matter.
Onwards to the battery life, which I can safely say is absolutely fantastic. Light to moderate usage gets me through about 1 and a half to 2 days of use. The average screen on time I get on this phone is about 3 and a half to 4 hours on a heavy day of use, and the battery generally is around around 38-45%. All my old phones I was lucky to get 2 hours before I was plugging it in. I have noticed sometimes the battery will drain a bit faster once it gets below 50%, but it’s not too much of a problem and only happens occasionally. The only downside is since it has such a large battery, it does take quite a while to fully charge.
Now I won’t touch too much on the software, as you can read my thoughts on MIUI 7 in my previous post Here. The only downside that people in the US will come across is the lack of the Google Play Store. It can be remedied by a quick search online for the Google Installer APK, and installing it on to your phone. I’ve also taken the liberty to upload it to my Google Drive account. Afterwards you can install the Play Store, Play Services, and anything else by Google you wish to have on your phone. The process takes only about 5 minutes depending on your download speeds.
In conclusion, I am very glad that I received this device to review. If I didn’t have the Xiaomi Mi4 on the way, I would gladly use this as my daily driver. Hell, I might just wait until using the Mi4 and reviewing that to see which phone I prefer the most. The screen size did take a few hours of use to get used to, and sometimes I found myself using both hands for certain tasks. It wasn’t bothersome at all though. If you are looking into purchasing the device, the best deal I’ve found after searching around for a little while is on FastCardTech. Would I recommend this phone? Absolutely. If you are in the market to get a new phone and are after a 5.5″ device, definitely look into this further. Thank you for reading, I hope you have a wonderful day!