The year 2015 was great for budget smartphones. We saw may manufacturers launching devices under Rs.15000 price range. First time we saw features like Fingerprint scanner, IR Blaster etc in budget smartphones. Xiaomi, since the launch of Mi3, launched products with good specs at a budget price. With the launch of Redmi Note 3, Xiaomi is going to change customer expectation in terms of specs and features of budget smartphones. It offers much more value for money compare to other smartphones in same price range. Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (Snapdragon 650) is priced at just Rs.9999 (16GB+2GB) and Rs.11999 (32GB+3GB). It will be available via Flash Sale on Amazon and Mi India website from 9th March. After using the device (32GB+3GB variant) extensively for 30 days here is my in-depth review of Redmi Note 3.
Redmi Note 3 Specifications
- 5.5-inch Full HD IPS LCD display
- Dual Sim (micro SIM + Nano SIM / SD card), Hybrid
- 1.8 GHz Hexa-core Snapdragon 650 (MSM8956) (64-bit)
- Adreno 510 GPU
- 16GB / 32GB internal storage
- 2GB / 3GB RAM
- SD card support up to 32GB
- Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, MIUI 7
- 16-megapixel rear camera, Dual LED (dual tone) Flash, PDAF, f/2.0
- 5-megapixel front camera, f/2.0
- WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (Dual Band), Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, microUSB 2.0, USB OTG
- 4050 mAh Battery
Build and design
The Redmi Note 3 features Full metal unibody design with 5.5-inch Full HD IPS display. Gold color and metal body devices give a premium look and feel. It measures 150 x 76 x 8.65 mm and weighs 164 grams due to massive 4050 mAh battery. On the front, there is earpiece sensors and a 5-megapixel camera. Below display you will find 3 touch-type capacitive backlit buttons – Multitasking, Home and Back. At the rear side, there is a 16-megapixel camera, dual tone LED Flash, the fingerprint scanner and speaker. Volume keys and power button are placed on the right side and there is hybrid sim card tray on the left. On top, there is secondary noise cancellation mic, 3.5mm audio jack and IR blaster. AT the bottom, you will find a primary microphone and microUSB port for charging and data transfer.
The 5.5-inch display on Redmi Note 3 gives great experience while watching media, playing games etc. Viewing angles are also decent. Xiaomi didn’t mention about Gorilla Glass protection but it has an oleophobic coating which prevents smudges. I accidently dropped (face down) the device from 3 feet on the ceramic floor and surprisingly didn’t found any scratch or dent on display or on the body. The phone comes with the company’s “Sunlight display” feature which offers a fairly good readability under direct sunlight. The device also provides an option to set Warm, Cool and increased contrast on display. Auto-brightness sensor works well but sometimes brightness level isn’t changed automatically when moving from direct sunlight area to indoor. If you feel the device be big for one hand operation, you can reduce the size up to 3.5-inch by going to settings > additional settings > One-Handed mode.
It is powered by Hexa-core Snapdragon 650 (4 X 1.2 GHz Cortex-A53 + 2 X 1.8 GHz Cortex-A72) paired with Adreno 510 GPU and 3GB RAM. After installing all my daily used apps including Facebook and other social media I got between 800MB to 1.5GB RAM free. Didn’t found any lag on the device on extensive use or even during multitasking (with 17 apps running in the background). Though RAM management is not that great as while opening apps from multitasking (after a couple of hours) I did found that apps reload, I hope this can be fixed via software update. I did play games like Subway Surfer, Unkilled, Asphalt 8 and it was no-lag experience in every game. Recently we have seen the heating issue on many devices but surprisingly Snapdragon 650 powered device didn’t heat much even on the continuous gameplay of about 1 hour. For benchmark fans, read my initial impressions on Redmi Note 3 where I have shared all major benchmark results.
The Redmi Note 3 features a 16-megapixel rear camera with Dual LED (dual tone) Flash, PDAF and f/2.0 aperture. The camera performs great in outdoor and in good lighting conditions. In low light and artificial light, there is much noise visible in pictures. Due to PDAF, focusing is very fast. Just point and shoot and it takes great pictures. Though Snapdragon 650 is capable of shooting 4k videos but Xiaomi didn’t provide this feature in the MIUI’s camera app. Using Google Camera app, it can shoot videos in 4k. It can record good Full HD videos in good lighting conditions but indoors in artificial light video output is not good. It can also record Slow motion videos in 720p. Check camera samples below.
Software & UI
The Redmi Note 3 runs on MIUI 7 based on Android 5.1.1, it will soon get Marshmallow update. MIUI 7 comes with additional features like XXL Text, Baby Album, Child Mode, Showtime to name a few. UI is completely lag free, I didn’t found any noticeable lag during my testing. MIUI doesn’t come with app drawer but you can set third party launchers, Google Now Launcher & Nova Launcher did work flawlessly. The device comes loaded with Xiaomi’s own apps like Mi Store, Notes, Mi Remote, Compass, Barcode Scanner, Themes, Security App, WPS Office, Fleksy keyboard etc. There is a Mi Mover app which can transfer your data from old phone to new one, similar to Motorola Migrate. Fingerprint scanner works very well with more than 98% accuracy. Xiaomi claimed Fingerprint scanner can be used to lock apps and for taking photos but at the time of writing this, it is not working in version 6.3.5.
The device comes with hybrid dual sim slot (Micro + Nano) and both sim slot support 4G LTE. The device is also capable of VoLTE when it will be available via carrier networks. Other connectivity features include Dual band WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, microUSB 2.0 and it also supports USB OTG. During my testing I had issues while switching data networks from one sim to another, it did not catch network after a reboot etc. But after 6.3.5, all these bugs are fixed and there is no issue regarding sim connectivity. Call clarity is also good through the earpiece as well as via speaker. It can also control Tv and Set-top box via IR blaster. Other than TV, Mi Remote app can control Mi TV/Mi Box, AC, Fan, DVD player, projector and camera too.
One of the Best features of Redmi Note 3 is its 4050 mah Battery. Xiaomi has used 690Wh/L high-density battery which supports Quick Charge 1.0. With moderate to heavy usage, the battery can last easily for more than a day. I got minimum 5 hours of screen-on time on a single charge with still 10-15% battery remaining. Seriously the battery performance is better than any other big screen smartphone in this price range. Charging time is above 2 and a half hour due to massive battery capacity and first generation Quick Charge support.
Metal body, 5.5-inch Full HD Display, IR Blaster, Fingerprint Scanner, Hybrid dual sim slot, 4050 mAh battery – what else can you ask in Rs.12000 smartphone? Redmi Note 3 is definitely a great smartphone for the price it is offered. You may NOT find some features like IR Blaster and Fingerprint Scanner in other “Flagship” phones, which are present on this phone. The Redmi Note 3 offers Value for Money comparing with other devices in the same price range. Are you buying?