Being a successor to the Redmi Note 3, India's best selling smartphone (online), isn't going to be easy for the new Redmi Note 4, as the new phone will have to be a step ahead of the older version in the design, camera, performance and battery. Redmi Note 4 was announced by the company in the second half of the last year but has been launched in India now, almost a year after the launch of the Redmi Note 3.
But will the new smartphone be able to replicate the success of the older version? Let's try to find out.
Design: Though it has similar dimensions and weight, the Redmi Note 4 still has a better aesthetic appeal/design. Weighing 165 grams, it measures 151x76x8.3 mm and has a unibody metal chassis, with a 2.5D glass with round edges at the front. The 5.5 inch display with 1920x1080p resolution looks bright, offering rich colours and crisp text. The sunlight legibility is good and has also got a reading mode. Turning on the reading mode turns the screen light slightly yellow, reducing the display background glare, and there's a setting to schedule timings for auto-start and end of this mode. For colour and contrast, there are other modes - automatic contrast, increased contrast and standard - and I was comfortable using the automatic contrast. Below the display are the regular Android keys - multitasking, home and back. However, the placement of the sensors, earpiece and front camera above the display are much more symmetrical - into a straight line - making it look neat. The speaker grill from the rear has been moved to the bottom, with five drill holes on each side of the micro USB charging port (which has also been moved to the centre now). Audio port and IR blaster are on the top, volume control and power key on the right and SIM tray on the left. The rear mounts the camera module followed by the LED flash and fingerprint scanner. This scanner is quick and accurate and I ended up unlocking and activating the device using the same. Overall, the Redmi Note 4 has got a premium look and feel and is much more comfortable to hold over the predecessor.
Performance: The Redmi Note 4 took a minute or two for the initial set up. But post it, the operation was smooth. The device runs on MiUi8, built on Android Marshmallow. All the apps are neatly placed on the home screen - some under the folders. Apps such as calculator, recorder, compass, scanner, etc. have been placed under the tools folder. There is also a security app that includes cleaner, data usage, block list, virus, scan and permission. It also comes loaded with few other Mi apps such as Mi Store, Mi Live, Mi Community, etc. My favourite one was the Mi Remote that converts the phone into the universal remote for controlling my TV. All Google services are loaded including the Google Duo app. The Google Voice search understands the dialect and instantly starts searching. Xiaomi has also added a default browser along with Google Chrome in the new device. Browsing the web, streaming videos on YouTube, playing games - everything worked smoothly, without any lag or heating issues. Swiping down within the file explorer opens the password page to access hidden files.
Under settings, there is also an option to create a second space on the phone. Activating which quickly rebooted the phone and a switch icon appeared on the home screen. While one can add data and even password protect the second space, I found it convenient enough to be used as a guest mode as it did not fetch any data (images, videos or even contacts) from the default phone. Alternating between the two is easy - just a single tap on the switch icon does the job. There is also a light mode that makes the UI icons large and simple to operate.
Processor and Storage: Unlike the variant launched abroad that has a MediaTek chipset, the Redmi Note 4 in India runs on Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor. It will be available in three variants - 2GB RAM with 32GB storage, 3GB RAM with 32GB storage and 4GB RAM with 64GB storage. Our review unit had 4GB RAM with 64GB internal storage, of which only 51GB was user accessible. It also supports expandable memory of up to 128GB but through the hybrid slot, which can be either used as a secondary SIM slot or memory card slot.
Camera: The 16MP camera on the Redmi Note 3 was superb. Xiaomi has added a 13MP camera with 77 degrees wide-angle five piece lens with f/2.0 aperture and dual tone lens to the Redmi Note 4. The camera app is pretty neat, offering a host of settings including manual, panorama, scene, tilt-shift, etc. It instantly locks the focus and is quick to capture the images. The images captured had fair amount of details and colours looked natural. Images captured in HDR mode looked better. Redmi Note 3 does a pretty decent job in low-light too.
Battery: The massive 4100 mAh battery, gave me close to over a day and a half on heavy usage. If used carefully, it can even last two days.
Bag it or Junk it: A worthy successor to the Redmi Note 3. It is undoubtedly the best smartphone at this price.
Price: Rs 12,999
Plus: Design, performance