Review: With Redmi 4, Xiaomi raises the bar again, and wins in battery stakes
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Xiaomi is trying to repeat the success it had with the Redmi Note 4, with a new smartphone that will appeal to anyone with a liking for smaller screens. The new Redmi 4 will be available in India from 23 May onwards on Amazon.in and Mi.com with price tags of Rs6,999 (16GB), Rs8,999 (32GB) and Rs10,999 (64GB). The 64GB variant will be available by June-end, though no dates are confirmed yet. Undoubtedly, the Redmi 4 will be competing against the Lenovo K6 Power (Rs9,999) and Moto G4 Play ( Rs7,999).
Design: Handy and stylish
The Redmi 4 has the same design language as the Redmi Note 4 but has a smaller footprint. The metal finish adds solidity, flat edges improve grip quality and the full glass panel on the front reminds one of more expensive smartphones. Available in gold and black colour options, the smartphone is just 139.3mm long, 8.6mm thick and weighs 150g, which is quite a feat for a big-battery smartphone.
The fingerprint sensor is placed on the back, but a little higher up than the usual position. It is still easily accessible and accurate. The camera has been placed above the antenna towards the left side corner.
The Xiaomi logo at the back looks subdued in the black variant, and looks classy. Overall, this is one of the best-looking budget smartphones we have set eyes on recently.
Display: Small but good-looking
The 5-inch display has a resolution of 1,280x720p. Though the resolution is lower than the (1,920x1,080p) display on the Lenovo K6 Power, the screen doesn’t feel dull or inferior. It is a bright display and tends to exaggerate colours a bit for effect. You can also modify colour saturation in the display settings as per your convenience. The viewing angles are good and despite the reflective nature of the screen visibility in bright light was good.
It is good at avoiding smudges but picks scratches easily. If you keep your car keys or coins in the same pocket as the smartphone, it is likely to end up with a few marks in no time.
Software: Old Android, resource intensive UI
The smartphone runs Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) with MIUI8 on top. It is a colourful user interface with some good looking themes and wallpapers.
It stands out from rivals on account of some unique features which users may benefit from. There is a Lite Mode which is a secondary interface with bigger icons and limited options. The Second Space allows users to create a separate hidden profile on the same smartphone. Lock Homescreen prevents accidental changes to the interface. However, it is a resource-intensive UI and even with no apps running it uses 1.8GB RAM.
Performance: Steady with most casual tasks
Powering the Redmi 4 is Qualcomm’s 1.4GHz Snapdragon 435 octa-core chip, which is better than the 1.2GHz Snapdragon 430 chip used in the Lenovo K6 Power. It has a higher clock speed and supports ARMs Big.Little technology which automatically switches to more powerful cores when a heavy task is run on the smartphone. For less demanding tasks, it uses the power-efficient Little cores, which results in less battery drain.
The processor is clubbed with 2GB RAM in the 16GB storage variant, 3GB RAM in 32GB unit and 4GB RAM in 64GB storage unit. We reviewed the 32GB storage variant and the performance was pretty smooth. Even with 8-10 apps running, the interface doesn’t feel stifled. We don’t know if the same could be said for the lower variant which has only 2GB RAM.
When it comes to gaming, Snapdragon 435 is not in the same league as the Snapdragon 625 used in Redmi Note 4, but can handle games such as Asphalt Nitro and Big Bash 2016 without hiccups or heating up on the side or back panel.
Battery backup is one of the strong points of the Redmi 4. The 4,100mAh battery lasted about a day and half consistently on modest use.
Camera: A mixed bag
The 13-megapixel rear camera can deliver clear shots in outdoor conditions. It doesn’t try to oversaturate colours as some cameras tend to do, but struggles to light up darker objects in the background. It excels with close-up shots mostly. Lack of detailing is more evident in landscape photos. Low-light photography is not one of its strong points as pictures look poorly lit, blurry and washed out. The camera offers live filters and some handy camera modes such as Straighten, Beautify, Audio in photo, Manual and Panorama.
Xiaomi has got most things right yet again with its new smartphone. Its biggest rival, the Lenovo K6 Power, has a sharper screen, a dependable 4,000mAh battery and a dual interface, while the Moto G4 Play offers clean and clutter-free Android experience. With the Redmi 4, you get a more premium design, bright display, slightly better performance and a reliable battery.