Review: Xiaomi Redmi Y1 has more to it than selfie camera

Xiaomi's new smartphone impresses at several levels, but it is not without its share of flaws

Xiaomi is targeting social media buffs with its new selfie-centric smartphone, the Redmi Y1. It comes in two variants— 3GB RAM+32GB storage, which costs Rs8,999, and 4GB RAM+64GB storage, which is priced at Rs10,999. At that price, it is in direct competition with Micromax Canvas Infinity (Rs9,999) and Xiaomi’s popular Redmi Note 4 (Rs10,999). The Redmi Y1 is available on Amazon.in, Mi.com, Mi Home stores and other offline retail partners.

Camera: Impresses with selfie shots, average rear camera

Front-facing cameras have never been the USP in Xiaomi smartphones. That changes with the Redmi Y1. It has a 16-megapixel selfie camera with front facing flash which can capture nice-looking selfies even in indoor shots. To make it more fun, Xiaomi has added a Beauty mode which can make your face look slim or make the skin look smooth. You can also apply filters in selfie shots.

Once an image is clicked, you can apply sticker or edit it in the gallery app.

For your regular photos there is a 13-megapixel primary camera with extra camera modes such as Tilt shift (it blurs out background to enhance focus on an object), Panorama, Straighten (will capture straight shots regardless of camera orientation), and Manual.

Despite all these features, we were not impressed with the rear camera. Close-up shots in daytime looked good, but in landscape shots the lack of detailing is clearly visible on a bigger screen. Low-light shots look blurry and washed out as well.

Canvas Infinity has a modest rear camera too, but its 16-megapixel selfie camera is good and offers options such smile shot and anti-flicker.

Design: Light and good-looking

The Redmi Y1 has a metal back design like the Redmi Note 4 but is a little thinner (7.7mm). It is also very light (153g) which makes handling it easy. In terms of colour options there is gold and dark grey. We got the gold unit and we like the fact the gold doesn’t look blingy and cheap. The trademark navigation keys are placed on the front panel but are not backlit like the Redmi Note 4. The fingerprint sensor is placed in the back and falls nicely in the range of the pointing finger when you are holding the phone.

It’s quite accurate to use and is a lot more convenient than drawing a pattern or typing a password.

There are hardly any design flaws in the Redmi Y1. Its well built, looks good and is lighter than most big screen phones. The Redmi Note 4 weighs 165g. The Canvas Infinity has a plastic body, but doesn’t feel cheap. Its thin-bezel design look more refreshing and stands out in the segment. Despite packing a bigger screen it weighs just 149g.

Display: Big but looks a tad dull

The 5.5-inch display has resolution of 1,280x720p, which gives screen a dull look. The screen size makes it ideal for reading e-books, browsing the web or watching movies on the go. However, colours look a bit pale in comparison to the Redmi Note 4, which has a brighter screen and resolution of 1,920x1,080p. The Canvas Infinity has a slight bigger 5.7-inch screen with resolution of 1,440x720p and aspect ratio 18:9, but it does not look superior to Redmi Y1.

Like all Xiaomi’s smartphones the new smartphone also offers a range of screen customization options such as reading mode, the option to switch between warm and cool tint and enhance contrast for more effect.

Software: New UI looks impressive

The Redmi Y1 runs Android 7.1 with MIUI 8 on top. It is likely to get the MIUI 9 update in a few days. Xiaomi hasn’t announced the time for Android 8.0 update yet. MIUI 9 brings in lots of new features such as the split screen mode which allows users to shuffle the position of the apps. Then there is app vault which is like the feature in OnePlus’ Oxygen OS. It shows all your recent apps, score updates, besides letting you take a note or book a cab without going to the app.

It also brings in the option to apply stickers, emojis, in the gallery app.

Xiaomi has tweaked the UI so it can utilise resources better than previous versions of MIUI. Browsing through the interface feels a lot smoother while apps open faster now.

Performance: Handles most tasks well

Driving the Redmi Y1 is a 1.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 octa-core processor which has been clubbed with 3GB RAM in the 32GB storage variant and 4GB RAM in the 64GB variant (Rs 10,999). It is a capable processor and can handle most everyday tasks such as Web browsing, social media, video streaming and even some of the new games such as PES 2018 without any hiccups. However, it is not in the same league as the 2.0GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor (used in Redmi Note 4) which is faster and more battery efficient. The Canvas Infinity runs on a slightly inferior 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 quad-core processor.

Redmi Y1 packs in a 3,000mAh battery which can last a full working day if you don’t stress it too much. The Note 4 packs in a bigger 4,100mAh battery which delivers a day and half of backup without breaking a sweat.

Another highlight of the Redmi Y1 is the separate microSD card slot. Users can now have two SIM cards and microSD card on board at the same time. The Redmi Note 4 has a hybrid SIM tray.

Verdict

Xiaomi’s new smartphone has more to it than the front camera. It looks good, is handy to use, offers a steady performance and has a feature packed UI. If you are looking for a bigger screen, you can go with Micromax Canvas Infinity which also has a good front camera. If you are not much into selfies and want a more powerful device with richer display, the Redmi Note 4 is a better bet.

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