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Xiaomi Redmi 4 review: Blue-plate special

Introduction

There’s affordable, there’s dirt cheap and then there’s the Xiaomi Redmi lineup. The latest to come out of Xiaomi’s bargain bin is the Redmi 4, or what’s known in China as the Redmi 4X – just Xiaomi’s naming scheme. The important thing is that it’s running an international ROM right out of the box, complete with full support for Google services.

Xiaomi Redmi 4 review

The Snapdragon 435 ticking inside is a lower midrange chip by Qualcomm built on a now somewhat dated 28nm process. Still, with no less than 8 cores and a slightly superior GPU, the Redmi 4 is a cut above the entry-level Redmi 4a, which we weren’t quite happy with when we recently reviewed. 3GB is more than enough RAM for your dollar, and the adequate 32GB of storage can also be expanded, though you’d need to forgo the second SIM card in this case – it’s a hybrid slot.

The display is a 5-inch 720p unit – the screen diagonal Xiaomi settled on since the Redmi 3 (all gazillion versions of it), and a resolution that fits the size and the budget alike. The camera setup doesn’t offer any bells and whistles, but would you really expect that in a phone in this price range? A 13MP primary shooter and a 5MP selfie cam are a reasonable compromise in our book.

And then the Redmi 4 packs some goodies you may not even find in some flagships – namely an FM radio receiver and an IR blaster – remnants of times past, but still sought after by a few – next to a fingerprint scanner.

Xiaomi Redmi 4 key features
Body: Anodized aluminum back, 2.5D display glass. Black and Gold color options.
Display: 5.0″ IPS LCD, 1,280x720px resolution, 294ppi.
Rear camera: 13MP, f/2.0 aperture, phase detection autofocus; 1080p/30fps video recording.
Front camera: 5MP, f/2.2 aperture, fixed focus; 720p/30fps video recording.
OS/Software: Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow; MIUI v.8.2.7 custom overlay.
Chipsets: Qualcomm Snapdragon 435: octa-core CPU (8×1.4GHz Cortex-A53), Adreno 505 GPU.
Memory: 3GB of RAM; 32GB of storage, microSD slot for expansion.
Battery: 4,100mAh Li-Po (sealed).
Connectivity: DualSIM (micro+nano); LTE Cat. 6 (300Mbps/150Mbps); microUSB 2.0; Wi-Fi b/g/n; GPS, GLONASS, Beidou.
Misc: Rear-mounted fingerprint reader; single speaker on the bottom; 3.5mm jack; IR emitter, FM radio.

Main shortcomings
Hybrid second SIM/microSD slot limits your options
Android Marshmallow, still?
No fast charging so you can’t top the 4,100mAh battery in a pinch

Obviously, getting so much phone for so little cash means trade-offs in one department or another. You may learn to work around the hybrid slot, or never really have any issue with it on account of using just one SIM or making do with 32GB of storage.

Xiaomi Redmi 4 review

However, the lack of fast charging could prove to be an issue when the battery is running low and you’re pressed for time. Another thing we don’t like about the Redmi 4 is the dated Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow – you can cover it with all the latest MIUI, but it’s still practically a 2 year-old OS at its core.

But we’ll get to that soon enough. Let’s start with a look at the hardware on the next page, and some battery life and display tests thrown in for good measure.

Special thanks to HonorBuy for providing the review unit.