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Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 review: A hidden gem

Introduction

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 has big shoes to fill – its predecessor became India’s best selling phone online and enjoys great popularity in China. It comes barely half a year since the Note 3 went on sale, but it’s not quite a direct replacement – instead both will live side by side, with the Note 4 being a more premium offering.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 review

The Redmi Note 4 commands a slightly higher price, but a couple of things elevate it from the mid-range status of the Redmi series. First, Xiaomi builds each of these full metal bodies out of an aluminum ingot, something Sony and HTC do for their flagships. And second, not long ago, the Helio X20 chipset was often used to blur the mid-range/high-end line.

As a bonus, the “expensive” High edition comes with generous 64GB of storage. The quotes are because even the top model is below the 200 price point.

Key Features
Aluminum unibody design
5.5″ IPS display of 1080p resolution; 401ppi
MediaTek MT6797 Helio X20 chipset; 2x Cortex-A72 + 4x Cortex-A53 + 4x Cortex-A53; Mali-T880 MP4 at 700MHz
Android 6.0 Marshmallow with MIUI 8 (Global 8.0.7.0)
Standard edition: 2GB RAM with 16GB of storage; High edition: 3GB RAM with 64GB storage; microSD support, hybrid slot shared with 2nd SIM
13 megapixel rear camera, f/2.0 aperture, PDAF, dual-LED dual-tone flash; 1080p @ 30fps video, 720p @ 120fps
5 megapixel front camera, f/2.0 aperture; 720p @ 30fps video
Dual SIM, LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2, IR, microUSB
Fingerprint sensor
4,100mAh battery

Main shortcomings
Runs heavily skinned Marshmallow
Non-removable battery
Cannot have 2 SIMs and a microSD card
No Quick charge 2.0/3.0 support, just 5V/2A charging

Xiaomi’s portfolio is getting increasingly confusing lately, especially considering their regional availability varies a lot. Here is how the Redmi Note 4 compares to the Note 3 – as we said, both will continue to exist side by side.

Versus the Redmi Note 3
Additional CPU cores and higher clock speed
High edition now comes with double the storage (64GB vs. 32GB)
Full metal body (higher quality, more elaborate process than before)
Lower res main camera (13MP vs. 16MP)
Heavier (175g vs. 164g)
More expensive (both Standard and High prices are ~12% up from Note 3)

There is also the identical looking Redmi Pro to further complicate things. You can think of the three models as sub-divisions of the mid-range: Redmi Note 3 to start, Redmi Note 4 for the golden middle and Redmi Pro for the “high-end.” Our bang for the buck sense is tingling, though – the Note 4 does more for every cent you pay than the other two.

Versus the Redmi Pro
Same chipset for the (Note 4 High and Redmi Pro Standard)
Same screen size/resolution (but IPS LCD vs. AMOLED)
Same 13MP camera (but without the 5MP secondary cam)
More affordable (High edition is 30% less than Pro’s 3GB/64GB model)
No USB Type-C, but Wi-Fi 802.11ac connectivity

So do we have a future bestseller on our hands? Looking at the list of disadvantages, there are no deal breakers. For instance, even LG as a major manufacturer opted to remove the app drawer from the G5 and V20 (the first phone to launch with Android 7.0), a style popularized by MIUI and others (a new theme and a new launcher can bring a 90% familiar experience, though).

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 official images - Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 official images - Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 review
Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 official images - Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 review

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 official images

Recently, we’ve been witnessing the appearance of a new niche – near-flagship phones offering a 5.5″ 1080p screen, fast chipset and 400-or-so price point that put pressure established flagship lines. These phones themselves now come under fire from the Redmi Note 4 at half the price.

It’s a race to the bottom and a climb to the top – of price and features, respectively.