The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 is here, continuing the company’s tradition of launching phones with good specifications at low price tags. The strategy has paid off spectacularly, as Xiaomi crossed the $1 billion revenue milestone in India last year. While the company’s vast product portfolio now includes fitness bands, earphones, air purifiers, power banks, and other devices, smartphones continue to be the stars, and the Redmi series – of which the Redmi Note 4 is the newest member – has been a key contributor to its success.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 follows in the footsteps of the Redmi Note 3 and Redmi 3S, which were among the top selling devices online last year. The Redmi Note 3, in particular, saw a lot of success in the Indian market with over 2.3 million units sold within six months of launch. However, that model is almost a year old now, and on Thursday Xiaomi finally launched the Redmi Note 4 in the Indian market.
Much like its predecessor, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 model sports an-all metal body and boasts of impressive specifications. While the Chinese version of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 was unveiled in August last year with a MediaTek SoC, the one launched in India packs a Qualcomm chip. The Redmi Note 4 has been priced competitively and will be going up against some of the most popular smartphones in the market right now. Will the new Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 be able to continue the company’s dream run in the Indian market, or will it turn out to be a run-of-the-mill device? Find out in our Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 review.
The Redmi Note 4 follows the Redmi Note 3 closely when it comes to design. The front panel of the Redmi Note 4 is very similar to that of its predecessor, with similar capacitive navigation buttons below the display and slim borders around it. There’s also 2.5D curved-edge glass across the front, giving this phone a premium feel. The all-metal phone feels sturdy, and compared to the Redmi Note 3, the rear panel on the Redmi Note 4 is less slippery.
The rear of the Redmi Note 4 is a bit different though, featuring design contours more reminiscent of the Xiaomi Mi 5 (Review). There are fine antenna bands running across the top and bottom. The rear camera, dual-tone LED flash and fingerprint scanner are set up much the same as on the Redmi Note 3. One of the few differences between the two is that this time around Xiaomi has shifted the speaker grilles from the rear to the bottom. The bottom also houses a Micro-USB port for charging and data transfers, while the top packs a 3.5mm audio jack and an infrared (IR) emitter. The power and volume buttons are placed on the right, and can easily be accessed with fingers.
At 8.3mm, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 is slimmer than its predecessor, and just one gram heavier. We had no problem using the handset with just one hand. The rounded edges of the Redmi Note 4 actually fit well in palm without causing any discomfort when used for long periods. When it comes to design, the Redmi Note 4 can be considered the best Redmi smartphone so far. It was launched in China in Dark Grey, and Gold, though Grey seems to have been replaced with an exclusive Matte Black option in India. We received a Gold unit for our Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 review.
The 5.5-inch full-HD IPS display has a resolution of 1080×1920 pixels, which works out to a density of 401ppi. Thanks to the full-HD resolution, text and images appear razor sharp. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 display offers punchy colours and decent viewing angles, while sunlight legibility is also great. The screen size makes the Redmi Note 4 well suited to watching videos and movies. You can adjust the colour temperature from the Settings app. A Reading Mode makes the display more comfortable to use while reading.
The Redmi Note 4 is roughly the same size as its predecessor, but the design has been significantly altered. The phone now sports an all-metal chassis, with Xiaomi stating that it takes over 30 steps to turn the aluminum block into a finished piece. The phone is slightly heavier than the Redmi Note 3, but the added heft makes a huge difference in day-to-day usage. It’s weighted perfectly, and Xiaomi managed to trim the overall thickness by 0.3mm, bringing the phone down to 8.4mm.
The Redmi Note 3 featured ungainly plastic at the top and bottom, but the Note 4 is entirely made out of aluminum. It instead has antenna lines at the back, which provide signal reception while also serving to break up the design. The phone isn’t as curved at the back, with the chamfered edges making for better ergonomics.
These are all subtle changes, but they culminate to produce a phone that’s vastly different. The end result is that the Redmi Note 4 feels great to hold and use. The overall fit and finish is one that befits a high-end device, and shows how far companies that cater to the budget segment have come.
Rounding off the design, the Redmi Note 4 has a speaker grille at the bottom, and although it is a single speaker, there are two sets of grills for the sake of symmetry. They’re joined in the middle by a microUSB port, an odd choice in 2017 considering the industry is moving to USB-C. The Redmi Pro offers the newer USB-C port, and it is likely Xiaomi will switch to the standard from the next generation. At the top, you’ll find the 3.5mm jack and an IR blaster.
The Redmi Note 4’s design wouldn’t look out of place on a high-end phone.
The power and volume buttons are on the right, and they offer decent tactile feedback. The SIM card slot is on the left, and you can either slot in two SIM cards (microSIM + nanoSIM) or a SIM card along with a microSD card. Round the back, the camera sensor and lens module are aligned with the fingerprint sensor, which is slightly recessed.
The front is dominated by a 5.5-inch display, and the addition of 2.5D curved glass makes a substantial difference when using the screen. The hardware navigation buttons are backlit, allowing for easy access at night. The display itself is brighter and has better color accuracy than the Redmi Note 3, and is easily one of the best panels in this segment.
You get the usual Xiaomi additions as well — there’s Reading Mode, a blue light filter that makes it easier to read text at night. The mode lets you create a schedule to automatically enable it, and there’s also the option of enabling it for selected apps. You can also adjust the color temperature to your liking, and toggle double tap to wake the screen.
Xiaomi has excelled at offering great hardware in its budget phones, and that hasn’t changed with the Redmi Note 4. The Chinese variant of the Redmi Note 4 is powered by MediaTek’s Helio X20 SoC, but as Xiaomi isn’t allowed to launch phones powered by MediaTek processors in India, the local variant is powered by a Snapdragon 625. Although the naming convention may lead one to believe that it is a downgrade from the Snapdragon 650 used in the Redmi Note 3, that isn’t the case.
Unlike the 28nm Snapdragon 650, the Snapdragon 625 is built on the 14nm node, resulting in greater energy efficiency. The mid-range chip powers through everyday tasks with ease, and there wasn’t any lag or slowdown in the two weeks I’ve used the phone. The 4GB of RAM also makes a difference when multitasking. The Snapdragon 625 can also handle visually-intensive games Modern Combat 5: Blackout or Asphalt 8 without breaking a sweat.
The Redmi Note 4 handles everything you throw at it with aplomb.
Even though the base model of the handset comes with 2GB of RAM, it is great to see Xiaomi moving away from 16GB internal memory and instead offering 32GB as the base storage. The phone comes with the usual range of connectivity options, including dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, LTE with VoLTE, and an IR blaster that lets you control a variety of appliances.
There’s no NFC on the phone, but that isn’t as major an omission as it is in Western markets. Android Pay is yet to make its debut in India, and it doesn’t look like it will do so anytime soon.
The fingerprint sensor at the back is slightly recessed, making it easy to locate it with your finger. Its position beneath the camera module makes it easy to access, and the sensor itself is quick to authenticate. It is an always-on sensor, so you’ll be able to unlock the device even when the display is off.
The speaker on the Redmi Note 4 is significantly better than its predecessor, and that’s mainly due to its placement. Moving the speaker to the bottom means that it is no longer muffled when lying flat on a surface. The quality from the speaker is average — with sound getting distorted at high volumes — but at least you won’t miss any incoming calls or notifications.
MIUI 8 is Xiaomi’s biggest release in a long time, introducing much-needed visual flair along with new customization options. The skin is based on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, and the phone is currently on the December security patch. Xiaomi is testing a Nougat preview of MIUI, and will be rolling it out widely in the coming months.
Setting up the Redmi Note 4 is a hassle, as MIUI still doesn’t offer a way to restore apps and settings. So you’ll have to individually install apps from the Play Store after booting into the phone. Another issue is with the phone’s settings, which is a jumbled mess in its current iteration. Settings you’d normally find on other Android phones are inexplicably missing, and the ones that are available aren’t located where you’d expect. For instance, if you want to enable installation of apps from outside the Play Store (useful for installing apps like Spotify), you’ll have to go to Settings -> Additional settings -> Privacy ->Unknown sources. On most other phones, it is at Settings -> Security -> Unknown sources.
MIUI is frustrating to use at times, but it is packed with features.
Xiaomi is like the Alfa Romeo of phone brands. Its designs are evocative, and its customers are very passionate about the brand. And like all Alfas, Xiaomi’s phones end up being quirky and frustrating to use. With the Redmi Note 4, that shows up in the form of annoying lock screen issues.
Lock screen notifications are a hit and miss in MIUI 8. While I receive all Gmail notifications, I’m yet to see one for Google’s Messenger or Facebook Messenger. On the subject of notifications, MIUI 8 has a retooled notification shade that shows quick toggles and incoming messages in the same place. You can expand notifications, but doing so requires a zoom in gesture, not the best solution when you’re using the phone one-handed.
Then there’s the aggressive memory management. I use Minima for live wallpapers, and to get it to work, the app needs to be running in the background. Every time I closed the Minima app, the wallpaper switched back to the system default.
That said, MIUI 8 has a ton of new features and customizability. There’s Dual Apps, which lets you run two instances of the same apps, allowing you to run two WhatsApp or Facebook accounts on the same phone. With Second Space, you can set up two profiles on the phone, with each featuring a different home screen. The profiles are sandboxed and use their own distinct data, but you do get the option to move data between profiles.
MIUI 8 also offers video editing tools in the gallery app, there’s a new power-saving mode that lets you conserve the battery, and there’s a Quick Ball feature that lets you access shortcuts with ease. You can also take scrolling screenshots, convert currency and other units on the fly, and much more.
There’s also a one-handed mode, which is accessible with a left-to-right (or vice versa) swipe gesture across the navigation keys. You can shrink the screen size down to 4.0 inches, 4.5 inches, or 3.5 inches, making it more convenient to use the phone one-handed. Xiaomi also offers several features for the Indian market. The dialer includes caller ID information for the delivery staff of Amazon, Domino’s, Zomato, and other brands, making it easier for you to identify incoming calls.
The Redmi Note 3 disappointed many in the camera department, and Xiaomi has focused on improving the camera on this year’s model. The 13-megapixel rear camera with f/2.0 lens is a testament of that.
In well-lit conditions, it can take some great landscape shots. When shooting close-ups of objects or macro shots, the color reproduction is quite good and there are plenty of details. Sharpness is a mixed bag though. The camera focuses quickly, which is also great for taking some fine shots of moving subjects. If you’re shooting in HDR, you’ll manage to squeeze in more details, although it takes slightly longer to shoot the photos.
In low-light though, Xiaomi has still a lot to do. If you put in some effort, you would manage to get some decent shots, but once you zoom in, you’d find a lot of graininess.
The 5MP front camera sports a f/2.0 lens and most selfies in well-lit conditions come out well with good color accuracy and details. Indoors or in low-light though, it’s a hit-or-miss, which is pretty much the case with most smartphones in this price segment.
In terms of video recording, the rear camera can record videos at 1080p resolution and the quality is good enough. The video recording on front camera is now downgraded to 720p compared to 1080p on its predecessor and it fails to impress in terms of details.
The camera app on the Redmi Note 4 includes a variety of modes, including a manual mode that lets you tweak the ISO, white balance, and exposure settings, and a wealth of other options.
The Redmi Note 4 runs MIUI 8 based on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow. The company is testing a Nougat preview of MIUI, and will be rolling it out in the coming months. MIUI 8 is one of the popular Android customizations, and although it’s quirky and can be frustrating to use at times, it packs in a lot of features and has its share of fans.
And it has gone better. On Redmi Note 4, MIUI 8 is quite smooth and polished. With the internals it packs, the smartphone just breezes with MIUI 8, and even the usual culprits like system animations are a user experience delight.
One of the highlights of the MIUI 8 is the focus on privacy with Dual Apps and Second Space. While the Dual Apps feature allows you to create two instances of any app (so for example, you can use two WhatsApp accounts on the same phone), the Second Space feature allows users to separate personal and business information on the same device.
While the MIUI 8 has an improved dialer app, it also boasts of a caller ID feature with information about the delivery staff of online stores and local on-demand services. The Messages app bundles similar messages into folders so texts from banks, service providers, online stores, etc. don’t clog up your inbox. These are very useful, and unique, features that Xiaomi has specifically introduced for the Indian market.
MIUI 8 includes a one-handed mode, which is accessible with a left-to-right swipe gesture across the navigation keys. You can shrink the screen size down to 4.0 inches, 4.5 inches, or 3.5 inches, making it more convenient to use the phone one-handed. There’s also the Quick Ball feature that lets you access shortcuts with ease – first introduced with the large-sized Mi Max phablet.
The Redmi Note 4 has a bunch of preloaded apps, and they can’t be uninstalled in case you don’t need any of these. That’s double whammy, really.
Overall, the overall software experience on the Redmi Note 4 is great, and there are a bunch of useful features that you’d only appreciate once you start using it. I’m not a big fan of MIUI’s aggressive memory management, but that apart, there are no complaints really if you warm up to it.
CPU: Helio X20 2.1GHz Deca Core
System: MIUI 8 OS
RAM + ROM: 3GB RAM + 64GB ROM
External Memory: 128GB
Camera: Back camera 13.0MP with AF and flashlight + front camera 5.0MP
Navigation: GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS
Sensor: G-sensor, Proximity sensor, Ambient light senor, Hall sensor, Accelerometer
SIM Card: Dual SIM dual standby, one is micro SIM card, the other is nano SIM card
GSM B2/B3/B8 CDMA 2000/1X BC0
WCDMA B1/B2/B5/B8 TD-SCDMA B34/B39
FDD-LTE B1/B3/B5/B7/B8 TD-LTE B38/B39/B40/B41(2555-2655MHz)
|Basic Information||Brand: Xiaomi
Type: 4G Phablet
OS: MIUI 8
Service Provider: Unlocked
Language: Indonesian, Malay, English, Spanish, French, Polish, Portuguese, Roumanian, Vietnamese, Turkish, Czech, Russian, Ukrainian, Hindi, Marathi, Bengli, Gujarati, Punjabi, Assamese, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Nepali, Odia, Arabic, Thai, Burmese, Urdu, Persian, Hebrew, Korean, Simplified / Traditional Chinese
SIM Card Slot: Dual SIM,Dual Standby
SIM Card Type: Micro SIM Card,Nano SIM Card
|Hardware||CPU: Helio X20
Cores: 2.1GHz,Deca Core
GPU: Mali T880
RAM: 3GB RAM
External Memory: TF card up to 128GB (not included)
|Network||Wireless Connectivity: 3G,4G,Bluetooth,GPS,GSM,WiFi
WIFI: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac wireless internet
Network type: GSM+CDMA+WCDMA+TD-SCDMA+FDD-LTE+TD-LTE
2G: GSM B2/B3/B8
CDMA: CDMA 2000/1X BC0
3G: WCDMA B1/B2/B5/B8
TD-SCDMA: TD-SCDMA B34/B39
4G: FDD-LTE B1/B3/B5/B7/B8
TDD/TD-LTE: TD-LTE B38/B39/B40/B41(2555-2655MHz)
|Display||Screen type: 2.5D Arc Screen
Screen size: 5.5 inch
Screen resolution: 1920 x 1080 (FHD)
Pixels Per Inch (PPI): 401
|Camera||Camera type: Dual cameras (one front one back)
Back camera: 13.0MP,with flash light and AF
Front camera: 5.0MP
Touch Focus: Yes
Auto Focus: Yes
Camera Functions: Face Detection,HDR,Panorama Shot
|Media Formats||Picture format: BMP,GIF,JPEG,PNG
Music format: AAC,MP3
Video format: 3GP,M4A,MKV,MP4
Games: Android APK
|Other Features||I/O Interface: 1 x Micro SIM Card Slot,1 x Nano SIM Card Slot,3.5mm Audio Out Port,TF/Micro SD Card Slot
Bluetooth Version: Bluetooth V4.2
Sensor: Accelerometer,Ambient Light Sensor,E-Compass,Gravity Sensor,Proximity Sensor
Additional Features: 3G,4G,Alarm,Bluetooth,Browser,Calculator,Calendar,Fingerprint recognition,Fingerprint Unlocking,GPS,Gravity Sensing,MP3,MP4,Proximity Sensing,Wi-Fi
|Battery||Battery Capacity (mAh): 4100mAh
Battery Type: Lithium-ion Polymer Battery,Non-removable
|Package Contents||Cell Phone: 1
Power Adapter: 1
USB Cable: 1
SIM Needle: 1
|Dimensions and Weight||Product size: 15.10 x 7.60 x 0.84 cm / 5.94 x 2.99 x 0.33 inches
Package size: 17.20 x 9.80 x 5.00 cm / 6.77 x 3.86 x 1.97 inches
Product weight: 0.1730 kg
Package weight: 0.3850 kg