Good things do come at small prices (and big sizes) after all. So for a phablet with a 5.5 inch HD screen, good looks, and powerful hardware, do you need to spend half a lakh rupees then? Not really, and the Xiaomi Redmi Note priced at a fifth of that is the strongest bet to convince you why.
Once you get around pronouncing the tongue-twisting Chinese company name—it starts with a ‘hiss’ sound, you will understand why we are raving about it. It has got a big, bright IPS screen, very good build quality and amazing battery life from a 3,200 mAh pack—that makes it better than most comparably priced Micromax and other local brands. I spent about a month with this phone, and largely loved the usability, which made no compromises despite the highly competitive price.
The OS may be based on a few generations old Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean KitKat, but the in-house user interface called MIUI is well-designed for a very slick feel. You will not find it missing on any feature, in fact some external apps like a CPU optimiser comes in-built. An interesting point was also the great packaging, where the earphones come separately. In fact, the earphones are the best quality I have seen recently.
Despite the size, fitting the phone into jean pockets was not a major challenge, and the strong built made sure it would not break easy. Closely related to the smaller Redmi 1s, the Note comes with dual-SIM functionality and decent processing power from its Mediatek 1.7 GHz Octacore processor and 2 GB RAM. Of particular mention is the 13 MP front camera, which is pretty good at this price point. The images were bright and sharp. There is also a 5 MP front camera for selfies.
There were small problems though, and my main issue was with the OS. Yes, it looks great and does all functions, but it is way too heavy on the hardware. That leads to slowing down of some key apps and small bugs during daily usage. Nothing major for it to be a deal-breaker though. The 720p HD screen does not offer protection like Gorilla glass, while the phone is also a bit heavy. But the latter is because of the huge battery and big screen, both of which are USPs for the phablet.
Xiaomi may be back to selling phones exclusively through online retailer Flipkart after stopping briefly due to legal troubles over patents, but you will most likely find stocks running out once too often. So if you are interested, this is surely a great buy at R9,000.
* Display: 5.5-inch IPS display
* Processor: 1.7 GHz MediaTek MT 6592 octa-core CPU
* Operating system: Android 4.3 OS with MIUI 5
* Storage & memory: 2 GB RAM; 8 GB internal memory expandable up to 32 GB
* Camera: 13 MP (rear); 5 MP front camera
* SIM type: Dual-SIM (regular SIM 3G + 2G)
* Battery: 3200 mAh battery
* Estimated street price: Rs 8,999