Xiaomi Mi5 & Redmi Note 3: Big on value

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Published: April 21, 2016 6:01:02 AM

Stylish design, advanced features, good camera experience and a long battery life—these are some of the key takeaways from Xiaomi mobile handsets, the Chinese device maker that is growing in stature day-by-day.

xiaomi mi5Few are aware but Xiaomi’s latest flagship Mi 5 debuted in India within a month of its global debut, becoming the first-ever smartphone in the country equipped with the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor.(xiaomimi5.com)

Stylish design, advanced features, good camera experience and a long battery life—these are some of the key takeaways from Xiaomi mobile handsets, the Chinese device maker that is growing in stature day-by-day. Xiaomi has a reputation for building devices that are an extremely good value without cutting corners in the process. Sales of its phones in territories including India, China, Indonesia and Brazil, have propelled the relatively young company into the top 5 smartphone manufacturers in the world; it sold more than 70 million handsets in 2015 and is expanding its footprint across the world to become a global brand. Impressive, certainly, and it seems Xiaomi is set to give stiff competition to well-entrenched players like Apple, Samsung and Lenovo in the superhot Indian smartphone market.

At first I was skeptical of this company’s handsets, despite its immensely popular flash sales. However, my exposure to some of the Mi and Redmi series devices changed the perception I had about the brand, as captured in the first line of this article. The company founder and serial

entrepreneur Lei Jun says that high-quality technology doesn’t need to cost a fortune; I fully subscribe to his philosophy. Recently, the company sent across two of its new devices for a product evaluation. These are the Mi 5 and Redmi Note 3. If you are interested in picking them up, here are some of the key features you need to know.

Mi 5

Few are aware but Xiaomi’s latest flagship Mi 5 debuted in India within a month of its global debut, becoming the first-ever smartphone in the country equipped with the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor. Priced at R24,999, Mi 5 is a sleek and beautiful work of art with a 3D glass body made from Corning Gorilla Glass 4. It has elegant curved edges that transition from glass to metal seamlessly with an almost bezel-less screen.

Even with a large high-density 3000mAh battery and a front fingerprint sensor, Mi 5 features an extremely slim frame and a high screen-to-body ratio. It weighs 129g and has a thickness of only 7.25 mm. Needless to say, it is pretty light and is comfortable to hold.

Moving further, Mi 5 comes equipped with 3 GB RAM and 32 GB flash memory, and has several interesting specs built into it, like the 4-axis Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) camera. In fact, this is one of the key tech breakthroughs in this device; it is pretty effective at compensating for handshake in a variety of shooting scenarios, and is particularly effective for video.

Mi 5 also ships in with the new Sony IMX298 sensor, which happens to be Xiaomi’s first camera featuring Deep Trench Isolation (DTI), a pixel-to-pixel isolation technology for cleaner colour separation. In addition, the device comes with a 2-micron pixel 4 MP front camera for taking selfies.

Switched on, Mi 5 features a very vibrant display with 600-nit brightness, stemming from an increase to 16 LED lights behind its LCD display. The phone renders every image or video in eye-delighting detail. The screen is also 17% more power efficient, which means that it is battery-saving despite being extremely bright. On the software front, Mi 5 ships with MIUI based on Android M, and also comes with an infrared port and Mi Remote app for controlling appliances from hundreds of brands. For connectivity, the phone all India LTE bands and with VoLTE technology, it also allows users to make high-quality HD voice calls with supported networks.

During my time with the Mi 5, the phone came across as a nifty device that is powerful and versatile. It offers very fast performance, thanks to the latest Snapdragon 820 processor. I had no issues with making calls. Voices were clear and crisp. Internet browsing is fast on the phone and there is no lag whatsoever while switching between apps. Its high definition screen will allow users to watch movies and play games in a manner that they have never seen before.

Overall, a sturdy and beautiful phone with good performance. Highly recommended.

Redmi Note 3

Let’s face it, we are now at a point where most smartphones are good, but it’s not necessarily easy to find a phone that’s good for your specific needs. Maybe you want a phone that clicks good snaps. Or you just want an affordable phone that is attractive to look at and is easy to use. Take my word, Redmi Note 3 is a good pick if you want a good value for money device.

Starting from R9,999, Redmi Note 3 is beautifully constructed with a metal body and comes packed with a huge 4050mAh battery that can last a full day on a single charge. It is also Xiaomi’s first-ever smartphone with a fingerprint sensor. Powered by Snapdragon 650 processor, Redmi Note 3 is pretty fast. It features the latest Qualcomm Adreno 510 GPU, which provides impressive graphics performance for a good gaming experience.

Redmi Note 3 packs a 690Wh/L high-density 4050mAh battery that is incredibly thin. It weighs just 164g and measures only 8.65 mm at its thickest point, despite the massive battery. The device also supports 5V/2A Qualcomm Quick Charge technology, charging up to 50% in one hour and taking only three hours for a full charge.

The fingerprint sensor on Redmi Note 3 uses capacitive scanning technology for accurate, secure and fast performance, unlocking the device in just 0.3 seconds. There are a number of useful fingerprint sensor features incorporated into MIUI 7, including the ability to lock apps, access hidden folders, and even take a front or rear camera selfie using just your fingerprint.

On the camera front, Redmi Note 3 produces some very good photos thanks to its 16 MP rear camera. It also comes equipped with Phase Detection Autofocus (PDAF) for faster focusing, as well as “Local Tone Mapping”, which adjusts contrast at a pixel level to deliver images with much better contrast levels—close to what the eye can see in real life.

During the review period, Redmi Note 3 came across as a capable phone very much adept at handling everyday essentials. Navigating the phone’s interface is mostly smooth and trouble-free, apps and menus open quickly and the battery has enough juice to easily last and entire day of very heavy usage. On the downside, the phone’s speakers can be a little soft at times, so you may miss calls or notifications if you are in a noisy place.

In summary, if you decide to own a Redmi Note 3 you’ve got a phone that can handle just about anything you can throw at it.

SPECIFICATIONS
Mi 5
w Dimensions: 144.55 x 69.2 x
7.25 mm (H x W x D)
w Display: 13.08 cm (5.15-inch) ultra-bright display
w Processor: Snapdragon 820 Quad-core Kryo 1.8GHz
w Memory & storage: 3 GB LPDDR4 dual-channel RAM; 32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
w Camera: 16 MP (rear);
4 MP front camera
w Weight: 129gms
n Estimated street price: R24,999

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