The roars, adulation and murmurs of Mi Fans when Hugo Bara announced the price of Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (and later when we interacted with them) were evidence enough that Xiaomi has a killer product at hands. As much as I hate using the word, the pricing is “disruptive”. But how well does Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 live up to all that hype? We will try to answer that in parts as we steer through our first impression piece, but let’s first get the specs out of our way.

Also Read: Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 FAQ, Benchmark scores and camera samples

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (16)

Key Specifications and Features:

Model Xiaomi Redmi Note 3
Display 5.5-Inch, IPS Display, 1080p Full HD resolution
Processor Hexa-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 chipset, Adreno 510 GPU
RAM 2GB / 3GB
Internal Storage 16GB / 32GB
Software MIUI 7 based on Android Lollipop
Primary Camera 16MP, dual tone LED flash, 1080p Videos
Secondary Camera 5MP primary
Battery 4050 mAh
Dimensions & Weight 150 x 76 x 8.7 mm and 164 g
Others 4G Dual SIM LTE
Price 13,999/ 10,999 INR

The design is ergonomic, but lacks flair

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 has a very conventional design. It’s not bad by any measure, but is perhaps missing that X factor. Of-course it’s miles ahead of its predecessor the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4G, but that was launched ages ago and isn’t ideal at all for comparison.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (2)

Talking of comparisons, the Le 1s has those chamfered edges working in its favor, the K4 Note too feels refreshing with those elegantly implemented dual-frontal speakers (even when its chunky), and even the brushed metal back of Honor 5X, coupled with those short perforated texture plastic strips serves as a distinct design element enhancing the overall appeal.

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 wears metal on the back which curves to form the side edges, and there is a rear mounted fingerprint sensor too (which is fast), but somehow all that doesn’t suffice to break that design monotony.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (14)

We do wish the speaker was anywhere but on the rear side. Xiaomi has underlined it with a tiny lip, to avoid speaker grill from being completely blocked when the phone rests on its back, but that can’t completely redeem this inherent design flaw.

Ergonomically, we have no complaints. The weight is fairly manageable, bezels on the display are decidedly narrow and rounded side edges give it a nice grip. Its quite comfortable to  hold in hands and feels solid.

Also Read: Should you buy the Honor 5X or LeEco Le 1s? – Comparison, What Matters, What Doesn’t

Xiaomi’s display expertise continues

Xiaomi has always been good with displays. I have used almost all Xiaomi phones launched in India for a considerable amount of time, and I don’t think any of those had a bad display, even taking into account the low-end Redmi 1s and Redmi 2.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (3)

The display on Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 is bright and vivid. Like other Xiaomi displays, colors pop without going overboard. Most quotidian consumers like a bit of oversaturated colors so the Redmi Note 3 display should be appealing to most people.

The dynamic contrast feature adjusts the display colors and contrast when you place in under direct sun to enhance visibility without increasing backlight. Under display settings, you can adjust color temperature and also activate the reading mode.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (20)

The reading mode eliminates eye-raping blue light and makes the display yellowish (You can adjust its strength using a slider). As someone who reads a lot on his phone, even in dark ambient conditions, and often end up with a throbbing headache and swollen eyes, I certainly find this useful.

Camera Performance

Xiaomi went at great lengths glorifying Redmi Note 3 camera, citing testimonies of ‘Explorers’ and its own photographers. When tested in the low lighting conditions, the handset didn’t appear particularly impressive ( a really difficult thing to accomplish at budget price).

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (22)

The camera seemed closers to what we have seen on Honor 5X. The images looked sharp, but zooming in made everything fuzzy. It is still too soon to comment on the camera quality, but we are not completely sold on it and would like to further test it before giving our final verdict.

Performance Expectations and Software

The Snapdragon variant of Redmi Note 3 employs Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 650 Hexa-core processor which includes 2 Cortex A72 cores for heavy lifting. In theory and based on initial benchmark scores circulating the web, the processor certainly looks best in its class. The UI transitions, fingerprint sensors and other tasks seemed very smooth in our initial testing. Performance should be a primary forte of Redmi Note 3.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (23)

Since MIUI doesn’t have a reputation of being generous with RAM consumption, we advise you to aim for the 3GB variant.

The 4050 mAh battery will also give it an edge over the competition. The battery, however, doesn’t support fast charging. Well it does, but it uses Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 1.0 which isn’t all that quick. However, this shouldn’t be any botheration at this price, especially in the light of good back-up.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (15)

Xiaomi is using Android Lollipop based MIUI 7 software. It’s one of the better custom ROM’s out there with ample customization options. It is the same MIUI7 software that is running on numerous other Xiaomi phones, including the Mi4 and Mi4i. Since I am too familiar with the UI, a part of me wished Xiaomi had redesigned UI Icons and Notification shade (swiping left for quick setting tiles feels archaic). Having said that, there is a lot to like about Xiaomi’s MIUI and if you haven’t used it extensively in the past, you will have lots to cherish.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (17)

Wrap-up

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 is being viewed as Xiaomi’s comeback, prehaps rightly so. It is a very compelling phone and the few flaws it has been further attenuated in light of the attractive price-tag. After shortchanging Indian fan base for a  while year, Xiaomi definitely needed a win, and the new Note serves that purpose. It’s all water under the bridge now. Redmi Note 3 is surely easy to recommend for the price, but is it “That Revolutionary Handset” which overshadows and crushes all recently launched rivals? We will find out after our full review.

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