The latest iteration of the Redmi series has improved upon its predecessors in every conceivable manner and offers an outstanding value proposition.
--BY SARTHAK RAJ BARAL
The Redmi series is a recognisable and popular budget brand that has, in the years past, provided its customer base with phones one would characterise as ‘solid,’ ‘reliable’ and ‘affordable.’ There is a notable difference this year. The difficulty of delivering an awe-worthy phone at curtailed costs is considerable, and it is a predicament several companies the world over are attempting to combat. With the Redmi Note 7, Xiaomi is one company that appear to have cracked the code.
While building on the tradition of being a ‘solid,’ ‘reliable’ and ‘affordable’ phone, the Redmi Note 7 is also gorgeous, elegant and delightful to use.
Right from the outset, the device impresses. The Gorilla Glass 5 protected glass body immediately imbues the phone with a look and feel of luxury ordinarily reserved for its pricier cousins. While the phone is undoubtedly on the larger side, it fits well into the hand. The 6.3-inch screen stretches out to all corners, and although the device has a prominent chin, it is compensated by a water-drop notch, which is markedly less intrusive than the large square notches that were in vogue in 2018. Our plain black review model is a picture of subtle elegance, although there are additional colourful options available for those looking to make a more pronounced style statement. Also present is a 3.5 mm headphone jack, an Infrared blaster, a bottom-firing speaker and a fingerprint scanner on the rear. Further, the phone has a P2i water-resistant coating, and while that doesn’t make it waterproof, it means that the phone can survive the occasional splash or shower.
Further, in keeping with the times, the USB-2.0 port on the previous iterations has been replaced by USB-C. The 6.3-inch IPS LCD is bright and vivid. The thin side bezels and the water-drop notch at the top contribute towards a more than respectable 81.4 percent screen-to-body ratio. In tandem with the sharp 1080 x 2340 resolution and a 409 PPI (pixels per inch) density, content consumption on the Note 7 is delightful. The panel’s brightness is well calibrated, and sunlight legibility is reasonable if not exceptional.
Overall, the Redmi Note 7’s design and feel belies its modest price tag. It is a polished, robust and sophisticated device with the only genuine concern on the design front being the rear camera module that has a notable protrusion. In terms of hardware, one will be hard pressed to find a better device at this price point.
Software, Performance and Battery
Running the show for the Redmi Note 7 is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 660 chipset. The mid-range chipset is more than capable of flying through day-to-day use with fluidity. Our review unit was the 4GB RAM and 64 GB ROM variant that performed admirably throughout the duration of my use. Apps load quickly and switching between them is rapid.
The device comes with MIUI 10 on top of Android 9 out of the box. This allows for the addition of full-screen gesture controls that are intuitive and responsive, and greatly enhance not only the screen real-estate but also the general user experience. With Android 9 comes a plethora of customisation options that allow the users to set up the phone as per their liking. MIUI 10 is a decent operating system, and has certainly improved from its previous iterations and provides a relatively streamlined user experience. Gaming on the Redmi Note 7 is an enjoyable experience. Graphically intensive games such as PUBG and Asphalt 9 run smoothly, and while there is the occasional stutter on high settings, it’s almost negligible.
The 4,000-mAh battery on the Redmi Note 7 is a beast. Even under the strain of my significant use, the phone routinely lasted a full day and then some. For more moderate users, the sizeable battery should ensure a comfortable one and a half day usage. While the phone supports Quick charge 4.0, a fast charger is not included in the box. However, the standard charger bundled in the box is quick and charged the phone from 10 percent to 100 in approximately two hours.
While the full capabilities of the 48 megapixels (MP) primary sensor are offered only in Pro Mode, even on auto mode, through the process of pixel binning, the sensor allows for four pixels to be fused, allowing for a sharper 12 mp image. This also does wonders to the phone’s low light capabilities.
During daylight, the photos come out crisp and colourful, and the AI functionality helps with accurate colour reproduction. The dynamic range is surprisingly excellent, particularly for a phone at this price point.
The portrait mode, despite the dedicated 5MP depth sensor, isn’t quite as impressive. While photos come out great in portrait mode, the edge detection is a bit flunky and doesn’t always work as expected. However, this can be easily be patched with software updates. It is during the night though that the Redmi Note 7’s cameras impress the most. Low light photography is a challenge even for premium flagships, and considering the price, the low light capability of the phone is nothing short of remarkable. Using the dedicated Night Mode, photos at night come out bright, properly exposed and with minimal noise. Further, the rear cameras can record video at [email protected]/60/120 frames per second. The 13 mp selfie camera is excellent as well, and during the day takes some pleasing shots.
Price is invariably the dominant determiner behind a purchase, and it is in this pivotal area that the Redmi Note 7 excels triumphantly. Our 4/64 GB review unit, priced at Rs 24,999 looks and functions like a device that costs considerably more. With excellent build quality, a vivid screen, capable performance and great cameras with outstanding low-light capabilities, the Redmi Note 7 is not only a great phone considering its cost; it’s a great phone, period. The Budget King has arrived.