Xiaomi’s latest Android packs lots of features despite the low price.
Xiaomi’s latest budget smartphone, the Redmi Note 3 features a metal unibody and fingerprint sensor, both of which are usually reserved for high-end devices.
The fingerprint sensor, located just under the camera, is within easy reach of the index finger, so unlocking the phone is a breeze.
The company says that the sensor only takes 0.3 seconds to read a fingerprint and we have no reason to doubt it as it was very fast.
In fact, you don’t even have to “wake up” the phone to unlock the device with your fingerprint. We just wish Xiaomi had made better use of it – most other companies also use the sensor for snapping photos and accessing the notification menu.
As for the design, we especially like the back which is matte as it makes it easier to grip the phone.
However, it’s a bit on the heavy side even though it’s not a very large phone.
The Note 3 has a 16-megapixel camera, the highest for a Xiaomi phone yet. It features phase-detect autofocus for better and faster focusing.
The camera was pretty fast while taking outdoor shots, producing photos with good detail and colour reproduction.
Occasionally it struggles with white balance and also suffers from slight purple fringing when shooting objects against bright sunlight.
When it comes to low light shots, the camera didn’t perform so well – it was slow to focus and the photos lacked detail.
The camera favours the 4:3 ratio for photos – you can switch to a wider 16:9 format but the resolution will be reduced to 12 megapixels.
The front-facing 5-megapixel camera takes decent selfies and has the standard beauty mode with three levels of adjustments.
It also has a fun feature which tries to guess the age and gender of the person in the selfie.
The Note 3 is powered by the mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 hexa-core processor and has 3GB RAM.
It had no problems handling graphics intensive games such as This War Of Mine, Need For Speed: Most Wanted and Modern Combat 5: Blackout.
We barely noticed any lag when gaming on the device for hours.
Heat transfer was minimal which is rather surprising as it has a metal body.
The phone also had no issues running multiple apps and playing videos.
The Note 3 features hybrid SIM card slots which allows the user to use either two SIM cards (both supports 4G), or one SIM card and one microSD card (expandable up to 32GB).
The Note 3 runs on an older Android – 5.1.1 or Lollipop – which is a bummer but at least the company’s user interface called MiUI makes up for it with some nice features.
For example, the Read Mode lets you turn the screen slightly yellow which apparently prevents eye strain.
Its Mi Cloud backup is also useful for keeping your photo gallery, contacts, messages and phone settings backed up.
The company has also kept bloatware to a minimum so that the internal storage space is not wasted.
Sadly, MiUI lacks an app drawer so all your apps will appear on the homescreen which makes organisation a tad challenging.
The huge 4,000mAh battery allowed the phone to last about 1.5 days when used mainly for social media, and occasionally for shooting photos and gaming.
It’s nice to have a long battery life but charging the phone takes awhile due to the large battery size.
It takes around two hours to fully power the phone even with the fast charging feature.
The Note 3 is one of the best phones you can get for under RM1,000, as its performance was solid, the battery life was good and it even includes a fingerprint sensor.
Unlike older models, the build quality was also good.
In fact, it won’t have problems competing with phones that are priced much higher.
If you are looking for a powerful phone with premium features but one that doesn’t break the bank then check out the Note 3.
The review unit we tested is the 32GB version with 3GB RAM. There is also another version with 16GB storage and 2GB RAM going for RM749 (with GST).
Pros: Outstanding battery life; fast fingerprint sensor; rear matte surface is nice; no performance issue; beautiful screen; feature-rich UI.
Cons: A bit heavy; camera struggles in low light; average audio quality.
Redmi Note 3 (Xiaomi)
OPERATING SYSTEM: Android 5.1.1 Lollipop
DISPLAY: 5.5in full HD (1,080 x 1,920 pixels)
CAMERA: 16-megapixel rear camera with phase-detect autofocus, 5-megapixel front camera
CONNECTIVITY: Micro USB 2.0, Bluetooth 4.1, WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, IR blaster
PROCESSOR: Snapdragon 650 hexa-core (quad-core 1.4GHz Cortex-A53 + dual-core 1.8GHz Cortex-A72)
MEMORY: 32GB internal memory, 3GB RAM
OTHER FEATURES: Fingerprint sensor, fast charger
DIMENSIONS (W x D x H): 76 x 8.7 x 150mm
PRICE: RM849 (inclusive of GST)
RATING: 4 stars