Ph­ablet for the masses

HWM (Singapore) - - FRONT PAGE - by Sid­ney Wong

Imag­ine the 4.7-inch Redmi smart­phone in a 5.5-inch form fac­tor and you get the Redmi Note. And while plas­tic con­tin­ues to be the dom­i­nant ma­te­rial used in its con­struc­tion, it has a glossy rear un­like the reg­u­lar Redmi. Most of you should be fa­mil­iar by now that this de­sign at­tracts fin­ger­prints and smudges like bees to honey, and does not pro­vide as good a grip as one with a matte sur­face.

Also, one would think the use of plas­tic will keep the weight man­age­able, but the Redmi Note re­ally needs to go on a diet. Tip­ping the scales at 199g, the Redmi Note is as heavy or even heftier than phones with big­ger screens. In a class of de­vices that in­clude the HTC De­sire 816 and Huawei Honor 3X, the Redmi Note is con­sid­ered very bulky. That said, we have to cut Xiaomi some slack as the Redmi Note isn’t meant to be a flag­ship or pre­mium de­vice that is thin and sleek.

Un­like the Redmi, the but­tons on the Redmi Note now come with back­light­ing. You can dis­able the back­light un­der the Set­tings menu or set the du­ra­tion (1,2, 5, 10, 20 sec­onds or al­ways) it re­mains on.

At the rear, one finds a 13-megapixel cam­era and its ac­com­pa­ny­ing LED flash. The rear cover can be re­moved although it will re­quire some ef­fort since there is no ded­i­cated slit to lever­age a fin­ger­nail in. Re­mov­ing the rear cover gives you ac­cess to two nor­mal-sized SIM card slots and a mi­croSD mem­ory card slot.

Both SIM card slots sup­port data con­nec­tiv­ity and dual-standby, but its op­er­a­tion works just like the smaller Redmi; the slot on the left sup­ports up to 3G, while the right slot is rated for 2G. There is still no 4G LTE on the Redmi Note. Its mem­ory card slot can sup­port cards up to 32GB in ca­pac­ity, which will come in handy as the Redmi

CON­CLU­SION The Redmi Note con­tin­ues the tra­di­tion of best-in-class af­ford­abil­ity, but user ex­pe­ri­ence could be bet­ter.

Note has about 5.05GB of avail­able stor­age space out of the box.

With a screen size of 5.5-inches, the Redmi Note has an un­flat­ter­ing pixel den­sity of 267ppi. The 720p dis­play may seem un­der­whelm­ing or even un­ac­cept­able at first, but it would suf­fice for the av­er­age con­sumer. Con­sid­er­ing that the dis­play is gen­er­ally the more ex­pen­sive com­po­nent of a mo­bile de­vice, it is only log­i­cal that Xiaomi couldn’t fit in a pre­mium dis­play and still keep the Redmi Note at its price point. More­over, a higher res­o­lu­tion dis­play will have a neg­a­tive im­pact on bat­tery life and we be­lieve most con­sumers will pre­fer a longer bat­tery mileage.

Be­ing in the same Redmi fam­ily, the Redmi Note cur­rently runs on MIUI V5 OS based on An­droid 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. The Redmi Note sold in Sin­ga­pore and Malaysia is the en­hanced model fea­tur­ing a Me­di­aTek MT6592 octa-core 1.7GHz pro­ces­sor and 2GB RAM.

Do 8 cores bring any im­prove­ment in the user ex­pe­ri­ence? Un­for­tu­nately, it’s still not a smooth as ex­pected. When run­ning As­phalt 8: Air­borne on the Redmi Note and HTC De­sire 816, we found gam­ing ex­pe­ri­ence on the Qual­comm Snap­drag­onpow­ered De­sire to be a tad smoother than the Redmi Note.

The 13-megapixel rear cam­era has an aper­ture of f/2.2 and sports 28mm wide an­gle lens with a LED flash. As it doesn’t em­ploy a back­side il­lu­mi­nated (BSI) sen­sor like the De­sire 816, the Redmi Note fares slightly worse in low light pho­tog­ra­phy test­ing. Un­der nor­mal light­ing con­di­tions though, image qual­ity is gen­er­ally good.

Equipped with a 3,100mAh bat­tery, the Redmi Note lasted about 7 hours and 28 min­utes in our bat­tery test, but again, our De­sire 816 with a smaller 2,600mAh bat­tery, ac­tu­ally out­lasted the Redmi Note by 37 min­utes. Un­der real world con­di­tions, we could use the de­vice for 25 hours be­fore the bat­tery level dropped to 13%. Screen-on time was about close to 4.5 hours.

Still at just $199, it’s re­ally easy to over­look these flaws. Its clos­est com­peti­tor, the De­sire 816 has an SRP of $498. The Redmi Note is no doubt one of the most ir­re­sistible, value-for-money An­droid ph­ablets you can get to­day.

The Redmi Note is rather thick at 9.5mm.

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