Xiaomi Redmi 3S

£121 inc VAT xiaomi-mi.co.uk

Android Advisor - - Contents -

Xiaomi has ex­celled it­self with the Redmi 3S, tak­ing the al­ready very good Redmi 3 and fit­ting a newer pro­ces­sor and a finger­print scan­ner, and tweak­ing the de­sign. The re­sult­ing Xiaomi Redmi 3S has all the things that made the Redmi 3 great, in­clud­ing phenomenal bat­tery life, but now it’s even bet­ter.

Just over £120 re­ally isn’t a lot of money when it comes to buy­ing a SIM-free An­droid phone, and you will pay much more than this for a com­pa­ra­ble UK net­work-locked bud­get An­droid. But while the Redmi 3S of­fers in­cred­i­ble value at this price, it’s

also worth check­ing what deals are avail­able on the 3S Pro. Sep­a­rat­ing the two right now is a gig of RAM, 16 gigs of stor­age, and just a fiver.

You won’t get the Redmi 3S on a con­tract in the UK, but at these prices you can af­ford to buy the phone out­right and opt for a much cheaper SIMonly tar­iff that ties you in only so long as you wish to be con­tracted. We wouldn’t ad­vise us­ing an O2-, Gif­f­gaff- or other mo­bile net­work’s SIM that re­lies on the 800MHz band for 4G, how­ever, since Xiaomi phones don’t sup­port it. The 2100- and 2600MHz 4G bands also used in the UK by other mo­bile net­works are sup­ported.

Peo­ple can rightly be wary about buy­ing smart­phones from China, but we’ve never had an is­sue with buy­ing from GearBest. Do note that you may have to pay im­port duty when ship­ping the Xiaomi Redmi 3S from China to the UK, how­ever. You can read all about this and other po­ten­tial pit­falls in our guide to buy­ing grey-mar­ket tech.

De­sign

Viewed from the front the Xiaomi Redmi 3S is iden­ti­cal to the Xiaomi Redmi 3. It matches the 3 in size and weight, and has the same 5in HD screen that makes it so eas­ily man­age­able in a sin­gle hand. A Chrome-ef­fect metal trim and rea­son­ably slim bezels go some way to con­ceal the Redmi’s bud­get roots, but at 8.5mm it re­tains the chunk that is typ­i­cal of cheap smart­phones.

The dis­play is much lower in res­o­lu­tion than what you might find at the other end of the smart­phone mar­ket, but an HD screen is eas­ily jus­ti­fied by the price of the Redmi 3S. It’s suf­fi­ciently clear

nonethe­less and, more im­por­tantly, it’s IPS tech, which means colours are re­al­is­tic, view­ing an­gles are good, and this dis­play technology is also a firm friend of longer bat­tery life.

And that is one of the key sell­ing points of this phone. Go­ing some way to ex­plain the chunky de­sign (though you’d never guess just how much bat­tery power lay in­side) is a very gen­er­ous 4100mAh bat­tery. We’ll talk more about per­for­mance be­low, but suf­fice to say the Xiaomi Redmi 3S gave the best show­ing in our Geek­bench 3 bat­tery life we’ve ever seen.

The only vis­i­ble dif­fer­ences be­tween the Redmi 3 and this 3S are seen from the rear. New on this Redmi 3S is a cir­cu­lar finger­print scan­ner, lo­cated to­ward the top of the phone’s rear in a cen­tral po­si­tion. Gone is the di­a­mond-pat­terned cas­ing at the back, which was some­what fem­i­nine-look­ing and gave the phone a pla­s­ticky ap­pear­ance.

The Redmi 3S feels the same in the hand, but it’s more ob­vi­ously built from metal than was the Redmi 3. You’ll still find plas­tic pan­els top and bot­tom hous­ing the cam­era and speaker, but that’s al­ready a lot less plas­tic than you’d find on most bud­get smart­phones.

Build qual­ity is ex­cel­lent, and though this might be a cheap phone no ob­vi­ous cor­ners have been cut. As be­fore, there’s no creak­ing, no flex­ing, no sharp edges, no gap­ing holes – noth­ing to cause any con­cern. Our only real gripe is the rear-mounted speaker, though a small plas­tic pro­tru­sion helps to raise it from a flat sur­face.

The lay­out is stan­dard for An­droid, with Home, Back and Mul­ti­task­ing ca­pac­i­tive but­tons be­low the screen, a Mi­cro-USB slot at the bot­tom, and head­phone jack and IR blaster at the top. Power and vol­ume but­tons sit on the right side, and there’s a Dual-SIM tray on the left. The sec­ond SIM slot can in­stead be used to add a mi­croSD card up to 128GB in ca­pac­ity if you so wish.

Per­for­mance

A key change be­tween the Xiaomi 3 and 3S is the pro­ces­sor. In place of the Snap­dragon 616 you now get the Snap­dragon 430, which in­te­grates the up­graded Adreno 505 GPU where we pre­vi­ously saw the 405. Both are 64-bit octa-core chips, and sup­ported by 2GB of RAM and 16GB of in­ter­nal stor­age.

Per­for­mance in our bench­marks didn’t see a huge boost, and both phones proved ca­pa­ble for day-to-day tasks and ca­sual gam­ing. We’ve com­pared the re­sults from each in our chart

One thing the Redmi 3S ex­cels at, though, is bat­tery life – and this may be as much down to the move from An­droid 5.0 to An­droid 6.0 as it is the new pro­ces­sor. Record­ing 11 hours 53 min­utes in our Geek­bench 3 bat­tery life test, this phone has longer run­time than any other we’ve tested. By com­par­i­son the Redmi 3 recorded nine hours 50 min­utes. If you want a bud­get An­droid phone with long bat­tery life you will not find a bet­ter ex­am­ple than the Xiaomi Redmi 3S.

Fea­tures

Aside from the new pro­ces­sor and move to An­droid 6.0, the finger­print scan­ner is the key ad­di­tion to the Redmi 3S over the Redmi 3. It’s found at the rear, which tends to fall nat­u­rally un­der the fore­fin­ger when hold­ing the Xiaomi, so you can au­tho­rise ac­cess to the phone without even re­al­is­ing you’re do­ing so.

In our tests the finger­print scan­ner was fast and worked well. We par­tic­u­larly like the fact that tap­ping the finger­print scan­ner will wake the screen and un­lock the phone at once.

An­other high­light for this bud­get An­droid is its Dual-SIM func­tion­al­ity, and the Redmi 3S is able to si­mul­ta­ne­ously sup­port a Nano- and Mi­cro- 4G SIM in a dual-standby setup. It’s a shame that in adding a mi­croSD card you lose this func­tion­al­ity, but it’s pos­si­ble that your need for two SIMs is spo­radic and the rest of the time you can ben­e­fit from ex­tra stor­age.

Gif­f­gaff cus­tomers and those of other UK mo­bile net­works that utilise O2’s in­fras­truc­ture should note that the Redmi 3S does not sup­port the 800MHz 4G band in the UK. These cus­tomers can still use the Xiaomi, but they won’t be able to ben­e­fit from its 4G con­nec­tiv­ity.

IR blasters are in­creas­ingly rare and, though they don’t ap­peal to ev­ery­one, it’s good to see one on the Redmi 3S. Other con­nec­tiv­ity specs are ba­sic, with 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Blue­tooth 4.1 and GPS. There is no NFC.

Cam­eras

The cam­eras have not been up­dated for the Xiaomi Redmi 3S, which means you still get a 13Mp cam­era

with PDAF and a sin­gle-lens flash at the rear and a 5Mp selfie cam­era. The cam­era qual­ity isn’t bad, though some de­tail is lost when viewed at full-size, but pho­tos come alive with HDR mode en­gaged (see our auto- and HDR shots). The Redmi 3S also sup­ports Full-HD video and time-lapse record­ing modes from its pri­mary cam­era.

Soft­ware

The Redmi 3S runs MIUI 7.5 on top of An­droid Marsh­mal­low, and will be up­dated to MIUI 8 soon. It’s a great OS, although it can take a few mo­ments to find cer­tain menu op­tions when you’re more fa­mil­iar with stan­dard An­droid. The first thing you’ll no­tice is there is no app tray, and in iOS style all app short­cuts are found on the home screen.

Xiaomi pre­in­stalls its own apps for just about any task you re­quire, but one thing you won’t find is Google Play or any Google apps. This is less of a prob­lem than it used to be, since you can now in­stall Google Play and the var­i­ous ser­vices it re­quires from the Mi App Store, though it may not be im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous to novice users that they should do so.

While you’re at it we strongly rec­om­mend down­load­ing the Google Key­board, since the key­board pre­in­stalled on the Redmi 3S con­tains many Chi­nese char­ac­ters and can be rather con­fus­ing if you don’t speak the lan­guage.

You’ll still find var­i­ous Chi­nese-lan­guage apps and no­ti­fi­ca­tions on this phone, but many of the apps can be unin­stalled or hid­den away in a folder and the no­ti­fi­ca­tions can usu­ally be ig­nored.

As with MIUI 7 that comes on the Redmi 3, you’ll find sev­eral wel­come ex­tras over stan­dard An­droid. For ex­am­ple, one-handed mode lets you shrink down the screen size for eas­ier op­er­a­tion with smaller fin­gers. And you can change the colour of the LED for dif­fer­ent types of no­ti­fi­ca­tions, you can change the font and its size, and au­to­mat­i­cally lock the screen when you place the 3S in a pocket.

The pull-down no­ti­fi­ca­tion bar has also been tweaked. When you drag down from the top of the screen you’ll see quick set­tings and must swipe left to ac­cess no­ti­fi­ca­tions. A pinch on the home screen brings up op­tions to move apps, add wid­gets and al­ter the wall­pa­per and ef­fects.

We also like the Child mode, which lets you al­low ac­cess only to cer­tain apps in­stalled on your phone be­fore hand­ing it over to the kids.

Ver­dict

Right now the Redmi 3S Pro is avail­able for just an ex­tra £5 over the 3S, but or­di­nar­ily we would have said you will strug­gle to find bet­ter value for money than what is of­fered by Xiaomi’s new Redmi 3S. This bud­get An­droid phone is fea­ture-packed and ca­pa­ble, and has a new finger­print scan­ner. You can’t ex­pect any more for £120, just re­mem­ber that Google Play isn’t in­stalled out of the box. Marie Brewis

Spec­i­fi­ca­tions

5in HD (1280x720) IPS dis­play, MIUI 7.5 (based on An­droid 6.0) 1.4GHz Qual­comm Snap­dragon 430 octa-core pro­ces­sor Adreno 505 GPU 2GB RAM 16GB stor­age Mi­croSD sup­port up to 128GB (uses sec­ond SIM slot) 4G FDD-LTE 1800/2100/2600MHz (does not sup­port 800MHz) Dual-SIM dual-standby (1x Mi­cro, 1x Nano) 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi Blue­tooth 4.1 GPS, A-GPS Rear-mounted finger­print scan­ner IR blaster 13Mp rear cam­era, PDAF, sin­gle-LED flash 5Mp front cam­era 4100mAh non-re­mov­able lithium-poly­mer bat­tery 139.3x69.6x8.5mm 144g

GFXBench Man­hat­tan

GFXBench T-Rex

Geek­bench 3

HDR

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