Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X

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Tech Advisor - - Contentes - Marie Brewis

In Au­gust 2016 Xiaomi an­nounced the Redmi Note 4 as the ph­ablet in its bud­get line-up. We re­viewed the Chi­nese ver­sion of that phone, which fea­tured a 5.5in full-HD screen and rea­son­able per­for­mance from the He­lio X20 deca-core pro­ces­sor.

To­day we have in front of us the Redmi Note 4X, a nearly iden­ti­cal phone, with the same 5.5in full-HD screen and Snap­dragon 625 chip. To be fair it’s the global model, which means it works bet­ter for a UK au­di­ence (we’ll ex­plain that in more de­tail be­low), and it has a few more colour op­tions and swaps out the min­i­mal plas­tic parts on the pre­vi­ous de­sign for metal,

but it’s oth­er­wise the same phone. Scan the spec sheet and you’ll no­tice a few other tweaks that you prob­a­bly wouldn’t have re­alised had we not pointed them out: Blue­tooth has been up­dated from 4.1 to 4.2, but 802.11ac Wi-Fi con­nec­tiv­ity has been re­moved; the Sam­sung S5K3L8 sen­sor has been switched for a same­spec Sony IMX258; the IR port has moved over to the side on the top edge; and the screws that pre­vi­ously sat ei­ther side of the Mi­cro-USB port are now gone. You also get MIUI 8.1, though of course you can eas­ily up­date the OS on the ear­lier Redmi Note 4.

One of the more ob­vi­ous changes is that to the avail­able RAM and stor­age op­tions. Whereas pre­vi­ously you could buy the Note 4 with 2- or 3GB of RAM and 16- or 64GB of stor­age, the Note 4X comes with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of stor­age, or 4GB of RAM and 64GB of stor­age.

De­sign

The Redmi Note 4 saw some sig­nif­i­cant de­sign changes over the Redmi Note 3, re­plac­ing its plas­tic top and bot­tom parts with a full metal uni­body build. The Note 4X we see here doesn’t make any dras­tic changes, merely re­plac­ing the white plas­tic an­tenna lines with a shiny metal­lic band, but we’re just as keen on the de­sign as we were the first time around.

For a bud­get phone the Redmi Note 4X is very well made. It has slim bezels to the left and right of the screen, which com­bined with the gently slop­ing edges at the rear pre­vent it from feel­ing cum­ber­some in a sin­gle hand. It feels tough and built to last, and it looks good too. The two phones are prac­ti­cally iden­ti­cal in

size and weight, with the Note 4X a slight 8.5mm thick and tip­ping the scales at 171g.

The twin speaker grilles stay put in their new home at the foot of the phone, and there’s still just a mono speaker found in­side. The metal screws we could pre­vi­ously see ei­ther side are gone, but this will bother you only if you plan on open­ing up the Xiaomi and tak­ing a look in­side.

As be­fore three An­droid-stan­dard mul­ti­task­ing, home and back but­tons sit be­low the screen, with the phone’s fin­ger­print scan­ner found at the rear be­low the cam­era. And you still get a head­phone jack and IR blaster at the top, and vol­ume rocker and power key on the side.

The screen hasn’t changed ei­ther, and is still a 5.5in IPS panel with ac­cu­rate colours and crys­tal clear res­o­lu­tion. This is, again, a full-HD (1920x1080 pix­els)

screen with a pixel den­sity of 401ppi. And, as with the Note 4, it’s cov­ered with a layer of 2.5D curved glass that makes a huge sub­con­scious dif­fer­ence to your per­cep­tion of the phone: run­ning your fin­ger over a smooth sur­face rather than a raised lip just feels so much more nat­u­ral.

Per­for­mance

Those who pur­chased the In­ter­na­tional ver­sion of the Redmi Note 4 will un­likely see any per­for­mance gains in the Note 4X since it fea­tures the same 2GHz Qual­comm Snap­dragon 625 octa-core pro­ces­sor, although there is a new 4GB RAM op­tion to be had here.

Un­for­tu­nately, we didn’t test the Qual­comm-based Redmi Note 4, and our Note 4X is the 3GB RAM ver­sion. When com­pared to the He­lio X20 Redmi Note

4 we re­viewed, per­for­mance from the Snap­dragon 625-tot­ing Note 4X is ac­tu­ally lower. We can’t com­pare our Geek­bench pro­cess­ing speed scores, since the Note 4 was tested in Geek­bench 3 and the Note 4X in Geek­bench 4, but in both the AnTuTu core per­for­mance and GFXBench graph­ics tests the Note 4X turned in sig­nif­i­cantly lower scores. It did bet­ter only in the JetStream JavaScript bench­mark, and only slightly.

The Redmi Note 4 came with ei­ther 16- or 64GB of stor­age, and both sup­ported up to 128GB of ad­di­tional stor­age via mi­croSD. You can still make use of ex­pand­able stor­age here, but Xiaomi has also bumped up the lower stor­age amount to 32GB. That’s great news, with 32GB quickly be­com­ing the stan­dard in this cat­e­gory.

Bat­tery per­for­mance also falls into this cat­e­gory, and with both phones fit­ted with a 4,100mAh bat­tery and the po­ten­tial to run the lat­est MIUI 8.1 OS, don’t ex­pect any huge in­creases in the newer model. That said, this is a very gen­er­ous amount of juice, par­tic­u­larly for a bud­get phone, and should get you through a cou­ple of days.

Con­nec­tiv­ity

We were hop­ing with the in­creas­ing pop­u­lar­ity of mo­bile pay­ment ser­vices that the Redmi Note 4X would add NFC to its spec sheet, but alas it does not. Xiaomi has up­graded the Blue­tooth from 4.1 to 4.2, but it has also re­moved the 802.11ac wire­less net­work­ing con­nec­tiv­ity.

Some­thing you can’t take for granted th­ese days is the IR blaster built into both smart­phones – this

is be­com­ing rarer and rarer. You also get GPS and GLONASS, and OTG. One of the great things about buy­ing a Chi­nese phone is its dual-SIM op­er­a­tion. This Redmi Note 4X, in com­mon with its pre­de­ces­sor, will ac­cept two SIMs in a dual-standby fash­ion, or one SIM and a mi­croSD card. If you want to man­age two phone num­bers with­out car­ry­ing two phones, it’s a very use­ful fea­ture to have.

Be warned that sev­eral ver­sions of the Redmi Note 4X ex­ist, and only the Global edi­tion (sold here) sup­ports all three UK 4G LTE bands.

Cam­era

On pa­per the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X ap­pears to have the same cam­era setup as the Note 4, but we be­lieve

the 13Mp Sam­sung pri­mary sen­sor has been swapped out for a Sony IMX258. That’s great news, be­cause we re­ally weren’t overly im­pressed by the soft de­tail of­fered by the Note 4’s cam­era.

By com­par­i­son the Note 4X takes a de­cent photo at this price point, with bright, nat­u­ral colours and good lev­els of de­tail – we were able to make out the char­ac­ters on street signs from our sev­enth floor roof ter­race. HDR mode re­ally makes a big dif­fer­ence, though, so don’t for­get to ex­per­i­ment with that also to get the best photos from the Note 4X. You can see a cou­ple of our Xiaomi test shots above and op­po­site, with Auto set­tings and HDR mode en­gaged re­spec­tively. You’ll find the stan­dard Xiaomi Cam­era app in­stalled on the Note 4X, com­plete with var­i­ous

use­ful shoot­ing modes in­clud­ing Man­ual and Beau­tify and real-time fil­ters. It’s clean and easy to use.

The 5Mp selfie cam­era also fea­tures th­ese real-time fil­ters, but far fewer shoot­ing modes: you’ll find just Timer, Au­dio and a Beauty fil­ter.

Soft­ware

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X runs MIUI 8.1, which is a cus­tomised ver­sion of An­droid Marsh­mal­low. It’s a fair de­vi­a­tion from the OS, with the app tray re­moved and the set­tings menu re­ar­ranged, but a search op­tion here quickly helps find the items you need.

Draw­backs of Xiaomi phones for UK users is usu­ally that they come with­out Google ser­vices pre­in­stalled, that they don’t sup­port the 800MHz band (Band 20) re­quired by some mo­bile op­er­a­tors for 4G LTE ac­cess, and that you often have to find your way through var­i­ous Chi­nese-lan­guage apps and no­ti­fi­ca­tions.

The Global edi­tion we’ve re­viewed here, how­ever, is dif­fer­ent. The Play store and a few Google apps are pre­in­stalled, and you can con­fig­ure it for UK use out of the box.

Ver­dict

It isn’t a huge up­grade over the Redmi Note 3 or Note 4, but the Note 4X Global edi­tion is a fine bud­get phone for UK users.

Spec­i­fi­ca­tions

5.5in full-HD (1920x1080, 401ppi) 2.5D IPS LCD screen

MIUI 8.1 based on An­droid 6

2GHz Qual­comm Snap­dragon 625 octa-core chi

Adreno 506 GPU

3GB/4GB RAM

32GB/64GB stor­age

Mi­croSD sup­port up to 128GB

4G FDD-LTE B1/3/5/7/8

Dual-SIM dual-standby (Mi­cro + Nano)

802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi

Blue­tooth 4.2

GPS, GLONASS

OTG

Fin­ger­print scan­ner

13Mp rear cam­era with dual-LED flash

5Mp front cam­era

4,100mAh bat­tery

Mi­cro-USB

151x76x8.5mm

171g

Auto mode

HDR mode

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