Xiaomi is sailing high in India — the company's Redmi Note 4 sold a million units in just 45 days, and the entry-level Redmi 3S is faring remarkably well in the country. Coupled with the immense success of the Redmi Note 3, Xiaomi is well on its way to continuing its dominance in the online segment.
The company is far from resting on its laurels, as evidenced by the launch of the Redmi 4A. With Samsung somehow managing to sell millions of units of the thoroughly underwhelming Galaxy J2, Xiaomi is positioning the Redmi 4A as a viable alternative.
Xiaomi's offering has much more going for it in the form of a 720p display, Snapdragon 425 SoC, 13-megapixel camera, and 3,120mAh battery. We've seen several decent phones often get waylaid on account of the price, but that isn't an issue for the Redmi 4A. With a retail price of ₹5,999 ($90), Xiaomi will be lucky if it can meet the insatiable demand for the device in the coming weeks.
The Redmi 4A sports a polycarbonate back with a matte finish, and the result is a device whose looks belie its sub-$100 price tag. The phone definitely feels much more upmarket, even more so than the Redmi 3S. And while the naming suggests that the Redmi 4A is a successor to the Redmi 3S, that isn't the case. The Redmi 4A carries on from the Redmi 2, which launched in India in 2015.
The 5-inch 720p display is in line with what we've seen on the Redmi 3S, which essentially means that you won't have any issues with the quality of the panel. There are options to adjust the color temperature, and the phone offers a blue light filter that reduces glare at night. The same can be said of the design of the Redmi 4A — the handset has rounded corners and gentle curves round the back, resulting in a comfortable in-hand feel.
Instead of the usual silver or grey color options, Xiaomi is rolling out blue and pink hues in addition to the gold variant, and that's a good thing. The blue model in particular looks stunning, and it makes the device stand out in a sea of similar-looking metal phones.
The Redmi 4A looks like a device that costs three times as much.
The Redmi 4A also offers an IR blaster, a feature that is becoming a mainstay on all Xiaomi phones. Given the sheer number of devices compatible with the corresponding Mi Remote app, its inclusion is a welcome move by Xiaomi.
The phone comes with the latest version of MIUI 8 out of the box, and for better or worse, the interface has retained its quirks. MIUI lets you sign into your Google account during initial setup, but there's no way to restore apps and settings from your Google account. Instead, Xiaomi offers the ability to restore content through its in-house solution called Mi Cloud. The functionality is similar to that of iCloud: just sign in with your Mi account and select the Xiaomi phone you want to restore from, and your apps and settings will propagate to the new device.
That said, Xiaomi has steadily added new features to MIUI 8 over the course of the year, and one nifty addition that will make its debut with the Redmi 4A is the ability to parse text messages. The messaging client will convert your IRCTC ticket confirmations into a card that resembles a real ticket, making the information much more readable. You also get the option to add the upcoming train timing to your calendar and see the status of the reservation with a PNR lookup. The popular Dual Apps feature is intact, allowing you to run two WhatsApp or Facebook accounts on the same device.
The Redmi 4A features 16GB of internal storage, of which 10.30GB is available to the user. That's serviceable considering the price tag, but if you're looking to store music or multimedia content locally, you'll have to invest in a microSD card. The Redmi 4A offers a hybrid dual-SIM slot, allowing you to either use two SIM cards or a SIM card along with a microSD card.
I noticed the occasional stutter while browsing, and for a phone offering 2GB of RAM in 2017, that was always going to be an issue. But overall, the Redmi 4A feels like a fantastic deal for the price. We'll have more to share over the coming week, so stay tuned for a detailed review. In the meantime, share your thoughts regarding the phone in the comments below.