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Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (China) review: Another budget winner

The quick take

When it comes to budget smartphones, the Redmi series from Xiaomi is a force to reckon with not just in China, but also in markets like India – the company's second home.

Xiaomi launches phones in quick succession, and pushes the envelope further each time. There's much hype, and a lot of anticipation. Not undeserved, one would say. Launched in China last month, the Redmi Note 4 is a turbo charged Redmi Note 3, and the all-metal budget smartphone looks set to be another winner for the company.

The Good

  • Metal chassis with 2.5D glass display
  • Beautiful Full HD display
  • Long battery life
  • Great price

The Bad

  • Average camera performance
  • Micro-USB, not USB Type-C

About this review

I used the Chinese retail variant of the Redmi Note 4 that ran MIUI 7.3 out of the box, but there was an update for MIUI 8 available immediately. For most of the time, I used it with an Airtel 4G SIM in Delhi NCR.

I used the 2GB/16GB variant which had about 9.5GB of internal storage available out of the box. There's also a higher-end variant with 3GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.

Redmi Note 4 Design

The Redmi Note 4 carries on Xiaomi's design ethos. Apart from rare aberration, most devices in the Xiaomi portfolio look alike, and the Note 4 looks just like the Redmi Pro. That's not a bad thing, really. Xiaomi makes good looking budget smartphones and the Note 4 is no different. There's nothing special, but the industrial design works for most.

However, while the metallic chassis on the Redmi Pro sports a smooth back, there is a hint of cheapness on the Note 4 with rugged surface which gives a feeling of it being less "solid" than the former. Of course, you get what you pay for. The curves on the edges at the back aid the grip, and makes it a nice phone to hold in the hand.

A successor to Redmi Note 3, there are only a few subtle changes on the Note 4. While both phones boast of a full metal unibody design, the Note 4 sports 2.5D curved glass on the front that exaggerates its style. There are changes here and there but unless you look closely, it's hard to differentiate between the two.

At 175 grams, the Note 4 is not light, although it doesn't get too overbearing in the hand. However, since it packs a massive 4100mAh battery, most users who are picking the Note 4 for long battery life would want to overlook this.

Redmi Note 4 Hardware

CategoryFeatures
Operating systemAndroid Marshmallow 6.0 with MIUI 7.3
Display5.5-inch IPS LCD
1920x1080
Processor2.1GHz deca-core Mediatek MT6797 Helio X20
RAM2GB / 3GB
Internal Storage16GB/64GB
MicroSD up to 256GB
Battery4100mAh
Rear Camera13MP, f/2.0, PDAF
Dual LED flash
Front Camera5MP, f/2.0
Dimensions151 x 76 x 8.4 mm
Weight175 g

Xiaomi's always looked to pack in a punch in terms of specifications, and the Note 4 is no different. It boasts of MediaTek Helio X20 processor – clearly a high-end processor in a budget smartphone.

Increasingly, smartphone makers are bundling 3GB RAM in budget devices as well, but Xiaomi has chosen to keep it at 2GB for the lower variant. For a heavy skin like MIUI, that is just about okay. More available memory never hurt on Android, and you might want to look at the higher variant, which also quadruples the internal storage from 16GB to 64GB.

That said, the Remi Note 4 performs well on daily usage. Multi-tabbed browsing, interface navigation, and even playing graphic-intensive games is a breeze. The processor offers good enough grunt for most apps and games. It does stutter sometimes when multitasking and the culprit is most often the lack of available RAM.

The Note 4 includes a hybrid SIM slot, so if you'd want the dual SIM functionality, you'd have to be contended with inbuilt storage it offers since you won't be able to put in a microSD card. Another reason to pick up the 3GB/64GB variant.

One of the biggest disappointments of the Note 4 is Xiaomi opting to put in a Micro-USB port instead of the newer USB Type-C. Yes, it's a budget smartphone and Micro-USB is not dead yet, but a smartphone coming in second half of 2016 should've been better.

Otherwise, the Note 4 is a winner all the way. The fingerprint sensor works great, and unlocks the phone in a quick snap each time. There's also an IR port on the phone so that you can use it as a universal remote controller. Also, the Note 4 packs in the latest version of Bluetooth v4.2.

Redmi Note 4 Display

The Note 4 sports a beautiful 5.5-inch display panel with 1920x1080 resolution — good for a density of 401 ppi. The 2.5D arc glass accentuates the display. It's vivid with great viewing angles and the colors and contrast are perfect. For a budget device, the display on the Note 4 stands out as one of the highlights.

Outdoors in sunlight, the display is a tad dim, and I preferred to keep it at maximum (or high) brightness than what was set automatically. Still it's crisp and consistent from different viewing angles.

Redmi Note 4 Software

While I assumed the Redmi Note 4 comes with the latest version of the company's proprietary UI, the MIUI 8, it wasn't the case. On first run, I was greeted with MIUI 7.3 running on top of Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

But then, there was MIUI 8 Stable waiting for me, and I updated immediately. While customized Android skins are a matter of personal preference, MIUI has been able to garner a large fan base. And credit where it's due, it's not misplaced. Xiaomi works hard on MIUI bringing features, UX tweaks, and nifty utilities to augment the Android experience.

One of the highlights of the MIUI 8 is Second Space that allows a user two configure two profiles on a device – like virtual desktops so to say. It allows you to keep separate apps or separate layouts for distinct personal and work needs.

Then there's the new Dual Apps feature which allow you to run two instances of apps like WhatsApp that don't allow multiple sessions with different accounts otherwise. Well, I don't have any use for this feature personally, but a lot of people, especially the ones who use two SIMs, have always wanted a functionality like that.

MIUI 8 also boasts of 'Quick Ball' similar to the assistive touch on iOS. You can configure it for frequently used apps and actions on a single tap for easy accessibility. While it is very handy for phablet, Note 4 users would only appreciate it if one-handed usage is a big deal – like for those who take long daily commutes to work or school.

Redmi Note 4 Battery life

One of the highlights of the Redmi Note 4 is its superb battery life. Of course, it packs in a big battery at 4100mAh, but there's also enough power optimizations under the hood that makes it last long – really long. While there's no USB Type-C, the Note 4 does include MediaTek PumpExpress 2.0 technology for fast charging.

On moderate usage, you could stretch the battery life up to about two working days. For a power user like me, it lasted me whole day of being out and about and still had some juice left at the end of the day. Pokemon Go fans, rejoice!

Redmi Note 4 Camera

Unlike the last few Xiaomi devices, the primary shooter on Redmi Note 4 fails to impress. Yes, it's a budget device and manages to click decent pictures, but Xiaomi itself has been one of the companies at the forefront of spoiling budget smartphone buyers offering too-good-to-be-true internals, camera, and build quality.

The 13-megapixel rear camera unit sports a dual LED flash. It does manage to click some nice photos with a decent depth of field effect, but the color reproduction and saturation is not the best. In not exceptionally bright conditions, like indoors or on a gloomy day, the photos are just okay. In well-lit conditions, I did manage to snap a few good ones on Auto mode.

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The Note 4 has a great display, but once you take some of those average photos off the phone, you'd notice that the contrast is a tad off. The focus is spot on and quick though, almost the best in any Redmi devices till date.

The camera interface on the MIUI 8 is slick and offers a variety of options with seamless user experience. I'm hoping a firmware update would come soon to improve the camera performance. It's not a bad camera, mind you, but with some of the budget devices – including last couple from the Xiaomi stable – impressing in this critical component, we've started to expect more and more.

Redmi Note 4 Bottom line

The Redmi Note 4 is a pretty good smartphone for its price. It's a capable performer and a decent snapper, but there's nothing exceptional about it. Except the price of course.

If you're in India, you'd not get this variant, mind you. Due to an ongoing legal tussle with Ericsson, Xiaomi cannot sell MediaTek-based devices in India. So, like in the past, Xiaomi will come out with a Qualcomm-based Redmi Note 4 for the Indian market. Hence, there is also a chance, Xiaomi only launches one variant of the same which would then most likely be the 3GB variant, or so we hope.

Should you buy it? Probably

At CNY 899 for the lower specced variant and CNY 1,199 for the higher one, the Redmi Note 4 is a value-for-money device, just like the Redmi Note 3 was. It's not perfect, but at the price, you should be okay to adjust expectations here and there.

Available in three colors – silver, gray, and gold – at the moment you can pick one from Chinese retailer TinyDeal for $170.

See at TinyDeal

41 Comments
  • Interesting device, I've always been curious about the Mediatek processors. And that price! No wonder Xaomi is so popular
  • If they gave us the option of getting rid of MIUI then they would have much more custom I would imagine...
  • I love all these reviews on other avail phones out there we can buy. Its nice being able to see what's avail besides the 700$ flagships.Thank you very much. Can we do one on the Galaxy A3 (a310m). It's probably the only phone out their with a 4.7" screen. Thanks for everything.
  • that´s right!
  • At this point unlikely. The Galaxy A3 is too late in its lifespan to get a review. Maybe next year, but don't hold your breath. The flagships are the ones that take the longest to produce, thus there's one flagship globally since it's important to get every aspect right, but less son on budget devices, so there's a million of them, for eighty different markets
  • I have the A3 (2016) it's a wonderful phone. Battery life pushes past most 700$ plus flagship phones. 4 1/2 to 5 hrs screen on time with 30+% left by the end of the day should be note worthy of a review. A3 (2017) should be just around the corner. Correct me if I'm wrong but AC is a site about Android, cell phones, and all things Android. It's would be nice to see a device that's under 5.2" screen size get a review. Not everyone wants a big phone. We all know thats whats trending, but diversity is good. Plus this is a site that informs people. Most don't even know these phones exist, because there not sold at your carrier or big box retailers.
  • Where do we buy such 5.2 " devices from?
  • What 5.2" phone are you talking about?
  • As you said in your earlier comment that 5.2" screen size phones are available but very few people are aware about them. So just wanted to know where are they sold if not from carrier or big box retailers?
  • I'm really hoping they come out with a Snapdragon version of this phone, most likely with a SD 652 and additional LTE bands like the Redmi Note 3 did. I've been using the Redmi Note 3 Snapdragon 650 here in Canada on Bell and Fido (Rogers) and have been getting great LTE coverage everywhere and the performance is awesome! Also, my favourite thing about the phone is definitely the battery life as I've gotten over 10 hours of screen on time before needing to be charged again! I loved it so much I bought a second one and am now using two at the same time, one with MIUI 8 and the other with CM13. All in all, I think you'd be hard pressed to find another phone that performs this well for the $167 USD I paid for the Redmi Note 3 Snapdragon version!
  • there will always be a snapdragon edition because the indian market must use snapdragon processors due to some regulation that bans mediatek.
  • Hello friendss mere ko redmi note 4 abhi online kharidna h kaise kharid sakta hu
    please answer me
  • No such regulation, it is the Ericsson-Xiaomi patent issue which makes it compulsory for Xiaomi to launch only Snapdragon variants in India. Mediatek is not banned in India, many smartphones featuring mediatek chips are sold in the Indian market. Obviously Xiaomi is a Chinese company, so no patent issue arises in China which is its main market.
  • I hope xiaomi releases the snapdragon variant soon, it will probably have a better camera and the battery will last longer, like the Redmi Note 3 snapdragon version
  • I hope John Goodman buys one plus four phone
  • The no USB-C as a con is very debatable.
  • "Should've been better"? Lol
  • usb-c is much better than micro usb tbh Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yeah it really is. I mean, it's not a deal breaker for me but it's so much better than micro USB
  • A non-flammable replacement for your Note 7
  • I hate it when companies put "note" in the name, and then they don't even have a stylus of some sort.
  • If this supports quick charge 2/3. It's a buy for me.
  • I just made an account to post this. The Redmi Note 3 Snapdragon variant supports QC 2.0 once you install a custom AOSP based ROM from reports on XDA. My Aukey QC supported charger is in the mail so I can't verify it for you. Phones with MediaTek SoCs do not support Quick charging.
  • I've always been a fan of the MIUI OS...I have a hard time telling if these phones will work on US bands like T-MOB or AT&T.....Not to mention they have 10,000 different models from Xiaomi
  • It work on both trust me in the long run will last a long time
  • Excellent review. Thanks.
    Can anyone tell how to buy redmi note 4 from India??
  • or probably check Google
  • I couldn't find any place where I can buy redmi note 4 phone to order in indian currency. Everywhere it says its not launched in India. So was just checking if there is any way to get this beautiful device?
  • Just wait for the official launch in India which will have the proper LTE bands.
  • Mediatek processors are beastly . I'd say the least power hungry cpu made at a bargain. Got a note 2 and all high end games etc fly at max settings. This should be the same .
  • Not all of them are beastly, in fact many of them are crap.
  • You must be talking about your car again yes Fords suck
  • Lol. You seem drunk
  • They are underrated if you're making a joke out of it is not a very good one considering mediatek has made great improvements in the past 4 years
  • Looks like an incredible phone for the price, it's $199 at Geekbuying
  • You know it's going to be good it's got good reviews
  • $ 119.99 is the price Uhans H5000, which compared to the Xiaomi Redmi note 4 is cheaper and has a higher capacity battery
  • to the author...is the site that you mentioned legit (tiny deal)....I'm in need for a phone quick.....and I really love the redmi note 4.....planning on buying one......but came to know that the phone won't be in the Indian market until next year.....so I was wondering if its safe for me to buy from the mentioned site ???
    and also will there be any legal problems in the future if I bought the MediaTek version ??? will I get company support for the MediaTek version here in India (warranty ,guaranty etc)......or will I only get it for the Qualcomm version that's due to launch next year???
    please answer my doubts......
  • Xiaomi Redmi note 4 review a good smartphone, but if you compare it with the rival Uhans H5000, it turns out that he has less battery capacity and the price it is more expensive. Price for Uhans H5000 manufacturer established taking into account the interests of consumers - $ 119.99!
  • Xiaomi Redmi note 4 smartphone is really good, but the quality Uhans H5000 is not worse, but the price it below
  • Xiaomi Redmi note 4 has a smaller battery capacity and costs doroshe UHANS H5000, which costs only $109.99