Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 with SD-650 India Launch and Hands-on

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 with SD-650 India Launch and Hands-on

The budget device segment in India is surely heating up, thank to the entry of new Chinese brands such as LeEco (with their Le 1s), it was time Xiaomi let them know they were still in the game. And they did so, with the Indian launch of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3.

The Indian Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 is the same on the outside as the Chinese variant, but on the inside, it has one key difference. The Chinese variant bore a MediaTek Helio X10 to keep things running, while the Indian variant of the Redmi Note 3 bears the Snapdragon 650 (formerly known as the Snapdragon 618).

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Starting off with the design and body, the front of the device tries to follow a clean look, going with the standard set of sensors, earpiece, front camera and a notification LED on the top; a 5.5″ FHD IPS LCD display and three capacitive buttons on the bottom bezel. The side bezels appear thin, but the phone does follow along the usual Chinese practice of camouflaging part of the bezel with the display. This is slightly disappointing because the side bezels on the Redmi Note 3 are not that large to begin with, so what you end up with is a black border look around your screen. The advertised image is deceptive in this regards, so please refer to the hands on images in the gallery below to get an idea of the bezel black box border.

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The phone follows along an aluminum unibody design with subtle tapering curves towards the edges and a smooth finish. The top of the device has an IR Blaster, a feature that you will be hard pressed to find in many phones, leave alone in the budget segment. The back of the device bears the rear camera with dual LED flash, the fingerprint sensor as well as speaker holes in the bottom half. Aesthetically, the Redmi Note 3 matches a lot of good phones in the market, and that’s not a bad thing. Metallic phones are currently the market trend and consumers do seem to like them based on their sales, so Xiaomi is not attempting to fix what is not broken in this particular department. Combined with the decent 164g weight (despite the big battery), the phone certainly gives out a premium feeling and there were no complaints regarding the build quality during our first impressions.

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On the inside, as mentioned earlier, the Redmi Note 3 bears the new Snapdragon 650. Xiaomi’s VP, Hugo Barra, took quite some time on stage to talk about the performance of the new processor, citing various benchmarks and comparing with different SoC compositions. Essentially, Qualcomm’s decision to rename the 618 to 650 is justified because the 650 is quite a jump in terms of specifications when compared to its predecessor, so much so that the Mi Fan community refers to this variant as the Redmi Note 3 Pro. The Snapdragon 650 was compared to various SoC’s, claiming to blow the mid/low end processors like the Helio X10 (which is what the Chinese variant ships with) out of the water, while giving yesteryear flagships processors like the Snapdragon 808 and 810 a run for their money as well. The Snapdragon 650 hexacore processor, with its 2x Cortex A72 @1.8GHz and the 4x Cortex A53 @1.2GHz, boasts of delivering an optimum mix of raw power and battery efficiency. The GPU is handled by the Adreno 510. The Redmi Note 3 has two configs for its LPDDR3 RAM & eMMC 5.0 Flash Storage: 2GB + 16GB and 3GB and 32GB. The phone also comes with microsd card slot for expansion in the form of the hybrid dual SIM tray.

The fingerprint sensor on the device claims to unlock in 0.3 seconds, and can be used for other purposes as well thanks to MIUI. Barra also showed a video demo of him using the scanner with his lips to unlock his device [Disclaimer: It was meant as a joke]. One point to note is that the device ships with MIUI 7 based on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, which is disappointing for a device in 2016. MIUI does have quite a few tricks (and as many duds as well, if not more) up its sleeves, such as Wallpaper Carousel (which rotates wallpapers from professional photography sources) and Reading Mode (which filters out blue light, similar to f.lux functionality). The phone also sports a non removable 4050 mAh battery with Quick Charge 1.0 (5V/2A) support.

Talking about the cameras, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 boasts of a 16 MP rear camera with f/2.0, PDAF and dual tone LED flash. Thanks to dual ISPs in the sensor, the device can undertake powerful post-processing tasks to give us features like Local Tone Mapping, which adjusts contrasts at a pixel level. The front camera is a 5MP shooter with f/2.0.

While the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 is not one of the best phones out there, it does offer a fairly well balanced set of features. The pricing just adds on to the appeal, making the device competitive in the entry level. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 starts at Rs. 9,999 ($150) for the base 2GB+16GB variant, while the 3GB+32GB variants will be available for Rs. 11,999 ($179). The device will follow the flash sales model, becoming available on Mi.com and Amazon.in on 9th March 2016. Pre-registrations for the sale begin on 3rd March 2016 at 4pm IST. Hugo Barra mentioned that the device will be available from Snapdeal, Flipkart and offline partners as well, but at a later date.

On a slight tangent from the Redmi Note 3, Hugo also mentioned that the Redmi Note 3 is “just the beginning”. He went on to announce that the Xiaomi Mi 5, Xiaomi’s flagship of 2016 that was launched in China as well as at MWC 2016, will be available in India next month. The Mi 5 has received tremendous response in China, with registrations for the device crossing 16,000,000; so it is no surprise that the device has generated quite a buzz in the Indian market as well. Xiaomi reacting positively to this buzz is good news for people waiting to get their hands on an updated affordable flagship.

All in all, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 Launch was quite a fun affair. Xiaomi also announced the India arrival of the Mi Bluetooth Speaker as well as a larger 20,000 mAh Power Bank. The event concluded with hands-on experience with the Redmi Note 3 as well as the Mi 5 (not the Pro variant).

You can view the rest of the event gallery down below:

What are your thoughts on the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3? Do you think it is competitively priced to disrupt the market all over again? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

About author

Aamir Siddiqui
Aamir Siddiqui

Commerce and Law graduate with a passion for all things Android, Aamir frequently helps people get the best out of their budget smartphones through generous use of custom roms and kernels. He receives press releases at [email protected]