Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 XDA Review: The King of The Low End
The Redmi Note 3 boasts of a 5.5″ IPS LCD display with an FHD 1920 x 1080 resolution, giving it a pixel density of 403 ppi, which is very standard and average in the current market but nothing to complain about really.
Redmi Note 3 on the Left, OnePlus One on the right. In the last image, the Elephone P8000 is on the left, Redmi Note 3 in the middle and OnePlus One on the right:
The display itself on the Redmi Note 3 is of good quality. Although color reproduction on the device is good and there is no shifting except at extreme angles, color saturation is a notch above average for LCD displays when compared to my other devices. You can tweak a few settings for the display, mainly display temperature and contrast levels, but the default settings will be sufficient for the average consumer.
The Redmi Note 3’s strong points in the display department lie with its maximum and minimum brightness. The maximum on the Redmi Note 3 is high, while the minimum is very low. The combination of these extremes gives you a wider spectrum of display brightness to peruse. The maximum brightness on the device, and even the auto brightness settings, make the phone comfortable to use outdoor. The minimum on the device is simply fantastically low, so much that you do not need any other external filter at all in the night (although MIUI also has a reading mode for filtering out blue light). The minimum beats my OnePlus One, and is quite impressive to say the least.
Not to be mistaken, this is still a LCD display and not AMOLED, so the benefits of pure blacks and higher color saturation are elusive. But for $150, the display on the Redmi Note 3 is not the part of the phone that Xiaomi skimped on.
Audio experience on the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 has been a satisfactory experience overall. The headphone jack up top can do justice to most starter earphones and headphones, delivering crispy clarity up to mid volume levels. Xiaomi’s software implementation in MIUI has presets to choose from if you have earphones from Xiaomi, but my observations were limited to the standard vanilla profile.
The speakers on the Redmi Note 3 are on the back. The “lip” obtrusion on the back, intended to help keep the phone up from the desk, does not make any difference, since the speaker experience with the screen up is muffled and distorted. Loudness, however, is not a problem when you hold the phone in your hand since it is adequately loud for personal viewing. Noisy social environments may have you struggling, since the highest volume settings are unfavorable to the quality of audio.
Calls on the Redmi Note 3 are perfect though. Whether they be on the loudspeaker, through the front earpiece or from the audio jack, I faced no issues in any scenario. The Redmi Note 3 has two microphone holes, one at the top and one at the bottom, and they are sufficient for your calling needs. Assuming both the parties are under ideal network conditions, you should not face any problems with call quality, call volume or noise. Further, since the phone also performs very cool most of the time, you would have no problem gaming for an hour and then picking up the phone to your ear for a call. If you use your phone for calling, the Redmi Note 3 serves the purpose as every smartphone should.
The Redmi Note 3 Snapdragon 650 variant bears a 16 MP rear camera with a f/2.0 aperture. This is unfortunately the area where the price of the phone becomes apparent. The sensor on this device is Samsung’s ISOCELL S5K3P3 and is complemented with PDAF for focusing. I have reviewed several ISOCELL-based cameras on smartphones in the past, such as the OnePlus X and the Elephone P8000, and the camera on the Redmi Note 3 shows several of the same limitations as found on those earlier devices.
ISOCELL sensors perform decently under good lighting conditions, and take a big hit when the lights are not in your favor. This sensor is like a déjà-vu from my previous devices, as the only improvement I can see is with focusing. Focusing is particularly snappy in good lighting, and photo capture is almost instantaneous (and a quick 1s in HDR). Under poor lighting, the sensor can figure out the presence of objects, but it fails to capture an image that would be worth sharing on social media. There’s noise and abnormal loss of detail when you zoom in. Dynamic range in standard mode is poor, and in HDR, it just helps out with shadow areas while butchering lighted areas. In some images, I could see tinting towards the edges, which seems like a software issue as this is not constant and difficult to reproduce. The front selfie camera works well for portraits, with a few beauty mode settings thrown into the mix.
For videos, the Redmi Note 3 can capture 1080p content at 30fps, but bears no forms of stabilization (no OIS, nor EIS). Further, there does not seem to be any forms of noise cancellation either, so videos tend to pick up a lot of wind gusts and background noise as can be apparent in the video sample below. Colors also appear washed out with poor saturation. Overall, the video experience is very atypical of a phone in the low budget category.
The camera UI on the Redmi Note 3, and MIUI by extension, is robustly built with a lot of features for the average user, albeit not too many manual options for those who care enough.
On the main screen, you get a big shutter button on the right, with gallery and video recorder options above and below it. There are three quick settings for flash, HDR and front camera. The flash Quick Setting changes to Beauty Mode options when you switch to the front camera. The front camera can also be accessed with a sideways sweep. Sweeping up while in landscape in the rear camera capture mode. Swiping down brings out a host of filter options to be applied before capture, including some fancy filters like Sketch, Mosaic, Blur and Mirror. Swiping up on the main camera pane brings out different shooting modes, like Scene Mode, Fish Eye, Tilt Shift and even Manual. Speaking of manual, the default non-manual mode only allows you to control the brightness of the image after focus by circling around the focus area. The Manual Mode lets you choose White Balance and ISO levels, but that’s about that. We wish there were more manual controls in the Manual Control mode.
Overall, the camera experience on the Redmi Note 3 would suffice the needs for basic consumers. You can get interesting shots thanks to the filters present in MIUI, but the hardware itself is nothing to write home about. However, for a $150 device, it does a comparatively good job.