Key Specs Full Specifications »
Screen Size 5.50-inch
OS Android 5.1
The phablet packs in a whopping 4050mAh battery with Quick Charge 2.0.
Design and build
A glance at the Redmi Note 3 appeared strikingly similar to the most recent Meizu devices. At 165 grams, it was lightweight for a phablet that size and easy to hold and use with one hand. The Redmi Note 3 also brings a few firsts for the company. For instance, it comes equipped with a fingerprint scanner that is slowly yet steadily becoming a standard among smartphones and a unibody alloy chassis.
We saw a silver, white and what looked like a rose gold model. The curvy edges and glossy colour options coupled with light weight and slim body give it a stylish look. It felt sturdy in hands, but we would like to hold that opinion till we get to spend some quality time with the device. All in all, its a blend of good looks with some great colour options.
The moment you take it out of the box, the Redmi Note 3 looks and feels incredibly premium, especially in gold. The full-metal body gets a smooth matte finish that doesn’t attract fingerprints. It’s easy to keep clean too, as dust and grime come off with a simple wipe.
The rear camera has a 16-megapixel sensor and a wide f/2.0 aperture. Both landscapes and macro shots captured in daylight have good detail. Colour reproduction is good too. However, objects in focus lack a bit of definition and aren’t very sharp, but this is only visible once you zoom in. Images look good on the phone’s display though, and as long as you don’t need to crop the picture at full size, you should be good.The camera also struggles a bit with sharpness and depth under artificial lighting. Low-light images are not too shabby, as there’s barely any visible noise in the dark areas. The dual-tone flash is decent for nearby objects but don’t expect too much from it. 1080p video recording is good but very shaky due to lack of any software stabilisation. Also, 720p video quality is not great so we recommend shooting in full-HD all the time. There’s a 5-megapixel camera on the top along with a notification LED for alerts. Mercifully, the capacitive buttons at the bottom are backlit. The volume rocker and power button are quite ergonomically placed on the right, while the left side houses the hybrid Dual-SIM tray. In addition to the headphones socket on the top, we also have an infrared (IR) emitter. The phone uses a standard Micro-USB connector for charging and data transfers.The front camera captures good selfies in daylight thanks to the same wide f/2.0 aperture.The camera app is simple to use and has plenty of shooting modes. We liked the handy HDR toggle switch next to the shutter button, which makes life a lot simpler. You swipe down or left for filters, and the other way for shooting modes, depending on whether you’re holding the phone in landscape or portrait. The Panorama mode does an okay job of stitching photos together. The Manual mode lets you play with white balance and ISO settings but there aren’t any options for aperture or shutter speed.
The focusing speed is good, even in low light. You can capture an image with the secondary shutter button placed in the centre of the focus ring. Burst mode also works well. Other modes includes Gradient, which helps level out shots even if you tilt the phone; Fish eye, which adds a fun effect; and Beautify which lets you smoothen out skin blemishes.
The non-removable 4050mAh battery managed to get us through 12 hours and 21 minutes of continuous video playback, which is quite good. During actual usage, we easily managed to go more than a day, and this was without resorting to the battery saving modes. The phone supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge feature, and we managed to charge the Redmi Note 3 up to 20 percent in half an hour. We wouldn’t call this super quick but it’s better than nothing.
The phone ships with an Android Lollipop fork called MIUI 7, which is has been reworked from the ground up. Compared to earlier versions of MIUI, version 7 is certainly more likable and better polished. It’s still a single-layered interface, but it does let users customise the look and feel with transition effects and themes. The Theme Store app has a pretty good selection of free themes, and we particularly liked the Marshmallow one.The lock screen gets a feature called Wallpaper Carousel, which displays random wallpapers from a user-selected collection which is updated daily. The notification shade has separate tabs for incoming alerts and toggle switches, to avoid clutter. There’s also a lite mode for those looking for a simplified interface, and a child mode that lets you restrict which apps your children have access to when you let them play with your phone. The Settings app is where you’ll find the most interesting changes.
Reading mode, which is essentially a bluelight filter, can be toggled from the notification shade. The strength of the filter can be adjusted in the Display sub-menu. The fingerprint sensor can recognise up to five fingerprints. Xiaomi Vice President Hugo Barra stated during the phone’s launch that it’s possible to record your lip pattern too, though it failed to unlock the phone when we tried it.
Xiaomi has incorporated a one-handed mode, which you can enter or exit by simply swiping right from the capacitive Home button. You can even choose the size to which you want the display to shrink. The phone comes with a preloaded app called Mi Mover which lets you move apps and data to or from any other Android device. MIUI 7 supports up to 13 indic languages. Apart from the standard Google keyboard and SwiftKey, our test unit also had a keyboard called Fleksy, which turned out to be much better than we had expected
In terms of preloaded apps, you get basic productivity tools along with some additional ones such as Mi Remote. This lets you set up the IR emitter for various infrared-capable devices, including DSLR cameras. The Mi Store app is a marketplace for all Xiaomi products sold in India. The Security app lets you monitor data usage and run basic maintenance tasks. You also get Facebook, WPS Office, and the usual Google apps.The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 will come in two variants. What we have today is the one with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage, but you can opt for the other model with 2GB of RAM and 16GB storage if your budget is tight. Officially, storage can be expanded by up to 32GB by using a microSD card instead of a second SIM in the hybrid slot, though unofficially you can put cards of bigger storage capacity as well.