Xiaomi Redmi 4 is the company's latest model in the sub-Rs. 10,000 segment. Unlike premium smartphones, budget phones seem to have shorter life cycles, and the Redmi series is the perfect example of this. The Xiaomi Redmi 3S (and Redmi 3S Prime) launched in India in August last year, and the company claims that they are the highest selling smartphones in the online segment, having sold four million units in just nine months. Despite this, the all-new Xiaomi Redmi 4 will soon replace the popular Redmi 3S (and Redmi 3S Prime).
Xiaomi has so far seen a string of successes with its Redmi range, with most models finding place in our periodic lists of the best budget phones. This new Xiaomi Redmi 4 will not only have to take on the competition, but also live up to its predecessor in a lot of ways, and it certainly seems like an improvement when it comes to specifications. Let's find out whether the phone is worth your time and money in our Xiaomi Redmi 4 review:
Xiaomi Redmi 4 design
When the Redmi 4 arrived at our office for the first time, we mistook it for a 'Lite' or smaller variant of the Redmi Note 4. You can see plenty of design similarities between the two. Jai Mani, Lead Product Manager at Xiaomi told Gadgets 360 at a pre-launch briefing that the Redmi 4's looks are consciously more in sync with the bigger Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (Review). The all-metal back of the Redmi 4 is polished and makes this phone look more premium than its predecessor. However, it makes the phone slightly slippery, and we nearly dropped it a couple of times while trying to take photos during the review period.
There has not been much change to the basic Redmi formula. Much like the Redmi 3S, the Redmi 4 features a 5-inch screen. The new model, however, is slightly thicker at 8.65mm and heavier at 150 grams. The Redmi 3S measured 8.5mm and weighed at 144 grams. Overall the increase in thickness or weight doesn't change much for the Redmi 4 as the phone is still quite usable with just one hand, and in fact fits better in the hand than the outgoing model.
We had no problem reaching the Redmi 4 fingerprint sensor at any time. The phone has only one Mi logo on the rear, but there's also a "Designed by Xiaomi / Assembled in India" statement embossed in tiny letters. We like the attention detail, such as a protective ring around the camera lens.
The power and volume buttons are on the right, and are easily accessible when using the phone with just one hand. There is a Micro-USB port for charging and data transfers on the bottom, with grilles on either side, though only one of them is actually a speaker. The 3.5mm audio socket and an Infrared emitter can be found on the top.
Redmi 4's navigation buttons are placed right below the screen but they aren't backlit, which means locating them in the dark is tough.The notification LED is right below the Home button and is bright enough to alert users about incoming notifications. Much like other Redmi smartphones, the new Redmi 4 also has a hybrid dual-SIM tray, which means that you will have to decide whether to use two SIM cards or one SIM along with a microSD card. The Redmi 4 will be available in Champagne Gold and Matte Black, and we received the latter for the review.
You get standard set of documents, a data cable, a power adaptor, and a SIM ejector tool along with the phone itself in the retail box.
Xiaomi Redmi 4 specifications and software
Xiaomi Redmi 4 features a 5-inch HD (720x1280) IPS display with 2.5D curved-edge glass. This seems to be the first time that Xiaomi is using 2.5D glass on a Redmi smartphone priced below Rs. 10,000. There's a non-removable 4100mAh battery which is the same capacity as the Redmi 3S's battery, and is being promoted as one of this phone's highlights. The phone is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 processor clocked at 1.4GHz. There are three variants of the Redmi 4: one with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage; one with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage; and finally 4GB of RAM with 64GB of storage. Our review unit had 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. The Redmi 4 supports expandable storage using a microSD card (up to 128GB).
You get a 13-megapixel rear camera with f/2.0 aperture, PDAF, and an LED flash. There's also a 5-megapixel front camera with f/2.2 aperture. The new Redmi 4 will support 4G and VoLTE along with other connectivity options. When two SIM cards are used, only the primary one will allow 4G calls and data while the secondary SIM falls back to 2G calls only.
The phone runs on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, with Xiaomi's MIUI 8.2 skin. This is a stable build which is identical to what we saw on the Redmi Note 4 and Redmi 4A. This means that the Redmi 4 has a lot of software features that we have already seen, including Dual Apps, which lets you create a second instance of any app and supports Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, and more. The Quick Ball feature lets users assign shortcuts for features. One-handed mode shrinks the display to one corner of the screen so that everything's easier to reach. The phone also gets a scrolling screenshot feature that will let you take screenshot of an entire Web page. Child Mode lets users lock apps, and Second Space creates a separate profile to help users manage business and personal data on the same device.
In keeping with previous Redmi phones, the Redmi 4 also packs lots of preinstalled apps such as Music, Mi Picks, Mi Community, News, Security, Notes, Recorder, and Weather. The Themes app lets users select themes, wallpapers, ringtones, and fonts from a store. There's also a dedicated Mi Store app on the device through which users can buy Xiaomi products and accessories. We believe that the MIUI interface could become lighter with the removal of some of this bloatware, but not all of them can be deleted and they take up valuable storage space on the device. There are also some preinstalled third-party apps including Amazon, PhonePe Wallet, Flipkart, Facebook, and SwiftKey.
Users will get up to 5GB of free Mi Cloud storage when they sign in with a Mi account, which is additional to the 15GB of free cloud storage that's offered by Google with every Gmail sign-in.
We were disappointed to see that the Redmi 4 does not run Android 7.0 Nougat, nor did it support Google Assistant at the time of review. On long-pressing the home button, the Now on Tap feature for context-based searches is triggered. Xiaomi says that the Redmi 4 will receiving an update to Nougat, and we might get Google Assistant before that, but no timeline has been promised by the company.
Xiaomi Redmi 4 camera
The 13-megapixel rear camera is quick at focusing thanks to the phase detection autofocus feature. The camera app also has a face recognition feature that can come in handy. Compared to the Redmi 3S Prime, we found that autofocus on the Redmi 4 was a bit quicker. Camera samples were detailed and sharp, with colours that were vibrant and truly popped. Landscapes had accurate colours for the most part as well as reasonable detail. Macro or close-up shots had a slight haze when seen full-size on a desktop monitor, though the HDR mode helped to some extent.
Unfortunately, turning HDR mode on made image capturing and processing really slow, and this is one of our biggest complaints with the device. With HDR on, users need to be steady for a few seconds to get a good shot, or else photos come out looking awful.
The rear camera has a tendency to capture a lot of noise when there is no direct light source. Some camera sample shots taken in the dark were very poorly defined and had too much motion blur. At night, the Redmi 4 managed to take good photos only when we were close to the subject under a light source such as a streetlamp.
The Redmi 4's camera app is minimalistic and easy to use, with controls for various settings and features occupying only a small part of the screen. HDR mode is just a tap away, as are the live filters. The phone can record video at 720p and 1080p, and the videos came out decent overall.
Selfies on the Redmi 4 can be an issue if you want a candid one, again because image processing is slow. We ended up with a slew of blurred selfies just because we wanted to take one quickly. Other than this issue, our sample photos taken in good light had a good amount of detail and decent colour tone. In low light, we had a tough time, and faces came out looking too grainy.
Overall, the Xiaomi Redmi 4's cameras are definitely an improvement over those of the Redmi 3S Prime (Review), in terms of focusing and results. There are few issues like poor low-light shots and slow processing in HDR mode, which we hope can be fixed - or at least improved upon - with updates.
Xiaomi Redmi 4 performance
General performance of the Xiaomi Redmi 4 is decent, and the device handled most tasks well. The MIUI interface at times felt sluggish, but this doesn't affect performance within apps such as when playing games such as Asphalt 8 and Cut the Rope 2. We had no major concerns during the entire review period. There was also no noticeable overheating.
Our unit had 3GB of RAM, and there was roughly 1.2GB free at any given time, which means those on the 2GB RAM variant of the Xiaomi Redmi 4 might struggle with multi-tasking on their units. Despite roughly 1GB of free memory on our unit, we didn't have to deal with any crashes or slowdowns, but we would recommend opting for the variant with 4GB of RAM if you can spend a little more.
Voice call quality was decent, and the phone supports VoLTE. The phone doesn't ship with a headset, so we checked the sound quality using our own earphones, and were quite impressed. You get several options to tweak music with the Mi Sound Enhancer feature when using earphones. The Redmi 4 was also able to play our assortment of test videos with ease.
The 5-inch IPS display is bright and text appears sharp. The screen is crisp with decent viewing angles. However, this isn't the best HD display we've seen on a Redmi phone. Colour reproduction is decent, but in our opinion, the Redmi 3S was better. The screen was readable and usable under direct sunlight. Movies and games look good on the 5-inch display, though some might prefer a bigger screen. There's a Reading mode on the device that reduces background glare. Users can manually control colours and saturation on the device through the Settings app.
The Xiaomi Redmi 4 scored 43,677 in AnTuTu and 22,996 in Quadrant. We also ran 3DMark Ice Storm Extreme and GFXBench, where the phone scored 5,890 points and 25fps respectively. These scores are on par with those of other phones powered by the Snapdragon 430 processor.
The Redmi 4 lasted for 14 hours and 20 minutes in our HD video loop test, which is impressive. We can partly credit the battery loop test performance to the low-impact HD screen resolution. With regular use, the battery lasted over a day. There are also power saving modes to help squeeze more life out of each charge. The phone doesn't come with a fast charging adapter but Xiaomi's Jai Mani told us that it does support fast charging. We can expect Xiaomi to sell a fast charging adapter for the Redmi 4 as an optional accessory, or you could buy a third-party one.
In the past, Xiaomi's Redmi models have set the standard for other phones in the same price segment, and have also showed just how much a budget smartphone can be capable of. The same holds true for the all-new Redmi 4. Xiaomi's latest entry in the Redmi range manages to tick all the right boxes when it comes to performance, battery life, and design. Camera quality is one aspect of performance that this phone lacks in, but then again we can't expect too much at these prices.
The Xiaomi Redmi 4 will replace the Redmi 3S (and Redmi 3S Prime) over time, and will become the company's main offering in the sub-Rs. 10,000 space. It has launched at Rs. 6,999 for 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage; Rs. 8,999 for 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage; and Rs. 10,999 for 4GB RAM of and 64GB of storage. Considering that the middle version, which we reviewed, had roughly 1.2GB of memory free at any time, we would recommend that people to go for the slightly more expensive one if they can. The Redmi 4 goes up against the Samsung Galaxy J2 (2016), Lenovo K6 Power (Review), and Oppo A37, but its biggest challenger might be Xiaomi's own Redmi Note 4 which offers a better SoC, a bigger screen, and an improved set of cameras.
One big factor that remains is availability of these phones. Previous models including the Redmi 3S (Redmi 3S Prime), Redmi 4A and Redmi Note 4 have been very hard to find in stock despite being listed on Flipkart and the company's own Mi online store.