Xiaomi recently launched the Redmi 6 in India, along with the Redmi 6A (Review) and the Redmi 6 Pro (Review). As its name suggests, it is the successor of the Redmi 5 (Review), which has been fairly popular for offering good hardware at affordable prices. The Redmi 6 gets a new processor, has interesting specifications on paper, and is positioned between the Redmi 6A and the Redmi 6 Pro. We have seen smartphones with good hardware but most of them are concentrated around the Rs. 10,000 mark. The Redmi 6 seems to have good hardware at a starting price in India of Rs. 7,999, but is it the best you can get for the price? We put it to the test.
The Redmi series is the entry-level lineup from Xiaomi, and the company has chosen materials to keep the price down. The Redmi 6 is primarily made out of plastic and is built well. It has a 5.45-inch display with a tall and narrow 18:9 aspect ratio. Also on the front of the phone, you’ll find the selfie camera, earpiece, sensors, and a white notification LED that’s tucked in a corner. The back of the Redmi 6 is made out of plastic and is curved at the sides which makes this phone comfortable to hold. Xiaomi has positioned the power and volume buttons on the right, and they offer good feedback. We found the positioning of the power button to be spot on, but the volume buttons are positioned a little too high for our comfort.
On the left side, the phone has two trays. One has the primary SIM and a dedicated microSD card slots, while the other is for the secondary SIM. The loudspeaker is at the back of the phone, while the Micro-USB port is at the bottom along with the primary microphone. The Redmi 6 has a 3.5mm headphone jack and a secondary microphone at the top, but there is no IR emitter, commonly found on Xiaomi smartphones. At the back, the dual-camera module is positioned towards the left, along with a single-LED flash. The fingerprint scanner is well positioned, and either of your index fingers will rest on it naturally when holding this phone.
The Redmi 6 is light, weighing 146gms. It packs in a 3000mAh non-removable battery, and Xiaomi ships a 5W charger in the box to top it up. Like most other Xiaomi smartphones in this price range, the Redmi 6 does not come with headphones in the box. You can take a look at some of the best headphones under Rs. 1,000 in our roundup if you need to buy a pair on a tight budget.
When it comes to the internals of the Redmi 6, Xiaomi has taken a slightly different approach than usual. Most of Xiaomi’s lineup so far has been powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors, but the Redmi 6 and the Redmi 6A are powered by MediaTek processors. The Redmi 6 sports a MediaTek Helio P22. This is an octa-core processor based on a 12nm manufacturing process, and it’s clocked at 2GHz. This phone comes in two variants; one with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, and the other with 3GB RAM and 64GB of storage. You can expand storage as this phone accepts microSD cards of up to 256GB.
The Redmi 6’s screen has an HD+ resolution, which works out to 295 pixels per inch. It has decent viewing angles and you do get the option to tweak the display output. While the display is legible under direct sunlight, we would have preferred slightly better brightness.
The dual camera setup at the back consists of a 12-megapixel primary camera and a 5-megapixel depth sensor. There is dual-SIM support on the Redmi 6 with support for both 4G as well as VoLTE. A toggle in the settings app lets the second SIM access data on a 4G network when the primary one is on a call. There is support for Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, GPS, AGPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, and FM Radio. The Redmi 6 also has ambient light and proximity sensors, along with an electronic compass.
The software running on the Redmi 6 is pretty much predictable. This phone runs MIUI 9.6 on top of Android 8.1 Oreo. When we unboxed the smartphone, it was running the June security patch, but soon received the July and August updates. If you have used MIUI and like the user interface, you’ll feel at home while using this smartphone. Xiaomi has made lots of customisations that deviate from the stock Android experience, but there are a few useful features. There is support for multiple gestures and you can also use gesture navigation instead of the traditional navigation buttons. The Redmi 6 features face recognition which lets you unlock it. It isn’t the quickest, but it worked in most lighting conditions.
Spammy notifications by preinstalled apps, Dual-SIM settings on the Redmi 6
There are useful additions like Dual Apps, which lets you run two instances of supported apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook, among others. Second Space lets you keep files, messages, and other data locked down. MIUI also has an inbuilt App Lock that lets you restrict access to apps using your fingerprint. While MIUI has some interesting features, it does come with a fair amount of bloatware. Microsoft’s suite of apps come preinstalled, along with Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, PhonePe, and UC Browser. Xiaomi’s own apps including Mi Community, Mi Video, Mi Store, Mi Drop, Security, and Cleaner also find spots on the Redmi 6. Apart from the Google Play Store, there’s another store called Apps. We found some of Xiaomi’s apps to be spammy, and annoying notifications kept on popping up. While you can go ahead and uninstall most of these apps, some can only be disabled.
The Helio P22 powering the Redmi 6 managed to surprise us with its performance. We could go through the menus and scroll through MIUI without any noticeable lag or stutter. However, like with most low-end processors, it takes some time to load heavy apps. We also saw instances when the Redmi 6 had to reload apps since they were no longer in memory.
We ran a couple of benchmarks to gauge the performance of the Redmi 6, and got some interesting results. It scored 75,723 points in AnTuTu, and 820 and 3580 in Geekbench 4’s single-core and multi-core tests respectively. It managed 584 in 3DMark Slingshot, 8051 in 3DMark Ice Storm Extreme, and 26fps in GFXBench T-Rex. The Redmi 6 is faster than its predecessor, the Redmi 5, in almost every test.
The Redmi 6 was capable of running PUBG but switched to the lowest settings by default. The game was playable but we did notice input lag.
We were also pleased with the battery performance of this smartphone. In our HD video loop test, it managed to go on for 14 hours and 34 minutes. We took the phone off its charger at 9am and managed to end our day at 10pm with 27 percent still left. During the day, we used Google Maps for navigation for an hour, spent 30 minutes playing PUBG, ran a few benchmarks, and took multiple photos and videos for our camera tests. If you have a similar usage pattern, you should be able to get through one full day of use. When you do plug this phone into the supplied 5W charger, it charges to 18 percent in 30 minutes, and 35 percent in an hour.
The camera app on the Redmi 6 is identical to what we have seen on other Xiaomi smartphones. It has Short Video, Portrait, Square, Panorama, and Manual modes apart from the usual Photo and Video modes. In Manual mode, you get control over White Balance, Focus, Shutter Speed, and ISO. The app has quick toggles for HDR and filters.
Photos taken with the Redmi 6 in favourable light were good, but we saw a drop in quality in low light. In daylight, the Redmi 6 managed to get the metering right and was quick to enable HDR automatically when shooting in bright environments. The phone manages to capture decent amount of detail. When shooting macros, the phone struggled to focus on tiny objects and we couldn’t get a sharp photo of tiny flowers. The Redmi 6 uses its secondary 5-megapixel sensor to deliver good portrait shots. It manages good edge detection and it could detect the gap between a person’s arm and body, and blur it properly.
Camera performance went down a notch in low light. It failed to capture good details, and the aggressive noise reduction resulted in a watercolour effect. Selfies taken with the Redmi 6 were good when shot outdoors, but appeared dull when shot indoors. Video recording maxes out at 1080p for both the front and the rear cameras. There is stabilisation, but we observed a jelly effect in the recorded video.
The Redmi 6 is priced starting at Rs. 7,999. It has decent hardware for the price and it offers better performance than the smartphone it replaces. The base variant with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage offers better value and does not have a lot of competition to deal with. However, if you are eyeing the higher variant that is priced at Rs. 9,499, you might want to take a look at the RealMe 1 (Review) and the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 (Review) instead, because both of them offer much better performance for a slightly higher price.
Is the Xiaomi Redmi 6 the best budget smartphone in India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.