Xiaomi Redmi 4A review: Illusions of grandeur
Let’s get something out of the way right up front: the Redmi 4A isn’t a high-performance phone.
Sure it looks premium and high-end, but don’t let the shiny gold paint job fool you: this handset is low-cost and lightweight, both literally and in terms of the performance figures it turns in.
There’s also the matter of no 802.11ac Wifi support, no fingerprint scanner and no USB Type C interface.
The important question, then, becomes whether it can be forgiven for these foibles due to its crazy-low R1 999 price tag. Let’s find out.
Xiaomi Redmi 4A: Low performance doesn’t mean bad performance
Nestled inside the body of the 4A is a Snapdragon 425 chipset with a quad-core Cortex-A53 CPU running at 1.4GHz. This is paired with 2GB of RAM.
After a fair bit of testing we’ve found this configuration to be a bit limiting. When browsing through Facebook the experience is fine but after firing up a game of Hearthstone I found the handset would struggle, causing the game to stutter and lag out.
Similar issues popped up while playing Clash Royale, but to a lesser extent.
Where the 4A fell short was in the PC Mark 8 Work Benchmark for Android. This particular test measures a handset’s performance across a variety of tasks like photo editing, sifting through spreadsheets and the like.
We really would have liked a beefier chipset, a faster and CPU and/or more RAM to bolster overall performance, but those things cost money. For the price, then, the 4A’s performance is acceptable and in line with what consumers might expect from a phone in this price band.
Xiaomi Redmi 4A: Enough power
The 4A is powered by a 3120mAh battery, which offers up a lot of standby and talk time. With Bluetooth on and connected to a wearable, screen brightness set to 100% and both WiFi and mobile data switched on we went about our work day.
Fielding calls, responding to text messages, playing games and browsing our social feeds gave us enough power to last us until midday the day after the 4A was charged.
If you happen to be on a long haul flight you can expect the 4A to get through about 8 hours of movie-watching with the screen set to 100% brightness.
It won’t last as long as some other phones, like the Mate 9 that comes with a truly monstrous 4000mAh battery, but it’s enough to not have to warrant carrying a power bank around constantly. Though at this price you could easily get one to use as a backup.
Charging the battery back up to full takes about four hours as it doesn’t ship with any fancy fast-charging tech. So don’t expect the 4A to charge up for a night on the town in an hour.
Xiaomi Redmi 4A: A better-than-expected camera
At the rear of the 4A you’ll find a rather decent 13MP snapper. The pictures it captures aren’t going to get you a space in the Museum of Modern Art but they’re more than good enough for your social media feeds, or to show your mom that it is in fact the cat knocking her vase off of the table.
The 5MP selfie camera is only “okay”, though, but you can at least smooth out your skin with the selfie mode and make images look less like a pixel-ridden version of yourself by fiddling with the controls.
The camera options are rather limited, only offering up options for HDR, a night mode and various filters. Taking the 4A’s low price into account, however, the camera is really quite good. Maybe not quite Huawei P9 good, but it’s likely good enough for the average user.
Xiaomi Redmi 4A: Conclusion
The Redmi 4A is not the greatest phone of our time by any stretch of the imagination, but at this price it’s certainly a contender for the title of best smartphone under R2 000.
Performance is low, but you are getting what you pay for and let’s be honest, at this price point there isn’t anything that can compete with the big names like Samsung and Apple.
Some standout features like 802.11ac Wifi and a fingerprint scanner would have been nice to see, but I understand that those things aren’t free and would just make the phone more expensive.
That said, the 4A works well enough and offers surprising value for money. If you are looking for a solid everyday smartphone that won’t break the bank, the Redmi 4A is most definitely worth your consideration.