While many people prefer a slim and sleek smartphone, there are a few who curse the heavens when it comes time to type on a display smaller than the palm of your hand.
Yes, SwiftKey and other virtual keyboards exist to make this somewhat easier, but what those who were blessed with chubby fingers really need is a smartphone that makes typing – and just browsing the phone in general – easier.
Xiaomi has just the thing for those who constantly type “qere are yoiu”, and it only costs R2 999 – the Xiaomi Redmi Note 2, a 5.5inch phone with some serious appeal.
So let’s give the 5.5inch Redmi Note 2 a good old tyre-kicking, shall we?
Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 review: Display and Appearance
The phone’s primary appeal is the 5.5inch Full HD display. Yes that is correct, this sub-R3 000 smartphone has a Full HD display, with a pixel density of 480 pixels per inch, and 5.5inches of screen real estate – that’s 0.2 inches smaller than Samsung’s Galaxy Note 5.
While the display is very nice on initial inspection, you do start to notice a bit of a dip in quality when images need to be made smaller than the icons. For example in folders (which you may need to use as there is no app drawer) you’ll notice that some of the icons have rough edges. It’s not a huge detractor at this price, but it’s there.
The bezels around the Redmi display are just right – neither so thick as to be overbearing, nor too thin so as not to be there at all. Most importantly, they don’t make the phone look ugly.
Ultimately, we have to say the Redmi is a somewhat plain-looking phone, but that’s very misleading because once you peel away the removable plastic back-plate, see the violently orange battery and look at the specs, you’ll find that the Redmi is packing incredible heat on the things that matter most. Like performance.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 review: Performance
We’re gobsmacked, in a state of shock and have nothing less than admiration for Xiaomi. Just take a look at our benchmark scores (the Redmi currently ranks 4th) and then we’ll discuss what you’ve seen.
Can you actually believe those scores? We couldn’t so we ran the benchmark three more times just to make sure, and the score just kept climbing.
The worst-performing component in the Redmi is rather unfortunately its 2GB of RAM, only scoring 5902 points in Antutu. This mean multi-tasking performance isn’t top-notch, but it’s not so bad it will make you want to pull your hair out.
Driving this impressive-for-the-price performance is a Mediatek MT6795 Helio X10 processor running slightly slower than the advertised 2.0GHz (1.95GHz), and the PowerVR G6200 GPU, a graphics chip that nobody has said would set the world on fire, but which can clearly hold its own.
Video does seem to suffer in benchmarks, but for watching a movie on the plane – a real-world scenario an actual user is likely to experience – it does just fine. Same with most games available on the Play Store.
Perhaps more impressively, Xiaomi’s designers didn’t make cuts where WiFi is concerned – the Redmi has an AC-class WiFi radio which is the very fastest WiFi standard available, and the one that offers the best coverage. In real terms that means great WiFi speeds, and signal in places that N-class WiFi previously struggled to reach.
Unfortunately the Redmi only has 16GB of internal storage, but you can add a microSD for more if you wish. And SD cards are so cheap these days, “only” 16GB of internal storage is no major inconvenience.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 review: Battery
So this should be where the Redmi shows its weakness. At least, this is what we thought would happen… but no.
After a brutal rundown test where we looped an HD video for as long as possible, we recorded nine hours of uninterrupted playback.
The 3 060mAh battery is also removable and takes – hold on to your hats – a little over two and a half hours to charge fully. In just one hour, the battery is juiced up to 75%, which should easily last you a night without power (we spent a night without electricity during the review period so we know this for a fact).
Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 review: Camera
Seriously now Xiaomi, are you folks losing money for every one of these that you sell? The rear shooter is a 13MP sensor with an f/2.2 aperture, at the front you’ll find a 5MP sensor with an f/2.0 aperture.
While it’s nothing new, for its price the camera is quite nice; below are a few pictures we took with it to give you an idea of image quality.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 review: Conclusion
So what can we conclude? Honestly, finding words right now is difficult because Xiaomi has taken our breath away with this one, almost literally.
The Redmi may not look like much, and we weren’t expecting to be wowed by something that at first glance seemed like it was trying to compete with Samsung’s Galaxy Note 5. The fact is, the Xiaomi isn’t trying to compete with anybody with this phone – they’re just concentrating on making a really great smartphone. And with the Redmi Note 2, Xiaomi has succeeded.
It should come as no surprise to you then, when we say that if you have the chance to try out a Redmi 2 you should: it won’t cost the world and you will be stunned at what you’re getting for the price. We certainly were.