The sub-R4000 smartphone has become something of a sweet spot for manufacturers of late.
Phones at this price point offer users middle of the ground performance and features while perhaps throwing in a few extras that make them a bit more special.
The Hisense KO and its tough-as-nails body is one such phone that springs to mind. Today we take a look at the Redmi 3 which, despite its looks, name and specs, is not to be confused with the Redmi Note 3.
This handset is priced at R3 799 and has one of the best batteries we’ve seen at this price point so far this year. But of course, a strong battery is not the only reason you buy a smartphone, so what is the Redmi 3 like as your daily driver?
Redmi 3 review: The technical bits
The Redmi 3 uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 616 chipset paired with an octa-core CPU. The CPU is configured with four cores running at 1.5GHz and the other four at 1.2GHz. The pay off with this configuration is that whether you’re running intensive tasks such as games or simply browsing through Facebook, the phone is snappy.
We did notice the phone didn’t keep up with us once multiple applications had been opened and not closed properly. This is easily solved by closing unnecessary apps and freeing up some of the RAM. That having been said, there is 3GB of RAM on-board the Redmi 3 and you’ll be able to watch a YouTube video, browse through Facebook, Twitter and Reddit while swiping on Tinder before you start to notice a slow down.
Driving the display is an Adreno 405 running at a peak 550MHz. We played a few many hours playing Subway Surfer and never encountered any game-breaking lag or stuttering.
Overall the Redmi 3 works well, but it doesn’t manage to pip its older brother, the Redmi Note 2 in the Antutu benchmark.
It’s important to point out that the Note 2 is now R2 200, and if all you want is raw performance, that might be your best bet on a budget.
Elsewhere in the market; the Redmi 3 beats out the LG Stylus 2, the Mi 4 and the Hisense KO.
Connectivity is a bit of a mixed bag. There is support for two LTE SIM cards though if you want to use a microSD card you can’t use two SIMs at the same time. Sadly WiFi support only goes up to the 802.11b/g/n standard. We didn’t notice too much of a slow down in terms of WiFi but more speed is always better.
Redmi 3 review: The outside bits
Just look at this phone.
The Redmi 3 looks like a handset that should cost at least R2 000 more than it does. The aluminum body, the subtle camera bump, even the volume rockers and unlock button have a slightly premium feel to them.
This was what made the Redmi Note 2 such a winner for me earlier this year, it was a cheap phone that gave a user a premium experience, this feels like a repetition of that mantra.
You might also have noticed the fingerprint scanner at the rear of the handset and our experience with it was great. Placing your finger on the scanner unlocks the phone in a second and it only ever failed when my finger was dirty or damp.
Above the fingerprint scanner is a 13MP snapper which has phase detection and an f/2.0 aperture for great photos in the dark. At the front is 5MP sensor with an f2.2 aperture which is fine for selfies in the dark but maybe try and get a bit of light around you for better results.
The cameras are fine but not great, take a look for yourself in the examples below.
Redmi 3 review: Monster of a battery
Perhaps the best part of the Redmi 3 is how long you can go between charges. Heavy use (using the phone as a WiFi hotspot, Bluetooth on, screen brightness at 100% and applications syncing in the background) got us one day of use.
With average use (WiFi on, screen brightness at 100%, browsing through applications, and playing the occassional game) we managed to get two days of use from the battery with the handset only needing to be plugged in when we went to bed that evening.
With light use (WiFi off, screen brightness at 50% and very slight network use) you can squeeze three days of life from the Redmi 3.
Redmi 3 review: Conclusion
Sadly, the Redmi 3, while very good, is not as good spec-for-spec as the Note 3. With that said there are some nice features such as the extra gig of RAM which really makes the world of difference in terms of performance and multi-tasking. The fingerprint scanner is a nice as well, especially with the additional security checkpoint it provides without slowing the handset down.
The camera, the CPU, the GPU, and the 1280×720 display however are what you would expect at this price point. Competent, but not ground breaking.
Overall its a good smartphone that sets itself apart from the other brands however, its now competing against the likes of the Redmi Note 2 and the Redmi Note 3 in this price point.
When you consider that, the Redmi 3 seems lost in the Xiaomi storm. The better option then is the Redmi Note 2, if you absolutely must have a finger print scanner you can cough up a bit more and get the Redmi Note 3.
The Redmi 3 then isn’t bad but it isn’t great, and with other phones able to offer what it can, you’d be better off spending your money on something else in the Xiaomi range.