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Review: Xiaomi Redmi 4A is a budget smartphone that comes close to being the best

LiveMint logoLiveMint 07-04-2017 Abhijit Ahaskar

Chinese phone maker Xiaomi has impressed with its latest crop of affordable smartphones. Its new phone, the Redmi 4A, priced at Rs5,999, is another shot at the budget segment, but aimed primarily at first-time buyers or casual users. The phone is currently available through flash sale on Amazon.in and Mi.com.

Design: Compact and handy

The Redmi 4A is a very different looking device from the recent bunch of metal-clad phones.

The Redmi 4A is a very different looking device from the recent bunch of metal-clad phones launched by the company. It has a plastic unibody exterior with matte finish. You can’t remove the back cover or battery. The phone weighs just 131g and fits comfortably into small hands. It is available in three attractive colours—gold, rose gold and dark grey.The only limitation in the design language is the hybrid SIM tray which allows either two SIM cards or one SIM card and microSD card at a time. The microSD slot is built on the nano SIM slot. The volume and power buttons are placed on the right side and feel a bit stiff.

Display: Small but good-looking

The phone also offers the usual set of display settings that Xiaomi offers in its high-end phones.

The phone has a 5-inch IPS display with a resolution of 1,280x720p. Colours in games, photos and movies look good. The text in web pages and ebooks looks crisp enough to not strain your eyes. Visibility from odd angles is pretty good too. The phone also offers the usual set of display settings that Xiaomi offers in its high-end phones such as the Colours and contrast options which can adjust colour temperature and the Reading mode which can reduce display’s background glare when you are reading in a low-lit room.

Software: Old Android with a complex UI

The Redmi 4A looks a little like Windows phone UI and is a lot simpler to use.

The Redmi 4A runs on a slightly older (Marshmallow) 6.0 version of Android with Xiaomi’s customisable MIUI 8 over it. MIUI has a nice collection of colourful themes and wallpapers but using it can be challenging, especially for first-time users. There is a feature called Second space which allows users to create a separate profile on the same phone but with a different set of apps. The dual apps feature allows two versions of the same app. For example, if you want to have two WhatsApp accounts on the same phone, you can have two WhatsApp icons configured with two different numbers. The Lite mode switches on another interface with bigger icons. It looks a little like Windows phone UI and is a lot simpler to use.

Performance: Ideal for casual users

The device runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 quad-core processor, clocking at 1.4 GHz and paired with only 2GB RAM. The phone was able to handle most everyday tasks well, but struggled a bit during gaming and multi-tasking. The MIUI is a resource-intensive UI and even with no apps running, the system uses about 1.3GB of the RAM. The phone offers 16GB of storage and can accept microSD cards of up to 256GB. All this makes it more suited for users with basic requirements. The battery backup is good. The 3,120mAh battery can muster one day of charge on modest to heavy usage comfortably.

Camera: Works well in good light

The 13-megapixel camera can take quick shots.

The 13-megapixel camera can take quick shots and lock focus on objects correctly with a single tap. In outdoor shots, it captured most colours accurately, but wasn’t very good at reproducing detail. Indoor shots with limited light look blurry and distorted. It is not lacking in features, though. It offers live filters, audio in picture mode, beautify mode, the option to set timer, and has a Straighten mode which takes a straight image even if the phone is not held straight. The 5-megapixel front camera can muster clear looking shots if the light is good.

The 5-megapixel front camera can muster clear looking shots if the light is good.

Verdict

The Redmi 4A impresses with its build quality, funky interface, good display and dependable battery life. It has its limitations but at this price point there are other alternatives. If you are willing to spend a little more, you can go for the Coolpad Mega 2.5d (Rs6,999), which offers a bigger 5.5-inch display, is pretty much similar in terms of performance and runs Android 6.0. You can also go for the Redmi 3s (Rs6,999) as it runs on a superior processor and looks more premium due to the metal finish.

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