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Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 Full Review

One of the most hotly anticipated phones to come out this year, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 pushes the envelope in terms of price, performance, and quality. Launched in China last month, this all metal smartphone has a lot to live up to, considering it’s predecessor (the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3) sold 2.3 million units in India alone. With a modest spec bump, an integrated fingerprint scanner, and an all metal build quality, Xiaomi seems to have created yet another winner… or is it? Let’s find out!

“This phone has a lot to live up to”

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 Review - rear

About This Review

Big thanks to Gearbest for providing this review unit. I used the 3GB variant of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 on Fido (Rogers) 4G/LTE in Toronto, Canada. It did not come with Google Play Services installed, but it was very easy to perform, instructions coming soon.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 Specs

Processor MediaTek MTK6797 Helio X20 Deca-core 2.1 GHz
Display 5.5″ 1920 x 1080 px, IPS LCD
RAM 2GB/3GB
Storage 16GB/64GB
Operating System MIUI 8 based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Cameras 13MP, f/2.0 PDAF Front Camera, 5MP f/2.0 Rear Camera
Battery 4100mAh, PumpExpress 2.0
Physical Properties 175g, 151 x 76 x 8.4 mm

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 Hardware

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 Review - back

The Redmi Note 4 is easily the best looking Redmi Note to date. It looks visually identical to its more expensive brother, the Redmi Pro, and is closer in design to the Mi 5 than the Redmi Note 3. I can’t say I dislike it, as the design of the older Redmi devices was beginning to look a little pedestrian.

The full metal body provides the user with a very premium feel, and Xiaomi has very wisely finished the surface of the phone with a powdered metal finish instead of a glossy one. The powdered metal imparts more than adequate friction onto your hand, making it relatively difficult to slip out.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 Review - screenFor someone with small hands like me, the Note 4 still feels a tad awkward to use. For all intents and purposes, this phone is the same size as its predecessor. I would have liked to see minimized bezels, but the Redmi Note 4 unfortunately still occupies a healthy footprint.

That being said, its ergonomics are aided by the generous curves in the backplate. We find the usual aspects present on the front of the phone, capacitive buttons below the screen, the array of sensors up top, as well as the 2.5D glass covered screen. The 2.5D glass gives the phone a sense of fluidity, but notice the black bar running around the screen itself and you’ll realize that the “bezels” are larger than you think.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 Review - side

“it’s difficult
to find fault in
the build quality”

Flipping the phone around and we find the camera, flash, and fingerprint sensor slightly recessed into the body of the smartphone as well as antenna lines on the backplate itself. For a phone that starts at $160, this phone is incredibly well made, with most of my complaints stemming from the size of the device in comparison to my hands. Other than that, it’s difficult to find fault in the build quality of this device at all.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 Display

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 review - screenThere is no doubt that the display on this device is quite pretty. It comes with a now standard 1920 x 1080p resolution on a 5.5” panel, and it reproduces colours very nicely. Text is crisp to the eye (not as crispy as a 2k screen) and easy to read. Max brightness tops out at 450 nits, making it a tad difficult to see in direct sunlight. I was hoping for an extremely bright screen, but we’ll have to settle here.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 review - screen 2

We also have a top notch digitizer that responds to the slightest touch. However, I’m surprisingly disappointed by the lack of any sort of protective glass here, we do not find Gorilla Glass or even Asahi Dragontrail Glass, so do be careful with the screen.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 Audio

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 review - audio

“decent volume, decent quality”

The speakers are located on the bottom of the device beside the micro USB port and they provide decently loud sound. I could hear the speakers in most situations and they are slightly louder than my Redmi 3 as well.

There is slight distortion at loudest volume when playing certain tracks, but lower the volume one step and the distortion is gone. The quality is decent, mids and highs are present, but bass is a little hollow. Xiaomi’s included EQ adjustment software does allow for enhancements to the speaker, but they didn’t do much to improve the sound.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 Battery

The Redmi series of devices have always been known to have great battery life, and this one is no exception. With a large 4100mAh battery, I was able to regularly get 6 hours of screen on time every day without an issue. Even though Pokemon Go isn’t the worldwide phenomenon it once was, a dedicated player of that game would be well served by the Redmi Note 4. I could play Pokemon Go for 6 hours before the phone died. I performed the two obligatory tests, the web browsing test and local video playback test and I obtained 9 hours and 55 minutes for web browsing and 10 hours and 40 minutes for video playback.
xiaomi-redmi-note-4-review-18xiaomi-redmi-note-4-review-15 xiaomi-redmi-note-4-review-16

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The battery refuses to give up”

Mediatek’s PumpExpress 2.0 is also included in this device, but unfortunately the plug I received is not PumpExpress capable. That being said though, I am still able to obtain slightly better battery life from my Redmi 3 than my Redmi Note 4, which is understandable when you consider the smaller screen and lower power processor on the older device.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 Software

For a well weathered Android user like me, not having Google Play Services installed is a non issue, but if you are less technically inclined, it could be a huge sticking point for you. The only reason it didn’t come with Google play services installed is because I have the Chinese version, so as long as you buy the correct version or wait until there is one that has Google Play installed, it shouldn’t be an issue. Then again, you could just follow this extremely easy guide to install Google Play on the Redmi Note 4. MIUI 8 was preinstalled atop Android 6.0 with an OTA update as well.

xiaomi-redmi-note-4-review-22

“A little cartoony
for Some,
but a veritable
swiss knife of
customizations
and functionality”

 

There is a lot of preinstalled Chinese crapware on this device that was removable without root, annoying but not unsolvable.

xiaomi-redmi-note-4-review-23 xiaomi-redmi-note-4-review-34

“Liquid

smooth”

I’ve historically been rather ambivalent regarding MIUI’s aesthetics, but I’ve grown to dislike it more and more. The pastel colours and iOS like launcher have finally gotten to me, and the first thing I did was install Google Now Launcher, which requires a convoluted process to make it work (all previous tutorials to get this to work are broken in MIUI8). However, I cannot deny the bevy of functions integrated into MIUI.

Like a swiss army knife, more and more features (useful or not) are crammed into it. I find many functions very useful such as one handed mode, the deep customization options and the capacitive button remapping, but there are an equal number of features that are useless to me. New in MIUI8 is Second Space, allowing two profiles to be configured into the device. Dual Apps is also brand spanking new, allowing you to run two instances of an app that otherwise would not be allowed such as Whatsapp (e.g. one for each SIM slot). That was just a taste of the deep customization and functions integrated into the latest version of MIUI and if you manage to trawl through all of them, some will definitely appeal to you.

Off screen gestures are available for this device and are rendered a little obsolete by the fingerprint sensor. The sensor is always on and is capable of waking the device from sleep with just a tap. It’s fast, not as fast as the iPhone 7’s sensor or the Galaxy Note 7’s sensor, but it’s fast enough that the delay is not noticeable. More important is accuracy, and I’m pleased to report that the Redmi Note 4’s fingerprint sensor is very accurate, it never rejected my finger even once while using it for a week.

My unit of the Redmi Note 4 came with 3GB of RAM, and coupled with the decacore (10 core) Helio X20, the Redmi Note 4 cuts through anything like butter. Moving from my Xiaomi Redmi 3 as my daily driver, it’s a whole new world. Multitasking, opening and closing apps all positively flew. However, that being said, MIUI is a very heavy skin, and at first boot with nothing running, I regularly only had about 1.5GB of RAM free. This phone has no problem keeping up with heavy multitasking or intensive games. Games like Modern Combat, Real Racing, Hearthstone all ran very well.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 review - gamingXiaomi Redmi Note 4 review - gamingxiaomi-redmi-note-4-review-29I also ran the obligatory Antutu benchmark also yielded a high score of 78034.Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 review - antutu

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 Connectivity

Using it on Fido (Rogers) in Toronto, Canada, I was connected to 4G (LTE) with a few drops back to HSPA+. I got some very fast 4G speeds over speedtest as well, which can be a bad thing considering I only have 3GB of data and I really don’t want to go over.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 review - speedtest
The GPS works very well for Pokemon Go as well as Google Maps, it’s accurate to my location but it occasionally will jump away from my location for a second before correcting. Apart from NFC, the Redmi Note 4 comes with the latest in wireless connectivity, dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2.

There is also an IR blaster for all your infrared controlling needs and I am pleased to say that it does work with my TV. However, the range is barely adequate, anything past 5 feet (1.5 meters) and the IR remote will fail to transmit to the TV.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 Camera

The camera quality is not bad, but I was expecting better from a device that was just released in August of 2016. You do get some decent colour reproduction and saturation, but compare it to the Redmi Pro or even the Mi5 and you see the immediate difference in crispness. Pictures look soft in comparison and zooming in gets pixelated a lot faster. Compared to the Redmi Note 3 and pictures are about the same quality. However, you do get some pretty slick depth-of-field effects that make the photos look quite cool. Focusing is very fast in this camera though. In ideal lighting conditions, you get some pretty good photos. Anything less than that and pictures are just OK. However, this camera has difficulty capturing quick moving objects in low light.

The front facing camera is actually quite decent and can provide some decent selfies even in low light. You can snap up to 1080p video with the rear camera, and video detail is present, but it suffers from quick moving objects in low light.

EDIT: In retrospect, I might have been a little hard on this camera, this will probably make it in before publishing, but instead of editing my review, I think it would be better if you just kept this in mind.

Camera Gallery

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 Verdict

I have to hand it to Xiaomi. They have proven time and time again that well specced phones don’t have to be expensive, and the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 does exactly that. In fact, it is the cheapest phone using the Helio X20 chipset and will continue to be for a little while yet. You get exceptional performance from the decacore chip, incredible battery life, and a great metal unibody as well. Is it without fault? No, but I can’t think of anything big enough for it to be a dealbreaker for me.

Ironically, the biggest issue I have with this device is the size, but the rest of the phone is so compelling that I’m willing to live with it.

Should you buy it? Yes. Starting at $130USD before reseller markups and rising to around $160 after, this is one of the best (if not the best) price/performance smartphones you can get in the market currently, and I highly recommend this phone.

I would like to thank Gearbest for sending out this review unit, and if you would like to buy one, you can do so here. You can also purchase the 64GB version here.

“the best Redmi Note yet!”

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 Video Review

Picture Gallery

  • Build Quality - 81%
    81
  • Display - 78%
    78
  • Speakers - 78%
    78
  • Battery - 90%
    90
  • Software - 71%
    71
  • Connectivity - 70%
    70
  • Camera - 73%
    73

Summary

Xiaomi has done it again, creating a phone that will stand in a class of it's own. Touching it, you would never guess it isn't a flagship. Using it, you would never guess it doesn't have anything but the best internals.
With very few weak points, this device presents the consumer with another option and a headache for competitors.

77.3 %

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