Review: Redmi Note 4 Is Xiaomi’s New Budget Benchmark

The budget battery warrior from Xiaomi has got a design facelift this year. 

Tech News
6 min read
Hindi Female

The Redmi Note 3 was among 2016’s most successful smartphones, and earned high praise from customers and critics alike for its one-two punch of a good product at an insanely good price point.

Now, if you’re Xiaomi, how do you follow up a phone that was that downright “holy crap” successful, more so in a significantly more competitive market? You do it with the Redmi Note 4, a phone that in good part rides on the coattails of the Note 3 and refines the experience in many small yet discernible ways.

The question is – did Xiaomi do enough to replicate the success of its predecessor? We took the phone through its paces through the last couple of weeks to find out…



  • Good build quality
  • Excellent battery performance
  • Good screen and all-round performance
  • Improved cameras
  • Stellar value


  • No fast charging
  • Hybrid SIM slot
  • No-ugat, only Marshmallow
The budget battery warrior from Xiaomi has got a design facelift this year. 
Redmi Note 4 comes with a 5.5-inch full-HD 2.5D curved display. (Photo: The Quint/@2shar)

What’s Good?

Xiaomi’s taken subtle inspiration from one of its other products – the Mi Max - to refresh the design just that wee bit so you don't end up feeling like you’re holding a relabeled Redmi Note 3. The front fascia is similar to the predecessor, but you get this nice 2.5D curved edge glass on the front and the slight curve near the edges on the back of the device, which makes it easier to grip.

The speakers have moved from the back to the bottom of the phone, and the Android buttons are now faintly backlit. Without question, the subtle design tweaks lend a more premium in-hand feel as compared to the phone it will replace.

I was initially tempted to criticize the design on the sole count that it is rather generic looking, but one look at Matte Black option is enough for me to hold my peace on this one.

The budget battery warrior from Xiaomi has got a design facelift this year. 
The phone is available in three colour variants this year. (Photo: The Quint/@2shar)

Now, I’d liked the screen on the Redmi Note 3, and the 5.5-incher on the Note 4 follows the same basic formula - 1080x1920 pixels, sharp images and text and adequately punchy (too punchy maybe, sometimes?) colors and sunlight legibility, with adjustable color temperature and a reading mode to boot.

No complaints. You get three variants – 2GB RAM/32GB storage for Rs. 9,999, 3GB RAM/32GB storage for Rs. 10,999 and 4GB RAM/ 64GB of storage for Rs. 12,999, with all versions supporting expandable storage of up to 128GB via a hybrid microSD card slot. Man, that is incredibly aggressive pricing, though obviously if your budget allows the extra three grand, I’d recommend going for the top-end 4GB RAM variant if you can. You ask why? Read on…

You see, this is one of the first phones to sport Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 625 chipset paired with Adreno 506 graphics, and that’s, for the large part, a sensible decision by Xiaomi. The 625 is built on the new power-efficient 14nm finfet process, which essentially allows higher clock speeds without the associated overheating, and for the most part, without any discernible drop in performance.

The budget battery warrior from Xiaomi has got a design facelift this year. 
Design and built of the Redmi Note 4 feels premium for its price. (Photo: The Quint/@2shar)

With pretty much everything I threw at the Redmi Note 4, there were no lags or stutters while using MIUI or while multi-tasking…and this is as responsive as you need your phone to be.

The only exception is if you’re playing graphically intensive games at maxed out resolutions, you’ll see the difference between last year’s 510 graphics and this year’s 506 – the occasional lag when too much is going on on the screen. That said, the upside in terms of thermal benefits and battery life is completely worth the tradeoff.

Yep, the killer battery life that we first saw on the Redmi Note 3 is back with a vengeance, only this time the similarly sized 4100mAh battery benefits from the 625’s power efficiency, and I routinely got two days of moderate to heavy use on the device, both SIMs active and with no compromise on performance!

The budget battery warrior from Xiaomi has got a design facelift this year. 
The display offers a clean, sharp viewing experience. (Photo: The Quint/@2shar)

Could Xiaomi have packed in a bigger battery for even more stellar battery life, for the kind of next-level battery performance that wowed us with the Redmi Note 3? The Lenovo P2 did it, and it’s got pretty similar dimensions.

If anything, the Redmi Note 4 feels a little let down by the lack of quick charging, and for reasons best known to Xiaomi, they’ve persisted with the aging micro-USB connector standard instead of moving up to the USB-C lifestyle.

But it’s with the camera that’s Xiaomi’s shown the most improvement over the previous gen, and the 13MP shooter takes detailed landscape shots in well-lit conditions, and even managed a good amount of detail in low-light shots, though there is a bit of graininess upon zooming into the image.

The budget battery warrior from Xiaomi has got a design facelift this year. 
The 13-megapixel snapper on the Redmi Note 4 sees some improvement. (Photo: The Quint/@2shar)

Macros are good too, and phase-detection auto-focus lets you focus on subjects quickly. I’ve seen the Redmi Note 3 camera improve over the life of the product, with Xiaomi rolling out software updates to address the Note 3’s Achilles’ Heel…and I expect the Note 4 should see improvements in upcoming updates as well.


What’s Bad?

You’re getting a device which runs MIUI 8 based on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, which means you get Google Now on Tap among a bunch of Xiaomi tweaks like one-handed mode, an improved dialer with caller-ID, full page screenshots and the like.

Capabilities like Second Space (maintain a separate profile on the same phone), Dual Apps (two instances of the same app on the same phone) and app password locks are all stuff we’ve seen on MIUI previously, and make for welcome additions on the device. That said, at the risk of sounding repetitive, the phone really should have launched with Nougat out of the blocks…

The budget battery warrior from Xiaomi has got a design facelift this year. 
Redmi Note 4 still doesn’t get Android Nougat version of MiUi 8. (Photo: The Quint/@2shar)

Plus that hybrid SIM slot – what’s up with that? Is a proper dual SIM with a storage card slot too much to ask for?


Why Buy It?

After OnePlus and its 3T, Xiaomi’s managed to do just enough with the Redmi Note 4 to keep the device relevant and competitive for 2017, without messing around too much with the tried-and-tested working formula that the Note 3 pioneered.

It had big shoes to fill, and fill it did! If you’d bought a Redmi Note 3 (or equivalent) last year though, you’ll find little reason to upgrade, but if you’re the market for a mid-ranger, the Redmi Note 4 earns an easy recommendation.

The budget battery warrior from Xiaomi has got a design facelift this year. 

If anything, the biggest problem with the Redmi Note 3 was that while it was the easiest phone to recommend, it wasn't the easiest to lay your hands on whenever you wanted…and that’s what Xiaomi has to fix for the Redmi Note 4…and fast! I saw way too many folks wanting to buy the Redmi Note 3 but opting for a competing product which was just easier to buy.

(Tushar Kanwar is a technology columnist and commentator and has been contributing for the past 15 years to India’s leading newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at @2shar.)

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