Earlier in the month, Xiaomi released the much awaited budget smartphone Redmi 3S series phone in India.
The new Redmi 3S comes in two models- one a generic model with 2GB RAM+16GB storage and a Prime variant with 3GB RAM+32GB storage. We got the latter in gold colour and used it as a secondary device for more than two weeks.
Here's our take on the new Redmi 3S Prime:
Look and feel (5/5):
On a first glimpse, anybody familiar with Xiaomi devices can make out that the Redmi 3S Prime takes its design cue from its phablet sibling Note 3, sans the minor cosmetic change in primary camera position, while the finger-print sensor keeps its place on the back.
It features 3.5mm jack on the top with IR blaster (smart TV remote control feature) and the bottom, it features micro USB port.
On the right side, it houses the volume (up+down) rocker on top of the power button, whereas on the left, it houses hybrid SIM slot.
We found the metal-cover on the Redmi 3S Prime to be of top-notch quality, when held in hand. It exudes premium feel, which no other phone can match it in the budget category.
Like Redmi Note 3, it also features two hard plastic strips -- one each on top and the bottom (to allow antennas to receive uninterrupted signal), but Xiaomi has done a great paint job to mask them well. The brushed metal-finish, flawlessly blend well with the metal on the rear.
Redmi 3S Prime sports a 5.0-inch HD (1280x720p) display with pixel density of 294 ppi (pixels per inch). With all pixels grouped in close proximity, it offers delightful viewing experience. Xiaomi device also comes with reading mode,
The compact structure of the phone is sure to find traction among people with smaller palms. I found it less cumbersome to navigate the screen with my thumb and there is also a 'Quick Ball' feature, which lets users to keep five frequently used actions like going back, returning to the home page, turning off and other gestures in single, using just the thumb. These actions can be customised to the user's liking and are available from the Lockscreen.
Only qualm we found is that the Redmi 3S Prime's capacitive buttons at the base is no back-lit. People will find it little difficult to navigate the phone in the dark. But, this is no big deal, as we got used to this shortcoming, in a couple of days.
Redmi 3 Prime comes with 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 quad-core processor backed by Adreno 505 graphics engine, 3GB RAM and 32GB inbuilt storage.
During our tests, it aced in almost all aspects. The phone was able to launch the phone apps quickly and showed no sign of lag even when we launched multiple apps and switched between them.
It also performed well when playing games, there was hardly any drop in the frame rate. However, it began to show signs of stress and started getting hot when playing graphic intensive games, after we extended the session over 30 minutes. That being said, Redmi 3S Prime is far better compared to other devices in the budget category. Due to limitation in RAM capacity, most of them can't even support power-intensive games, but the Xiaomi device can.
The Redmi 3S Prime was able to score an impressive 529 and 2043 points on single-core and multi-core tests on Geekbench v3.0 benchmarking app.
Xiaomi Redmi 3S Prime runs Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow-based MIUI 7.5.5 UI. Interface kind of depends on individual preference, so we are not considering this aspect for rating the device. Some might like clean UI like we see in Motorola and Nexus series phones, while others ask for custom themes, multiple short-cuts and other privileges from the phone-makers. The Redmi 3S Prime will appeal to the latter group and will be further impressed with the Xiaomi's update policy and also each device comes pre-loaded with an interactive "Report Bug" application, which allows users to file bug complaint to software developers. Once the issued gets registered in the log, the company will quickly release get software patch to the phones.
The Redmi 3S Prime is also expected to get the new MIUI 8.0 soon.
Read more: Key features of Xiaomi MIUI 8.0
Xiaomi comes packed with a 13MP camera with 5-physical lens, f/2.0 aperture, PDAF (Phase Detection Auto Focus), HDR, full HD video recording, 0.1 second phase focusing speed.
During the testing, the primary camera performed well in the outdoor. We were able to get really good snaps in brightly lit conditions. The auto-focus feature was quick in tracking subject's change in position. But, its performance took a dive under the dark environment. We saw discernible slowness in the auto-focus feature.
That being said, the pictures taken in the night were better compared to other budget phones in the market.
And on the front, it features a 5MP snapper with f/2.2 aperture, full HD video recording ability, face-recognition feature, 36-intelligent self-portrait selfie styles.
Its front camera was able to get decent quality selfies and we were pretty impressed with age predictor applications. It was consistent in foretelling the approximate age of the person.
Besides the top-notch build quality, long battery life is another hall mark of the Redmi 3S Prime. Ingenious Xiaomi has incorporated massive 4,100mAh battery inside the device.
During our tests, which included binge watching videos on YouTube, gaming, internet browsing, WhatsApp messaging, voice/video calls, it was able to last one full day with around 15 percent juice still left in its tank. If used moderately, it will easily last two days. But, the battery requires close to 3 hours time to get fully charged. However, we believe the benefit of long battery life negates this limitation.
Once again, Redmi 3S Prime has no match in terms of battery. Matter of fact, it outshines its phablet sibling Redmi Note 3 in this aspect.
The quality of the finger print sensor used in the Redmi 3S Prime is of fine quality. Its false rejection rate was very low and we found it to be on par with the Redmi Note 3.
Xiaomi has been redefining budget phone category with the every launch of Redmi series device since 2013. Now, it has taken several notches up with the new Redmi 3S Prime.
In our opinion, currently, there is no phone in the budget category that can come to close to matching Xiaomi Redmi 3S Prime, be it in build quality or in performance.
If anybody is planning to buy a high-quality phone under Rs.10,000, we recommend Redmi 3S Prime as the best possible choice.
- Excellent battery life
- Top-notch build quality (and classy design too)
- Powerful processor
- Decent camera
- No back-lit buttons on the display panel