Xiaomi is already dominating the budget and mid-range segments in India. And to cement its top position more firmly in the market, the Chinese firm has launched the crowd favourite selfie-camera oriented phone category with the brand new Redmi Y1 for Rs 8,999.
On paper, like all the previous Redmi series phones, Redmi Y1 has the right combination of hardware configuration and pocket-friendly price-tag, but does Redmi Y1 deliver the goods? Let's check out.
Design and display:
Xiaomi Redmi Y1 flaunts a solid shell on the back with metallic-finish. Its brilliant pain-job exudes premium feel and makes it visually appealing. When held in hand, we can feel the sturdiness of the phone's structure.
It also features ergonomically placed finger sensor on the back whereas the primary camera is positioned on the left corner with LED flash perfectly aligned on the antenna line in the top.
Redmi Y1 houses power and volume rockers on the right side of the edge and the SIM tray is placed on the left side and it has to be noted that the device has two SIM slots and additional space for microSD card.
On top, it features a 3.5mm audio jack with mic and IR blaster (can be used a remote control for smart TVs via mobile apps). At the base, it houses two single-grille speakers with microUSB port in the middle.
As far as the display is concerned, Redmi Y1 sports a 5.5-inch HD LCD IPS screen with 2.5D curved glass on top. It offers decent viewing experience for a budget phone and comes with options to control brightness to match the environment.
During the trials, I increased the brightness and tried using in the sunny conditions outside for reading messages and view multimedia contents and my eyes never felt any strain. There is also a 'Reading mode' that controls the blue light emission to lessen the strain on eyes in the night.
You can activate it by going to Settings >> Display>> Reading mode and also schedule by going Reading mode >>Schedule >> Custom Period> set turn-on time and turn-off time and that's it. Once activated, the phone automatically turns on/ off the Reading mode at the scheduled time.
But, I felt annoyed over the lack of back-lit buttons (home, recent and back) in the front panel during the night, but it's not a deal breaker, as I got used to it within two days as finger muscle memory quickly learns the location of the keys.
Xiaomi Redmi Y1 houses Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 octa-core with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage. It works smoothly in terms of daily routine operations, be it launching apps, switching between apps and opening camera apps and also, it showed to no lag-ness while playing games such as the Angry Birds and Temple Run, among others.
It runs on MIUI 9 stable OS and the user experience has improved a lot over the MIUI 8; some of the discernible changes include increased speed in terms of loading apps and it also brings several India-region specific themes, wallpapers and even Hindu Panchang calendar option and more.
It also comes with in-house developed custom options such as Universal search (a powerful search engine that can differentiate your image by typing in keywords, including your conversations), Smart assistance (to locate the anything from apps to information), two steps for all the vital information, people just need to copy and paste the keyword and get the information on that topic.
The new MIUI 9 also comes with New Gallery app having image editing tools, filters, photo collage; a separate Mi Drop cloud storage app, Do Not Disturb mode, App vault to secure all most-used applications in one folder, split screen (compatible with select applications only), new widget options, Home screen editing options and more.
We also tested Redmi Y1 on benchmarking apps, and it scored 45,481 points on AnTuTu and on Geekbench, it managed to get 673 and 2,545 in terms of single-core and multi-core tests, respectively.
The highlight of Redmi Y1 is its front-camera. It boasts 16MP snapper with dedicated LED flash support to snap a good quality photo under low-light condition. It also comes with 36 smart Beautify profiles, Video call with real-time beautify, ƒ/2.0 large aperture, Selfie countdown and Face recognition feature (no, it doesn't unlock screen like iPhone X or OnePlus 5T, but will predict near-accurate age).
During tests, the front-camera performed really well. It took fine quality selfies and we were particularly impressed with the beauty modes, which gives several options to edit skin tones and make it appealing, to put them on social media sites. The dedicated LED flash is a great value addition, which helps in getting good images under low-light conditions.
On the back, it houses a 13MP camera with ƒ/2.2 aperture, PDAF (Phase Detection Auto Focus), Low light enhancement, HDR, Panorama, Burst mode, Face recognition, Real-time filters, full HD video recording.
Redmi Y1's primary camera works fine in bright sunny conditions, but the autofocus tends to slow in the night and noises are glaringly visible in the low-light. Having said that, it is still better than most of the rival brands in the budget (under-Rs 10,000) category, we tested this year. Check the images below.
Redmi Y1 comes with a 3,080mAh battery and during our tests, consistently gave a full day's life. My daily routine starts at 5:00 am and ends at 10:00 pm and in between those hours, I used the phone for several minutes of audio talk time, web browsing, social media sites, catch up with the latest news on Google Now cards and a few minutes of video on YouTube.
Final thoughts (4):
All-in-all, Redmi Y1 is a well-packaged budget selfie-camera phone. Honestly, for a phone priced under Rs 9,000, we didn't expect much. It surprised us with the quality of the image, particularly the smart Beauty mode's skin toning capabilities; though a bit superficial, it is what the consumers want, to look better on social media sites and Redmi Y1 just facilitates them just fine.
- Surprisingly good selfie-camera for an under-Rs 9,000 phone. It has the capability to give higher-end models in the sub-Rs 20,000, a run for their money
- A full day battery under mixed usage
- Decent build quality
- Fast-responding fingerprint sensor
- Two SIM slots + dedicated microSD card option
- Capacitive buttons (home, back and recent) are not back-lit. This actually annoyed me during the night, but it is not a deal breaker, as finger's muscle memory gets used to buttons' positions within two days of continuous usage