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Xiaomi Redmi 1S Review – The Mid-range Marvel

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Xiaomi is turning the tides in the Indian mobile market with its disruptive pricing and aggressive strategy. The Redmi 1S is not a new phone, but it is about to be introduced in India at a price of Rs 5999, exclusively through flipkart. The Redmi 1S, a.k.a. Hongmi 1S, is a mid range device priced on par with low end devices.

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In the Package

  • RedMI 1S mobile
  • 2000 mAh battery
  • Wall charging unit
  • Data cable
  • Quick Start guide

Design and Hardware

The Redmi 1S is not a head turner, but it is designed to be simple and elegant. I would not call it a minimal design, but a simple design. It dimensions are conducive for ergonomic handling. The screen is 4.7 inch diagonally, but the bezels are thick, making it as tall as my Nexus 5 which is a 4.9 inch display. Above the display we have the 1.6 MP camera along with the earpiece. Below the display are the off-screen capacitive android menu buttons. Sadly these buttons are not back lit, making it difficult to operate in dark. At the bottom there is the micro USB port and the mic for telephony. At the top, there is the 3.5mm audio socket. On the right side we have the volume rocker and the power button, while the left side is blank. The back of the mobile has the 8 MP camera assisted with the single LED flash. There is also a noise canceling mic and the speaker grills. The back of the mobile is removable and when removed, reveals the 2000 mAh Li-ion battery. It also houses the micro SD card tray and the SIM slots for holding 2 min sized SIM cards. The device weighs ~160 grams and is less than 10 mm thick. It is not the lightest and sleekest designs we have ever seen, but it is pretty solid to handle and operate. The plastic used does not feel cheap and it is quite sturdy. We have tested the display for its durability and found that the AGS DragonTrail protected display is pretty tough and doesn’t get scratched easily.

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Display

The display size is 4.7 inch and as we mentioned earlier it is protected by DragonTrail, a technology very similar to corning gorilla glasses. The display is IPS LCD type and it has a resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels which gives a pixel density of ~312 ppi. It is not a full HD and not the crispiest devices we have seen. The day light visibility is pretty decent, but it sure does catches some hard reflections in outdoors. The auto brightness setting was quite buggy and it made the display brightness quite dodgy when turned on. However the contrast levels and saturation was pretty natural.

Battery Life

The device is powered by a 2000 mAh lithium ion battery. With 3G connection always on, facebook, twitter and whatsapp enabled and few gaming minutes, occasional camera usage and normal telephony usage, the device lasted for little less than 24 hours. It is worthwhile to compare the Moto G’s battery performance here, as the Moto G lasts for more than 1.5 days under similar conditions.

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Connectivity

It has all the usual connectivity protocols like the WiFi, GPRS, EDGE, 3G and GPS. Though the device has 2 SIM slots, only the SIM 1 supports 3 G data. The GPS lock was obtained in 1.32 seconds and it connected to 9/21 satellites. The GPS connection stayed on for 1 hour of navigation and never dropped signals during our test. The device has Bluetooth v4.0 with A2DP and support for Low energy syncs (LE). The microUSB port is v2.0 and supports USB OTG out of the box. Also the device lacks Infra red blaster or the NFC, but no body dares to complain at this price point. It also has the FM radio support.

Software

Redmi 1S runs on MIUI V5 based on Android 4.3. We have already seen in detail the features of the MIUI ROM. But there is one feature that is unique to the Redmi 1s. The lite mode or the Senior mode is a mode that completely transforms this mobile into a senior citizen friendly device. The launcher along with the lock screen has large fonts and large, but crisp looking tiles/icons. It has all the features that would please any senior citizen. It reads out the incoming caller’s names and also reads the text messages. User can have upto 6 contacts on the home page for quick dialing. If data connection is enabled, the user can input text with voice commands and it is pretty accurate. While the MIUI has loads of tricks and customization options under it hood, the lite-mode is a feature that is an unique selling point for the Redmi. If you are looking to gift your parents a smart and usable mobile, look no further.

Performance

Poping the hood open, the device is powered by Quad-core 1.6GHz processor on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 MSM8228 chipset. It has 1 GB of DDR2 RAM and 8 GB of internal memory along with micro SD card slot for memory expansion upto 64 GB.

Bench mark test results:

  • Antutu – 18512
  • Quadrant – 8392
  • Velamo Multicore – 963
  • Velamo Metal – 889

The translation for these scores in real life terms means that it is pretty decent, though not a performance war horse. It does most of the daily activities with ease. The dedicated GPU Adreno 305 aids the device tp play games and videos at 30-40 frames per second, but when it comes it intensive 3D games, the Redmi 1S heats up pretty fast and crashes at times. I have measured temperature upto 44 degree. Even at times while using the camera to click HDR images continuously, the temperature went up to 41 degree and the camera app crashed without any warning. But again, all these anomalies were seen only when I pushed the limits of the device beyond what is expected out of a mid-range device.

performance

temp

Camera

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The primary camera is a 8 MP sensor assisted by a LED flash and is capable of clicking pictures in 3264 x 2448 pixels resolution. It is also capable of recording full HD 1080p@30fps videos. The front camera is a 1.6 MP sensor decent enough for pretty smooth video chats. The camera UI is straight forward and has all the features available in less than 2 levels of menus. It has some basic filters and editing features built in. The quality of the pictures are better than the best we have seen in this segment. The images out of this camera retains its sharpness and produces good saturation and contrast levels, giving a natural effect. Please check the image samples below.

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Good color reproduction and details
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HDR Sample
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Decent Bokeh and accurate focus areas

Conclusion

Xiaomi announced the Redmi 1S in India for Rs 6999 and finally it will be available for Rs 5999. For a country with is more concerned with value for money, this is the best buy of the year. It may have a few short comings, but everything is forgiven just because of its price. Frankly speaking if we list out the pros and cons, the positives definitely out weigh the negatives. However we are a little disappointed because it is again going to be sold in flipkart by the flash sales model. While this has incurred the wrath of the common Indian buyers, it seems to be working for Xiaomi. So if luck favors your fast fingers, you will never regret buying this device.

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