Xiaomi have made a name for themselves by making attractive phones at prices that most of the competition could not even consider. Their phones often have unique features such as IR sensors, dual sim, and other toys that set them apart from the competition, even coming out from China. While many of these phones are in the mid-range category, they are attractive in a saturated world mobile market. Sure, there will always be a market for the latest and greatest, and people will still stand in line for the new iPhone on day one, but with so many people now owning smartphones, they no longer want to fork out $1000 on a yearly basis for the latest revision.
These mid-range phones from Xiaomi may not have all the latest features, or may be missing some bells and whistles, but they will still fit most people's needs very well. This is where the new Redmi Note 3 Pro finds itself. It is a powerful device in an attractive package, but Xiaomi have made some compromises to reach a rock bottom price. It may not fit everyone's needs, but the Redmi Note 3 is a fantastic phone, and one that is a worth looking into for anyone considering a new device.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 is an attractive device, reminiscent of the first iPhone. The all metal matte finish body has a feeling of quality, and while it may not feel quite as nice as many of the Samsung devices or the designs coming out of Cupertino, it feels great in the hands and it’s a pleasure to hold and use. The 5.5 inch Full HD screen is powered by a Qualcomm's Snapdragon 650 SoC processor, with 3GB ram, and a fingerprint sensor for unlocking. Nothing in the phone stands out as amazing per se, but when you consider this phone can be had for under $300, things start to get a bit more interesting.
Now, before we go any further, it should be noted that this phone comes with Xiaomi’s skinned version of Android known as MIUI. The phone is running version 7.2 of the operating system, and is built on top of Android 5.1.1. If you are coming from iOS, MIUI will feel very familiar. It seems Xiaomi have gone out of their way to ensure the OS looks as close to iOS as legally possible. That is not to say it’s bad—it actually runs very well. Their little visual flairs are pleasant to look at, and performance on the OS is actually very nice. But if you were hoping for a pure Android feel, this may not be the phone for you. It can be rooted, and Cyanogen or ASOP could be loaded onto it, but for the average consumer, this is not always an easy option.
That out of the way, the real question is how does the phone run, and I am happy to report that in my two weeks of testing the device, I really have no complaints. There was a bit of a setup process, since it comes pre-loaded with a Chinese version of the OS, but downloading an international version and loading it on was a trivial matter, and the Xiaomi have made it dead simple to find the version that works on your phone and just load it up.
As mentioned before, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 Pro, unlike the cheaper variant, comes with a Qualcomm's Snapdragon 650 SoC. This inexpensive chip is a rather big deal, as it gives near-flagship level performance at a fraction of the cost. The chip boasts a hexa-core SoC, much like the Snapdragon 808, but instead of the A57 found in that chip, the 650 has two more powerful Cortex-A72 cores running at 1.8GHz. The other four cores are Cortex-A53s that run at 1.4GHz. For graphics, the chip runs the new Adreno 510 that is only a bit less powerful than what you could find in the new flagship Snapdragon 820 found in devices like the Mi5 or the Samsung S7.
It should be noted that the Redmi Note 3 Pro comes in two models. We reviewed the more powerful 3GB Ram, 32GB storage option. There is also the more budget friendly 2Gb Ram, 16GB storage model that will save you a bit of money. There is also the option to expand the storage by sacrificing one of the Sim slots to add a microSD for a maximum of 32GB extra storage.
The fingerprint sensor on the phone is a nice touch. Yes, there are many cheap phones now offering this feature, yet it works very well and allows for quick unlocking and a level of security that is nice to have, even on a low cost device. Setting up the sensor was a breeze, and in testing, we found it took only a minute or two per finger to get it all setup and ready to go.
In terms of benchmarks, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 Pro managed to average around 74,979 in AnTuTu with it beating out many of the flagship Snapdragon 810 based phones. GPU performance we recorded an impressive 31fps in the T-Rex test in GFXbench, that again is comparable to many flagship phones from last year. This phone is a powerhouse—far more so than the price would indicate—and it is more than equipped enough to handle even the most intensive games you can throw at it.
Gaming on the device was a pleasure. In the two weeks of testing, we put the Redmi Note 3 Pro though it’s paces with a series of games, including Fallout Shelter, Anomaly 2, Vainglory, and Mortal Kombat X. The 1080P 401ppi screen was bright and colourful and displayed all the games clearly and in full resolution. Even with games such as Anomaly 2 and Mortal Kombat X, I never experienced a time when the game would slow down, or offer anything less than an optimal experience. It’s astounding to imagine this level of gaming on such a budget device, yet after throwing all the games at my disposal at it, nothing seemed to give it trouble.
The multimedia situation on the phone is not as good as I would have hoped. The audio out of the Redmi Note 3 Pro is not bad, but because the speakers are on the back, it often felt muffled unless the phone was lifted up, or you ensured to avoid covering the back speakers with your hands. On headphones, on the other hand, there were no noticeable issues. Audio came through clearly, with a nice balance of sound. If you are looking to play any games, or listen to Spotify or any podcasts, you will want to ensure you have headphones at the ready, or have a Bluetooth speaker to be able to fully enjoy your media.
With all that gaming this phone can do, it needs an equally powerful battery to ensure you can still use it as a phone once your gameplay session is done. Lucky for the Redmi Note 3 Pro, it comes equipped with an astounding 4050mAh non-removable battery that in testing managed to last a full day, even when gaming, watching media, and making calls. The phone also supports Qualcomm's Quick Charge which means that you can quickly charge up the device to 20 per-cent in around 30 minutes. It may not be what we have grown to expect from some of the competition, but considering in daily use you will rarely find yourself running low on battery, it is a nice addition.
Call quality and reception was also very good. Testing on the Rogers network in Canada, we experienced no noticeable issues while using the phone. Calls were crisp and clear and it quickly finds signal in most urban areas. It should be noted that although the chip supports more bands, because the phone comes from China, there are a few providers in North America it will simply not work with. It would be a good idea to check with your provider before jumping in and purchasing the phone, only to be later disappointed that it simply would not work.
The Redmi Note 3 Pro also has an impressive 16MP f/2.0 aperture rear facing camera and an acceptable 5MP front facing camera for video chat and self-photography. While none of these cameras will win any awards, they get the job done admirably. The 16MP camera manages very serviceable daylight shots, though it’s low light photography and indoor shots are less than ideal. The camera is better than many other phones in the category, but if you are used to the iPhone or many of the latest flagships from Samsung, you will find yourself disappointed.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 does make some sacrifices to reach the rock-bottom price point. For starters, the phone is not what I could call thin. It has a bit of weight and heft to it. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is worth noting. It also lacks NFC abilities, so any mobile payment methods will sadly not work with this phone. The Screen is only 1080P. This will be enough for most applications, but since many people are demanding high resolutions, they may be disappointed by this panel. Finally, the phone is not yet available from local retailers. There are many places online to buy the phone such as Gearbest or Bangood, but there will be a delay in delivery and possible customs charges that could add to the cost of the phone.
Overall, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 Pro was an impressive all-round device. For gaming and everyday use, there are few phones in the price range that can come close to beating it. A great screen, astounding battery life, and a shockingly powerful set of specs make the Redmi Note 3 Pro a great buy for the price. For anyone looking to buy a new phone and does not mind buying from online retailers, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 Pro is one to look into. At under $300 the Redmi Note 3 Pro is the new mid-range phone to beat.