The year 2016 was the best one for the Chinese vendor Xiaomi, at least in China and India. The Chinese company’s Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 was the best online selling budget smartphone in the country bringing in the flagship specifications at an affordable price tag starting in at Rs. 9,999. Xiaomi reported that they had sold more than 2.5 million units of the Note 3.

But, the Note 3 cannot withstand for more than one year as there were several rival phones launched in India after that with better hardware. That said, Xiaomi now came out with the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 with not-so-many changes under-the-hood, but the Chinese company, this time around is concentrating on a phone that offers better battery life and good design.

Launched back in August 2016 in China, the Note 4 reached Indian shores last month with Snapdragon 625 SoC and in three variants-2GB, 3GB, and 4GB of RAM. Xiaomi surprised everyone by launching the 2GB RAM variant with 32GB internal storage and with the pricing as well. The phone starts at a price tag of Rs. 9,999 and goes up to Rs. 12,999 for the 4GB of RAM variant.

Also, Xiaomi announced the Redmi Note 4 in a new color variant- Matte Black color option that looks far better than the other three color variants- Dark Gray, Silver, and Gold. Also, the flash sales still exist to haunt us. We have been using the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 for more than a month now and here’s how the device fared in our review period.

Design: A Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 With Subtle Refinements
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 was a great phone which bought the metal body design to the sub Rs. 10,000 price bracket and impressed many with its design language and form factor. However, a lot has changed since the Note 3 launch; There are a plethora of phones launched with the same unimetal body design and better design than the Note 3 and that forced the Chinese vendor to make some design changes with the Redmi Note 4.

The first thing which you immediately notice after picking up the Redmi Note 4 is the 2.5D curved glass on top, which the Redmi Note 3 lacks. The phone features the same candybar form factor as the Note 3, but the edges are slightly chamfered in the Note 4, which makes the Note 4 look different from the Note 3.

Up front, the Note 4 retains the same 5.5-inch display as its predecessor. The fingerprint scanner is located at the rear side of the phone below the camera module and within reach of your index finger. The scanner is an active one and unlocks the phone even when the screen is locked.

The volume rocker and power buttons are located on the right side of the phone and offer good tactile feedback. At the top of the phone, there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack and an IR blaster, which helps in controlling devices such as the TV, AC, and others remotely. The hybrid dual SIM card tray is present at the left side of the phone, whereas the micro USB port can be seen at the bottom of the phone.

Nevertheless, for the asking price, the Redmi Note 4 is a great phone and offers good in-hand feel and the Matte Black variant looks extremely better than the other three color options.

Display: The Gorgeous 1080p Screen
Aforesaid, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 retains the same screen resolution of 1080*1920 pixels as the Redmi Note 3, that further extends to a pixel density of 403 PPI. I wondered why Xiaomi has gone with the same screen, but the company says they have improved the brightness levels in the phone and now the screen has the capability to exhibit 500 nits of brightness. That said, I loved this 1080p panel. Despite the fact that the panel is reflective, the phone offered good viewing angles even under bright sunlight conditions. Overall, the Redmi Note 4 has the best screen in the price segment, but the Lenovo P2 with AMOLED display offers better color reproduction and viewing experience, but again, it costs five grand more than the Note 4.

Performance and Hardware: No Hiccups Even with Heavy Usage!
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC, which is an octa-core manufactured on the 14nm manufacturing process and that’s 40 percent power efficient than the other Snapdragon 6** series of chipsets. The phone comes in three RAM variants- 2GB, 3GB, and 4GB of RAM. Unlike the Redmi Note 3, the Note 4 comes packed with 32GB of internal storage even for the base 2GB of RAM variant.

On paper, the Snapdragon 625 seems to be less powerful than the Snapdragon 650 SoC used in the Note 3, but the Note 4 serves all the day-to-day tasks with ease. The surprising part is: I never faced a single lag even with 30 apps opened in the background. Big thanks to Xiaomi for taking care of the RAM management on the phone.

Games such as Asphalt 8, Asphalt Extreme, and Nova 3 ran well. Also, the phone doesn’t get overheated with intense gaming. That’s another plus point with the Snapdragon 625 SoC.

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 comes with support for VoLTE out-of-the-box, and it works pretty well. Call quality was excellent, and we never faced a single cal drop even with Reliance Jio 4G SIM card. On the whole, the Redmi Note 4 is an overall package that also handles the heavy tasks with ease.

Software and Apps: MIUI is Optimized Well!
One thing that users faced with the Redmi Note 3 was the inadequate software issues with the MIUI 7. As time passes, the phone got software updates, which solved all the problems. However, that isn’t the case anymore with Xiaomi Redmi Note 4. The user interface in the phone is optimized perfectly to match the chipset.

The Note 4 never showed any signs of software issues and Xiaomi is giving timely updates. Even Xiaomi released the MIUI 8 based Nougat ROM for the Indian users of Redmi Note 4. So, the stable version of the phone will roll out very soon.

Xiaomi’s MIUI 8 comes with several exciting features such as Second Space, Dual Apps, Theme Engine, creating a, and all the feature work fine in the Note 4. With dual apps feature, you can create two apps at the same time. For example, you can’t use two WhatsApp accounts in a single device, however, by setting up the dual app for WhatsApp, you can use two WhatsApp accounts in a single phone.

Camera: Improved Over the Predecessor, but Still Not the Best
The major disappointment with the Redmi Note 3 was its camera performance. Yes, the phone disappointed masses with the camera quality. And, the same continues with the Redmi Note 4 to some extent, but not a significantly, though.

Xiaomi contradicted themselves at the Note 4 launch in India. If you remember, the company at the Note 3 launched said that megapixels count a lot for a camera in a smartphone. But, at the Note 4 launch, a month ago, Hugo Barra claimed that megapixel count doesn’t matter in a smartphone; It all depends on the sensor used on the phone. However, that did not help Xiaomi’s woes in delivering a good budget smartphone.

The Redmi Note 4 comes with a 13MP sensor at the rear, that has support for PDAF and dual-tone LED flash. Up front, there’s a 5MP sensor. The rear camera, in real life, captures decent shots in good light conditions. That said, the pictures captured in low-light conditions are destitute and noticeable noise can be seen on the images.

The front-facing camera follows the same suite as the rear camera as it captures decent shots in bright light conditions, but the details fade away with the decrease in light.

All said and done, Xiaomi needs to address these issues at the earliest because smartphones such as Huawei Honor 6X, Coolpad Cool 1, and Moto G4 Plus features a much better camera and are available in the similar price segment.

Battery: The Champion!
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 is armed with a 4100mAh battery, and Xiaomi did not mention any fast charging technology used in the phone. Aided with the Snapdragon 625 SoC, the Note 4 delivers the best battery life on any smartphone and especially in the placed price segment. In an entire week, I charged the phone only thrice, which tells the whole story. Also, I used the phone with Reliance Jio 4G SIM card with 4G LTE turned on all the time.

With heavy usage such as playing games for two hours and continuous messaging, the phone easily lasts a single day. Having said that, the Lenovo P2 offers better battery life than the Redmi Note 4 but is priced a tag higher than Note 4. With that said, if battery life is your priority, then go for the Redmi Note 4 without any further ado.

Conclusion: A Good Phone, But Nothing USP!
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 is the successor to last year’s Redmi Note 3 and continues where its predecessor has left off. It’s a good phone, but there’s no USP for the phone. Also, Xiaomi is still selling the phone via crappy flash sales, where one has to sit over at the time of purchase, but no guarantee of luck to get the phone.

That said, if you’re on a tight budget, get the Redmi Note 4. If not, get a Rs. 5000 more and get the Lenovo P2, which has a better display, camera, and battery life than the Note 4.