Xiaomi Redmi 3 Review – The Best Cheap Smartphone Got Better?

by Linus 39

Xiaomi has released quite a few great affordable smartphones lately. Firstly, we have the recently reviewed Redmi Note 3, which turned out to be one of the best in class. This time around we have a just released very affordable Redmi 3. Find out if it is any good in our full Xiaomi Redmi 3 review.
Thanks to Giztop for sending Xiaomi Redmi 3 for a review. 

Xiaomi Redmi 3 VIDEO Review:

Xiaomi Redmi 3 Review: UNBOXING

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The device comes in a nice looking little box and the contents include a charging plug, USB cable, SIM ejector pin and some documentation.

Xiaomi Redmi 3 Review: SPECS

5″ 720p (HD)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 616, 64-bit, octa-core (up to 1.5GHz)
5MP Front/13MP Back
Bluetooth, 3G, 4G, GPS, WIFI, GSM,EDGE, GPRS, UMTS, HSPA, HSPA+, dual-SIM.

LTE Bands: LTE band 1(2100), 3(1800), 7(2600), 38(2600), 39(1900), 40(2300), 41(2500)

4.100 mAh (non-removable)
139.3 x 69.6 x 8.5 mm (5.48 x 2.74 x 0.33 in) / 144g
MIUI 7.1 (based on Android 5.1.1)
16GB (expandable via microSD card slot up to 128GB)

Xiaomi Redmi 3 Review: DESIGN and DISPLAY

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When it comes the design, we are looking at a very compact phone as it has a 5” display and it is similar to the iPhone 6s in terms of the overall footprint.
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Speaking of display, we have just a 720p panel, which was chosen to keep the low cost of the phone. It is not a bad panel though as it is quite bright, it has good viewing angles and natural colour reproduction. However, it is not as sharp as 1080p panels and you can notice that immediately. Also, the colours could look more vibrant to my taste.
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On the front we have a 5MP selfie camera and some other usual stuff, and on the bottom there are 3 capacitive buttons, which are, however, not backlit. A funny thing is that Xiaomi implemented a notification LED light right below the home button (not on the top side of the device like the majority of phones).
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The backplate is made of metal (except for the top and bottom parts for antennas) and it has some nice looking diamond shape patterns, which also hide most of visible smudges.
As far as optics, we are looking at 13MP camera with PDAF and a single LED flash.
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On the bottom there is just a speaker grill.
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The buttons are located on the right, they are also metal-made and have a good tactile response.
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The left side is where you can find a dual SIM card slot, where one slot also doubles as an optional microSD card slot for storage expansion up to 128GB.
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On the top there is a headset jack and the IR blaster to control devices like TV and on the bottom you can find the micro USB port.
Overall, I’m really happy with the design of the Redmi 3. It feels nice in the hand, it is very compact and almost all-metal design makes it look like a premium phone. However, the backlight for capacitive buttons would have been nice.

Xiaomi Redmi 3 Review: UI

Xiaomi Redmi 3 comes with MIUI 7.1, which is built on top of Android 5.1. As usual, there is no app tray and all apps sit on the home-screens.
If you are not yet familiar with the MIUI, it has tons of customisation options, which include a wide choice of themes, wallpapers, fonts and so on. You can select from a few pre-installed ones or simply go to the online theme store where you will find thousands of different themes to suit everyone’s taste. Also, you can highly customise the LED light, assign different tasks to capacitive buttons and so on.
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MIUI 7.1 runs fast and fluid most of the times. There were just a few minor hiccups but they are not even worth complaining about. Overall, I’m happy with the way the user interface works on a daily basis especially if you consider a feature set and customisation options it offers.

Xiaomi Redmi 3 Review: HARDWARE and PERFORMACE

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Xiaomi Redmi 3 has a pretty good hardware as it sports an octa-core Snapdragon 616 chip with the clocks speeds of up to 1.5GHz, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of expandable storage.
Although the phone is far from being the synthetic benchmark champion but it performs really well in 3D gaming.
Asphalt 8 runs perfectly on medium graphics and there were just a few minor skipped frames on the highest graphics settings, so you may enjoy playing even the most demanding games on the Redmi 3.
Finally, the phone does not heat up much even after 30 minutes of gaming.

Xiaomi Redmi 3 Review: MULTIMEDIA

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Watching full-HD content is a blast as videos in different formats play smoothly. The sound via earphones is pretty good with a loud volume output and clear sound for a budget device.
As far as the loudspeaker, it is pretty good too. While it is definitely not the best but it has a reasonable amount of depth and it does not sound tinny like a lot of cheap phones.

Xiaomi Redmi 3 Review: CAMERA

The MIUI camera app is fast and easy to use and there are a few shooting modes and settings to play with. However, I don’t like that picture taking and video recording modes are separated.

Xiaomi Redmi 3 Review: IMAGE QUALITY


Xiaomi Redmi 3 vs Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 Camera Comparison:

The 13MP camera takes pictures very fast thanks to PDAF system. But what about the image quality?
Daylight images turn out to be pretty good. There is a reasonable amount of details, colour reproduction is very accurate and most of the pictures look pretty sharp.
However, some of the pictures have softer focus on the corners or in some parts of the image or uneven focus throughout the image. Also, I had a few slightly blurry shots meaning that auto-focus is not always reliable.
When it comes to indoor and lower-lit environments, it is a hit or miss situation. Most of the times, the Redmi 3 will take a good and sharp looking image but other times you may face some camera’s struggles like less details than expected, uneven focus or even blurry shots. In addition, sceneries I took pictures of didn’t look that good on the camera’s viewfinder and thus I used tap-to-focus technique in a lot of shots to be 100% sure about the correct object the sensor focuses.
As far as night shots, they do not impress. There is a low amount of details and a lot of noise in each and every picture. To be honest, they looked a lot better on the phone than on the computer’s screen.
1080p video is not bad for the phone this cheap. However, the footage looks a bit shaky and the camera could capture a bit more details. See a video review for a video sample.
As for selfie shooter, it will do the trick for social media but I suggest you taking images in good lighting conditions.
All in all, the Redmi 3 has a decent camera for daylight images but it becomes inconsistent in lower-lit situations and it kind of disappoints at night.
On the other hand, maybe we shouldn’t be so picky for the phone this cheap, right?

Xiaomi Redmi 3 Review: CONNECTIVITY

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All the connectivity options work great. Call quality is okay and signal reception is excellent. Also, Wifi, GPS and Bluetooth are working fine. However, I was disappointed as the phone does not support 5GHz Wifi connection.

Xiaomi Redmi 3 Review: BATTERY LIFE

The Xiaomi Redmi 3 has a huge 4100mAh non-removable battery. It sounds really impressive considering a 5” 720p display and it delivers in real life.
In fact, the battery is one of the best in class. I could not squeeze the battery out in one day even on heavy usage that involved gaming, installing lots of apps, watching a lot videos, taking pictures, browsing the web and so on.
I was able to achieve over 7 hours of screen-on time with max. auto brightness setting of the screen. That means that you can achieve even more impressive results if you reduce the brightness or don’t use the phone that heavily like I did during my testing period.
Finally, Xiaomi claims that the Redmi 3 has a fast charging feature. It took me just over 3.5h to charge the phone. While it is not the fastest charging time I’ve seen, it is not a bad result for the battery this huge.

Xiaomi Redmi 3 Review: CONCLUSIONS

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So, there you have it, another affordable yet awesome Xiaomi. The Redmi 3 costs just $107 in China which is simply ridiculous. As always, you would need to pay extra for third-party resellers if you want to order the phone in the West and it will cost you less than $150.
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Still, I believe the Redmi 3 is well worth the price. You are getting a very compact phone with a premium metal design, good build quality, quite a powerful hardware, good gaming performance, feature-rich user interface and some other good stuff.
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The battery life is definitely one of the selling points here and the Redmi 3 is definitely for those who use their phones day in, day out.
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However, while the screen is definitely good for a 720p panel, we would love to start seeing 1080p displays even on the cheapest devices.
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Also, the camera is not bad for daylight images but it faces various issues with less lighting and there were times that it really disappointed.
Last complaint would be non-backlit capacitive buttons but it is definitely not a deal breaker.
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At the end of the day, the Xiaomi Redmi 3 is a very easy recommendation especially for those on a budget. It brings a powerful hardware and it does most of the things right without breaking your bank. Some features may be even improved with future software updates, some may not but you have to keep in mind that you are not paying a fortune for this device.