Redmi Note 3 Review: The best budget phablet out there

  • Abhinav Mishra, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Mar 17, 2016 19:03 IST
Redmi Note 3 reportedly cleared shelves in a jiffy during its first flash sale. The second starts Wednesday at 2 pm on Amazon India. Check out our review if you’re planning to buy one. (Xiaomi)

Xiaomi hasn’t looked back since the time it burst into the Indian market in 2014.Thanks to a potent combination of powerful hardware and super-cheap price tags, smartphones built by the Chinese company struck the right chord with the Indian consumer. And now, the Hugo Barra-led Xiaomi has undeniably turned the whole price-performance equation on its head in the country’s smartphone market.

The strategy is simple – offer customers a flagship-like experience at a price point they simply can’t resist.

After a relatively quiet year with no major launches, the company is back with a bang with the much-awaited Redmi Note 3 -- designed to impress with its sheer performance without burning a hole in your pocket.

This is a premium device in every sense, except the price tag. It sports flagship-like specs, and comes with features that even certain high-end handsets don’t have.

The company promises big things with its latest phablet. I have been using a higher-spec variant of the device for quite a while now, and impressive is the one word that keeps popping in my head whenever I think about it.

The smartphone reportedly cleared the shelves in a jiffy during its first flash sale, and the second starts on Amazon India at 2 pm. The 2 GB RAM variant of the smartphone is priced at Rs 9,999, its 3 GB RAM counterpart will cost slightly higher at Rs 11,999. Let’s see if the phablet really delivers on its promises, and how equipped it is to take on the Lenovo K4 Note and the LeEco 1s – two competitors that have also received a massive response in the Indian market.


The first thing you notice about the Redmi Note 3 is its fairly generic design. Though I didn’t come away impressed with the smartphone’s overall look in the beginning, its design aesthetics have been growing on me ever since. The device’s edges are curved, and despite the large 5.5-inch display and the chunky 4,050 mAH battery, it is surprisingly easy to hold.

The Redmi Note 3’s fingerprint scanner is nicely housed on the back. Responsive and near-intuitive, it can unlock the phablet with a single touch; our tests attest to the fact that it can indeed recognise your fingerprint in just 0.3 seconds.

The device’s edges are curved, and despite the large 5.5-inch display and the chunky 4,050 mAH battery, it is surprisingly easy to hold. (Hindustan Times/Sanchit Khanna)

The volume and standby/power key are fitted on the right edge of the phone, making them easily accessible. As the cutouts are done with absolute precision, the device looks way more premium than what its price tag suggests. The back of the phone is anodised and sand-blasted, giving it a smooth finish that oozes out a very premium feel. The top of the handset houses a 3.5mm jack and an IR blaster (for universal remote functionality).

The cutouts are done with absolute precision, the device looks way more premium than what its price tag suggests (Hindustan Times/Sanchit Khanna)

Overall, the Redmi Note 3 has a well-thought-out design that makes the device feel good in your hand.


The Redmi Note 3 is the first device in the world to feature the latest Snapdragon 650 processor, apparently Qualcomm’s best work in years. Coupled with 3GB RAM, the phone’s benchmark scores are on a par with many of its flagship counterparts, including the Moto X and the OnePlus X. The device does not twitch, no matter what you throw at it – whether it involves juggling with multiple applications or playing high-end games like Mortal Kombat X.

The sheer consistency of the phone’s performance and power is certainly impressive; we witnessed no lag through long days of continuous usage. For this price, the Redmi Note 3 is certainly the best product out there as far as sheer power is concerned. The phone does have a tendency to heat up, but its design helps the heat dissipate – preventing it from becoming uncomfortably hot.

The phone’s 5.5-inch full HD display offers good viewing angles. Though the colours do appear a tad over-saturated, the option to switch the display between warm, standard and cool (and, additionally, choose between standard, automatic and increased contrast) negates that concern. Moreover, the phone comes equipped with Xiaomi’s very own sunlight display technology, which offers good readability even in direct sunlight. The feature essentially auto-adjusts contrast levels when you move from indoors to outdoors, in a very subtle manner.

You can also switch to reading mode on the phone, which makes the display soothing to your eyes. (Hindustan Times/Sanchit Khanna)

You can also switch to reading mode on the phone, which makes the display soothing to your eyes. I tried this feature once, and it worked better than advertised – I actually felt sleepy after the exercise.

Battery performance on the Redmi Note 3 is also something that deserves applause. The phone’s 4,050-mAh battery was still running strong two days after full charge, retaining as much as 20% juice. Even for power users, the device can easily last for more than 14 hours without completely fading away.

The standby time on this device is simply astonishing. Even charging the device isn’t much of a hassle despite its massive battery size. With the charger that comes bundled with the smartphone, you can get about 40% juice in about an hour. Fully charging the device takes about three to four hours.

The Redmi Note 3, however, is slightly let down by its camera. The images it captures often seem less detailed when compared to its older siblings, such as the Mi 4i. However, that’s little cause for complaint, given the phone’s low price tag and the fact that its camera is still better than the LeEco 1s’ shooter. With that being said, its still a pretty decent camera given the smartphone’s price point. Even the front camera is capable of taking pretty good selfies and should satisfy your selfie urges.

Camera sample taken in broad daylight from Redmi Note 3’s primary camera

The MIUI 7is still one of the best Android UIs we’ve come across. In addition to being snappy and responsive, it looks clean and offers a bunch of cool new features – including using the fingerprint scanner to hide files.

Overall, the Redmi Note 3 is a real workhorse. It leaves you in awe with its consistent performance across all spectrums.

Should You Buy?

For me it’s a no-brainer. The Redmi Note 3 has all the tools in its arsenal, from performance to price and battery life. Given a choice between the Le Eco 1s and Lenovo K4 Note(both of which are good devices), I won’t think twice before picking up the Redmi Note 3 for the simple reason that it offers more value for money.

The company has put a lot of its heart and soul into the device, coming up with cleverly conceived features for the everyday smartphone user–– including the strategically located fingerprint scanner, the ability to tweak displays, expandable memory and VoLTE capabilities for significantly enhancing the call quality.

The Redmi Note 3 gives you a flagship-like experience at a price point that you simply can’t resist. Hands down, it takes the crown for being the ultimate budget phablet currently available in the market.

So, does this smartphone have any weak areas in the grand scheme of things? Not really, if you don’t count its infuriating flash sales model.

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