Xiaomi Redmi 1S first impressions: The best entry-level phone so far?

If the Xiaomi Mi 3 was the first taste of what the Chinese mega-brand can do when it sets its mind on a market, the Redmi 1S is all about consolidation and building a solid user base for Xiaomi. User base sounds weird when talking about hardware, but buying into the Xiaomi way of life is a lot about embracing the ecosystem around its cloud services, messaging app and the multitude of customisation options, more so than just any other Android device.

 

The Redmi 1S is all about giving this Xiaomi experience to anyone who can afford a basic smartphone. It’s priced at an incredible Rs 5,999 but boasts specs of phones priced around Rs 15,000-Rs 25,000 by the big-name brands. Not a single Indian vendor can match it either. In terms of the specs, it's not entry-level, but its price puts it in this segment. But what’s the whole experience like?

 

 

In terms of build quality, we find the Mi 3 to be much better than the Moto E, which is its nearest price competitor. It’s very much a shortened, heftier Mi 3 with subtle curves around the back to aid grip. Holding the Mi 3 and Redmi 1s side-by-side, the increase in weight is really apparent. Overall, the plastic used is slightly less premium in feel than the Mi 3, but really a class apart from the competition in this segment.

 

Plastic construction, but no weakling

Plastic construction, but no weakling

 

Right out of the gate, the MIUI is speedy. It does have a reputation of being one of the faster custom builds out there, and it’s definitely faster than stock Android on first boot. I don’t remember even the Moto E to be so smooth on first boot. Yes, the first time you boot up the custom UI, you will be a little lost if you have not seen MIUI before. But it’s not all that complicated.

 

No doubt the 1.6GHz Snapdragon 400 SoC is fast enough to handle quick multi-tasking or switching between apps, but we didn’t pull down too many apps so the performance might suffer when they have been downloaded. We’ll reveal the final performance in our review in the next couple of days, before the Redmi 1S goes on sale.

 

8MP camera on the back

8MP camera on the back

 

The 4.7-inch display looked great without any tweaking on our part right out of the box. At 720p resolution, it's not lacking in pixel density either, while the colours were reproduced well too. Under direct light indoors, there was quite a lot of glare, though.

 

All the bangs and whistles of MIUI from the Mi 3 are present here, including access to Google Play and core Google apps. Xiaomi has added extras usually not seen in this price range, such as an LED notification light (cleverly placed right under the capacitive home button), and USB on-the-go support for quickly transferring files from a MicroUSB pen drive.

 

MIUI runs the show

MIUI runs the show

 

When it comes to the camera, the interface is the same as the Mi 3, while there’s a 1.6MP front camera as well for selfies. While we didn’t take too many pictures, the camera was quite fast when clicking images. The audio output from the mono speaker on the back is adequate, but does get muffled when gripping the phone higher up the body.

 

Our first meeting with the Redmi 1S has been great. It remains to be seen whether it can withstand the abuse of daily use and when intensive apps come into the picture. Watch out for the review in the next couple of days.


Published Date: Aug 29, 2014 02:38 pm | Updated Date: Aug 29, 2014 02:38 pm