Nikhil SubramaniamSep 09, 2014 11:04:23 IST
We've had the Xiaomi Redmi 1S with us for just under a week now and we are very impressed with what we have seen so far. But does that mean the Redmi 1S is the best option in the budget category? What about the Moto E, which is arguably the best Android user experience in the sub-Rs 8,000 segment. So which budget king deserves your money? It's time for Xiaomi Redmi 1S vs Moto E.
The Moto E is a great fit in our hands and we imagine most users because it's just so well-designed. The curved back and the rounded corners make you feel like you are holding a smooth pebble. In comparison the Mi 3 is chunky and unwieldy. That's because of the square look all around with the edges rounded just a touch. Xiaomi's build quality feels a little more assuring. Neither smartphone creaked for the first few days but after a couple of drops, we noticed both smartphone back panels had some 'play'.
The Moto E's 4.3-inch display is suitably bright and dense for its size, but the Redmi 1S packs a higher resolution display, the likes we usually see in mid-range phones. The 720p resolution is great when reading webpages, but the Moto E has some strengths of its own. For one, it is much more usable under direct sunlight. With auto brightness turned on, the Moto E shades the Redmi 1S in terms of outdoor legibility. Colours on the Moto E look a bit more saturated than the Redmi 1S, which comes with some colour optimisation settings in the software. Overall, we felt the Redmi 1S had a display better suited for productivity, thanks to the extra real estate, but the Moto E has a more satisfying screen, which will not underperform in bright sunlight.
Performance and usability
As we pointed out in the Redmi review, the Moto E is slightly better in terms of the user experience, because MIUI on Redmi is slightly buggy and does not offer a smooth experience. When booting the Moto E is extremely sluggish and it takes a good two minutes after seeing the lock screen before our interactions registered on time. If you are pulling down Play Store updates, the wait is longer. It's certainly not a pleasure to use the Moto E right from the word go. In fact, what's great is that the Moto E makes up for it with superb speed when multitasking. The moment's wait when switching between apps is not noticeable.
On the other hand, MIUI starts off like a beast. It's super fast when booting up first and we could have fired up a heavy website almost immediately without compromising on speed. However, multitasking is terrible at the moment. It doesn't help the MIUI 5 still follows a Gingerbread-style app switcher which is not very intuitive. But even when switching back to the last opened app the phone stutters. It also gets hot at time when too many apps are running in the background. Some would say why do you need so many apps running, and to them I would say it's not a smartphone if you are only using it for WhatsApp. So yes, being able to run multiple apps smoothly is a critical aspect for a smartphone and the Redmi 1S comes up well short.
Another reason multitasking on the Redmi 1S is a pain point is the lack of a dedicated recent apps button. Redmi ships with the legacy menu button which Google ditched around the Ice Cream Sandwich era. It's baffling why the company would continue to use it instead of a recent apps button when most modern Android apps have a 'soft' menu button in their UI. Recent apps is the way to go for fast switching between apps and Moto E has that out of the box. The onscreen buttons of the Motorola phone also mean that you can get to Google Now faster, instead of having to long-press home on MIUI to see the same app.
Other points of concern could include MIUI's handling of default apps. While one can set an app as default sometimes it wouldn't work as you have selected. This is especially true for messaging, and the phone would default back to the stock app it ships with instead of my third-party preference. The Redmi 1S runs Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, while the Moto E runs KitKat (we pulled down the 4.4.4 update last week). It's always great to have the latest version of the OS, even though MIUI is nothing like stock Android and has its own features. We found the stock Android proved more reliable and allowed us to operate without having to wait that extra second between the app being opened and ready to use.
The Moto E outlasts the Xiaomi in terms of battery life. The former lasted us between 10-12 hours of usage with 3G on, while the Redmi 1S doesn't have the same stamina and usually cried for a charge around the 10-hour mark. There's no doubt about which one we needed to charge more often and it was the Xiaomi phone. Motorola also trumps Xiaomi in how quickly it charges. While the Redmi 1S might take up to three hours or even more to be fully charged, the Motorola handset gets fully juiced up in half the time.
Xiaomi comes up on top here, with its 8-megapixel shooter performing excellently (in comparison to the Moto E) outdoors and pretty much in most conditions. Motorola's camera is average to mediocre in terms of the range of performance and very inconsistent too. It's good enough for a casual Instagram picture, but with the Xiaomi you could shoot pictures for more than just social sharing. The Redmi 1S also ships with a front camera, which the Moto E lacks. Just its presence gives the Xiaomi phone a point.
If it weren't for the major problematic areas in terms of performance and usability, the Xiaomi Redmi 1S would have easily won this battle. But the Moto E manages to hold its own despite having less powerful hardware. At least that's true when it comes to the performance and user experience. Motorola's phone also has relatively better battery life. but suffers when it comes to the camera, and here we have to give the win to Xiaomi Redmi 1S. In other aspects such as the build quality, the phones are an equal match.
If we have to pick an overall winner, it's the Xiaomi Redmi 1S. The reason is that software hiccups can always be smoothened out, especially if they are glaringly bad. Xiaomi is known to roll out weekly updates for MIUI, but Motorola cannot improve camera quality dramatically through software alone. However, if you are looking for the better phone from a usability point of view, instead of a spec-by-spec comparison, go for the Moto E.