Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 first look: A big upgrade with metal body, fingerprint scanner and more

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 comes in two variants and will start selling in India from 9 March at 2PM on Amazon. These prices are very close to those of the Mediatek sporting Redmi Note 3 that was launched in China last year. Here are our first impressions of the device.


Xiaomi launched its first phone of 2016 for the Indian market with the announcement of the Redmi Note 3. Apart from being the first Xiaomi phone with a full metal body, this is also Xiaomi's first foray into fingerprint scanner sporting handsets.

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 comes in two variants and will start selling in India from 9 March at 2PM on Amazon. The 16GB storage with 2GB RAM variant will sell for Rs 9,999 and the 32GB storage with 3GB RAM variant will sell for Rs 11,999. These prices are very close to those of the Mediatek sporting Redmi Note 3 that was launched in China last year. Here are our first impressions of the device.

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 sports an all metal body and has rounded edges along the sides. Turn around the phone and the resemblance to the rear side on the Meizu Pro 5 is uncanny. The round fingerprint scanner is located just below the 16MP camera on the rear side. The dual LED flash unit is located in between the camera and the fingerprint scanner. The base has the speaker section and there's a slight protrusion chin just below to ensure there is a gap between speaker section and the flat surface its placed on.

 Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 first look: A big upgrade with metal body, fingerprint scanner and more

Looking around the device, on the left hand edge you have the dual SIM card slots, at the base there is a microUSB charging and data transfer port, on the right hand edge you have the volume rocker and power standby buttons. The top edge has the 3.5mm audio jack and an infrared blaster for controlling IR home appliances. The front has a 5.5inch display which has a tendency to collect smudges.

Thanks to the sand blasted matte finish on the rear side, you get a good grip on the phone. One handed option is inconvenient.

Build and Design
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 sports an all metal body and has rounded edges along the sides. Turn around the phone and the resemblance to the rear side on the Meizu Pro 5 is uncanny. The round fingerprint scanner is located just below the 16MP camera on the rear side. The dual LED flash unit is located in between the camera and the fingerprint scanner. The base has the speaker section and there's a slight protrusion chin just below to ensure there is a gap between speaker section and the flat surface its placed on.

Looking around the device, on the left hand edge you have the dual SIM card slots, at the base there is a microUSB charging and data transfer port, on the right hand edge you have the volume rocker and power standby buttons. The top edge has the 3.5mm audio jack and an infrared blaster for controlling IR home appliances. The front has a 5.5inch display which has a tendency to collect smudges.

Thanks to the sand blasted matte finish on the rear side, you get a good grip on the phone. One handed option is inconvenient.

Redmi Note 3 1280 (2)

Display
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 sports a 5.5inch fullHD IPS LCD display which gives it a pixel density of 401ppi. The colours look natural and it has a good viewing angles. But the display had collected a lot of smudges when the phone was in the sleep mode and it is reflective. Xiaomi has carried forward the Sunlight Display technology from its Mi4/Mi4i line onto the Redmi Note 3. For those not aware, the Sunlight Display makes adjustments to the display at a pixel level so that you see a balanced image in bright outdoors. This is on by default and while it worked fabulously with the Mi4i we will need to see how it fares on the Redmi Note 3 outdoors. Reading mode helps reduce the blue light being emitted to reduce the eye fatigue. We will need to test this out for ourselves.

Redmi Note 3 1280 (7)

Chipset, RAM, Storage
This is the first phone to be sporting Qualcomm's Snapdragon 650 chipset which has a hexacore CPU and Adreno 510 GPU. The Snapdragon 650 has two Cortex A72 CPU cores clocked at 1.8GHz which are the high end cores and four low end Cortex A53 cores clocked at 1.4GHz. This is paired with either a 2GB RAM + 16GB storage variant or 3GB RAM + 32GB storage variant. Along with this you also get the option to at in a microSD card using the hybrid SIM card slot.

With the limited time we spent with the phone things ran quite smooth. Xiaomi showcased benchmark scores of the Redmi Note 3 with the Snapdragon 650 chipset and claimed that it is better than the Snapdragon 808. But we will need to run these benchmarks ourselves to confirm Xiaomi's number.

Redmi Note 3 1280 (5)

OS, Connectivity
Xiaomi's MIUI 7 skin graces the Redmi Note 3. The MIUI 7 skin has been put atop the Android 5.1 OS and there was no clarity as to when the phone will get Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The phone has made some tweaks to the camera app which we will discuss below. The fingerprint scanner on the Redmi Note 3 can be used to unlock not only your phone but also some third party apps. You can also create hidden folders which can be unlocked via the fingerprint scanner. Xiaomi has also tied up with Hungama digital which will give every Redmi Note 3 buyer 2 months free access to the Hungama digital library.

In terms of connectivity, you get a hybrid dual SIM slot which can take in two 4G SIM cards (nano + micro). The SIM cards are hot swappable, so you do not need to restart your phone every time you put in a card. It supports 5 LTE bands along with VoLTE support as well. Other than this you get Wi-fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS with A GPS and so on.

Camera
You get a 16MP rear camera and a 5MP front facing camera for selfies. Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 has made use of phase detect autofocus technology for improved focusing speeds. While shooting indoors we realised that the focusing was relatively quick, however the camera needs to be used extensively to get a complete picture. The rear camera uses a 5 element lens with an aperture of f/2.0. The phone makes use of dual image signal processors from Qualcomm for the image processing work. The camera app had got new features such as straighten, mosaic mode, time lapse and mirror image mode and so on. The front camera uses the by now popular Beautification mode.

Redmi Note 3 1280 (3)

Battery
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 houses a non removable 4050mAh Li ion battery. According to Xiaomi, it is capable of  giving a full day usage, but we will do our own testing to arrive at a conclusion. According to Xiaomi a full charge will take close to three hours which is not really fast.

Conclusion
After a long hiatus Xiaomi is back in the Indian market with the launch of the Redmi Note 3. This is a significant upgrade over the erstwhile Redmi Note 2 and Xiaomi has kept the starting price at an aggressive Rs 9999. Now on paper the Note 3 looks like it has it all, but the Snapdragon 650 is an untested chipset. And although Xiaomi showed multiple slides showing how the Note 3 ran cooler than the Nexus 6p, we will still need to use the phone in multiple situations to get a good idea of how it will fare on the heat management front. The competition is quite stiff in this segment now, unlike back when the Redmi Note had launched. So keep checking back for a full review of the Redmi Note 3 soon.

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