Xiaomi Redmi Y1 First Impressions: Another bang for buck smartphone aimed at selfie lovers

Xiaomi Redmi Y1 is priced at Rs 8,999 for the 3 GB RAM and 32GB storage variant and Rs 10,999 for the 4 GB RAM with 64 GB of storage variant.

Xiaomi could be one of the brands in the Indian smartphone market that has consistently launched smartphones that offer a great value for money, especially in the sub-Rs 10000 price point in India.

Xiaomi Redmi Y1 First Impressions: Another bang for buck smartphone aimed at selfie lovers

The Redmi Y1. Image: tech2/Rehan Hooda

The company launched the Redmi 4A in March earlier this year at a price of Rs 6,999 which has sold out in minutes every time the company has hosted a flash sale. The Redmi Y1 seems to be an improvement to that.

The Redmi Y1 has been launched at a price of Rs 8,999 for the 3 GB RAM and 32GB storage variant while the 4 GB RAM variant with 64 GB of storage comes for Rs 10,999. Xiaomi seems to have yet again produced a winner, tightening their grip in the sub-10000 price segment of the market. Though this time, Xiaomi’s approach seems to be a little different. The Redmi Y1 is targeted at the selfie-lovers instead of being only an overall incremental improvement over the Redmi 4A and the Redmi 4.

Build and Design

In terms of overall look, the Redmi Y1 looks a lot like the Redmi 4A and also Xiaomi’s recently launched Mi A1. Being a budget-oriented device, the Y1 is made of polycarbonate, which is finished with a coat of paint that gives you the impression that it is made of metal.

Image: tech2/Rehan Hooda

Image: tech2/Rehan Hooda

Image: tech2/Rehan Hooda

Image: tech2/Rehan Hooda

The device, despite being a handful in terms of size, sits well on the palm while managing not to feel cheap. The Y1 also manages to feel reasonably light for a device with a 5.5-inch screen. While the design here is uninspiring, to say the least, there’s not much Xiaomi has gone wrong with in previous smartphones with a similar design.

Image: tech2/Rehan Hooda

Image: tech2/Rehan Hooda

Image: tech2/Rehan Hooda

Image: tech2/Rehan Hooda

The company has decided to stick to a recognisable design language but could have gone a different route since the Y1 marks a new series of smartphones for Xiaomi.

Display

The Redmi Y1 features a 5.5-inch IPS HD LCD panel with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. The resolution is smaller than what you would expect for a device with a 5.5-inch display, and so is the sharpness of the display at 269 ppi, which is a little disappointing. However, on using the device, the viewing experience seemed unaffected for the most part. The lack in sharpness of the panel does become noticeable when compared to a sharper panel side by side, and also when very close to the display.

Image: tech2/Rehan Hooda

Image: tech2/Rehan Hooda

Colour is well saturated and the display seemed adequately bright for indoor use. Viewing angles were great, though brightness levels do shift when viewed from an acute angle.

Chipset, Storage and RAM

The Redmi Y1 gets a Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 SoC, which is an upgrade coming from the Redmi 4A which had the older Snapdragon 425. The chipset features an octa-core CPU which is clocked at up to 1.4 GHz with four lower clocked Cortex A53 cores at 1 GHz and four Cortex A53 cores clocked at 1.4 GHz. The chipset also features an Adreno 505 GPU along with 3 GB of RAM.

Image: tech2/Rehan Hooda

Image: tech2/Rehan Hooda

The internal storage here is capped at 32 GB, though Xiaomi has thrown in a dedicated microSD card slot as well for expansion. Out of the total 32 GB of storage, you get about 23.46 GB of available storage after the first boot.

OS and Software

While the Mi A1 was Xiaomi’s first smartphone to stray away from its MIUI interface running Android One, the Y1 gives us our first look at MIUI 9, which has been expected for a while. The device we received ran the Global Beta version 7.10.24 of MIUI 9 based on Android Nougat 7.1.2. We do get most of what Android Nougat brings to the table with quick app switching and multi-window functionality. Despite running on the Beta version of MIUI 9, the interface felt buttery smooth, though we are yet to put the phone through its paces.

Image: tech2/Rehan Hooda

Image: tech2/Rehan Hooda

Image: tech2/Rehan Hooda

Image: tech2/Rehan Hooda

The Y1 also comes with a number of preinstalled applications like UCNews, WPS Office and several Microsoft apps such as Word, Excel, Outlook and Skype Lite. All of these apps can be uninstalled and therefore do not really count as bloatware.

Camera

Most budget-oriented smartphones, including Xiaomi’s previous offerings, have weaker cameras compared to their higher-priced counterparts. Xiaomi however, decided to pack the Redmi Y1 with a 16 MP f/2.0 front-facing camera with autofocus, which is what sets the phone apart from others in its price range. The front also features an LED flash, aimed at improving the quality of low light selfies. I did take a few quick selfies to gauge the quality of images and am yet to be impressed by Xiaomi’s claims.

Image: tech2/Rehan Hooda

Image: tech2/Rehan Hooda

The primary camera on the back remains mostly unchanged from the Redmi 4A, with the inclusion of 13 MP f/2.2 lens with phase-detection autofocus and an LED flash. Focusing speeds here seemed fast and shutter lag kept to a minimum. The module itself seemed unchanged from the one seen on the Redmi 4A. I did click a few quick shots with the Redmi Y1 under well-lit conditions and was not disappointed with the results.

Battery and connectivity

The Redmi Y1 comes with a 3,080 mAh battery unit which Xiaomi did not talk about much in their presentation. It is worth mentioning though that the Snapdragon 435 SoC used here does support Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3, which does mean that the Y1 can be juiced up quicker than with the supplied charger.

Image: tech2/Rehan Hooda

Image: tech2/Rehan Hooda

As for connectivity features, the handset offers 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi, GPS/A-GPS, infrared, microUSB 2.0 and Bluetooth v4.1. It is a dual-SIM smartphone and no, it is not a hybrid SIM card slot. The tray allows two SIM cards and a microSD card to be used simultaneously. The slot, however, only allows one 4G SIM card, while the second card has to be either 3G or 2G.

Conclusion

Xiaomi in their presentation explained why they decided to name the new Redmi series ‘Y’, and their answer to it was that it stood for youth. The company seem to be changing their strategy here a little bit, being more selective about their target audience for the Redmi Y1.

Image: tech2/Rehan Hooda

Image: tech2/Rehan Hooda

The inclusion of a new chipset and the aggressive pricing surely means that Xiaomi plans to hold on to the sub-Rs 10000 price segment in the Indian market making it even more difficult for newcomers like Kult to penetrate the segment.

That said, the Redmi Y1 will be available online exclusively on Amazon starting on 8 November with the company’s offline retailers including its own Mi Home stores.

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