With the recent decline in the Indian smartphone market, it is evident that the next big push for growth will come from low-cost smartphones that will get the consumers to move from feature phones to entry level smartphones. Manufacturers like Xiaomi, Micromax, Karbonn, Motorola, Lenovo among others have already been rushing to bring in low-cost entry level smartphones to the Indian market. Xiaomi, in particular, has been making waves with its Redmi range of phones – with quality hardware, an attractive UI called MIUI, and features like 4G – at very attractive price points. The company entered the Indian market last year with its very popular flash sales, often selling out devices in just a few seconds of the sales opening. The company recently launched the Redmi 2, an upgrade for its Redmi 1S, priced at Rs. 6,999/- (US$112) and, as usual, in its first flash sales the company sold 50,000 units in just 87 seconds.
I have been using the Xiaomi Redmi 2 as my primary phone since the very first day it was launched in India.
The phone now comes with a matte finish back cover in white – Xiaomi plans to launch it in other colors too. The phone looks better than its predecessor Redmi 1S and feels like a solidly built good quality product. The 4.7 inch screen feels just right for me, neither too small nor too big. The screen is very scratch resistant, I have managed to keep it scratchless so far!
You can find the detailed specs for this phone here . To give you some important specs, the device features a 64-bit Snapdragon 410 quad-core 1.2-GHz processor which the company claims has 50% more processing power than the one used on Redmi 1S. RAM though has remained the same, 1GB. The Redmi 2, however, comes preinstalled with Xiaomi’s custom UI – the MIUI 6, and I can say this one of the most appealing features of this phone, at least for me. There are many customisation options available, as also many nifty features built into native apps. For example, the email app has a very interesting IM-style interface that makes it very easy to follow conversations and respond to emails quickly. Speaking of emails, I should mention that setting up the mailboxes was a breeze, the app took care of all the domain and port information automatically, how cool is that!
As a non-techie user, I usually want a device which can be used primarily to make phone calls – call me old fashioned! – check a couple of email accounts, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, speak with my family & friends on Skype & WhatsApp. I also check news and read a bit online, and watch some Youtube videos. I do not game much, so I am not listing that out as a common activity.
To do all this I need a phone which has a decent amount of power, runs reliably with some multitasking without running out of juice before midnight. Let us see how the Redmi 2 fared against my needs.
I was very happy to find that calls were usually very clear on both sides, without no call drops – so full marks to both, the device, and the network! the speakerphone mode worked without any issues too. You get floating notifications for calls so you can continue to work on the current app if you wish so. The phone also comes with a very useful feature built right into it – recording – very useful for taking notes for meeting – on call and otherwise. The recording functionality is available in the call screen and as a function so put into action as and when required without much of a fuss.
The phone came preinstalled with Facebook, so it barely took me a couple of minutes to get started with my social life – online that is J it took me a few minutes to download and install FB messenger, Linkedin, Twitter, Skype, WhatsApp etc.
An important point to note is that you will not have Google Play store on devices you buy from unofficial channels. Also, the phone may not support Indian networks – especially for data – if you buy directly from China or other countries. So make sure you buy from Flipkart (the app comes installed on this phone!), Xiaomi’s official partner in India. You would want 4G network to work on your phone, wouldn’t you???
Speaking of 4G networks, this phone supports both 2,300 Mhz and 1,800 Mhz networks, it is a dual sim dual 4G phone – so it supports Airtel 4G (2300 Mhz) and other networks as and when they are available in India – you have a future-proof and also a network-proof phone.
Data speeds were good, I had no issues connecting to and maintaining a 4G connection (I am on Airtel) around Bangalore most of the time, might have come down to a 3G connection a couple of times at the outskirts. The phone also latched on to Wifi connections at home and office very well. Checking Facebook and uploading pics were zippy. Speaking of pics, the phone has a very capable 8MP camera at the back, probably the best in this price range. The 2MP front-facing camera also shot good selfies.
All my apps worked seamlessly, without any lag most of the time. I did see some lag when I had multiple apps open at the same time, closing a couple often did the trick. I would have loved more RAM on this phone, 1GB is just not enough for such a capable device. I wonder why Xiaomi did not launch the 2GB RAM version of the Redmi 2 in India, would have been a killer phone. Do buy a microSD card too, the phone supports one up to 32GB. The storage of 8GB with user available space of about 6 GB, you will run out of space pretty soon if you like taking pics or if you like to carry some music around. Speaking of music the phone as an FM player and you can also record as you may wish.
Over the last 15 days or so that I have been using the phone, I was most pleased with the battery life. I was pleasantly surprised to make it through the day consistently with 2 sims and a 4G/wifi connection turned on syncing my emails and apps continuously.
The phone has a notification light built into the home button, however, it would have been nice to have backlit navigation keys, would have been a bit more easy to use the phone in the dark.
Last but not the least, the phone comes with WPS Office that helps you work with documents on-the-go, very useful indeed!
But, the device also has few disappointments; especially if you are a real power user who is involved in multi-tasking or juggle between apps too often. The device hangs up for few seconds and becomes slow at a time when you have all the social media running concurrently along with WhatsApp. But considering the price bracket and the class it belongs to, it is quite unlikely the device would be used as a primary phone by those who have already graduated.
I reckon Xiaomi has a winner on its hands with the Redmi 2, it has a well rounded offering at an atttractive price point without any big compromises, it could and should have included 2GB RAM, that would be have made this almost an unbeatable device. MIUI might be a bit heavy on RAM but it adds a lot to the phone, other manufacturers will have to work hard to marry good hardware with great customisation to beat the Redmi 2, Xiaomi has to figure out a way to meet the demand for this phone somehow!