Xiaomi Redmi 1S Review: Is it the Best Entry Level Phone?


In this article, we review the Redmi 1S which looks like the best entry level Android SmartPhone in the market today. This phone is priced at INR 5999 (around 100 USD) in India and is all set to be available for sale on Flipkart. Xiaomi believes in the philosophy of selling devices directly to customers; that helps them manage to keep the prices competitive in the market.

This write-up concentrates on 5 key impact areas.

Hardware, Look and Feel:

The phone has a great build; however, it does feel plastic and doesn’t look a charmer like the MI3. It is 9.9 mm thin and weighs about 150 grams. This phone is powered with a 1.6 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor with Cortex-A7 core; 1 GB RAM, 8GB internal flash memory with external microSD slot that supports up to 64 GB and a dual sim support (WCDMA and GSM). The back-panel of the phone has a matte finish and can be removed; and that’s where you find the dual sim and the micro sd slots.

Please Note that this phone comes with Mini sim slot, and not the Micro sim one. According to the leadership team from Xiaomi India,  a sim-tray adaptor accessory would be shipped along, when you order the phone via Flipkart. If not the initial stock, the future ones would come along with a free adaptor. 

sim-sdcard-slots
KM9A0210-193x300Redmi 1S offers a 4.7-inch 720p IPS display which delivers superfine text and crisp photos. This is currently the only smartphone in this segment that offers a 720p HD display screen. The display is bright when used indoors and offers decent visibility on a sunny day. The front glass is also made with a AGC Dragontrail™ scratch-resistant material.

When this phone was announced last week, Hugo Barra, the Vice President of Xiaomi did boast about the display’s high resistance features and almost guaranteed protection from common scratches. He even tried scratching the phone with a scissors at the press-meet. This phone does take some decent stress tests and accidental falls; however, not sure, if the glass is shatter proof.

This phone also has a battery of 2000mAh. I personally love the idea of the replaceable battery. I don’t like tagging a portable charger along with my phone while I use. I would rather prefer swapping the empty one with a fully charged battery and recharge the other one. You also have an accessory (have to buy it separately) which can charge the battery when connected to power.

battery-charger-accesory

Redmi 1S also has a 8MP rear camera with ƒ/2.2 aperture for 1080p video recording and a front 1.6MP camera.

redmi-1s-camera

 

The specs are decent for an entry level smartphone and has a pretty good Antutu benchmark score above 21,000. The call quality is pretty good; the in-call volume could have been better. In the specs department, this scores a good 7 out of 10.

Software, User Experience:

Redmi 1S runs on MIUI (v5 as of now), An Android-based platform with a very user friendly experience and offering power users a high degree of customization too. If I can summarize the User Experience in one word, it would be integration. Just have a look at this feature where when you call someone you do have an option of taking a quick note and record the call integrated so well. The presentation mode is yet another killer option. You just need to pull down an app icon and you get a quick preview of the app for easy access.

selective-app-cleanThis simple trick of selective app kill is a slick one. You can pretty much choose which application to keep it running while you close the rest of them. You do have an option to clear app memory selectively or all together. There are tons of more features which make this UI special and its definitely worth spending sometime on this.

Many a times it happens, with most of the vendor customization of Android, the OS turns out to be too slow and less responsive. However, this one looks an exception; the phone is definitely much faster than the other ones in the market, especially in this segment.

securityThe MIUI gives you an option to control the data transfer on your mobile data; to add its not just about setting up the limit. You can pretty much drill down to specific applications and configure the data utilization in it.

A very simple interface which shows what type of media is using up the most disk space; its not just disk, but also provides an option with both Application and Hardware Level details on Power usage. Everything from what runs and what’s visible can be secured. Be it blocking application, or even secret messaging. This is a killer feature. If you scroll down your messages and keep doing it, it takes you to a secret messaging screen; It shows as a private message and sender when you add a contact as a secret contact.

The phone supports themes out of the box, so you can easily customise the look by downloading one of the many themes from the MIUI theme store. The MIUI is currently running on Android 4.3 and we can expect a software update in the coming days.

lite-modeThe company has added a new Lite Mode to this phone which makes things very simple for users. Lite Mode gives users access to large buttons on the home screen, with the most basic apps with a very tiled User Experience (similar to those of Windows Phones). Users can choose any app or quick contacts to be displayed on the home screen.

This feature is targeted at someone who is just switching from a basic phone or a feature phone to the smartphone segment; or for elderly users. For e.g.: You would buy a Xiaomi MI3 for yourself and get a Redmi 1S for your parents.
xiaomi-lite-mode

The UI is not as snappy as it was on the Xiaomi MI3; however, considering the segment of the phone and the use-cases, this definitely is worth the bucks. However, if you are planning to run CPU intensive applications/games, this phone is definitely going to lag and heat-up. On the software experience, I would rate it a 8 out of 10.

Camera:

The camera on the Redmi 1S is decent and does click good pictures. The details of the photograph aren’t very sharp and they look a little low on contrast. There are better phones out there which sport a 8MP camera and are fantastic in image quality (they are priced high as well). This isn’t a bad performer but definitely not the best one either. The camera takes very good pictures under goodlighting; the low light performance isn’t very impressive. Again, considering the segment of the phone, this is indeed a good one.

In the camera department, I would rate it a 6 out of 10.

sample1

sample1

sample1

Pros and Cons, Value for Money:

This is a no brainer. The phone a definite value for money. Postives of this phones are the Price, Display and the Camera features in the hardware side. Like I mentioned earlier in the Xiaomi MI3 review, the software MIUI is definitely going to be one of the strongest differentiator when compared to other phones in this segment. If I have to talk about the negatives, we are asking a little too much from this phone. When you run CPU intensive Applications or Games, The device does heat-up and the performance is sluggish as well.

The Redmi 1S will be supported by Xiaomi’s 35+ service centres across India including two exclusive Mi service centres in Delhi and Bangalore to ensure a robust after-sale service and a hassle-free customer experience, with four more exclusive Mi service centres coming online in the next 2 months in Chennai, Gurgaon, Hyderabad and Mumbai.

If you are considering buying the Moto E, I would definitely recommend you to have a look at this phone as well. There are some minor software bugs which I’m sure, can be fixed via OTA updates. Following the MI3 model of Tuesday sales, this phone is also going to be available for at 2:00 PM IST for general public. As per the reports, there is going to be a total of 40,000 units up for sale tomorrow. Hope it doesn’t last in yet another ‘Fastest Finger First’ buy..!

The Redmi 1S gives you an exceptional value for money in a low-budget smartphone segment. Overall, I would rate this phone a good 8 out of 10. Now, I wouldn’t expect these numbers to be compared to my early reviews. These ratings are w.r.t to the segments they belong to. Hope this article was helpful. Do let me know your comments and thoughts below. If you liked this article, please do share and subscribe. Thank you!