Phone makers such as Xiaomi have established a name for producing quality smartphones with large screens and at reasonable prices. The Redmi Note 3 slots nicely into their mid-range line, offering a decent smartphone with the kind of specs you'd expect for a handset at this price in 2016.
Let's take a gander shall we...
Full metal jacket
All that fear over breaking a plastic piece? Gone. Say hello to a cool, full metal body with a smooth matte finish.
Also, the Redmi Note 3 feels very solid, thanks in part to its 164g weight which made handling it a breeze even its depth at 8.65mm was a little thicker than we normally would have liked.
The Redmi Note 3 also sports a 5.5in 1080p resolution display. Again, Xiaomi has proven once more that even the most vibrant vibrant and sharp display doesn't require a wad of cash.
Dual-SIM? Why yes, it comes with that in the form of an ejectable card tray that can hold two SIM cards. Which, by the way, is also where you'll be slotting a microSD card to bump up the storage for music, photos and generally all the space-hogging things you do on a smartphone.
Fancy finger work
Surprisingly, the Redmi Note 3 is Xiaomi's first smartphone with a fingerprint scanner, something that you would expect to see on its flagship model.
The round scanner is on the rear just below the camera and built-in flash, which seems like an odd placement. Most users would get a case they like for their phone, be it the flip, slim or folio type. Theoretically, a special case will have to be catered to the Redmi Note 3 such that the back would not cover the camera or the fingerprint scanner.
Like all other phones with the fingerprint thingamajig, you'll need to include either an unlock screen pattern, PIN or password as a backup. Not to mention the hassle of scanning your finger numerous times in order for the phone to recognize the print pattern during the initial setup.
But once all that's done, it's quite straightforward to unlock the phone with a single touch and while definitely not as fast as similar tech found in the like of Samsung and HTC's offerings, it's perfectly servicable.
Simplicity at its best
Pre-installed with the latest MIUI 7.1 OS based on Android 5.1, the user interface looks clean and sleek with some new themes and is easily customisable.
There is no menu page or separate app drawer unlike some Android phones, and all the icons and widgets are all on the homescreens. Unfortunately, there is no option to sort your apps in alphabetical order, making it a bit of a hassle to drag and drop the app to the location you desire.
The Redmi Note 3 also offers a Lite mode, which replaces the MIUI user interface with a simple tile-based interface and large text. Children or elderly folks will probably prefer this look and feel for its simplicity. One caveat - you'll need to reboot the phone every time you switch between normal and Lite mode.
A good eye for photos and selfies
The Redmi Note 3 is also equipped with a 16MP rear and 5MP front cameras, which is sufficient to shoot great pictures or selfies and have them printed without sacrificing quality.
In the camera mode, simply swipe to the left to access the various camera settings such as Panorama, Timer, Fish eye, Manual and various Scene modes. Don't expect too much from the manual mode though, as it only allows you to tweak the white balance settings and ISO up to 3200.
Adding filters to your shots won't make you the cool kid immediately, but it does help. Especially since you can do it even before you Instagram the shot. Within the camera UI, just swipe to the right and you will have access to 12 filters including Mono, Vivid, Mosaic, Blur and Yesteryear.
Autofocus speed is amazingly quick. With just a quick tap on the display, the camera locks on to subjects almost instantaneously. Combined with the camera shortcut on the lock screen, there's no excuse if you miss a shot just because you aren't fast enough.
Getting a good clear shot under dim light condition, despite using Night mode camera setting, is the real challenge. Zooming in to the pictures reveal unflattering grain, supposedly due to the massive boost in ISO to get more light in the shot.
Power me up
In the hardware department, the Xiaomi is equipped with a 1.8GHz Snapdragon 650 hexa-core chip, 2GB RAM, 16GB storage and a large 4050mAh battery. That's a mighty respectable listing, considering the small price you pay for this.
Surely, something's got to give. But Xiaomi managed to do the impossible and gave us a smartphone with an impressive battery life.
Running a 720p video on loop, at 50% brightness and volume, the Xiaomi was able to last almost 12 hours before it quietly whimpers for some battery juice.
That's just the intensive part of our test. If you are only surfing web pages or occasionally messaging friends on WhatsApp or LINE messenger, the smartphone can go on for a day without issues.
Add a few moments of Facebook, plus some emails every few minutes might nudge the mileage by a bit. Throw in an intensive session with your favorite Android games and you might want to consider carrying a handy portable power bank charger. If you are looking to prolong your smartphone usage, the Redmi Note 3 lets you set or create personalized battery profile and even schedule profile switching in a 24 hour period.
While it does get warm through continuous usage, be it playing games or videos, it offers very little discomfort when we were handling it.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 verdict
If you are looking for a mid-range Android smartphone that's not going to shatter your bank balance, the Redmi Note 3 is definitely one to check out. With decent hardware, performance and sturdy, yet stylish look, it is value for money compared to the bigger name smartphones.