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
Like its sibling, 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.
Impressive battery power
In the hardware department, the Xiaomi is equipped with a 1.8GHz Snapdragon 650 hexa-core chip, 3GB RAM, 32GB 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 (lest you forget, affordabe) with an astounding 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 updating and stalking, 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 new Android smartphone, 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.
And you don't even have to recontract with your telco because it is that cheap at RM749. In all aspects, this is truly one of the most affordable smartphones and worth every damn cent you put into it.
Be warned, when it goes on sale during the Mi Festival, if you aren't fast with the clicking, you might not get either of the Gold or Grey coloured phones.