Woe be to those who bought the Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 when it was launched just a few months ago.
In less than six months since Xiaomi's global vice president Hugo Barra unveiled the affordable phablet, its successor, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, is set to reach our shores starting from 6 April. Buyer's regret will definitely set in, though the consolation is that the Redmi Note wasn't that expensive at S$229.
Phone makers such as Xiaomi have established a name for producing quality smartphones with large screens and at reasonable prices. And you can easily place an order for the product via their online website. None of the two-year contract nonsense, just pay a nominal sum to get a stylish Android smartphone with superb performance on the cheap.
But with a S$70 price difference from its predecessor, one has to ask how much better is the Redmi Note 3.
Apparently, quite a bit.
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 is just a wee bit heavier than its predecssor by 4g. Handling it wasn't that hard either, even though there's a slight increase in its depth at 8.65mm compared to 8.25mm for the Redmi Note 2.
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. Plus, with the crazy weather we're having, while we were under the strong harsh sunlight, the screen isn't very glaring even at maximum brightness.
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.
Let your fingers do the unlocking
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. Though honestly, pairing the Mi Band to unlock the Redmi Note 3 would have been much, much easier.
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.