The Xiaomi Redmi 1S, one of the most eagerly awaited phones shows great promise and represents a defining moment for the manufacturer’s plans for India. The ultra-affordable mid-range handset has gone on sale and is anticipated to outsell the Mi3 on Flipkart by a substantial margin.
Sporting a price tag of Rs. 5999, it is expected to shake up the market segment reserved for entry to mid-level smart phones. The Moto E did create quite a stir when it was launched, but the Redmi 1S has the potential to take it to the next level and beyond. But the million dollar question would be will it succeed?
Design and Build
The Xiaomi Redmi 1S is no feather weight talking of its specifications or of its weight. The smart phone feels a bit too chunky to hold and the bulk is palpable to say the least. In comparison, the Xiaomi Mi3 fits much better in your hands and feels much lighter too.
Looking at the dark grey variant of the handset, the plastic on the rear is only marginally glossy and picks up finger prints quite easily. Finger print smudging was also an issue on the front of the device, with the LED notification light and 3 red capacitive buttons placed beneath the home button.
The back of the device can be removed and a flamboyant orange-colored battery grabs your attention. Above the battery are 2 SIM slots and microSD card slot. These can be accessed only if you pop the cover open. The volume rocker and power button are fixed to the case so you need to change them if you decide to go for a different cover.
The rear facing camera is located right in the middle with a flash beneath it. The single slit for the speaker grill is close to the right edge. The position of the speaker slit was not much of a help as most of the time our hands accidentally muffled the sound output.
We were not totally happy with the kind of plastic utilized on Redmi 1S, but it definitely feels better than the kind used on the Moto E. When compared with Motorola’s offering, the Redmi 1S feels a bit too bulky, but does have an edge when it comes to performance.
Also Read: 15 Best Android Phones In India
Display and Performance
The Redmi 1S disappointed us big time in this parameter and was a major let down. A severe lag in performance way below what was expected was felt with the on-board chip set. The Moto E’s dual core processor felt a lot faster when compared to the Redmi 1S even though the latter packs a 1.6 GHz quad-core CPU.
Unlike the Mi3, the MIUI on Redmi 1S feels far more sluggish. It booted fast enough its and operation is trouble-free for the most part, but the handset would not be the right choice for those running too many applications. The MIUI on the Redmi 1S just does not feel fast enough to cope with multi tasking.
Of note, the drop in performance is noted only when there are many applications running simultaneously. This would warrant using the MIUI’s kill all applications function more often than necessary. It must be considered that the majority of the Redmi 1S buyers will not be running too many apps as after all it is targeted towards first time buyers.
Talking of the phone’s display, it was another big let down. With full brightness, colors are perky, but bring it down a bit and the image turns bland pretty quickly. The display was quite finicky used in sunlight necessitating increasing and reducing the brightness levels quite often.
In terms of the phone’s shooting capabilities, one cannot find a better camera than this at the asking price as one would have to shell out much more for a similar camera on other handsets. Though not as fast as the camera on the Mi3, it is more than sufficient for any casual shooter.
After all the user will not be able to be done any serious photography on the 1S. For use on Instagram and other social networks, the quality of photos produced by the camera is more than adequate. Some sample shots are given below.
The manufacturer has incorporated a new lite mode to the Redmi 1S which has made things even simpler than standard MIUI. The lite mode provides users access to big buttons on the homescreen with basic applications added by default and others tucked away. A user can select the applications to be displayed on the homescreen.
A notification drawer is missing which might complicate usage when compared with the Android experience and is pretty plain to look at. But this might just be what some one moving from a basic phone would like to see before exploring the realm of smartphone applications and customization.
The Redmi 1S comes with all MIUI features seen on the Mi3 and several of the pre-installed applications can be uninstalled by a user without requiring root access. This is some thing commendable and worthy of emulation by other leading phone manufacturers. Although as mentioned above the MIUI on Redmi 1S is not the most fluidic that we have seen on a smartphone.
Battery life of the Redmi 1S is sort of mixed bag not because the handset has a lousy battery, but because it takes really long to charge even while using the supplied charger unit. We waited for more than 3 hours to reach 100%, but once fully charged the phone could be used for more than 14 hours on a single charge with just 1 SIM card, pulling 3G data and Wi-Fi on for the most part.
While battery life is good, we cannot say the same as far as heating issue of the display. It can get quite hot when you have multiple tabs open in Chrome or just browsing through unread pile on Reddit. Mildly annoying maybe, but certainly not a cause of concern.
There is very little to doubt that Xiaomi has another winner on their hands, but the company needs to up the ante big time to scale up the performance of the device. When it comes to looks, we do not have much to complain except wishing for a less glossy paint job for less finger print smudges, a minor annoyance though.
It is crucial for the company to roll out fixes for Indian firmware in the coming weeks for an improved experience. A minor firm ware update was in the pipeline when we tried out the device, hence the manufacturer is indeed making the changes as warranted.
A sluggish UI is not a great way to enter into a highly competitive market and the device has adequate potential and firepower for a faster and highly responsive user interface. These are the only hiccups in the Xiaomi Redmi 1S which if addressed by the manufacturer has all the right ingredients to be an outright winner in the entry-level segment. Xiaomi has managed to make much of its competitors irrelevant with its smart pricing.