"Our take on Xiaomi's pumped-up budget warrior, the Redmi 2 Prime"
Xiaomi has a knack for shaking things up, and its little budget smartphone, the Redmi 1s (review), did just that last year. Offering mid-range specs at a pocketable price, the Redmi 1s was very popular in India, and went on to become the fourth bestselling smartphone in the world. It's successor, the Redmi 2 (review), added only minor upgrades in terms of specs, but was one of the first budget smartphones to support 4G, and that too on both SIMs. Alongside the launch of the Redmi 2, Xiaomi let slip that a Prime variant of the smartphone with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage would be available in the future. A few months after the Redmi 2 hit the shelves, Xiaomi held true to its promise and launched the Redmi 2 Prime in India. Apart from the bumped up specs, the smartphone also had the distinction of being the first Xiaomi device to be manufactured in India. Priced just Rs 1,000 more than the Redmi 2, opting for the Prime variant might seem like a no-brainer for most, but for users on a tight budget, that difference can seem significant. To find out if the Redmi 2 Prime justifies the extra cost, we’ve been using it for the past couple of weeks. Here are our thoughts.
Physically, the Redmi 2 Prime is a clone of the Redmi 2. It features the same blocky design with rounded edges and a removable plastic back panel. Above the screen you’ll find the earpiece, sensors and front 2MP camera, while below you’ll find the three Android navigation keys outlined in red. A notification LED is disguised under the home button.
Around the edges, you’ll see the power button and volume rocker on the right, the audio jack on the top, and micro-USB port and primary microphone at the bottom. The matte back panel is available in two colours – White and Dark Grey. It holds the 8MP primary camera, LED flash, secondary microphone and loudspeaker on top, and Mi branding at the bottom. The back panel comes off to reveal the removable battery, dual micro-SIM card slots and microSD card slot.
The Redmi 2 Prime features a 4.7-inch HD display that’s protected by Asahi Dragontrail glass. The display offers crisp, clear visuals and good viewing angles. The colour temperature can be adjusted in settings. The 8MP/2MP cameras on the Redmi 2 Prime are the same units seen on the Redmi 2, and provide some of the best image quality we’ve seen on a smartphone in this price range. The camera captures great macro and daylight photos, with the HDR mode being one of its strong points. In low light, images are grainy, but to compensate, ISO levels are high enough to provide well-illuminated images. Here are some image samples taken from the primary camera.
The Redmi 2 Prime runs MIUI 6 which is based on Android 4.4.4 KitKat. While the base software is outdated, it’s worth noting that with MIUI, you can’t really tell the difference. In terms of connectivity, the Redmi 2 Prime offers Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, USB OTG, dual SIM and 4G LTE.
The only difference between the Redmi 2 and the Redmi 2 Prime lies in the RAM and storage, which Xiaomi has doubled. So, while the 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor remains the same, you get 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage to work with. In terms of performance, the extra RAM should make the smartphone feel more zippy, but we still found the odd lag or two during daily usage, an issue which can be attributed to MIUI. Otherwise, the smartphone performs well on most counts. As far as gaming is concerned, the Adreno 306 GPU can handle most light games without breaking a sweat. More intensive titles like Riptide GP2 play smoothly enough, with only the occasional frame drop or two to interrupt the experience. While we're on the subject of performance, it's worth mentioning that the KitKat-based MIUI 6 doesn’t harness the 64-bit capabilities of the Snapdragon 410 SoC, which should technically account for better performance.
Even though the Redmi 2 featured a microSD card slot to expand memory, 8GB of base storage is becoming too little as our multimedia needs grow. With the Redmi 2 Prime you get a generous 16GB of storage, out of which around 11.4GB is available out of the box. The microSD card provides expansion by another 32GB.
While the Redmi 2 Prime features the same 2,200mAh battery as its predecessor, we did notice a small difference in battery life. In our video loop battery drain test, we got 10 hours and 50 minutes of juice, a small improvement over the 10 hours we got on the Redmi 2. The battery managed to impress with real life usage too. When we used the smartphone as our primary driver with both SIMs inserted, it easily lasted us until the end of the day with usage involving phone calls, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The Redmi 2 Prime is a solid smartphone for its price, and can handle most day-t0-day tasks, including gaming, without faltering. The smartphone faces some competiton in the way of the YU Yuphoria (review), Lenovo A6000 Plus (review) and InFocus M350, but in our opinion, is still one of the best budget smartphones priced under Rs 8,000. And to address the question we posed at the beginning of the review – should you opt for the Redmi 2 or Redmi 2 Prime? Well, if you're looking for a smartphone for just basic use, the Redmi 2 is more capable of handling the job. However, if you're looking to get the most out of your budget smartphone, the Redmi 2 Prime is a no-brainer.
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