“Putting to rest all the questions about Xiaomi’s upcoming budget offering”
Xiaomi catapulted to success back when it first launched the Mi 3 in India. The Mi 3 and all other subsequent phones from Xiaomi garnered a huge audience for themselves as they offered more and cost less than their competitors. This led the brand to not just gain a good foothold in the Indian market but also allowed it to segment its devices based on different budget categories. However, with the onset of several other Chinese brands, Xiaomi’s budget Redmi line-up has been facing some stiff competition. Xiaomi’s latest offering, the Redmi 3S (first impressions) hopes to change that and turn the tides in the company’s favour. If you were wondering what this newcomer has to offer, sit tight as we unravel everything there is to the Redmi 3S and its sibling, the Redmi 3S Prime.
Performance is my priority so what is it packing?
As far as the specs are concerned, a Snapdragon 430 processor powers both variants of the Redmi 3S, featuring two quad-core clusters clocked at 1.4GHz and 1.1GHz, giving the phone a total of eight cores. In terms of display, you’ll be looking at a 5-inch HD panel (pun intended) which brings the pixel density to 294ppi. The device will carry the ‘made in India’ tag and comes in two different configurations- one with 2GB of RAM and 16GB storage and the Prime variant with 3GB of RAM and 32GB storage. Unlike it’s counterpart in China, the 2GB RAM variant won’t come with a fingerprint sensor here. Measuring 139.3×69.6 x8.5mm, the phone weighs around 144 grams and offers a pair of 13MP and 5MP camera sensors on the back and the front respectively. The rear facing camera is aided with an LED flash for those low-light shots. The battery on the phone is, however is the showstopper and boasts a capacity of 4,100mAh.
Is the design on the Redmi 3S as good as advertised?
The phone comes wrapped in a metal casing and feels quite premium despite being a budget smartphone. The device feels comfortable to hold owning to the 5-inch display which makes it compact, and the phone would available in hues of dark grey, gold and silver which do justice to the metallic casing. You’ll find capacitive keys underneath the screen (which aren’t backlit) with the earpiece, front facing camera and notification LED on the top. The SIM card tray can be found on the left of the phone with the volume rocker and the power button on the right side. The IR blaster hasn’t been omitted in this smartphone and can be found on the top besides the headphone jack and the bottom is the home to a micro-USB port.
Flipping the phone over, you’ll be greeted with the primary snapper and a LED flash with the circular fingerprint sensor (on the Prime variant) underneath. The speaker grille is located at the bottom, below the Mi branding. A coin has two faces and so does the Redmi 3S. Owning to the metallic body, the device does feel premium but tends to be slippery at times as well.
Does the Redmi 3S’ screen offer Gorilla Glass for protection against scratches?
There is a protective layer on the Redmi 3S but we can’t confirm whether it’s Gorilla glass or not. We’ll update this as soon as we have more clarity.
How many SIM cards does the Redmi 3S /3S Prime support and of what type?
The Redmi 3S pair uses a hybrid dual-SIM tray which can carry either two SIMs or a SIM card and a microSD card. The primary slot accepts a micro-SIM whereas the secondary slot uses a nano-SIM.
What connectivity options are provided with the Redmi 3S? Does the device support 4G?
Yes, 4G is supported on both the SIM cards on the Redmi 3S (with support for VoLTE and bands 3,5 and 40), Wi-Fi, mobile hotspot and A-GPS also present.
How much storage does the Xiaomi Redmi 3S offer and does it allow expansion for more?
We have the Prime 32GB unit with us which has about 24.5GB of free space on first boot. The secondary SIM slot doubles up as a microSD card slot which allows expansion up to a whopping 256GB.
Does the Redmi 3S duo support USB OTG?
You’ll be glad to know that the USB OTG feature is present in the Redmi 3S duo, allowing you connect flash drives if you wish.
What about NFC?
Unfortunately, the device doesn’t support NFC so you’ll have to look elsewhere if you were specifically looking for this feature.
Which other sensors are present on the Redmi 3S?
The Redmi 3S includes the following sensors- fingerprint (on the 3GB/32GB variant), gyro, accelerometer, proximity and compass.
Can you shed some light on the camera?
There is a lot of ground to cover here so you should check out our camera review of the Redmi 3S. Going over the core features, the camera UI is pretty clean with options to switch between photo and video modes the gallery. The options to toggle flash or HDR or to switch between the cameras are present above the camera shutter button. There is also an option to switch between the front and rear facing camera by swiping up or down on the viewfinder. Tapping the same gives you options to tweak the exposure. Swiping from right to left bring up a bunch of filters with real-time previews where as swiping from left to right gives options for different shooting modes which include panorama, beautify, timer, manual (allows you to play with white balance and ISO) and time-lapse along with a scene mode option that includes presets like sports, night and snow. The 13MP rear facing camera is a decent shooter and shouldn’t disappoint casual photographers.
How does the software platform fare and what features does it have?
The phone runs a custom ROM based on of Android Lollipop called =MIUI, just like other Xiaomi smartphones. There’s not much to differentiate between other phones that run MIUI v7 but here’s a quick lowdown of the software. MIUI doesn’t feature a dedicated app drawer and all the applications are laid out on the homescreen(s). There’s extensive support for themes via the theme store and the phone also comes with a feature-rich Security centre that includes a cleaner, a data monitor, a blocklist and much more. The display can be tweaked in terms of colour and saturation to match your preferences and the text can be resized as well.
There is a special reading mode available which adjusts the display so that it is easy on the eyes at night. The Lite mode makes a return on this Xiaomi device as well which allows you to boot into a simplified user interface with big fonts and large tiles, suitable for use by elderly or newbies. Battery management options have been provided which let you pick a profile based on how much battery you have left. MIUI tends to block all network access as well as location if the battery is low but this can be turned off in the settings. Another nifty feature of MIUI is that it renames the screenshots based on the app they came from automatically.
Does the fingerprint sensor support any other feature besides unlocking the phone?
Besides unlocking the phone, users can exit from the child mode using the fingerprint sensor or access private files in the file manager as well. The sensor can also be used to access the hidden folder present in MIUI and also doubles up as a shutter button for both the front and rear facing camera.
What all comes with the retail unit of the Redmi 3S and its Prime sibling?
You’ll get the standard accessories from Xiaomi which include a wall charger and a USB cable along with some documentation and a SIM ejector pin. Unfortunately, Xiaomi doesn’t provide earphones with its mobiles.
I want to buy the Redmi 3S. How much will I have to shell out to own one?
The two Redmi 3S models will be available exclusively via Mi.com and Flipkart, with no pre-registrations needed. The Xiaomi Redmi 3S Prime will cost Rs 8,999, and will land first. It will be available to buy starting noon on August 9th. The Redmi 3S can be bought starting August 16th, and will set you back by Rs 6,999.