Back when we reviewed the Redmi Note 7 Pro, we called it a turning point in the brand’s journey. And what a journey it has been. While there have been quite a few standout models in Xiaomi’s smartphone range (the Mi 3 for example) since the company landed on our shores, the Redmi series is clearly the company’s bread and butter, playing a massive role in taking Xiaomi to the top of the hill in the Indian smartphone arena. The Note 7 Pro marked a big departure for the range, since it brought with it a shift in the design ethos and also ticked the right boxes in terms of embracing the latest trends. The same ideology continues with the latest models in the series, the Redmi Y3 and the Redmi 7. While the Y3 is a selfie-focussed phone with its 32MP front-facing shooter, the Redmi 7 is an affordable workhorse. Let’s take a closer look at the Redmi 7 and evaluate its prowess as a daily driver in this FAQs-styled review.
How about starting with the specs?
The Redmi 7 sports a 6.26-inch display with a waterdrop notch (or Dot notch, as Xiaomi likes to call it) and 19:9 aspect ratio. The 2.5D glass comes with Gorilla Glass 5 protection and offers HD+ resolution. The 14nm Snapdragon 632 chipset ticks inside, along with either 2 or 3GB of RAM, depending upon the variant. Both variants come with 32 gigs of native storage. A 4,000mAh battery provides the juice. As far as the camera specs are concerned, you get dual snappers at the rear, comprising a 12MP f/2.2 primary sensor paired with a 2MP depth sensor. An 8-megapixel camera handles selfie duties at front. The device also comes with an IR blaster, and offers dual 4G via its two SIM slots. Worth mentioning that there’s a dedicated microSD slot in case you want to pop in some extra storage.
How does it differ from the Redmi Y3?
The Redmi 7 and the Redmi Y3 are very similar when it comes to core specs. Apart from minor differences in the gradient design, the only aspects where the Y3 scores over the Redmi 7 are its 32MP front camera and the splash-resistant P2i coating. Also, the Redmi 7 would be available in 2/32 and 3/32 variants, whereas the Redmi Y3 comes in 3/32 and 4/64 options.
What about the design and the display?
The HD+ display is pretty sharp and vibrant, though brightness levels could have been better. Unfortunately, the device lacks support for Widevine L1, which means you’d be limited to SD resolution while streaming content via services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. The overall design is of the phone is very nice though, despite the plastic construction. The layered construction process that has been used makes it appear like glass. And while there’s a staid-looking Eclipse Black option, the Lunar Red and Comet Blue versions look quite stunning with the gradient designs. Our Lunar Black review unit looks mesmerising with a smoky black finish that turns to deep red at the bottom. The phone not only feels good in the hand, it looks very premium as well and defies its budget positioning. On the flip side, it is prone to smudging, and will likely get scratched over time if you’re not careful. Thankfully, a basic case is included in the retail box. The capacitive fingerprint scanner at the rear is quite accurate and works really well, though you might not end up using it if you enable the face unlock feature, which is quite fast too. The fact that the Redmi 7 uses a micro-USB port and not Type-C is slightly disappointing, though not unexpected in this price range.
How are the cameras like?
In two words, reasonably good. While the mainstay of the Redmi Y3 is its extremely powerful, and extremely capable 32MP front-facing shooter, the Redmi 7 doesn’t have any such highlights to boast of. Its 8MP selfie snapper gets the job done, and comes with AI features too. The 12MP+2MP rear camera setup offers the usual features like Auto HDR, portrait, slow mo, time lapse, and even a Pro mode, and switching on the AI mode attempts to detect shooting conditions and optimises settings spontaneously. The rear cameras do a swell job overall, and come up with good shots in daylight. The HDR mode does well to enhance dynamic range, the portrait shots look nice and natural for the most part (with reasonably good edge detection), and the close-ups look sharp. It’s just that image quality deteriorates as light goes down.
Most Xiaomi phones come with MIUI. Does the Redmi 7 offer anything different software-wise?
Well, not really. The phone runs MIUI 10 with Android 9 as base, and you get the usual features such as extensive theming support, dual apps, second space et al. Unfortunately, the occasional appearance of ads mars the usage experience, and though the ads don’t seem as obtrusive as on the Note 7 Pro, this is where we think MIUI needs an overall, and that too very, very soon.
How is the Redmi 7 in terms of performance and battery life?
The 632 is a fairly capable chipset, and that’s evident from the fact that the Redmi 7 performed smoothly for the most part. That said, it isn’t meant for extensive gaming, though you can still play PUBG, albeit at lower graphics settings. Our review unit came with 3GB of RAM, but worth mentioning that there’s a 2GB RAM model available as well. Our money would be on the 3 gig model though, given that it should work better for multitasking. You could however, opt for the 2GB RAM variant if your usage is light. The 4,000mAh battery lasts long, and should see you through a full working day with ease. Our video loop test ran for almost 16 hours before the phone died, which is a good indication of the phone’s long battery life. On the flip side, the phone only supports 10W charging, can takes over 2 hours to juice up fully.
Is it for me? Should I buy it?
This is where things get tricky. You see, by itself the Redmi 7 is a good, solid contender in the sub Rs 10k segment. However, it sort of gets stuck between the other options available. While the ASUS ZenFone Max M2 (review) looks like the Redmi 7’s closest rival, the likes of the Samsung Galaxy M10 (review) and the Galaxy A10 are hard to ignore. That said, the real competition for the Redmi 7 comes from its own siblings. If you’re willing to spend a little extra, the Redmi Y3 looks more enticing with its 32MP selfie camera. The Redmi Note 7 also comes across as a compelling proposition with its FHD screen and better processor. All said and done, the Redmi 7 may not be an exciting option, but still deserves a thumbs up for those on a tight budget.
Editor’s rating: 3.5 / 5
- Eye-catching design
- Decent performance
- Good battery life
- Software experience needs improvement
- No Widevine L1 support
- Display brightness could’ve been better