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Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 review: To scale heights on a budget

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For the last couple of years, Xiaomi’s Redmi Note line of smartphones have represented the cream of budget smart computing for the Indian consumer. This year, perhaps, since the seminal Redmi Note 3, Xiaomi has debuted the biggest change to Redmi Note line in the Redmi Note 7 and its higher end “Pro” cousin. These phones in more ways than one bring features that have traditionally been restricted to high-end smartphones — democratising high-end camera features and gorgeous industrial design. The Redmi Note 7 is the best budget smartphone in India right now, and there are no two ways about that fact, however, the why is more important than the what sometimes and that’s what this piece will dissect.

What’s warped

  • This phone has a very cool design featuring a glossy glass back which is a departure from the mundane all metal finish that some of Xiaomi’s phones have retained in the past. It also comes with a cool set of iridescent colours. I tested the one in Red which looked quite fabulous.
  • For a phone which has a 6.3-inch display, the quality of the panel is also surprisingly good typified by punchy colours, decent viewing angles, good sunlight legibility and general all-round sharpness which is good for watching videos or playing games.
  • Superlative performance is usually part of a Xiaomi phone’s charm — and here we have another example. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 which has done service on phones like the Mi A2 is back again which delivers bone-crunching performance on a diet — be it multitasking, playing games like PUBG or even general things like web browsing.
  • Battery life has always been a USP of the Redmi Note line and with its 4,000mAh battery we have yet another winner on the table which is deploys a days worth of hearty usage. Things are even better this time around as it is the first Redmi Note which features a USB Type C connector and supports Qualcomm quick charge — which means it gets charged in about 2 hours fully.
  • This phone has killer cameras on the back. The camera stack has been on some level been transplanted from the Redmi Note 6 Pro but with software enhancements and a better ISP derived from the Snapdragon 660, its image quality for both video and stills is on par with a phone like that the OnePlus 6T that costs almost three times as much. It also comes with the added benefits of something like a night mode and enthusiasts can even install modded GCam apps for Google Pixel like camera features.
  • Audio performance of the phone is surprisingly good, so much so that I found it better than any other device in its class — both from a speakerphone and output perspective. It also has a headphone jack which is good for people who own nice headphones.

What’s not

  • Xiaomi’s software remains a bit of an issue. MiUI is good but it always lags behind on software updates. What compounds issues is the fact that Ads are hidden which makes the software look bloated and intrusive.
  • Even though the design of the phone has been revamped, the presence of glass on the back of the phone makes this phone more fragile. Quality has been an issue with Xiaomi phones and this has the potential to make these phones even more problematic.
  • Ever since the launch of the Redmi Note 3, Xiaomi hasn’t really pushed the envelope with the size of the battery and now the Redmi Note 7 cannot lay claim to being the battery life king. There are many other phones at the same price point which offer better battery life but most people what Xiaomi offers will be good enough.
  • The revamped design of this phone also seems a little derivative — ripped off from the likes of Honor and Vivo who have been pushing gradient colours and shiny finishes.

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