When I first heard about Xiaomi all I knew about it was that it was a Chinese phone manufacturer that was creating waves in technology with its affordable yet considerably powerful phones. Time passed and It was time I switched my Nokia X2 for another phone because I wasn’t happy with the Nokia. So I researched online for a phone which had an open OS and a device I could easily tweak and after all this, would still be performance friendly. The Xiaomi Redmi 1S fitted the description perfectly and was in the right budget. After probably being told and arguing a gazillion times that Xiaomi is nothing but a phone made of Chinese plastic and just another conspiracy by China to spy on Indians and countless hours of arguing about choosing another phone, I decided to trust my instincts and I finally bought the phone from Flipkart for Rs 5,999.
WHY IS XIAOMI SO INEXPENSIVE?
Firstly to all my Indian readers, who do not know, I would like to explain to you why the phone is inexpensive and how this isn’t some evil plan by China to overthrow the government.
The phone is cheap because of Xiaomi’s brilliant cost cutting strategies. Xiaomi only sells through Flipkart which is it’s only retail partner and does not have stores thereby cutting staff costs. Also it bulk orders the parts of the phone thereby making it cheaper to source the hardware. Thirdly, it makes most of the phone itself. Xiaomi makes the MiUi software in-house and relies very less on outsourcing. Fourth, it does not spend much on advertising and all the advertising and marketing is done on social networks and also relies on word of mouth thereby decreasing costs of the phone on a large scale.
- 4.7 inch HD display (720p) with 312 PPI
- Dual sim (One for 3G and one for 2G)
- CPU – Qualcomm MSM8228 Snapdragon with Quad Core 1.6 GHZ Cortex A7 processor
- GPU – Adreno 305
- RAM – 1 GB
- Camera: 8 MP primary, 1.6 MP front facing
As usual, Flipkart delivered it a day prior to the delivery date and the phone was packed well in a cardboard box. The contents were : the phone, charger, the charger cable, two MicroSIM adapters for the sim cards and they had also thrown in two free screen protectors (it also included a practice screen protector so you can learn how to apply one yourself). There were no earphones with it because the phone already packs a ton and giving earphones would deter the basic idea of keeping the cost of the phone as less as possible. This little gesture did make me feel happy about buying the phone because they really did think about the Indian consumer while considering about the packaging.
I switched on the phone and it took a while to get its first boot. It doesn’t look like the Christian Bale of cellphones but it wasn’t bad either. It would slip from my hand sometimes but the grip was not very bad. To be honest I care more about the performance of the phone than how it looks; I wasn’t disappointed.
GETTING TO KNOW IT BETTER
It took me a while to get used to MiUi and the phone had arrived with MiUi Version 36. The problem with this version was that it did not have heat control and hence it used to get hot very quickly. After updating it to the latest version based on Android 4.4.2, I found the problem to be fixed and it did not get very hot. MiUi is fast, responsive, bloatware free and smooth. It is also very user friendly and if there are any bugs they are resolved quickly, thanks to MiUi’s user interactive website where users can ask for changes or can report bugs as and when required. Also, replies are prompt.
On using the phone extensively, I found the phone’s battery does not last long. On normal usage of composing mails and whatsapps it used to last not more than 5 hours. When using it to play games, the phone would hardly clock more than an hour. So, the battery life of the phone was indeed a bit clumsy.
As a power user, I honestly did not like the interface of the MiUi. I wanted better. So I rooted it and installed Cyanogenmod 11S, an OS based on Android 4.4.4 after installing TWRP, a custom recovery. After installing that I found my Redmi to be even faster and responsive.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE ABOUT IT
- When using the Redmi to watch videos and play music I found the speaker not loud enough and very subtle. Loudspeaker calling isn’t clear, which disappointed me a bit
- The design is a bit bulky and the back cover does feel a tad bit flimsy
- The battery life is the worst thing about this phone. It has a 2000 mAH battery but yet does not last more than 5 hours fully charged
- While playing games it does get hot and graphics are a bit laggy at times
- MiUi looks slightly cartoonish and could have been better looking
- The phone mentions that 1 GB of RAM is available but you get to use only 768 MB of it
WHY I LOVE THE PHONE
- The performance of the Redmi 1S is spectacular and is fast and fun to use. It does what you expect of it and does not lag even when there are many apps running. It allows you to multitask flawlessly and is very fast if you compare it to the price-performance ratio
- When listening to music on earphones, it does sound much better than expected
- There are many custom ROMs available and mostly they are posted on the MI website and it is easily customisable
- The display at 312 ppi and 720p is sharp and clear and looks amazing. Also graphics are not as bad as I thought they would be and it does allow you to play games at medium graphics if not at high graphics
- The camera on the Redmi 1S was a surprising factor as it turned out much much better than I thought it would be. Images are sharp and clear and although low light photos have noise, at this price, it is a steal!
- The hardware is exceptional and can be compared to phones that are nearly twice or sometimes thrice the cost of the phone
- Second hand phones are being sold on websites like Quikr and OLX for the range between Rs. 4500-6000 because of the huge demand and limited supply of the phone. So this as of today limits the loss to a maximum of Rs 2000 if you do not like it
The phone is exceptionally responsive, fluid and fast for the price. It is also reliable and not as flimsy as people think it is. I loved how much I can do with this phone especially after installing Cyanogenmod 11S. It may not be a chick magnet but will definitely satisfy any gadget freak. For people who use their phone to watch a lot of media I would not recommend this phone to you. But if you are a power user and write a lot of Emails and game casually, this is the phone for you. The battery life may not be in comparison to the other features but do not let it fool you into missing out on such a great phone.