Xiaomi Redmi 4A: Hands on and first impressions

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Xiaomi’s Redmi series continues to do well in India, setting sales records on the way to the company becoming the number two smartphone maker in the country. With the new Redmi 4A, Xiaomi is looking at disrupting the budget smartphone segment.

The Redmi 4A is the cheapest smartphone from the company in the market, and the company is pitching it as a successor to the Redmi 1S, not Redmi 3s like most in the media reported. To clear the air definitively, Manu Kumar Jain, Xiaomi’s Vice President, made a fleeting announcement at the launch event that the successor to Redmi 3s was coming soon – implying that this was not it.

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Xiaomi launches their budget smartphone, Redmi 4A, in India

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I spent some time with the Redmi 4A at its India launch, and here are my initial thoughts about the same.

Xiaomi Redmi 4A Specifications

  • Operating System: Android 6.0 Marshmallow with MIUI 8
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 (Quad-core 1.4GHz) | Adreno 308 GPU
  • Display: 5-inch HD (1280 x 720) IPS display
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Internal Storage: 16GB; expandable up to 128GB with microSD card
  • Rear Camera: 13MP | f/2.2 aperture | Single LED flash
  • Front Camera: 5MP | f/2.2 aperture
  • Battery: 3120mAh
  • Dimensions: 139.9 x 70.4 x 8.5 mm
  • Weight: 131.5 gms

Design

On first look, the Redmi 4A looks like the quintessential Xiaomi smartphone, similar to many Redmi phones that we’ve seen in the past. This one though sports a polycarbonate body with a metallic finish, although once you hold it in hand, you realize it’s all plastic.

At a thickness of only 8.5mm and sporting a 5-inch display, the Redmi 4A is a pretty compact smartphone and it sits comfortably in your hand. The device sports a hybrid SIM tray, so you can either use two SIM cards or one SIM card and a microSD card to expand storage.

Apart from the familiar Dark Grey (my pick of the three) and Gold colors, the Redmi 4A is also available in Rose Gold color variant.

Display

The Redmi 4A boasts of a 5-inch HD (1280 × 720 pixels) IPS display which offers good color reproduction and contrast. The text and UI elements look sharp, so there’s no complaint on that front.

Hardware

Under the hood, the Redmi 4A packs a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 chipset paired with 2GB of RAM. There’s 16GB of internal storage, which can be expanded up to 128GB using a microSD card.

The performance is good enough for a budget smartphone, and multitasking and web browsing were quite smooth – although the demo unit was fresh out of the box and had no real-world baggage or multitude of third-party apps that one would have typically. Once I use the device for a longer period of time for the detailed review, we’ll learn more. That said, initial impressions were quite good and promising.

The Redmi 4A is powered by a 3120mAh battery underneath. Xiaomi claims a standby time of up to seven days which is impressive.

One of the obvious omissions on the Redmi 4A is a fingerprint sensor. While these are increasingly getting ubiquitous on even budget smartphones, it is fair to cut corners in a smartphone at this price.

Software

The Redmi 4A runs MIUI 8 which is based on Android Marshmallow. There’s support for 13 Indian languages and several India-specific enhancements.

While the Android skins are a matter of personal preference and several users prefers just stock Android, MIUI is fairly popular. MIUI 8 offers one of the more intuitive and functional UIs, and there are nifty utilities and tools that improve one’s overall Android experience.

See also:

What’s new in MIUI 8

May 10, 2016

Camera

In the photography department, the Redmi 4A offers a 13-megapixel rear snapper with f/2.2 aperture and 5-piece lens. On the front, there’s a 5-megapixel camera.

While I’ll reserve my judgement on the camera till the review, a few test shots during my hands-on in bright indoor lighting came out quite well for a phone at this price.

Summary

At ₹5,999 ($92), the Redmi 4A is a great budget smartphone that would sell quite well. It’s not an upgrade to the Redmi 3s which is a better option between the two – although the latter is also ₹1,000 expensive. And that’s why, with its price, it will be an attractive option for many. It’s an affordable package that offers decent smartphone experience without too many compromises.