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The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (helio X20) Phablet Review

Xiaomi broke ground when they launched their first smartphone. They were hardly the first to come up with an Android smartphone, and they won’t be the last company to try and break into that competitive market. But in just 4 years, they became the 4th largest smartphone manufacturer in the world.

How did they achieve this? By making high-end Mi smartphones that are highly affordable. Their mid-range Redmi series are even more affordable. Today, we are going to take a close look at their latest phablet – the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (GearBestAmazon | Lazada). To be specific – this is the helio X20 version of the Redmi Note 4.

Originally posted @ 2017-02-14

Updated @ 2017-03-26 : Updated various parts of the review, including the specifications of the helio X20 and Snapdragon 625 models.

 

The helio X20 Model

This is the Chinese model, powered by the 10-core helio X20, instead of the 8-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625. It also comes with the unique combination of 3 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage.

The Qualcomm models come with 2 GB  or 3 GB models with 32 GB of storage, and a rare, high-end 4 GB model with 64 GB of storage. Here is a comparison of both models for your perusal :

SpecificationsXiaomi Redmi Note 4 (10-Core Version)Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (8-Core Version)
Display5.5" IPS display (1080 x 1920)
- ~401 ppi pixel density, ~72.7% screen-to-body ratio
- 72% NTSC colour gamut
5.5" IPS display (1080 x 1920)
- ~401 ppi pixel density, ~72.7% screen-to-body ratio
- 72% NTSC colour gamut
Operating SystemAndroid 6.0 MarshmallowAndroid 6.0 Marshmallow
System PlatformMediaTek helio X20 (MT6797M)Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 (MSM8953)
Processor2 x ARM Cortex-A72 cores (2.1 GHz)
4 x ARM Cortex-A53 cores (1.85 GHz)
4 x ARM Cortex-A53 cores (1.4 GHz)
8 x ARM Cortex-A53 cores (2.0 GHz)
Graphics ProcessorARM Mali-T880 MP4Qualcomm Adreno 506
Memory3 GB LPDDR3 SDRAM2 GB / 3 GB / 4 GB LPDDR3 SDRAM
Storage64 GB eMMC 5.1 internal flash storage
microSD card slot (up to 128 GB), shared with SIM2
32 GB / 64 GB eMMC 5.0 internal flash storage
microSD card slot (up to 128 GB), shared with SIM2
Front Camera5 MP sensor, f/2.0 lens
- supports 1080p video recording
5 MP sensor, f/2.0 lens
- supports 1080p video recording
Rear Camera13 MP BSI sensor, f/2.0 lens, dual-tone LED flash
- supports PDAF (Phase Detection Auto-Focus) technology
- supports 1080p video recording
13 MP BSI sensor, f/2.0 lens, dual-tone LED flash
- supports PDAF (Phase Detection Auto-Focus) technology
- supports 1080p video recording
Connectivity4G LTE : B3, B5, B40 bands
3G : B1, B2, B5, B8 bands
2G : B2, B3, B5, B8 bands
WiFi : 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, WiFi Direct, WiFi Display
Bluetooth : 4.1, HID
4G LTE : B3, B5, B40 bands
3G : B1, B2, B5, B8 bands
2G : B2, B3, B5, B8 bands
WiFi : 802.11a/b/g/n, WiFi Direct, WiFi Display
Bluetooth : 4.1, HID
SARSAR 1g limit: 1.6W/kg
SAR Value: 0.375W/Kg (Max 15mm distance)
SAR 1g limit: 1.6W/kg
SAR Value: 0.375W/Kg (Max 15mm distance)
SIM CapabilityDual SIM, Dual Standby
- primary SIM : 4G calls and data
- secondary SIM : 3G calls only
Dual SIM, Dual Standby
- primary SIM : 4G calls and data
- secondary SIM : 3G calls only
SIM Card OptionsHybrid SIM tray
- nano SIM + micro SIM, or
- micro SIM + micro SD card
Hybrid SIM tray
- nano SIM + micro SIM, or
- micro SIM + micro SD card
SensorsElectronic compass, accelerometer, proximity sensor, infra-red sensor, ambient light sensor, gyroscope, Hall sensorElectronic compass, accelerometer, proximity sensor, infra-red sensor, ambient light sensor, gyroscope, Hall sensor
GPS CapabilitiesGPS + AGPS, GLONASS, BeiDouGPS + AGPS, GLONASS, BeiDou
Battery4,100 mAh lithium-ion polymer battery (non-removable)4,100 mAh lithium-ion polymer battery (non-removable)
Dimensions76 mm wide x 151 mm tall x 8.45 mm thick76 mm wide x 151 mm tall x 8.45 mm thick
Weight165 g165 g

 

Unboxing The Redmi Note 4

Now that you know the difference between this Redmi Note 4 model, and the “regular” Redmi Note 4 models out there, let’s unbox it and see what we find inside!

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Inside the box, you will find the following items :

  • One Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (GearBest | Amazon | Lazada) phablet
  • One set of three documents – user guide, warranty, safety guide
  • One micro USB cable
  • One 10 W travel charger
  • One SIM tray extractor pin

If this seems minimalistic, this is how Xiaomi keeps their prices so competitive.

Next Page > The Redmi Note 4 (helio X20), Hybrid SIM, Fingerprint Sensor, Cameras

 

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The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (helio X20 Model)

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (GearBest | Amazon | Lazada) is a small 5.5″ phablet with an IPS display that has a full HD resolution of 1080 x 1920. That gives it a high pixel density of 401 ppi, the same as that of the ASUS ZenFone 3 (ZE552KL). It also boasts a 72% NTSC colour gamut.

The Redmi Note 4 (GearBest | Amazon | Lazada) has a sleek aluminium chassis with two antenna bands running across the back at the top and bottom. The matte anodised finish is not only hard-wearing but virtually impervious to fingerprint smears. The aluminium chassis also gives the Redmi Note 4 a nice heft. At 165 g, it has a premium feel to it.

The Redmi Note 4 (GearBest | Amazon | Lazada) has a SIM tray on its left side, with the Power and Volume buttons on the right. It maintains the 3.5 mm earphone port at the top, next to an infra-red emitter. Yes, you can use the Redmi Note 4 as a remote control!

Sadly, Xiaomi stuck to the old micro USB 2.0 port, instead of the new bi-directional USB-C port. It’s a minor point though.

 

Hybrid SIM & Fingerprint Sensor

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (GearBest | Amazon | Lazada) has Dual SIM, Dual Standby capability. However, only the SIM1 supports 4G calls and data, while SIM2 can only support 3G calls. The SIM card tray is located along the left edge, and supports two nano SIM cards.

The second SIM card tray is a hybrid SIM tray, which allows you to install a microSD card instead. In other words, it supports either a second nano SIM card, or a microSD card, but not both at the same time.

The Redmi Note 4 (GearBest | Amazon | Lazada) uses a fingerprint sensor that is located at the back, just under the main camera. This is an all-aspect fingerprint sensor that unlocks the smartphone with just a touch.

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The Redmi Note 4 Cameras

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (GearBest | Amazon | Lazada) has a 5 MP front camera with f/2.0 lens. The lens is fast, but the sensor is a little inadequate in this day and age.

However, the main camera has a 13 MP BSI sensor that supports phase detection auto-focus (PDAF), and is supported by f/2.0 lens and a dual-tone LED flash. It supports 1080p video recording with electronic image stabilisation (EIS). Later in the review, we will show you samples of the photos and videos we took.

Next Page > Setting Up The Redmi Note 4, The Ergonomics, Available Memory & Storage

 

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Setting Up The Redmi Note 4

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (GearBest | Amazon | Lazada) runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow, which should be familiar to many Android users. It is very easy to setup. If you are setting it up as a new device, it should take you only 5 minutes to finish the setup process.

 

The Ergonomics

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (GearBest | Amazon | Lazada) isn’t a big phablet, so it fits well in our hands. That said, it is still a two-handed device – you need both hands to fully make use of it. The display is nice and sharp – no complaints there.

The anodised aluminium back is smooth to the touch, but watch out because it has less grip than other smartphones. You don’t want it falling because there is no Gorilla Glass protection! But the good news is – the surface is totally impervious to fingerprint smears.

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Available Memory & Storage

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (GearBest | Amazon | Lazada) comes memory options of 2 GB, 3 GB and 4 GB. This model came with 3 GB of memory, of which half is available for use. That’s a decent amount of free memory to run several apps at the same time. 4 GB of RAM is nice to have, but not necessary is most cases.

What is really awesome to have in this Redmi Note 4 model is the 64 GB of internal flash storage. Of that, 55.6 GB is available to use, which is just awesome. If that’s not enough, you can top it up with a microSD card (up to 128 GB).

Next Page > The Redmi Note 4 Camera Performance – Photos & Videos

 

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Camera Performance – Photos

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (GearBest | Amazon | Lazada) has a very respectable 13 MP main camera. Resolution aside, it has a bright and fast f/2.0 lens, which should help in low-light conditions. The full 13 MP resolution is attained with the 16:9 aspect ratio. Each picture has a resolution of 4208 x 2368 and a file size of between 1.6 to 2.8 MB.

Here are 12 high-resolution samples for you to check out. Click on them to load the full-sized photos, which you can also download to examine.

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Camera Performance – Video Recording

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (GearBest | Amazon | Lazada) is capable of recording 1080p videos, with electronic image stabilisation enabled. It does not have any optical image stabilisation built-in. To test its video recording capabilities, we recorded a public piano performance, and a street market. Check them out!

In the piano scene, the image quality is very good. There is also very good control of the highlights, with minimal blowouts. You can see that in the Padini store, and the bright entrance in the background. However, the audio recording is clear but sadly rendered horribly useless by a complete lack of noise reduction.

The street market shows how Redmi Note 4 (GearBest | Amazon | Lazada) suffers from a lack of image stabilisation. You can get pretty nauseous after a while! So if you are recording videos, try not to do it while you are walking. There is only so much electronic image stabilisation can do.

Next Page > Work Performance, Battery Life & Battery Recharging Performance

 

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Work Performance – PCMark

We tested the Redmi Note 4’s performance using PCMark, which simulates work applications like web browing, playing video, writing text and editing photos.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 ASUS ZenFone 3 honor 5C OPPO F1s
Work Performance Score
(Average)
5311 6405 5357 3884
Web Browsing 6038 8045 5643 3688
Video Playback 3873 3469 4487 3789
Writing 5862 7316 5944 4141
Photo Editing 5803 8246 5469 3933

It is important that the key advantage of the deca-core MediaTek helio X20 is not performance, but power efficiency. As the results show, it is about 17% slower than the octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 that powers the ASUS ZenFone 3, and roughly equivalent to the octa-core Kirin 650 in the honor 5C.

 

Battery Life – PCMark

We then tested the Redmi Note 4’s battery performance using PCMark. It basically ran the PCMark work tests until its battery capacity dropped to 20%.

The Redmi Note 4 (GearBest | Amazon | Lazada) has a large 4,100 mAh battery, but surprisingly, it only lasted just over 9 hours in this test. This is 2.5 hours less than the ASUS ZenFone 3, which only has a 3,000 mAh battery!

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Battery Recharging Performance

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 comes with a 10 W fast charger. Take a look at how fast it recharges the large 4,100 mAh battery.

It took the Redmi Note 4 (GearBest | Amazon | Lazada133.5 minutes (2 hours 13.5 minutes) to recharge its battery from 8% to 100%. This is a battery life : recharging ratio of about 4.5 : 1 – a decidedly lacklustre performance.

The recharging profile shows that the fastest charging up to the 85% charge level, before it tapered off to a slower recharging speed.

Next Page > Overall Performance, Gaming Performance, Our Verdict & Award

 

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Overall Performance

AnTuTu is a nice benchmark for testing various performance aspects of Android devices.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 ASUS ZenFone 3 honor 5C OPPO F1s
TOTAL SCORE 85504 62761 53417 41486
3D SCORE 15453 18816 9842 4868
– 3D (Marooned) 9003 10861 5795 3188
– 3D (Garden) 6450 7952 4047 1679
UX SCORE 37378 26794 19297 17640
– UX Data Secure 6761 5077 5577 4885
– UX Data Process 4601 4198 2706 2542
– UX Strategy Games 8668 7503 4109 2829
– UX Image Process 13199 6879 3144 3885
– UX I/O Performance 4149 3137 3761 3499
CPU SCORE 25988 23689 19254 14336
– CPU Mathematics 8896 6950 4198 3142
– CPU Common Use 6835 6311 5947 4805
– CPU Multi-Core 10257 10428 9109 6389
RAM 6685 6797 5024 4643

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (GearBest | Amazon | Lazada) is very fast in 2D graphics, but has rather average performance in the 3D tests. In this benchmark, its CPU performance actually beat that of the ASUS ZenFone 3, which is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 used in the “regular” Redmi Note 4 models.

 

Gaming Performance – 3DMark

We tested the Redmi Note 4’s gaming performance using 3DMark, using the Ice Storm Unlimited test.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 ASUS ZenFone 3 honor 5C OPPO F1s
Gaming Score 14608 13956 11560 7666
Graphics 16285 13484 11067 7511
Physics 10737 15903 13698 8265
Graphics Test 1 94.5 fps 80.5 fps 63.4 fps 49.4 fps
Graphics Test 2 56.6 fps 46.1 fps 38.8 fps 24.4 fps
Physics Test 34.1 fps 50.5 fps 43.5 fps 26.2 fps

The ARM Mali-T880 MP4 GPU powering the Redmi Note 4 (GearBest | Amazon | Lazada) was just a tad faster than the average-performing Qualcomm Adreno 506 GPU in the ASUS ZenFone 3. It will handle most 3D games quite well, but don’t expect it to handle the more strenuous 3D game titles.

 

Our Verdict

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (GearBest | Amazon | Lazada) was everything we expected of it. It offers a ton of remarkable features in a well-built package at a very affordable price point. That has always been Xiaomi’s core strength, and they did not stray far with the Redmi Note 4.

The Redmi Note 4 boasts a 10-core processor with a decent GPU, a large amount of RAM and a very generous amount of internal flash storage. All packed in a sleek anodised aluminium chassis. Even its 13 MP main camera performed better than expected for its price point.

Sure, it is not the best device for 3D gaming, but it was never meant to be one. The Redmi Note series was designed to be a range of affordable phablets, not 3D gaming devices. And Xiaomi sure delivered on their promise with the Redmi Note 4 (GearBest | Amazon | Lazada).

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If there is something we feel we must point out, it is its rather lacklustre battery life. Xiaomi may boast about the large 4,100 mAh battery, but it lasted far less than smartphones with smaller batteries. It also takes longer than expected to recharge the battery.

Again, please note that this is the 10-core helio X20 model, not the 8-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 model.

Due to its tremendous value for money, we think the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (GearBest | Amazon | Lazada) deserves no less than our Reviewer’s Choice Award. Congratulations, Xiaomi!

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