By Charlemagne Losaria
Emerging electronics giant Xiaomi has given every major smartphone brand a run for their money in every country where they have launched their products, including huge markets like India and in its home country China. Now it is slowly carving a niche in the Philippines.
With cost-conscious consumers in mind, they followed up last year?s budget offering, the RedMi 1s, with a slimmer, more powerful sibling dubbed as the RedMi 2.
For current owners of RedMi 1S, you?d be quite happy with the design updates on the RedMi 2. Although the changes are rather subtle, it is still welcome nonetheless.
The RedMi 2 is slimmer and more modern looking compared to the former model which was criticized for being to ?blocky? and outdated, design-wise. Xiaomi opted to retain the 4.7-inch display size and used Gorilla Glass 2 for added protection.
The IPS HD screen is very clear and sharp for its price range. It offers vivid colors and wide viewing angles and does not flush out easily even when viewed outdoors.
The RedMi 2 features rounded edges and actually resembles a smaller version of another Xiaomi product, the RedMi Note 4G. Also, it can easily pass for an iPhone 5C, albeit with a larger screen.
The RedMi 2 is glossy black upfront and has a matte finish at the back. The unit we reviewed has a matte white battery cover but other options for colors include yellow and black.
The plastic battery cover is removable and reveals an orange colored removable battery, two 4G capable mini-SIM card slot and a microSD slot capable of reading up to 32GB of expanded memory.
The volume rocker and power buttons are incorporated with the battery cover, similar to the RedMI 1S, giving that unibody impression. The 3.5mm headset jack is placed at the top while the USB charging/data port is placed at the bottom of the phone.
On the front side, one can find the proximity sensor, 2MP front-facing camera, the earpiece and the non-illuminating, red colored capacitive buttons. Just below the capacitive buttons is a discretely placed tiny LED notifications indicator. It lights up if there are pending notifications like new text or missed calls or when the battery is low or the device is being charged. Colors of the led notifications can be configured in the settings and can turn white, green, red and blue.
Flipping the phone over, you will see the 8MP back camera. A single LED flash is placed at the left of the back camera while the single speaker grille speaker is placed a few notches to the right.
A second, noise-cancelling mic is placed just above the camera as well. The screen bezels are noticeably smaller compared to the RedMi 1s but is still quite thick in today?s smartphone standards. Still, the overall look and design of the phone is a big improvement considering the budget tag.
At the helm of the RedMi 2 is a 64-bit Qualcom Snapdragon 410 with four cores clocked at 1.2 Ghz per core, allowing for an efficient and fluid experience. On board as well is a 1GB worth of RAM, 8GB ROM, and an Adreno 306 GPU. Switching in-between apps and navigating around the software is very fluid and almost lag-free.
Running HD games posts no problem for the RedMi 2. It also supports USB OTG which will allow users to connect peripherals like flash drives, keyboard, and mouse. Having a dual SIM 4G capable specs will certainly help attract buyers looking for affordable LTE capable phones.
The 8MP back camera of the RedMI 2 is certainly no slouch when it comes to capturing moments and sceneries, especially when you consider its price range. Camera filters are readily available and different capture modes including HDR and Panorama is supported. Make no mistake about it; this is definitely one of the best snappers among its price category.
The RedMI 2 has a 2200 mAh battery, which might not be enough to some but surprisingly lasts longer than most smartphones because it features an energy efficient Hexagon DSP core architecture, which maximizes work per CPU clock cycle for a longer lasting battery life.
In my two weeks of using the phone, I have needed to only charge the phone about six times on normal usage and that?s on ?Performance mode?. I bet you can extract more if you switched to ?Balance mode? which will sacrifice the performance a little bit but will definitely help keep the juice flowing.
This review would not be complete without us talking about MIUI OS. For those who have heard of Xiaomi just recently, the company started out as a custom Android ROM a few years back.
MIUI OS is a customized implementation of Android overlaid with an iOS inspired interface. That means you get the iOS-like look with the openness and customizability of Android.
I can?t say enough of how pretty and sleek the look of MIUI compared to other skinned version of Android like Touch wiz or Sense. There is just no comparison. You have to see it and use it to believe it.
Now on its sixth version and runs on top of Android Kitkat 4.4.4, the MIUI OS has never looked so polished and pretty. The overall interface is just awesome and fast. This is a big reason why MIUI has become the most popular Android Custom ROM among Android enthusiast.
If you currently own a non-Xiaomi device, chances are there is a MIUI OS ported for your device. This has been Xiaomi?s strategy in persuading users to try out their MIUI OS first and later on, just maybe, convinced them to buy their phones which have advantages such as receiving the latest software updates/upgrades first and technical support.
Currently, Xiaomi has partnered with Lazada PH to bring Xiaomi devices like the RedMi 2 in local shores. It is currently priced at an impressive P5,999 at their online store. A budget dual SIM LTE phone, a more-than-capable camera, a superb OS, future proof specs, and an excellent overall Android experience, what?s not to love about the RedMi 2?