After a successful debut of the Redmi Note 7 series and the launch of the Redmi Go a while ago, Xiaomi is proving to the world that 2019 will once again be their year. Last year, the Chinese smartphone giant successfully launched a variety of handsets that cemented their position as India’s number one smartphone brand; however, those handsets came with a boring design that strayed away from the brand’s ethos. This year, Xiaomi has dug deep and dropped handsets that not only look trendy but also demonstrate that they will not sit back on its laurels of their past successes and lays down the gauntlet to any brand that tries to overthrow them as the top manufacturer in the country.
The Redmi Y2, launched last year, still under the Xiaomi brand was a ho-hum device and even though it had the unique proposition of being a selfie handset on a budget, it didn’t do as well as the company had probably hoped. This was mainly due to the fact that the higher-end Redmi Note 5 Pro was a handset that offered consumers a lot more bang for the buck in comparison.
Under the newly formed sub-brand Redmi, Xiaomi has launched the Redmi Y3, the fourth handset to be launched in 2019 and boy does this handset have a lot to offer. The Redmi Y3 not only comes with a fashionable Aura Prism design with a gradient back; but also, some major technical advantages over its predecessor by offering a 32MP selfie camera in a Dot Notch display at a price that’s cheaper than last year’s model when launched.
We spent a few days with the Redmi Y3 and here are our thoughts on the budget selfie beast.
The Redmi Y3 is a beautiful handset. That much is clear. It doesn’t have the boring design that was featured on the Y2 earlier, but rather super slim bezels on three sides and a gradient finish on the rear which keeps up with any flagship offering launched this year.
There was a point in time where the gradient finish was confined to just the flagship devices. But Chinese smartphone manufacturers are working harder to offer this design to the budget conscious as well, and in the process making it accessible to the masses. With the Y3, Xiaomi has added a gradient finish that in the perfect light and in the right angle, gives off a beautiful rainbow effect which makes you stop, stare and admire its beauty. While the design is top notch it does have a drawback — grime attraction. The handset, though beautiful is a fingerprint magnet and using this without a case takes away the glimmer, which is the whole point of the design. There is a fix for this though as the brand has bundled a thinner soft case in the packaging. The trade-off for the case is that you won’t be able to show-off the design as it ought to be. A small price to pay for keeping it shiny, clean and safe. Plus, it also offers protection, which is an added advantage.
Unlike the Redmi Note 7 series, the rear is built out of polycarbonate and not protected by the Gorilla. This is done for just one purpose, to keep the costs down to a minimum. The handset feels a tad bit thicker than the Note 7 as well and Xiaomi’s reason for this is to offer added sustenance against accidental drops. While the heft can be a problem for some, we found that the added width helped with the grip and made it extremely comfortable to hold even while capturing group selfies. The reassurance that the thickness offers helps to keep worries of dropping the handset at bay.
The Redmi Y3 comes with an AI-enabled dual camera setup on the rear that’s assisted by an LED flash. The rear also plays home to the super-responsive fingerprint sensor. Apart from this, the rear has a very clean design making the phone look a lot more expensive than it actually is. To the side, we find the volume rockers and the power button which feel tactile and are placed perfectly well to be reached with one hand. This matters because even though the handset is on the larger side, accessibility is taken care off.
The top is where we find the IR Blaster and the 3.5mm audio jack and the bottom plays home to the speaker, microphone and a micro-USB charging port. While in most circumstances we would have criticized the missing USB Type-C port in a 2019 handset; this time there aren’t any complaints from us as Xiaomi has added this feature as well to keep the price point low.
Adding to the value is Xiaomi's P2i waterproofing technology that comes in play here too. Xiaomi has also ensured that every port and button on the handset is sealed with rubber and the entire phone is coated with a P2i layer which makes this phone less prone to damage when water or humidity is concerned. In short, this is a splash-proof phone and not water resistant, so don't be overconfident and take it in the pool, else you may be sorry.
The Redmi Y3 features a 6.26-inch Dot Notch display, which is essentially the brand’s terminology for the waterdrop-style notch. The HD+ screen is a fine addition here as even though the brand could have added a higher resolution display, they have opted for this with the sole purpose of power efficiency. While we have no issue with the resolution, we did experience some issues while using it in direct sunlight as it isn’t as bright as we hoped it would be. Even in indoors, when the brightness is turned to the max, it’s just a lot duller than rival handsets at this price point. Other than this, colours appeared natural and accurate making content viewing completely fine.
However, for those interested in streaming HD content over Netflix, sadly the handset doesn’t come with Widevine L1 support just yet. This means that you’re limited to SD content; which could mar your binge-watching experience. If you have no problem with this, which we suspect most people won’t, then you’re going to face no problems. Additionally, watching full HD to 4K content on a 720p display is almost unnoticeable. And it also adds to saving on battery life.
Other than this, the display is pretty great and for the price, it certainly offers a ton of value. Also, the display is protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5 which provides a ton of protection against accidental drops.
To help its consumers keep away from a loss, Xiaomi has also ensured that the handset has an amount of space around the display corners to help accidental damages from drops, especially around the corners. The corners are reinforced to prevent display edge cracking but to an extent.
The Redmi Y3 comes loaded with MIUI 10.2.1 based on Android 9.0 Pie. The fact that Xiaomi added the latest Android OS in their handset is a testament to their aggressive push in every smartphone category. With MIUI 10, you get all the tasty Pie treats in a budget handset giving everyone the benefits it has to offer.
A major issue we faced with this handset is the number of ads that are on the UI. Having used Xiaomi handsets in the past, we were aware of ads that are prevalent; however, on the Y3, there is an onslaught of ads that take away the entire user experience. After a while, they can get pretty irritating as every app has an ad that we just don’t need. We are aware that Xiaomi has to offer ads to help with the supplementation of the cost, but this seems ridiculous. There are ways to disable the number of ads but it’s quite a tedious process that not many people would even want to get into. Xiaomi seriously needs to do something about this, and quick.
Other than this, you get the usual array of Xiaomi apps as well as Google certified apps which can benefit most who use the handset. Thankfully, if you want a clean interface, some of these apps can be easily deleted, freeing up space for other apps you desire.
The software found here is extremely intuitive and getting used to it should happen in a matter of days if you are switching from a rival brand.
To sum it up, the Redmi Y3’s software is a great piece of work for anyone who is making the switch from a budget smartphone to something a bit more expensive as it offers the latest Google OS in a price point that’s easy on the pocket.
Under the hood, the Redmi Y3 comes packed with a 14nm octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 SoC that’s clocked at 1.8GHz. Built on the 600-series platform, this chipset features Kryo 250 cores that are made on a 64-bit CPU architecture. It offers up to 40 per cent better performance over its predecessor and is designed to support advanced photography and improvements in gaming performances while being highly power efficient. Additionally, it offers fast LTE speeds to help in the overall user experience.
The chipset is paired with either 3GB or 4GB of RAM and 32GB or 64GB respectively. In for testing, we received the base variant and while putting it through the paces it performed well with every task thrown at it. Whether it came to opening up multiple apps and pulling them from the background, the handset performed well. There was no lag noticed whatsoever. We ran a few benchmarks and it did as well as a sub Rs 10K handset would perform; faring well in the process.
Playing games like PUBG and Asphalt 9, the handset performed acceptably well with little to no stuttering or frame drops when played at the lowest settings. This ensures that it can handle the task thrown at it, but will perform way better with less graphic intensive games such as Subway Surfers — a game which runs butter smooth on the Y3.
Overall, the performance of the handset is pretty decent and it can pose a threat to handsets priced slightly higher.
Finally, we get to the biggest selling point or USP of the Redmi Y3 — the front facing 32MP shooter. Being a Y-series handset, Xiaomi pays a lot of attention to the selfie-prowess of these smartphones. The previous generation handset — the Redmi Y2 featured a 16MP shooter which was pretty awesome for its time. The Redmi Y3 has double the number of pixels and this makes it a great option for those looking for a great selfie-focused handset on a strict budget.
The handset doesn’t shoot in 32MP straight off the bat. Instead, you have to access it through the settings to shoot at full 32MP. The Redmi Y3’s front-facing image quality is by far the best you can achieve from a handset in this price range. Under decent lighting conditions, the camera performs well with skin tones and colours appearing natural. Overall, we were left quite impressed with the image quality. If there was ever any issue, it has to be down to the edge detection in the handset’s portrait mode. While the Redmi Note 7 Pro did extremely well, we see the Redmi Y3 trail it in this setting. Other than that, we faced no other issues.
The rear camera comprises of a 12MP primary sensor and a 2MP depth sensor duo. In adequate lighting conditions, the handset performs well. While shooting a subject, we observed that there was a lot of detail visible; however, images appeared desaturated. While this may not be alarming, they can easily be rectified in post-processing apps making them ideal for social media. Indoor or low light photography with the Redmi Y3 was on par with handsets in this price range.
The Redmi Y3 is fitted with a whopping 4000mAh battery and in our testing, we noticed a day’s worth of use every single day. This is mainly due to the Snapdragon 632 chipset that helps in a major way with power efficiency. While testing this handset, we used it as a primary handset to access various social media platforms, online shopping sites, a ton of instant messaging and the odd streaming of videos. Despite rather heavy usage, it managed to pull through with about 15 per cent of charge remaining at the end of the day. Overall, power management is really great here.
The Redmi Y3 starts at Rs 9,999 for the 3GB/32GB option and Rs 11,999 for the 4GB/64GB variant. The handset is designed beautifully with one needing a double-take to see if it’s actually polycarbonate, this in itself puts it head over shoulders above the competition. With the Y3 priced this competitively, Xiaomi has once again successfully managed to walk the fine line between offering value for money and throwing in a camera sensor that’s not yet witnessed at this price point.
With the 32MP sensor and a banging design, I feel that the Redmi Y3 offers bang for your buck and this handset will be tough to displace for at least the foreseeable future; taking the price into consideration, that is.