Product Listing

Xiaomi Redmi - A Budget Phone with Endless Customization

By Sidney Wong - 19 Feb 2014
Launch SRP: S$169

Top Five Features of MIUI V5

Top Five Features of MIUI V5


Dual-SIM Support (only applicable to the Redmi)

As mentioned earlier, there are two slots to accommodate normal-sized SIM cards. The left slot (labelled "1") supports 3G data connection while the right slot (labelled "2") supports a 2G data connection. 

This is the default home screen page for managing the two normal-sized SIM cards in the Redmi. You can select which SIM card to use for data connection. Do keep in mind the different data network supported by each slot. You can enable/disable either or both SIM cards when you travel overseas.

From the screenshots above, you can see that the management of theSIM cards is very easy and straightforward on MIUI. We find the option to enable/disable data roaming for the SIM cards very useful, especially for consumers who travel overseas regularly and do not want to incur unnecessary data roaming charges. You also can select which SIM card to send text messages or make calls.

The Moto G can perform these functions although they are not as accessible. For example, you can set the option to prompt you on which number to use before sending a text message or making a call. MIUI V5 eliminates the extra step and places the option to use either SIM card at the bottom.

When making a call, you can decide which SIM card to use. The same applies for text messages. A pop-up menu will appear when you set the option to select which SIM card to use. MIUI's implementation is slightly more convenient.



Themes is the most popular MIUI feature and perhaps the defining feature that attracts so many users. Currently, MIUI users can choose from over 4,000 themes. According to Xiaomi, there are some themes that are carefully designed by renowned designers and the degree of attention and details poured into these themes are jaw dropping. We show you some of the most beautiful themes available: 

Singapore Theme

This is the new special edition Singapore theme built by the Xiaomi team for the launch on 21 Feb. In the background is the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. The wallpaper slowly scrolls from left to right. Can you identify the designs of some app icons that represent Singapore? Do you see our national flower in the Gallery app? What about the Singapore Flyer and the Merlion statue? While it's cool to see the calendar app showing our national day, users may be confused by the date. Xiaomi could have designed its calendar app to show the current date like what Apple did in iOS 7.

Stone Age Theme 

This theme is called Stone Age. To unlock the screen, you have to pull the leaf in a downward direction. This will cause the caveman character to cross his legs and cover what should not be seen. Cute, isn't it? When you choose to set a particular theme on the Redmi, every aspect of the interface changes accordingly. The app icons, folders have unique designs that are different from one another. The Stone Age theme is not free; it costs about 6 MiCredits. We don't mind paying for a theme with such an intricate design.

Transformers Theme 

Transformers fans will definitely love this free theme as unlocking the screen will produce sounds that mimic the robots transforming. It's amazing to see how each designer spent so much effort and attention in coming up with a theme. The level of details in each app design is very commendable. This theme may look a little too cluttered and too boyish for female users. Don't worry, ladies! There are simple and elegant themes too!

Mood Theme 

Known as the Mood theme, it should appeal to users who prefer a simpler design without any fancy animations and effects. The simplicity of the theme can be quite soothing. The designs of the app icons and interface are more in line with what you will see on third party launchers and the stock Android ROM.

Having seen four of our favorite themes, we are pretty sure that you are eager to try them out. There are several points to take note when using themes. The graphic-intensive themes generally have large file sizes.

For example, the Stone Age theme has a file size of 17.02MB. There is another theme, Dream Adventure which takes up about 129.39MB of storage space. The simpler themes such as Coca Cola have smaller file sizes of below 10MB. Therefore, do keep a watch on the available storage space when you download themes on the Redmi.

We also noticed that the graphics-intensive themes generally cause the phone to slow down significantly. This is expected since they consume more system resources to function. Here are two screenshots comparing the available RAM when the Redmi is running two different types of themes:

The Singapore special edition theme, which only requires 7.59MB of storage space, consumes less system resources to run. On the other hand, the Lamborghini theme consumes more system resources and causes the interface to lag significantly. Its file size is about 57.88MB.

When the theme store is launched on 21 Feb, only free themes will be supported as payment integration requires more time and work. Below are three screenshots taken of the beta version of the theme store:

At launch, all content in the theme store will be in English. Here's a list of the popular themes. You can personalize how the interface looks on your phone by mixing and matching different design styles.


Storage Management

Although there is a microSD memory card slot to augment the 4GB internal storage space, it is still important to manage the storage space on the Redmi. Out of the box, the Redmi comes with 2.11GB internal storage space. Actual usable storage space is about 1.52GB after the preloaded Google apps are updated.

Xiaomi has included a feature called Cleaner in the Security app, which functions like disk cleanup on the PC. Powered by Clean Master, Cleaner scans the internal storage and the memory card to free up memory space. In case you didn't know, there are apps that download and cache data in the background without your knowledge, and do not "clean themselves up" when you uninstall them. Cleaner finds such data and categorizes them into cache, ad files, packages and residuals. Cache and ad files need no explanation; packages are installers that still lurk around after you installed the apps, while residuals are data that apps left behind after you uninstall them from the device.

Cleaner shows you the number of files in each category, which makes it easier for you to clean up your storage space. Aside from those listed in this screenshots, browsers also tend to cache files for faster loading in future. You may not need these cache files at all. An Advanced tab allows you to view in three categories: cache, residuals and large files. From there, you can select which files to delete or just clear all of them with one tap.


App Permissions

Due to the open nature of Android, developers are free to code their apps to do a lot of things which include running in the background and gaining access to the system resources and user data. While most consumers don't really care about them, there are others who are concerned about how these apps are gathering personal information.

Keeping to its policy of giving users full control over their devices, Xiaomi came up with a feature, Permissions in the Security app. There are two ways users can control how their apps behave on their devices: auto-start management and app permissions. 

App permissions allow users to control apps at the individual level, which is extremely useful in the case of Android as there are plenty of rogue apps that misbehave in the background. It should ease users' concern of privacy invasions and stealth mining of personal information by app developers.

This is the home page of Permission where you manage which apps to start up and what permissions each app gets. These are the apps that will automatically start after rebooting. You can add or remove apps to the white list. This is the next level in managing your apps. Here's a list of activities that apps are engaging on your device. For example, you can view what apps are given permission to monitor calls.


Power Management

We all know how battery technologies haven't caught up with advancements in processing power and the increasing number of features and functions that are loaded on smartphones today. Having the battery last an entire day at work is a blessing that not many smartphone users get to enjoy and Xiaomi attempts to improve the battery mileage of its devices with its Power feature.

There are three ways in which you can manage power consumption on the Redmi. The first method is battery configuration where you can select one of the three preset power settings (default, marathon, sleep) or do a custom configuration of your own.

The second method involves enabling auto-switch of modes when the battery percentage drops or charges to a certain level. The third method allows you to schedule certain timings in the day to activate the modes. 

The home screen of Power shows you the battery percentage, the power usage, and the three methods by which you can maximize battery mileage. There are three modes to select from: default, marathon and sleep. For the ultimate OCD users out there, they can configure their own power management plans.


Mainstream consumers will find it more convenient to enable auto-switching of the mode when the battery percentage reaches a certain level. You can schedule the phone to sleep when you do, and wake up earlier than you to fetch new emails. MIUI allows you to choose how you want the battery indicator to look like. There are three indicators to choose from: graphical, percentage and top bar. Seen here is the top bar, where a charge is streaming towards the left when the phone is charging. Cool isn't it?
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  • Design 7.5
  • Features 9
  • User-Friendliness 8
  • Performance 8
  • Value 9
The Good
Great value for money
Good image quality
MIUI offers endless customization options
Memory card slot
The Bad
Battery performance could be better
Sluggish performance at times
Phone gets bogged down in advanced themes
MIUI can be overwhelming; takes time to fully absorb its capabilities
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