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Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 review: The real flagship killer?

By Cookie Monster - 17 Apr 2016
Launch SRP: S$299

Benchmark Performance, Imaging, Battery Life and Conclusion

Benchmark Performance

The Redmi Note 3 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 hexa-core 1.8GHz processor and 3GB RAM. Like its predecessor, the Redmi Note 3 delivers more performance than its price tag would suggest. Navigation was smooth and there was hardly any lag, something which plagued Xiaomi devices before the release of MIUI 7.

RAM usage by the OS was relatively heavy; 1.7GB was available when we closed all apps in the background. Below are the benchmark scores, relative to other affordable contenders. The Redmi Note 2 is also here, for comparison between both releases.

Sizing up the Redmi Note 3
  Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 ASUS ZenFone Selfie HTC Desire Eye Sony Xperia M4 Aqua Xiaomi Redmi Note 2
  Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 ASUS ZenFone Selfie HTC Desire Eye Sony Xperia M4 Aqua Xiaomi Redmi Note 2
Launch SRP
  • From S$299
  • From S$399
  • From S$728
  • From S$498
  • From S$229
Operating system
  • Android 5.1.1 with MIUI 7
  • ASUS ZenUI based on Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • Android 4.4.4 KitKat with HTC Sense 6
  • Android OS, v5.0 (Lollipop)
  • Android 5.0 with MIUI 7
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 hexa-core 1.8GHz
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 octa-core processor
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core 2.3GHz
  • Qualcomm MSM8939 Snapdragon 615 (Quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & quad-core 1.0 GHz Cortex-A53)
  • MediaTek Helio X10 octa-core CPU 2.0GHz
Built-in Memory
  • 3GB RAM
  • 3GB RAM
  • 2GB RAM
  • 2GB RAM
  • 2GB RAM
  • 5.5-inch / 1,920 x 1,080 pixels / IPS
  • 5.5-inch / 1,920 x 1,080 pixels / IPS
  • 5.2-inch / 1,920 x 1,080 pixels / Super LCD 3
  • 5-inch/ 720 x 1280 pixels/ IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen/ 16M colors
  • 5.5-inch / 1080 x 1920 pixels / IPS
  • Rear: 16-megapixel with 5-element lens, f/2.0, 78° wide-angle lens and a two-tone flash
  • Front: 5-megapixel with f/2.0 and face recognition
  • Rear: 13-megapixel with f/2.0 aperture and dual-LED Real Tone flash
  • Front: 13-megapixel with f/2.2 aperture, wide-angle 88-degree lens with dual-LED Real Tone flash
  • Rear: 13-megapixel with BSI sensor, f/2.0, 28mm wide angle lens and dual-LED flash
  • Front: 13-megapixel with BSI sensor, f/2.2, 22mm wide angle lens and dual-LED flash
  • Rear: 13 MP Sony Exmor RS sensor, 4128 x 3096 pixels, autofocus, LED flash, f/2.0 aperture
  • Front: 5-megapixel
  • Rear: 13-megapixel with aperture of F2.2, 28mm wide angle lens and LED flash, Phase Detection Autofocus, 1080p video recording
  • Front: 5-megapixel, 720p video recording
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac supports 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • Wi-Fi Display, Wi-Fi Direct
  • GPS, AGPS, GLONASS and BeiDou positioning
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4 & 5GHz), Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, DLNA, GPS + GLONASS
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, hotspot, Bluetooth
  • WLAN: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, supports 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands
  • Bluetooth 4.0
Storage Type
  • 32GB internal storage space
  • microSD support up to 32GB
  • 32GB internal storage space
  • microSD support up to 128GB
  • 16GB internal storage
  • microSD expansion up to 128GB
  • 8GB internal storage
  • microSD, up to 128 GB
  • 16GB internal storage
  • MicroSD (supports up to 32GB)
  • 4,050mAh
  • 3,000mAh
  • 2,400mAh
  • Non-removable Li-Ion 2400 mAh battery
  • 3,060mAh lithium-ion polymer
  • 150 x 76 x 8.65mm
  • 156.5 x 77.2 x 10.8~3.9mm
  • 151.7 x 73.8 x 8.5mm
  • 145.5 x 72.6 x 7.3 mm
  • 152 x 76 x 8.3 mm
  • 164g
  • 170g
  • 154g
  • 136g
  • 160g



Quadrant evaluates a device's CPU, memory, I/O, and 3D graphics performance. The Snapdragon 650 processor of the Redmi Note 3 clearly took the lead in the Quadrant benchmark, even besting its Helio X10 octa-core counterpart in the Redmi Note 2. 


3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited

Originally developed as a PC gaming benchmarking tool, 3DMark now supports multiple platforms including Android. The Ice Storm benchmark is designed for smartphones, mobile devices and ARM architecture computers.

For an in-depth understanding of 3DMark for Android, do head over to our article, "3DMark - Android Device GPU Performance Review." In a nutshell, it is an OpenGL ES 2.0 benchmark test that uses fixed off-screen rendering to run two graphics tests designed to stress the GPU performance of your device and a physics test to stress its CPU performance. The benchmark consists of three test portfolios: Standard (720p resolution rendering), Extreme (1080p resolution rendering with higher quality textures and post-processing effects), and Unlimited (disabled v-sync, display scaling and other OS factors that make it ideal for chipset comparison). 

Since all the recent flagship smartphones max out the scores for the Standard and Extreme tests, we will only be looking at the scores for Ice Storm Unlimited. The Redmi Note 3 is almost on-par with the Desire Eye which runs on the Snapdragon 801 chipset. Nonetheless, the Redmi Note 3 fared 22% better than the Helio X10 processor in the Redmi Note 2. 



Sunspider Javascript

SunSpider JavaScript helps measure the browsing performance of a device when processing Javascript. It not only takes into consideration the underlying hardware performance, but also assesses how optimized a particular platform is at delivering a high-speed web browsing experience. The Redmi Note 3 easily outclassed the competition in the SunSpider Javascript benchmark with a significant lead over the other phones.



Camera Performance

The rear camera received a huge upgrade for the Redmi Note 3. You now get a 16-megapixel rear camera with f/2.0 aperture, 5-element lens, phase detection autofocus (PDAF) and a dual image signal processor. With the exception of optical image stabilization, these specs are typically found in higher-end smartphones which cost twice as much.

However, image quality is more than just specs on paper. It requires a fine balance of software image processing and hardware optimizations to deliver a good photo. Can the Redmi Note 3 deliver on this? Check out the two photos below:

Taken in normal lighting conditions, the colors and contrast are relatively good. <br> Click on image to enlarge.

When it comes to low light conditions, the Redmi Note 3 struggles to deliver. The photo looks soft with details getting murky. <br> Click on image to enlarge.

The photo-taking experience on the Redmi Note 3 was a pleasant one; the user interface is simple and straightforward to use. We like how Xiaomi did not try to clutter the interface with too many options. What you see on the viewfinder are just five options - the video shutter, the camera shutter, the preview of the image captured, an option to switch to the front-facing 5-megapixel camera and a toggle to enable or disable the flash.

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 sports of the most minimalistic camera UI we've seen on an Android phone so far.

The Redmi Note 3 boasts Manual Mode although the options are limited to white balance and ISO levels. There are also several camera modes such as HHT (low light mode), fish-eye effect, Beautify, Tilt-Shift and Panorama. These options can be accessed from the camera viewfinder by swiping upwards. Swiping the opposite direction will bring you a selection of 12 filters from yesteryear, Japanese to Indigo. 

Swipe up from the bottom of the screen in landscape mode will bring you a selection of camera modes such as panorama and manual.  

A swipe down from the top in landscape mode will get you 12 filters with live previews.

Battery Life

Our standard battery test for mobile phones includes the following parameters:

  • Looping a 800 x 480-pixel video with screen brightness and volume at 100%
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
  • Constant data streaming through email and Twitter

Armed with a huge 4,000mAh battery, the Redmi Note 3 lasted the longest at 10 hours and 23 minutes. That's about 48 mins longer than the ZenFone Selfie and close to four hours longer than the Redmi Note 2. Perhaps the use of a more power-efficient processor helped the Redmi Note 3 last much longer than its predecessor considering that they have the same screen size, resolution and run on the same software version.

This is evident in the Power Consumption chart where the Redmi Note 3 has a lower power draw compared to the Redmi Note 2. As noted in the ZenFone Selfie review, the ASUS smartphone should have better optimized software and hardware to deliver higher power efficiency.




The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (32GB, 3GB RAM) will go on sale tomorrow at S$299 via its website and the three telcos. For that price, is it worth buying? We think so. 

Aside from the attractive price tag, the Redmi Note 3 offers a premium and beautiful design that is a first for a product in its category. The 5.5-inch display provides ample screen estate for all your needs from gaming to reading, while offering a comfortable grip thanks to its curved edges and textured metal.

MIUI 7 OS is a huge improvement from previous versions. Even if you've been turned off by laggy past experiences, do give the Redmi Note 3 a chance and you won't regret it. The Snapdragon 650 processor with 3GB RAM provides enough horsepower to keep the phone running without any hiccups. Moreover, the 4,000mAh battery is one of the largest ever on a smartphone and its excellent performance in our battery test won't have you running to a power socket at the end of the day.

However, there are some drawbacks we observed about the Redmi Note 3 such as the fingerprint sensor. It may offer one of the quickest unlock experiences, but its location on the rear makes it inconvenient for anyone to unlock the phone when it is sitting on the desk. While the rear camera delivers good images in normal lighting conditions, its performance in low light leaves much to be desired. However, considering its price tag, we ought to cut it some slack. 

Overall, the Redmi Note 3 performs within or above expectations in most areas and you are unlikely to find a compelling alternative for what it has to offer. Looking ahead, we have high hopes for what Xiaomi plans to bring in the Redmi Note series.

  • Design 9
  • Features 8.5
  • User-Friendliness 8
  • Performance 8.5
  • Value 9
The Good
Great design and handling
Fast fingerprint sensor
Smooth performance
Long battery life
The Bad
Camera performance could have been better
Expandable by only 32GB
MIUI 7 can be a resource hogger