Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 review



Even before I bought my first Xiaomi phone last month, I’ve been a little fan of the Xiaomi brand. They feature clean minimalist design, decent specs and really affordable prices. How do they do it? Buy cutting out the middleman and selling straight from their website. The downside of this method is their product ran out pretty fast and you could almost always see an out of stock sign for many smartphones on their website. Which is really frustrating to say the least. Here you got an amazingly affordable phone but you can’t buy it because it’s out of stock. It seems that Xiaomi can’t cope with the local market demand. Anyway that’s in the past now. Today you rarely see their smartphones being out of stock and their website.





Although I’ve been a fan, I didn’t have the need to buy another Android phone yet since I’ve already own not one but 2 iPhones to myself. However after I sold one iPhone and started looking for another smartphone to use, Xiaomi immediately came to mind. After much research, reviews and deliberation, I’ve decided to buy the Redmi Note 2 which fits all of my required criteria - large 5.5” screen, decent 16GB space, memory card slot and a slew of other features. I paid RM649 for my Xiaomi online (using online banking) and it was not until a week later that I finally got my Redmi Note 2. Actually I couldn’t wait a week for them to deliver so I went to the Fedex warehouse in Kota Damansara and pick it up myself. Apparently Xiaomi delivers so much product through Fedex that the courier company had set a one day a week delivery only for Xiaomi products. Which kinda sucks cause you had to wait that long to get your hand on your purchase.







The Redmi Note 2 features a replaceable plastic back cover and 5.5” IPS LCD screen. From the official website, you can only pick between the white and space grey but you could find pink, blue or yellow back covers from local resellers. I like the material for the matte finish for the back cover because it’s not to slippery and unlike glass back covers it doesn’t attract much fingerprints at all. On the inside it features a 2.0GHz 8-core MediaTek Helio X10 processor which is not too shabby for a mid-range device. RAM size is 2GB and you can choose between a 16GB or 32GB model for the internal storage. There’s dual SIM card slot and a separate memory card slot all of which are accessible under the back cover. The replaceable batteries means you can use the Redmi Note 2 for a really long time if you wish. Just replace the battery when it doesn’t hold much charge anymore.







At the front of the screen, you can find a 5 megapixel camera, proximity sensor, receiver and notification LED. You can find the multitasking, home and back button at the bottom part of the screen which lights up (red) when the phone is active which is pretty useful at night. The volume rocker and power button is still on the right side while the micro USB charging port is still located at the bottom. On top of the phone you will find the audio jack and infrared blaster. The mono speaker is located at the back of the phone which is a pity because any music or sound coming out from it will be lowered by half if you place the phone face up.







One thing I noticed immediately is the beautiful MIUI user interface. This is my first experience with MIUI and I must say it’s miles better than TouchWiz, Xperia or even a stock Android phone. The interface is very smooth and responsive, everything just runs a lot faster than my previous Android phones. Its interface kind of resembles the iPhone without the regular application drawer and all installed applications are displayed on the screen. Furthermore you won’t find any bloatware on the MIUI. What they do include are some useful tools like the Security which let you do cleanup, virus scan, manage blocklist and restrict data usage. There’s also the Scanner app, SIM Toolkit, FM Radio, voice recorder and Mi Account app. Apart from the pre-installed themes, you can find a lot more themes online from the Themes app. The Redmi Note 2 comes with MIUI version 7.01 which is upgradeable now to 7.1 and is based on Android 5.0 Lollipop. Hopefully I don’t have to wait too long for the Marshmallow version to be released.







As I mentioned earlier, the Redmi Note 2 comes with an IR blaster which is not so common with smartphones these days, let alone midrange phones like this one. However don’t get to excited yet, I cannot get any of the remote function to work with 2 TVs, 2 decoders and one CD player that I tried. I don’t know whether they used a different frequency or something but I had to use a third-party universal remote app to get it to work with my LG TV. I presume Xiaomi made the Mi Remote app specifically for the Chinese market so they might not work anywhere else. If we are ever going to use this neat feature, Xiaomi certainly need to improve on this, like make them actually work with any TV or device?





The Redmi Note 2 supports 3G and 4G/LTE networks and I had no problem getting high-speed Internet to work on this phone. Camera-wise, the 13 megapixel shooter is certainly capable of taking decent pictures in broad daylight and also not too shabby in low light conditions. There’s a few camera modes to choose from when you swipe left on the camera app such as panorama, HDR, scene mode, manual, timer, gradient and HHT (hand held twilight) mode. HHT basically allows you to take night pictures with less noise and slightly more exposure. Below are some sample pictures taken with the Redmi Note 2 and also a time-lapse video taken during sunrise.













So how does the 3060mAh battery fare? I’ve been using the phone regularly every week day - emails, intermittent web browsing, Instagram, Facebook, a little bit of reading with Google Play Book, a few minutes of music now and then and suffice to say the battery will have like 20 to 30% left when I got home. Not bad for a mid-range phone but could be better. I didn’t get to test the phone to the extreme with graphic-intensive games but I’m sure the Octa-core Heliotek processor would be more than capable to handle them all. Yeah 16GB is a tad small to be downloading a few gigabytes of games that I will hardly play. Can’t wait for Marshmallow to come for the Redmi Note 2. Then I would be able to use my external SD card as an internal memory.





Conclusions. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 ticks a lot of boxes in the ideal phablet that I’m looking for. It has a nice big 5.5” screen, decent camera, expandable storage, gorgeous MIUI interface and a respectable performance for its price. The big screen is especially nice for watching movies and reading ebooks which are the two things that I use the phone for the most. You can’t get a better Android phone for RM649 in the market at the moment. However at the time of writing, the Redmi Note 3 is already out and it’s a lot better, made from unibody aluminium and only cost 50 ringgit more even for an imported set. So if you don’t mind unofficial imported handphones, I strongly suggest you get the Redmi Note 3 instead. But if you’re patient, you can get the same phone from the official Xiaomi website for a little less in a few month’s time.

Pros:

  • big 5.5 inch screen
  • decent camera
  • expandable storage
  • MIUI 7
  • IR blaster
  • USB OTG capabilities
  • replaceable battery
  • affordable

Cons:

  • plastic body
  • moderate battery performance
  • IR blaster app is useless
  • micro USB 2.0 charger (USB type C is the future man!)
  • Android 5.1 Lollipop

Post script:
You can get the Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 16GB from me for only RM649 with free next day delivery around Klang Valley. Contact me now at +60107761573 to order today.