This year Xiaomi has been very successful in catering to Indian customers with its entry-level smartphones. In a bid to attract the broadest audience base possible, Xiaomi has launched its most affordable smartphone yet, the Redmi 4A.
Selling for just ₹5,999, there really isn’t a device on the market that comes close to the Redmi 4A for the sheer number of features it offers. Its closest competitors are the Moto G Play, Moto E3 Power, and the Samsung Galaxy On5 Pro, all of which cost around ₹2000 more on average. The Redmi 4A certainly has the edge when it comes to the specifications, but as we know by now, the specs don’t tell the whole story. So let’s find out how the Redmi 4A performs in real-life conditions and see if it has the potential to be one of the greats.
Xiaomi Redmi 4A: Robust Build
It is almost impossible at first glance to figure out if the Redmi 4A is made out of metal or polycarbonate, as the surface looks and feels like metal. It is when you tap the back panel that you come to know that it is made out of a polycarbonate material. The device has solid build quality, and there are no creaking sounds whatsoever — a testament to Xiaomi’s attention to detail. At the top, the device has an infrared emitter to control electronic appliances (rarely found on the devices at this price range).
Near the bottom, the Redmi 4A has a microUSB port for charging and a mic for recording audio. The front of the device has a camera on the left of the earpiece, three navigation buttons on the bottom, and thick bezels around the display. The back of the device features a camera on the right corner and a wide speaker grill on the bottom. The left side of the device houses a SIM card tray, while the right side of the device has power and volume rockers.
The rounded corners, compact dimensions, and the smooth surface of the Redmi 4A makes it very easy to slide the device in and out of the pocket. The single handed operation could be a problem for people with small palms, but the device is fairly comfortable. One major flaw to be pointed out is that the navigation buttons are not backlit — making it difficult to find the buttons in the dark. Overall, Xiaomi has done a great job with the Redmi 4A’s design and build quality.
Xiaomi Redmi 4A: No-Nonsense Display
Entry-level smartphones don’t usually have a good display, but that is not the case with the Xiaomi Redmi 4A. The display visibility is good under direct sunlight with its above-average brightness levels, and there’s a layer that prevents overt reflections. That said, the automatic brightness has some issues, particularly when lowering the screen brightness when you transition from a bright environment to indoors. In such scenarios, you’ll have to lower the brightness manually, but we hope this minor issue will be fixed in further software updates.
The viewing angles are nothing to complaints about as it is an IPS panel. The colour reproduction is quite vibrant too, which makes the content on the display look appealing. Unfortunately, the display is not equipped with any protection layer over it, so there are chances of the display getting shattered even on the slightest of the drops, so you should definitely pick up a case.
Xiaomi Redmi 4A: Outstanding Performance
The Redmi 4A uses the Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 425 chipset, and the performance from this quad-core processor is amazing. The device feels fast and fluid. Also, it never heats up under normal usage. While setting up the device, we found the app installation process to be very fast; it even puts some higher-end devices to shame. As for the multitasking, the device comes with 2GB of RAM. The multitasking on the Redmi 4A is not great, but that’s par for the course in this segment. The device feels fluid while switching from one application to another.
The only time you’ll face UI lag is when you are actively using more than five applications and switching between them frequently. Other than that, we did not find any trouble in our day to day usage. The gaming performance is moderately good on the Redmi 4A, casual games run smoothly, but when you play heavy games like Modern Combat 5, you will face a lot of stutters, and that is to be expected from any budget smartphone.
Xiaomi Redmi 4A: Feature Packed Software Contains Bloatware
The software on the Redmi 4A is as good as its hardware. The Android 6.0 Marshmallow-based MIUI 8 that the Redmi 4A comes loaded with feels very optimised and polished. MIUI 8 is filled with a ton of features such as dual-apps, Second Space, themes, and an application locker. The dual-apps feature is very useful for those who need two WhatsApp accounts for two different SIM cards on a single smartphone.
Second Space is another wonderful feature in MIUI 8; it creates a new user account so that two people can use the same smartphone by retaining their privacy. The only thing missing from the MIUI 8 is an application drawer as it would have been easier to find applications and organise them by name.
Now coming to the cons of the software; it comes loaded with unwanted applications that send irritating notifications, and those applications cannot be uninstalled or disabled. The storage cleaner contains advertisements, and there is no way to stop those ads from being displayed. We were amazed to see that even the browser sends advertisement notifications. These unwanted applications and notifications were the only unsatisfying things we found in the software department.
Xiaomi Redmi 4A: Primary Camera Gets the Job Done
The imaging is handled by a 13-megapixel primary camera and a 5-megapixel secondary camera. First things first, the selfie camera isn’t worth your time. Each image taken from the selfie shooter is blurry, and by that we mean totally out of focus. Low-light performance is poor, but even the images taken in bright outdoor conditions appear dark and dull. The device takes a long time to capture and save images, making shooting images in quick succession a real pain. So if you are a selfie fan, you should stay away from this device, at least till Xiaomi fixes this problem through a software update (if it’s even possible).
The images taken from the primary camera during daylight are surprisingly good; they contain a fair amount of detail, the autofocus is spot on too. The colours in the image are not faded out, but they aren’t very vibrant either. However, while taking low-light shots, the images appear to be very vibrant, but that is a software gimmick to cover up the noise captured by the camera. Now moving on to the video recording; it’s the weakest point of the Redmi 4A. The videos recorded at Full HD resolution are very jittery. The average frame rate is as low as 15-17 FPS, and that doesn’t even qualify for the below-average quality.
A few other things to be noted: the camera is placed in the extreme corner of the device, so you sometimes end up covering the camera lens with your finger. Also, HDR shots take a long time to be processed and saved.
Xiaomi Redmi 4A: Call & Audio
The device performed well in our call quality test. People on either side of the call could hear properly without any distortion, the earpiece was loud enough in noisy conditions, and the mic picks up the voice without any issues. The speaker on the Redmi 4A is loud enough to alert you of calls and notifications in noisy environments, but during multimedia consumption, you feel the lack of depth from the sound.
Also, due to the speaker’s positioning, it sometimes gets muted inside the pocket. Now, regarding headphone volume output, the Redmi 4A beats even the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, but just like the speaker, the audio from headphone lacks quality. The higher frequencies have a fair amount of distortion, and the instrument separation is not sufficient. In brief, the sound lacks the sparkle and finesse that the mid-range and high-end devices provide.
Xiaomi Redmi 4A: Stunning Battery
The Redmi 4A comes with a relatively large 3,120 mAh battery, and combined with the efficient chipset and the display; it delivers stunning battery backup. During our test period, the device returned 28-30 hours of backup with over 4 hours of screen-on time. We found the device to lose as little as 2% battery overnight. The charging time from 0-100% was around 2 hours and 15 minutes, but even small top-ups can provide you with enough juice.
Xiaomi Redmi 4A: A Sensible Purchase
The Xiaomi Redmi 4A impressed us with its robust build quality, no-nonsense display, fast performance, feature packed software, and an amazing battery backup, but it failed to impress us in the imaging department. Also, it irritated us with its advertisement notifications. The device gets the basics right, and that is what most of the people are in need of in this price range. Putting the phone into the context of the segment as a whole makes it an easy recommendation — the Xiaomi Redmi 4A is the most sensible buy in this price range.
Xiaomi Redmi 4A
Design and Build Quality8.0/10
Value For Money9.0/10
What Is Good?
- Good display
- MIUI 8 is packed with features
- Fast & fluid performance
- Amazing battery backup
- Great value for money
What Is Bad?
- Disappointing secondary camera
- Poor video recording from primary camera
- UI is filled with bloatware/advertisements