Redmi 8 Review: All Style, No Substance

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Xiaomi Redmi 8

Redmi 8
Price: Rs 7,999 (for a limited time)

If the entry-level smartphone market wasn’t saturated enough, Xiaomi has rolled out the Redmi 8 along with the Redmi 8A (Review). Priced at Rs 7,999 for a limited time, the Redmi 8 mostly improves upon the Redmi 8A with a slight bump in price. It boasts of a dual camera, 4 GB of RAM, a large battery, IR blaster, and fast charging. But, is it good enough to be a worthy successor to the Redmi 7 (Review)?

Xiaomi Redmi 8

Design and Build Quality

The Redmi 8 looks pretty much like the Redmi 8A. However, unlike the latter, the Redmi 8 has a gloss finish. Basically, it trades grip for a fancy design. The reflective pattern on the blue unit looks quite interesting. However, it lacks the gradient paint job, which is a rage these days.

Redmi 8 vs Redmi 8A

The handset is well-built for the price. Having said that, the all-plastic body is a definite step down from the premium glass sandwich design found on the recent Redmi Note series phones. The phone has a black strip that houses a dual camera and a fingerprint sensor on the back. The phone has a mono speaker at the bottom alongside a 3.5 mm headphone jack and a Type-C USB port. Xiaomi has also thrown-in an Infrared blaster, which turns your phone into a universal remote for appliances.

Xiaomi Redmi 8

Much like the Redmi 8A, this phone comes with splash-resistant coating. The Chinese company hasn’t disclosed whether it uses P2i’s patented technology. Moving onto the front, you get a notch-screen display. It doesn’t have very thin bezels, however, as measured by GSMArena, you get a healthy screen-to-body ratio of over 80 percent.

Display

The phone has the exact same 6.2-inch HD+ display we tested on the Redmi 8A. You get an IPS (In-Plane Switching) panel, which offers wider viewing angles and compared to a regular LCD. On the flip side, the screen isn’t sufficiently bright for outdoor use. The colors look muted, but you can tweak it to a certain extent by switching it to the vibrant mode. The biggest downer is the low pixel density of 270 ppi. The pixelation is quite noticeable on the panel. For scratch resistance, the handset relies on Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5 protection.

Redmi 8 Display

Software

The Redmi 8 ships with MIUI 10 customization built on Android 9 Pie. From its humble beginnings, MIUI has matured into one of the most feature-rich Android skin on the market. It offers most of the useful stuff including File Manager, app lock, call recorder, screen recorder, Scanner, Mi Drop, and Cleaner right out of the box. But, the initial setup process is frustratingly long.

Redmi 8 MIUI

Xiaomi’s automated setup wizard asks you to change the wallpaper at the very beginning. However, if you click on that option, you are greeted with an empty folder. It clearly shows that Xiaomi hasn’t tested the software thoroughly.

The phone comes loaded with a few unwanted apps including Helo, Likee, and VidAngel. It also annoys you with app recommendations that you never asked for. Much like the Redmi 8A, this phone too shows ads in the middle of an app installation process. Strangely though, these ads have disappeared for the last few days. Maybe Xiaomi is reconsidering its ad strategy in India or is simply putting the adverts on hold till most reviews are out.

Owing to its 4 GB RAM, the Redmi 8 isn’t as sluggish as the Redmi 8A with paltry 2 GB RAM. However, the Snapdragon 439 chipset is quite weak and it shows even during normal usage. Be it swiping between the homescreens, pulling down the notification shade, or switching between the apps, most transitions feel slightly jittery. It just doesn’t make sense to spend Rs 8,999 on this Snapdragon 439 powered smartphone when you can get the Realme 5 backed by the Snapdragon 665 chipset for the same price.

The Adreno 505 GPU runs the most casual games without any issues. But don’t get your hopes too high as it is not ideal for popular shooters such as PUBG and Call of Duty. Once again, the Realme 5 offers much better performance at the same price. And if you are willing to spend Rs 9,999, the Realme 3 Pro delivers a very good gaming experience thanks to the Snapdragon 710 at its core.

If you spend a lot of time on YouTube, the phone’s mono is the speaker is good enough with its loud output. However, for music and movies, you have no option but to plug in a decent pair of earphones. Speaking of which, the Redmi 8 doesn’t ship with a headset. I tested it with the Sony MDR-EX150AP and AKG tuned headset that ship with the Galaxy Note 9. The audio is just about what you expect from a budget headset. There’s not much distortion but the sound gets muddled as you increase the volume. Much like the Remdi 8S, this phone comes with an in-built FM antenna. However, it couldn’t pick up a single radio station in Hyderabad.

Cameras

The Redmi 8 comes with a dual-camera setup at the back. It comprises of a 12 MP primary camera with a 2 MP depth sensor. The camera is quite slow to lock focus. Like most phones these days, the Redmi 8 delivers good results in proper lighting conditions. The pictures contain a good amount of detail. The sharpness is consistent even around the corners of the photograph. The images tend to be on the warmer side. And the phone struggles with the bright areas. For instance, the sky looks overexposed.

Things go south as the Sun heads towards the west. In low light conditions, the images contain a significant amount of noise. You also get a noticeable pastel color effect. The moving objects look blurry. In short, the low-light camera is nothing to write home about. Moving onto video recording, Full HD at 30 fps is the max you can squeeze out from this handset. Much like we noticed in the Redmi 8A, this phone too tends to lose focus. With no system in place for stabilization, the videos come out quite jittery. The front-facing 8 MP camera isn’t going to please the selfie aficionados. But, it gets the work done nonetheless.

Battery

Budget Xiaomi devices generally offer excellent battery life and the Redmi 8 is no exception. It packs-in a 5,000 mAh unit, which comfortably lasts over a day and a half on a single charge. With its 10 W charger, the phone takes slightly over three hours to fully charge from zero. You can, however, buy a compatible 18 W charger for around Rs 450 to cut down on the charging time.

Redmi 8

Verdict

The Redmi 8 was supposed to be better than the Redmi 8A. And, it is a step-up from the 8A in certain aspects. However, Xiaomi hasn’t chosen the right areas to improve upon. The Redmi 8 comes with better build, dual camera, and a fingerprint sensor. But the Chinese company hasn’t done much to deliver improve the smartphone experience. The phone’s chipset is a serious bottleneck. In fact, in terms of processing power, the Redmi 8’s Snapdragon 439 is a downgrade from the Redmi 7 equipped with the Snapdragon 632. It is difficult to recommend this phone especially when you can get a far more powerful Realme 5 for a grand more.

Redmi 8

Redmi 8

6.1

Design and Build Quality

7.0/10

Display

5.0/10

Software

6.0/10

Camera

5.5/10

Performance

5.0/10

Value for Money

7.0/10

Battery Life

7.5/10

What Is Good?

  • Large 5,000 mAh battery
  • Stylish design
  • Competitive price tag

What Is Bad?

  • Weak Snapdragon 439 processor
  • Mediocre display
  • Camera struggles in low-light