Last known price of Xiaomi Redmi Y1 4GB RAM was Rs. 9,500. This phone is available in 32 GB, 64 GB storage variants.
Make no mistake, Xiaomi has shown its capability to make excellent phones that stand the test of time and continue to remain relevant even years after release. Devices such as the Redmi Note 3 and Redmi Note 4 have continued to dominate the mid-range segment and will continue to do so, as they are miles ahead of the curve compared to other devices priced similarly. Enter the Xiaomi Redmi Y1, a device that has similar specifications to the Redmi 4A. I was a bit sceptical, initially, when I heard about the device's release during Xiaomi's recent press release. The specifications did look underwhelming, barring the secondary camera. Let's take a quick look at the specifications the Xiaomi Redmi Y1 brings to the table.My expectations from the device weren't very high, to begin with, but thankfully it did a decent-ish job for the most part, with a few minor kinks here and there, which I'll explain in detail in a bit.
Xiaomi Redmi Y1: Design and Build Quality
I'm not going to sugar-coat this in any way. The Redmi Y1 feels cheap. The polycarbonate body is sturdy and survived a few drops without so much as a scratch, but that's not the impression one would get holding the phone for the first time. The display, despite lacking Gorilla Glass protection, held its own every time the device was dropped. Granted that the drops were not deliberate and the device never landed screen first, the display is sturdy and should survive mild drops.
The bottom portion of the phone houses the stereo speakers, mic, and the micro USB port. On the left side, we have the SIM and microSD card tray, bundled together in one neat little slot. The volume rockers and power buttons are on the right edge and have a nice tactile feel to them, though it's easy to get confused between the two at times. On the top, we have the IR blaster and the (soon to be dead) 3.5mm audio jack. The front and rear camera, along with the LED flashes are coplanar with the top antenna band, while the capacitive buttons on the bottom are coplanar with the bottom antenna band. The design is no different from your standard garden variety Xiaomi device, which seems to work well.
Xiaomi Redmi Y1: Display
One thing I appreciate about the Xiaomi Redmi Y1's display the most is the fact that it sticks to a 720x1280 resolution, taking some of the load off the relatively slower Snapdragon 435 powering it. The display has a brightness of 435 nits (coincidence? I think not) and does a surprisingly good job aiding with legibility under direct sunlight. The colour reproduction was a bit underwhelming, with some tones looking a bit duller than they should have. Tinkering around in the display settings to manually adjust the warmth and contrast yields marginally better results. Most Xiaomi devices have a feature known as 'reading mode', which claims to reduce eye strain by filtering out blue light. While many people call it a gimmick and a placebo effect, I found it to be a tad relaxing, especially during the night, when the ambient light is low. I'm a little bummed that it isn't a full HD display, I can totally understand why Xiaomi went for a 720p panel.
Xiaomi Redmi Y1: Camera
The primary camera on the Redmi Y1 is 13-megapixels and the secondary camera is 16-megapixels. The raw camera performance is what one would expect out of a 13-megapixel camera, but what sets it apart is the things you can do to the captured images with MIUI. Under ideal lighting conditions, the 13-megapixel primary camera does what it's meant to do, with crisp images mostly devoid of noise. The camera UI is feature rich, allowing you to apply filters, switch shooting modes, fine-tune the white balance and ISO and a host of other features. The camera also supports tilt-shift mode, allowing you to get a Bokeh effect in images. The HHT (handheld twilight) mode is similar to HDR, lets you capture better quality images in low light situations. The low light performance of the camera, however, falters as the LED flash can only do so much before the noise begins to creep in the images. Given the cost of the device, the camera performance genuinely surprised me.
Moving on to the comparatively less feature rich secondary camera, the most notable feature of which is the beauty mode. Essentially, it makes you look 'beautiful' by lightening your skin tone and hiding any visible blemishes on your face. It also offers the option to make your face 'slim'. The UI auto-detects your age and gender to a reasonable degree of accuracy and makes adjustments accordingly, although it thought I was a 42-year-old female in one instance (spoiler alert: I'm not). For low light situations, there is an option to switch on the front LED flash as a torch as opposed to a flash. The front camera UI is a lot more limited in terms of what it lets you do, with the 'options' button completely gone when you switch to video recording mode on the front camera. Overall, both the cameras genuinely impressed me as they're way ahead of the curve, compared to other similarly priced devices.
Xiaomi Redmi Y1: Performance, Connectivity and Audio
The Xiaomi Redmi Y1 performed exactly like I anticipated it to. I'm not particularly a fan of heavily customized versions of Android as they tend to complicate things unnecessarily, but MIUI seems to make it work. Navigation through the menus was a breeze, with next to no stutters or lag. The Split Screen mode, introduced in MIUI9 is still broken with some apps and downright incompatible with others. I'm hoping that it gets fixed with future updates, as it is a relatively new feature, for MIUI at least. The rear-mounted fingerprint scanner was lightning quick and almost never failed to recognize my fingers. Following are some results obtained by running GeekBench and AnTuTu benchmarking applications.
The Adreno 505 GPU on the Redmi Y1, albeit capable, is limited when it comes to high-end games. Asphalt 8: Airborne and Modern Combat 5 ran fine, with some settings turned down. Navigation through the in-game menus was, however, frustrating as it got unresponsive/took way longer to load. The phone goes full tilt in power saving mode, presumably because some cores might be shut down to save power.
The network reception of the Redmi Y1 was sub-par and the quality of phone calls even worse. The recipient had a hard time understanding half of what I said, test with three different SIM cards over several locations. The problem appears to be consistent with all Xiaomi phones and isn't just limited to this one, with similar results being reported by the Mi Max 2 used by my coworker. The 4G connection was highly unstable, experiencing drops intermittently. The maximum throughput achieved over 4G capped out at around 20 Mbps, tested at various times of the day at multiple locations.The device lacked a 5GHz WiFi radio and the throughput over WiFi capped at around 50 Mbps. The dual-speakers on the front were loud, but treble-heavy and lacked bass. The sound also seemed a bit crackly and a faint hissing sound emanated from the speakers when played at full volume. I'm not complaining though, as I hardly ever use the loudspeakers.
Xiaomi Redmi Y1: Battery Life
The Snapdragon 435 isn't the most power efficient chip around and we managed to squeeze around 3 hours of Screen On Time with moderate-high usage with approximately 20 hours of use out of the 3080mAh battery. The device took approximately an hour and a half to charge from five to ninety percent and an additional half an hour for the remaining ten percent. MIUI is on the constant lookout for battery hogs and notifies you when an app is consuming too much battery. A 4,000mAh battery or support for Quick Charge would have been nice and seem to have been excluded on purpose, but we can't really complain, as the device is very reasonably priced.
Xiaomi Redmi Y1: Software and UI
The Xiaomi Redmi Y1 runs Android Nougat 7.1 out of the box, with an MIUI 8 skin on top of it. A subsequent OTA update for 7.1.2 was received by the Y1 a few days later, with the MIUI 9 update coming nearly two weeks after I received the device. MIUI 9, while looking similar to MIUI 8, brings a lot of functionality changes, the complete log of which can be read here. The changes are mostly under the hood and are aimed at enhancing the overall performance of the devices.
The included photo/video editors got a major overhaul with several added functionalities, as shown in the camera UI app above. You can now add filters to individual frames, add text, audio and annotations. The photo editor is similar in terms of functionality giving you the option to crop, rotate, add filters and fine-tune your photos to perfection. Another app that received a complete rehaul is Mi Drop, a file transfer application. It worked fine for single files but went belly up when trying to transfer 16GB worth of media files from the Redmi Y1 to another device.
The Security app that comes pre-installed does a magnificent job of cleaning the cache, shutting down resource-heavy applications, scanning your device for malicious files, giving you the option to lock particular apps and optimizing battery use. It does what would normally require half a dozen or so third-party apps to accomplish. My only gripe with it is that it displays ads after successfully performing an operation.
Xiaomi Redmi Y1: Verdict
Despite all the shortcomings, the Xiaomi Redmi Y1 is a solid device overall. It does what it's designed to do well and even throws in a little extra as an added bonus. The Redmi Y1 is good value for money if you're looking for sub Rs. 10,000 phone. The device is perfectly designed for the Indian market and is likely to be one of the top selling devices here.
The Redmi Y1 is bested only by another similarly priced Xiaomi device, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4. The Redmi Note 4 outperforms the device in all aspects, barring the secondary camera. It is clear that the Redmi Y1 was designed for a selfie-centric audience in mind and to introduce MIUI 9 to the Indian market.
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 MSM8940|
|Display||5.5 inches (13.97 cms)|
|Front Camera||Single (16 MP, f/2.0 Camera)|
|Rear Camera||Single (13 MP, f/2.2 Camera)|
|Launch Date||November 15, 2017|
|Dimensions||6.02 x 3 x 0.3 inch (153 x 76.2 x 7.7 mm)|
|Build||Case: Metal, Back: Metal|
|Colors||Gold, Dark Grey|
|Chipset||Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 MSM8940|
|CPU||Octa core, 1.4GHz, Cortex A53|
|Operating System||Android v7.1.2 (Nougat)|
|Internal Memory||64 GB|
|Expandable Memory||Yes, microSD, Up to 128 GB (Dedicated)|
|Display Type||IPS LCD, 2.5D Curved Glass|
|Resolution||720 x 1280 pixels|
|Size||5.5 inches (13.97 cms)|
|Protection||Corning Gorilla Glass|
|TouchScreen||Yes, Capacitive, Multi-touch|
|Color Reproduction||16M Colors|
|Screen to body percentage||71.36 %|
|Pixel Density||267 pixels per inch (ppi)|
|Rear||Single (13 MP, f/2.2 Camera)|
|Flash||Rear (LED Flash)|
|Front||Single (16 MP, f/2.0 Camera)|
|Camera Features||Auto Flash, Auto Focus, Face detection, Touch to focus|
|Shooting Modes||Continuos Shooting, High Dynamic Range mode (HDR)|
|Video||Rear: 1920x1080 @ 30 fps|
|Standby Time||Up to 240 Hours(3G)|
|Talk time||Up to 32 Hours(3G)|
|USB OTG Support||Yes|
|Wi-Fi||Yes with b/g/n|
|SIM Configuration||Dual SIM (SIM1: Nano) (SIM2: Nano)|
|Network||4G: Available (supports Indian bands), 3G: Available, 2G: Available|
|Voice over LTE(VoLTE)||Yes|
|Wi-fi features||Wi-Fi Direct, Mobile Hotspot|
|GPS||Yes with A-GPS, Glonass|
|USB||microUSB 2.0, Mass storage device, USB charging, USB On-The-Go|
|Fingerprint sensor||Yes, Rear|
|Other Sensor||Light sensor, Proximity sensor, Accelerometer, Compass, Gyroscope|
|Audio Jack||Yes, 3.5mm|