Xiaomi Redmi Y1 Review: A good buy, but may not be for selfie lovers
A couple of years ago, cricketing legend Shane Warne had taken to Twitter and said that he went for a walk and was stopped for three selfies. “The autograph is officially dead,” he tweeted. In 2013, Oxford dictionary officially declared selfie as the “word of the year.” Selfie is the ultimate weapon for digital narcissism – the perfect tool for showoff – aided by the meteoric rise of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It hasn’t been a surprise to see smartphone makers jump on the selfie mania and arm people with devices that can take the “perfect selfie”. Brands like Vivo, Oppo, Gionee’s bread and butter devices are selfie-oriented smartphones. What’s surprising is that a brand like Xiaomi had waited so long to launch one such phone. However, with the Redmi Y1, the Chinese brand has finally got a selfie phone in its portfolio. We spent a few days with it to know what’s good and what’s not so good about the phone. Read the rest of our review to find out…
Xiaomi Redmi Y1 Design
It doesn’t come as a surprise to see the Redmi Y1 look like a few other smartphones from Xiaomi’s Redmi family. It’s not a slight on the design of the phone or Xiaomi as such because the minimalistic look and feel of the Redmi Y1 is attractive. It’s credit to Xiaomi, in fact, that despite having a plastic body, the Redmi Y1 manages to look premium and sleek. Flip over the phone and you’ll notice that it deceptively looks like it has a metal body when the side edges, power and volume rocker buttons are indeed made out of plastic. It’s perhaps the use of plastic that makes the Redmi Y1 extremely light to hold. With it being a lightweight device, Redmi Y1 is easy to grip and singlehanded operations are a breeze. Xiaomi Redmi Y1 comes in Gold and Dark Grey colour variants and the review unit we got was dressed in Gold.
The front panel of the smartphone is dominated by the 5.5-inch HD (720×1280 pixels) display. On top of that, there is a 16MP camera along with a diffused selfie flash. Right below the screen, there are non-backlit capacitive touch buttons that can be used for navigation.
The smartphone’s fingerprint sensor lies at the back panel, which also has that 13MP primary camera and LED flash at top right and Xiaomi branding at the bottom.
The power and volume rocker buttons are sandwiched at the right edge while the SIM tray is on the left. The 3.5mm jack lies on the top and the microUSB port and speaker grilles are at the bottom. The non-removable back panel of the smartphone houses a 3080mAh battery.
The build quality of the smartphone aided by its ease of use and premium looks did impress us.
The display of Redmi Y1 reproduces accurate colours and images projected are sharp and clear. There wasn’t any pixelation and viewing angles are satisfactory. Also, if you don’t like the Standard display settings, you can change them to Warm or Cool according to your preference. There is also a Reading mode, which reduces the display’s blue light emission — a feature that comes in handy for those using their smartphones in dimly lit conditions. There’s an option to schedule a time for turning on the Reading mode automatically.
Xiaomi Redmi Y1 Performance
Xiaomi Redmi Y1 comes in two storage variants — 3GB RAM/32GB internal storage and 4GB RAM/64GB inbuilt storage. Redmi Y1 runs MIUI based on Android 7.1 Nougat and is powered by the octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 processor. Selfie lovers get a 16MP front-facing camera with f/2.0 aperture, 76.4-degree wide angle sensor and a dedicated flash along with the Beautify feature. There is a 13MP rear camera with PDAF and f/2.2 aperture. The smartphone has a 3080mAh battery.
The smartphone we got for review had 3GB RAM and came with Android 7.1 Nougat skinned with MIUI 9 Beta. If you have been using a device which runs stock Android, it’ll be quite a change for you. The MIUI skin brings a different look to the phone’s software.
The Settings section of the phone is different and so are the app permissions. If you go to Settings, you’ll notice that there are a number of ways in which the smartphone experience can be customised. An example of adding one such customization is Dual Apps feature – which only functions of select apps. For instance, you choose Dual Apps feature for Amazon. You begin shopping on the app. Dual Apps then gives you the option of minimizing that version of Amazon and opening another version which will launch the app again instead of reopening the page you were on.
Xiaomi Redmi Y1 comes with a few pre-installed apps including WPS Office, Amazon Shopping and UC News. It also has a number of native apps including Mi Browser, Mi Drop, Mi Remote, Mi Community, Mi Store, Mi Video, and more. Besides these, the usual suite of Google apps is also there on the device.
The Redmi Y1 offers smooth and reliable performance. There aren’t any lags and the Redmi Y1 handles multitasking with consummate ease. The same goes for launching apps and switching between them or using multiple tabs of Google Chrome. The device doesn’t heat up even when more than three tasks are being performed at the same time.
The only time the device does warm up a bit is when you’re playing games. Speaking of gaming experience, this isn’t a smartphone suited for gamers. The games we played – Angry Birds 2, Temple Run 2 and Asphalt 8 – took a long time to load and there’s, of course, the heating issue. The battery levels also take a hit if you play games for more than 20 minutes.
Otherwise, the battery of the device performs satisfactorily. On moderate usage, the device lasts for a day. However, with heavy usage – watching videos, listening to music and using social media apps – one does require to charge the phone again in the evening.
The highlight – at least according to Xiaomi – of Redmi Y1 is the selfie camera. Before we get into the selfie camera, it must be pointed out that the camera app of the smartphone is quite impressive. There are a lot of Instagram-like filters which help avoiding the hassle of putting them on while editing. Instead, you can click the photos using the multitude of filters on offers. There’s the usual set of modes like Panorama, Manual and Beautify. A timer option is also available for clicking images and the app has Flash and HDR buttons on the top left and right that make them easily accessible. Also, you can click pictures using the fingerprint sensor.
If the Camera app is impressive then the actual Camera doesn’t really set the world on fire. Considering that Xiaomi is pitching it as a selfie phone, the performance of the camera doesn’t live up the tag. It’s not as if the images clicked with the Redmi Y1 are anything to scoff at but they are ordinary in the truest sense. The selfies came out reasonable in well-lit and dimly lit conditions. The moment you zoom in to take a closer look you notice a lot of grains – not exactly what is expected of a selfie camera phone. The grainy images issue isn’t restricted to the front camera as the same issue persists with the primary camera as well. It’s not a bad camera as such but the images lack sharpness and clarity for sure.
The fingerprint sensor of the smartphone is a plus and is extremely responsive. There wasn’t a single time when the smartphone didn’t unlock as soon as we placed our finger on it.
We ran some benchmark tests on Xiaomi Redmi Y1 and it scored 45489 in Antutu and 673 and 2599 in Single core and Multi core scores of Geekbench 4.
Let’s make it clear from the outset that if you’re looking for a smartphone for clicking selfies then the Xiaomi Redmi Y1 doesn’t live up to its promise of being a selfie centric smartphone. Having said that, it still is a good smartphone which has a lot going for it. The build quality is impressive, the vibrant display is a pleasant aspect as is the reliable lag-free performance and welcome software tweaks. What goes against it is the ordinary battery life and unexceptional camera experience. Still, at Rs 8,999, this is a good buy – as long as you aren’t buying it to click selfies.