Earlier this year, Xiaomi, under its new sub-brand Redmi, introduced the Redmi Note 7 series in India. In this new line-up, the Redmi Note 7 Pro was undoubtedly the star attraction. The Redmi Note 7, although with a great price tag and an impressive design, just couldn’t match up to the 48MP camera on the higher-end device.
In a bid to reach a wider audience, Xiaomi, out of nowhere launched the Redmi Note 7S, that not just addressed the Redmi Note 7 concerns but also priced it to perfection. The Redmi Note 7S comes with some stellar features chief of which is the 48MP camera on board and with a price tag of just Rs 10,999, Xiaomi has made it one of the cheapest handsets on the planet to come with this impressive camera.
We got to spend a few days with the all-new Redmi Note 7S and here are our thoughts on it.
The Redmi Note 7S is a stunner. And there’s absolutely no denying this point. If you happen to see this device for the first time, you will not be at fault for assuming that it costs significantly more than it is. Based on the design itself, the Redmi Note 7S is a guaranteed winner. Coming with the same design language as the Redmi Note 7 Pro, the newly launched device comes with a beautiful metallic rear that oozes class.
Available in three colours — Onyx, Black, Sapphire Blue and Ruby Red, the Redmi Note 7S is bound to turn heads wherever you go. Considering the price of this device, you would think that Xiaomi has added less than ideal materials here. Instead, the Redmi Note 7S has sandwiched a sturdy polycarbonate frame that’s sandwiched between two Gorilla Glass 5 sheets; giving it the utmost protection against accidental drops. Featuring curved glass on the front and rear, the handset is easy to grip; however, in order to keep it shiny and new, we recommend using the TPU case that comes bundled as part of the packaging.
The rear plays home to a vertically stacked dual camera setup that’s assisted by an LED flash. With it having a similar design to the Redmi Note 7 Pro, you get a camera bump that’s pretty minimal. Due credit needs to be given to Xiaomi for adding a 48MP camera on the device and still keeping the camera bump down to a minimum. At the back, we also find the fingerprint scanner that’s easily accessible. The reason why reaching for the scanner is completely doable is that even though the brand has fitted a large display here, it still managed to keep the overall footprint of the device down to a minimum. With smartphone manufacturers continuously increasing the size of the handsets, it quite reassuring knowing that Xiaomi has added so much, yet kept the size and weight down to a minimum. This makes for comfortable handling even with excessive usage and in the process helps reduce wrist fatigue.
Xiaomi hasn’t taken the stingy route and added a micro USB port on the rear because this is a budget handset; instead, the brand has made it future-proof by using a Type-C port here. At the top, you also find the headphone jack, which the brand has no intention of discontinuing and if you have a wired headphone/earphone which you’re partial to, you can be rest assured that this handset supports it. As with all the handsets in the Note 7 series, Xiaomi has included an IR blaster up top which can be used as a universal remote control.
Other standard features found here include the volume rockers and power button on the side, microphone and speaker grille at the bottom and the SIM tray on the left. The handset’s ports have protection against accidental spillage which means that it’s water resistant to an extent and able to survive a light shower.
While the design of a handset is not enough to base an entire review off, we can still easily recommend the Redmi Note 7S based on its design as you will come away with a device that’s a definite head-turner.
The Redmi Note 7S uses a Dot Notch display, this is the brand’s naming scheme for its waterdrop style notched display. On this handset, Xiaomi has added a 6.3-inch FHD+ LTPS display that has an effective resolution of 1080 x 2340 pixels. Because the handset comes with a notched display, you get an aspect ratio of 19:5:9 thereby giving users more screen real estate to work with. The LTPS display is one of the best technologies found for screens which help in producing faster refresh rates and overall better visuals.
The bezels on three sides are kept down to a minimum and it’s just 1.95mm which is pretty impressive in itself as seldom do we find handsets priced around this price range with such slim bezels. The Redmi Note 7S’ curved screen helps in making the bezels a lot slimmer than they actually are and it's these minor addition that makes the handset tower over the competition.
Colours on the Redmi Note 7S’ LTPS display are absolutely beautiful and the overall viewing experience is quite immersive. This makes watching videos and playing games a sheer pleasure. Brightness levels here are great as well and this stellar performance doesn’t deteriorate even in direct sunlight which makes viewing content completely manageable in every lighting condition.
The display was responsive with no lag noticeable giving you a smooth user experience. Just like the Redmi Note 7 Pro, the response to inputs was recorded well and Xiaomi is a master at adding top-notch performances on handsets at every price range.
The Redmi Note 7S runs on MIUI 10 that’s based on Android 9 Pie and it is updated to the May 2019 security patch. As of mid-2019 it's pretty common to see Android Pie running on budget smartphones so having this feature isn’t anything to shout on the rooftops about. However, having such a well optimised OS like MIUI makes all the difference here.
With MIUI 10, you get an OS that’s extremely simple to navigate through and since it’s based on Google’s current greatest OS, you get new recent menu, gestures, and much more. MIUI 10 is designed for the full-screen experience. With this skin, the brand has removed all elements that could break the visual integrity of a full-screen device. There's no segmentation brought about by divisions and conflicting colours here, everything important is presented in the form of neat cards with rounded corners which rhyme with hardware elements.
You also get full-screen gestures where you swipe up to go to the Home screen, swipe half-way up to go to the Recent menu, swipe from right to left to go back and wipe from left to right to switch between apps. Xiaomi has also removed all unnecessary UI elements and visual clutter from the Notification shade to let the content take the front stage. With this new skin, apps launch a lot faster in comparison to previous versions.
Our only real complaint here is the ads that litter the entire UI. However, with the price set at so low, this is the only trade-off for purchasing an all-rounder handset.
Like the Redmi Note 7 it replaces, the Redmi Note 7S is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 SoC that’s paired with either 3GB or 4GB of RAM. This hardware is quite sufficient in powering the handset through most tasks you throw at it and for this price point, the performances live up to expectations. In for testing, we received the 4GB/64GB variant and for most daily tasks, the handset is a capable performer. This is clearly evident in the way the device handles multitasking which is completely fluid and no lag noticeable during our testing period. Whether you are launching or killing apps, the handset performs brilliantly giving us a hard time to not recommend it for absolutely anyone.
Gaming on the Redmi Note 7S is completely doable and although heavy games can be played with settings turned up to the max, games are best played at lower settings. This will give you the best gaming experience.
When it comes to the fingerprint scanner, the biometric sensor worked flawlessly; and we expected nothing less from a handset that’s gained a cult following. Also, if the fingerprint sensor isn’t your thing, the Face Unlock feature works just as well if not better.
Both the Redmi Note 7 Pro and the Redmi Note 7S both use 48MP sensors. However, the Redmi Note 7 Pro utilises a costlier Sony IMX586 sensor while the Note 7S makes do with a Samsung GM1 sensor. This sensor that’s used on the Note 7S features an F/1.8 aperture with a sensor size of ½-inch or 0.8um and comes with features such as PDAF as opposed to dual pixel AF. Alongside the 48MP camera, there is a 5MP depth sensor that’s used for shooting portraits. The camera app is pretty easy to navigate through and over here you have different camera modes such as Portrait, Panorama, Night and the highly customizable Pro mode.
While capturing images with the 7S, the AI does really well and can detect the appropriate scene immediately which makes for great shots. In well-lit environments, the camera does well to produce accurate colours with a significant amount of detail visible. We recommend using AI for capturing images as it enhances the overall image as it adds a significant punch to colours. Low light photography is decent and nothing really to write home about with image noise being visible.
For selfies, the Redmi Note 7S uses a 13MP shooter and in our humble opinion, shooting images with this camera produced much more fulfilling results. The handset does well in the selfie department as it manages to capture colours and skin tones quite effectively. The edge-detection here is great but we found that shooting portraits with the Note 7 Pro produced slightly better results. Lastly, the handset is filled to the brim with AI tech and this range from Beautify mode to various AI filters.
Xiaomi has added a 4000mAh battery in the Redmi Note 7S and with this handset, you get some solid battery life. During our use as a daily driver, we observed that even after a day of moderate-to-heavy use, we still managed to get an average of 25% battery remaining by the end of the day. If you use this handset moderately, you can be sure it will last two days on a single charge.
The Redmi Note 7S is priced at Rs 10,999 for the 3GB version and Rs 12,999 for the 4GB option. The Redmi Note 7S poses a unique proposition for the Indian consumer as they will get a 48MP smartphone that’s just north of the Rs 10K mark. Xiaomi has played their cards right and launched it at a time when this segment was getting unnecessarily saturated with handsets that had no discerning factor from the next. With the 48MP Redmi Note 7S, Xiaomi hasn’t just disrupted the Rs 10K price range; but also laid down the challenge for any opposing brand to top them. In our opinion, this is a tough act to follow and while the Redmi Note 7 Pro continues to reign supreme in and around the Rs 15K price point, it now gets a sibling to dismantle any opposition at a lower price point....