Xiaomi has upped the ante again, in the budget Android smartphone segment, with the new Redmi 3S Prime. Priced at Rs.8,999, the Redmi 3S Prime faces competition from the likes of the Micromax Unite 4 Pro (Rs.7,499) and the Coolpad Note 3 Lite (Rs.6,999)
Design: Handy and solidly built
Designed on similar lines as the big-screen Redmi Note 3, the Redmi 3S Prime offers a more compact form (it is 139mm tall and 69mm wide, while the Redmi Note 3 is 150mm tall and 76mm wide). The Redmi 3S Prime weighs 142g and snuggles comfortably into small hands due to the matte finish and the rounded edges. It is a good-looking phone with a unibody metal exterior which is a rarity at this price point. The gold metal RIM running along the front panel gives it a touch of class.
The fingerprint sensor on the Redmi 3S Prime is placed on the back panel and is pretty accurate to use. Like all Xiaomi phones, the touch-based navigation keys are placed below the display, unlike a lot of Android phones, which integrate them with the on-screen interface itself.
Overall, it is one of the best designed budget smartphones in the market. The only other smartphone which feels close to this sort of build quality and classy looks is the Micromax Unite 4 Pro.
Display: Small screen looks good
The Redmi 3S Prime has a good-looking 5-inch display with a resolution of 1280x720p and pixel density of 296ppi. At this price point and screen size, most phones have similar or even lower resolution screens. Colours look rich, while app icons and text looks crisp. It handles reflections and visibility in bright light well. The phone allows users to tweak with the screen colour richness and switch between the more agreeable warm mode and the more natural-looking cool mode from the display settings. However, there is a shortcoming which cannot be ignored. The display is a bit too glossy, vulnerable to smudges, and prone to scratches.
Software: New Android with customized UI
The Redmi 3S Prime runs the Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) operating system with MIUI 7 over it. It is a colourful UI with some very nicely-designed themes, app icons and wallpapers. There is no app drawer. All apps are placed on the home screen itself. The multi-tasking window shows apps running in the background in a vertical card-based format, similar to the Widows phones, so you can see the whole page instead of just a peek at the top. It comes with some interesting modes such as Lite mode, which switches on another interface with bigger icons and fewer features, the child mode, which restricts access to a select apps and is good for users with a kid.
Performance: Steady and long lasting
Powered by 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 octa-core processor with 3GB RAM, the Redmi 3S Prime delivered a smooth and stutter-free performance even when we had 8-10 apps open and kicking in the background.
Though the small screen rules out playing each and every game comfortably, it was able to take care of games such as Asphalt 8 without any glitch and heating issues. The smartphone offers 32GB of storage which is unheard of at this price point. You can add another 128GB via micro SD cad which is built in on one of the SIM card slots.
The dual SIM card slots support all major 4G networks in India.
The phone’s biggest highlight is the 4,100mAh battery, which gives up to two days of backup with ease.
Camera: Bright and fast
The 13-megapixel camera is fast and is backed by a very user-friendly interface. Swiping right shows all the filters, while swiping left shows all the modes such as beautify, panorama, manual and timer. It has a tendency to oversaturate colours a little, giving the objects a slightly brighter look. So the picture looks good but far from the original. In terms of clarity and detailing, it is at par with any other budget smartphone with a good camera. The picture looks crisp enough for social media posts. Low-light shots look blurred and washed out.
Xiaomi Redmi 3S Prime is by far the most well-endowed small screen phone in the range of Rs.5,000 to Rs.10,000. The only other device, which comes closer to it in terms of build quality and design is the Micromax Unite 4 Pro, but it uses an inferior Spreadtrum processor, runs old Android and has an inferior camera.
In case you don’t want to spend Rs.8,999, you should go for the Coolpad Note 3 Lite, which is a smooth performer, offers 5-inch HD display, a good daytime camera and has a fingerprint sensor.