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Redmi Note

[Review&Unboxing] [Mi Explorer] Redmi Note 4 - Comparison & Review

2017-04-23 02:53:17
23912 15
Hi Mi Bunnies! Mi Explorer 7108x2659 here. I have spent over 2 weeks with the Redmi Note 4 and here is my review of the Redmi Note 4. In this review, I shall be comparing the device to its predecessor, the Redmi Note 3, to determine if it is a worthy upgrade.

“Redmi Note 3, Perfected”

If you game a lot on your phone, you might want to consider the Redmi Note 3 because of its powerful Snapdragon 650 processor. Otherwise, the Redmi Note 4 is the best 5.5” smartphone you can get for under $300 in Singapore right now.

  • Improved build quality & sleeker design
  • Better speaker placement
  • Improved low light camera performance
  • Longer battery life
  • Significantly lower price

  • Weaker performance
  • Accessories confusion due to difference in IR blaster placement across variants

“Simplicity led to an enhanced unboxing experience in the Redmi Note 4.”

If you own a Redmi Note 3, you will be surprised at how much better the new packaging is. Placing the boxes side by side, it is clear that the Redmi Note 4’s box is a lot thinner, so much so that it fits into my pocket really nicely.

Removing the lid, you will find the phone sitting at the very top of the box. The label sticker can still be found on the back of the Redmi Note 4, although it is a lot easier to remove this time round. Below the phone sits an information booklet (only for India) and the instruction sheet which doubles as a tab to pull the phone out. Under the paperwork, you will find the power adapter, Micro USB cable as well as the SIM removal tool. (No longer hidden with the paperwork!)

Speaking of power adapter, the one included with the Redmi Note 4 is a lot more compact than the old one, which explains why the new packaging is smaller. As usual, no headphones is bundled in the box to keep the price low but the good news is that Xiaomi did not skimp on the quality of the accessories that do come in the box. Love the new wall adapter!

“Same design, but different. The Redmi Note 4 builds on the design of its predecessor, with a more premium look and feel."

From far, the Redmi Note 4 looks identical to the Redmi Note 3, with the same camera placement and similar shape. But once you hold one in your hand, the differences are really obvious. The most prominent change would be the new tapered edges, which provide a really nice grip in the hand. Instantly, it gives the Redmi Note 4 a more “premium” look and feel.

(T: Redmi Note 4, B: Redmi Note 3)

Speaking of “premium” looks, another really appealing design change on the Redmi Note 4 would be the new shiny separation lines. I also like how everything is more symmetrical now, with the new placement for the Micro USB port.

(L: Redmi Note 3, R: Redmi Note 4)

(L: Redmi Note 3, R: Redmi Note 4)

The speaker has been shifted from the back to the bottom of the device. Do not be fooled by the speaker grills. The speaker is only on the right side; the left side houses a microphone. The headphone jack is still at the top of the device together with the IR blaster and a microphone hole. Not the most ideal position but at least it is there.

(T: Redmi Note 4, B: Redmi Note 3)

(T: Redmi Note 4, B: Redmi Note 3)

With the new design, we are getting a new colour, black. Before you run to Mi Home to get one, here is a word of caution. The black Redmi Note 4 is a huge fingerprint/oil stain magnet and you will need to get a case for it.

In case you are wondering, no the Redmi Note 3’s case will not fit the Redmi Note 4 due to difference in size and port position. Be very careful when you purchase a case for the Redmi Note 4. Many of the case in shops are for the China version, which has different IR blaster position from the local version and may block it.

(Avoid cases with these cut-outs)

One thing I am not so pleased with the changes in design would be the 2.5D glass on the front. Some poorly designed screen protectors would attempt to cover the edges, resulting in ugly air gaps. Also, after installing a screen protector the 2.5D glass is less noticeable, making its existence kind of pointless.

“Great display, just like on the Redmi Note 3. Why fix something that is not broken?”

Very little has changed with the Redmi Note 4’s display, and that is a good thing. Viewing angles are superb, colours are a little over saturated, blacks are pretty good despite not being AMOLED. The display is bright enough to be visible under sunlight. Compared to the Redmi Note 3, colours are not as vivid but this can be tuned in the settings app. This is a good display, even for a phone priced twice as much.

“A step in the right direction, but nothing overly impressive.”

Thanks to the new speaker position, the Redmi Note 4’s speaker sound louder than the rear-firing speaker found on the Redmi Note 3. However, I can only describe its sound as “meh”. Sound from the headphone jack is good enough for most people; not great but not horrible.

Microphone is a lot better on the Redmi Note 4 when compared to the Redmi Note 3. Hear it for yourself from the links below. I noticed that file for the audio recorded through the Recorder app is a lot larger for the Redmi Note 4. Although there was background sound at the front part of the audio, it was quickly canceled as soon as I started speaking, which is the way microphone recordings should work. The background sound was not recorded on the Redmi Note 3 at all, which is a little concerning.

Redmi Note 3 Mic Test:
Redmi Note 4 Mic Test:

“Not as powerful as before, but you won't notice it. (Unless you play a lot of games)”

Although not as powerful as the Snapdragon 650 in the Redmi Note 3, the Snapdragon 625 in the Redmi Note 4 is still a really respectable processor. Day-to-day tasks run smoothly without any stutter, light games do really well to. Frame drops are only observed on graphic intensive games like Asphalt 8 and Nova Legacy, games that the Redmi Note 3 handled without issue. Overheating is not a problem on the Redmi Note 4, with the phone staying at a comfortable temperature after long gaming sessions.

As expected, the Redmi Note 4 did not fair as well as its predecessor in Antutu Benchmark (58510) and Geekbench 4 (857/2738) due to its weaker processor. In comparison, the Redmi Note 3 (factory resetted, MIUI 8.2) scored 77480 on AnTuTu and 1429/2725 on Geekbench 4.

(Geekbench 4 - Redmi Note 4)

(AnTuTu - Redmi Note 4)

(Geekbench 4 - Redmi Note 3)

(AnTuTu - Redmi Note 3)

The Redmi Note 4 closes in on the Redmi Note 3 in PCMark’s Work and Work 2.0 test, scoring 6771 and 4806 respectively, compared to the Redmi Note 3’s 6729 and 5023. (Both tests benchmark devices based on everyday activities) This means that day-to-day tasks should run equally well on both phones. To learn more about Work and Work 2.0 and what they test for, visit this link:

(Work 2.0 - Redmi Note 4)

(Work 2.0 - Redmi Note 3)

“Low light performance improved, but do not expect much from a $259 device.”

Before we begin with the camera comparison and review, we have to clear a common misconception. Megapixels do not translate directly to picture quality. The 13MP camera on the Redmi Note 4 is not a downgrade from the 16MP camera on the Redmi Note 3. It has a larger 1,12μm pixels, allowing for better low light performance and that is reflected in the pictures shown below. Not only are pictures from the Redmi Note 4 brighter, they tend to have more accurate colours too. Notice the unnatural glow around the C2B5 (the black robot) photo taken on the Redmi Note 3 with HDR on.

(L: Redmi Note 3, R: Redmi Note 4)

(L: Redmi Note 3 HDR, R: Redmi Note 4 HDR)

(L: Redmi Note 3, R: Redmi Note 4)

(L: Redmi Note 3 HDR, R: Redmi Note 4 HDR)

(L: Redmi Note 3, R: Redmi Note 4)

(L: Redmi Note 3 HDR, R: Redmi Note 4 HDR)

Photos taken in great lighting are pretty good, which is to be expected from most phones today. Low light and indoor shots can be a little challenging for the Redmi Note 4, with most photos being slightly blurry and noisy but usable. That said, for a device priced under $300, the Redmi Note 4’s rear camera is not too shabby. Here are a few photos and timelapse shot on the Redmi Note 4:

(Tilt-shift mode)

Battery Life
“If you thought the Redmi Note 3 had insane battery life, wait till you see the Redmi Note 4."

If you hate charging your phone frequently, you will love the Redmi Note 4. Thanks to the efficient Snapdragon 625, the Redmi Note 4’s battery life is excellent, beating the Redmi Note 3’s already amazing battery life. This is especially noticeable on regular day-to-day task.

For this review, I tested the Redmi Note 4’s battery in two scenarios. The first simulates the behaviour of a regular consumer, with SIM card inserted and Wi-Fi on most of the time. A lot of social media browsing was done, with light gaming and a little bit of video consumption. Here are the results I obtained.

Regular Usage Test
Screen-on time: 7hr 50min
Test duration: 1d 22hr 52min
Battery remaining: ~20%
2hr 30min light gaming (Leap Day & Bushido Bear)
1hr video consumption (Youku & YouTube)
Facebook, Instagram & Twitter
Occasional Spotify music in background

On regular usage, the Redmi Note 3 can get me on average 1.5 days of usage on a single charge. With the Redmi Note 4, I was able to get 2 full days with 20% battery left so we are definitely seeing some improvement going from the Redmi Note 3 to the Redmi Note 4. Most people will be able to get 2 days or even 2.5 days on a single charge from the Redmi Note 4.

If you are planning to use the Redmi Note 4 as a dedicated entertainment device, my second battery test got you covered. For this test, I left Wi-Fi on the entire time and did not insert any SIM card. Playing moderate to heavy graphics games, watching videos and occasionally listening to Spotify in the background, I got these results.

Heavy Usage Test
Screen-on time: 7hr 11min
Test duration: 13hr 52min
Battery remaining: 20%
1hr 43min Dragonica
1hr 4min Alto
1hr 16min Asolluto
49min Father.iO (Beta)
31min Asphalt Xtreme
1hr 2min video consumption (Youku & YouTube)
Occasional Spotify music in background

The Redmi Note 4 received really impressive results even under heavy usage. Overheating was not observed on the Redmi Note 4 throughout this test, which was a slight issue on the Redmi Note 3 after prolonged period of heavy usage.

With the default power adapter that came in the box, the Redmi Note 4 took a whole 2hr 50min to charge from 0-100%, which is approximately how long the Redmi Note 3 takes too. Some users might find this too long but considering the size of the battery, I can let it go. That said, it would be nice if the next Redmi Note device had some form of fast charging.

Running PCMark’s Work 2.0 and Work battery benchmark, the Redmi Note 4 received a score of 12hr 49min and 16hr 32min respectively, significantly higher than our factory resetted Redmi Note 3’s 9hr 13min and 11hr 16min. I noticed that during the battery benchmarking, the Redmi Note 4 stayed cool to the touch while the Redmi Note 3 exhibited slight overheating. We all know that batteries will degrade over time. How much of this difference can be accounted for by battery degradation?

(Work 2.0 - Redmi Note 4)

(Work - Redmi Note 4)

Since Work 2.0 was not released back when the Redmi Note 3 launched, the best comparison would be to compare Work battery scores. According to an archive of PCMark’s website, the Redmi Note 3 scored 11hr 1min back in April 2016, which is just slightly lower than my factory resetted Redmi Note 3’s score. Even if we add 10% to that score (since the online results are usually lower than what I actually obtain), we still do not get anywhere near the 16hr 32min the Redmi Note 4 achieved. Really impressive improvement in battery life on the Redmi Note 4.

“Love it or hate it, the Redmi Note 4 runs MIUI 8 out of the box.”

The Redmi Note 4 runs MIUI 8 with Android Marshmallow out of the box and can be upgraded to MIUI 8.2 (still marshmallow) through an OTA update. Android Nougat is available on MIUI Beta ROM but the new features has been disabled so the tedious process of flashing it may not be worth it. Also, performance takes a dip on Beta ROM. For those that want to unlock the Redmi Note 4’s bootloader, note that you will have to go into developer options and associate your Mi Account to the device under “Mi Unlock status”. (You will get an error from Mi Unlock at 50% if you do not do this)

If you disliked MIUI before using the Redmi Note 4, you probably wouldn't like it now. MIUI is a heavily skinned version of Android, bringing a bevy of cool features as well as usability enhancement, including one-handed mode, themes and second space. The latter allows you to create a separate space on the device, kind of like creating another user account on a Windows computer. If MIUI isn't your thing, you can always flash a custom rom. The Redmi Note 4 uses a Snapdragon processor so searching for custom roms should not be an issue.

(MIUI themes app)


The setup process for the fingerprint sensor on the rear of the Redmi Note 4 is a lot quicker than on the Redmi Note 3; Just a couple of rapid taps and you are good to go. In actual use, the Redmi Note 4’s fingerprint sensor is as quick as the Redmi Note 3’s. However the Redmi Note 4’s screen wake time is slightly longer, giving users the impression that it is slower. Future software update might be able to fix this.

IR blaster is still included on the Redmi Note 4. This means that you can control your TV, air-conditioning and projector using your phone as a remote controller! Do note that only supported device can make use of feature. I wish there is a way to set up custom remote, just like on Xiaomi's universal IR remote.

“The Redmi Note 4 is better than its predecessor in almost every single way. Unless you need the extra performance, there is no reason to pay more for the Redmi Note 3."

When I called Redmi Note 4 the “Redmi Note 3, Perfected”, I am not implying that it is a perfect device. It is not possible to make a flawless device at such a low price point. Heck, even $1000 phones are not perfect. Instead, what I meant was that Xiaomi found a perfect balance in compromises such that the Redmi Note 4 would appeal to as many people as possible, without increasing the cost of building it.

For some, the change in processor is a disappointment but for the general consumer, the extra performance is nothing compared to the extra battery life. A lot of midrange phones coming out this year are using the same Snapdragon 625 processor and most of them cost a lot more so you are still getting a really good processor for what you are paying. Searching for similarly priced phones online, I found that few phones sold in Singapore that are priced under $300 have a 5.5" display or larger. If you want a phablet that cost under $300, the Redmi Note 4 might be the only one that is worth considering.

On top of updated specs, here are a few things I hope to see in the next Redmi Note device:

Fast charging
Having to charge a phone close to three hours might be a deal breaker for some. Yes, this would not be a problem if you charge your phone overnight but when you are in a rush and your phone has 0% battery, you really need the fast charging.

Fewer variants and better naming
Too many variants! In China, the Redmi Note 4 comes in three variants. The first is the Redmi Note 4 (China), which is powered by the MTK Helio X20 processor. Next, we have the Redmi Note 4X (Snapdragon), which is also known as the Global Redmi Note 4 (local version). Lastly, we have the Redmi Note 4X (MediaTek), which also uses the MTK Helio X20 processor. Making things worst is the difference in positioning of IR blaster on X and non-X versions, which is why many cases sold in Singapore do not have the proper cut-outs for the local version.

USB Type-C
There is no denying that USB Type-C is the future. We first saw it on flagship devices and then it landed on some premium midrange devices last year. We will start to see some midrange devices that are equipped with USB Type-C this year so it would be great if the Redmi Note 5 comes with USB Type-C.

Big Reveal
“Surprise! This review was typed entirely on a Redmi Note 4.”

The entire of this review was typed on a Redmi Note 4 in a single charge. The review was typed out on Google Docs app and transfered over to Mi Community with a computer to ensure that formating is not a mess. All photos above, unless specified, are taken with the Redmi Note 4 as well. During my time typing out this review, I was able to obtain a screen-on time of 8hr 40min with 28% battery remaining. Really impressive indeed.

(Taken with iPhone SE)


Number of participants 4 Experience +23 Pack Reason

View Rating Log

2017-04-23 02:53:17
Favorites11 RateRate
Very detailed very nice!
2017-04-23 21:02:08
Once a Mi Fan, always a Mi Fan.
wow! awesome
2017-04-23 22:05:42
thanks for the very detailed hands-on review.
2017-04-23 22:28:02
In West Philadelphia, born and raised,
On the playground is where I spent most of my days.
Very detailed comparison! Great job!
2017-04-24 00:00:59

Advanced Bunny

Adriel | from Redmi Note 4


fantastic job man! super detailed :)
2017-04-24 09:36:19

Pro Bunny

hm9338 | from Redmi Note 3


thanks for sharing.
2017-04-26 10:37:43

Pro Bunny

Anoraga H Tamtama | from Redmi 4A


Awesome reviews...
2017-04-28 16:47:12
gundhul² patjul gêmbéléngan
Love your thread!! always so details and useful!!
2017-04-30 08:09:22
Well done and thank you for the great effort.
2017-04-30 18:41:15

Pro Bunny

Rini Soekarno | from Redmi 4A


Cool comparison..
Thanks for shared!
2017-05-02 22:30:46
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