The smartphone experience on the Xiaomi Redmi 4A
We were surprised by how light the Xiaomi Redmi 4A is. That's because its body is made from plastic materials. Many people will surely like that it is so light, as it is easy to carry in your pocket or purse and doesn't feel like a burden.
Because it has a 5 inch screen, which is smaller than most smartphones produced nowadays, it is also easy to use with only one hand. That is something many people want, especially tennagers and people with small hands.
Regarding speed and performance, the Xiaomi Redmi 4A does not have the most powerful processor, nor the fastest graphic chip. However, during the time we had it in testing, it behaved nicely and did not feel like an underpowered device. Xiaomi's proprietary MIUI interface feels snappy and launching apps is pretty fast. Even Facebook felt fast although it is known to be one of the most power hungry apps for Android.
On another note, although the internet speed when connected to 4G networks is good, the signal reception is not marvelous. When we used it outdoors it was great, but indoors, between two concrete walls, the mobile reach was choppy at times.
The Xiaomi Redmi 4A shines when it comes to its autonomy. The 3120 mAh battery and the not demanding hardware help it last for more than a day between charges. If you use it intensively, it should last a day. We took one day off from work and used it to take a lot of photos, browse the web and use Facebook a lot. We also had the screen set to maximum brightness because we used it mostly outdoors in direct sunlight. That day, it lasted for a day on a full charge.
The Xiaomi Redmi 4A is a good choice if you want to watch a movie or a YouTube clip on it. The screen is bright enough to do this outdoors, although we wouldn't recommend it in direct sunlight on the beach. 🙂 However, it is not a very good choice if you want to listen to music. The speaker is not the best and when the volume is maxed, it can distort sounds. But, you can always use a pair of headphones to overcome this issue.
If you like games, the Xiaomi Redmi 4A can run them but the graphic chip is pretty weak so expect low video quality and do not expect high frame rates. If you like Candy Crush Soda Saga, you'll be happy with this smartphone but if you want more complex games like Grand Theft Auto, don't expect top-notch performance.
The Xiaomi Redmi 4A offers a good user experience, although there are some things we wished would have been better, like the signal reception.
The camera experience on the Xiaomi Redmi 4A
The rear main camera on the Xiaomi Redmi 4A has 13 megapixels, an f/2.2 aperture and the optical part of the camera uses 5 lenses. There's also an LED flash for low light environments and a front camera with 5 megapixels.
The rear camera performs decently and above average when compared with other smartphones with a similar price, such as the ASUS Zenfone Live. The photos we took using it outdoors have good colors and contrast, if the light is right. When the environment is dim or the subject is too close or moving, things change and Xiaomi Redmi 4A does not produce satisfactory results. In poor light conditions, there is a lot of noise and when the subject is moving the camera does not always focus correctly. The front camera is decent for taking selfies although it does not excel at it. If you want to get a better view of how the cameras perform, in the gallery below, you can see a series of photos we took the Xiaomi Redmi 4A.
When it comes to shooting videos, the Xiaomi Redmi 4A doesn't impress but it doesn't disappoint either. Don't expect optical video stabilization because there is none. However, you can record video in Full HD resolution and the result is OK as long as your hands are not shaking. In the sample below you can see how Xiaomi Redmi 4A performs when recording videos with just a little movement:
If you are curious, here's another sample with a video taken while in a car, which shows you how the Xiaomi Redmi 4A does when there is a lot of movement involved:
The Xiaomi Redmi 4A offers decent results in terms of both photography and video recording. It is not impressive but it is better than average you get in its price range.
Android 6.0.1, MIUI 8.5 and bundled apps
Xiaomi Redmi 4A comes with Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow pre-installed and with Xiaomi's proprietary user interface MIUI 8.5. MIUI is a user interface that looks good and has a minimalist design. It is so easy to work with, that probably even someone who never saw an Android smartphone before could adapt to it quickly. However, we don't like that MIUI has no app drawer. That means that you get only a series of homescreens, with all the apps and shortcuts. The only way to organize your apps is to create folders and move them around. It's not our favorite way of doing things but, then again, you can always install another launcher.
As for the apps that are bundled with the operating system, Xiaomi added quite a few. If you are curious to know what's on the Redmi 4A by default, besides the usual Google apps, here's the list:
Calculator - makes math calculations easy.
Calendar - a calendar app that lets you schedule your daily agenda.
Clock - a simple clock app that also lets you set alarms and use a stopwatch and a timer.
Compass - shows you where the North is, unless you're at the Magnetic North Pole. 🙂
Contacts - stores and lets you manage the details of your contacts.
Explorer - use it to browse and manage the folders and files stored on your Xiaomi Redmi 4A.
Feedback - you can use this app to give feedback to Xiaomi's engineers about your smartphone.
FM Radio - turns your smartphone into an FM radio receiver so you can listen to radio stations that are broadcasting in your area. You need to connect a pair of headphones to be able to use this app.
Gallery - a Google Photos clone that lets you browse and see the photos stored on your smartphone.
Mail - the default email app offered by Xiaomi.You may prefer other apps from the Google Play store.
Mi Account - helps you create and connect to your Mi account, which you need if you want to access all the services that are offered by Xiaomi.
Mi Remote - uses Xiaomi Redmi 4A's infrared sensor to make your smartphone act as a remote for various devices like your TV, DVD player or AC. This is useful when you can't find your TV's remote.
MIUI Forum - gives you access to the MIUI forums where you can ask for information or help about anything related to your smartphone.
Music - lets you listen and enjoy the music stored on your smartphone.
Notes - a simple app that lets you take notes.
Recorder - an app that records sounds using the smartphone's microphone.
Scanner - uses the smartphone's camera to scan QR codes.
Security - keeps your smartphone secure by running antivirus scans and also helps you clean junk files from it. The antivirus is offered by Avast.
SwiftKey Keyboard - the popular alternative keyboard app to Google Keyboard.
Themes - lets you customize the way the MIUI interface looks, with the help of various themes.
Updater - the official app for checking, downloading and installing new system updates for the Xiaomi Redmi 4A.
Weather - gives you the weather forecast in your location or anywhere else in the world.
WPS Office - an office suite that lets you open and edit documents of all kinds. Unfortunately it displays ads unless you buy the full version.
Xiaomi Redmi 4A comes with Android 6.0 and Xiaomi does not have plans to offer an upgrade to Android 7 Nougat. The smartphone also includes Xiaomi's own MIUI user interface which we like but would prefer that it had an app drawer. Last but not least, we appreciate the fact that most of the bundled apps are useful, even though their number could be smaller.
Performance in benchmarks
The first benchmark we ran was Vellamo, which is an app that is developed by Qualcomm. We started with Multicore, a series of test that measure the processor's performance when it has to deal with multiple execution threads at the same time. The score offered by these tests show how good the smartphone is when handling multiple apps and doing multitasking in general. Xiaomi Redmi 4A got 1425 points which is a score similar to what you would get from an ASUS Zenfone 2 or an LG Nexus 5. It is also a better score than that of the ASUS Zenfone Live or the ASUS Zenfone 3 Max, which are similarly priced Android smartphones.
Then we ran the Metal tests offered by Vellamo, which assesses the processor's performance when handling single threads. This score gives you an idea of how good the smartphone is when it runs older apps that don't know how to work with multiple processor cores or apps that require a significant amount of power per core, such as games. Xiaomi Redmi 4A got 1144 points, again a score similar to that of an LG Nexus 5 and higher than what you would get from an ASUS Zenfone 3 Max or an ASUS Zenfone Live.
Then we moved on to see how well the Xiaomi Redmi 4A performs in games. To do that, we used an app called GFXBench GL Benchmark. We recorded the results from the 1080p Manhattan 3.1 Offscreen and 1080p T-Rex Offscreen tests. We usually run these tests in 1080p because that makes it easier to compare smartphones with different resolutions. We couldn't run the 1080p Car Chase Offscreen tests because the Adreno 308 video chip found on the Xiaomi Redmi 4A does not offer support for OpenGL ES 3.2 graphics rendering API which is used by the latest games. Adreno 308 only offers support for OpenGL ES 3.0.
In the 1080p Manhattan 3.1 Offscreen tests, Xiaomi Redmi 4A rendered 174.8 frames. It is a weak result but it is once again better than that of an ASUS Zenfone Live for instance.
In the 1080p T-Rex Offscreen test, which evaluates the performance of the smartphone in older and less demanding games, the Xiaomi Redmi 4A managed to render 431.1 frames. Although not a good result, it is still better than that of the ASUS Zenfone Live or the ASUS Zenfone 3 Max.
The Xiaomi Redmi 4A is not a smartphone for gaming enthusiasts, although it can run most games. Just don't expect high frame rates or high graphics quality.
We then moved on to see how the Xiaomi Redmi 4A does in more mundane activities such as browsing the web. To do that, we went back to Vellamo and ran its Browser tests using Chrome. The smartphone managed to get a score of 2363 points. It is not an impressive result and it means that smartphone might have troubles sometimes when it has to load complex websites. Also, you shouldn't expect fast speeds when loading websites. But, it does better than the ASUS Zenfone Live.
We also tested the 4G speed and reliability offered by the Xiaomi Redmi 4A. Although our mobile operator does not offer the greatest mobile coverage, the measurements we made with Speedtest were in line with other smartphones.
Last but not least, we also checked the battery performance, using the PCMark benchmark app. When running the Work 2.0 battery life test, Xiaomi Redmi 4A managed to keep going on for an impressive 10 hours and 50 minutes. This is an excellent result and it shows that the smartphone is a very good choice for those who don't want to have to charge their smartphone each day. This one should stay on for two days or at least a day and a couple hours, in normal usage scenarios.
The Xiaomi Redmi 4A cannot brag about powerful hardware or high performance. However, what it has to offer for its price tag is more than decent both when it comes to running smartphone apps and when playing games. Additionally, it also offers a impressive battery life for a smartphone this cheap.
What is your opinion about Xiaomi Redmi 4A?
Now that you know what our opinion about the Xiaomi Redmi 4A smartphone, its real-life performance and camera experience, we would love to hear from you. Is this smartphone an interesting choice for you? Would you buy it or you prefer alternatives like the ASUS Zenfone Live? Share your views in the comments below.