Reviewing Xiaomi Redmi 2 - A Chinese Budget Smartphone With Android
While Xiaomi is not so well known in Europe or Americas, it is a very big name in Asia, especially when it comes to smartphones and other mobile devices. Recently, they launched a new budget Android smartphone that is also sold on western markets. It's called Xiaomi Redmi 2 and promises to offer a very decent Android user experience, at a rather low price point. We had the chance to play with this smartphone for almost 2 weeks and, after a lot of testing hours, we're ready to share with you what we've learned, in this review:
Hardware Specification & Packaging
Xiaomi Redmi 2 is a smartphone that comes in rather spartan package. It's a simple cardboard box that doesn't reveal much about its contents. On its front, you only see the Mi logo. On the back of the box you do get some printed information, but most of it is written in Chinese.
Where To Buy
The Xiaomi Redmi 2 is the first thing you see when you open the package.
Then, stacked one upon another, you get the smartphone's warranty card, its quick start guide, a power charger and a detachable USB cable. Unfortunately, you don't get any headphones, but that seems to become something normal for many manufacturers nowadays.
Xiaomi Redmi 2 is available in 5 different colors: black, white, yellow, pink and green. As you might have noticed from the pictures before, the model we tested is the black variant.
Redmi 2 comes with a 4.7 inch IPS LCD display, with a HD resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels at 312 ppi pixel density. The smartphone runs on a quad-core 1.2 GHz processor, 1GB of RAM memory and an Adreno 306 video chip. You also get 8 GB of internal storage space and a microSD slot which you can use to add a microSD card of up to 32 GB. Redmi 2 is powered by an average 2200mAh lithium-ion polymer battery.
The main camera uses an 8 megapixels Omnivision image sensor, has 5 element lens, autofocus and flash. On the front, you get a 2 megapixel camera.
The connectivity options you get include a microUSB 2.0 port, Bluetooth 4.0 and wireless support for 802.11 b/g/n standards.
Xiaomi Redmi 2 is built only from plastic, its body dimensions are 134 x 67.2 x 9.4 mm (5.28 x 2.65 x 0.37 in) and weighs only 133 grams (4.69 oz).
For more information and detailed specs, check the Xiaomi official website, here: Xiaomi Redmi 2 Specifications.
The Xiaomi Redmi 2 is a mainstream smartphone targeted at budget conscious users. Its 1.2 GHz quad-core CPU, 1GB of RAM and 8MP camera should ensure that you will have a pleasant Android smartphone experience.
Design & Build Quality
Xiaomi Redmi 2 doesn't impress when it comes to its design. Don't misunderstand us, the smartphone is not ugly or poorly built. We just feel like like it's a "very common" smartphone.
The display, with its 4.7 inches, is quite large for a budget smartphone and it's a good thing that all its surface is usable. This is due to the fact that the Recent Apps, Home and Back buttons are all capacitive and are positioned below the screen. We also liked the red color Xiaomi used to paint these buttons.
The power button and the volume rocker are all found on the right side of the smartphone, somewhere to the top. We found this positioning to be comfortable, even when using the device with only one hand.
The body is built only with plastic, but there are some advantages to that too. For one, Xiaomi Redmi 2 is light and easy to carry. Secondly, the round edges and the textured surface of the back plate make it easy to hold.
As we mentioned before, Xiaomi Redmi 2 has a 4.7 inches IPS LCD screen that features a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels at a 312 ppi pixel density. The IPS panel means you get nice colors, good contrast and wide viewing angles. The resolution and the pixel density are rather average, but that is to be expected from a budget smartphone. The display also benefits from an ambient light sensor, so it can automatically dim or brighten its surface depending on the light around you. However, because of the glossy surface and the rather low maximum brightness level, we found it difficult to see the screen when we were outdoors, in direct sunlight.
Xiaomi Redmi 2 is an average smartphone when it comes to its design. The body is all plastic and the display isn't readable when you are outdoors, in bright light. However, the Xiaomi Redmi 2 is well built and doesn't feel like a fragile device.
The Smartphone Experience On Xiaomi Redmi 2
Xiaomi Redmi 2 supports 4G mobile networks and we didn't notice any signal drops when we used it. However, the quality of our phone calls was not the best. Many of the phone calls we made were filled with noises or incomplete words. The persons with whom we talked didn't have the same problems, so we suspect that the fault is related to the ear speaker found on the Xiaomi Redmi 2. In turn, using the loudspeaker worked much better, phone conversations were much clearer.
The audio quality is good, especially when you use headphones. The speaker is also decent, but music sounds a bit flat. However, watching movies or YouTube clips is reasonable.
Xiaomi Redmi 2 runs MIUI 184.108.40.206, a modified version of Android 4.4.4 Kitkat. The MIUI skin offers a beautiful interface, even though it has been optimized for speed. However, probably because the hardware is not exactly high-end, we noticed quite a few lags when using Redmi 2. These lags appear mostly at transitions and animations, and especially when you keep multiple apps opened at the same time.
When it comes to the camera experience, Redmi 2 is again average. The Omnivision image sensor helps you get good photos, but not very fast. Taking a picture at maximum resolution and with HDR turned on can take even 3 to 4 seconds. That's quite a long time for today's standards.
The 2200 mAh battery is also enough to keep your smartphone running for a day or even more, depending on how you use the device.
Overall, Xiaomi Redmi 2 is a mid-range smartphone that offers a decent experience. Even if it has its flaws, these are all common at this price range. Furthermore, if you also take into consideration what its main competitors offer, Redmi 2 might be a good deal.
The Camera Experience On The Xiaomi Redmi 2
The main camera on the Xiaomi Redmi 2 has 8 megapixels, delivered by an Omnivision image sensor. It also benefits from a LED flash for when you take photographs in low light conditions. The front camera has only 2 megapixels and we recommend you use it only for video calls. If you want to take selfies with it, the results are not that good.
The camera software allows offers HDR capabilities, a feature that you don't find on many budget smartphones, be they Androids or Windows Phones. You can also shoot panoramas, use manual settings or add special effects without the need to install third-party apps.
In the gallery below, you can take a look at some photos we took with Xiaomi Redmi 2. We included a few photos taken outside in a sunny day, a panorama, some close-ups, but also a few indoor photos. All the photos were taken with auto settings, and some of them also with HDR enabled.
The Xiaomi Redmi 2 can record videos at Full HD resolution (1080p at 30fps). The videos are saved with a 15 Mbps video bit rate and a 96 Kbps sound bit rate.
The sample below will give you better idea on how good the Xiaomi Redmi 2 records dynamic videos.
In the next video sample, we used Xiaomi Redmi 2 to capture a panorama. This type of video shows you how the camera handles more static videos.
Xiaomi Redmi 2 offers a decent but average camera. It's not the fastest, nor the best camera experience, but it's good for a low priced smartphone.