Xiaomi Redmi 3S Review: The Low-End Flagship

The name “Xiaomi” sounds weird for a typical Nigerian. On every first impression, you get that funny look too,”What’s the name of your phone?” They always ask. After a few minutes of handling the phone they fall in love with it. Hello everyone, I present to you the Xiaomi Redmi 3S. Why does everyone end up liking this phone? Is it the looks, or the price? Read on, you might catch a clue. Before we continue, see some of the other resources we have on the Redmi 3S:

Strengths And Weaknesses of the Xiaomi Redmi 3S

High points Low points
Impressive design/ Metallic finishing Camera slow focusing
Awesome battery life Hybrid SIM card slot
Feature filled software No network pegging
Great performance No Availability

Quick Specs

– Dimensions: 139.3 x 69.6 x 8.5 mm
– Display: 5.0-inch, 720 x 1280 pixels (320 PPI), IPS LCD Capacitive touchscreen
– Processor Type: Octa-core 1.4 GHz Cortex-A53
– RAM: 2 GB
– Storage: 16 GB + Hybrid MicroSD card slot up to 128GB
– Camera: 13 megapixel, autofocus with LED flash, 5 megapixel selfie camera
– Battery: Non-removable 4,100 mAh
– Fingerprint Sensor, Infra-red Sensor

The Xiaomi Redmi 3S Review Proper

This review was compiled over a period of 3 weeks of usage. In this period, the phone was running MIUI version 7.3, based on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow. No updates were applied or installed.

The Xiaomi Redmi 3S Hardware/Design

This phone is made of metal, though the top and bottom sides at the back are capped in plastic. Polished plastic. The metal at the back is not glossy, and this helps for better grip. Overall, the phone is light and very thin despite the huge 4100 mAh battery fitted inside it.

xiaomi-redmi-3s-front

We really appreciated the LED notification light this phone comes with. It was awkwardly place below the home button. You can easily configure it to change colors as you please. On the left hand side there is an ejectable SIM tray, with on Micro SIM slot and another hybrid slot (taking a Nano SIM or one microSD card ). This phone is beautiful to look at and very sleek. Read more about the design in our Unboxing review here.

The Xiaomi Redmi 3S Software:

Pre-installed here is Android Marshmallow based on MIUI 7.3. Personally, I’m a big fan of MIUI software because of the numerous nifty features it carries. The Settings page needs a bit of digging into. There’s a Security app you can use to configure Power Saving features, system cleaner, and traffic monitor. The app will also let you set app permissions and setup call blacklisting.

On MIUI software, you can download various themes to change the look and feel of the device. Fonts are available too for download. You can also configure how you want the three navigation buttons to work. There’s a feature called Read Mode. When activated it gives the screen a dim brownish hue – good for reading especially at night.

This phone has an Infrared sensor, and a MiRemote app for controlling various electronic gadgets. It takes a bit of time to configure, but I was able to control the office air conditioner, and two other televisions. The finger print sensor at the back works well, though it works in tandem with a PIN or password.

xiaomi-redmi-3s-top-bottom

Another feature called One-hand-mode also piqued our interest. Once, activated the screen shrinks to a smaller size to allow you use the phone with one hand.

The Xiaomi Redmi 3S Display/Multimedia:

On this phone, you don’t even need to install another music player or video player. The default media apps here are top notch. Once you plug in any headset or earphone, a menu pops up to let you set how you want it to sound. Music playback on the speakers is very good, though the sound becomes a bit tinny when you crank up volume to the highest.

What we have here is a  5-inch display with a resolution of 1,280 x 720 at 294 ppi. The colors are very crisp and images come out very clear. Viewing angles are perfect too, though there is no protection for the glass. The brightness has to be increased to 30% before one can read anything under sunlight.

The Xiaomi Redmi 3S Camera

The 13 MP rear camera on this phone does really well. Images come out very clear and sharp. The major issue we had was with the auto-focus. Sometimes it takes too long to focus on a subject, or you have to tap the screen yourself to focus. At night the LED flash performs well. Pictures taken carry plenty of natural colors even in pitch darkness.

redmi-3s-sample-6

You would enjoy taking selfies on this phone. The 5 MP lens takes very sharp pictures with clear details and a wide angle. More shots can be found on our camera shoot out here.

The Xiaomi Redmi 3S Performance/Battery Life

The Xiaomi Redmi 3S is a performer. Remember that it came with an Octa-core Snapdragon 430 chip, clocked at 1.4 Ghz. The phone glided through everything we threw at it. Switching apps and HD games all ran smoothly on this phone. It rarely lagged at all. Below are screenshots of benchmark tests, you can also see more results here.

xiaomi-redmi-3s-benchmarks

Battery life is among the strongest points of this phone. The 4100 mAh battery fitted inside it lasts and lasts. We were sure of a full day of heavy usage. It can stretch to 3 days or more if you don’t do much on your phone. Below is a screenshot of our screen on-time at 5% left.

xiaomi-redmi-3s-battery

It takes up to 3 hours for this phone to charge fully. The phone heats up if you are pressing it while charging. So it’s best to leave it alone during the process.

Miscellaneous

xiaomi-redmi-3s-4g

USB OTG works perfectly on the Xiaomi Redmi 3S. It is unfortunate that this phone won’t let you peg to 3G or 4G. Call clarity is excellent and very audible, we also noticed you can set it to record every call you make. Out of the inbuilt 16 GB storage, only 9.2 GB is available for use.xiaomi-redmi-3s-otg

Final Words…

The Xiaomi Redmi 3S is currently the best phone for its price range. No competition. This is why we call it the low-end flagship phone. So many things scream “premium” on this phone: A slim metallic body, good camera, an infra-red sensor, and a wonderful battery, all for less than $120. It is not officially available in other countries outside China and India. If you can live with the heckles involved with purchasing from a Chinese store, then look no further. You should get this phone.

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Etoniru Chibueze

Chibueze is an award-winning gadget reviewer and geek. He loves research, while living and breathing tech. You can reach him on Facebook, Twitter ,OR LinkedIn

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