It was supposed to be the big comeback model for Xiaomi in India, but the Redmi Note 3 seems to be failing to perform according to the considerable expectations placed on the model, and not due to any problem with the handset either.
The biggest drawback is something quite unexpected — nearly all the models being put up for sale seem to have come with 16 GB storage and just 2 GB of RAM, going by the number of user reviews on Amazon.
However, a simple search for ‘redmi’ in Amazon’s search bar with pricing given as Rs 9,500 to 12,100 brings up only four models — three variants of the 2 GB version in different colors and the Mi 4i, priced Rs 11,999.
For some reason, no 32 GB version of the Redmi Note 3 is shown (see right). UPDATE: After much tracking, we were able to locate the 32 GB version also on Amazon’s website (see left) though it still doesn’t show up in search.
However, there are only 55 reviews for this version compared to almost 500 reviews for the 16 GB version, suggesting that most of the units sold so far has been 16 GB variants. It also seems to indicate that only a very small number of phones have been sold so far. Normally, 2-4% of those buy such phones leave a rating on the website and the total number of people who have bought a model is usually about 30-40 times the number of ratings. (Click here to read 32 GB reviews and here for feedback on the 16 GB model.)
NOT-SO-GREAT USER REVIEWS
In general, the user reviews of the Redmi Note 3 have not been as great as expected, possibly because the ratings are for the 2 GB version. UPDATE: The overall reviews for the 32 GB version are far better than those for the 16 GB version. This model got an average rating of 4.6 stars, compared to 3.8-4.0 stars for the 16 GB version. Issues like camera quality and heating are mentioned in both cases.
The Note 3 was supposed to be clearly superior to the LeTV Le 1s, its biggest rival in India, due to two factors — a higher-specified camera and a superior 4G LTE support. On the other hand, the LeTV Le 1s is supposed to offer better build quality and processor as it came with Gorilla Glass 3 protection and a more-powerful Helio X10 processor.
However, going by user feedback, the camera on the Xiaomi model has disappointed those who expected the 16 MP unit to be clear improvement over the usual 13 MP shooters found on models such as the LeTV Le 1s. Even the Le 1s camera was reported to be of average quality, but the company did come out with a quick software update to resolve some of the concerns.
Disappointing camera can be found in nearly all the ‘cons’ list that users have come up with, whether for the more expensive version or the 16 GB one.
“Camera is average,” said Vishal V Anil, who gave the 16 GB version 4 out of 5 stars in his review on Amazon. “Definitely not a feature to be proud of. Has a lot of mega pixels, but lacks perfection and details. If you are a camera enthusiast, think twice before you buy this phone.”
Even reviewers who give the Note 5 out of 5 have noted that the camera is comparable, or even worse than that on Le 1s.
Another user, who claims to be an Android developer, also echoed these sentiments in his feedback.
“Poor camera result with both front and rear camera.(Specially in low light Disappointed). Unexpectedly NO double tap to wake up in phone. Only finger and key wake up,” he said.
One more issue highlighted in his review is a tendency to heat up under load, though this is something to be expected for all metal phones.
Display has been reported as great indoors and “maybe a little dim” outdoors. Even the LeTV model has been reported to have an excellent display. The Xiaomi model’s performance and battery life are excellent as expected from the specifications.
We must disclose that we too had recommended buying the Note 3 over the LeEco model, but our recommendation was based on the promise that both the 3 GB and 2 GB versions will be available.
However, if the comparison is between the 2 GB version (which is currently selling in India) and the LeTV model, then the Le 1s is clearly superior because of its Gorilla Glass protection, extra RAM, extra storage capacity, transparent sales and easy availability.
LACK OF INFORMATION
One of the biggest problems with trying to get your hands on the Redmi model is near total lack of information about availability.
While LeTV has been completely transparent about its sale in India, Xiaomi’s approach in this regard leaves a lot of be desired.
After every flash sale, LeEco made it a point to immediately tell its customers and those waiting to purchase its phones exactly how many units were put up and how many got sold. This helped would-be buyers plan their purchases accordingly, figuring out whether they should wait for the phone or go for alternatives.
In addition, LeEco also made a huge number of devices available in its flash sales, sometimes putting up as many as 95,000, making the Le 1s the only phone to sell over 2 lakh units in the first month.
In comparison, Xiaomi does not reveal how many units were put up or how many it plans to sell in the next flash sale. It has also not revealed the total number of devices sold till now. In the absence of such information, it becomes difficult for interested buyers to plan their strategies and decide whether to wait for the device or go for the Le 1s or Lenovo K4 Note.
Not surprisingly, fans have shown their displeasure at the company’s policy on Twitter and other social media.
The companies are now planning to release the high end Le 1 Pro and Mi 5 in April at a price of Rs 25,000.