If you’re on a £150 budget and are looking to buy a budget, you’d normally have to compromise in some area or other. But not so much with the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X. It ticks all the right boxes with a snappy processor, an impressively quick fingerprint sensor and a 5.5in Full HD display.
In the UK, there aren’t many smartphones that offer such a wide set of features, so is this deal too good to be true or is this the best budget phone of 2018?
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Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X review: What you need to know
At around £150, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X is smack bang in budget phone territory and it’s great value for money. Granted, to get one you need to import from China but it’s hard to deny the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X is a very tempting buy.
Inside is an octa-core Snapdragon 625 processor, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage with up to 256GB via microSD expansion. With its large 5.5in Full HD display and an fingerprint sensor, the Redmi Note 4X has one of the most impressive specifications you can find in a sub-£150 smartphone.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X review: Price and competition
The Redmi Note 4X is available in several different configurations. You can choose from the following options: 3GB or 4GB RAM, a Qualcommm Snapdragon 625 or Mediatek Helio X20 processor and there are both Chinese and international versions. You can find a few of the models on GearBest. There is a standard one year repair warranty with everything purchased from GearBest, but you’ll have to sort out the postage to China.
I received the Snapdragon 625 model with 64GB of internal storage and 4GB RAM. It costs around £130 in China but with UK import fees and taxes, that brings it up to around £150. You can buy the phone from UK importers for around £180, too.
With near-identical specs, you can find the ageing Motorola Moto G4 Plus for around £165, the newer Motorola Moto G5S Plus at £235, the Samsung Galaxy J5 (2017) at around £180, the Honor 6X at around £200, the Vodafone Smart V8 for £159 and the Lenovo P2 at £177. You’re definitely spoilt for choice at this price point.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X review: Design and build quality
The selection of colours is pretty decent with the Redmi Note 4X available in gold, grey, pink, black, green and blue. There’s no colour coding at the front, so the black and grey versions have a black front, while the others are white, but the feel of the 4X’s aluminium unibody in the hand is decent and the two-tone rear gives it the feel of a more premium phone.
Xiaomi has opted for capacitive buttons at the bottom of the phone’s 5.5in display instead of the more commonplace strip across the bottom of the screen and there’s a front-facing 5-megapixel camera above the screen. You also get a 3.5mm headphone jack at the top, while charging is taken care of by a microUSB port.
Around the back, there’s an ultra-responsive fingerprint sensor, mounted in the centre, just below the 13-megapixel camera. I prefer this positioning over a front-mounted fingerprint sensor and it’s far better than its crazy positioning on the Samsung Galaxy S8 – which is the side of the camera at the rear.
One the left edge, there’s also a hybrid dual-SIM tray (Micro- and Nano-SIM) which allows you to add to the 64GB of internal storage via microSD card or use two SIM cards. It supports up to 256GB cards.
As with most modern-day smartphones, the Redmi Note 4X’s 4,100mAh battery is not removable, and since it’s a budget handset, there are some compromises in the design, too. The biggest is that the phone isn’t dust- and water-resistance rated in anyway, so you’ll need to be careful about pulling it out while it’s raining and getting it wet while it’s stowed in a pocket.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X review: Display
The phone has a Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS display that measures 5.5in across the diagonal. Under the display settings, there are a few options to choose from, such as ‘increased contrast’ and ‘standard’ modes.
My prefered mode was ‘increased contrast’. In this mode the screen achieved a higher peak brightness level of 449cd/m2 as opposed to the 392cd/m2 achieved in ‘standard’ mode and, though sRGB coverage is lower (87.9% vs 92.7%), the display looked more vibrant. Colour accuracy was a touch better, too, however, the Delta E of 2.67 isn’t amazing, with both blues and oranges off their intended target.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X review: Performance
As for software, the phone runs Xiaomi’s Android overlay – MIUI 9.2 – which has Android 7.0 Nougat underpinnings. I had no problems with it while performing my tests and was pleased to see a few Google Apps, such as the Play Store, pre-installed, which is somewhat unusual on an imported Chinese phone.
If you’re worried about 4G-coverage, you’re right to be. In the UK, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X is able to connect to 2G, 3G and 4G networks across all mobile operators, in the US it doesn’t support 4G, so it’s not the phone for you if you do a lot of international travelling. This is due to US mobile operators using different frequency bands.
Raw performance paints a different picture and the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X is able to contend with best in its price bracket. It has a 2.0GHz Snapdragon 625 processor and 4GB of RAM, which puts it in same performance bracket as the Moto G5S Plus and Samsung Galaxy J5 and means it’s snappier than the Moto G4 Plus, the Honor 6X and the Lenovo P2.
^Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X: Geekbench 4
With an average of 10fps in GFXBench, the Redmi Note 4X is among the best phones in its class graphically, but it still isn’t suited to graphically intensive games such as Asphalt 8: Airborne. Candy Crush and Temple Run aren’t outside its capabilities, though.
^Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X: GFXBench
Where the Xiaomi shines is battery life. It lasted 15hrs 40mins in our video rundown test, which is better than all but the pricier Samsung Galaxy J5 (2017) and phenomenal Lenovo P2. Aside from the Lenovo, though, the differences in this test still aren’t huge. In day-to-day usage, the phone lasts a full working day, of course, that depends on your usage. For example, if you’re looking to play Pokemon GO for several hours, you’ll need to reach for a powerbank.
^Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X: Battery life
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Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X review: Camera
The camera is decent, but there’s nothing special about the specifications. It’s a 13-megapixel shooter with a f/2.0 aperture and phase-detect autofocus. There’s no fancy dual-camera setup and no 4K video recording capability, either.
Nevertheless, in outdoor shots the camera does surprisingly well. In the test image below, there’s plenty of detail on the building in the foreground with brickwork that’s clearly and crisply defined. Colours throughout the image are not overly saturated or washed out either.
^ Without HDR
Enable HDR, and the Redmi Note 4X’s images look more punchy and even more detailed, providing a brighter, more evenly exposed. In the image below, the autumnal trees are a lot brighter, detailed and are brought to the foreground of the image. Instead of disappearing into the building behind, the branches can now be distinguished. The same story goes for the glass rooftop at the front of the image, which is more detailed and even the grey rooftop on the left-hand side has clearer markings than in the same scene captured with HDR disabled.
^ HDR enabled
In low light, it’s the same story. However, the differences are a lot more apparent. Here, non-HDR shots suffer from a lot of image noise, are very dark and aren’t as colour accurate. In comparison to its competitors, its camera is poor in low-light conditions, though, when you flick on HDR the image suddenly brightens up and image noise is suppressed.
^ Without HDR
^ HDR enabled
If you’re looking to get rid of image noise, turning on flash helps reduce the ill-effects of low-light photography. The flash tone is neutral, with no unwanted blue tones added to the image.
^ HDR disabled, taken with flash
Overall, despite its shortcomings features-wise, I like the camera on the Redmi Note 4X and compared with other sub-£150 phones it stands its ground. The front-facing 5-megapixel camera isn’t bad either.
^ Selfie; plenty of detail is captured, but the image appears a tad dark
Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X review: Verdict
At around £150, it’s hard to knock the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X. It might need to be imported from China, but if you’re willing to wait for a week to receive your brand new phone and you’re not a regular traveller to the US, you’ll find this is one of the best you can get for under £150.
With all of its closest rivals costing around £200 or considerably more, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X is well worth considering and receives a well-deserved Expert Reviews Recommended award.