Chinese electronics manufacturer Xiaomi's recent smartphone launches in the budget segment have shown a trend where the company sprinkles in a bit of everything while retaining its focus on utility features — sturdy but better-looking smartphones with big batteries and decent cameras. The Redmi 8, the latest addition to the company’s budget smartphone portfolio, however, seems to be a fresh move in a new direction. The phone comes in two variants: 3GB RAM + 32GB storage and 4GB RAM + 64GB storage, priced at Rs 7,999 and Rs 8,999, respectively.
Business Standard took the 4GB + 64GB variant out for a spin. Here is our review:
Design and display
As mentioned, Xiaomi has visibly started paying more attention to how its budget phones look. So, in the Redmi 8 you get a premium-looking phone with a sleek build and thin bezels, courtesy of the dot-notch display. The phone is light and comfortable to carry around. Towards the back, the smooth glossy polycarbonate build looks good but is susceptible to fingerprints. The fingerprint sensor works fine.
The front is standard Redmi — thin bezels with a dot-notch making space for a selfie camera. You get a 6.2-inch HD+ IPS LCD display of a 720 x 1520p resolution. The display is not dazzling but it will be bright enough even in daylight and for casual multimedia consumption. The screen is protected under a sheet of Gorilla Glass 5, something that most phones in this segment lack.
The Redmi 8 is powered by Snapdragon 439 chipset — as is the Redmi 8A — which is a downgrade from the Redmi 7's Snapdragon 632. While it is understandable that Xiaomi would want to compensate for a bigger battery and other features with some cuts, the choice of an inferior processor might rub some users the wrong way. Nonetheless, the 4GB RAM ensures that there isn't much lag while switching between apps — a problem seen in the Redmi 8A. I could play PUBG and a few other heavy games, albeit with a few frame drops, so a casual gamer should have no problem. For users who really like their high-end games to run smooth might like to look elsewhere. The phone runs on the MIUI 10, which brings with it various worthy features and bloatware alike. If you can stomach that, the user interface is actually smooth.
Xiaomi has done some good work by making USB type-C standard across its Redmi-branded smartphone. Another good addition is the 18W fast charge support, but the phone comes bundled with a 10W charger that replenishes the phone’s 5,000 mAh battery in a little over 90 minutes. The phone’s on-battery time is seemingly good as it keeps on going consistently for one full day on every charge.
The Redmi 8 has a dual-camera set-up on the back, featuring a 12-megapixel primary sensor of an f/1.8 aperture and a 2MP depth sensor. On the front, it has an 8MP shooter of an f/2.0 aperture. The phone’s rear camera is average at best. You do get some decent shots in good lighting, especially in the AI mode, but night-time shots look mediocre — they tend to be fuzzy and lack details. While Xiaomi can definitely do better, a high-quality camera isn't something I was expecting at this price point anyhow.
Starting at Rs 7,999, you get USB-C port and 3 GB RAM, among other things. Even the 4GB RAM variant is available for the same price (first 5 million units only; after that you will have to fork an additional Rs 1,000). Xiaomi has definitely done some good work in key features, but a big trade-off has been in downgrade of the processor which might deter a few users. If you can ignore that, you get a decent performer that also looks beautiful and goes on and on, and some more.