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Xiaomi Redmi 2 Full Review: Cheap doesn’t mean bad

2. Display, Essentials & Software

The Display

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Xiaomi has opted for a 720p IPS LCD display for the Redmi 2. The resolution of 1280×720 gives the 4.7″ display a pixel density of 312 pixels per inch. At close range, I can definitely tell the difference between this display and a 1080p display and individual pixels can be spotted. But we are not going to look at the display this close all the time, so I still think that 720p display is good enough for display under 5 inches.

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While I am happy with the number of pixels, the colour of the display is slightly less saturated to my taste. The display is definitely not washed out but it is less popping than the displays I have used to see lately. Fortunately, Xiaomi allows you to adjust the saturation and the temperature of the display in the settings.

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Like other IPS LCDs, the viewing angle of the display is pretty good and the display is still visible even at odd angles. I have no trouble with the brightness too. Reading the screen at outdoor is possible but naturally the viewing experience is not as great with the sunlight pouring on the screen. One good thing about Redmi 2’s display is the auto brightness. It is very responsive and I could not remember if I ever need to change the brightness manually.

This screen is the best you can get for the price you are going to pay for and it even triumphs over the displays on some devices that cost more.

In short, I am happy with the display of the Redmi 2. It has enough pixels and the brightness level is always satisfying. With the option to customize the display, I do not think that I have anything much to complain. This screen is the best you can get for the price you are going to pay for and it even triumphs over the displays on some devices that cost more. That being said, the display is one of the biggest reasons to get this phone.

Essentials

As mentioned earlier, this phone has two micro SIM card slots and it supports Dual SIM Dual Standby. Moreover, it has LTE support. Both LTE bands used in Malaysia are supported so you can enjoy high speed data connection no matter which network you are on. The data connection and signal level of Redmi 2 are consistent and I have not experienced weak connection anywhere at all. Voice calls are clear too.  Phones which support  both dual SIM and LTE are pretty uncommon and if this is a priority for you, the Redmi 2 is the cheapest option you have right now.

Phones which support  both dual SIM and LTE are pretty uncommon and if this is a priority for you, the Redmi 2 is the cheapest option you have right now.

Common connection standards like WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, GPS and Bluetooth 4.0 are supported. Like other newer Xiaomi phones, NFC is omitted but I guess most people wouldn’t care about it. One little thing  worth mentioning is that the phone gets pretty warm while I am using the GPS to navigate around town. However, the heat does not suck out too much juice from the battery so it should not be a big problem here.

The speaker is quite loud but the position of the speaker is ruining everything.

The quality of the speaker is not that bad as compared with other phones with similar prices. It is definitely not mediocre but the audio starts to break down once the volume exceeds two third of the maximum. The speaker is quite loud but the position of the speaker is ruining everything. As mentioned earlier, the speaker is placed on the back and it means that the sound produced is directed away from you when you are looking at the display. If the phone is facing upright, the speaker will be covered and there is a high chance that you will miss a call. If it is positioned in the front or at the bottom of the phone, things will be much better.

Software

Redmi 2 is running Xiaomi’s own custom launcher, the MIUI. While it is running Android 4.4.4 KitKat, Xiaomi has made a lot of aesthetic changes in the sixth version of the MIUI and the result really looks like Apple’s iOS. The flat design of the icons, the black transparent notification shade and the design of native applications like compass and camera are very, very similar to iOS. As these elements in iOS look pretty nice, the MIUI v6 naturally is one of the most nice-looking launchers on the market.

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I am not the one to comment who’s the copycat here and I guess most people wouldn’t care as well. If you are a big fan of Apple’s mobile operating system, then you will like it a lot. If you are not satisfied with how the MIUI v6 looks, Xiaomi got you covered too. The theming engine of MIUI is very robust and you have countless of themes to choose. The freedom to customize the user interface is yours.

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One thing I did not like is the app switching window. Only the icons of the running applications are shown instead of the screenshot of them. For other phones, I would find the apps I want to launch by looking for the screenshots typically. Without their presence, I tend to hesitate a little before picking the app I want and there are times that I still pick the wrong one. This is not a major problem at all but I guess things will better if Xiaomi uses the original app switcher window found in stock Android.

[Update] You can pinch in or out at the app switching window to show icon only or to show both icon and screenshot. Thanks Arend for the tips.

redmi 2 app switcher

There are a lot of built-in apps such as calculator, FM radio, scanner and others to meet your daily needs. There are tools such as Security to help users to manage their phone easily. The settings and permissions of Android is not really user-friendly and they can be a chore for new users. Having tools like this will be helpful.

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Speaking for new users, Xiaomi has introduced a Lite Mode for Redmi 2. In this simpler mode, all useful applications will be shown as super big tiles. Favourite contacts can be added to the home screen so that they can be accessed easily. The font size will be increased too so that reading the text can be easier. Basically, the Lite Mode will convert the phone into a feature phone with touch screen. This mode will be useful for new users such as first-time smartphone users and the elders so that they will not find their new phone too overwhelming. As the target group of the affordable Redmi 2 are these people, it makes sense for Xiaomi to include this feature here.

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Another useful feature of MIUI v6 is the one-handed operation mode. This mode allows the display to be squeezed to one of the bottom corners so that you can reach the whole screen easily. You can tap on the home button and swipe to the back button on the right to shrink the display to the bottom right corner and if you swipe to the opposite direction you will get the display shrink to the bottom left. This feature can be quite helpful if you have smaller hands and your other hand is not free. You can swipe on the buttons again or tap on the empty region to exit this mode.

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If you cares about software updates, Xiaomi has a good reputation in delivering software fixes, but not version updates for Android. The Android 4.4 and MIUI v6 updates are delivered to the Mi3 months after Android 5.0 Lollipop has been available. The lower end Redmi’s are still running older versions of Android and MIUI right now. Typically, software updates will be delivered for higher end models and the China variants first. So you might need to set your expectations low for software upgrades.

While the MIUI v6 is packed with tones of useful features and it is good-looking, my experience of using the phone is not really great.

Xiaomi definitely knows what to do with software or else MIUI will not be one of the most popular ROMs. While the MIUI v6 is packed with useful features and it is good-looking, my experience of using the phone is not really great. It seems that the software is quite buggy and this hampers the user experience. MIUI v6 is a heavily customised version of Android and the bulk of the software definitely shows its effect. Some design changes to the user interface are meant to be a differentiator rather than to be meaningful and I am not a big fan of that approach. It is not as responsive as we wish and the system is taking up too much storage. Let’s see both problems in detail in the following sections.

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13 Comments

  1. Hi. You actually can have the recent app with screenshot like. Just do the pinch gesture the recent apps. It should pop up the screenshot mode and minimize mode likewise.

  2. my brightness is not changing

  3. Hi, do you know that the proximity sensor often gives problem. The screen is off when receiving calls and making calls, thus unable to switch off after conversation.

  4. Hi Yan
    Bought a new redmi 2 yesterday. Only bad thing I am having is, the auto rotation feature.
    Even you switch off this feature, the screen goes tilted. And I don’t use auto rotation very often.
    Can you suggest any trick or app or something to force switch the rotation off?
    Or
    Its made like that…. :)

  5. Yan Daun
    Can You Suggest Me To Buy And i have 3 Doubts
    1 ) This Android phone
    2) This Phone Comes With ear phones And Connectivity Is Thier To Connect Head phones
    3) In This Phone Has Apps Menu

    • Hi Yan Duan here. Do you mean the Redmi 2? It’s running Android. It does not come with a pair of earphone but you can use any earphones you have as long as its using 3.5mm audio jack. The user interface has no apps menu.

  6. Hi Yan Duan, I have a few questions about this device:

    Have u experience any kind of lag on the phone/UI when running intensive task, such as heavy multitasking and switching between apps or running some heavy apps like Facebook? (Does this phone have RAM management problems?) About the camera, does the photos taken with this device on auto mode have a warm, yellowish ‘filter’ over it and do u think it is a problem or con? Because a lot of other reviewers say that this is the case. One last thing, how long does the device take to charge from like 0 or 10% to 100%? Because I heard that the Redmi 2 has Qualcomm quick charge 1.0. I just want to know the overall performance and experience with this device because I am planning to buy it. Thanks 😀 (Hope that was not TOO much to read 😉)

    • Hi Dylan, we didn’t have the device with us since the review period is over. What we can share is what we experienced during that time and it may or may not be accurate at this moment. The phone did have RAM management problem during our review. 1GB of RAM is not enough so that is why we highly recommend the enhanced version with 2GB of RAM. For the yellowish photos, unless you are comparing between different cameras, it is likely that you will not notice it. It was not a big problem, at least for me. Qualcomm QuickCharge 1.0 is actually not worth mentioning at all. We didn’t have the exact number for charging time but it is just normal. Not too slow but not fast either.

      Hope that helps!

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