Software – MIUI 7
With the Redmi Note 3 running MIUI 7 on top of Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, the user interface continues to deliver. It has 5 built in themes. The icing on the cake though, is the thousands of themes available for download. Browsing the themes is almost endless and more often than not, you’ll find something you like. If you are not happy with anyone of them, third party launchers are always available in the Play Store, isn’t it?
Introduced in MIUI 7, there’s a group messages option which filters carrier number messages, promotions and etcetera. It does so by identifying the number, which if you are in Malaysia often comes in the form of 60xxx numbers. It’s great if you frequently receive these kind of messages because it clutters up your messaging inbox. But it would be great if we had additional options such as not triggering the notifications. Also, I can imagine this feature to be further extended to the creation of folders and incoming rules like email. On the flip side, text messaging usage has declined too so it might not be that impactful.
The one handed mode has been around since the early days of the phablet. The idea is to shrink and snap the overall display into one of the lower corners so that everything it reachable by your thumb. This feature is very practical for those who have smaller hands but most of the time, it is inconvenient to activate, requiring you to access a whole bunch of settings menus to start it up. In MIUI, they changed this so that a swipe gesture from the home to the back capacitive button activates one handed mode and snaps the screen to the lower right hand corner which makes a lot of sense when you have only one hand available. It even supports a left handed mode where you swipe from the home to the recent apps button to snap it to the left hand side.
New also in MIUI 7 is the app lock option. With this option, you can choose to require a password or fingerprint scan to add an extra layer of security for your apps. Use cases of this app can range to lending your phone to your friends to protecting sensitive information in emails and notes but it’s not much use if those people already know your lock screen pattern or pin. In general, it works but we wanted to test it with a more complicated relationship app such as the Gallery app, since there’s a lot of other apps that can access your photos. We wanted to see whether the camera would prevent access to the Gallery (much like how the camera behaves when you haven’t unlocked your phone). Interestingly, the whole Camera app was locked as well but other apps such as Facebook and Instagram or even File Explorer will work. It feels unpolished but this is a complicated scenario, locking all apps that access the gallery might result in a lot of apps being locked, which results in a lot of inconvenience. Moving on, once we have unlocked the app, it will stay unlocked till we lock the device. Again, this is falling in grey areas where some people might prefer this method while others might not, so it would be better to have a setting panel for this.
The notification bar works a bit differently than usual, your notifications are listed first and the quick settings are on the next page so you’ll have to swipe there. It makes the navigation a bit clumsier in my opinion and sometimes trying to swipe off a notification makes it shows the settings instead. It does show the settings immediately if you do not have notifications though.
MIUI does come with it’s own cloud service, if you want to use it you’ll have to setup an account and it will back up your gallery, contacts and even text messages.
There is also Child Mode available for restricting access to some apps, rather useful in making sure your kid doesn’t buy a new TV by accident. Redmi Note 3 does not have an app tray so all apps are placed and arranged on the home screen. Built in apps are minimal so there’s low bloatware which is great news for storage and performance.
There’s nothing huge to complain really about Xiaomi’s signature MIUI, now in its 7th iteration, it just keeps getting better. With a huge community involvement in the development, the UI really almost has something for everyone. Of course, it is far from perfect. There are hiccups such as the situation in app lock features. While MIUI will always get frequent updates to fix bugs, introduce new features and patch security holes, Xiaomi does not have the best reputation in providing Android version upgrades. A lot of the previous Redmi phones are stuck at older version of Android and Xiaomi really need to figure out how to change this.