There has been tough competition in the sub-Rs. 10,000 segment, and majority of Smartphones launched lately in this price band have great specifications. This year in particular has been a good one for Indian consumers looking for budget phones, as companies are racing to offer more for less. Xiaomi, which has had a great run in the Indian smartphone market with the well-received Redmi Note 3 and Mi Max , is keeping up the pace with a new smartphone priced below Rs. 10,000. The Xiaomi Redmi 3S and Xiaomi Redmi 3S Prime are the company’s latest attempts to strengthen its position in the segment, and they both also tout the ‘Made in India’ label. Since its debut in India two years ago, Xiaomi has managed to earn a reputation for offering great smartphone hardware at affordable prices, and these new models are trying to stay true to that formula.
Both the Redmi 3S variants sport all-metal bodies and pack large batteries. We got our hands on the Redmi 3S Prime, which offers more RAM, more storage space, and a fingerprint scanner for a small price increase. Does the new Redmi 3S Prime offer great value, or does it just end up being a smaller version of the Redmi Note 3? We try to find out in our review.
Xiaomi Redmi 3S Prime : Look and feel
When we first saw the Xiaomi Redmi 3S Prime, it looked like a mini Redmi Note 3 from nearly every angle. Xiaomi phones have started to look quite similar in design. For the company, this might be a way to establish a linear look throughout its product portfolio but sadly this is what Samsung did few years ago with its Galaxy smartphones, and we weren’t fans of that move for long.
In this case, the front of the Redmi 3S Prime is almost identical to that of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, except for the placement of the sensors above the display. We get capacitive Home, Back, and Recents buttons right below the display, and the sensors and front camera sitting on either side of the earpiece just above it. To some extent, this phone also looks inspired by the Mi Max which features a massive 6.44-inch display. However at 8.5mm thick, the Redmi 3S Prime isn’t as sleek as the more premium Mi Max which is just 7.5mm thick.
The rear panel packs the primary camera with its LED flash, both placed in the upper right corner. The back also has the fingerprint scanner placed in the middle. There are thin lines running across the top and bottom of the back of the Redmi 3S Prime, which we have also seen before on the Redmi Note 3and Mi Max. One of the major differences between the Redmi 3S and the Redmi 3S Prime is the former doesn’t include a fingerprint scanner. The round sensor at the back is easy to reach and use. During our review period, we had no trouble unlocking the device at any time using the fingerprint scanner. The 5-inch screen makes this phone easy to use with one hand, which is what we did most of the time. We found that typing was particularly comfortable.
The Xiaomi Redmi 3S Prime ships with power adapter, a SIM eject tool, and an instruction leaflet. Just like the Redmi Note 3, the Redmi 3S gives bundled earphones a miss, which might be disappointing for some buyers.
Xiaomi Redmi 3S Prime : Specifications and Software
Under the hood, the Redmi 3S and Redmi 3S Prime both pack the octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 (MMB29) processor, with four cores clocked at 1.1GHz and four cores at 1.4GHz, plus an integrated Adreno 505 GPU. Apart from the fingerprint sensor, the only differences between the Xiaomi Redmi 3S and Redmi 3S Prime are the amounts of RAM and storage. The Redmi 3S features 2GB of RAM with 16GB of inbuilt storage, while the Redmi 3S Prime has 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage.
Xiaomi claimed that the Redmi 3S and Redmi 3S Prime are the first smartphones with the all-new new Snapdragon 430 SoC shipping in India. Both models support expandable storage using a microSD card (up to 128GB).
The 5-inch IPS display has a resolution of 720×1280 pixels. Our Redmi 3S Prime review unit’s screen was vibrant with sunlight visibility not suffering at all. Xiaomi’s Sunlight Display hardware feature, which the Redmi Note 3 sports but is absent in this smartphone, could have further improved legibility under direct sunlight. The brightness levels on the Redmi 3S Prime were good and colours never looked oversaturated. The viewing angles on the Redmi 3S Prime were also decent and the display for the most parts was fairly sharp and reproduced accurate colours.
For connectivity, the Redmi 3S Prime (and Redmi 3S) support 4G with VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth, GPS/A-GPS, Glonass, and Micro-USB. The Redmi 3S Prime is compatible with all LTE bands in India including the FDD LTE Band 3 and Band 5, as well as TDD LTE Band 40. Xiaomi notes that when using two SIM cards on the Redmi 3S Prime simultaneously, the primary SIM will support 4G (calls and data) while the second SIM will support 3G only.
Another notable feature of the Redmi 3S Prime is its large 4100mAh battery. There’s a 13-megapixel rear camera with features like PDAF (phase detection autofocus), f/2.0 aperture, HDR mode, 1080p video recording, and an LED flash. You also get a 5-megapixel front-facing camera which supports 1080p video recording.
The device runs MIUI 7.5 which is based on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow. The skin is a slightly updated version of what came with the Redmi Note 3.
Xiaomi Redmi 3S Prime : Final Verdict / Conclusion
At Rs. 8,999, the Xiaomi Redmi 3S Prime no doubt brings a lot to the table. The metal body feels premium, while the 4100mAh battery offers the user enough power to last more than a day. The 3GB of RAM makes sure that the user doesn’t face any lags