Playing the price-specification game is nothing new for Xiaomi. Well, in many ways it started the trend. So the Redmi 3s Prime, with its metal body, 13-megapixel camera, 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage, doesn’t really surprise. In fact, it is a natural adaptation of the Redmi Note 3 with a lower resolution HD display and a cheaper processor, which reflects in the price difference. However, the Redmi 3s Prime is more, much more, than just the specification and features, which you can only realize after using the phone. I used the Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime as my primary smartphone for more than a week and here’s my review.
In terms of design. there is very little to differentiate between the Redmi 3s Prime and the Redmi Note 3. If you ignore the difference in the placement of the front facing camera and sensors on top of the display or that of the rear camera and flash, it is pretty much a compact version of the Redmi Note 3. The metal body is curved at the edges, which makes it quite slippery but the compact size ensures that it fits well in the hand.
If I were to nitpick, Xiaomi seems to have discarded their idea of design symmetry where the camera lens, flash and fingerprint sensor were in one line bang in the center of the phone. Xiaomi had made a big deal about it in the Redmi Note 3 but somehow forgot about it in the Redmi 3s Prime. Having said that, there is no doubt that the Redmi 3s Prime is one of the most premium smartphones in the sub-Rs 10,000 price bracket, just like the Redmi Note 3.
The Redmi 3s Prime has some pretty good specifications for its price. For Rs 8,999 you get a 5-inch 720p display, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 430 processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage along with a microSD card slot, a pair of 13-megapixel and 5-megapixel cameras, and VoLTE support. The closest that comes to the Redmi 3s Prime is the Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus which now also comes with 3GB of RAM, has the same camera configuration and runs on Snapdragon 616.
The Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime with its combination of Snapdragon 430 and 3GB is a decent performer for most daily tasks. It does take a slight hit while gaming but this is not something that would appeal to heavy gamers anyway. But it is good enough for casual gaming. I never found the phone to heat up while doing any task or even while charging. I never faced any lags while multitasking either.
The camera is nothing worth writing home about either. The front facing 5-megapixel camera gives out grainy results under most lighting conditions. The rear 13-megapixel camera is slightly better, but it isn’t something that you would get printed. Well, who does that anyway these days. Photos in low light conditions are grainy again and even in good lighting come out to be soft when zoomed in. It seems good camera sensors haven’t yet percolated to entry-level smartphones. And that’s really a pity for smartphones like the Redmi 3s Prime.
Then there is the display. The 5-inch 720p display is just short of Apple’s definition of a Retina Display with a pixel density of 294ppi. However, it doesn’t come with any significant protection, though Xiaomi says that it has some protection from multiple vendors. During my usage I didn’t manage to scratch the display but it would be a good idea to get a tempered glass or a screen protector.
In terms of performance, we had found the Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus to be a good smartphone for its price. In fact, with the upgraded 3GB of RAM, I believe the Vibe K5 Plus might just give better performance in terms gaming. But the Redmi 3s Prime has a trump card that no other phone has in this price point.
And that’s its insane battery. Somehow, Xiaomi has managed to cram a 4,100mAh battery in the Redmi 3s Prime. The company claims that the phone can last for two days on a single charge and I can testify that it does. During my usage, it easily saw through two days. It wasn’t as if I was on an economy mode to see how long I could make the battery last. I had 4G and Wi-Fi switched on at all times, I had all my email, Slack, Twitter, Facebook and other services always switched on. And most importantly, the battery lasted me for two days even when at times I was in an area with really poor connectivity.
ALSO READ: Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 Review
Poor battery life has been one of the biggest pet peeves of most users. Some brands tackle that by compromising on the size of the phone or others by providing quick charging, which assumes that users would be able to give quick top-ups of charging, which would charge the battery enough in a few minutes for a couple of hours of usage. The Redmi 3s Prime, on the other hand, manages to provide a benchmark setting battery in a phone that easily fits the hand.
Yes, the Redmi 3s Prime has its share of shortcomings — like the display that “could” possibly get scratched, or the camera that seems to be its weakest point. But as a whole, it is a beautiful device that would fit most needs. And of course, that battery that eats through hours for breakfast, lunch and dinner, twice over. At Rs 8,999, the Redmi 3s Prime is highly recommended but the question that remains in my mind is whether most people would be able to buy it or not. And that for me is where Xiaomi needs to really perform now. It doesn’t make sense to have the best-in-class device that no one can buy.
Photos: Ritesh Bendre