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Xiaomi Redmi 1S review: The new king in the budget segment

Xiaomi’s Redmi 1S comes with great expectations and it represents a big moment for the company’s India plans. The super affordable mid-range phone goes on sale tomorrow and is expected to outpace the Mi 3 in terms of selling out on Flipkart. With a price tag of Rs 5,999, it also promises to shake up this market segment which is reserved for the very basic smartphones. The Moto E changed that to a certain extent, but Xiaomi takes it a step beyond. Is it successful? 

Design and build 
The Redmi 1S is no lightweight in terms of specs or in terms of its weight. The smartphone feels a little too chunky in the hand and the heft is quite palpable. In comparison, the Mi 3 is much lighter and also is a better fit in the hands. We got the dark grey version of the phone and the plastic on the back is only slightly glossy, but it picks up fingerprints easily. Fingerprint smudges were also a problem when it came to the front of the phone, which features three red capacitive buttons and the LED notification light placed under the home button.The back of the phone is removable and underneath a flashy orange battery grabs your eye. Above it are the two SIM slots and the microSD card slot. These can’t be properly accessed unless you pop the cover off. The power button and volume rocker are affixed to the case, so you will be changing them if you decide to pop another cover on. The rear camera sits bang in the middle, with a flash underneath, while the single slit for the speaker grille is closer to the right edge. This position doesn’t really help as much of the time we found our hands muffling the sound. We are not entirely happy with the type of plastic used on the Redmi 1S, but it does feel better than the Moto E’s material. In comparison to the Motorola phone, the Redmi 1S feels a little too chunky, but it does have an edge in terms of performance.

Display and performance 
This is the biggest disappointment when it comes to the Redmi 1S. Performance is sorely behind what we expected with that chipset on board. The Moto E with a dual-core processor feels a lot snappier in comparison to the Redmi 1S even though the latter is packing a quad-core 1.6GHz CPU. Unlike on the Mi 3, MIUI on the Redmi 1S feels a lot more sluggish. It booted very fast and for the most part operation is trouble free, but the Redmi 1S is a terrible choice for those juggling too many apps. MIUI on this one just doesn’t feel fleet-footed enough to handle multi-tasking well. It must be noted that the drop in performance only happens when there are too many apps running. I found myself using MIUI’s kill-all-apps button more often than I wanted to; it was a bit like going back to Gingerbread. Of course it must be considered that most buyers of the Redmi 1S will not be pulling down too many apps. It is after all priced for the first-time buyers. When it comes to the display too the phone is a let-down. At full brightness colours are perky, but turn it lower and the image turns insipid very quickly. It was quite finicky when used in sunlight too, jumping up and down in brightness quite erratically.

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