Reviews
Pros

-Excellent design
-Good display
-Powerful processing package
-Impressive speaker quality
-Great software experience

Cons

-Disappointing battery life
-Average camera performance
-Noticeable lag in some games
-Not available in the US

Rating
Our Rating
Battery
7.0
Display
8.0
Camera
6.5
Software
9.0
Design
9.0
Bottom Line

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 is an excellent option, especially when considering its price, with its positives, such as a nice design, powerful processing package, and great software experience, overshadowing any flaws that the device may have.

8.0
Our Rating
You have rated this

Consumers were pleasantly surprised when Xiaomi launched the Redmi Note in early 2014, with the extremely affordable smartphone offering specifications and features beyond what its price point would suggest. A year later, and the affordable smartphone segment has become increasingly competitive. At a price range below $200, where the original Redmi Note was once king, its successor, the Redmi Note 2, may have a harder go of it.

The follow up brings some key enhancements over the original, but is it enough to stand strong against the tough opposition? We find out, in this in-depth Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 review!

Design

Xiaomi Redmi Note 2-19

Like its predecessor, the Redmi Note 2 features a large 5.5-inch display, but borrows its design language cues from Xiaomi’s newer releases, like the Xiaomi Mi 4i. There is a striking resemblance between the two smartphones, including the soft touch plastic rear with a matte finish, but while the smaller smartphone comes with an unibody design, the rear cover of the Redmi Note 2 can be removed, allowing for access to the battery, microSD card slot, and dual micro-SIM card slots.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 2-13

Going around the device, the volume rocker is found above the power button on the right side, and the headphone jack and microUSB port are placed up top and at the bottom respectively. The Redmi Note 2 also adds an IR blaster, and the capacitive navigation keys up front below the display are now illuminated and of a red color. The power button and volume rocker don’t offer as much tactile feedback as one may hope for, but there are certainly no issues as far as responsiveness is concerned.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 2-22

Despite featuring the same display size, Redmi Note 2 comes with a smaller footprint when compared to its predecessor, and manages to be significantly thinner and lighter as well, allowing for a far improved handling experience. The matte finish on the rear helps with the grip as well, and some users should also be able to manage comfortable one-handed use with the device.

Display

Xiaomi Redmi Note 2-23

The Redmi Note 2 comes with a 5.5-inch IPS LCD display like its predecessor, but sees a bump in the resolution from 720p to Full HD, resulting in a higher pixel density of 401 ppi. This is a significant upgrade, but a necessary one, given the fact that some of the competition in this price range also feature 1080p screens. The display is of course, sharp and offers excellent viewing angles, but the contrast and vividness of the colors could have used a boost. It’s definitely not a bad display by any means, but it certainly isn’t the best out there, even when compared to other similarly-priced smartphones like the Meizu M2 Note.

Performance

Xiaomi Redmi Note 2-2

Under the hood, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 comes with an octa-core MediaTek MT6795 Helio X10 processor, clocked at either 2 GHz or 2.2 GHz depending on the version of the device you pick, backed by the PowerVR G6200 GPU and 2 GB of RAM. The processing package is another marked improvement from its predecessor, and as such, addresses all the performance concerns that plagued the original.

Day to day performance with the Redmi Note  was excellent, and everything remained smooth and snappy throughout, and things should get even better with the upcoming rollout of MIUI 7. The device also handles multi-tasking well, but there were a few instances of stutter and lag when it came to gaming, which is a bit of a let down. The phone also did heat up during processor-intensive tasks, but it wasn’t so much as to make the device uncomfortable to hold.

Hardware

Xiaomi Redmi Note 2-14

The Redmi Note 2 comes with either 16 GB or 32 GB versions, with the top-end model featuring 4G LTE connectivity with both SIM slots, and also comes with a standard suite of connectivity options. Given that this is the Chinese model of the phone, there is expandable storage available via microSD card by up to 32 GB, but it is unclear whether the international version will have this feature. With this version, it was possible to only get HSPA+ connectivity on the AT&T network, so it is a good idea to check for compatibility with your home networks before picking up this phone.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 2-9

The IR blaster functions as expected, although the in-built Mi Remote app may not be compatible with some televisions. Third-party apps are available however, to allow for support with many other TVs. Overall, this is a very nice addition, which isn’t expected with a device that falls in this price range. The rear speaker of the Redmi Note 2 sounds really good, and offers adequate volume to be heard even in somewhat noisy environments. The distortion isn’t as much as seen with previous Xiaomi smartphones, and the only drawback here is its placement on the rear. This is certainly one of the better audio experiences that can be had when compared to other devices that are priced at below $200.

The Redmi Note 2 comes with a 3,060 mAh battery, but despite its size, the battery life isn’t as good as expected. With Wi-Fi on for most of the day, and the screen brightness set to auto, the phone was able to manage 4 hours of screen-on time at most, and lasted for around 12 hours overall. Toning down the usage resulted in the battery life going up to 15 hours, but with only 2 hours and 15 minutes of screen-on time. The battery drain is surprisingly significant when the phone is in the idle state, but hopefully, this is a software issue that can be fixed in future updates. If battery life is a concern, the battery of the Redmi Note 2 is removable, which gives you the option of carrying around a spare.

Camera

Xiaomi Redmi Note 2-11

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 comes with a 13 MP rear camera with a LED flash and phase detection auto focus, and also packs a 5 MP front-facing unit. While the auto focus is very fast, the actual performance of the camera itself is just about average, as there is a noticeable lack in detail and sharpness in images. As far as the camera application is concerned, there are many different camera modes available, and the manual mode allows for more granular control over aspects like white balance and ISO.

Software

Xiaomi Redmi Note 2-17

The Redmi Note 2 ships with MIUI 6 based on Android 5.0.2 Lollipop, but will soon receive an official update to MIUI 7. MIUI is a very different experience from stock Android, but does have a lot of positives, such as the ability to re-organize the quick toggles, adjust the brightness even when auto brightness is on, and also customize what information is seen in the status bar, along with the option to change the display color temperature or contrast.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 2-25

You can also change the look and feel of the user interface by taking advantage of the robust theme store that is available, as well as change the functions of the capacitive keys. Useful applications that are pre-installed include the Mi Sound Enhancer and the Xiaomi Backup app, that lets you back up app data, as well as launcher layouts, settings, and account information, without requiring root access to do so.

Of course, MIUI is not without its drawbacks either, such as the fact that you cannot dismiss notifications from the lock screen, or access any other app from it other than the camera. There is also no app drawer, leaving users dependent on folders to keep things organized and clutter-free. A significant drawback with this Chinese version of the phone is also the lack of any Google Apps, but if you pick up the device after its official release in international markets, this won’t be an issue.

Specifications

Display5.5-inch IPS LCD, 1920 x 1080 resolution, 401 ppi
Processor2/2.2 GHz octa-core MediaTek MT6795 Helio X10
PowerVR G6200 GPU
RAM2 GB
Storage16/32 GB, expandable up to 32 GB
Camera13 MP rear camera with LED flash
5 MP front camera
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.0, FM Radio, IR Blaster
Battery3,060 mAh
OSMIUI OS 6 based on Android 5.0.2 Lollipop
Colorswhite, yellow, pink, grey, blue
Dimensions152 x 76 x 8.3 mm
160 grams

Gallery

Pricing and final thoughts

The Chinese version of the device starts at just $140, with the Prime version, which comes with 32 GB of storage and both SIM slots capable of LTE support, priced at $156, and the price point is expected to be quite similar with the international version of the phone itself. Available color options currently include white, black, yellow, blue, or pink.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 2-21

So there you have it for this closer look at the Xiaomi Redmi Note 2! This smartphone is an excellent option, especially when considering its price, with it featuring a nice design, powerful processing package, and great software experience. The average camera performance is to be expected, but the disappointing battery life is certainly a letdown however. Overall, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 is one of the better options available in this price range, and things should be even better with the international version of the phone, which will come with Google Apps pre-installed as well.

  • molatora

    Is this the laziest camera review in the net? Only 6 sample pictures and no outdoor scenery or low light street scene….. Do you guy have any S.O.P in your review??? This is very very poor review job. Why just ignore this phone if you are not planning to do a proper review?? 5/10 for this review works!!

    • Frankly, what do you expect? 100 camera shots? 40 flower shots, 20 food item shots? And then 40 mountain valley shots perhaps? Will that make you happy?

  • Dheeraj

    Hand over the phone to Josh for a video review please.

  • Bob

    Thanks Bailey!
    Ummm…have checked the cons about this one? As it clearly states, “Average camera performance”. Let’s not forget about the “Disappointing battery life” either.

    You surely don’t want to read 600 page long review for low end phones! :)

  • Tauras Zemaitis

    Battery life issues is your fault. The phone was kept awake all the time. Turn off the gps, uninstall Chinese apps and Google Now.

  • Lobet Mathieu

    I own this phone since two weeks and I can say that battery life is very good!

    By the way, what about Fast charging? I don’t have any charger to test that but Xiaomi announce that the phone support it…

    • a

      They lied. There is a great topic about this on xda.

    • Omlet05

      I finally found this test: http://www.tronsmart.com/?p=3644

      Quick Charge, as expected, doesn’t work with this phone.

    • mi

      mostly because of bad , incompatible usa lte networks.

  • Dante

    Wow telling that the helio x10 is bad in games is pure joke – the games run extremelly smooth in this device – great budgetty device but not enough to make my switch to a contract free (oneplus type) device from my g4 still that day i coming and it will be soon

    • Karly Johnston

      The g6200 is nearly as bad as the Adreno 405 of the 615… it sucks.

      • Alexandros Vourlakos

        G6200 is a bit faster than adreno 405 (you can see i.e. gpu gflops) and more than enough for a 1080p screen. Android games can not take advantage of more powerful gpus at the moment, like adreno 430

        • Karly Johnston

          The 6200 scores 6k on 3DMark vs 5500 for the 405, it is not even noticeable. they both suck…

          • Wai Phyo Aung

            How much do u want?
            it is one of best in its price range
            If u want better, go to page for note 5 or s6 or lg g4,….pages
            Twice its price certainly wont give twice the bechmark

  • s2weden2000

    ch0ice …

    • Dante

      F0r a budg3t d3v1c3

  • Jason45

    I will pay some extra money for the Xiaomi Mi4c with Snapdragon 808 chipset to be released end of this month just like Nexus 5X (nice competitor of Xiaomi mi4c), hopefully also with a better camera or battery life performance compared to note 2.

    • Kushu

      But no memory card. Only memory phone

  • Brett Larsen

    So what kinda reception does this thing get on at&t as in 3g or 4g LTE I’m kinda confused about that

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    • coldspring22 .

      I have Redmi Note 4G (older version, FDD-LTE) in US and it got HSPA+ on Tmobile with 11 Mbps download and 1Mbps upload.
      Not 4G LTE speed, but significantly better than plain old 3G. I believe there is also international version of Redmi Note which has all 4G bands and is capable of 4G LTE in US, but not sure about Redmi Note 2.

    • Marie

      Note 2 is now available for a discount only at AndroidSmartphoneDeals;com

  • Flaat

    Can you guys flash to the latest stable mui7 version and retest the battery life? I am quite sure it is wakelock bugs destroying the battery life. People on a forum claim 25% left after 5 hours screentime.

  • pmshah

    I would love to get this version as I don’t use ANY of the google apps on my phone.

  • Jose Avdt

    Aqui os dejo un análisis de este terminal por si os sirve http://prialert.com/p/iwP-Tuw/xiaomi-redmi-note-2-review-y-opinion

  • Mike Lyno

    Bought this phone from Gearbest for use here in the US. After I got it I found it would only do 2G in the US. This means no Data except through Wifi. Also has a lot of irritating bloatware that continuously trying to install through popups ever few minutes or so, a lot of them sexual in nature. Had problems with miui not playing nice with other apps. Buy at your own risk if living in the US. I had a much longer review posted but evidently someone didn’t like it cause it got deleted.

    • Jason Quackenbush

      What U.S. carrier were you on with this phone?

  • Eddimer
  • Hugh McGuinness

    I have got the Xiaomi redmi note 2 prime and it’s a great phone for the price, LTE downloads in the uk on three I get over 70mbps and on Wi-Fi I’m getting over 159mbps ( virgin media broadband ), display is very good and after uninstalling all the crap Chinese apps runs smooth. I give this phone 9 out of 10 for the price

  • Bogdan Cocache

    Please help. I bought the XIAOMI RedMi Note 2 32GB 4G about 3 weeks ago, all things good. But yesterday my phone just shut down. When I open it again, Show me this Message “Thermal Warning”(but the phone isnt hot or use it to much) and after a few seconds is shuting down. And after that, every time I try to open it I see the same message and shut down.