Xiaomi has always been known for their value for money. Released in May 2017, the Xiaomi Redmi 4x aims to continue that reputation. I reviewed the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 previously, and I was impressed by its performance, battery life, and screen. The Redmi 4x retains the same brilliant battery life, but lowers the display quality and performance in order to lower costs. While the Redmi Note 4 is Xiaomi’s flagship offering for its Redmi line, the Redmi 4x is the true budget phone from Xiaomi. Priced at just $130, the Xiaomi Redmi 4x is a strong contender against many budget smartphones. Along with the Redmi Note 4, the Redmi 4x joins the Redmi lineup of the Redmi 4A, Redmi 3 Prime, and Redmi 3s+. While it’s a pretty big lineup, it’s always good to have more choice.
The Xiaomi Redmi 4, for its price, looks very premium. Although it’s not the fanciest, it has some things you wouldn’t expect from a phone at this price range. Among them are the materials used to make the phone. It’s made from a smooth aluminium frame, and reminds me a little of the iPhone SE. It also has a smaller display than most Android phones today. It’s screen is a mere 5 inches diagonally, which is minuscule, especially when compared to the giant 6.4″ display of the Xiaomi Mi Mix. The smooth metal back is interrupted by the two antenna bands which ensure that wireless signals can still get to the phone. As I mentioned with the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, it’s surprising to see a full-metal phone at such a low price point.
As with most phones in 2017, the Xiaomi Redmi 4 is equipped with a fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone. However, it also has an off-screen home button, which is located below the 5″ display, next to the back and recent apps switcher buttons. Unlike most capacitive buttons, the buttons underneath the screen on the Xiaomi Redmi 4 aren’t backlit. This isn’t a problem if you know where the buttons are, but it is a little annoying sometimes to have to tap twice. Having buttons on the front and a fingerprint sensor on the back is a little weird, and I’m left wondering why they couldn’t combine the two to have both a home button and a fingerprint sensor on the front. The fingerprint sensor is fast, but being on the back makes it impossible to use while the phone is facing up on a desk.
Overall, the Xiaomi Redmi 4x is a good looking device, with premium materials, although a little ergonomically lacking.
Xiaomi’s devices, even those at the bottom of the price ladder, are usually made well with no build quality issues. The Xiaomi Redmi 4x is no different. It’s well put together, and thanks to its metal enclosure, feels solid in the hand. It’s also not obscenely light, so it doesn’t feel like you’re holding a toy. The metal goes a long way to make the phone better looking and better feeling, but it also means that scratches and dings will show more easily. I’d advise using a case as well, since the metal can be slippery at times, especially when it’s wet.
The display is quite literally the face of the device. When I reviewed the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 with a 5.5″ display, I was impressed by the quality, detail, and size of the display, and even though it’s not monstrously big, the bezels were small enough that it wasn’t noticeable. The Xiaomi Redmi 4x is a little bit different, since it’s even cheaper than the Note 4. It’s a little smaller, at 5.0″, and as such, it’s not the same resolution. Instead of being Full HD (1920×1080), it’s just HD (1280×720). Since it’s a smaller display, it retains a fairly decent PPI, at 294. It’s still not as nice as the Full HD display of the Note 4, but its smaller display means that it’s nearly as detailed. Coming from an iPhone 6s (4.7″), the Xiaomi Redmi 4x is more comfortable to use (5.0″) than the Redmi Note 4 (5.5″).
Aside from size and detail, the panel itself is very good. It’s an IPS display, so viewing angles are excellent, and it’s relatively bright too, at 450 nits. It covers the whole sRGB gamut, or 72% of NTSC, which is the same as most phones today, so colors are accurate and vibrant. The panel also features a lower 1000:1 contrast ratio than we’re used to, but it’s not extremely noticeable. Similar to the iPhone’s “night shift” feature, the Xiaomi Redmi 4x has a “night display” mode, which yellows the display, making it less harsh on your eyes at night. Overall, the display on the Xiaomi Redmi 4x is excellent, and it’s one of the best displays I’ve seen at this price range.
The Xiaomi Redmi 4x is a budget phone, so it isn’t packed with special features. Still, even at this price point, it has a fingerprint scanner, a fairly fast one at that. It’s standard issue in today’s smartphone market, but it’s no mean feat to put it into a $130 phone. It’s on the back of the phone, so it’s impossible to unlock (without typing in your backup PIN or pattern) while it’s sitting flat on a table. However, the tradeoff is that you only need to assign two fingers to it, since naturally your index finger will cover it anyway. Another feature you could consider as noteworthy is fast charging. When I was reviewing the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, I was blown away by the battery life coming out of the 4000mAh battery.
The Redmi 4x bests that by 100mAh, with a huge 4100mAh battery. Combine this with low-end specs and a smaller screen, and I’d expect absolutely insane battery life from it. The large capacity of the battery also means that there’s more to charge every time you plug in. To alleviate the problem of having to keep the charger on for hours on end, Xiaomi has included fast charging on the Xiaomi Redmi 4x, even though the phone is just $130. It doesn’t support Qualcomm Quick Charging, but it’s 5V/2A charging. It’s not especially fast, but it still charges the Redmi 4x at a decent rate, claiming speeds of 25% in 30 minutes. This at least puts it on par with phones with a smaller capacity without fast charging. Overall, the Xiaomi Redmi 4x doesn’t have many special features, but it helps to bring the cost down to just $130.
The Xiaomi Redmi 4x settles for fairly mid-range hardware, but that’s to be expected, if not applauded, at this price range. The Snapdragon 435 chip inside the Redmi 4x is no speed demon, but the fact that Xiaomi has chosen a Snapdragon processor at all is commendable at this price. The Snapdragon 435 chip is paired with either 2GB or 3GB of RAM, depending on which option you pick, the (RAM|ROM) 2GB|16GB, 3GB|32GB, or 4GB|64GB. The flash storage itself isn’t particularly impressive, as it uses eMMC technology, instead of the newly favored UFS technology, which is much faster. Even so, the Redmi 4x shouldn’t be laggy or slow. What it will be though, is extremely long lasting.Its Snapdragon 435 chip, 720p 5 inch display, and 4100mAh battery should keep it lasting for days on end, perhaps two or three.
Hardware – Camera
The Xiaomi Redmi 4x, unlike a lot of Chinese phones, has a fairly decent camera – at least on paper. It’s a 13MP shooter, with a wide aperture too, at f/2.0. It also has phase detection autofocus, and a flash. In good lighting, the Redmi 4x shoots way above it’s price range, with good detail and colors. It’s not as vibrant as I’d hoped it would be, but at ~$130, I can’t really complain. However, it completely falls over under bad lighting conditions – much like the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4. Images turn out grainy and spotty, and detail is completely lost. The front facing camera suffers from the same cons as the rear facing camera, but doesn’t really retain many of the pros.
Both the front and rear facing cameras can shoot video, at 720p and 1080p respectively. Video quality is similar to image quality, with the same flaws under bad lighting, only less detailed. Still, at this price range, it’s nice to have a phone which can shoot at 1080p, even if it’s only at 30fps. Overall, the Xiaomi Redmi 4x shoots above its price range, as long as you don’t expose it to the dark.
At $130, you can’t expect the Xiaomi Redmi 4x to compete against the OnePlus 5, but the Snapdragon 435 SoC still does a fairly good job of keeping the phone quick and snappy. While it doesn’t have flagships specs, it’s still relatively fast, and I didn’t notice any choppiness or slowdowns within the UI. Using the Xiaomi Redmi 4x as a basic phone with Facebook, snapchat, and messenger is a breeze, and it doesn’t struggle anywhere apart from Facebook. The only area in which the Redmi 4x is absolutely demolished is 2d and 3d gaming. It’s Adreno 505 GPU isn’t powerful at all, and as such, it struggles badly with 3D games, and some heavier 2d games. Right now, the Xiaomi Redmi 4x performs well in day-to-day usage and 2d games, with hardly any slowdowns or lag, but that may change with software updates down the road.
The Xiaomi Redmi 4x, like all Xiaomi phones, runs Android OS. It’s currently running Android 6.0 Marshmallow, with MIUI 8.0 on top of it. MIUI is Xiaomi’s own custom skin on top of Android (a custom ROM), and while it’s wildly popular for it’s simplicity, I’m not a fan of it. For starters, it does away with the app drawer completely, leaving you with an iOS style look, with all of your apps sprawled across the home screen. Many people, especially in Asian markets like this, but I prefer a more “stock” look. Installing Google Now Launcher somewhat lessens the suffering, but it still leaves all the built in apps with the Xiaomi look to it. Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do to change the look of the inbuilt apps, so your only option is to hide them and download alternatives, or sideload google’s own.
There are a few useful features Xiaomi has included with MIUI, but the annoyance of having everything different isn’t worth the trade-off of a few extra features, however useful they may be. Overall, the operating system is good, but it’s altered a little too much from stock Android, which I much prefer. Luckily, since it’s Android, you can install other launchers, but it only does so much to change back the look.
The Xiaomi Redmi 4x has absolutely brilliant battery life. It’s low-powered specs, small 720p display, and huge 4100mAh battery make it one of the longest lasting phones I’ve ever reviewed, even more so than the Vernee Thor E I reviewed a while ago. Under my medium-heavy usage, a flurry of Facebook, Snapchat, Messenger, and Slack, the phone lasts around 1.5 days, which is no mean feat. Under lighter usage, and probably more normal usage, the phone lasts anywhere from 2-3 days, and if you’re really careful, you could probably stretch it out to 4. I can’t stress enough how absolutely insane the battery life is, especially for such a cheap device. It’s a real shame that even the most expensive flagships today can’t compete with this $130 phone regarding battery life, one of, if not the most complained about feature.
The Xiaomi Redmi 4x comes with all the standard options for connectivity, including WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS. The full specifications are below:
801.11 b/g/n, 2.4GHz Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Display / Wi-Fi Direct
Bluetooth 4.1 / Bluetooth HID
GPS AGPS GLONASS BeiDou positioning
Notably, there isn’t any NFC, so you won’t be able to use any contactless payment solutions on the Redmi 4x. Like many other phones from Xiaomi, the Redmi 4x is a dual hybrid SIM device, meaning you can have two SIMs at once in the phone. This is useful for work/home purposes, but if you don’t have the need for two SIMs at once, you can actually use the SIM2 slot as a micro-SD card slot. The micro-SD card slot supports cards up to 128GB, so if you buy the most expensive Redmi 4x, you can have up to 192GB of storage on your phone.
The Xiaomi Redmi 4x, in case you were worrying, has a headphone jack. It’s located on the top left of the phone. This phone isn’t especially large, and yet, it has room for a headphone jack. It really makes you wonder why a lot of flagship devices do away with a headphone jack, even though they’re much larger.
There are a number of options when it comes to picking a Redmi 4x, including RAM|ROM options, and colors. The Xiaomi Redmi 4x comes in black and gold, and there are three options for RAM|ROM: 2GB|16GB, 3GB|32GB, and 4GB|64GB. If I were to pick a device, I’d go for the 3GB|32GB version, since 16GB is really not enough storage on a mobile phone in 2017. I would hesitate to recommend the 4GB|64GB version, unless you need the extra storage, as the Snapdragon 425 SoC isn’t really aided too much by the inclusion of an extra GB of RAM from 3GB to 4GB, especially when you factor in the extra cost. If you’re planning on keeping the phone for a long time, you might want to consider it, but I’d stick with the 3GB|32GB version as the perfect middle-ground.
The Xiaomi Redmi 4x is an excellent phone at a bargain price. It’s just $130, and can be found at just $99 on some sites. At both of those prices, it’s a great deal, and its battery life will absolutely blow you away. Its camera isn’t great, but its rock-bottom price more than makes up for it. If you want the best phone you can buy for $99-$130, buy the Xiaomi Redmi 4x; you won’t be disappointed unless you want a huge phone.